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Byron Bay Regional Rapid Rail?

Started by timh, December 14, 2019, 10:55:23 AM

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timh

I was down in Byron Bay for work recently, and was surprised to meet a number of people there who actually commute to Brisbane for work, and a number of people who also regularly go from GC to Byron for work as well. Got me thinking and researching....

I understand there's been a number of calls to reopen the Murwillumbah line and/or extend it to GC airport. I think this is unlikely. However, Byron bay's high tourism, and relatively close distance to Brisbane (2 hours by car) make it a reasonable candidate for regional rapid Rail in the future (in my opinion). An option for commuters to Brisbane, and also an option for tourists coming from OOL.

Reopening the existing Murwillumbah line seems unlikely due to curvature, wooden bridges, etc. I expect some of the existing alignment may be used, but a new alignment supporting the high speeds we've talked about for R1 etc. Would probably be needed (and at standard guage too). The line would meet the QLD line at OOL I suspect.

Obviously this isn't a high priority, was just wondering what everyone thought as a long term idea? Would it ever happen? The border crossing makes it difficult obviously but the distance is not unreasonable based on regional rail commuter towns near Sydney and Melbourne..


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Arnz

Quote from: timh on December 14, 2019, 10:55:23 AM
I was down in Byron Bay for work recently, and was surprised to meet a number of people there who actually commute to Brisbane for work, and a number of people who also regularly go from GC to Byron for work as well. Got me thinking and researching....

I understand there's been a number of calls to reopen the Murwillumbah line and/or extend it to GC airport. I think this is unlikely. However, Byron bay's high tourism, and relatively close distance to Brisbane (2 hours by car) make it a reasonable candidate for regional rapid Rail in the future (in my opinion). An option for commuters to Brisbane, and also an option for tourists coming from OOL.

Reopening the existing Murwillumbah line seems unlikely due to curvature, wooden bridges, etc. I expect some of the existing alignment may be used, but a new alignment supporting the high speeds we've talked about for R1 etc. Would probably be needed (and at standard guage too). The line would meet the QLD line at OOL I suspect.

Obviously this isn't a high priority, was just wondering what everyone thought as a long term idea? Would it ever happen? The border crossing makes it difficult obviously but the distance is not unreasonable based on regional rail commuter towns near Sydney and Melbourne..


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Problem is the funding between the NSW and QLD governments.  Neither government wants to subsidise each other's PT with very few exceptions (namely the Tweed Heads cross-border routes which terminates just over the state border).

E.g Don't expect Transport for NSW to subsidise Gold Coast routes or TransLink subsidise northern NSW routes.

The other noted exception is NSW TrainLink (formerly CountryLink), which runs their train services on Federal Government controlled (ARTC) Standard Gauge track, hence the interstate services.

Rgds,
Arnz

Unless stated otherwise, Opinions stated in my posts are those of my own view only.

James

I question the usefulness of having passenger rail to Byron Bay when currently, all that can be sustained are Greyhound buses 3x a day from Coolangatta to Byron (which also serve destinations in between) along with a few NSW TrainLink bus services.

First of all, as a "NSW problem", I imagine Gladys is too busy pouring concrete & bitumen everywhere in Sydney to keep up with population growth-mania down there to consider something which is more of an access issue, and in terms of congestion, mainly impacts north of the border.

Quote from: Arnz on December 14, 2019, 11:13:35 AMThe other noted exception is NSW TrainLink (formerly CountryLink), which runs their train services on Federal Government controlled (ARTC) Standard Gauge track, hence the interstate services.

NSW TrainLink also runs coach services into Queensland. You can actually book some of the intra-Queensland stops, but not all e.g. you cannot buy tickets to go from Brisbane to Beenleigh, but you can for a trip from Surfers to Palm Beach (at more than the cost of a TransLink service).

