Northern Rivers Rail Trail - Tweed section

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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 awarded the contract for the design and construction of the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail to family-owned construction company, Hazell Bros. Pty Ltd 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.



Get involved


Help us create a Rail Trail we can all be proud of.

Share your ideas or register your business interest in the Northern Rivers Rail Trail.

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 awarded the contract for the design and construction of the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail to family-owned construction company, Hazell Bros. Pty Ltd 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.



Get involved


Help us create a Rail Trail we can all be proud of.

Share your ideas or register your business interest in the Northern Rivers Rail Trail.

  • Trail Alignment Plan released

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    Family owned construction company, Hazel Bros, has now finalised the Trail Alignment Plan for the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail. The plan displays a series of maps that identify the trail's alignment from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek.

    This 'first look' at the trail alignment provides residents and rail trail enthusiasts with a greater insight into the trail route and identifies sealed and unsealed sections as well as locations for where the trail goes off the formation of the rail line.

    View the Final Trail Alignment Plan.

    The Northern Rivers Rail Trail will be a great resource for our community and will help make the Tweed an even greater place to live and visit, helping our local businesses to thrive.

    A more detailed Trail Development Plan is expected shortly.

  • Downing tools to help local communities

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    Family-owned construction company, Hazel Bros, have temporarily downed tools on the construction of the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail to assist with the clean-up in flood-affected local communities. Construction activity will pause for about 4 weeks and is not expected to impact the completion of the rail trail in December this year.

  • Historic bridge restoration underway

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    supporting image

    Work has begun to restore Dunbible Creek Railway Bridge, one of 5 bridges to be restored as part of the construction of 24km Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail.

    Much of the rail and bridge infrastructure along the trail is significantly damaged and decayed, making it unsafe and unsuitable for public use. These restoration works will see some bridges receive a much-needed facelift including removing the old lead paint and repainting.

    American-inspired steel through truss bridges became a hallmark of the North Coast Railway Line which first opened in 1894.

    “The Dunbible Creek Railway Bridge is a good example of steel through truss bridge and this is a fascinating restoration process. It is great that the project team are prioritising documentation of the changes to contribute to the ongoing story of our rail history.” said Molly Green Museum Director, Tweed Regional Museum.


    Since construction of the trail began in late 2021, contractors have completed an archival record of 11 bridges across the length of the Tweed section of the trail to ensure. These records will be shared with Tweed Regional Museum to add to their collection.

    Other preliminary works also underway include the completion of Geotechnical and Foundation Study, clearing works and the installation of a trial surface which has required rails to be removed.

    “The rail infrastructure is in a state of disrepair, and while its condition is unsuitable for its intended purpose, it is important to us that we reuse, recycle and minimise waste,” Project Director, Iain Lonsdale explained.

    “It is likely that the majority of rails removed during construction works will be repurposed as pylons within the foundations for new building construction overseas. We are retaining a small length of reclaimed rail to potentially incorporate into infrastructure such as seating, sign/fence posts, or tables along the rail trail and have earmarked metal sleepers, plates, clips and bolts to be recycled at the Newcastle Steel Mill.”

    As contractors continue construction and restoration works along the trail, there may be traffic delays in the following locations in February 2022:

    • Dunbible - Stokers Rd

    • Stokers Siding - Stokers Rd and The Bloodwoods Rd & Tunnel Rd

    • Mooball - Tweed Valley Way

    • Crabbes Creek - Tweed Valley Way

  • Full steam ahead!

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    supporting image

    Anticipation is building for local businesses, cycle enthusiasts and walking groups after crews started construction works at a number of locations along the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail.

    Thanks to input from industry experts and stakeholders including traditional owners, local residents, businesses, community and interest groups, the trail’s construction will see heritage bridges and railway station buildings restored, local places of cultural significance acknowledged and celebrated, and will deliver an accessible community resource for people of all abilities to enjoy.

    Project Director Iain Lonsdale said construction works on the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail were progressing well and on schedule to be finished by December next year.

    Work to clear vegetation along the Tweed section of the trail began earlier this year while detailed design and preliminary site works have been underway since the $11.8m construction contract was awarded to family-owned construction company Hazel Bros in June.

