Why are New South Welshmen more anti-rail trail than other states?

 
  beanzs27 Assistant Commissioner

As a Victorian who enjoys cycling the various rail trails in my state, I find the negative mindset with any potential rail trails in NSW on long disused rail lines to be frustrating.  

can anyone explain why this is the case?

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  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
I find it odd too. I know farmers have been very 'anti rail trails' because it upsets their farms. This is in spite that the land is not theirs.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Because some think that the rotting completely out of date infrastructure will be one day soon having 3000t freight and/or steam trains running on it as soon as the govt hands over the loose change they think it will take to be open for traffic again.

It's all shirt sightedness and unrealistic
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
I find it odd too. I know farmers have been very 'anti rail trails' because it upsets their farms. This is in spite that the land is not theirs.
Jim K
Many farmers would be eyeing off the railway land to become theirs, so they don't want the public or anyone (rail operators )ells getting In the way and using the land.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
Its not just N.S.W.

There is also a substantial anti-rail trail movement in Tasmania as well. Here it is enhanced by the rail-trail advocates targeting potentially viable major rail routes as well as ones that are subject to claims by rail preservation groups. Curiously rail-traillers have no interest in empty track beds or co-operating with rail preservation groups in sharing the formation. Nor are they interested in alternative river-side trail options, even when that is a better (and more scenic) alternative.

They are not just opposed by adjacent farm owners. Wineries and other tourist attractions not even connected to the rail line are opposed, because the rail-traillers;
> have no business plan;
> have no independent financing plan (expect the councils and ratepayers to pick up the entire tab);
> have no maintenance plan (councils again);
> have no track management or accreditation plan;
> have no public liability insurance;
> have no genuine proven evidence of economic benefit;
> Have nothing but fluffy propaganda and are devious liars.

I ride a bike and I find the prospect of riding along an empty formation appealing - but not at the cost of a potentially viable freight or tourist railway.
  billybaxter Chief Commissioner

Location: Bosnia Park, Fairfield
All those criticisms can be made about almost all tourist railway projects.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
In the case if Tas the only lines I can think they want is
- NE which is dead and never going to see a train again. It is also not viable as a tourist railway. Personally I think it's can excellent choice for rail trail. As this one will happen it will be a bench mark for future options.

- far NW line. Probably a slight chance it could see trains again but not holding my breath. As rail trail I think it's not viable. Too wet, too remote apart from first 10km or so and windy for much of the year. Yes some would use it but not enough to off set the cost.

- DV line. Probably a nice rail trial but this line is in hands of DV rail society. Shared corridor would be an option.

- Hobart city line. This could make a nice multi user corridor as it did when trains were running. But it's future is LR maybe.

Realistically there isn't much of a buiness plan for rail trials. It's about estimating likely users and where they would come from and would they be new to the state and/or area.

The close minded members in the Rail Trail groups I'd ignore. Ie opposed to sharing.

All rail trails should have the clear cavet such that if the alignment is again needed for rail there is no legal contest available to oppose. This is easily done. For the pro RT supporters the likely hood of this happening is less than 1%. Heritage rail cannot afford it and commercial freight is unlikely over these often ancient poorly aligned corridors to minimal customers.

NSW probably has the potential to grow a RT industry due to population, town density, tourism, terrain and persevered right of ways.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
NSW Guvament has no interest in country rail.
  Matthew Chief Train Controller


- DV line. Probably a nice rail trial but this line is in hands of DV rail society. Shared corridor would be an option.
RTT_Rules


This isn't as viable as you would think. Cyclists and trains can't share the formation. Rail Safety concerns would preclude this. Cycles can and do ride along the access roads along side, but they are often rough, boggy and generally pretty bad. And the access roads don't tend to cross rivers, etc.

I work on a tourist line that has many cyclists riding along side. The ones that stay on the access trail are no problem but in places some have taken to riding along the rail formation to avoid the bogs on the access trial. I've scared the crap out of a couple once - I came round a curve and saw two cyclists on the formation coming towards me. A blast of the horn had them off quick smart, but they shouldn't have been there in the first place.
  Mad Panda Station Master

Location: NSW Australia
As a Victorian who enjoys cycling the various rail trails in my state, I find the negative mindset with any potential rail trails in NSW on long disused rail lines to be frustrating.  

can anyone explain why this is the case?
beanzs27
Darn good question! As one who is primarily interested in rail heritage, I am surprised at the polarising nature of the “rail trail” concept.  With any interest subject there will always be the few who are passionate in their views.  I believe it is these few that are most prominent in the various forums etc.  Regardless of topic, it is always the passionate few that are the most vocal.

