PARTNERSHIP: BBIRT stakeholders Mark McLachlan, Desley O'Grady, Mike Goebel, Leisa Dowling, Vicki Mackay, Melinda Jones and Steve Alford.
PARTNERSHIP: BBIRT stakeholders Mark McLachlan, Desley O'Grady, Mike Goebel, Leisa Dowling, Vicki Mackay, Melinda Jones and Steve Alford. Mackenzie Colahan

Boyne-Burnett rail trail is gathering steam

THE campaign to preserve the disused railway corridor between Monto and Taragoola is on track and gaining momentum.

A dedicated group of local stakeholders are now one step closer to turning their rail trail dream into a reality.

The Boyne-Burnett Inland Rail Trail committee - comprised of residents, business and landowners, and both local and State Government representatives - believe the trail will promote economic development in the small communities adjacent to the rail corridor and safeguard the region's heritage for posterity.

The committee is in the process of finalising the scope of a feasibility study, expected to include a full economic assessment and address any logistical and safety concerns.

The feasibility study is a joint undertaking by the North Burnett and Gladstone Regional Councils, and will underpin the final proposal to the Department of Transport and Main Roads, who are gradually reclaiming ownership of the land from Queensland Rail.

The outcome of the feasibility study will ultimately decide the project's fate, but Palaszczuk's Labor government has previously expressed their support, pledging $14million to revitalise Queensland's old railways before re-election last November.

Currently, their top priority is retaining the timber bridges between Mungungo and Taragoola, and existing rail and hog back sleepers in the Barrimoon tunnels, which they say are the most valuable assets from a tourism perspective.

Mungungo publican and driving force behind the rail trail, Vicki Mackay, said a survey of the local community received an overwhelmingly positive response.

"I don't want residents to think council is going to wear all of the ongoing costs of maintenance,” she said.

"We're pushing for as much funding as possible from the State Government.”

BBIRT has filed for incorporation and their next meeting at Ubobo on June 8, will serve as their inaugural annual general meeting.

Gladstone Regional councillor Desley O'Grady will stand down as committee chair to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

Completed rail trails are open to hikers, bikers and horse riders, and have a track record of boosting tourism across Australia and abroad.

The group intends to work with private landowners to develop arrangements they believe will be beneficial for both parties.

"We are hopeful of their support and cooperation in the future,” Ms Mackay said.

"Everyone can benefit from a rail trail and it's a win-win for the region.”

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