RAIL TRAIL: Sections of the Tweed to Byron Rail trail line.
RAIL TRAIL: Sections of the Tweed to Byron Rail trail line. Scott Powick

Northern Rivers Rail Trail plans gathers speed

TWEED Shire Council is back on track with its plans to build the Northern Rivers Rail Trail.

While the exact design of the 24km trail from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek is yet to be finalised, the council has unanimously supported amending the Tweed Local Environmental Plan to accommodate necessary planning procedures.

The decision will also see any future planning assessment carried out by councillors rather than delegated authorities, under Part 5 of the Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

As the council continues to work to meet its June 2020 deadline to complete the rail trail project, Councillor Chris Cherry once again lobbied for the dual-use design to be selected.

Cr Cherry said a dual-use rail trail would allow the existing railway tracks to be kept in place for any future prospects of rail returning to the region.

"I think that's much more in keeping with Transport NSW and their intention for this land for the purpose of potential rail,” she said.

"If we put (the rail trail) beside the track and we make it possible that Transport NSW can develop a railway on that land, we're not spending money on a project that will need to be ripped up in the future anyway.

"We need to try to accommodate the dual-use option. People are saying we want the trains.”

Mayor Katie Milne also backed the dual-use design for the rail trail.

"We're trying to make it as open and available for all uses (as possible),” Cr Milne said. "To (potentially) have the classic tram back on our tracks would allow people to come back up to our heritage town of Murwillumbah.”

The council has been awarded $13million in federal and state government funding to build the rail trail, and it is set to inject up to $900,000 into the project.

It is working on concept design and environmental assessments ahead of opening the tender process, which is expected to be awarded this year.

The tender will accept plans to build either

beside or on top of existing tracks.