Murwillumbah railway line

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Murwillumbah Branch
North Coast line to Sydney
Old Casino
Bungabbee
Leycester
Lismore
North Lismore
Woodlawn
Bexhill
Eltham
Laureldale
Booyong Junction
Tyumba
Teven
Ballina
Booyong
Binna Burra
Bangalow
St Helena
Byron Bay
Tyagarah
Myocum
Mullumbimby
Billinudgel
Crabbes Creek
Mooball
Burringbar
Stokers
Dunbible
Murwillumbah
Condong

The Murwillumbah railway line is a disused line in far north-eastern New South Wales, Australia. The line ran from Casino to Lismore, Byron Bay and Murwillumbah, and opened in 1894.[1] It is one of only two branches off the North Coast line, (the other being the Dorrigo line). Services on the line were suspended in April 2004.

History[edit]

The first section opened between Lismore and Murwillumbah, connecting the Richmond and Tweed rivers. Passengers and goods were transported to Sydney by coastal shipping from Byron Bay. Nine years later, an extension from Lismore to Casino opened (and later south to Grafton - it was not until 1932 that the line was fully connected to Sydney). As early as 1889, feasibility talks took place into extending the line north from Murwillumbah into Queensland, discussions that continue to the present day. The line became a branch line when in 1930, the North Coast Line was extended from Kyogle to South Brisbane.

Services[edit]

The North Coast Mail was the premier train between Murwillumbah and Sydney after the North Coast line was completed in the 1930s.[2]

Additional local trains plied the tracks between Casino and Murwillumbah, connecting with other services such as the Brisbane Express and Brisbane Limited. The extension to Condong was for sugar mill traffic. 620/720 class railcars also worked this line (set 638/738, which was specially modified, and also hauled a small van). From 1973, the Gold Coast Motorail provided passenger and car transport between Sydney and Murwillumbah.[3] In February 1990 the Gold Coast Motorail was replaced by an unnamed CountryLink XPT service.[4]

In September 1997, FreightCorp contracted out of the operation of freight trains on the line to Northern Rivers Railroad.[5][6] These services ceased in 2002. Freight traffic primarily consisted of bananas and flyash from Wyee.[7]

In April 2004, services on the line were suspended.[8]

Ballina Branch[edit]

In 1930, a branch opened between Booyong and the town of Ballina. In 1948, flood damage and landslips saw services suspended on the line, and it was officially closed in 1953.[9]

Proposed extension[edit]

When Queensland's South Coast line reached Tweed Heads in 1903, there were immediate calls from local Members of the Parliament of New South Wales to extend the Murwillumbah line another 18 mi (29 km) to Tweed Heads so the two railways could meet. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works Committee examined the proposal[10] but narrowly voted against it in 1904.[11] There were three other proposals to extend the railway to Tweed Heads before the idea was dropped in 1928.[12]

In 2011, the NSW Department of Transport commissioned a feasibility study to reopen the Murwillumbah line, including to extend rail services in northern NSW to connect with the Queensland Rail system and Coolangatta Airport. Any hope of reopening the line and extending it into Queensland were dashed by a feasibility report in April 2013 that concluded it would take $900 million to bring the line back to a required standard.[13][14]

Northern Rivers Rail Trail[edit]

There is a proposal for the line to be converted to a rail trail from Casino to Murwillumbah, which aims to boost tourism to the villages and towns along the line. The trail will incorporate walking, cycling, and horse riding sections. As of January 2015, the trail has been found feasible and the NSW State Government have announced funding. A 2.6km pilot section from Murwillumbah railway station to the Tweed River Art Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre is likely to be built first.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Murwillumbah Branch NSWrail.net
  2. ^ "Some Recollections of the Murwillumbah Branch" Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin issue 754 August 2000
  3. ^ "Motorail nears the end of the road" Railway Digest March 1990 page 89
  4. ^ "The New Timetable" Railway Digest March 1990 page 94
  5. ^ "Northern Rivers Railroad Beats Austrac as First Private Rail Freight Operator" Railway Digest October 1997 page 8
  6. ^ "Northern Rivers May Target Export Traffic to Brisbane" Railway Digest November 1997 page 7
  7. ^ "Flyash to Murwillumbah" Railway Digest April 1990 page 129
  8. ^ Closure of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail service NSW Parliament 24 November 2004
  9. ^ The North Coast Line "Railway Digest" August 1996 page 24
  10. ^ "Public Works Committee. Murwillumbah-Tweed Heads Railway.". Sydney Morning Herald. 29 May 1903. 
  11. ^ "Murwillumbah to Tweed Heads Railway. The Scheme Rejected.". Sydney Morning Herald. 10 March 1904. 
  12. ^ "Proposed Railway. Unfavourable Report. Murwillumbah-Tweed Heads.". Sydney Morning Herald. 20 September 1928. 
  13. ^ "Legislative Council Questions and Answers No. 25" (PDF). Parliament of New South Wales. 2 August 2011. 
  14. ^ [*Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study Transport for NSWApril 2013

External links[edit]