More than 100 people attended the official launch of the group Rail Trails for NSW at Parliament House, Sydney, on Wednesday.
Members of Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc (NRRT) were joined by Tweed mayor Barry Longland and Lismore councillor Glenys Ritchie, among others.
They got a positive reaction from environment minister Robyn Parker and transport minister Gladys Berejiklian as well as local MPs Geoff Provest and Don Page.
Minister Berejiklian told the group, ‘I am a personal fan of rail trails and can see how positive they have been in Victoria’.
NRRT president Pat Grier said, ‘this level of attendance from the northern rivers shows the commitment and enthusiasm in the region for rail trails in general and the Casino to Murwillumbah rail trail in particular’.
‘I’m excited at the number of people from across NSW who attended this event and are actively supporting rail trails in our state.
‘Over 100 rail trails have been built in Australia, mostly to encourage economic growth in rural communities and for the health benefits of activities such as walking and cycling,’ Mr Grier said.
‘It is time for NSW to join the rest of Australia in gaining the significant benefits of rail trails,’ Mr Grier said.
Ballina MP Don Page was particularly enthusiastic about the potential for a northern rivers trail.
‘Ours is a branch line, with a village every 16km, which is very handy! The train could no longer service the area, particularly as the line does not go through Tweed or Ballina,’ he told the group.
‘This regional project would service lots of villages, is very picturesque, would be accessible all year round and is more likely to take off quickly because of the high tourist population we have already.
‘The gradients are nice and smooth, making is possible for most people to use the trail for walking or cycling. I am very optimistic we have a lot of community support and am confident the feasibility study will be positive.’
But it seems politicians from both sides are supporting the plan, with shadow minister for the north coast Walt Secord saying he will support a vill introduced into parliament yesterday that would encourage the creation of rail trails in NSW.
The Transport Administration Amendment (Rail Trails Community Management) Bill was read yesterday in the NSW Legislative Council by Regional and Rural Affairs Shadow Minister Mick Veitch.
Under parliamentary rules, other MPs will have an opportunity to speak on the Bill in May.
The feasibility study for the proposed Northern Rivers Rail Trail is due to be completed next month.