After almost 15 years of hard work, the unique situation in NSW where rail trails are not allowed to be constructed on the thousands of kilometres of long disused rail corridors is changing.
A few days ago the NSW Upper House passed legilsation almost unanimously that will officially close the railway line between Rosewood and Tumbarumba in the mountains south of Wagga Wagga.
This will allow the construction of NSW’s first real rail trail on a government corridor, the 21km Tumbarumba to Rosewood Rail Trail.
Given the unique controversy that rail trails have caused in NSW, the Tumbarumba Rail Trail is regarded as a “pilot” rail trail and when undoubtedly it is a success for the community it is hoped that further legislation will be passed to allow more widespread development of rail trails in NSW and take advantage of the enormous potential in NSW.
The Snowy Valleys Council in conjunction with the local rail trail steering group (RIverina Highlands Rail Trail) have already obtained $4.8m in funding from the NSW government for the construction of the Tumbarumba Rail Trail so we look forward to construction beginning in earnest when the documentation has been formalised.
Riverina Highlands Rail Trails said it was the news the group was waiting to hear.
“This is momentous as it is the first such access agreement in this state” the group said in a statement.
It has been a long time since RTA started working on this particularly with the Riverina Highlands Rail Trail Steering group, who have been consistently at the forefront of efforts to establish rail trails in NSW. This has been helped tremendously in the last few years by Rail Trails for NSW and the many other local communities around NSW who have plans for great rail trails.
After many false starts it was pleasing to see almost unanimous support for the legislation and thank those politicians who have acted for the greater interest of the state, and all of Australia. Importantly the amended legislation ensures these valuable routes are retained as rail trails in public ownership for generations to come.