Very nice article by Pee Wee Lewis from the Korumburra Round Table, a nice article that if read correctly has glossed over one thing that is vital to South Gippsland and that is a properly maintained and sustainable tourism railway.
And the best bit about running a tourist railway is having infrastructure and fortunately for South Gippsland that infrastructure is already there, along with the railway stations.
Yes, a fair amount of work is needed to clean up the area, to work on getting Leongatha Railway station and its surroundings back up to speed, but this can be and will be done by Southern Rail Preservation Group who have already run a successful forum at Coal Creek Heritage Park and have been in talks with Leongatha Business Association.
I am all for the plans for beautifying and bringing in new business to all the towns in South Gippsland.
One thing we need to be very clear about is our heritage and we have lost a lot of our history throughout Victoria by needlessly pulling things up or knocking them down.
Look at Puffing Billy, if you need any example of a successful tourist train, look at the restoration of the Yarra Valley trains that run currently from Healesville to Yarra Glen and eventually to Lilydale, Daylesford, Geelong, Mornington – do you need more proof of success stories when it comes to tourist rail?
And what does a tourist rail bring into the communities? The answer is plain and simple.
Tourists, and tourists that want to spend money in the towns, they want to stay in the accommodation that is available, they want to buy souvenirs, they want to spend money in the towns. So why all the uproar from the KRT against having a successful tourist train operation.
Possibly this is down to the abrupt ending of South Gippsland Tourist Rail, which clearly did not have a management plan to see beyond their tenure.
It was a good idea at the time, but the future was limited due to the lack of management plans. It costs money and a lot of money to run a train, but these costs can be offset by a successful management team with vision.
There is such a group and they will be making further announcements in time, but what must be considered is false reporting. And the false reporting that is going around now is that the tourist train can only run with a public rail system that could not be any further from the truth.
Time will tell of course but there is room and plenty of it in South Gippsland for a rail trail, the hub and of course a railway line and if that line is ripped up then not only is South Gippsland putting itself back further in the queue for return of rail as we want, you are also throwing history out the door.
Doug Pell, spokesman for Gippsland Southern Rail Network.