I see synchronicity in heritage rail and rail trails.  There is any number of examples of how history has been brought to life by re using old assets. The list is endless.  One of the best examples globally, is the transformation of Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada.Though this is an industrial site, not a rail line.

Where there is an abandoned branch line that will never see a train again, then why not consider other uses? The idea has worked superbly in many situations.

If I cannot ride an old train, on an old line, then I’d very much like to walk the line, or ride etc etc  A camel ride would be fun!  Anything rather than nothing!  

And surely, if a given corridor is being used, it stands a much greater chance of remaining as a homogenous, singular asset that can always be re-used in the decades to come.
  Matthew Chief Train Controller


And surely, if a given corridor is being used, it stands a much greater chance of remaining as a homogenous, singular asset that can always be re-used in the decades to come.
Mad Panda


There are multiple cases in both the UK and the US where rail corridors where 'rail banked' and turned over to be 'rail trails' while the line wasn't needed. Then when proposals surface to rebuild the rail lines , either for a new freight service, or re-establish a passenger rail line or even light rail, the trail users all come out in force AGAINST the reinstatement of the railway over THEIR trail.
This is particularly difficult where a rail trail club or association or what ever has invested real money of their own to get the trail usable. Very few cyclists could ride an 'unimproved' railway formation. I did once many years ago - the vibration of riding over the ballast and sleepers shook just about every bolt on the bike loose Smile (And the line WAS closed - I started at the junction where it was disconnected and there were two spots where underground longwall mining had caused massive subsidence, leaving rails hanging in the air).

So after the cyclists have invested much time and money creating the trail, they don't want to give it back rather understably.

Turning rail corridors into biking corridors is a worthwhile use of the land IMHO, but don't expect to ever get it back for a railway in the future.
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
Firstly you have to determine who actually 'owns' the disused Rail line thats proposed to be used as a Rail Trail.
If the State does, have they leased it for use by anyone such as the landowner(s) on either side.
I am guessing very little has been sold off but most would be leased out if anything.
Its also possible that part or all of the  land has been transferred to another Government department for another use.
In regional areas its not uncommon to see sections of Road transferred over to rural use when the road is realigned.

NOW, INSURANCE, who pays if Joe Public happily walking/Cycling/Jogging away Falls/Trips and breaks his fool neck and SUES either the State or the Leaseholder for Zillions???
Like it or not, it does happen as does those who fake injuries for the purpose of making a claim.
Another minor problem is EXACTLY where is the 'Right of Way' between the drawn boundaries as I found one day trying the follow a long disused Road across open Fields and after more than 50 years of plowing and grazing, there were almost no visible marks left to follow.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Its not just N.S.W.

There is also a substantial anti-rail trail movement in Tasmania as well. Here it is enhanced by the rail-trail advocates targeting potentially viable major rail routes as well as ones that are subject to claims by rail preservation groups. Curiously rail-traillers have no interest in empty track beds or co-operating with rail preservation groups in sharing the formation. Nor are they interested in alternative river-side trail options, even when that is a better (and more scenic) alternative.

They are not just opposed by adjacent farm owners. Wineries and other tourist attractions not even connected to the rail line are opposed, because the rail-traillers;
> have no business plan;
> have no independent financing plan (expect the councils and ratepayers to pick up the entire tab);
> have no maintenance plan (councils again);
> have no track management or accreditation plan;
> have no public liability insurance;
> have no genuine proven evidence of economic benefit;
> Have nothing but fluffy propaganda and are devious liars.

I ride a bike and I find the prospect of riding along an empty formation appealing - but not at the cost of a potentially viable freight or tourist railway.
12CSVT
You will find that the disused railways subject to becoming rail trails are disused because they are worn out and life expired, have not been modernised to effectively compete with road, pipeline, shipping etc.

Tourist railway ! come on they are fading away right across the Country, due to surging admin costs, worn out equipment and Infrastructure, falling Interest from the public.

The points you make about rail trails are mostly completely false, and are the ideology of someone who refuses to open their eyes and see how things work.
  Johnmc Moderator

Location: Cloncurry, Queensland
The latest round of pro/anti rail trail guff can probably be traced to a proposal to convert some of the old Great Northern Line north of Armidale to a rail trail.  Apparently there is a preservation group in the area who would probably like to retain the line for a future use.

