Unfortunately the recently elected Queensland state government has withdrawn funding for the programs that supported the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. Namely the South East Queensland Regional Plan and the Active Trails program have been cancelled, meaning there is now no direct budget for further development and maintenance of the BVRT.
The reasons given by the government relate to the need to increase economic activity while increasing efficiency and reducing spending.
The Director General of the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning said that to meet these objectives it will require a fundamental shift in the approach to its functions, which includes stopping the above programs immediately.
The BVRT runs through three regional council areas: Somerset, South Burnett and Toowoomba. South Burnett Council has a 40 year lease from the Department of Transport for the Linville to Blackbutt section of the trail, therefore this section may continue to operate. The Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning holds the lease to the rest of the rail trail from the Department of Transport, which expires in November this year. The former director of the Department branch responsible for the rail trail development is not aware of what will happen after November.
At this stage we do not know what the status of the former open sections in the Somerset and Toowoomba regions.
One option for the rail trail is for the three regional councils to consdier the task of seeking the funds necessary to maintain the rail trail. There is certainly a precedent in Victoria where three long rail trails are each managed by three regional councils. We note that the Director General has also said that the fundamental shift in the Department’s approach includes “.. and providing targeted support to local governments.”
The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail has tremendous potential to be a great asset for all Australians and really increase the economic activity of the local region, especially given the huge population not too far away. Rail Trails Australia will work with other organisations to ensure that the Queensland government does enable the rail trail to reach its full potential. Further updates to follow and more details in Rail Trail Connections.
One other encouragement is the volunteers of the BVRT friends groups. This particularly includes the Ambassadors of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and Brisbane Valley Heritage Trail , who have already given so many hours over the last decade, and are not going to give up. Amongst other things they are considering seeking sponsorship and other potential avenues for raising much needed funds to continue maintenance and if possible, the development of some remaining unused sections.
We encourage all rail trail users to get behind the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail to ensure it remains a viable and valuable community asset.
Please click here for the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Description.