Rail Trail full steam ahead

A TRANSFORMATION of abandoned railway lines into desirable cycling getaways is more than a pipedream.

That’s the view of McComas Taylor, the convenor of a newly formed group aiming to drum up support for rail-trail cycling – a cross-country discipline permitted in every Australian state bar New South Wales.

A cyclist of more than 40 years, Mr Taylor says a rail trail circuit from Goulburn to Crookwell is ideal on multiple levels.

“I’ve seen how these things work in Victoria, I’ve ridden rail-trails there.

This would be an absolute gem for Crookwell,” he said yesterday.

“Rail-trails in other areas have created new business opportunities, including cafes, restaurants, B&Bs and bikeshops.”

The cycling format offers riders a journey passed heritage-listed buildings and a view picturesque countryside as they follow paths adjacent to defunct railway lines.

Mr Taylor shares a common view with founding members of Friends of Goulburn Crookwell Rail Trail – officially formed on Saturday – and the committee of the Southern Tablelands Cycling Group.

The latter has drawn up preliminary plans, sounded out support of interstate cycling groups and convinced both Goulburn Mulwaree and Upper Lachlan Shire councils to commit money for feasibility studies.

“We’re a new group, we’re a small group and we’re just getting on our feet,” Mr Taylor continued.

Their influence won’t be fully realised for the next six weeks, at least.

Friends of Goulburn Crookwell Rail- Trail members won’t conduct their first meeting until after a workshop in Sydney on August 26.

That workshop’s invite list will include names of rail trail enthusiasts the state-over, at least two representatives from every local government body in relevant areas of New South Wales, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian and a guest-speaker from Mike Halliburton and Associates – a firm that specialises in viability studies on the subject.

Rail Trails For NSW founder John Moore said the format was gaining traction. Mr Moore this month held a meeting with the Transport Minister, whose thrown her support behind the concept.

Next month’s workshop will help railtrail supporters turn their vision into reality, he says.

Legislation presently permits disused railway lines from being adapted.

Ms Berejiklian and her cabinet colleagues, however, have made it clear individual rail-trail projects will be assessed on merit – thus opening the door to a Southern Tablelands circuit.

“I am a personal fan of rail trails and think they have a big future in our state,” the Minister said during a speech at the launch of Rail Trails for NSW in March.

“If you look at what Victoria has done, it has been incredibly positive for their economy, for their tourism, for their lifestyle.”

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