Members of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc (NRRT) presented a petition of almost 2000 signatures to Minister for the North Coast, Don Page MP and Member for Lismore, Thomas George MP on Friday.
The NRRT’s Public Liaison Officer, Marie Lawton, has been building community support for the rail trail concept which proposes to convert the 132km disused railway between Casino and Murwillumbah into a multi-use walking and cycling track.
“We had no trouble obtaining signatures for the petition; people were only too willing to sign and thought that a rail trail is a great way to use the corridor if the trains are not going to be re-instated in the near future.” Ms Lawton said.
The petition is addressed to the Legislative Assembly and requests that the Assembly supports the building of a rail trail in the Northern Rivers so that the rail corridor is retained as a community asset.
Ms Lawton and other members of the NRRT collected signatures at community events and markets since the group formed in May 2013.
The petition was handed to Mr Page and Mr George during a meeting with the NRRT, which was also attended by former CEO of the Queenstown Trails Trust, Kaye Parker.
Ms Parker was one of the driving forces behind the Queenstown Trail, a network of more than 110km of walking and cycling tracks throughout the Wakatipu region in New Zealand.
Ms Parker met with the NRRT to share her knowledge of building a successful multi-use trail – it was predicted that the Queenstown trail would attract about 35,000 people per year for the first five years but within the first nine months 107,000 people had used it.
“With our beautiful landscape and existing tourism industry, it’s not hard to see how a Northern Rivers rail trail could be a great attraction for active tourists and provide business and employment opportunities for locals, as well as giving us a safer, healthier way to get around.” Ms Lawton said.
Mr Page was impressed with the response from the community and is very happy to present the petition to Parliament.
A feasibility study will be conducted by Arup Pty Ltd and it is expected that Government funding will be required to make the project happen.