In any case, it was around the time that the Newcastle line was being removed, and around the time of the last state election.

So with that particular alignment of the political planets, things were ripe for it to blow up big.  And it did.  And it still does.  Just look at some of the posts on the "Save the Great Northern Railway" and similar facebook sites.  I wouldn't call it frothing at the mouth, more like unfettered screaming rage.  On both sides.  It's mostly - as has been observed - a NSW thing, and as I live in NW Qld, I can safely ignore it.  

I posted one comment in the entire affair.  I mentioned that the only way services are going to resume is if the line is rebuilt to modern standards, which would entail removing the current infrastructure.  I was called a "rail trail advocate" for my trouble.  So I decided to step back and wait for things to calm down.  Things have not calmed down yet.
  The_trolley Deputy Commissioner

Location: Banned
I think one of the important things to remember about the whole rail trail debate is that Facebook likes and comments mean very little in the grand scheme of things and that the claims of some of the anti-rail trail groups are usually nothing more than fanciful to say the least. As another poster has already mentioned, vocal doesn’t always mean right nor does it mean a particular position is really supported in the wider or local community.

In a nutshell, sadly, the horrifying majority of the claims I have seen made on the Facebook page of one particular NSW based anti-trail group are incredibly ill founded and simply not based on the real evidence. They’re fanciful claims by a small, but very vocal, group of individuals passed off as fact in a forum where there’s very little fact checking. And, when someone does point out the flaws in the claims made, they’re usually shouted down, bullied and sent on their way before the vocal few continue their usual flawed stance all the while claiming they have the communities support and that a railway can usually be reopened with a few sleepers here and there.

Personally, I have made up my mind and I am pro rail trails. Why? Well, firstly, because while I’d love to see these lines in use, I’m a realist and realise that railway preservation is fighting an uphill battle in this country and that claims of further heritage or revenue earning rail uses are simply… well, they’re daydreams that will never eventuate. Secondly, the only way to preserve much of the currently rotting infrastructure while keeping it available for potential further use is to repurpose it and a rail trail is the best way to do that. And, finally, because I have met some of the vocal few fighting on the anti-trail side and know that their track records mean that they will ultimately fail in the quest. And, if somehow they do succeed, it’ll be to the detriment of the corridors as they’ll eventually fail at managing those just as they have previous railway preservation projects that they have been involved in.

Sixty-four likes on a photo of a 44 class somewhere doesn’t mean anything, and it’s nothing more than enthusiast bait as a way of purporting to have support. As someone who lived in a dying regional town with an incredibly scenic but closed railway with no chance of ever reopening, I’d like to see that town thrive again, and I think a rail trail could go some way to helping with that.
  The_trolley Deputy Commissioner

Location: Banned
The latest round of pro/anti rail trail guff can probably be traced to a proposal to convert some of the old Great Northern Line north of Armidale to a rail trail.  Apparently there is a preservation group in the area who would probably like to retain the line for a future use.
Johnmc

Great post.

Said preservation group has had enough time though. Twenty of years has only resulted in lots of tea and biscuits, bickering over minutes at meetings and allowing a number of railmotors to rot into a state that could only be described as derelict. And, despite the claims of Facebook, the only good set isn't anywhere near roadworthy, nor is there enough spare parts to even put it back together or run it for any extended period. The best thing this group could do is wind itself up, hand over what few spares it does have to a group that could actually use it and then remove it's now eyesores from an otherwise beautiful town.

It's ridiculous that this group is being held up as a potential future use for the GNR. It's horribly dysfunctional and in no way capable of ever running a train let alone on a railway that's rotten and hasn't seen one in over twenty-five years.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Too many out there think an old line can be reopened with a few cake stalls. Even the ones running are struggling and cake stalls are not enough. For the "save these corridors for heritage rail campers".  Look at Oberon. Significant local support and 8 years after I last visited them they are still a few yeas awY from opening 11km of track despite yes of hard commuted work.

The group taegeting the GNR  would not have raised enough money to replace the sleepers in the yard.

Armidale to Toowoomba would make a great rail trail. Yes the NG is still open to Warwick fir freight but the Inland will kill that off in about 7 to 8 years and the very infrequent herit age operations will not support the line in their own right if NG freight moves to SG.

I would have thought insurance is covered under the local council and assumes a long term lease transfer.

Still no reason a heritage line cannot operate alongside a rail trail. I'm sure the odd bike rider walking on the tracks is nothing compared to suburban operators.

