Byron Shire's rail corridor map between Bangalow and Yelgun.
Byron Shire's rail corridor map between Bangalow and Yelgun. Jasmine Burke

Future of rail corridor to be revealed

A GLIMPSE into the potential future use of the Byron rail corridor could be revealed as soon as next month.

Byron Shire Council said they are working on a project to investigate the potential multi use options for the corridor.

Design and consultancy company Arcadis are working with the council to deliver an engineering, economic and social assessment of the future multi use of the Byron Shire Rail corridor between Bangalow and Yelgun.

It is anticipated that the study will be delivered in May.

The council said they acknowledge the desire for the disused rail corridor to be utilised for the community.

Following the tabling of a mayoral minute at a meeting in December 2016, the council resolved to support the multi-use of Byron Shire's rail corridor and to prepare for possible funding opportunities.

Expressions of interest were then sought for a consultant to prepare a report on the corridor which would outline the state of infrastructure in Byron Shire's rail corridor.

This would be used to inform an economic feasibility study and also the social impact of different mode options being implemented within the corridor.

"Byron is unique in its position in the tourism market and the report will review this position and use tourism as the driver of the project, with community use as an added benefit," the council said in a community announcement.

"The multi-use is intended to provide options for public transport via a rail-based service for both day trippers and local residents, as well as various tourism products.

"The report is also looking at how a walking/cycling path will integrate with public transport to ensure the use of the corridor is maximised."

TOOT (Trains on our Tracks) has encouraged residents to complete the current survey.

"Trains and cycleways alongside is a no-brainer," TOOT said.

"Trains would be of huge benefit to the shire, providing practical, convenient and low emissions alternatives to road transport for use by locals and tourists alike.

"They would provide scope to limit congestion and the heavy reliance on roads, improving the connection and accessibility between the villages and towns throughout the shire.

"Cycleways alongside would provide further recreational benefit for use by tourists and locals, with trains and cycleways being mutually beneficial."

The project is broadly broken into three segments of the final report:

1. Infrastructure Assessment of existing assets and the required assets/upgrades to allow each use within the corridor.

2. Economic Feasibility Study will be informed by the Infrastructure Assessment to determine a likely cost-benefit of each use within the corridor.

3. Social Impact Assessment will link closely with the Economic Feasibility Study to determine the social impacts (both positive and negative) of each use within the corridor.

In September 2018, the council awarded the tender to Arcadis Australia Pacific Pty Ltd to complete this study.

The council's allocated budget for this project is $230,000.

The survey is now open until April 30. Access it here.