The Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail Committee (TBRTC) is celebrating state legislation passed last week to close the disused rail line between Tumbarumba and Rosewood, freeing it up for use as a trail for bicycle tourism.
It’s the first time the NSW Government has handed over a piece of its unused rail corridors for use as a rail trail, and TBRTC Chairman Phil Barton said the decision has ramifications for the plethora of community groups pushing for rail trails throughout the state.
“We’ve been waiting for this, it will enable us to take our project to the next level,” he said.
“It was crucial that this legislation was passed, and this opened the door for our future study. Each rail trail will require separate legislation to be passed, but the crucial one is this Tumbarumba-Rosewood pilot rail trail – it will set the biosecurity and design standard for every other rail trail in NSW.”
Rail trails are cycling, walking, and horse riding paths created by converting disused old rail lines that traverse the country. There are plenty of them in Victoria and New Zealand, but none in NSW – until now, with the passing of the legislation that will allow the Tumbarumba-Rosewood line to go forward.
The rail trails are controversial because the rail lines, despite being publicly-owned land, often cut through private property. The owners of these properties, including farmers in Tumbarumba and the Gilmore Valley, through which the Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail would run, often form a staunch opposition.
In a Letter to the Editor to the Tumut and Adelong Times last week, President of the Gilmore Progress Association, Col Locke, said that the Tumbarumba-Rosewood rail trail would be a burden on ratepayers, who would be footing the maintenance bill, and that the money for its creation could be better spent elsewhere.
However, Mr Barton is still hoping a civil agreement can be made between the rail trail advocates and the Gilmore farmers.
“This is typical of rail trail development throughout the world, these protests, but we feel that we’re over the worst of it, and with the new legislation it paves the way for us to get on with our study,” he said.
“We’re heartened by the amount of support we’ve got. We really do want to have discussions with the farmers that are against the project so that we can both come up with design possibilities that satisfies their needs and ours.
“To our objectors in the Gilmore Valley we say “come to the table and discuss your concerns.” There is now a pathway to a rail trail facility, we want you involved so collectively we can make it work, not only for you but our whole shire.”
The Tumbarumba-Rosewood Rail Trail legislation passed NSW Parliament 35 for and two against.