There’s no doubt that the proposed North East Rail Trail connecting Launceston to Scottsdale offers great opportunities to rejuvenate and boost tourism in the region.
However, competing plans for land use have placed the future of the trail under a cloud. It is one of two possible proposals before the state government, the other being a heritage rail.
The North East Rail Trail is backed by Tourism Northern Tasmania, the State Government, the Dorset Council and the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania.
It involves the conversion of 70 kilometres of disused rail corridor into a world-class public asset for people who walk and ride to enjoy. The trail would run through rural towns of Karoola, Lalla, Lilydale, Tunnel, Lebrina, Nabowla, Lietinna, Scottsdale and on to Billycock Hill.
The 31km section between Scottsdale and Billycock Hill is already open, thanks to the work of the local community, led by the Scottsdale Rotary Club and the Dorset Council.
But the next section, which will eventually link Scottsdale and Launceston, has been delayed after a campaign by landowners bordering the rail corridor and supporters of a heritage rail service on the line.
Bicycle Network is calling on Tasmanians to write to your local MPs in support of the trail.
Beyond the obvious recreational benefits, rail trails offer a total package of benefits to communities including public health, economic and transportation as well as community pride, connectivity, liveability and identity.
A TRC Economic Benefit Assessment of the North East Trail in 2014 showed more than 23,000 people a year would walk or cycle the North East Rail Trail each year, growing to 35,000 trips after 15 years.
The development of the trail is also consistent with the Tasmanian Cycle Tourism Strategy, which highlights the opportunity for Tasmania to emerge as the cycle tourism capital of Australia and a world-class cycling destination.
The North East Rail Trail will provide diverse, accessible and high-quality visitor experiences in the region, while supporting recreation and physical activity.
We now need your help to influence decision makers and get the remainder of the trail built.
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