Is a rail trail the right track for region? Bangalow unsure

RAIL TRAIL: The Eltheam Bridgemay become part of the North Coast Rail Trail. Photo Contributed
RAIL TRAIL: The Eltheam Bridgemay become part of the North Coast Rail Trail. Photo Contributed Contributed

PRICEY properties, chic cafes and ritzy boutiques - welcome to Bangalow, a little village that used to be a less prestigious place to live.

That, of course, was before the highway bypassed it and when your coffee cup used to rattle when a Mack truck went past.

These days, you'd be lucky to get a decent house under $650,000 but it seems there may be trouble in paradise and its name is the rail trail.

"Someone may kill the goose that lays the golden egg," Bangalow Progress Association president Tony Hart said.

This Thursday, the association has called a meeting where representatives of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Group, Rail Explorers and Byron Bay Tram Link can be grilled by locals.

In January, the Minister for Regional Tourism, John Barilaro, announced a $50 million pie would be available for pilot projects.

Expressions of interest are open for councils, businesses and community groups to create rail trails along sections of the disused Casino to Murwillumbah and Rosewood to Tumbarumba rail corridors.

Mr Hart said the association was not against the rail trail.

"We just want to know how the proposals will work," he said.

"Everyone keeps saying it is great for employment and business but we are not convinced yet."

The issue, he said, was the potential for Bangalow to lose its attractiveness should too many tourists or different types of tourists merely use the town as a starting point for the rail corridor.

"There have been a range of proposals for the railway line but not much public discussion around how Bangalow will be affected," he said.

"We could have lots of cyclists in town and all the coffee shops full. And where would people park if they come in to walk or cycle? Bangalow has enough parking problems as it is."

The meeting will be at Bangalow Heritage House in Deacon St from 5.30-8pm. The public is welcome.

Topics:  rail trail

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