Bicycle Network: Metro Routes
East: Lilydale - Yarra Glen Rail Corridor
The 12km railway between Lilydale and Yarra Glen is one of the best potential trails around! Located on the outskirts of Melbourne, this trail can be directly accessed via either a short drive or directly from the Lilydale train line. The rail trail will begin in Lilydale, and will continue north through the winery heartland of Coldstream and Yering and conclude at the (soon to be refurbished) Yarra Glen Station. The route also provides a convenient connection for locals between Lilydale and Yarra Glen and will connect to the well-established Lilydale-Warburton Rail Trail.
Gathering support for Yarra Glen Trail
25 February 2013. In a joint effort, Bicycle Network, Rail Trails Australia and the Shire of Yarra Ranges are showcasing the benefits of the proposed rail trail from Lilydale to Yarra Glen, which will open up the Yarra Valley to a surge in bike tourism.
Representatives of the organisations will be in Lilydale and Yarra Glen this Saturday, 1 March, to promote the concept, speaking to locals and business owners and making sure the local communities realise that the rail trail project is a high priority for their region.
If you are interested in knowing more about the proposed trail and becoming more involved, we would love to see you.
We will be in the Lilydale mainstreet from 8-11am and Yarra Glen from 11:30am - 2pm.
For further enquiries you can contact us here
All aboard for Yarra Glen?
17 September 2013. Yarra Ranges Council is all set to begin the final feasibility study for the Lilydale to Yarra Glen Rail Trail—once the State Government helps out with a little funding assistance.
The Council has committed $45,000 of its own money to get the project rolling and has written to Transport Minister Minister Terry Mulder to stump up for a small, but essential $30,000 sum to ensure the study is started.
Just about everyone is now lined up behind this project: the Council, the Department of Transport/VicTrack, the local businesses and the local community.
Bicycle Network has joined forces with Rail Trails Australia in ranking this as the number one Rail Trail Priority.
In recent years bushfires, and then flooding, damaged many sections of the route across the valley, rendering the previous 2006 SKM feasibility study out of date.
An updated, detailed design will help clarify solutions for the challenges thrown up by the fires and floods.
The trail would be on the doorstep of the metropolitan area and an obvious attraction to tourists, both domestic and overseas, due to its scenic beauty and local winery and tourism industry already in place.
The local economic and employment benefits are obvious. The possibility of a future tourist railway in the reserve would not be threatened by the rail trail.
The only question remaining is for the State Government. We strongly encourage you to write to the Minister to get on board.
This Rail Trail is the perfect opportunity for the Napthine Government to demonstrate its stated support of cycling tourism.
This construction project is a prime candidate for next year's State Budget and thus the detailed design needs completing immediately. Tourism Minister Louise Asher stated in the State's Cycling Tourism Action Plan 2011-15 that, "Further development to complete other rail trails and cycle tourism projects is required to ensure that there is adequate supply of cycle tourism products."
So, it's over to you, Minister/s.
Funding for feasibility study needed
20 March 2012. The local Councils are both supportive of the Lilydale-Yarra Glen Rail Trail, but now we need to assist them to secure state funding to push it forward. The first step is to secure funding for a feasibility study within the 2012/13 budget.
We encourage you to show your support by writing a short note to your local representatives asking for state funding for the feasibility study.
Write a short note to the relevant Members for Parliament to show your support.
Heritage grant to YVR and other news
25 January 2012. Congratulations to the leadership team at the Yarra Valley Railway, who last week announced a successful application for a $200,000 grant with State MP for Seymour Cindy McLeish to refurbish Yarra Glen Station.
Yarra Glen Station makes an ideal hub for connecting the Lilydale - Yarra Glen Rail Trail into Yarra Glen and to the Railway. This has been discussed with the Railway in the past, and they have been supportive of the idea of creating a bike, train and community hub at the Station to benefit all users. This recent announcement provides a great opportunity to make some strides towards establishing that hub that all parties agree would be beneficial to the community at large.
With Yarra Ranges Shire to consider their involvement in progressing the Lilydale - Yarra Glen Trail, now is a great time to show Council your support again.
Trail to town link planned
8 June 2010. The Lilydale - Yarra Glen Rail Trail is gaining traction with stakeholders and state agencies. VicRoads is currently completing work on the Yarra Glen Truck Bypass and plans for the redeveloped roundabout at the bottom of Bell Street, Yarra Glen show the inclusion of 2.5m wide shared paths all the way around.
The inclusion of the shared paths shows foresight about preparing for the eventual arrival of a Trail from Lilydale to Yarra Glen. The shared paths will allow riders arriving at the Yarra Glen Station to easily access the main street in Yarra Glen. This improves the eventual connection of the Yarra Valley Tourist Railway hub and the town as well.
Click here to see the updated plans for the roundabout. VicRoads is reviewing the plans to see how the shared paths can be further improved, so there may be further changes.
