Heritage trails in NSW

 
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Could this recent case at Gundagai have any affect on other preserved rail sites and railways in NSW. It does sound like a bit of a kick in the guts to a preservation society. Dashing some plans for future expansion or such like.

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  tezza Chief Commissioner

Well we dont really know whats going on at Gundagai and what effect this recent decision will have on their future expansion plans.
   Providing a link with some worthwhile information might be usefull to start with.
  tranx Assistant Commissioner

Location: Somewhere in Southwest Sydney
Links have been uploaded previously but for some unknown reason a certain RP moderator keeps deleting any reference to the site.

The GHR does contain other rail enthusiasts apart from my esteemed colleague.
  Fireman Dave Chief Commissioner

Location: Shh, I'm hiding
What is the recent case that is being referred to?
  blackbird_1803 Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney
I think he's referring to a decision by the state govt to trial a rail trail at Gundagai.  Result = no chance to run trains. Not sure if the plan involves lifting or covering the tracks.
  Albert Chief Commissioner

According to prime news, the local council has got into bed with Rail Trails. They want to turn 2Km of track into a trial trail. However they want the state gov to repeal the act that prevents rails being lifted and fund the trail.
  tranx Assistant Commissioner

Location: Somewhere in Southwest Sydney
The rail trail proposal for Gundagai has been approved for 5 years by the local council. It was approved by the former councillors but moves are afoot to hopefully redress this situation.

In other disturbing news, the Railtrail movement is gaining momentum in NSW. There are two consultancy firms that have been lobbying State Liberal ministers to change railway legislation so that former right of ways can be converted to bike tracks, for instance, from Armidale to Wallangarra.

The Railtrail movement with the support of the Riverina Regional Development Board and Bicycle NSW is keen to develop a bike track in NSW. They did try to convince local landowners in Ladysmith of the benefits in 2010 but they weren't successful, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-05-04/rail-trail-push-worries-landholders/421016 They wanted to build a track from Ladysmith to Tumbarumba.

Now they have turned their attention to Gundagai and the firms produced a 200 page report in 2009 of the benefits of concreting over former right of ways for bikes, horseriders and walkers.

In some locations, it may be possible to have both interests, rail and non-rail, co-exist, but in most cases, the right of way is very tight and would pose OHS issues. I don't know at what point the right of way is reverted back to its original purpose.

If you are concerned about this, please send a letter/email to your local MP or the Transport Minister.

They have been successful in WA, Qld and Victoria.

Don't let it happen in NSW, we don't want Gundagai to fall in the wrong hands and be the test case.
  Fireman Dave Chief Commissioner

Location: Shh, I'm hiding
Why is this being seen as a bad thing? The reality is that none of the examples listed are likely to run trains in the future. A bike track on the reservation (it doesn't have to be on the actual track bed) isn't necessarily a bad thing, and it isn't likely to interfere with what is being done at Gundagai.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
Its a bad thing because Rail Trail proponents are the sort whom if you give them an inch they will take a mile. Once they start on disused lines with no real prospect of reactivation, they quickly turn their attention to lines that do have prospects and lines that preservation groups have interests in.

Suggesting they put in rail trails alongside the formation will not satisfy them (too hard). They will also not accept simply gravelling over the track but insist on lifting the track and bulldozing the formation.

For instance they have targetted the Derwent Valley Line in Tas. (which DVR and Rail Track Riders both have interests in) and have been telling all sorts of lies about what they consider our "intentions" or "prospects" are without even having the courtesy to talk to us. Fortunately they don't have much political support at the moment (in our case).

There is a battle in the U.S. at the moment with rail trail advocates clashing with the Adirondack Scenic Railway (who want to restore the line to Lake Placid in upstate New York) and a similar battle being waged against preservation groups in the Catskills (also NY).

In the U.K. there have been many clashes, most notably involving the Bodmin & Wenford Railway in Cornwall (or is that Devon?).

