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

Community jumps on board rally in hopes of returning rail

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 $13million 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.

Rail protest at Murwillumbah
Rail protest at Murwillumbah Scott Powick

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,” MsHitchens 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.

When: Today (Saturday, December 1) from 11am

Where: Knox Park, Murwillumbah

Info: Visit TOOT4Trains