MP's grand plan for Byron Bay rail trail

BIG PLANS: North Coast Destination Network chairman, Cameron Arnold with Ballina MP Tamara Smith and Northern Rivers Rail Trail treasurer, Maree Lawton and president, Pat Grier discussed staging a rail trail project from Byron Bay to Ewingsdale.
BIG PLANS: North Coast Destination Network chairman, Cameron Arnold with Ballina MP Tamara Smith and Northern Rivers Rail Trail treasurer, Maree Lawton and president, Pat Grier discussed staging a rail trail project from Byron Bay to Ewingsdale. Claudia Jambor

AUSTRALIA'S first solar power train set to run in Byron Bay is part of a revitalised vision to get the Northern Rivers rail trail on track.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith today announced she will work with the Northern Rivers Rail Trail group to create the first stage of the trail from Byron Bay to Elements of Byron Resort.

It is hoped a cycle path could run parallel to the 3km stretch of track to host the solar train.

Ms Smith said the plan would serve as "a really great start to looking at rail trails around the region.”

"There's a working path, there's a working train and we want a cycle path next to it,” Ms Smith said.

Ms Smith said the Byron Bay to Ewingsdale stretch may lend itself to future expansion.

"This is my commitment to start with this and see how that goes,” Ms Smith said.

Ms Smith is embarking on a self-funded trip to New Zealand on Saturday to learn about the Otago and Queenstown rail trails.

After the trip, Ms Smith said she would develop a business plan with NRRT and seek funding.

Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers chairman Don Page had his doubts about the proposal of a functioning train and rail trail on the same track.

Mr Page said if the safety issues can be met then the trail could work, citing rail trails as "an important piece of infrastructure”.

North Coast Destination Network chair and NRRT vice president, Cameron Arnold said the trails "tick all of the boxes” to encourage visitors to explore surrounding town and villages beyond popular tourism hubs such as Byron Bay.

Topics:  byron bay ewingsdale northern rivers environment northern rivers rail trail northern rivers transport rail trail tamara smith mp

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