Tasmania North East Rail Corridor Inquiry Visits Melbourne
Posted on 12/05/19
The Dorset Council and North East Recreation Trails Inc secured $1.5m federal government funding several years ago to extend the North East Tasmania Rail Trail, centred on Scottsdale, back towards Launceston.
However, heritage rail supporters then floated a plan to restore the line and run trains again.
The Tasmanian Government considered both proposals and came up with a compromise solution of the rail trail from Scottsdale to Lilydale and allow Launceston & North East Railway to pursue a plan for a train service from Lilydale towards Launceston.
LNER and some landholders in the area are opposed to this plan and the Tasmanian Legislative Council (Upper House) has formed a committee to hold an inquiry into the corridor.
Rail Trails Australia (RTA) made a submission to the inquiry last year and addressed the committee hearings in April.
Learning the Committee was visiting the Yarra Valley Railway, east of Melbourne, RTA organised for the committee to also visit the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail and meet staff and a councillor from the Shire of Yarra Ranges, who manage one of Australia’s most successful rail trails.
Long serving Councillor Jim Child provided background on the development of the rail trail. Council staff spoke about the benefits and issues in associated with the rail trail. They also spoke about the Yarra Valley Trail which is starting construction and will connect with the Yarra Valley Railway at Yarra Glen, providing greater benefit to both attractions and the whole region.
It is hoped the committee gained more understanding of heritage railways and rail trails from their visit. It is understood the committee is this week visiting the Otago Central Rail Trail in New Zealand and presumably the Taeri Gorge Railway which provides a link from Dunedin to the start of the rail trail.
RTA supports the government plan which gives the Launceston & NE Railway the western section. This section is quite scenic and connects with the rail trail at Lilydale providing a greater benefit for both. It also provides the potential to connect with its namesake Launceston , and link Launceston to the rail trail.
RTA notes the effort required to open and maintain heritage railways around Australia, and their lengths are generally considerably shorter that what this rail group is proposing.
RTA hopes that work will be allowed to commence on the rail trail soon as there is a definite risk that the rail trail funding to the region will be lost along with the great benefits the rail trail will bring to the communities along the route.