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Bumpy ride: rail trail projects making ‘itty-bitty’ progress in rural NSW

Bumpy ride: rail trail projects making ‘itty-bitty’ progress in rural NSW

After the final train departed the Crookwell railway station for Goulburn in 1985, a stretch of track in the New South Wales southern tablelands was…

Saturday, May 14

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After the final train departed the Crookwell railway station for Goulburn in 1985, a stretch of track in the New South Wales southern tablelands was all but abandoned.

It’s a similar story for long-disused country rail networks across the state. But there’s a push to transform these isolated and often scenic corridors into rail trails and heritage projects.

These projects are simple to build and have the potential to boost rural economies. But ad hoc federal and state funding is leaving many in limbo.

The maintenance of the Crookwell terminus was taken on 20 years ago by the Crookwell Heritage Railway. Now the group wants to establish a tourist attraction – the Upper Lachlan ride the rails trail – to take passenger pedal bikes on the rails.

Peter Simpson, the secretary of the CHR, says the group supports public access to isolated rail corridors in NSW.

“Conditional that the interests of heritage rail groups operating in those corridors are protected, and other users can establish their pathways clear of the [railway],” he says. Peter Simpson, secretary of the Crookwell Heritage Railway, on an old railway bridge near Woodhouselee in NSW. Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/The Guardian Similar projects have received funding in other electorates , and Penny Ackery, an independent candidate for Hume, which includes Goulburn and Crookwell, says the state and federal governments seem supportive of the idea. But funding for the rail trail is slow.

Rail trail and heritage projects would support tourism growth, Ackery says. This opinion is backed up by successful rail trails […]

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