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BICYCLE Network Tasmania says it supports the Derwent Valley Railway’s plans for the region’s railway line but would like to see a project deadline put in place to make sure the asset does not get left unused.
The Derwent Valley Council ramped up its support for the DVR last week, deciding in a special council meeting to consider leasing disused railway tracks to see tourist trains return to the region.
Bicycle Network Tasmania adviser Garry Bailey said the council’s decision to increase its support for the DVR was not unexpected.
He said Bicycle Network would like to work with DVR to see a train go from New Norfolk to Westerway, and a bike track from there to National Park, but recognises that it is not DVR’s preference.
“We wish [DVR] well in their endeavours, but they need to have a timetable,” Mr Bailey said.
“Our view is they’re at the front of the queue, but what we would like to see eventually is a deadline set, otherwise this is an asset that’s not being used.
“A community can only wait so long to see a project come up and made viable. If it can’t meet a deadline, eventually someone else ought to have a crack.
Bicycle Tasmania spokesman Garry Bailey, far right, with Hurricanes players Cameron Boyce and Erin Burns at Blundstone Arena. Picture: MATHEW FARRELL“They’ve got some substantial hurdles we believe, and they’re enthusiastic enough to overcome them, but they’ve been at this for a very long time.”
Mr Bailey said he would be in touch with the council soon.
He believed a bike trail would be much cheaper to operate, as it would not involve the upgrade and maintenance of the rail line.
“The biggest hurdle is rail ... is very tightly regulated by the National Rail Safety Regulator,” he said.
“Its report on the Derwent Valley line shows, from its point of view, it will cost millions to bring it up to standard.
“The Derwent Valley Rail people argue very strongly that that’s not true, but I’m yet to see an independent report on that.”
If it can’t meet a deadline, eventually someone else ought to have a crack.
DVR secretary Owen Andrews said the invitation was there for Bicycle Network Tasmania to become actively involved in the project.
“We don’t really see why one should happen and one shouldn’t, we’d really like to see some co-operation,” Mr Andrews said.
“Co-operation to us doesn’t mean pull up half of [the line] and make the other half into a bike track, co-operation to us means build the railway but also build the bike track either alongside or alongside parts of it.
“We don’t want to see part of the railway line lifted just so you can have bike track on one part and a railway line on the rest of it, what we want to see is co-operation not compromise.”
Mr Bailey would not rule out building a bike track next to the railway line but believed it would be “inordinately expensive”.
“It would obviously be a substantial cost, and I don’t know whether it is possible.”
This article first appeared on www.themercury.com.au
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