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Cowra mayor Bill West has slammed Hilltops Council for exploring the use of a section of the Blayney-Demondrille rail line as potentially a path for pedestrians connecting Young Railway Station with Chinaman's Dam.
Mr West says this plan could jeopardise the reopening of the Blayney-Demondrille line, which recently was subject to a feasibility study by state government.
Hilltops Council's potential "rail trail", which would link with existing sporting ovals and other open spaces between Young and Chinaman's Dam, was identified in the Hilltops 2040 Local Strategic Planning Statement outlining 20 years of future land use planning in the local government area.
The document recently closed for public comment after an extended period on display.
Mayor West, who coordinates communication between local councils and Transport NSW in relation to the Blayney-Demondrille rail line, urged Hilltops Council to reconsider their plan.
"Cowra Council wrote to Hilltops Council to express our concern and disappointment in this proposal and its potential to jeopardise the opening of the Blayney-Demondrille rail line," Cowra mayor Bill West said.
"Hilltops Council, as well as the former Young and Harden Shires, have been strong supporters of our united push to reopen the Blayney-Demondrille rail line and urge them to reconsider," he said.
Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke, a supporter of the reopening of the entire Blayney-Demondrille rail line, says she's been in contact with Hilltops Council regarding the matter.
"In 2019 I announced a feasibility study to be undertaken into the potential for reopening this line. This study has been completed and is currently with the minister for review. I look forward to the outcome.
"I have met with Hilltops Council to discuss a proposal to convert the section of the track between the Young town centre and Chinaman's Dam and have reiterated my support for reopening the entire Blayney-Demondrille line," she said.
Hilltops Council says there's been no talk about converting or sharing the section of the rail line identified in their planning statement.
"An indicative path as shown on draft maps within the document follows the existing rail corridor. As the idea of the trail is only in its infancy, no conversation has been had as yet in relation to the potential to convert or share the rail corridor. Any commitment to an actual route for a pedestrian or cycle corridor requires further work and consultation. It is too early to determine whether this idea and location has merit and is feasible," a spokesperson for Hilltops Council said.
LVR secretary and treasurer John Healey was disappointed with Hilltops Council's draft plan.
"It amounts to vandalism of a public asset at worst, and at best it is inconsiderate to their neighbours along the line," he said.
"In 2009 the Cowra lines had services suspended, they were not closed by the requisite act of parliament. It is therefore still part of the NSW rail network.
"To propose any section of the corridor be repurposed to something other than a railway line is inappropriate and may place the reopening of the whole line in jeopardy."
This article first appeared on www.youngwitness.com.au
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