Part of the proposed Northern Rivers Rail Trail.
Part of the proposed Northern Rivers Rail Trail. Digby Hildreth

$33 million needed for Casino to Eltham rail trail

IN AN effort to make 45 kilometres of rail corridor a reality Richmond Valley Council is requesting $33.3 million in funding from the NSW and Federal governments.

A Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT) business case has been released ahead of tonight's Richmond Valley Council meeting.

The business case, prepared by Bathurst-based consultancy BusinessSense, covers the 45km Casino-to-Eltham section of the 130kms Casino-to-Murwillumbah rail corridor.

Richmond Valley and Lismore City councils each contributed $15,000 for the report.

The report states the Casino to Lismore section will cost more than $15.4 million and Lismore to Eltham section will cost more than $17.8 million.

Both councils have committed more than $100,000 towards the project through the provision of in-kind technical expertise and project coordination support.

The costs for the Casino-to-Eltham section are based on extensive research undertaken by Tweed Shire Council in the preparation of the Murwillumbah-to-Crabbes Creek section, with construction and ongoing maintenance inputs from suitably qualified engineers.

General manager Vaughan Macdonald said getting the Casino-to-Eltham section started would be helped by work already completed by NRRT, in conjunction with Tweed Shire Council.

He said discussions would be held with landholders adjacent to the rail corridor and other stakeholders.

Mr Macdonald said the business case also included an allocation of $490,000 to upgrade the old Casino railway station.

"An exciting aside to the rail trail project is the potential refurbishment of the heritage-listed old Casino railway station, acknowledging the important history of rail in Casino," he said.

He said the Casino-to-Eltham trail would provide a number of recreational opportunities, such as attracting tourism.

"A trail will create opportunities to build on existing businesses and industries of the area.

"Council will be encouraging enterprising residents to offer additional off-trail offerings to encourage visitors to stay a little longer.

"All of our towns and villages offer a range of outdoor recreation experiences, be it boating, canoeing, kayaking fishing, swimming, paddling, walking, photography - you name it we have it right here in the beautiful Richmond Valley.

"A nature-based attraction has the power to retain visitors for longer, spending money and generating business opportunities."

Richmond Valley Council Mayor Robert Mustow praised the people behind NRRT, saying they had lobbied tirelessly for several years to make the trail a reality.

"Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan's pre-election commitment of $7.5 million towards the Casino-to-Bentley section of the trail was a great win for the Richmond Valley," Cr Mustow said.

This was in addition to previous Federal and NSW governments' commitments totalling $13 million.

Cr Mustow said the proposed rail trail provided a safe, environmentally-friendly option for both visitors and local people who participated in a range of activities.

He highlighted the land would remain a rail corridor, and could be used for transport in the future.