A NEW group touting a new approach is confident it can get Korumburra’s tourist railway back up and running in the next 12 months.
Led by Leongatha resident Doug Pell, a group of six local business people and railway enthusiasts has over the last few months, been in discussions with VicTrack, which owns the railway land, and they say they’ve been granted permission to run a train from Korumburra to Kardella.
“We’ve pretty well got the go ahead,” says Mr Pell.
“We’ve just got to go through the accreditation process, but that’s not a problem. That’s just paperwork.”
Mr Pell says the business acumen and community-centred approach of the new group ‘South Gippsland Rail Connect’ will help it succeed where the previous committee failed.
“We’re going to engage local businesses, and groups like Rotary and the Lions. We really want the community to get behind us and help us and be part of it, and we think they will.”
The group plans to start small and negotiate for the run to be extended to Loch and eventually to Leongatha.
Mr Pell says the removal of train carriages from Korumburra station recently won’t affect the group’s plans and simply means they “have to get things done a bit quicker”.
And as for the momentum building behind the campaign to extend the Great Southern Rail Trail from Leongatha to Korumburra, Mr Pell says there’s no reason the two projects can’t co-exist.
“There’s plenty of room for both. It would be an enormous cost to lift the rail, and we’ve got an historical train and all this infrastructure, and a community that wants the train back.”
Mr Pell said ‘South Gippsland Rail Connect’ is “hellbent” on preserving the history of the South Gippsland railway, and while he acknowledges it won’t be easy, he says the group is going to do everything it can to bring back, maintain and grow the tourist railway.