A contest between heritage train enthusiasts and cycling advocates threatens to derail plans to transform old railway lines into bike paths to draw visitors into hard-hit regional NSW.
The NSW government introduced a new law in September to make it easier for community groups to take up thousands of kilometres of disused track and turn the rail corridors into walking and bike paths instead. Cooma Monaro Railway president Gordon Strachan (left) and Cooma Monaro Railway spokesman Craig Moore in Cooma. At least a dozen “rail trails” are in the pipeline across the state. Once completed they would allow locals and tourists to walk or ride between towns, passing through tunnels and old railway stations and on restored bridges.
Advocates say the paths will draw tens of thousands of visitors a year into regional NSW and provide a welcome economic boost to towns that have weathered drought, bushfires, floods and COVID-19 over the past few years.
But there is competition for the track, with heritage rail societies saying they want to restore the old lines instead, to run their own tourist attractions.
In southern NSW, federal Labor pledged $1 million before the election to help build a Monaro rail trail along 213 kilometres of track between Queanbeyan and Bombala, via Cooma.
But the funding has been held up in light of a more recent proposal put forward by Cooma Monaro Railway to run a tourist train along the Cooma to Bombala part of the line, which last saw a train in 1986.
The track would first […]
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