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Green light for Leongatha-Korumburra rail trail

Done deal: from left, South Gippsland Shire Council CEO Tim Tamlin and Peter Chau, executive general manager property at VicTrack, sign the Heads of Agreement document to enable council to pursue grant funding to extend the Great Southern Rail Trail from Leongatha to Korumburra.

A RAIL trail between Leongatha and Korumburra is closer to becoming a reality.

South Gippsland Shire Council and the State Government agency responsible for rail land, VicTrack, last Thursday came to an agreement that gives council approval to extend the Great Southern Rail Trail from Leongatha to Korumburra, and ultimately to Nyora and beyond.

That is part of a broader plan to continue the trail to Clyde near Cranbourne, with coastal links to the Bass Coast, making it the largest rail trail in Australia.

The Leongatha to Korumburra project now only needs to receive grant funding to proceed.

The announcement has been welcomed by the Leongatha and Korumburra communities.

Last Thursday, council CEO Tim Tamlin signed a Heads of Agreement for the Leongatha to Nyora Rail Corridor with Peter Chau, executive general manager of property at VicTrack.

“The Heads of Agreement will eventually be superseded with a lease. The lease is still some time away from being finalised as this stretch of land has proved to be surprisingly complex,” Mr Tamlin said.

“There have been so many bits and pieces that have been accessed by adjoining landholders over the years and this all needs to be resolved.

“Our initial aim was to have a document from VicTrack confirming access to the Leongatha to Korumburra corridor. This would allow council to pursue the establishment of this section without further delay. However, Peter and his team have provided us with a much greater section, all the way to Nyora. This will help us to progress the trail to Nyora and beyond. VicTrack have certainly been a wonderfully proactive team of people to deal with.”

Council recently engaged SGS Economics to undertake a cost benefit analysis and economic impact study for an extension of the trail from Leongatha to Clyde, and other connections such as Nyora to Woolamai.

South Gippsland Shire Council is working with Cardinia Shire Council, City of Casey and Bass Coast Shire Council for the extension of the rail trail which could ultimately create a 168km trail from Clyde to Yarram with coastal links to Port Welshpool, Port Albert and coastal areas in Bass Coast, making it the largest rail trail in Australia.

“I understand the community has been anxious for us to get on with work on extending the rail trail that will connect our two major towns, and this is our first priority now that we have the security of this agreement,” Mr Tamlin said.

“Not only can we get on with initial preparatory activities, we can also commence our work seeking grant funding for the construction of the trail.

“This is a very exciting moment for the future of South Gippsland.”

Leongatha Business Association president Brenton Williams welcomed the agreement, saying the extension of the rail trail “is a good idea”.

Korumburra Business Association president Noelene Cosson said the rail trail extension from Leongatha to Korumburra was one of council’s five priority projects.

“The Korumburra Business Association is very excited to hear the announcement that the agreement has been signed with VicTrack. We are now one step closer to achieving this important link between Korumburra and Leongatha via a rail trail,” she said.

“This will give both towns the economic boost that rail trails provide for country towns. It is well documented that rail trail users contribute to the economy particularly through the food, beverage and accommodation businesses.”

Ms Cosson said a rail trail between Korumburra and Leongatha would be ideal for exercising.

“It is a manageable distance of 12km, a perfect day out for bike riders, walkers and joggers who will often inject money into the economy at either end of the journey,” she said.

“Users will now have safe access onto the rail trail beyond Leongatha for those wishing to go further. The planned starting point for Korumburra is right in the centre of town on the railway precinct, bringing more people into the centre of our already vibrant, diverse and busy retail precinct.

“This will enhance our growing town and encourage tourists to stay longer or even visit for the first time. 

“All this can be achieved for a relative small cost and will not preclude the return of rail if and when the government of the day wants to return the service. Meanwhile, let’s keep moving forward on what will be a fantastic use of a disused rail line.”

The new lease does not include rail yards at Leongatha and Korumburra. Council and VicTrack continue to negotiate leases for these locations.

Council is unsure how much funding it would apply for, for the Leongatha-Korumburra section, and how much funding it would commit to the project, given the project is in its early stages.

Council is yet to determine the state of the rail corridor, including the bridges.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=27498

Posted by on Feb 12 2019. Filed under Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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