Whole rail corridor protected under rail trail plan: Page

THE entire Casino-Murwillumbah rail corridor will be guaranteed protection under any legislation for a rail trail, according to Ballina MP Don Page.

Mr Page was asked to comment following posts on The Northern Star's website that argued a rail trail would put public ownership of the parts of the corridor at risk.

He said while removing the defunct railway line to make way for the rail trail would require special legislation, the new legislation would maintain the same level of protection.

"We're planning to have written into the legislation that the corridor be protected for potential future rail use," Mr Page said.

"The corridor must remain in public ownership, and would be managed by a trust."

The new Act "will say we're going to remove some infrastructure in order to create a rail trail, but the conditions will include it remaining in public ownership as a preserved rail corridor, so if we wanted to put trains back on we could."

Mr Page also said he was optimistic that Transport for NSW's annual $750,000 budget to maintain the corridor would be kept in place under the arrangement.

Steve Martin, secretary of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail group said it was vital the corridor was preserved "lock, stock and barrel".

"We understand there's full protection on that land and the corridor will still remain wholly and solely intact," he said.

Mr Martin said he believed the corridor was under more threat without a rail trail because the land was lying dormant.

He said the Northern Rivers Rail Trail group wanted to maintain as much of the rail heritage as possible, including existing bridges that hadn't degraded to a point of disrepair.

"We're pro-public transport, given the government aren't bringing back trains and this is a sensational opportunity; it's a proven winner that will brings jobs and economic opportunity to the whole region."

"It disperses those tourists that come to Byron out to those smaller towns."



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