Business opportunities on the Tweed rail trail as trail set to open in March  – The Echo

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An artist’s impression of the start of the new Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail at Murwillumbah Railway Station. Image supplied

The Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail is set to open in March this year and the Tweed Council is now looking for ideas around the development of businesses and initiatives that can be developed alongside the rail trail. 

‘Council will call for expressions of interest for the Rail Trail Partner Program in mid-January 2023. Adjoining landowners and local businesses who want to be part of the region’s newest must-do experience – for both visitors and residents – should start to consider the commercial opportunities the rail trail will bring,’ they said in a press release. 

Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry, Tweed MP Geoff Provest and Project Director Iain Lonsdale

March opening

‘We are very pleased to confirm the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail will be open to the public from March 2023, as long as the weather stays kind to us,’ Project Manager Iain Lonsdale said.

‘Our contractors at Hazell Bros are working hard to ensure the track and associated facilities are ready to go for March, with works commencing around the Murwillumbah Railway Station in recent weeks.

‘And our team is working with the project partners to confirm plans for an official opening and community celebration event – so stay tuned for more details on that,’ he said.

Workers constructing the slab to mark the old station at Dunbible. Work is continuing along the Tweed leg of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail, which is expected to be open to the public in March. Photo supplied.

Safety risk

However, Mr Lonsdale urged people to stay off the rail trail until March, regardless of how some parts of the facility may appear to be completed.

‘The rail trail continues to be a construction site until it is officially handed over to Council by our contractors and with that comes the potential for safety compromise,’ Mr Lonsdale said.

‘We know the rail trail looks incredible in some areas and people are keen to use the facility, but we urge people to wait just a few more months so we can complete the project.’

Business ideas?

Tweed Council will be working with its tourism partner the Tweed Tourism Company to develop commercial partnerships to offer guest experiences in:

  • Taste (food and beverage)
  • Stay (accommodation)
  • Move (travel and transport options)
  • Explore (education and recreation)
  • Enjoy (entertainment and events).

They are looking to hear from the community about business ideas and opportunities that will enhance the rail trail experience for locals and tourists who access the trail. 

Council’s Manager Destination, Communication and Customer Experience Tiffany Stodart encouraged adjoining landowners and local business to turn their minds to commercial opportunities available to partner with the rail trail and stay tuned for the EOI announcement in mid-January 2023.

‘In mid-January, we will call for expressions of interest to hear from a wide range of operators and their ideas to make the rail trail a must-do experience and to have quality guest experiences,’ Ms Stodart said.

From 2023 we want to hear from our business community to explore the options to make the rail trail a great experience. The opportunities are there for cafes and coffee, ice cream and gelato, gourmet hampers and picnics, bike hire, shuttle services, educational, recreation and cultural tours and so much more,’ Ms Stodart said.

‘This will also include opportunities to register interest for limited commercial space at the Murwillumbah Railway Station as the main trailhead and visitor welcome at the town entry.’

Construction is progressing well on the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail, with work currently underway at the old Murwillumbah Railway Station. Photo supplied

Rail trail website

A new and comprehensive rail trail website will also launch in early 2023 and provide a wide range of information and experiences. The new site will replace the existing page at northernriversrailtrail.com.au.

The Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail will provide a 24 km shared recreation and nature trail where people can walk, ride and explore at their own pace.

Eventually, the new shared user path will connect the Tweed with Byron Shire, Lismore and Casino. To be delivered in 4 stages, the 132 km trail is expected to draw thousands of visitors each year to explore and discover the natural beauty and history of the Northern Rivers.

Lismore City Council has secured funding for the 16.3 km South Lismore to Bentley section and work is underway to secure funds for the 15.5 km between Eltham and South Lismore. The 13.4 km stretch between Casino and Bentley in the Richmond Valley is also fully funded with construction progressing and due to open in 2023.

Funding for the Tweed section was provided by the Australian Government under its Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Package Fund, and the NSW Government under its Restart NSW fund.

To stay informed, subscribe to the rail trail’s news and follow Northern Rivers Rail Trail on social media. For enquiries regarding the operations of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail call 6673 0404 or email: [email protected].  

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