THE Minister for Regional Tourism, John Barilaro, has announced up to $50 million for rail trail pilot projects.
Mr Barilaro announced the funds allocation while visiting the region with Ballina MP Don Page and Lismore MP Thomas George.
Mr Barilaro said that Expressions of Interest (EOI) are now open for local councils, businesses and community groups to boost their tourism economies and create rail trails along sections of the disused Casino to Murwillumbah and Rosewood to Tumbarumba rail corridors.
"This $50 million boost to the regional tourism sector will benefit local businesses and create jobs, while offering visitors the chance to access amazing locations currently offlimits on disused rail lines," Mr Barilaro said.
"Communities in regional NSW have identified a great opportunity to build infrastructure around unused rail lines and the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has listened to this overwhelming support."
"Investing in these tourism projects is a fantastic opportunity for local towns and villages to showcase their region and attract visitors."
"We will continue to consider projects for other disused rail lines in regional areas following the completion of assessments for the pilot projects along these corridors."
Mr Page said rail trails were popular attractions around the world, offering cycling, horseriding and walking activities and the Northern Rivers is a prime location for the State's first rail trail.
"Since the independent report ruled out trains on that line as a viable regional transport option, I have been a strong advocate for bringing a rail trail to this area because they are low impact, create new jobs, encourage a healthy lifestyle and are environmentally friendly," Mr Page said.
Mr George said the NSW Government is committed to building the infrastructure in the Northern Rivers that makes it as easy as possible for residents and visitors to see as much as they can.
The $50 million is funded from the $110 million Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund, announced in this year's State Budget. Projects submitted as part of the competitive EOI will require a feasibility study, which includes a cost-benefit assessment of the proposed rail trail.
The EOI guidelines are available online: www.trade.nsw.gov.au/rtif