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HANDMADE signs painted in red catch the attention of motorists and passengers along the New England Highway.
They call for action on the dormant section of rail trail of the Greater Northern Rail Line.
The area in question extends more than 200 kilometres from Armidale to Wallangarra. It has not been active in decades.
It is a controversial issue in the region with communities divided on the future of the railway corridor. The debate has particularly heated up over the past few years.
Petitions have been distributed across the region calling for action on the dormant railway track including the reintroduction of passenger trains and a bicycle trail.
Community meetings have been hosted and letters written to the three-tiers of government. It has even attracted the attention of the government with the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet hosting community engagement workshops in Tenterfield and Guyra late last year.
The workshops aimed to gauge the support of the community for the closure of the corridor.
But no action has been agreed and the people remain locked in a stalemate.
In the interim, the railway corridor rots.
There is a infrastructure of the corridor is available and at this rate, it will remain disused for another few decades.
There is no doubt that this is an opportunity for an significant boost to the economy and tourism industry in the New England region. But without a unified front, this project will not leave the station (excuse the pun).
A bike trail could be an unique tourism opportunity with cyclists coming from across the country to ride through the region’s beautiful natural landscape. This proposal could also be used for walking and horse riding.
The reintroduction of a passenger train could showcase the highlights of the New England and become a boutique experience. It could bring new life for businesses.
The region is in desperate need for an injection in tourism and economy, and this is project could help bring that boost of vibrancy.
Regardless of the outcome, it is time to make a decision about the disused railway corridor.
The region has been undergoing significant change which will see a brighter future for its people – let’s keep it on track.
This article first appeared on www.guyraargus.com.au
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