New train service to Northern Rivers scheduled for 2021
VINTAGE and tourist rail services have expressed an interest in bringing specialised train tours back to the Northern Rivers.
At least one company, Vintage Rail Journeys, has plans to market the North Coast Rail Tour very soon.
The news has been seized upon by pro train groups on the Northern Rivers as a reason not to rip up the Casino to Murwillumbah train line for a bike and pedestrian rail trail.
This is after legislation recently passed the NSW parliament which lays the foundation for the rail trail to proceed.
Vintage Rail Journeys already runs a northern loop called the Golden West and a southern loop called the Riverina.
The North Coast Rail Tour would be offered once a month during winter next year.
It's designed as a three and a half day, three night tour, leaving Sydney's Central Station on a Wednesday.
The North Coast Rail Tour will make its way up the coast stopping in Paterson, the Macleay Valley and Casino (for Byron Bay) then terminating in Brisbane.
The return journey leaves Brisbane on the Saturday and arrives in Sydney on the following Tuesday.
Vintage Rail Journeys will be run on a monthly basis in June, July and August next year with additional departures "based on demand".
The company owns 16 ex-Southern Aurora carriages, eight of which have been restored.
The train is 400M long, and made of shiny stainless steel, sleeping 156 guests and up to 36 crew, and includes two lounge carriages and two dining carriages.
Some of these carriages were used on the highly successful Gold Coast Motorail service which ran prior to 1990.
Vintage Rail Journeys currently works in conjunction with the Lachlan Valley Railway (LVR) and Transport Heritage NSW (THNSW) and other rail heritage organisations to deliver these tours.
Vintage Rail Journey's spokesperson Danielle Smith said she was aware of the rail trail and the way it had divided opinion in the community.
"We would love it if the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor was available to use and for us to extend our service from Casino," she said.
"And it would be great for tourism if both trains and the rail trail could coexist together and find a way not to rip up the tracks."