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Guide Banner 4 2015

In May, State Member for Morwell, Russell Northe, announced an $800,000 State Government grant to help complete the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail. Community groups have been pushing the development of this 65km rail trail from Traralgon to Stratford for over a decade now with limited funding meaning slow progress.

This funding announcement is very welcome along with the strong support now from the Latrobe City Council.

The eastern section of the rail trail is open from Heyfield to Stratford but the key is to connect the major regional centre of Traralgon at the other end. However just out of Traralgon is the Latrobe River with some major (expensive) bridges.

The Latrobe City Council has applied for $2.3 million in funding under the Federal Government's Regional Development Australia program, based on the boost from the state funding.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said he was a keen supporter of local rail trails.

He has written to the Regional Development Minister highlighting the value of the project to the region. The application is seeking funding to restore and upgrade bridges between Traralgon and Glengarry, enhance the western entry to the township of Maffra; and to manage vegetation and other assets along the trail.

"The Gippsland Plains Rail Trail is the only rail trail in the state that has an operating railway station at each end," Mr Chester said.

"When completed cycling enthusiasts would be able to catch a train from Melbourne to their preferred starting point (Traralgon or Stratford) along the route, ride the trail and then return by train to their starting point.

"Completing the trail would create significant economic benefits for towns along the route. It's estimated that 3500 local riders would use the trail on weekends and there would also be spin-off benefits for towns along the route."