The dormant train line between Tumbarumba and Rosewood is on track to become the historic first cycling rail trail in NSW.
While Victoria has more than 25 active trails used for bike riding, its northern neighbour had not jumped on the tourism opportunity.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance introduced a bill into Parliament last week, calling on the rail line to be officially closed so the transformation of 22 kilometers of track, which had not been in operation since 1974, could begin.
“The Rosewood to Tumbarumba Rail Trail will have a positive impact on local communities, providing increased business and tourism opportunities for the surrounding region as well as enabling better access to this incredible part of our state,” he said.
“Rail trails are an innovative use of disused rail lines that can generate substantial economic and social benefits for local communities, helping to unlock their potential, including through stimulating tourism and improving the physical and mental health of users.”
It was anticipated the rail corridor would be declared a Crown reserve and Snowy Valleys Council would be appointed the trustee.
The project was first announced as a pilot rail trail in June 2015, with a $4.8 million NSW government grant, and Snowy Valleys Council established a steering committee.
“It must be acknowledged that certain individual landholders have not been as keen on this project as others, but the overall view is that this short rail trail will benefit the whole community,” Mr Constance said.
He said fears over biosecurity and the security of sheds and barn equipment would be mitigated by prohibiting trail users access to properties and animals through trespass warning signs.
“Current and forecast rail passenger and freight patterns suggest it is unlikely that the Tumbarumba to Rosewood railway line will ever be required for future rail services, however the arrangements will ensure that the corridor can be resumed by Transport for NSW for operational purposes if the need arises,” Mr Constance said.
Riverina Highlands Rail Trails said it was the news the group was waiting to hear.
“This is momentous as it is the first such access agreement in this state” the group said in a statement.
“We hope the first sod will be turned very soon.”