Final approval of NE rail trail gets moving

The next stage of the North East Rail Trail is underway, with a development application now before the Launceston Council and public comments accepted over the next 2 weeks.

The North East Rail Trail currently runs 28 km from Billycock Hill to Scottsdale. Dorset Council has proposed a 40 km extension of the trail running from Scottsdale through to Lilydale Falls.

Dorset Council has already approved the 26 km extension of the trail from Scottsdale on its land and had an appeal against it dismissed by the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but is now waiting for the Minister for Infrastructure to give it the go ahead to pull up the rails on the corridor. 

The application before the Launceston Council covers the 14 km section of rail corridor from Wyena to Lilydale Falls Reserve.

The development application includes pulling up rail lines and sleepers, crushing the existing rail line rock ballast down to a size suitable for a trail surface, building decking and handrails over bridge crossings, signage, car parking and access into the Lilydale Falls Reserve.

There would be a trailhead at Lilydale Falls where people could drive to or get dropped off to start and finish the trail. The application proposes adding 12 car parking bays and a bus and trailer bay in a new asphalted car park where there is currently grass and trees.

The trail through this section would be an average 2.5 m wide, but may vary to be wider or narrower depending on conditions.

Rail Trail appeal

This 70 km length of trail is appealing because it will start to bring in visitors who want a relaxed weekend of riding, with stops to see the sights, eat and stay overnight in one of the towns.

People already in Tasmania can also fit in a day of riding along all or part of the trail.

The distance from Launceston means businesses can hire bikes and provide shuttle services for people with limited time who want to ride the trail or don’t want to ride the full length out and back.

Visitors could be picked up in Launceston and dropped off at Lilydale Falls with their hired bikes or e-bikes then picked up at the other end to spend the night in Derby or head back to Launceston.

The Tasmania Government has agreed the length of disused line between Launceston’s outskirts and Lilydale Falls can be utilised by a volunteer-run train service, which could potentially carry bikes.

The Launceston and North East Rail group has established to provide this service although no regular services are yet running.

If you’d like to show your support for the rail trail you can make a comment on the development application before 14 September 2022 via the council’s website.