The proposed 200 kilometre Monaro Rail Trail through NSW's south-east has taken a monumental step after local councils agreed to work together on the project.
Representatives from Monaro Rail Trail Inc (MRT) and Snowy Monaro Regional Council (SMRC) met late January to sign the historic first formal agreement for project, a memorandum of understanding between SMRC, MRT and Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC).
The two councils can now proceed alongside MRT to develop detailed plans for the rail trail, which is planned to run over 208 kilometres along the disused rail corridor from Queanbeyan to Bombala.
This is great news for NSW who have historically had a distinct lack of rail trails, something Bicycle Network has been campaigning for for years, with many businesses and local communities missing out on the tourism and economic benefits that we know rail trails can deliver.
Bicycle Network also put rail trails forward as a positive way for bushfire or drought affected communities to recover in our NSW budget submission for 2020-21.
Planning for the proposed trail has been divided into three main sections – Tralee to Michelago, Nimmitabel to MacLaughlan and Bombala to Jincumbilly – and will run through towns like Bredbo, Chakola, Bunyan and Cooma.
Consultants are now inspecting the old railway lines to create a development plan that will be used to formally apply for funding through state and federal governments.
If the Monaro Rail Trail is successful in submitting its plans and gathering funding, it will be considered one of the longest rail trails, at one of the highest altitudes, in Australia.
A feasibility study from 2019 concluded that the Monaro Rail Trail project could create a benefit to cost ratio of 8:1. The report indicated that this project will boost the local retail and hospitality economy from the top to the bottom of the region, with the total yearly economic gain estimated to be approximately $25M.
Image from Monaro Rail Trail Inc website, where you can find more information about the project.