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Historic Golden Mile Loopline Railway from Kalgoorlie to Boulder in WA Goldfields set to live again
A long-planned tourist railway connecting downtown Boulder to the Super Pit lookout has been put on ice after the Golden Mile Loopline Railway Society handed $3.3 million of promised funding back to the State Government.
The project to build the 16km railway line was stopped dead in its tracks late last year when a proposal to expand the Super Pit and move its lookout, and expected cost blowouts, meant work on the second stage of the development was suspended.
The not-for-profit organisation said in a statement that after re-evaluating the project’s feasibility and business model it had reached a mutual agreement to terminate the bulk of the project.
It means the GMLRS will have to return $3.3 million of the $3.7 million it was allocated by State Cabinet in June, 2015, to build a tourist line linking Boulder, the Super Pit and Hannan Street.
It is now unclear whether the money will remain in the Goldfields, with a spokesman for Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan saying it would return to the Royalties for Regions funding pool, with its final destination not to be determined until Budget time.
Ms MacTiernan said the State Government remained committed to the Goldfields’ tourism sector.
“The Golden Mile Loopline Railway Society indicated to Government earlier this year that it would not be able to proceed with phase two of the rail project and supported a withdrawal of funding,” she said. “While this is an unfortunate outcome, the State Government will continue to look at tourism options for Kalgoorlie-Boulder.”
GMLRS president Tony Crook said he remained hopeful the project would go ahead in the future, but it could not hold onto the funding with uncertainty surrounding the Super Pit’s expansion plans.
“We’re still hopeful that there might be an opportunity to resurrect it in the future,” he said.
“It’s great for the city that the Super Pit is going to be expanded, but our project was specifically to go to the Super Pit so our business model certainly changed and we felt it was prudent that we take the decision that we did.
“We were still a long time from starting the project.”
More also needed to be done to enhance collaboration in the tourism sector between not-for-profit groups, the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, the State Government and KCGM, Mr Crook said.
According to GMLRS, the $400,000 first phase is near completion.
It said works including the track laying, rolling stock refurbishment and station platform resurfacing were almost finished.
The Boulder station at Loopline Park was established in 1897 and once ran about 100 trains a day, moving miners, equipment and timber to the Golden Mile.
This article first appeared on thewest.com.au
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