A new push to get a rail trail on track is gaining momentum in the region.
And everyone is invited to have a say.
The NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet are holding community engagement workshops in Tenterfield and Guyra next week, to gauge support on the proposed closure of the rail corridor between Armidale and Wallangarra.
“The Government is very courageous to listen and look into the opportunity of re-purposing these assets that all other states and territories in Australia use and absolutely overwhelming benefit (from),” local business owner and New England Rail Trail spokesman Dave Mills told The Argus yesterday.
“We want to get the true facts out into the community regarding the current issues.”
Mr Mills said the consultations would provide an opportunity to dispel “common myths” about rail trails.
“Myths that they destroy the permanent way and stop the rail opportunities ever returning – that’s all incorrect,” he said.
But not everyone is supportive of the proposed change.
Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party Northern Tablelands spokesman David Good said inland rail lines needed to stay open and be upgraded.
“When we have a Federal Government embarking on a new Inland Rail Link we don’t need rail lines closed, we need them kept open and upgraded,” Mr Good said in a media statement this week.
“My concern is that once this rail line is gone, it will be gone forever.
“With these rail trails the land will become Crown Land instead of a gazetted rail line, and with new changes to legislation the Government can easily pass on this land to the highest bidder.
“We need more rural infrastructure, not less.
“Rather than running dead on this issue, Adam Marshall needs to grow a backbone and fight for the community.”
But Mr Marshall said it wasn’t a case of “rail versus rail trail”.
“The rail line has sat dormant and disused for decades, in fact many people think the line has already been closed,” the local MP said yesterday.
“This proposal would be to re-purpose the rail corridor for the rail trail, until such time as rail was ever in demand again.
“If rail was ever to come back, then the rail trail would have to go.”
Mr Marshall said next week’s consultations were a great opportunity for everyone to have their say.
“This is the community’s chance to have its say so decisions can be made about the future of the rail trail proposal and I encourage people to get involved,” he said.
The meetings will be held in Tenterfield on Monday, December 11 and Guyra on December 12.