Rail preservationists must resist them with a vengeance. Their greed is legendary and their claims spread like a cancer if not nipped in the bud.
  tranx Assistant Commissioner

Location: Somewhere in Southwest Sydney
Here is the link to the Gundagai Feasibility Study for a Rail Trail, http://www.gundagai.nsw.gov.au/images/documents/gundagai/Planning/RailTrailFeasibility.pdf

Please judge for yourself.

When the Rail Trail group convenes a meeting, such as what has occurred at Ladysmith, according to the information that is available on the web, rail preservation groups are treated with disdain. The bike groups are only interested in pushing their agenda for a select few rather than a wider community.

When in came to the crunch, the local MP at the time voiced opposition to the project from farmers, http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/07/02/2291676.htm?site=riverina
http://www.abc.net.au/site-archive/rural/nsw/content/2006/s1684886.htm

Now they are trying for Gundagai as they failed in Ladysmith/Wagga Wagga.

Look at the composition of the Riverina Highlands Rail Trails group, http://www.transplan.com.au/blog/. Not one rail representative!
  Aussietrainman Station Master

Hi, Folks,
I was at the meeting that the Rail Trail mob held at Ladysmith. It was an informal affair - all head nodding and yes, yes. Nothing in writing. This meeting was after the meeting held in Wagga in a local motel; the minutes of which I have a copy. It has serious errors. Tumba Rail (a subcommittee of Regional Heritage Transport Association-Junee. Inc.), was not mentioned in the report - funny, we are the ones with a lease over part of the line that they want to put a railtrail on...
They have us listed as Heritage Rail - they are either very ignorant or someone has made a mistake... we were the ones that had some concern; we stated that the Ladysmith yard and Ladysmith to Tamboolba was "out of bounds". This is not what was reported in the Rail Trail meeting minutes.

Now the Transplan person has noted "Oh Dear". Get your facts right before "Oh dearing" or tut-tutting something.
  tranx Assistant Commissioner

Location: Somewhere in Southwest Sydney
I cant implore more strongly enough the threat of these overzealous Railtrail people to the preservation of rail lines in NSW.

According to information posted on their Facebook site, they have been lobbying the NSW State Government to change state legislation regarding closed lines, dated 10th July 2013.

They are only interested in pushing their agenda with little or no rail representative on their boards. As Aussietrainman has stated, they are very good at distorting the truth.

If they succeed, you will never be able to run a train to Wallangarra/Ladysmith/Gundagai, to name 3 destinations that they have proposed, ever again.

Why stop there?

They don't care if rail heritage groups are situated near railway lines, just as long as they can ride their bikes/horses or walk.

They don't care if local farmers are disadvantaged.

Look at Tumba Rail.
  locojoe67 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Gen X purgatory/urban Joh-land
I used to have little opinion either way, until i started riding a few rail trails.

For every well patronised, scenic rail trail, there are probably ten more that are rough, remote and little used. Costing millions to rehabilitate, they were often developed with the promise of attracting riders, hikers and outdoorsmen. Cash would flow into the community from an avalanche of weekend adventurers.

Wrong.

Most of these closed lines will never reopen, with track and bridgework restoration prohibitively expensive for volunteer groups. But in this context it is largely irrelevant. Static museums can serve as a focal point, communities can develop historical displays, and people can have a sense of pride in restoring buildings and maintaining what was. It is an inexpensive means of fostering some sense of belonging in communities that often badly need it.

As such, the problem is that rail trails are portrayed as a marvelous investment. The reality is that many are poorly used, poorly thought out trails with unfamiliar surroundings that present numerous dangers to their infrequent and often inexperienced users, exposing the local council as trustee to significant legal liability in the event of accident or incident. Maintenance will also be required to ensure safety standards are adhered to, an additional ongoing cost often glossed over in the initial sales pitch.

