Northern Rivers Rail Trail - Tweed section

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

The Northern Rivers Rail Trail is a proposed 132-kilometre recreational shared-user pathway from Murwillumbah to Casino.

Staying within the railway corridor of the former Casino to Murwillumbah branch line of the North Coast Rail Line, the trail's route is proposed to meander through the Northern Rivers countryside, passing through the major towns of Casino, Byron Bay, Lismore and Murwillumbah.

The trail will be constructed in four stages, each delivered separately by each of the four local Councils as funding allows.

Background

First opened in 1894 and characterised by its magnificent scenery, difficult terrain and tight curves, the railway connected 24 stations along its length before closing in 2004. The Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study conducted by Transport for NSW in 2012 concluded that "reinstating rail services will not meet the existing and future public transport needs for the region". The Transport Study also noted the "line has many attributes that can make a rail trail successful".

At its meeting in May 2013, Council acknowledged the findings of the Transport Study and resolved to "actively support and promote the establishment of a rail trail on the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor, particularly the section extending south from Murwillumbah".

A feasibility study conducted on behalf of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet by Arup Pty Ltd in 2014 found that the Rail Trail's predicted visitation levels would make it financially viable.


Overview

When the entire Northern Rivers Rail Trail is complete, numerous rural villages and towns will be connected to Murwillumbah, Byron Bay, Bangalow, Lismore and Casino, providing an alternate transport route for residents and visitors alike.

The Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail is the first stage to be funded by the NSW and Australian governments.

It will include 24 kilometres of shared-user path from the former Murwillumbah Railway Station to Crabbes Creek, where the railway intersects with Wooyung Road.



Responsibilities and Tweed Shire Council's role

Federal Government

  • Provided $6.5 million funding from Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Package Fund.
  • The 13-kilometre section at the western end of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail from Bentley to Casino has received government funding of $7.5 million from the Australian Government’s National Tourism Icons Program. Detailed design has begun.

NSW State Government

  • Both sections of rail corridor remain in public ownership with Transport for New South Wales.

  • Responsible for community consultation and decision-making about the closure of the railway and trains.
    Legislation to formally close the Northern Branch Line from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek and Bentley to Casino passed the NSW Lower House on 23 September 2020 and Upper House on 15 October 2020.


  • To inform the decision to close the rail line, the Transport for NSW conducted the Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study to investigate the feasibility, benefits and costs of reinstating passenger services on the Casino to Murwillumbah Rail Line in the context of the current and future transport needs of people living and working in the Casino to Murwillumbah study corridor. The Study also explored potential connections to the South East Queensland public transport network.
  • In 2014, the NSW Government released the Casino to Murwillumbah Rail Trail Study Final Report which explored potential of converting the former railway to a rail trail. It incorporated several assessments including economic, environmental and social benefits; preserving the rail corridor and estimated costs.

  • Provided $7.8 million funding from the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund toward the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail. An additional $600,000 was secured from the NSW Government to cover the cost of promoting, operating and embellishing the section to be spread over the first three years.


Tweed Shire Council

  • Key delivery partner whose role it is to oversee the design and construction, with other State government agencies assisting.

* Future governance and administration of the rail trail is to be finalised prior to opening.


Community Consultation

NSW State Government

The NSW State Government was responsible for community consultation about stopping passenger rail services back in 2004. They were also responsible for consulting with the community about the railway's formal closure in 2020.

In the NSW Government Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study Report (pages 25/26), it states that 'regular and consistent consultation was conducted with more than 100 major stakeholders including government agencies, councils, business and tourism groups, state regional bodies, service providers including education institutions and representative and interest groups, local members of parliament and community members.'

The NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet led a stakeholder consultation on the potential closure of the Tweed section of the Casino to Murwillumbah railway in October 2017. Read the Stakeholder Consultation Report.


Tweed Shire Council

Council's role is to oversee the design, construction and operation of the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail.

Council Community ConversationCouncil Community ConversationCouncil Community Conversation


The two main objectives for Council consultation are to:

  1. Keep the Tweed community informed about the progress of the design and construction works.
    Council has used a range of methods to keep the Tweed community informed since the first pilot project in 2013. This includes Council's website, Tweed Link, media releases, social media posts, briefings to resident and ratepayer groups, briefings to business chambers, community conversations and public information sessions (both in-person and virtual).

  2. Engage and consult with affected landholders and key stakeholders
    Refer to the Community Consultation Fact Sheet for a detailed timeline of Council's consultation activities.
    Council will continue to consult with landowners and the community as the project moves into the detailed design and construction phases.

Read more about what consultation has been done to date.


Proposed design

Council will consider the awarding of a major contract for the design and construction of the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail was awarded at its meeting on 17 June 2021.


The detailed design of the trail will establish whether the alignment of the shared-user path will be either on or partly on the former railway line or beside the railway line.

There will be an asphalt trail surface between Murwillumbah Railway Station and the Tweed Regional Art Gallery and through the rural villages of Stokers Siding, Burringbar and Mooball. Compacted gravel will line the trail where the it passes through the Tweed countryside.

The Northern Rivers Rail Trail is a proposed 132-kilometre recreational shared-user pathway from Murwillumbah to Casino.

