Albury may be the first place in NSW to get a rail trail, but North Coast shadow minister Walt Secord is hoping that the Northern Rivers Rail Trail will be the second.
Mr Secord yesterday renewed calls for the National Party to support the creation of a rail trial in the region during debate on the Transport Administration Amendment that will see the closure of the railway line between Rosewood and Tumbarumba.
The amendment, which passed parliament yesterday, will create the State’s first rail trail, which will be set up near Albury in the Riverina.
Mr Secord cited Tweed Shire Council’s plan to build a 2.5 kilometre trail connecting the Tweed River Regional Art Gallery, which is home to the Margaret Olley Art Centre to the Murwillumbah Town Centre.
He pointed out that the project had the support of Federal Richmond Labor MP Justine Elliot, Tweed Shire Labor Councillor Reece Byrnes and himself.
‘All three levels – Tweed Shire, State Labor and Federal Labor – are united in their support for rail trails – and the Northern Rivers Rail Trail,” Mr Secord told State Parliament.
‘We all recognise their importance to tourism on the North Coast, especially as it is recovering from the devastating floods. However, it is very disappointing that the National Party MPs are not totally on board with rail trails.
‘Tweed MP Geoff Provest and Lismore MP Thomas George have been reluctant to cast their support for rail trails – and at best, one could describe their support as `lukewarm’.
‘Unfortunately, when faced with a choice between new jobs, additional tourism and additional spending on the North Coast or watching metal rust, the Nationals prefer metal rust.
‘Rail trails make great economic sense as they attract high spending tourists – by re-purposing old infrastructure – and they should be supported across the State. In early June 2014, the State Government’s own study entitled Casino to Murwillumbah Rail Trail Study, Final Report reported that the rail trail could attract more than 88,000 visitors and would pay for itself in five years.”
‘I believe it is time to have a rail trail on the North Coast.
‘The State Government, the Premier, the Tourism Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW can now all look to the Northern Rivers Rail Trail where a willing community and an easy decision awaits them.’