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Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW secretary Alex Claassens described Armidale Regional Council decision to support the declassify the rail corridor between Armidale and Tenterfield as disappointing and short-sighted.
"We've long said that the disused rail corridors are goldmines for local communities and this one is no different," he said.
New England Rail Trail steering committee chairman David Mills agreed, up to a point.
"The line that Mr Claassens discusses certainly has huge potential, as far as the proposal that we have put forward."
Mr Claassens said there were examples of rail corridors being reopened for a whole range of innovative purposes.
"Like for transporting water between sites by trains. During a time of drought and high unemployment, it seems short-sighted to rob a community of those opportunities," he said.
"Reopening disused rail lines like the Armidale to Tenterfield line makes a lot of sense. It's disappointing to see those opportunities taken off the table."
Mr Mills said the RTBU needed to concentrate on putting their membership fees towards improving current infrastructure, not the lines they abandoned, never fought for or even considered in the past.
"The rail corridor between Armidale and Tenterfield has been left abandoned for over 30-years, just like the other 3127 kilometres of abandoned rail network throughout NSW," he said.
"Prior to our proposal in 2014, no-one cared about that line. No-one had any proposal, no-one had any care for its future."
With the line active from Sydney to Armidale, Mr Mills thought it was relevant to ask why water was not carted by train to all the towns between Sydney to Armidale that recently struggled with water shortages.
"From my understanding you cannot event get a parcel delivered from Sydney to Armidale on the current Explorer set," Mr Mills said.
This article first appeared on www.armidaleexpress.com.au
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