Staying within the railway corridor of the former Casino to Murwillumbah branch line of the North Coast Rail Line, the trail's route is proposed to meander through the Northern Rivers countryside, passing through the major towns of Casino, Byron Bay, Lismore and Murwillumbah.

The trail will be constructed in four stages, each delivered separately by each of the four local Councils as funding allows.

Background

First opened in 1894 and characterised by its magnificent scenery, difficult terrain and tight curves, the railway connected 24 stations along its length before closing in 2004. The Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study conducted by Transport for NSW in 2012 concluded that "reinstating rail services will not meet the existing and future public transport needs for the region". The Transport Study also noted the "line has many attributes that can make a rail trail successful".

At its meeting in May 2013, Council acknowledged the findings of the Transport Study and resolved to "actively support and promote the establishment of a rail trail on the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor, particularly the section extending south from Murwillumbah".

A feasibility study conducted on behalf of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet by Arup Pty Ltd in 2014 found that the Rail Trail's predicted visitation levels would make it financially viable.


Overview

When the entire Northern Rivers Rail Trail is complete, numerous rural villages and towns will be connected to Murwillumbah, Byron Bay, Bangalow, Lismore and Casino, providing an alternate transport route for residents and visitors alike.

The Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail is the first stage to be funded by the NSW and Australian governments.

It will include 24 kilometres of shared-user path from the former Murwillumbah Railway Station to Crabbes Creek, where the railway intersects with Wooyung Road.



Responsibilities and Tweed Shire Council's role

Federal Government

  • Provided $6.5 million funding from Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Package Fund.
  • The 13-kilometre section at the western end of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail from Bentley to Casino has received government funding of $7.5 million from the Australian Government’s National Tourism Icons Program. Detailed design has begun.

NSW State Government

  • Both sections of rail corridor remain in public ownership with Transport for New South Wales.

  • Responsible for community consultation and decision-making about the closure of the railway and trains.
    Legislation to formally close the Northern Branch Line from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek and Bentley to Casino passed the NSW Lower House on 23 September 2020 and Upper House on 15 October 2020.


  • To inform the decision to close the rail line, the Transport for NSW conducted the Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study to investigate the feasibility, benefits and costs of reinstating passenger services on the Casino to Murwillumbah Rail Line in the context of the current and future transport needs of people living and working in the Casino to Murwillumbah study corridor. The Study also explored potential connections to the South East Queensland public transport network.
  • In 2014, the NSW Government released the Casino to Murwillumbah Rail Trail Study Final Report which explored potential of converting the former railway to a rail trail. It incorporated several assessments including economic, environmental and social benefits; preserving the rail corridor and estimated costs.

  • Provided $7.8 million funding from the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund toward the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail. An additional $600,000 was secured from the NSW Government to cover the cost of promoting, operating and embellishing the section to be spread over the first three years.


Tweed Shire Council

  • Key delivery partner whose role it is to oversee the design and construction, with other State government agencies assisting.

* Future governance and administration of the rail trail is to be finalised prior to opening.


Community Consultation

NSW State Government

The NSW State Government was responsible for community consultation about stopping passenger rail services back in 2004. They were also responsible for consulting with the community about the railway's formal closure in 2020.

In the NSW Government Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study Report (pages 25/26), it states that 'regular and consistent consultation was conducted with more than 100 major stakeholders including government agencies, councils, business and tourism groups, state regional bodies, service providers including education institutions and representative and interest groups, local members of parliament and community members.'

The NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet led a stakeholder consultation on the potential closure of the Tweed section of the Casino to Murwillumbah railway in October 2017. Read the Stakeholder Consultation Report.


Tweed Shire Council

Council's role is to oversee the design, construction and operation of the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail.

Council Community ConversationCouncil Community ConversationCouncil Community Conversation


The two main objectives for Council consultation are to:

  1. Keep the Tweed community informed about the progress of the design and construction works.
    Council has used a range of methods to keep the Tweed community informed since the first pilot project in 2013. This includes Council's website, Tweed Link, media releases, social media posts, briefings to resident and ratepayer groups, briefings to business chambers, community conversations and public information sessions (both in-person and virtual).

  2. Engage and consult with affected landholders and key stakeholders
    Refer to the Community Consultation Fact Sheet for a detailed timeline of Council's consultation activities.
    Council will continue to consult with landowners and the community as the project moves into the detailed design and construction phases.

Read more about what consultation has been done to date.


Proposed design

Council will consider the awarding of a major contract for the design and construction of the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail was awarded at its meeting on 17 June 2021.


The detailed design of the trail will establish whether the alignment of the shared-user path will be either on or partly on the former railway line or beside the railway line.

There will be an asphalt trail surface between Murwillumbah Railway Station and the Tweed Regional Art Gallery and through the rural villages of Stokers Siding, Burringbar and Mooball. Compacted gravel will line the trail where the it passes through the Tweed countryside.

  • Contract awarded

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Councillors resolved to support the recommendation of Council’s Tender Evaluation Panel and award the contract to Hazell Bros (Qld) Pty Ltd following a rigorous tendering process.

    The detailed design and construction planning phase will now take place, after which the community will be able to view the final rail trail design plans.