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Moves to develop a new rail trail linking Castlemaine to Maryborough are gaining momentum with a new committee of six now formed to pursue the vision.
“Our group incorporated last month, and we’ve taken some important steps towards community and council engagement,” new Castlemaine – Maryborough Rail Trail Association president, John Carruthers, said.
Mr Carruthers said they’d had a positive response from communities envisaged to benefit from the proposed rail aimed at delivering recreational opportunities for locals and a new attraction for visitors.
Besides Castlemaine, he named Guildford and Newstead among those expected to profit from the plan to recycle the disused, and now partially dismantled, line linking Guildford, Castlemaine, Newstead and Maryborough.
“Cyclists, walkers, horse riders,” Mr Carruthers listed as some of those anticipated to use the trail.
“We’re very excited about where we’re going,” association secretary Lou Citroen said.
“Community engagement is happening. We’re getting fliers out. A couple of us did a presentation via zoom to Newstead 2021.
“We’ve been interviewed by ABC in Bendigo and Ballarat and we’re signing up members fairly quickly.”
Mr Citroen said a main focus was engaging with the two shires through which the line runs – Mount Alexander Shire and Central Goldfields.
“The corridor has a gentle gradient so it would be easily accessible to all,” he said.
“It has huge potential.”
But while there’s no doubt the plan has strong support, not everyone is in favour with some just as keen to see the line reinstated as a fully functional and efficient passenger and freight rail line.
Rail Revival Alliance and Public Transport Users Association members are among those who have called for the line to be reinstated.
Alliance spokesman Scott Ramsay said the Castlemaine-Guildford rail corridor should be reopened to trains as part of a wider vision to restore the line linking Maryborough to Ballarat and the port of Geelong.
“The rail line would bring more economic benefits than the rail trail,” Mr Ramsay said.
Castlemaine-based Public Transport Users Association member Chris Hooper also believes converting the line into a rail trail would be to miss a prime chance to reinstate freight and passenger services linking Maryborough to Castlemaine, Ballarat and the port of Geelong.
This article first appeared on www.midlandexpress.com.au
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