Re: ‘2018/19 Proposed Annual Budget and Revised Council Plan 2017–2021 – Open Hearing’ – (Council Plan – Strategic Objective 1.3.4 – Investigate feasibility of further extensions and upgrades to the Rail Trails, particularly between Leongatha and Korumburra and explore opportunities to develop nationally significant trails).
Buried within the above is a well-crafted submission signed by John Kennedy, Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks and Peter Smith.
Careful reading of the submission gives me the impression it’s designed to leave a casual reader with the idea the cost of the Great Southern Rail Trail extension (from Leongatha to Korumburra) is $750,000 rather than around $3m.
It’s all there, read carefully, but doesn’t make it clear enough the section of the GSRT under consideration has a gap in the middle, between Turner Street (Leongatha) and where the trail currently ends, and therefore the trail isn’t continuous.
Highly unsatisfactory I think, and one can only conclude to ‘bridge’ that gap is projected to cost $2.25m – that’s outrageous!
The ‘three wise men’ assert their position is the best ‘bang for our buck’ option – I seriously challenge their claim!
There are questionable claims made re the benefits of the extension – like the usage: “will increase significantly because of the shorter journey time from Melbourne”. Few decisions to come would be based of the time difference between going to Leongatha or Korumburra.
Most of the other ‘benefits’ amount to nothing more than a transfer of those benefits from one town to the other. Nothing wrong with that approach if you own a bicycle shop in Korumburra, as is the case with one signatory, John Kennedy. Having said that let’s make certain the GSRT usage is not focused only on the cycling fraternity.
I can easily make a better case for significantly increasing the usage of the GSRT without the proposed extensions.
Space constraints don’t permit elaboration here. Sufficient to say the re-opening of the South Gippsland Railway Line is not ‘dead in the water’, as some would have us believe. Times change! Right now, the major political parties are scrambling for solutions to Melbourne’s overpopulation.
A window of opportunity exists for South Gippsland Shire that won’t stay open long. What we do must distil down to whether or not the people of our shire prefer the shorter term, lower level, benefits of the extended GSRT or the long term, far more significant, benefits of re-opening the railway (including how that can benefit the GSRT).
It’s implausible to imagine State or Federal funding would be provided for both.
If the GSRT extension proceeds, it hinders the train return case and virtually ensures the trains don’t return – that’s not necessarily the case today! June 2018, Danny O’Brien MP said: “…I’d like to get a clear message from the community and from the council – which one do you want?” – I understand he’s still waiting on that guidance.
Maybe, it’s time for a referendum on the matter?
PS I had a decades long involvement in the horse industry and have supported the GSRT from the get go.
It’s likely I signed the 2016 petition to get the extension up – back then I wouldn’t have understood the potential negative impact on the ‘bring back the train’ movement. Did you?
John McCombe, Leongatha.