Map shows way to Yarra Glen vision [updated]
31 March 2010. Bicycle Network has launched a map to outline the vision of the proposed rail trail from Lilydale to Yarra Glen, destined to become a major magnet for recreational riders from Melbourne. Click the photo to download a pdf copy of the map.
The map is enclosed with the current edition of RideOn magazine, on its way to readers now.
A railway easement runs from Lilydale, north to Yarra Glen, and then west to Healesville. Trains ran for almost a hundred years until 1980 when the line was closed.
Let’s Build the Yarra Glen Rail Trail outlines the exciting possibilities of a rail trail on the north-south section of the old line between Lilydale and Yarra Glen.
On the east west section the Yarra Valley Tourist Railway runs trolley trains from Healesville through the historic tunnel at Tarrawarra Winery to Tunnel Hill on the way to Yarra Glen.
Critical to the future of both the Yarra Glen Rail Trail and the Tourist Railway is the concept of ‘rail banking’ (see the link on this page) which would enable these corridors to be sustainably utilized by the community while they are held in reserve for possible future restoration of rail services.
The Department of Transport has indicated that it intends to retain control of the Lilydale to Healesville rail reservation. This means that the land would be available for uses such as the rail trail and the tourist railway for the foreseeable future.
This means that a trail could be built on the rail bed now although the land would remain in the hands of the Department of Transport. The bike trail would be ‘co-located’ when the rail line was ever re-instated to resume, for example, a passenger service to Yarra Glen.
Riders would be familiar with co-location on the Bellarine trail and a number of suburban paths that run on rail easements.
The latest assessment of the Lilydale-Yarra Glen section of the old line shows that the rails can be conserved for use by tourist railways.
However the sleepers have rotted, the ballast is ‘fouled’ and the embankment has been undermined by wombats. From a railway engineering perspective the rail line cannot be renovated; it would have to be completely rebuilt in order to carry trains.
The Yarra Valley Tourist Railway is keen to extend the working rail west to Yarra Glen and plans to offer a variety of services. The pride of their fleet is the recently renovated Steam Engine J541 currently leased to the Castlemaine Maldon tourist railway.
There could be a synergy between the two tourist experiences. One can imagine a link at a revived Yarra Glen station where riders can switch to rail and passengers can jump on a bike to get back to Lilydale.
Local business supports the Trail
14 December 2009. Phone surveys of Yarra Valley businesses have revealed strong support for the Lilydale - Yarra Glen Rail Trail. The survey focused on tourism-related businesses, those who would be most likely to benefit from the increased visitation that would result.
50 businesses were surveyed. 23 indicated familiarity with the proposal for the Lilydale - Yarra Glen Rail Trail, which is surprising given that there is no formal agreement in place as yet to build the Trail. It appears that this proposal enjoys a high level of name recognition in the local business community.
The 23 businesses that were familiar with the proposal were asked to indicate their level of support for the idea. 14 offered clear support for the trail, five were opposed to it, and four were undecided.
27 businesses surveyed were not familiar with the proposal. These businesses were asked for their first reaction after hearing a little bit about the trail concept. 19 reacted favourably, with comments focused on the benefit that this trail would bring to the community by making it easier to ride bikes. Only one business thought it would not be good for the community, while six businesses were undecided about possible benefits of the trail, though several noted that they were unclear about what a Rail Trail is. One business chose not to answer this question.
When asked whether the Trail would benefit their businesses directly almost half of the respondents answered no, suggesting that the strong support identified in previous questions is not linked to any commercial self-interest. It is encouraging to see such a high level of support from local business, even though many believe there is no benefit to themselves. Even so, this conclusion may be misguided, as studies into the economic impact of Rail Trails consistently show the positive benefit they contribute to local tourism revenues.
These survey results encourage optimism about the bright future of the Lilydale - Yarra Glen Rail Trail.
Want to help the Yarra Glen Trail?
4 November 2009. Bicycle Network is seeking a volunteer to help us gather information and document local support for the Lilydale - Yarra Glen Trail. This work will entail phone interviews and survey analysis. Other desk and internet-based research may be required. Time is flexible and you can work from home.
If interested, please contact us.
Yarra Glen Trail strikes fire recovery chord
5 October 2009. The Lilydale - Yarra Glen Rail Trail proposal scored well at a recent community meeting of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority meeting held in Yarra Ranges last month.
A cross section of community representatives spoke favourably of the role such a project could play in rebuilding the economy and attractiveness of the region.
The Bushfire Authority's "Community Recovery Plan" is identifying and investigating priorities as part of the recovery and reconstruction effort to rebuild the communities impacted by the fires.
The Yarra Ranges meeting identified a range of priorities at the September workshop, with the Yarra Glen Rail Trail prominently among them.
One of main goals of the plan is to identify recovery projects and link them up with funding that will be made available in the first phase of the State-wide plan.
That the Yarra Glen Rail Trail featured so prominently in the Yarra Ranges community discussion shows that it is a top-of-mind issue with locals and gaining serious traction.
New group on track for Yarra Glen
9 June 2009. The proposed rail trail from Lilydale to Yarra Glen has gained momentum following the formation of a new group to foster and plan the project.
