Big day for rail plans

DERWENT Valley Council voted yesterday on whether it should support lobbying State and Federal Government for $20 million to complete the Heritage Tourism Rail from New Norfolk to Mt Field. Council has prepared an advocacy document outlining infrastructure priorities over coming years. The biggest ticket item on the list is the Derwent Valley Heritage Rail. The document details Council’s immediate and urgent infrastructure advocacy priorities.

The document states: “The Derwent Valley is changing rapidly with significant growth and development placing pressure on infrastructure and services, with growing community expectations. “This document describes the work Council has identified and needs to complete to meet the changing needs of our community and deliver better services for current and future residents of the Derwent Valley.
“These initiatives, plans and projects will better enable the community to transform from a regional municipality to one that is on the urban fringe with all the associated service levels and infrastructure required to meet its growing needs. “There are current funding opportunities becoming available to address the impacts of the Covid pandemic, and it is anticipated that there may be other funding available leading into both State and Federal election cycles.’’

The report says Council supports the Derwent Valley Rail Preservation Society (DVR) regaining access to the Derwent Valley Line. “Working in partnership with the DVR, Council can see the economic and community benefits of heritage tourism rail in the Derwent Valley,’’ it said. “To this end in 2019, the Council commissioned Pitt and Sherry to produce a thorough engineering assessment of the line. “The evaluation drew upon existing engineering data, observations, current condition reports, and DVR knowledge to deliver a comprehensive document with short, long and medium-term recommendations for the remedial works required. “The report estimated that the total line refurbishment required to allow a heritage diesel locomotive is in the vicinity of $20 million. “This would offer a unique and game-changing tourism experience through scenic landscapes of the Valley to the popular tourist attractions of Russell Falls and Mt Field and could be promoted in conjunction with the West Coast Wilderness Railway already in operation. “Council is supportive of DVR seeking funding of up to $20 million for the refurbishment of the Derwent Valley Line.

“In addition, following Public Liability Insurance cover being provided by the State Government, Council is now seeking to support the endeavors of the DVR to receive a lease over the line between Third Avenue and Back River Rd, New Norfolk, (a distance of around 500m) as the first tangible stage of development (subject to a State Growth survey of the line). “This lease will then allow DVR to undertake Variation of Rail Safety Accreditation. Once this has occurred DVR plans that over the following four years it will then seek extension of the leased area to Plenty and then National Park as further stages of the overall plan to reactivate the line.’’

The document and whether Council supports it will be discussed tomorrow night at the Council Chambers.