Protection against protests for reopening as a rail line can be entrencher in law. And again the realistic likely hood of this happening in Oz is near zero. Especially many of the RT proposed.
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
Firstly you have to determine who actually 'owns' the disused Rail line thats proposed to be used as a Rail Trail.
If the State does, have they leased it for use by anyone such as the landowner(s) on either side.
I am guessing very little has been sold off but most would be leased out if anything.
Its also possible that part or all of the  land has been transferred to another Government department for another use.
In regional areas its not uncommon to see sections of Road transferred over to rural use when the road is realigned.

NOW, INSURANCE, who pays if Joe Public happily walking/Cycling/Jogging away Falls/Trips and breaks his fool neck and SUES either the State or the Leaseholder for Zillions???
Like it or not, it does happen as does those who fake injuries for the purpose of making a claim.
Another minor problem is EXACTLY where is the 'Right of Way' between the drawn boundaries as I found one day trying the follow a long disused Road across open Fields and after more than 50 years of plowing and grazing, there were almost no visible marks left to follow.
gordon_s1942
Just about all of "proposed" NSW Rail Trails are on land that is still owned by the State, being railways that have not actually been techically closed. There are currently rail trails on "closed" lines where the land was handed over to the Council, such as Belmont.

Insurance on all current NSW Rail Trails has generally been taken on by whomever manages the trail. For example the Rail Trail on the Molong Line south of Dubbo is operated by Dubbo City Council, even though it is still a 'current' suspended line owned by the State. The Belmont line (Fernleigh) land was handed to Council. Old lines such as Wolgan Valley is under NPWS, and Box Vale Tramway and Lapstone Zig Zag are under Dept of Lands.

When a movement such as Rail Trails Australia attempt to establish a Rail Trail, they naturally need government, generally local government, to agree to take on the liability.
  Grantham Minister for Railways

Location: I'm with stupid!
Ok, without wanting to start or contribute to flame wars...I have to say that the deals offered by rail trails don't really look that good to me.

Every time a freight business crops up in a country location (I can think of three recent cases straight off the top of my head) for transport to the coast or to cities, the choices become rather limited after a line has been removed.

Abandoned track can be very expensive to repair, but the cost of replacing removed track is bewilderingly astronomical. For example, the price of laying light rail track on an existing formation with existing serviceable (just) track for the most recent light rail project in Sydney was $33,000,000 per kilometre. Repairing the existing track for a 20km/h freight train would probably have cost about a million bucks for ten kilometres, although the line was already able to carry works trains.

If you lift the track from a branch line with all good intentions of replacing it if the traffic ever warrants it, then the traffic on hand would have to be gargantuan to warrant the kind of dough required to replace the track, but would be quite likely an easy task to repair existing track to light country branch standards. Light country branch would mean a light branch line loco like a 48 or 49, and container wagons of forty or fifty tons. Main line locos and 100 ton wagons would need bigger upgrades, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm really talking about the compromise where low speed light freight is viable, even though it's the sort of thing that politicians hate.

Frankly, I don't see why you couldn't build a trail next to the rail, and if the rail is ever in use again you could fence the trail off for safety if needed.

M
  speedemon08 Mary

Location: I think by now you should have figured it out
Of course Tumut to Batlow and the line from Bombala to Cooma are going to magically fill with freight suddenly..... And of course the suburban line didn't have that many wooden trestles in it, unlike many of the closed lines around the rest of the state.

If you want to see how well rail trails are going down in Victoria, you're welcome to come down and take a look. Kilcunda wouldn't even be half the town it was without the rail trail going through it.

Talking of low speed lines, that was a main contributor to the demise of the Leongatha line in Vic; as Trucks could do the job much quicker.
  NSWGR8022 Chief Commissioner

Location: From the lands of Journalism and Free Speech
The case for Rail Trails long term economic benefit has not been assessed so why would you remove vital transport infrastructure for a small number of people who may occasionally use parts of it?  Once it is gone it is gone as SA and Vic will atest.  NSW has a more mature and business supportive approach to rail.  This is also the case in Queensland.  Sadly this is gone and Vic and SA who have become rai rustbelts. Simples
  Grantham Minister for Railways

Location: I'm with stupid!
Of course Tumut to Batlow and the line from Bombala to Cooma are going to magically fill with freight suddenly..... And of course the suburban line didn't have that many wooden trestles in it, unlike many of the closed lines around the rest of the state.

If you want to see how well rail trails are going down in Victoria, you're welcome to come down and take a look. Kilcunda wouldn't even be half the town it was without the rail trail going through it.

