While arguments still swirl regarding the pros and cons of a rail trail versus a return of trains to Byron Shire, in neighbouring Tweed money has already been approved for the conversion of section of the old North Coast line into a world class rail trail.
The state government yesterday stumped up $6 million towards the cost of converting the Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek section of the track into a trail, pending an expected dollar-for-dollar federal government grant by the end of next month.
Tourism Minister Adam Marshall visited Murwillumbah for the funding announcement yesterday.
Mr Marshall told media the state government was ‘reserving $6.3 million’ and ‘hopefully the Commonwealth will match that funding.’
The project was initiated by Tweed Shire Council, which has made a contribution of just under half a million dollars.
TSC General Manager Troy Green welcomed the announcement, saying the rail trail would bring ‘an extremely valuable economic boost to the Tweed, as well as major health and social benefits.’
‘The experiences of similar rails trails throughout Australia and overseas clearly demonstrate how popular they are in bringing tourism, job creation and long-term financial boosts to the towns and villages along their routes,’ Mr Green said.
‘With the incredible beauty of the land along the disused Murwillumbah to Casino rail corridor and the many attractions the rail trail will link, we’re confident this will be one of the most successful rail trails.
‘This is supported by independent evaluations of the project and the feedback we’re receiving by users of rail trails around the world,’ he said.
Lismore MP George (Nationals) praised Tweed Shire Council and the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc, who he said ‘have been for some years now trying to obtain funding for this project to go ahead.’
‘They’ve continually, as two organisations, been pushing this as one.’
Tweed MP Geoff Provest (Nationals) praised the efforts of Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc in crowdfunding $75,000 for a feasibility study recently
‘There has certainly been a tangible and measurable statement of support for the rail trail from the community, there’s no denying that fact,’ he said.
‘The Northern Rivers Rail Trail has enormous potential to enhance the local tourism industry, create jobs and grow the regional economy,’ Mr Provest added.