A PUSH to breathe new life into disused rail lines between Tamworth and Upper Manilla is turning heads around the country.
A “one of a kind” rail trail in the region would rejuvenate towns like Attunga and Manilla, however, if a crucial part of the infrastructure is lost, the whole plan could be derailed.
On Sunday, chairman of Rail Trails for NSW, John Moore, met with interested community members in Manilla to discuss what the potential project could mean for the region.
Mr Moore was taken by the Manilla viaduct, which he sees as the prospective centrepiece for a rail trail in the region.
We came here as fast as we could, because there’s chance of losing the viaduct.Rail Trails for NSW chairman John Moore
But the viaduct’s future is on shaky ground with John Holland Group, the company tasked with maintaining the infrastructure on behalf of Transport for NSW, proposing to remove the viaduct due to safety concerns.
“We came here as fast as we could, because there’s chance of losing the viaduct,” Mr Moore told The Leader.
He said the viaduct was a very rare item and incorporating it into a rail trail could “rejuvenate places like Attunga and Manilla”.
However, if the viaduct were torn down, Mr Moore said the project wouldn’t be a high priority.
It’s a timely campaign for a rail trail to be established in the region, with work about to begin on the state’s first-ever rail trail near Tumbarumba and NSW tourism minister Adam Marshall recently announcing a further $6.3 million for a project in the Tweed shire.
“There’s 100 rail trails in Australia making money for the states, were the one that’s lagging behind,” Mr Moore said.
To make the project a reality, Mr Moore said there would need to be support from every type of business in the community.
Emily Bowman has been rallying support for a Tamworth Regional Rail Trail and she said there was a huge level of interest from the community.
“There’s been an overwhelming amount of support from the community,” Mrs Bowman said.
She said government funding could be used to repair and restore the wooden viaduct, which is facing removal, and hoped the proposal could be held-off until the rail trail option was fully explored.
Transport minister Andrew Constance halted progress on the proposal until community consultation is held in Manilla.