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

'HUGE LOSS': Train advocates slam 'underlying agenda'

THE passage of legislation through NSW parliament which will enable the establishment of a Northern Rivers rail trail felt like a "nail in the coffin" for at least one pro train enthusiast.

Beth Shelley of the Northern Rivers Railway Action Group described the passing of the Transport Administration Amendment (Closures of Railway Lines in Northern Rivers) Bill 2020 through the NSW upper house on Thursday as a "terribly sad thing".

Although acknowledging the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor would remain in public hands under the new legislation, it would remain much harder to get trains back to the region.

"We have been really let down by government," she said.

"This area is rapidly growing and rail could be a fantastic asset for tourists into Byron and get them out to Lismore and Murwillumbah."

While her group and others like it hadn't given up hope of returning rail to the corridor they had yet to meet and work out a way forward.

She was encouraged by the rail study carried out for Byron Shire Council and remained hopeful that some form of rail services could be restored there.

"It is such a huge loss. I am bewildered to lose railway rail services. Moree and Armidale have less populations and they have rail services," she said.

"All along the way there has been this underlying agenda to get rid of this railway.

"Now that this legislation is through there are people in government there that will think there is really no point as the rest of the line is cut off from Sydney.

"This kind of means it is less likely something is going to end up happening on the rail corridor."

Ms Shelley said her group would definitely keep going.

"For rail trail members this is the first step for them and they will be fighting for the extension of the rail trail from Bentley to Eltham next," she said.

"We are just ordinary little people with no money and nowhere near the skill level of people in the rail trail movement.

"We need to work harder and get better at lobbying and with the media and social media"