Rail trails have the potential to unlock scenic regional areas for tourists, which then creates jobs in local communities. They can also offer a safe and scenic option for local residents or commuters to walk, cycle, jog or use other non-motorised forms of transport.
All proposed rail trail projects require:
- a viable and sustainable business model for developing and maintaining the rail trail
- evidence that consultation has been undertaken with adjacent landholders and the broader community to address their issues, such as potential biosecurity concerns.
Rail trail projects in NSW require an amendment to the Transport Administration Act 1988 to close the rail line before work can commence on developing the rail trail.
If rail trail proponents can show a viable business model and evidence of effective community consultation, the Department of Premier and Cabinet will undertake an independently-facilitated community consultation session for each proposed rail trail, prior to amending the Transport Administration Act 1988.
The purpose of the community consultation is to:
- gauge community sentiment for a rail trail
- explain the role and responsibility of the government in a rail trail project, including the requirement to close the rail corridor before work on the rail trail can commence
- respond to questions from the community and stakeholders.
The outcomes of these community consultation sessions are provided to the government to inform decisions on whether to close the rail corridor to enable work on the rail trail to commence.
In 2017, the Department and of Premier and Cabinet facilitated community consultation for the potential closure of the Armidale to Wallangarra rail line. Community members were invited to provide written feedback.