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Momentum is gathering for the conversion of disused railway lines near Bungendore and Goulburn into smooth, straight trails with gentle gradients for cyclists, who will ride without the worry of cars and trucks.
A feasibility study on the 56-kilometre Goulburn to Crookwell rail trail has been completed and work on a study for the 32-kilometre Bungendore to Captains Flat rail trail is under way. Both aim to support business cases to access the NSW government's $50 million pool for trails to boost regional tourism, while preserving the easements should rail return. The Goulburn trail is estimated to cost $15 million.
Supporters of the Bungendore-Captains Flat trail – to be called the Molonglo Rail Trail – raised $14,000 in one night for their feasibility study. Postgraduate business students at the University of Sydney are working on the project, which should allow a steering committee to keep its costs to about $30,000 for the feasibility study.
Committee spokesman and cyclist Bill Taylor said walkers and horse riders also used rail trails, and similar trails in Victoria, from Wangaratta to Bright and from East Gippsland, generated plenty of tourism traffic.
Mr Taylor said the Molonglo trail would cost about $4 million.
"One of the big issues for a feasibility study is to talk to landowners, whose properties are adjacent to the old railway line. We have started informal conversations and a couple of them are enthusiastic, but I reckon probably a number of them don't have any concept of what a rail trail is all about, what sort of people are likely to use it; how do we ensure motor vehicles, particularly motor bikes, are not able to access the trail," Mr Taylor said.
"There are additional issues a few landholders have; a couple of cases where the rail line goes fairly close to houses and other buildings. So we need to re-route the line or screening, or a combination of those things."
The trails would be fenced to avoid clashes with sheep and cattle.
Mr Taylor said the fundraising concert at Mulloon farm near Bungendore drew 190 people, including prospective trail users and landowners, and demonstrated strong community support.
"The spirit on the night was just fantastic," he said. "I spent a bit of time talking to one of the landowners who said he was really enthusiastic about it, but he had a couple of specific concerns that he wanted to talk to us about, which is understandable."
This article first appeared on www.canberratimes.com.au
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