Point being, NSW doesn't particularly want to pay for Qld people moving around within Qld. You would be a strange individual to pay more for a 2x daily coach service when the 700+tram run every 15 mins or better 7 days a week...
Is it really that hard to run frequent, reliable public transport?

verbatim9

#3
^^I would like to see the heavy rail extended to OOL with a low floor bus connection to Byron Bay from there. An express route preferably being straight onto the freeway and  through ticketing options with smart ticketing technology.

Coolangatta Airport could have a proper interchange connecting from train, tram and bus. This would provide convenient seamless travel for the Public Transport user. It's also a realistic infrastructure goal to be completed within the next 8 years.

Total travel time from Roma Street could be approximately  2h 30m or less?

timh

Quote from: James on December 14, 2019, 12:19:29 PM
I question the usefulness of having passenger rail to Byron Bay when currently, all that can be sustained are Greyhound buses 3x a day from Coolangatta to Byron (which also serve destinations in between) along with a few NSW TrainLink bus services.

First of all, as a "NSW problem", I imagine Gladys is too busy pouring concrete & bitumen everywhere in Sydney to keep up with population growth-mania down there to consider something which is more of an access issue, and in terms of congestion, mainly impacts north of the border.

Quote from: Arnz on December 14, 2019, 11:13:35 AMThe other noted exception is NSW TrainLink (formerly CountryLink), which runs their train services on Federal Government controlled (ARTC) Standard Gauge track, hence the interstate services.

NSW TrainLink also runs coach services into Queensland. You can actually book some of the intra-Queensland stops, but not all e.g. you cannot buy tickets to go from Brisbane to Beenleigh, but you can for a trip from Surfers to Palm Beach (at more than the cost of a TransLink service).

Point being, NSW doesn't particularly want to pay for Qld people moving around within Qld. You would be a strange individual to pay more for a 2x daily coach service when the 700+tram run every 15 mins or better 7 days a week...
Obviously the patronage isn't there now, I was definitely only meaning as a long term thing. Like once we actually have regional rapid Rail to the GC, I could see a route to Byron via tweed heads being mooted as an option for potential extension.

And yeah the cross border thing is why I think it would make for interesting discussion. NSW govt doesn't care much at all about transport that close to the border, so I think it would very much have to be a Queensland driven project if it ever happened. It would have to mean a lot of interstate funding negotiations certainly, which is a difficulty.

In 20+ years time I could definitely see it as a viable route

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Gazza

If there was to be passenger rail, it would need to be a brand new alignment. Trying to use the Murwillumbah alignment would be a joke

verbatim9

It's not going to happen this decade. NSW Government is already investing in a business case for LRT to OOL Airport from Tweed City via Griffith street at Coolangatta. Coolangatta airport will likely be an interchange for LRT and Buses south to cater for the commuter with through ticketing options.


#Metro

Isn't there a bus now?

What's wrong with bus??
Negative people... have a problem for every solution. Posts are commentary and are not necessarily endorsed by RAIL Back on Track or its members.

verbatim9

Quote from: timh on December 14, 2019, 13:58:29 PM
Quote from: James on December 14, 2019, 12:19:29 PM
I question the usefulness of having passenger rail to Byron Bay when currently, all that can be sustained are Greyhound buses 3x a day from Coolangatta to Byron (which also serve destinations in between) along with a few NSW TrainLink bus services.

First of all, as a "NSW problem", I imagine Gladys is too busy pouring concrete & bitumen everywhere in Sydney to keep up with population growth-mania down there to consider something which is more of an access issue, and in terms of congestion, mainly impacts north of the border.

Quote from: Arnz on December 14, 2019, 11:13:35 AMThe other noted exception is NSW TrainLink (formerly CountryLink), which runs their train services on Federal Government controlled (ARTC) Standard Gauge track, hence the interstate services.

NSW TrainLink also runs coach services into Queensland. You can actually book some of the intra-Queensland stops, but not all e.g. you cannot buy tickets to go from Brisbane to Beenleigh, but you can for a trip from Surfers to Palm Beach (at more than the cost of a TransLink service).

