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Tourism hopes ride on pedal power reviving the Bungendore rail trail

The last train over the line in the Captains Flat yard in 1969.

The last train over the line in the Captains Flat yard in 1969. Photo: Leon Oberg

Redeveloping the 34-kilometre Bungendore-to-Captains Flat railway line as a rail trail could open a new tourism industry replicating similar trails in Victoria, according to Labor's Steve Whan.

Rail Trails for NSW has launched a fresh attempt to establish trails - closed railway corridors with the tracks removed and replaced with road base or gravel - and several regional areas including Wagga and the North Coast are pushing for them.

Pedal Power ACT vice-president Jeff Ibbotson says a key to the success of the Victorian trails is proximity to large population centres.

The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail.

The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail.

He said a trail from Bungendore to Captains Flat, and potentially one from Queanbeyan to Cooma, would draw many Canberra cyclists.

Mr Ibbotson said Pedal Power groups regularly travelled to Victoria.

''If they travel that far they will certainly travel 30 kilometres out to Bungendore.''

Mr Whan said rail trails would enhance the Canberra region's reputation for cycling.

''Imagine the benefit for Captains Flat businesses if cyclists take the ride out and buy lunch at the Captains Flat pub or even stay the night?

''Other decommissioned railways with great rail trail potential include Hume to Royalla or Michelago.''

Goulburn rail historian and author Leon Oberg photographed the last steam loco leaving Captains Flat for Bungendore in August, 1969, when the train was used for filming the Ned Kelly movie.

Mr Whan said it was ridiculous state laws prevented lines being used for another purpose. ''Labor tried to change the law in our last term of government but the then Opposition and Greens blocked the legislation in the upper house.

''A parliamentary committee has recently made a bipartisan recommendation that rail trails should be developed in NSW.''

Mr Whan said under the Victorian model, the government retained ownership of the rail easement.

''You have to ensure as you travel through people's farms that you are not disrupting their activity as well,'' he said.

''That, in the past, has been a bit of a barrier to doing some of these [in NSW].''

''The Bungendore community expressed strong support for a rail trail some years ago but the old law stopped it happening.

''If we get the law changed then the key ingredient will be strong community support and positive discussion and co-operation with landholders near the route,'' Mr Whan said.

An economics benefits study found three Victorian rail trails generated more than $10 million annually.

27 comments

  • How good would this be? All the way to Cooma on a rail trail away from the road? Awesome!

    Commenter
    KB1971
    Date and time
    March 31, 2014, 8:22AM
    • yeah that would be sweet. An impressively long ride and all on a purpose designed trail segregated from other traffic.

      Keen.

      Commenter
      d d
      Date and time
      March 31, 2014, 10:17AM
  • Queanbeyan to Cooma? That should be carrying actual trains, not bikes.

    Commenter
    Mike
    Date and time
    March 31, 2014, 10:33AM
    • Agreed, the Queanbeyan to Cooma railway should be re-furbished & run up to Jindabyne & linked through to Sydney to cater for snow travellers & daily work commuters picking up passengers along the way.
      It would cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars as there are many rail bridges and all the rail track would need replacing from Queanbeyan to Cooma & new track laid from there on.
      As for Bungendore to the 'Flat route & can see a couple of land-owners along the way that wouldn't want a bar of it and would fight it tooth and nail, and rightly so, who would want all the rubbish and wanderer's traipsing all over your place, over-night camping & going to the toilet in your paddocks, lighting & leaving un-attended camp fires & throwing cigarette butts.
      People can ride that route via Hoskinstown now on mostly low traffic roads & come out near six mile bridge but that last section of sealed road to the 'Flat is narrow, winding with loose edges & with very high speed traffic passing millimetres away from any cyclists...I reckon you'd need a stiff drink & good lie down at the "Flat after surviving that stretch of road.

      Commenter
      dusty
      Location
      Bungendore
      Date and time
      March 31, 2014, 1:18PM
  • So who would pay for this? I see no reason why the general taxpayer should be slugged for the costs both initial and on-going.

    Commenter
    MFL
    Date and time
    March 31, 2014, 10:57AM
    • Rail trails bring tourists into the area. They have been very successful in Victoria. A modest investment by the taxpayer means tourist dollars for regional areas.

      Commenter
      Tim
      Date and time
      March 31, 2014, 11:19AM
    • @ Tim 11.19am Those profiting or benefiting from the proposal should pay for it, not the general taxpayer. The potential users are a small minority of the community so why should everyone else pay for their indulgence?

      Commenter
      MFL
      Date and time
      March 31, 2014, 12:02PM
    • You know what MFL, a great deal of taxpayer money goes to things that I dont use.......do I begrudge it? No. Its a fact of life and will give a bit of life back to communities such as Captains Flat and Bredbo (if it goes all the way down there too).

      At this stage the infrastructure is not being used, I would rather see some money put into it andget it being used again.

      & isnt that what all the car driving haters want? Cyclists off the road?

      Commenter
      KB1971
      Date and time
      March 31, 2014, 12:28PM
    • @ MFL 12:02pm. Too right MFL, and those bludging sick people should pay when they use the hospital so I don't have to when they benefit.

      Commenter
      ekib
      Date and time
      March 31, 2014, 1:08PM
    • @MFL, too right! And you should pay for the road outside your house because you benefit from it most. And only people who have heart attacks should pay for intensive care units. And only people who get arrested should pay for the police. And only people whose houses catch fire should pay for the fire brigade.

      Commenter
      Tim
      Date and time
      March 31, 2014, 1:52PM

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