The beginning of works to extend Victoria’s Great Southern Rail Trail (GSRT) was marked by an official sod turning ceremony at Loch railway station on 11 February.
The works will extend the GSRT from Leongatha to Nyora. Once complete, the 108 km trail will start at Nyora and pass through Loch, Bena, Korumburra, Kardella and Leongatha.
Minister for Regional Development Mary-Anne Thomas visited Loch Railway Station to announce the start of construction.
Ms Thomas said the Great Southern Rail Trail is a source of pride for the region, capitalising on the natural beauty of the towns it passes through and attracting around 41,000 visitors a year.
“We know how much Victorians value natural attractions such as the trail – that’s why we’re helping more people discover the fantastic places to explore right here at home.”
The extension project includes construction of a gravel trail and works to eight bridges and is expected to be finished by February 2023.
The construction phase is expected to boost the economy by almost $4 million and create around seven full-time equivalent jobs. The trail provides significant economic and social benefits to the region, recognised by South Gippsland Shire Council’s contribution of $4.7 million to the extension. The Victorian Government provided a total of $1.3 million through the Regional Infrastructure Fund ($500,000) and the Local Sports Infrastructure Fund ($800,000).
Nyora is home to the former V-Line railway station, which served as a freight and goods transfer facility as well as the branch station for the former Foster-Leongatha and Wonthaggi lines.
The South Gippsland railway line (also known as the Great Southern Railway) was opened from Dandenong to Cranbourne in 1888 and extended to Koo Wee Rup, Nyora and Loch in 1890, Korumburra and Leongatha in 1891 and Welshpool, Alberton and Port Albert in 1892.
The line was known for its sharp curves and spectacular scenery, and was one of the last lines to offer a mixed passenger and goods service in Victoria. The section from Nyora to Leongatha was transferred to the South Gippsland Railway in 1994, and the last train ran in 1998.