Point being, NSW doesn't particularly want to pay for Qld people moving around within Qld. You would be a strange individual to pay more for a 2x daily coach service when the 700+tram run every 15 mins or better 7 days a week...
Obviously the patronage isn't there now, I was definitely only meaning as a long term thing. Like once we actually have regional rapid Rail to the GC, I could see a route to Byron via tweed heads being mooted as an option for potential extension.

And yeah the cross border thing is why I think it would make for interesting discussion. NSW govt doesn't care much at all about transport that close to the border, so I think it would very much have to be a Queensland driven project if it ever happened. It would have to mean a lot of interstate funding negotiations certainly, which is a difficulty.

In 20+ years time I could definitely see it as a viable route

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Quote from: Gazza on December 15, 2019, 10:52:49 AM
If there was to be passenger rail, it would need to be a brand new alignment. Trying to use the Murwillumbah alignment would be a joke
Quote from: verbatim9 on December 15, 2019, 11:28:18 AM
It's not going to happen this decade. NSW Government is already investing in a business case for LRT to OOL Airport from Tweed City via Griffith street at Coolangatta. Coolangatta airport will likely be an interchange for LRT and Buses south to cater for the commuter with through ticketing options.
There has been a discussion in this in the past with express buses from Varsity lakes with through ticketing options.---> Express low floor bus from Varsity Lakes

verbatim9

Quote from: #Metro on December 15, 2019, 11:31:14 AM
Isn't there a bus now?

What's wrong with bus??
There is a direct express bus from Roma Street with Wi-fi four times a day. Plus Greyhound services etc. ..But ticketing is more expensive. A public transport alternative via OOL would be considerably cheaper probably 20 each way instead of 40 via mini bus or coach.


verbatim9

Quote from: verbatim9 on December 15, 2019, 11:39:06 AM
Quote from: #Metro on December 15, 2019, 11:31:14 AM
Isn't there a bus now?

What's wrong with bus??
There is a direct express bus from Roma Street with Wi-fi four times a day. Plus Greyhound services etc. ..But ticketing is more expensive. A public transport alternative via OOL would be considerably cheaper probably 20 each way instead of 40 via mini bus or coach.
I also have to add that hiring a car or having use of one is a better alternative to visit the Byron bay region. There are so many places surrounding Byron that are also worthwhile to visit and difficult to travel to without a vehicle. It would be cheaper as well with a couple people in the car sharing the costs.

Cazza

Skybus now also runs express shuttles between Gold Coast Airport and Byron every 2 hours.

aldonius

May I suggest that it's better for society to not spend its effort on incentivising very long distance commuting?

Gazza

Quote from: #Metro on December 15, 2019, 11:31:14 AM
Isn't there a bus now?

What's wrong with bus??
Buses can legally only travel at 100kmh

#Metro

Improve Skybus service first before thinking about rail.

Rail is expensive! 100-200 million per km!

We are spreading our transport money very thinly here. Many projects at very high cost, all connecting to a rail network that struggles to support decent all day frequency.

Negative people... have a problem for every solution. Posts are commentary and are not necessarily endorsed by RAIL Back on Track or its members.

timh

Quote from: #Metro on December 16, 2019, 12:03:55 PM
Improve Skybus service first before thinking about rail.

Rail is expensive! 100-200 million per km!

We are spreading our transport money very thinly here. Many projects at very high cost, all connecting to a rail network that struggles to support decent all day frequency.

I think you're missing the point of my thread. Of course you'd improve Skybus services first. I'm not talking about jumping in and building a HSR line to a town with a population of 9000 tomorrow.

As others in the thread have pointed out above, there are currently direct links from Byron to the GC for tourists, while commuters have to drive. With increasing population and tourist densities, it is possible in the long term that a town like Byron Bay (and the intermediate towns between it and GC) could be a candidate for a regional rail line for long-distance commuters.