Realistically, most of these closed lines will never reopen. But spending millions to rehab them, and allowing users on these often difficult-to-access corridors is just asking for trouble. Ever tried getting mobile access on these? Ever gotten a flat tyre 10ks from your car? What if your companion has a heart attack, miles from corridor access?

There is little that can be cheaply done to these corridors. So little should be done. Leave them be in the unlikely event coal is found nearby.

The only relevant question here, for the trail advocates, is: who really benefits? A half dozen horse riders and a few assorted cyclists? Is it worth it?

The ambit claims made by trail advocates are based largely on the few 'success' stories such as Lilydale-Warburton, near a substantial population catchment, and capable of attracting significant dollars for rebuilding purposes. This type of outcome is an outlier. The majority of the proposals are for rough and remote trails costing millions to rehab that should only be left to rot in peace.
  Albert Chief Commissioner

I used to have little opinion either way, until i started riding a few rail trails.

For every well patronised, scenic rail trail, there are probably ten more that are rough, remote and little used. Costing millions to rehabilitate, they were often developed with the promise of attracting riders, hikers and outdoorsmen. Cash would flow into the community from an avalanche of weekend adventurers.

Wrong.

Most of these closed lines will never reopen, with track and bridgework restoration prohibitively expensive for volunteer groups. But in this context it is largely irrelevant. Static museums can serve as a focal point, communities can develop historical displays, and people can have a sense of pride in restoring buildings and maintaining what was. It is an inexpensive means of fostering some sense of belonging in communities that often badly need it.

As such, the problem is that rail trails are portrayed as a marvelous investment. The reality is that many are poorly used, poorly thought out trails with unfamiliar surroundings that present numerous dangers to their infrequent and often inexperienced users, exposing the local council as trustee to significant legal liability in the event of accident or incident. Maintenance will also be required to ensure safety standards are adhered to, an additional ongoing cost often glossed over in the initial sales pitch.

Realistically, most of these closed lines will never reopen. But spending millions to rehab them, and allowing users on these often difficult-to-access corridors is just asking for trouble. Ever tried getting mobile access on these? Ever gotten a flat tyre 10ks from your car? What if your companion has a heart attack, miles from corridor access?

There is little that can be cheaply done to these corridors. So little should be done. Leave them be in the unlikely event coal is found nearby.

The only relevant question here, for the trail advocates, is: who really benefits? A half dozen horse riders and a few assorted cyclists? Is it worth it?

The ambit claims made by trail advocates are based largely on the few 'success' stories such as Lilydale-Warburton, near a substantial population catchment, and capable of attracting significant dollars for rebuilding purposes. This type of outcome is an outlier. The majority of the proposals are for rough and remote trails costing millions to rehab that should only be left to rot in peace.
locojoe67
BINGO!
  a6et Minister for Railways

Interesting that the bicycle community that called for special lanes in many areas, & including Sydney CBD are having problems with the rogue elements that do not care for anyone else, such as pedestrians or even locals who have to park in the streets, as their old terrace castles have no parking space, & they fight for the space outside with bikes, & accidents means insurance hikes when a bike dents their car, & they have to pay extra for it.  There has been several bad incidents reported after the City Council with its Green Mayor pushed these lanes through.

So, what has this to do with Rail trails?  What I have seen in several areas with the bike riders that grab whatever space for a new adventure trip is they rarely care for the surrounds, they bike together like many pedestrians & take over the whole width of a footpath/trail & refuse to move for anyone coming the other way.  How much will this impact on the trails, with hostilities taking over part of our modern scty I guess.

locals may initially warm to the idea especially with the prospect of tourism & special events on an annual basis, but will that really happen in the end. As locojoe has hinted at.

Several attempts to have the Tumut line opened in the past have failed, be it in total length or part, so how likely is it to happen? very little, as the costs will be enormous the primary of course is the flood plain bridge, but it will fall down one day so even it will be a distant memory.  Much of the line as are others goes through private properties, which are there as part of early agreements with the farmers, I am sure they would have a say about who really can enter their property areas, remember much of those lines were unfenced & that showed really who owned the land anyway.

