Rail trail upgrade opens

THE newly-upgraded surface on the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail from Glengarry to Cowwarr has been completed just in time for Easter tourism in Gippsland.

Gippsland Plains Rail Trail committee of management chairman Helen Hoppner said now was a good time for people to visit the region and make the most of attractions such as the rail trail.

“Following devastating summer bush fires in the area, tourists have been cautious about returning but with recent rain, and locals gearing up their businesses, it’s time to return and enjoy the many attractions Gippsland has to offer, including riding the newly-finished bicycle friendly section of the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail,” she said.

“With 16 kilometres of good quality surface, we suggest that users invest three hours to ride the trail as an Easter activity.”

The $200,000 stage one upgrade, including a low level crossing over Eaglehawk Creek, was the result of many years of lobbying by the committee, an election commitment from Morwell MLA Russell Northe and Regional Development Victoria.

Ms Hoppner said there had already been supportive comments from users.

“We are now looking for funds to upgrade the trail from Tinamba to Dawson Reserve in 2013,” she said.

The committee have also begun discussions on the connection from Glengarry to Traralgon across the floodplains of the Latrobe River.

“This section is important as it will connect a major regional centre to the trail and public transport,” Ms Hoppner said.

“The Gippsland Plains Rail Trail’s unique marketing opportunity will then be realised.

“Trail users can catch a train in Melbourne, Traralgon or Stratford, ride the trail then return to their destination without the use of a car.”