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Guide Banner 4 2015

TRANSPORT ADMINISTRATION AMENDMENT (RAIL TRAILS) BILL 2009 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS (Q1 - 7 of 14)

    1. What has prompted the Bill?

    There are currently over 3,000 kilometres of disused rail lines in NSW and we’ve been approached by people with ideas for using them in more positive ways. These ideas include converting them to rail trails for walking, cycling or horse-riding and, in some cases, purchasing the old sleepers and scrap metal that would need to be replaced anyway if the line was to come back into use.

    This currently idle asset offers enormous potential benefit for communities in rural and regional NSW. This Bill introduces changes that will, once again, allow for their use by the public, and where the case for this is established, for their sale.

    2. What is meant by “disused rail line E The legislation only relates to disused rail lines. These are railway lines on which regular passenger or freight rail services have not operated for at least 15 years. The Bill provides that if satisfied that regular passenger or freight rail services have not operated on a line for at least 15 years or more, the Minister could declare the line to be a disused railway line which, a consultation process, would make it available for rail trails or other community purposes and / or for the infrastructure to be sold. 3. Why are the changes to the Act necessary?

    The model being considered for development of rail trails is similar to that in Victoria. It involves transferring disused rail corridors to the Lands Administration Ministerial Corporation within the Lands and Property Management Authority which would then work with local groups to develop the trails. At the moment, the Act doesn’t allow for the ready transfer of these corridors or for their sale because disposal of rail corridor land or removal of railway tracks or other infrastructure legally can’t occur unless the line is closed, which requires an Act of Parliament.

    4. What changes does the Bill introduce?

    The Bill introduces provisions that: 1. following a consultation process, allow the Minister for Transport to enter into an arrangement with the Minister for Lands for the management of a disused railway line as Crown land, without necessitating closure of the railway line concerned; 2. allow the Minister for Transport to terminate such arrangements if satisfied the disused railway line is required for transport purposes and to direct the railway line be transferred back to the rail authority; 3. following a consultation process allow the Minister for Transport to authorise the removal of railway tracks or other infrastructure from a disused railway line so the infrastructure and other scrap can be sold or disposed of without necessitating a closure of the railway line concerned; 4. retain the existing requirement that only an Act of Parliament can authorise the closure of a railway line or the sale of the land on which the line is situated (whether declared disused or not).

    5. What is a rail trail?

    A rail trail is a pathway, cycleway or multi-use access-way located within or closely parallel to a railway corridor. Rail trails are in place world-wide. Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia have all converted disused lines for rail trails and there are currently eight proposals for rail trails in NSW. They appear popular and NSW remains one of the few jurisdictions not to have progressed such initiatives.

    6. Will proposals other than rail trails be possible?

    Based on the interest shown to date, we expect most proposals for development of a corridor would be for rail trails, but proposals for other community purposes would be considered. In such cases, the proposal proponents should approach the Lands and Property Management Authority, which would then undertake consultation on the proposal. On the basis there was broad community support for the proposal, Lands and Property Management could then request transfer of the corridor for its development.

    7. What’s the process for getting access to a corridor for use as a rail trail or for some other community purpose?

    • Community groups would approach the Land and Property Management Authority on a proposal for community use of the corridor. The Authority would then facilitate community consultation on the proposal to establish if it was feasible. Its consultation would include nearby landholders to identify their issues and address legitimate concerns.

    • If this consultation established the proposal to be feasible, the Lands and Property Management Authority would apply to the Minister for Transport / NSW Transport and Infrastructure (NSWTI) for transfer of the specific disused railway line.

    • NSWTI and the Rail Infrastructure Corporation would assess the application and provide advice on the request for transfer to the Minister for Transport.

    • If the Minister agrees to the proposal, the Bill requires that public notice of it be given both in local papers and on NSW Transport and Infrastructure’s website. In all cases the public will have at least 30 days to make submissions on the proposal, and the Bill requires the Minister to consider the submissions.

    • Following authorisation by the Minister for Transport, the corridor would be transferred to the Lands Administration Ministerial Corporation within the Land and Property Management Authority.

    • The Land and Property Management Authority would in many cases pass management of the corridor to a reserve trust manager, such as a council.