Expectations smashed as more than 70,000 use Rail Trail in first four months

11 July 2023

Data released by Tweed Shire Council today shows more than 70,500 people have used the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT) since its opening four months ago, smashing prior expectations.

The figures released today were calculated using data retrieved from counters strategically placed along the 24 km length of the Tweed section of the NRRT, which runs from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek.

Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry said there had been significant interest in the opening success of the NRRT, with all user counts significantly exceeding expectations.

“I am really proud to confirm that since its opening on 1 March 2023, the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail has welcomed approximately 70,551 people, which is an amazing achievement,” Cr Cherry said.

“Our Rail Trail is welcoming an average of 17,638 people per month, which is approximately 4,048 people per week or an average of 578 people per day.

“The original business case for the Tweed section of the NRRT referenced goals of 27,000 people per year which is equivalent to 9,000 people in the first four months. We have absolutely smashed that goal, attracting more than double the anticipated annual number of visitors in our first four months alone.

“We knew the Rail Trail would be extremely popular and there was a lot of interest in this facility but this has blown us away!”

Cr Cherry said these figures should provide confidence to the NRRT’s other member councils of Richmond Valley Council, Lismore City Council and Byron Shire Council who are all either committed or considering connecting to the Rail Trail for the benefit of the broader Northern Rivers community.

“With these impressive patronage numbers has also come confirmation that 87% of trail users have used an associated Rail Trail experience and spent money with a local business, whether it be one of the many cafés, restaurants, accommodation providers or bike-related businesses such as hire, shuttle or transport services,” Cr Cherry said.

“Many businesses along the Rail Trail have told us about their successes and we are continually working on trail improvements, addressing some of the impacts the popularity has had on the local villages.”

Cr Cherry said people loved the Rail Trail because it offered a free, safe, accessible and family-friendly recreational activity, allowing residents and visitors to remain healthy, active and connected.

“As a recreation trail, people are loving the chance to connect with nature, get fresh air and experience the stunning Tweed scenery and charming village life at one of seven rest stops along the trail,” Cr Cherry said.

“As the Rail Trail continues to welcome more visitors and expand its offerings, we remain committed to providing a safe and enjoyable experience for all users who travel from near and far to enjoy the facility.”

The data shows weekends to be the busiest on the Rail Trail, with Sunday the most popular day, followed by Saturdays and then Fridays and Mondays. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays still see a steady flow of people but they are quieter days. The period between 10 am and 1 pm is recorded as the most active time on the trail.

What we know so far:

  • More than 97% of Rail Trail users are very satisfied or satisfied with their overall experience
  • More than 94% of Rail Trail users are likely to return
  • 60% of Rail Trail users start their journey at the Murwillumbah Railway Station
  • More than 85% of users opt for round trips over a one-way journey
  • More than 80% of users spend an average of between 2 to 5+ hours on the Rail Trail
  • Rail Trail users have scored the NRRT an average of 4.8 stars on Google Reviews and 4.6 stars on TripAdvisor.

The 24 km Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail is the first stage of the project, which will eventually connect Murwillumbah to Casino. For more information on the Rail Trail visit northernriversrailtrail.com.au.


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