Talking of low speed lines, that was a main contributor to the demise of the Leongatha line in Vic; as Trucks could do the job much quicker.
speedemon08
I wasn't referring to Tumut to Batlow, nor Cooma (although there is a preservation group at Cooma), I'm referring to lines that might see one train a week if traffic crops up. One train a week would keep a line open, even if it was only doing 20km/h. I was referring to loads from country locations. Canberra has a scrap train every week after years of no freight on their branch, it's not as though new traffic isn't on offer. There are other trains that have recently started running that could start much closer to the source of traffic except the lines there have been closed.

I'm not interested in rail trails in Victoria. You can have them, please enjoy them.

Leongatha may have had a slow line, but in NSW all freight trains spend half their time doing 20km/h, as they are usually loaded to full load for the ruling grade. We seem to have a lot of hills! There is a 70km stretch of track that I use where the average speed is 30km/h, due to the continuous rising grades. Speed is not really an issue.

The old branch to Wallerawang colliery had a speed limit of 10km/h for at least a decade before the mine finally closed, and as much as semis are faster than 10km/h, they can't carry the tonnages that two or three trains a day can.

What my real point is is that removed track costs a fortune to replace, whereas repairing existing line can be done on a budget. I also said you could put trails next to rails. I'm not anti trail, I'm just anti waste.

M
  Grantham Minister for Railways

Location: I'm with stupid!
For a good example of how cheaply closed lines can be re-opened (and this is an extreme example) a quick look at the recent re-opening of the line between Kandos and Rylstone, for a price of very nearly $0 - some weedkilling and two inspections - for a single train to do shuttles. If the track had been lifted, then the price to re-open the line there would be (assuming less than half the price of the light rail in Sydney in my example) about $70,000,000.

Why would you throw infrastructure away when there are some parts that will *obviously* be re-used? Especially if no heavy work needs to be done?

M
  Grantham Minister for Railways

Location: I'm with stupid!
It's also occurred to me that the now closed Baalbone colliery branch was 10km/h speed limit for many years before the colliery closed. The speed limit was only 10km/h when we lifted 700,000 tons out from the mine to a single port in one calendar month - lets see you do that with your fast trucks! Razz

The track is still there to the closed mine. If it was lifted and made a rail trail then I'd be sad. To replace it (going off less than half the cost of light rail in Sydney) would cost $65,000,000. The track has been used eight or so times since the line was closed, to stow unused rakes or retrieve them for re-use.

I'm terribly sorry that I can't post photos of some of those events for you, Imageshack seems to have eaten my photos.

M
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Of course Tumut to Batlow and the line from Bombala to Cooma are going to magically fill with freight suddenly..... And of course the suburban line didn't have that many wooden trestles in it, unlike many of the closed lines around the rest of the state.

If you want to see how well rail trails are going down in Victoria, you're welcome to come down and take a look. Kilcunda wouldn't even be half the town it was without the rail trail going through it.

Talking of low speed lines, that was a main contributor to the demise of the Leongatha line in Vic; as Trucks could do the job much quicker.
I wasn't referring to Tumut to Batlow, nor Cooma (although there is a preservation group at Cooma), I'm referring to lines that might see one train a week if traffic crops up. One train a week would keep a line open, even if it was only doing 20km/h. I was referring to loads from country locations. Canberra has a scrap train every week after years of no freight on their branch, it's not as though new traffic isn't on offer. There are other trains that have recently started running that could start much closer to the source of traffic except the lines there have been closed.

I'm not interested in rail trails in Victoria. You can have them, please enjoy them.

Leongatha may have had a slow line, but in NSW all freight trains spend half their time doing 20km/h, as they are usually loaded to full load for the ruling grade. We seem to have a lot of hills! There is a 70km stretch of track that I use where the average speed is 30km/h, due to the continuous rising grades. Speed is not really an issue.

The old branch to Wallerawang colliery had a speed limit of 10km/h for at least a decade before the mine finally closed, and as much as semis are faster than 10km/h, they can't carry the tonnages that two or three trains a day can.

What my real point is is that removed track costs a fortune to replace, whereas repairing existing line can be done on a budget. I also said you could put trails next to rails. I'm not anti trail, I'm just anti waste.

M
Grantham
In conjunction with that 1 scrap train a week there is 6 nsw trainlink services a day and a heritage steam train operator in Canberra. That is why it is viable to keep the line open. One actual train a week is not viable.

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