Pay bus on track to restore railway line

Tweed Rail Society president Phil MacKenzie hands over the keys of the rail pay bus to the societys safety officer and chief mechanic John Cox.

While the NSW Government may not be interested in reinstating trains on the Casino-Murwillumbah rail line, a group of rail enthusiasts armed with a business plan are ready to put at least one vehicle back on the tracks.

The Tweed Rail Society (TRS), which is determined to restore the decaying track and link it with the south-east Queensland network, believe they have reached a milestone with the arrival of a pay bus number 8 at Casino.

This is a small, lightweight and versatile rail vehicle that was previously used by the NSW railways to deliver pays to rail staff working in isolated areas, said TRS president, Phil Mackenzie. Because of its light axle load, the Tweed Rail Society intends to use the pay bus initially as a track inspection vehicle. This will allow us to operate under present restrictions and conditions in order to carry out track and bridge repairs.

The TRS believes the only way to ensure the lines future is for the private sector to step in and operate it. While it wont be carrying paying passengers anytime soon, TRS hopes in time the bus can be used to run a viable commuter service.

Its just like a bus on rails. It can be driven from both ends, which makes it ideal to operate, Mr Mackenzie said. Currently it has a seating capacity of 12, but that can be increased up to 20.

The TRS intends to eventually operate several daily return services along the length of the line.

Now its simply a matter of finding the political will and the cash to make the plan work.

With both NSW and federal elections coming up we will be lobbying politicians there are enough funds already promised to get the track up to scratch if both governments come to the party, said TRS member, Neale Battersby. We think our plan is absolutely viable, and we want to do this for the community.

Anyone wanting to get involved with TRS should phone Neil Battersby on 6624 1187.

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