20 March 2024

Abandoned train line keeps Wagga's Active Travel Plan to Forest Hill off-track

| Jarryd Rowley
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cyclist using bikeway

Wagga Wagga’s Active Travel Plan continues to remain on hold due to a train track that hasn’t been used in several decades. Photo: Wagga City Council.

Forest Hill residents who have been waiting for an active travel path to Kooringal will have to wait a little longer.

Wagga Wagga City Council’s Active Travel Plan, launched in 2018 and involves connecting 13 areas around Wagga using a shared bicycle and pedestrian path network, hit a roadblock during the pandemic.

Of the 13 paths, eight of the planned networks have been completed; however, the planned 3.6 km track expected to run from Bakers Lane in Kooringal to Elizabeth Avenue in Forest Hill has sat idle for almost six years thanks to a rail corridor that travels alongside Inglewood Road.

The track in question hasn’t been used in nearly 40 years, but Transport NSW’s consideration of it as still active has prevented the plans from continuing with the Kooringal to Forest Hill leg.

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The ”active” condition of the track means WWCC needs a licence to operate near it, something it has been unable to obtain.

The council’s strategic asset planner, Ben Creighton, said WWCC was working with the NSW Government and UGL, the engineering business that manages the rail network, to secure the licence.

“We’re hoping to get the licence very soon,” Mr Creighton said.

map of unused rail corridor

The rail corridor in question sits unused between Forest Hill and Kooringal. Image: Wagga Wagga City Council.

“We’ve made progress in the last couple of months, but it has been a number of years that we’ve been working through this process.

“Essentially, we’re hoping within the next couple of months that we will be able to get that licence in place.”

Due to the drawn-out process of the project, the costs to deliver the Forest track have also ballooned. WWCC was unable to work on the project for the majority of 2020 and 2021 and has cited the rising cost of services as a major reason for going over budget.

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WWCC is looking at dipping into the infrastructure contributions plan, which looks at developing footpaths across the city, to continue delivering the Active Travel Plan.

“What we’re proposing to do is to utilise some of those funds to complete the active travel project, given that the project has already completed some of the projects identified,” Mr Creighton said.

“We will look to put that on public exhibition so everyone’s aware of what we’re proposing to do and what the funding methodology will be.”

The completed legs of the Active Travel Plan have all been widely praised by the community, which has led to WWCC considering the funding move.

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