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A PLAN to lease out the rail route between Lockington and Kotta for a rail trail remains stuck in limbo.
Lockington District Business Centre has been working since January 2019 to get the project moving, but has been stalled due to a lack of an agreement with council and VicTrack.
Wendy Sims, of LDBC, said a number of issues with the lease had arisen.
“We have been trying for the past two years to get a lease on the track,” she said.
“But we have been in a stalemate as VicTrack will only lease with the council.
“VicTrack would be very happy for our shire council to take the head lease and then lease it on to the LDBC, however the shire doesn't want the lease.”
Campaspe Shire Council general manager of community Keith Oberin said the council would continue to work as an advocate for the project.
“We are aware of the LDBC’s desire to lease the old rail route between Lockington and Kotta and have been advocating, on the group’s behalf, to VicTrack and the state government to accommodate their request,” he said.
“Council has been attempting itself to resolve a number of issues with VicTrack over a long period with respect to unused rail corridors.
“Staff recently presented to a parliamentary inquiry on the broader issue of unused railway land in rural and regional Victoria, specifically raising VicTrack’s apparent reluctance to lease land to incorporated bodies.
“We will continue to advocate on behalf of LDBC and other community groups wishing to lease VicTrack land.”
A VicTrack spokesperson said they would continue to look at the project.
“Our community leasing program enables vacant rail land to be used to benefit communities across Victoria,” the spokesperson said.
“We will seek to work with Campaspe Shire Council and local groups regarding the opportunity to convert the former rail line between Lockington and Kotta into a rail trail.”
Neither Campapse Shire nor VicTrack directly addressed the Riverine Herald's questions regarding the leasing of the line to the shire and on-leasing to the LDBC.
LDBC's Ms Sims said the plan was to create an 8.1km rail trail between the two sites, as well as renovating the platform at Lockington as part of the project.
“Rail Trail Victoria is thrilled with the proposal and is fully supporting us,” she said.
“We think it would be a wonderful addition to the community. But we are still looking for ways to make this possible.
“We had a meeting a month ago with Campaspe Shire. They're happy to help where they can, but won't commit to the lease, but unfortunately we are stuck in this stalemate.”
This article first appeared on www.riverineherald.com.au
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