Of course there would be many other steps between a rapid rail link and the current situation. Improved bus services, a commuter shuttle bus to GC rail, etc. It is just an interesting point of discussion due to its cross border nature.

And of course it's not ideal to have people commuting 160km for work. Increased density and having people live closer to the city is always a better option. But these long distance commuter towns continue to pop up, I was just curious as to how Byron would work as one, if it were to happen...

#Metro

Ultra long distance commuting costs so much money in terms of infrastructure and operational cost.

Government already struggles to deliver and finance improvements to the current network (e.g. Cleveland line duplication). Yes, this thread is about the distant future, but did you know about the Queensland Government's habit of scheduling big projects for 2050+?

It's disappointing that many places don't have a strong local business district.

If people want a shorter commute... move closer to work. Allow workplaces to be built in local business districts (e.g. Canberra) and make TOD the default.
Negative people... have a problem for every solution. Posts are commentary and are not necessarily endorsed by RAIL Back on Track or its members.

verbatim9

Quote from: Cazza on December 15, 2019, 12:57:14 PM
Skybus now also runs express shuttles between Gold Coast Airport and Byron every 2 hours.
Quote from: #Metro on December 16, 2019, 12:03:55 PM
Improve Skybus service first before thinking about rail.

Rail is expensive! 100-200 million per km!

We are spreading our transport money very thinly here. Many projects at very high cost, all connecting to a rail network that struggles to support decent all day frequency.
Skybus is pretty expensive. But it would be a reasonable  alternative with heavy rail interchanging at OOL in respects to travelling to the southern end of Brisbane and the CBD. Through fares are better. Maybe NSW train link will run a bus by then too? So people can seamlessly travel from Brisbane to Byron via OOL on one ticket?

Gazza

I think the most likely scenario is a Ballina stop on an east coast HSR in the 2040s

verbatim9

Quote from: Gazza on December 16, 2019, 12:41:24 PM
I think the most likely scenario is a Ballina stop on an east coast HSR in the 2040s
Thats a long way off. Seems like an insignificant thread and topic when there are more important projects to advocate for in the short term. I don't think there has been a corridor officially reserved.  It's just been lines on a virtual map.

If people are now wanting Public transport to and from Byron? A Cross border cooperative public bus with smart through ticketing from Varsity lakes interchange can be an interim measure, to get down there cheaply and in a timely manner. 

SurfRail

Or you could just get Skybus from OOL.  Why would you want to sit in a low-floor for 2 hours?
Ride the G:

verbatim9

Quote from: SurfRail on December 16, 2019, 17:32:46 PM
Or you could just get Skybus from OOL.  Why would you want to sit in a low-floor for 2 hours?
It wouldn't take two hours from Varsity Lakes interchange express onto the freeway with one stop. More like 1 hour.

Gazza

In reality, any trunk route to that area would need to service Kingscliff and Casurina.

SurfRail

Exactly.  Why should we be paying an operator to run a non-stop bus in competition with what already exists and is commercially sustainable?  Byron has a resident population smaller than Eagleby.
Ride the G:

Arnz

Any express OOL to Byron bus will have to be subsidised by NSW taxpayers as it'll be operating under the TfNSW banner, with TfNSW dictated fares.

Whether NSW taxpayers would agree paying for the express PT bus is another question entirely.
Rgds,
Arnz

Unless stated otherwise, Opinions stated in my posts are those of my own view only.

AnonymouslyBad

I know it gets a lot of attention because it's a tourist hotspot, but "tourist hotspot" by itself doesn't pay for 50km+ of rail. Or even a bus with half decent frequency.

There are private bus services down to Byron from both Brisbane and the Gold Coast. They're not cheap, but they don't really need to be, and combined they provide more service than any public bus would.

Byron isn't a large town and, despite the stereotype, is not sustainably developed at all. There is no point going there if you don't have a car (or tour arrangements, which mean you probably caught the private Skybus or Brisbane express anyway).

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