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Guide Banner 4 2015

The much-vaunted $14 million Richmond Vale Rail Trail is a step closer to reality, with Newcastle City Council agreeing on Tuesday night to complete a concept design and environmental impact statement.

The former Richmond Vale railway line goes between Hexam and Pelaw Main, which is very close to Kurri Kurri.  It is 32km long, and would be used as a cycling and walking track.

The $480,000 design and impact assessment project awarded to GHD, has been funded primarily by Newcastle council, along with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services, Cessnock City Council and the Donaldson Conservation Trust.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the project would “open up this unique natural environment to thousands of locals and tourists, allowing people to enjoy an area that would otherwise remain hidden from view”.

The total project is estimated to cost $14 million, with economic analysis undertaken as part of an independent feasibility study predicting it will bring $5.2 million per year into the region through day trips and overnight stays.

​The trail incorporates three brick-lined rail tunnels and crosses Wallis Creek, Surveyors Creek, Fishery Creek and Ironbark Creek.

“I’m excited to see this project move ahead,” Cr Nelmes said. “This project will highlight both the conservation effort and mining history of the Lower Hunter, while delivering substantial economic and social returns to the community.

Description and map of the proposed rail trail can be found here.