The Tumbarumba to Rosewood Rail Trail opened in April 2020.
The Tumbarumba to Rosewood Rail Trail opened in April 2020.

What new rail trail legislation really means for our area

A NEW bill tabled by the NSW Transport Minister will authorise the closure of two railway lines in Northern NSW for future rail trails.

Rail trails are shared-use paths recycled from non-operational railway corridors, purpose-built for all members of the public to use for walking, cycling and horse riding.

All rail trail projects require an amendment of the Transport Administration Act 1988 to close the non-operational rail line.

The Transport Administration Amendment (Closures of Railway Lines in Northern Rivers) Bill 2020, tabled on Wednesday in the NSW parliament, will enable the closure of non-operational railway lines between Crabbes Creek and Condong and between Casino and Bentley.

A spokeswoman for Transport for NSW said the bill was important for the area.

"The Northern Rivers Rail Trail will repurpose the non-operational railway corridors to provide a safe and accessible recreational transport option for locals, attract visitors and tourists to the area and support the creation of jobs and investment opportunities for the region," she said.

"NSW's first pilot rail trail, the Rosewood to Tumbarumba Rail Trail, opened in April 2020 and has delivered a great new attraction with significant tourism and recreation benefits to help revitalise this recently bushfire impacted region.

"It has attracted more than 5000 bike riders in July, not including additional users in the form of walkers, runners and support crew."

The Northern Rivers Rail Trail is expected to be completed in stages: Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek (24km), Casino to Bentley (13km) and Intended to link Bentley to Crabbes Creek (approximately 90km).

The bill explicitly requires the land to remain in public ownership, and each rail trail section will be managed by the relevant local council.

Once the line is closed, and legal arrangements with the councils established, rail infrastructure is removed.