    “We are excited to be moving into the onsite construction phase of works now that the detailed site design works are nearly complete,” Mr Lonsdale said.

    “Murwillumbah locals may have seen the main site office set up at the Murwillumbah Station in recent days and people may start to see crews preparing for the first construction works, set to begin at Dunbible on 15 December.”

    The first official works will include restoration and resurfacing of the historic Colin Street Bridge in South Murwillumbah. A compacted gravel surface will also be installed along a 200 metre stretch of the disused rail line to trial the installation process and evaluate the surface’s suitability for local conditions. As part of this process, a section of the old railway track will be removed to enable construction of the new surface.

    “It is really important to us that we respect our Aboriginal heritage and our built environment and I am proud this project will restore so much of this important local history and put it on show for people to enjoy and learn more,” Mr Lonsdale said.

    Excitement building

    Council’s Senior Economic Development Officer Kym Kranen is looking forward to the project getting underway.

    “The Rail Trail will be a fantastic resource for our community and make the Tweed an even greater place to visit, helping our local businesses to thrive,” she said.

    “It will be a destination for the whole community to enjoy - whether you want a safe place to ride with friends and family, go on a long distance ride with your cycle club, or just walk through the countryside to explore local villages, experience our beautiful scenic landscapes or learn about local history.”

    When completed, the Northern Rivers Rail Trail will preserve the 132km scenic rail corridor between Murwillumbah and Casino, creating a safe, car-free connection between the villages and towns along the route.

    The 24km Tweed section will link Murwillumbah Railway Station with the Tweed Regional Gallery and travel south through the villages of Stokers Siding, Burringbar, Mooball and Crabbes Creek.

    “The Rail Trail will be a wonderful backdrop for a whole host of new eco-tourism ventures,” Ms Kranen said.

    “We think it is really going to be something special and we’re excited about the ideas we’re already hearing from the local business community. They are really excited too – a workshop for local entrepreneurs and business operators hosted by Destination North Coast this week was booked out.”

    Ms Kranen said some of the ideas at the workshop included coffee vans and kiosks, food trucks, paddock-to-plate experiences, horse-riding, arts and crafts stalls and brewery and distillery tours.

    The Australian Government’s Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Package Fund and NSW Government’s Restart NSW program have provided the funding required to construct the trail.

    Train services ceased operating on the Northern NSW Branch Line between Casino and Murwillumbah in May 2004 and the NSW Government formally closed the line in October 2020.

  • Northern Rivers Rail Trail ‘on track’

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    The Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT) is on track to be completed by December 2022 and is anticipated to attract increased tourism to the Tweed, help stimulate the local economy and provide a valuable recreation asset for the region.

    The project was given the green light in June when Tweed Shire Council awarded family-owned construction company, Hazell Bros (Qld) Pty Ltd with an $11.8 million contract to design and construct the Tweed section.

    The Tweed section was the first stage to be fully funded thanks to grants from the Australian Government’s Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Package Fund and NSW Government’s Restart NSW program and will connect Crabbes Creek, Mooball, Burringbar, Stokers Siding and Murwillumbah.

    “Momentum is building. We have been working with the contractor to fully ‘test’ the concept plans against all the technical requirements and site constraints to ensure that it is ‘constructible’ and feasible and we are almost there,” Project Director, Iain Lonsdale explained.

    “A range of other project works are also underway – including liaising with private landowners and evaluating suitable locations for onsite offices, construction materials and site access.”

    Work will soon start on the Master Plan which will include a Delivery Plan to describe the final trail alignment, finishes and features such as signage, seating and access paths; and also an Embellishments Plan that will outline potential future opportunities to enhance the trail as resources and funding permits.

    “We’ll be working closely with technical experts, tourism bodies, local businesses, recreation groups, residents and other important stakeholders to help make sure we get it right. We’re already hearing the excitement build in the community and we believe that by working together we can make the best of the opportunity we have.”

    Eventually, it is envisioned that the NRRT will stretch from Murwillumbah to Casino within the rail corridor of the former North Coast Rail Line. It will be constructed in 4 stages, with each delivered separately by the 4 local Councils as funding allows. The Casino to Lismore section is also now fully funded.


  • Contract awarded

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    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.


Page last updated: 23 Jun 2022, 10:39 AM