The Lismore to Murwillumbah railway line opened in 1894 allowing passengers and goods to be transported to Sydney by coastal shipping from Byron Bay.
The line was closed in 2004 as it was considered to expensive to maintain. Despite repeated attempts to reopen the line a NSW Government report in April 2013 concluded that it would cost $900 million to bring the line back to “usable standards”, thereby quashing hopes to reopen it to regular services.
Now a local community group, the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc., has started a campaign to turn the disused railway into a walking and cycle track.
The proposed 130km Rail Trail will link 12 towns and villages from Lismore to Eltham, Bangalow and Byron Bay and onto Mullumbimby, Stokers Siding and Murwillumbah.
Rail Trail committee member Marie Lawton commented that there is a growing movement to re-establishing disused railways as community assets. There are over 500 rail trails globally around 50 of which are in Australia. The project has the potential to boost tourism across the region bringing employment and financial benefits to local residents.
The Rail Trails online petition of support has collected over 1,600 signatures so far.
Here is the link to the online petition.
Story and photos thanks to Jerry Pressnell