The Armidale Regional Council has thrown support behind the New England Rail Trail.
Announcing their position on Wednesday, council are providing in principle support for representations by the Guyra and District Chamber of Commerce to the transport and infrastructure minster.
The chamber wrote to the NSW Government requesting legislation to enact the closure of a 34 kilometre stretch of the Great Northern Line between Black Mountain to Ben Lomond station.
Guyra and District Chamber of Commerce president Aileen Macdonald said it was a huge achievement to gain support from the new council.
“We had a group meeting in February to write to the [transport] minister to consider the appropriate legislation for that line to be closed and for a visibility study to be undertaken to establish a rail trail,” Ms Macdonald said.
The New England Rail Trail group was established in April 2014 and, for the past two years, have been liaising with councils between Armidale and Tenterfield.
NERT spokesman David Mills said it was now up to the state government to assess the proposal which is backed by ‘overwhelming community support’.
“Considering the support that the old Guyra Shire Council provided… it was made an item on the new council’s agenda to provide in principle support to the New England Rail Trail for their proposal,” he said.
“The next step is to search for funding to provide an in-depth visibility study and trail development plan.
“We’ve submitted to the National Stronger Regions Fund and now it’s up to the state government to assess our overwhelming community support.”
The Great Northern Railway was suspended from operation on October 22, 1989.
Save the Great Northern Rail Line group worry a trail will devalue a national asset.
Spokeman Rob Lenehan said he believed the tourism benefits boasted by the NERT were invalid.
“The idea is to remove the line and put a sealed section for the cycle way, which means completely destroying the gradient for the permanent way.”
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