South Gippsland Rail Trail FAQ

The rail trail extension from Leongatha running through Korumburra to Nyora has prompted many questions from our community.

The South Gippsland Shire has created a FAQ document answering questions about the rail corridor lease agreement.

When did the lease get signed:

The lease between VicTrack and the South Gippsland Shire Council was signed on Friday 16 August.
The lease supersedes the Heads of Agreement document that was signed in early February and is for a term of 18 years.

What does the lease mean?

The lease means that the South Gippsland Shire Council now has access to the land that is needed to extend the
Great Southern Rail Trail from Leongatha to Nyora. With the lease in place funding opportunities for the project are more likely to be successful. The rail corridor is still owned by the State Government via VicTrack.

Does the lease mean that passenger rail services will not be returned to South Gippsland?

No.
The extension of the Great Southern Rail Trail between Leongatha and Nyora does not compete with or compromise a return of passenger rail if this became a priority of the Victorian State Government.

The advice Council has received is that due to the standard and condition of the current track, it would have to be effectively replaced in its entirety to enable the return of a passenger train service. While a passenger service connecting the region to Melbourne would be wonderful, the State Government has no known intention of returning a passenger service to this region. A passenger service has not operated since 1993. Council being offered a lease for 18 years is further evidence that the return of a passenger rail service is at least a generation away.

How much would a rail trail extension cost?

It is anticipated that the Leongatha to Nyora extension will cost approximately $6M.
It is expected that the project will be jointly funded by Council and the Victorian Government through its grants programs.

Has Council been working on plans for a rail trail extension?

Yes.

The rail trail extension from Leongatha to Nyora was formally identified as a priority project for 2018/19 by the previous Council but advocacy for the project first commenced back in 2011. Since then significant resaearch has been undertaken, including working with neighbouring councils to progress the concept of a rail trail extension between Leongatha and Clyde and to assess the potential economic benefits. Preparation of an Economic Impact Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis has been completed by SGS Economics and Planning. The analysis shows that the extension is a sound investment for the community.

Has community consultation has occurred?

Yes. Community consultation occurred as part of the Council Plan process. This helped to identify the project as a priority for 2018/19 and partial funding was then allocated. It has also been included in a number of Council strategies that were available for community review and comment, such as the Economic Development and Tourism Strategy and the 2018 Paths and Trails Strategy.

Does a rail trail provide economic benefits for local communities?

Council’s vision is to turn this currently neglected, weed-infested strip of land into an economic driver that adds to our growing tourism economy. It will also create greater amenity for our residents and provide safe linkages between many of our towns. Council has access to independent expenditure data which can track local and visitor expenditure. After completing the missing link on the Rail Trail between Koonwarra and Meeniyan there was an increased visitor spend of 15% in the following peak season across these two towns

Who maintains the Great Southern Rail Trail (Leongatha to Port Welshpool) currently?

The Great Southern Rail Trail between Leongatha and Port Welshpool is currently maintained by a DELWP Committee of Management. Council will take over management of the rail trail maintenance on 1 July 2020, at the Committee's request. A rail trail extension between Leongatha and Nyora would also be maintained by Council. Funding for the management and maintenance is in Council’s long term budget.

Who will be responsible for the removal of weeds in the new corridor?

Council will be responsible for weeds and maintenance works within the lease area.

If passenger rail services were to be returned to South Gippsland, how much would it cost?

It is difficult to estimate, but a significant amount of track and several bridges would need to be replaced and intersections would need to be upgraded to reach current standards.

What do other rail projects costs?

Prior to the last state election the Coalition pledged $487 million to extend the existing Cranbourne railway line to Clyde - a distance of approximately 6km; an amount the State Government claimed was under-funded. This project still remains unfunded despite the projected population by 2041 to grow to 549,190 residents. A duplication of the 8km Cranbourne line between Dandenong to Cranbourne was allocated $750 million by the State Government.

 

Download SG Shire Rail Corridor FAQ – October 2019