Known as the Yarra Glen Trail Steering Group, the body will work to advance this significant tourism and recreation project, especially important in the work of the devastating bushfires.
There is growing local support for the Trail concept.
Bicycle Network has been a long-term supporter of the proposed trail between Lilydale and Yarra Glen. It makes sense as a route, extending the options available to local and visiting riders by adding another high quality trail to the already well known Lilydale - Warburton Rail Trail.
It also makes an off-road transport route available for residents north of Lilydale to access public transport at Lilydale Station without driving. It will be a highly attractive tourist route, bringing riders and other trail users into close access to the breadth of Yarra Ranges wineries and other destinations.
Given the unexpected and severe impact of the February bushfires, projects that can help affected communities recover by supporting economic development of local industries are being rolled out around the State. One only needs to reference the unprecedented April announcement of $14.2 million in funding to build the Goulburn River Rail Trail to understand that shared use tourism trails are now accepted at the highest levels as sage and sound investments.
The 2006 Feasibility Study (right) found that establishing a shared use trail on the existing railway alignment would cost less than a quarter of other options, such as building a trail alongside a renewed railway line.
Given the extensive damage to the rail infrastructure and bridges caused by the fires, it is expected that the alternative railway option will be prohibitively expensive.
Since the tabling of the Study there has been little progress on developing the trail. It is reassuring to see that the interest of local residents in support of the trail has not flagged in the face of inaction, and has indeed grown with the forming of this formal friends group.
An important step will be working with the various levels of government and agencies to generate support that will translate into a workable lease agreement for the old railway corridor that will allow the Trail to be built. Other trails are experimenting with new types of track leasing arrangements that may provide guidance in new ways of making these kinds of arrangements. Investing in the Trail will ensure that the old alignment is preserved and maintained to a high standard.
The movement to develop Rail Trails around Victoria and interstate is always made easier by the presence of robust support within the local communities the trails traverse.
Bicycle Network is pleased to be invited to offer guidance and to support the effort of this local group in pushing for the development of the Yarra Glen Trail.
People interested in getting involved can contact the Steering Group here.
Your support for the trail is needed urgently
Sep 06 To view the report and make comments go to the Yarra Ranges website. (Please bcc Bicycle Network Campaigns). Comments are due on Friday 8 September although we have been told they may still be received.
Bicycle Network's Position on the Lilydale Healesville Rail Corridor Study
Bicycle Network strongly supports the development of a shared use Rail Trail between Lilydale and Healesville. The rail trail will become a prized community asset that will deliver economic, health and social benefits.
Bicycle Network does not support a combined rail trail and tourism/commuter train service for the length of the Lilydale–Healesville Railway easement, primarily because it will decrease the quality, usage and benefits of a rail trail.
It is possible for a rail trail to be developed alongside some sections of an operating tourism railway but not for the entire length of the easement.
Bicycle Network rejects the recommendation of the Lilydale–Healesville Rail Corridor Study for a combined tourism/commuter train and rail trail because:
The high capital cost of $21.34 million compared to $4.8 million for a rail trail.
The quality of the rail trail would be poor (indirect, less scenic, potentially more difficult) if the rail corridor is shared.
Fewer people will use the rail trail and there will be less associated health and economic benefits.
The cost of the rail trail will almost double in the shared option.
The tourism/commuter train is a high risk and very high cost project.
The recommendation does not adequately consider the stated “total estimated economic impact from a Lilydale–Healesville trail of $8.25 million per year.”
The report appears to significantly understate the economic and social benefits of the rail trail option.
More detailed concerns with the Lilydale–Healesville Rail Corridor Study are presented in the pdf document to the right of this page.
Public Consultation Now Open - The Rail Trail needs your support.
Aug 06 The Shire of Yarra Ranges has finally released its Lilydale–Healesville Rail Corridor Options Study and comments are now being sought.
To view the report and make comments (due 8th September) go the the Yarra Ranges website. (please bcc Bicycle Network Campaigns).
Bicycle Network is concerned about the conclusion of the report, which states that the preferable option is a combination of a tourist railway and rail trail for the entire length of the corridor. We feel that this option is prohibitively expensive and will greatly compromise the quality and patronage of a rail trail between Lilydale and Yarra Glen.
We are also very concerned that the report appears to understate the potential user numbers and flow on economic benefits of the rail trail option.
It is our strong belief that the most cost effective and beneficial option is for a rail trail only between Lilydale and Yarra Glen and a rail trail sharing the easement between Yarra Glen and Healesville with the tourist railway where it currently exists.
Public consultation delayed - February 2006
Feb 06 Consultants have now submited a report to the Shire of Yarra Ranges that details a number of options for the use of the disused railway easement.
The report was to be released for public comment in late January but will now be available in March. It is very important that all those who would like to see a rail trail built along this magnificant route participate in the consultation process.
The best way to keep in touch with developments is to register for updates to this page (see the ‘Email me updates on this subject’ link at right), and we'll email you when we make important updates to this page.