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WORKS will begin on the prospective Daylesford to Hanging Rock Rail Trail project if Labor wins the upcoming federal election.
Labor promised $5 million towards the project, which will involve constructing a 44-kilometre bike trail along the former Carlsruhe to Daylesford railway. The railway opened in 1880 and closed in 1978.
The rail trail would pass through the towns of Daylesford, Musk, Bullarto, Lyonville, Trentham, Carlsruhe and Woodend and will include connection spurs to take riders to other attractions.
Three connection spurs will be the Woodend to Hanging Rock spur, Carlsruhe to Kyneton spur and Trentham to Falls Trail spur.
Lobbying for the Rail Trail project ramped up last year with both Hepburn and Macedon Ranges Shire Councils lobbying for funding for the project in the lead up to the state election, with the Liberals pledging to fund $5 million towards the first stage of the project.
The rail trail would be similar to the successful Murray to Mountains Rail Trail in North East Victoria and would encourage visitors to wander from the region's major towns.
It will offer a variety of experiences for riders such as visiting cafes, wineries, heritage and natural attractions along the route.
It is estimated the project will attract more than 62,500 people each year as well as a shared economic benefit of $4.1 million for the towns it runs through.
The promise was announced by shadow federal minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Anthony Albanese on Thursday morning.
"The bike path between Daylesford and Hanging Rock will be a major tourism attraction uniting those fantastic communities and towns along the route and producing more jobs," Mr Albanese said.
IN NATURE: The old railway is maintained by the Daylesford Spa Country Railway who runs trains along it every weekend. Photo: Kate Healy
He said about eight million Australians currently enjoyed cycling and so the project was about encouraging that in a way that was also beneficial to the economy, environment and health outcomes.
"One of the things about cycling along these trails - that are more and more popular - is that it's young and old, men and women, people from all backgrounds [who] enjoy it, stay along the route and spend money on accommodation and food," he said.
Hepburn Shire Council Mayor Don Henderson said the project had been in the pipeline for more than a decade and the benefit of the investment would be felt more widely than just Hepburn and Macedon Shires.
It will provide a different, more leisurely experience than the Creswick Trails Project, which is targetted at mountain bikers. The rail trail requires an estimated $11.27 million of funding.
This article first appeared on www.thecourier.com.au
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