A 2023 Rail Trails Australia Forum will be held in Murwillumbah on Friday 24th March, to coincide with a community celebration to officially launch stage one of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT).
Registrations are still open for the forum, where Rail Trails Australia representatives will be joined by local government delegates. NRRT supporters and other cycling advocates to turn a spotlight on the NRRT and examine other recent developments in the Australian rail trail sector.
Project leaders of the NRRT will share insight to the development of stage one from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek, as well as future plans for the initial stage and the proposed full 132km rail trail from Murwillumbah to Casino.
“We held a similar forum when the Tumbarumba to Rosewood trail opened about two years ago, and that worked really well,” Rail Trails Australia committee member Sam Reich said.
Next Friday’s forum will be held at the Murwillumbah Services Club, which looks across the Tweed River to the Murwillumbah train station that forms the NRRT’s northern east trail head.
The forum will hear from representatives of Tweed Shire Council, which headed the development of the NRRT stage one, members of the NRRT Inc community lobby group that initiated and sustained the push for the trail, and delegates of the other councils implementing the remaining NRRT sections.
Speakers will also outline recent and upcoming rail trail developments in Queensland, along with the recently-funded New England Rail Trail in the NSW Northern Tablelands and the proposed Richmond Vale Rail Trail in the Hunter Valley.
Template for Rail Corridor Handovers
Key topics will also include an update on the NSW Government’s development of a template for lease approvals to allow disused rail corridors to be converted to rail trails.
Transport for NSW has invited Rail Trails Australia to provide input to the formulation of the template, which the department has indicated should be completed by mid-2023.
Sam said the land transfer process had moved on considerably since the State’s first rail trail was established between Tumbarumba and Rosewood. It had required NSW parliament to pass legislative amendments to allow the Snowy Valleys Council to gain control of the former rail corridor.
He said Transport for NSW and the Transport Asset and Holding Entity of NSW (TAHE) are developing the template so they don’t have to “reinvent the wheel for each future rail trail project in the State”.
“Closing the line requires an Act of parliament, which becomes very political and contentious,” Sam said.
“However, councils can now do a business case and approach Transport for NSW and TAHE to negotiate a 30-year lease of the corridor, which allows the them to remove the rails and sleepers.”
Next week’s day-long forum will be followed by a dinner at Johnny Franco’s Place restaurant, to be addressed by the chair of Destination North Coast, Cameron Arnold, who was a key figure in the community campaign to secure approval and funding for the NRRT.
Tickets for the forum and the dinner cost $60 for each event and are available by clicking here.
Great Southern Rail Trail Extension
In other rail trail news, Australia’s most southern mainland rail trail, Victoria’s Great Southern Rail Trail has been extended with a new section being officially opened on Saturday 1st April.
The additional portion takes the trail from Nyora to Leongatha.