One of Gippsland’s prized rail trails has just had a significant makeover
Posted on 02/12/20
Gippsland’s local Federal Member of Parliament “Darren Chester”, the Minister of Veteran Affairs, recently secured a $267,000 grant for the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail to fund improvements to this iconic rail trail.
The Gippsland Plains Rail Trail today runs from the regional town Traralgon to the amazing town of Stratford in Central Gippsland, Victoria and is some 67 kilometres long. This prized rail trail follows the previously existing railway line that was built in 1883 that operated between Traralgon and Stratford which also had stops at the towns Heyfield and Maffra.
In its day the rail line was an important cargo and passenger service that connected Far East Gippsland and Central Gippsland with Melbourne and it was primarily used to transport processed timber and sugar beet to support Melbourne’s growth as a booming economy. As the Victorian economy changed along with the decline in freight being transported, in 1986 the rail service between Traralgon and Cowarr was closed, soon to be followed by the closure of the line to Maffra in 1994.
In 2004 passionate local community groups commenced construction on the first section of the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail and was officially opened in 2005 and they have continued to maintain the trail through the East Gippsland Rail Trail committee of management.
The recent federal funding that was provided has contributed to a brand new 25-metre bridge over Eaglehawk Creek between Glengarry and Toongabbie, which was constructed and installed in May 2020 by a local Gippsland welding and fabrication business. Also, more recently, seven kilometres of the trail between Traralgon and Glengarry have been sealed which has been managed by the passionate and local community spirited Gippsland Plains Rail Trail Committee chaired by Helen Hoppner.
Minister Chester made the following statements in his media release:
“The Gippsland Plains Rail Trail is a fantastic asset and these works to improve local infrastructure supports local jobs with the construction and installation of the Eaglehawk bridge undertaken by Gippsland business T & S Welding and Fabrication. My Active Gippsland plan is all about providing more opportunities for locals and visitors to get outdoors and visit our region. Our extensive network of rail trails is just one element to maintain and financially support as we recover from the impact of the bushfires but also coronavirus restrictions”.