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ACROSS NSW dedicated people are pursuing the same goal, getting rail trails up and running.
A rail trail is the conversion of a disused railway into a versatile path, typically for walking, horse riding and bicycling.
However, current laws are crippling their efforts.
Rail Trails Australia NSW representative John O'Brien said there were at least 17 identified sections of rail line which should be used.
"NSW is the only State that doesn't have them," Mr O'Brien said.
"In every other State, townspeople use them to get from one place to another, exercising, walking, bike riding, horse riders and school kids use them to get to school."
The looming State election prompted talk of funding, but with no firm decision from the relevant politicians, nothing can start.
In Australia, apart from NSW, State governments declared their disused rail lines closed, paving the way for local government to get on with rail trail building.
In NSW, it takes an act of parliament to declare each line shut.
Victoria, which has more than 900 kilometres of rail trails, has generated significant income for regional areas by using old tracks.
The Gippsland rail trail in regional Victoria received a whopping $600,000 in funding to complete its section of a rail trail.
The Victorian government's regional development authority expected the initiative to create 27 new jobs, and provide more than $3 million a year for the local economy.
NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian supported development of new trails, but ruled out following Victoria's lead to revoke current laws preventing disused lines being officially closed.
"The NSW government has made it clear proposals for rail trails should be considered on merit and a case-by-case basis rather than a one-size-fits-all approach," Ms Berejiklian said.
"The government supports the potential use of disused rail lines as rail trails, where local communities are overwhelmingly supportive."
Mr O'Brien said NSW's current laws were the biggest hurdle to creating rail trails.
This article first appeared on www.theland.com.au
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