Regional cycling track

A historic Rail Trails Bill has passed through New South Wales Parliament, allowing regional communities to convert disused rail corridors into walking and riding tracks. 

The Transport Administration Amendment (Rail Trails) Bill 2022 alters the Transport Administration Act 1988, providing a streamlined process that may enable regional rail trails, if communities want them. 

New South Wales Minister for Cities and Active Transport, Rob Stokes, said the Bill unlocks opportunities for regional communities and fixes outdated, onerous legislation that required a change to the Act for each rail trail.

“This bill will allow regional councils to transform these spaces into treasured public places. Projects that are consistent with the Rail Trail Framework and have broad community support will now be able to proceed,” Mr Stokes said.

“We know that active transport options are great for our wellbeing and our environment, and give locals and visitors a way to explore the beauty regional New South Wales has to offer, free of charge.”

New South Wales Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Sam Farraway, said an improved process to authorise the use of non-operational rail lines for rail trails and related tourism uses, will benefit rural communities and economies without compromising on biosecurity or ongoing viability. 

“The State Government’s approach makes the process for rail trail development more rigorous and transparent; this is not a green light for all disused rail corridors to become a rail trail,” Mr Farraway said.

“State-funded pilot projects have proved popular and beneficial. The first completed rail trail between Tumbarumba and Rosewood saw spending in the local economy increase 20 per cent following its opening in mid-2020. 

“The $4.9 million project has had over 15,000 visits so far and welcome economic stimulus from this has flowed to Snowy Valley businesses. 

“We’ve also invested $7.8 million in the Northern Rivers Rail Trail, which is expected to create an extra 200 jobs and attract 82,000 visitors each year in and around the Tweed communities of Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek.” 

All rail trails would be created under a lease agreement of up to 30 years with the local council. The agreement allows Mr Farrawayto terminate the lease should the corridor be required for a future transport use.

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1 Comment
  1. John Holstein 2 years ago

    Despite the protestations from anti rail trail groups, this legislation does not apply specifically to the Rail Trail Movement.
    The legislation allows for any organisation to submit a properly researched and costed proposal to convert the rail corridor into an alternative use. All this legislation does, is take away the necessity to have an Act of Parliament made to close the rail corridor.
    It specifically states that, should the need arise in the future to reinstate a rail service, then it can be done more easily from a legislative point of view.
    Rail enthusiasts, Tourism groups, anyone with a viable tourism related activity can apply.

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