There are two ideas on how to use the rail corridor between Casino and Bentley.
The newly formed Northern Rivers Rail Ltd wants to see trains on the track with a bike path alongside.
The group suggested the path be made out of recycled plastic similar to ones being constructed in New Zealand.
Richmond Valley Council general manager Vaughan Macdonald said the rail trail for bike riders and walkers (not including trains) has support from both federal and state parliaments with plans for construction to begin at the end of this year.
The transport corridor will remain so that in the future if a new transport technology requires such a corridor it is available, Mr Mcdonald said.
Northern Rivers Rail Ltd secretary Lydia Kindred said having trains and rail trails was a “perfect compromise”.
Casino’s Paul Mackey said he used to ride the train to Byron Bay when he was a child.
He wants to see a train back on the tracks.
“I think this will be a white elephant. We have temperatures up to 42 degrees in summer and I can’t see anyone going for a ride in that weather,” he said.
Mark Scofield who is visually impaired said travelling by train was important for people with a disability.
“It affects my independence to travel and there is limited public transport.”
People like Mark were signing up to join the pro-train not-for-profit public company, Northern Rivers Rail Ltd and becoming members for $20.
“In the next month we need thousands of people to join to show Richmond Valley Council that there is a lot of support for both rail and rail trails,” Ms Kindred said.
She accused the council of “no real community consultation”.
The Richmond Valley Council Community Strategic Plan, which was adopted in 2017 following extensive community consultation, included the Northern Rivers Rail Trail as a signature project, Mr Macdonald said.
“The Richmond Valley business community is poised to seize the opportunities which come with the tourism generated by a rail trail.”
Anyone interested in supporting Northern Rivers Rail Ltd can email firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared in the Richmond River Independent, 3 March 2021.