Jump­ing on board train rally

Lo­cals push for rail re­turn

Tweed Daily News - - NEWS - Ais­ling Bren­nan ais­ling.bren­[email protected]­dai­lynews.com.au

THE push to keep the ex­ist­ing rail­way lines is gath­er­ing speed as res­i­dents plan to gather in Mur­willum­bah to­day in sup­port of re­turn­ing a work­ing train sys­tem to the North­ern Rivers.

More than 150 peo­ple have reg­is­tered their in­ter­est on­line to at­tend the Rally for Rail event, hosted by Trains On Our Tracks (TOOT), at Knox Park to­day.

The rally fol­lows months of com­mu­nity-led protests against the pro­posed North­ern Rivers Rail Trail.

Tweed Shire Coun­cil is work­ing on its plan to have its $13 mil­lion sec­tion of the trail from Mur­willum­bah to Crabbes Creek com­pleted by Septem­ber 2020.

The coun­cil has called for ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est to de­sign and con­struct the rail trail. Con­struc­tion

com­pa­nies now have un­til De­cem­ber 12 to re­spond.

That con­tract will be awarded in about May next year, with con­struc­tion ex­pected to start June 2019 for com­ple­tion by Septem­ber 2020.

The coun­cil will con­sider build­ing the rail trail ei­ther on top of ex­ist­ing rail­way lines or di­rectly next to the tracks.

Rally or­gan­iser Ju­liann Hitchens said while there was in­creas­ing sup­port across the com­mu­nity to reinstall trains to Mur­willum­bah, she was not op­posed to the rail trail be­ing built along­side ex­ist­ing tracks.

“What we’re re­ally mainly con­cen­trat­ing on is stop­ping the tracks from be­ing re­moved,” Ms Hitchens said.

“If we re­move the tracks, then the train will most likely never re­turn to the North­ern Rivers.

“We’d like to see both the rail trail and the train to­gether.”

Ms Hitchens said the rally was a chance for the com­mu­nity to hear about the ben­e­fits of rail.

“We’re hav­ing it in Knox Park and we’ve or­gan­ised a speaker to come to talk about the cost­ing and the ben­e­fits of re­in­stalling the train to the tourists,” Ms Hitchens said.

“The lo­cal mayor and some coun­cil­lors will be there.

“We’d like to see a big at­ten­dance to show the lo­cal gov­ern­ment that we do want the trains back and that they will be used by the el­derly as well as young peo­ple.

“Peo­ple can go to By­ron to party and come back by train.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Tweed Shire Coun­cil’s North­ern Rivers Rail Trail project, visit www.your­saytweed. com.au/rail­trail.

PHOTO: SCOTT POWICK

TOOT-TOOT: Pro­test­ers calling for the re­turn of trains to Mur­willum­bah.

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