‘Modified’ Rail Trail looks set to go ahead after decision overturned

Guyra's little Heritage Train uses the local section of the railway line
21st May 2024

Armidale Regional Council (ARC) and Glen Innes Severn Council (GISC) will move ahead with modified plans for the New England Rail Trail (NERT) following separate meetings held last week.
Following a lengthy debate at last week’s extraordinary meeting ARC were given the go ahead to begin preparatory works on their section of the trail.
Two motions were passed at the meeting – a rescission motion that countered an earlier decision to delay works pending further information and a subsequent notice of motion that effectively cleared the way for work to proceed.
GISC council also decided to move forward after debating the issue later in the week.
Both councils are seeking to repurpose funding already allocated for the NERT to modified sections of the trail within their own council areas.
ARC is now focussing on a section of track between Armidale and Dumaresq instead of Black Mountain to Ben Lomond, while GISC will begin planning for a shortened section of the trail from Glen Innes to Glencoe instead of Ben Lomond.
ARC will seek to use a $5.4 million Federal Government Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund grant previously allocated to their original plan and GISC will make application to ammend the scope of the $8.7 million NSW Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund grant that they received for the modified proposal.
Trains North, a group hoping to bring trains back to the closed section of track between Armidale and the Queensland border, expressed disappointment at the decisions.
They have recommitted themselves to advocating for the strategic importance of the Main North Line.
Trains North President Matthew Tierney said that ‘Vandalising a tiny part of it for a bicycle path is not a good move and with the community largely on our side we will continue to push the case for the New England Connection railway at both State and Federal levels.’
Trains North say they have received written advice from the Minister for Regional Transport confirming that neither Armidale nor Glen Innes council is in a position to proceed with their rail trail at present.