If the cost to return the line, or for that matter any of the lines back into revenue capable ventures is too much, especially with as there is ongoing maintenance costs, is too much, how on earth could these ventures be made viable under public liability needs?  To rehabilitate these lines, or this one in particular is going to happen it would need a lot of money spent on it to clear the ROW & make it safe for riders, that means lifting or covering the rail & sleepers, ensuring there are sufficient widths & fencing along embankments, making any old bridge or trestle also safe, & who pays for that?  

I doubt if local Councils would get any real applause from the rate payers who currently in most cases are cash strapped enough with rates constantly on the rise to pay for executive salaries.  I for one would not like it, & what about the governments, would they want to spend what would be millions of $$$'s on these projects at the expense of other PT improvements? I think not.

The last aspect is this.  How far from Sydney or other Capitals are these ventures? This really equates to how many will use the trails anyway, as few of these lines are close to Sydney or even Canberra, so in the end how many people would really use them?  

Leave things alone, which include the ROW's if time comes that there is a viable reason to re-open the lines communities would benefit far more by that happening than a few bikers.
  ivahri Train Controller

Sorry, I take an alternate view. What you are talking about is disused publicly owned land. There will never be trains on these lines again... stop kidding yourself & the rest of us. If rail ever returns to these regions they will under new alignments more suitably engineered for the 21st century.

I think government needs to better manage these assets for the benefit of the community. Leaving lines with nil, nadda, zilch prospect of reuse disused is just plain wrong. If you don't want rail trails then put your money where your mouth is & put your hand up to start restoring it... we all know that is not going to happen other than in a few, very limited localities. What is more practical- getting trains running at Zig Zag again or reopening the line from Gundagai to Tumut? Which one provides the community & the rail movement with more benefit? Zig Zag... every time. No-one would benefit from the rebuilding of the Gundagai rail bridge apart from a few who want to reminisce about 19th century bridges... The last alternative is for government to close these lines & sell the land to the neighbors... and frankly if you want to oppose rail trails this is the other alternative.

You can't save everything. Trying to do that only increases the risk that nothing gets saved. Save what we can well & the rest should be immortalised in video & still image.

Cheers


Richard
  Albert Chief Commissioner

And like rail preservation, where will rail trails get the money to do the job properly? How will they be maintained and by who? What happends when the interest is lost and it will happen.  Some of the images on rail trails facebook page don't inspire confidence with rutted out mud filled tracks.
  locojoe67 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Gen X purgatory/urban Joh-land
Here in Qld, the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail is suffering a lack of basic neglect due to cost overruns. Seems the glossy brochures overlooked ongoing maintenance costs, as the original intent to convert the entire 160km branch into a trail has been abandoned.

Even worse for the advocates, the segments that were converted are now under closure threat as the council(s) claim no funds for ongoing maintenance. Ie
http://m.gattonstar.com.au/news/rail-petition-signed/2349355/

Even the rail trail advocates recognise the issues:
http://www.railtrail.com/qld/bvrt_coominya_esk.htm

But still pressure pollies to get them anyway. Those that resist are labelled 'anti community' or similar nonsensical names.
http://m.qt.com.au/news/rail-trail-costs-a-concern-for-neighbouring-counci/2355049/

State grant funds are used to establish the trail, but local councils must pay to maintain them:
http://www.railtrails.org.au/archive-2012/421-qld-government-drops-support-for-brisbane-valley-rail-trail

The latest instalment is the Captains Flat proposal near Canberra ie http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/tourism-hopes-ride-on-pedal-power-reviving-the-bungendore-rail-trail-20140330-35s5f.html  presumably supported by the ACT population base. The claims of cafes, art houses and tourism dollars (eg  http://qorf.org.au/support-bvrt/ ) are already out there. Its a familiar refrain, but the captains flat trail may yet eventuate. Whether it is successful remains to be seen.

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