Parliament formally closes railway line making way for rail trail

Council welcomes move and restarts design negotiations

Friday 16 October, 2020

Tweed Shire Council has welcomed the passing of legislation through the NSW Parliament to formally close the railway line from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek, making way for the construction of the Tweed's stage of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail.

State Member for Tweed Geoff Provest announced that a Bill to close the railway line passed the Upper House late yesterday, having passed the Lower House on 23 September 2020.

"Council welcomes the passage of this legislation and thanks Mr Provest and all our current and past members who have steadfastly advocated to secure the way forward for this new tourism enterprise for the Northern Rivers region," Council General Manager Troy Green said.

"This news marks a key milestone achievement for Council's rail trail project and provides the much-needed initiative the certainty our community has been waiting for and on which we can have a clear conversation.

"It also enables Council to re-engage with our shortlisted design and construction prospective tenderers so that we can work towards a final rail trail design, and clarify during the process our ability to incorporate on and/or off-formation (trail beside the rail) aspects where appropriate that best serve the broader needs and aspirations of our community.

"This legislation importantly retains the corridor in public ownership and paves the way for Council's shortlisted tenderers to bring their rail trail concept designs forward in the next phase of Council's contract procurement.

"We look forward to having that next level of objective engineering assessment to address the many queries and claims raised about the rail trail design and to assist with alleviating neighbouring landowner concerns." 

Construction of the 24-kilometre section of the rail trail from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek has been jointly funded by the NSW and Australian governments. Council has been engaged as the project manager to oversee design and construction of this section.

Council hopes to be in a position to award a Design and Construct contract early next year, with construction to begin around March and the Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek section of the rail trail to be operational by late 2022.

This first stage of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail has received $6.5 million in funding from the Australian Government under its Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Packages Fund, with the NSW Government providing $7.8 million under its Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

An additional $600,000 has been secured from the NSW Government to cover the costs of operating and maintaining the section of rail trail for the first three years.

The Bentley to Casino section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail also was formally closed by the NSW Parliament yesterday.

This section forms the western end of the proposed 134-kilometre Murwillumbah to Casino Northern Rivers Rail Trail.

It, too, has received grant funding to design and construct and Richmond Valley Council has been engaged as the project manager to deliver that section of the rail trail.

For more information on the rail trail, visit www.yoursaytweed.com.au/RailTrail