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Guide Banner 4 2015

    Transport Administration Amendment (Rail Trails) Bill 2009 Questions and Answers

    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 either the old scrap or parts of the rail corridor land itself.

    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. Why are the changes to the Act necessary?

    The model being considered for development of rail trails is similar to that in Victoria and involves transferring the corridors to the Lands Administration Ministerial Corporation within the Lands and Property Management Authority who 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.

    3. What changes does the Bill introduce?

    The Bill introduces provisions that: 1. 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 he/she is satisfied the disused railway line is required for transport purposes and to direct the railway line be transferred back to the rail authority; 3. to allow the Minister for Transport to authorise, on a case by case basis and following public consultation, the closure of a disused railway line. This would then facilitate the sale of the corridor; and 4. allow the sale or removal of railway tracks or other infrastructure on any railway line to be sold or disposed of without necessitating a closure of the railway line concerned.

    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. Lands would then facilitate community consultation on the proposal to establish if it was feasible. Their 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. • 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.