Go! Alliance has joined with Rail Trails Australia and a number of community advocates to make a concerted push for the establishment of the first rail trails on disused rail corridors.  With thousands of kilometres of rail in decay across some of NSW's most picturesque areas, the opportunity is evident but time is also running out.

In many ways this is the final attempt to define what it will take to establish at least trial rail trail.  Thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars have been spent by community members in supporting a number of proposals - some to quite a lot of detail.  Community meetings have been held recently including one in Wagga Wagga that attracted over 30 advocates from all over NSW - many travelling at their own expense.

A number of regional councils have now also come on board realising the potential for developing alternative economic opportunities to their vulnerable economies. Of course, local communities will in many cases create new transport corridors for their own use as well as for tourism.  The benefits are well documented in places like Beechworth and in NZ.

In a recent meeting with a number of NSW government officials members of Rail Trails Australia, Go! Alliance and local representatives of NSW initiatives requested absolute clarity as to how the government will allow the creation of a trial project to go forward?  Over the years, we have often heard the need for clearing one hurdle and then another but never a the final one or the actual mechanism to moving forward in releasing a corridor for conversion.  In one instance Commonwealth funds were turned away because of the lack of State readiness.

The time for deferral is over and the committee feels we have come to that moment when either a way is identified or there is no reason to keep spending resources and pursuing plans to nowhere in NSW.

We will keep the community posted over the following weeks including any need for the assistance of a petition campaign.

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Can I suggest you prioritise your railtrail sites?  Both cyclists and bureaucrats will respond more enthusiastically if they have a particular railtrail propsal in mind.  I'd start with the Upper Blue Mountains project, mentioned elsewhere in this forum.  While not strictly a railtrail (it's not ON a former rail alignment) it does have some project  momentum and the number of potential users (and thus peripheral beneficiaries) is huge.

Hi Nat,

You make a good point and this has in fact been incorporated into the plan and submission.  A number of criteria including the commitment from local activists, the state of preliminary feasibility studies and the expressed support from the local council has been a determinant in the suggested priorities put forward.  I think it is fair to say that there are a lot of candidate projects and we are looking for at least one to be given the nod to break the current impasse.

A few years ago, I came across this mapping (Google Earth) file on my local ABC website showing the various rail lines around NSW.  Unfortunately I don't know who to credit for this huge effort, but it is really interesting to see how much rail has been a part of the state.  Blue seem to be the ones still open, magenta appear to be closed, and the green looks to be tram lines.  Might shed a bit more light on potential!

Attachments:

I heard it takes an Act of Parliament to decommision the rail lines when not in use.

Would love to see some Rail Trails.

So it seems Edward and the last effort to change the law was scuttled by a last minute insertion of a phrase that would have allowed them to be sold off to developers.  Years of effort were thwarted as a result and politicians on all sides abandoned further support.  However, there appears to be renewed interest and we seek to clarify what it will take for the current government to support at least one project and by what mechanism they will release the corridor?

I have not seen this one, thanks for sharing!

Just wondering what a rail trail constitutes. There are a number of cycle ways in Newcastle built on old rail and tram corridors and the only one I have ridden is Wangaratta through to Porepunkah. Does a rail trail need to be one subject to tourism?

 

It seems no, it's for all users. The Australian Rail Trail website has a list of all trails in Australia, and four listed for Newcastle. And this:

What are rail trails?
Rail trails are shared-use paths recycled from abandoned railway corridors. They can be used for walking, cycling and horse riding.

While there are a couple of short rail trails built on disused Private spurs, it's the State rail infrastructure that has not been released and where thousands of kilometres of public corridors have been abandoned and could be put to better use - if only to preserve them.

Great bit of writing by Boris. I watched the pros going up Leith Hill last night. And Tony Robinson was walking around there too. I would have thought Sustrans would have bike paths all through Surrey. Is that what Rail Trails needs here, a mob like Sustrans with a funding model based on lotteries?

RailTrails Australia has commenced work on NSW.

See "It's time for Rail Trails in NSW" on their website -

www.railtrails.org.au

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