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Bike path DA lodged for North East rail corridor

North East Rail

A $1.5 million bike trail along the dormant North East rail corridor is a step closer, after a development application was lodged by Dorset Council for a 26 kilometre chunk.

The bid comes despite some still wanting the asset preserved for a heritage train between Wyena and Scottsdale. 

Dorset Mayor Greg Howard says it would have been a far longer journey than anywhere else in Australia. 

"Most of them are only around 20kms at an absolute maximum. That's the ideal distance. Once you get out to - it would have been 60-odd-kms - that means it's a full day to ride the train to Scottsdale and back. Tourists just don't want to spend that amount of time in a bloody rattly old train," he said.

A Legislative Council inquiry last year recommended both the rail and bike trail alongside each other via an extension or widening, an idea which the Mayor argues would make converting the track go from $40,000 per km to $400,000 per km.  

"You'd destroy whatever heritage value the line already had because you'd have to replicate all the cuts and fills and bridges and culverts and stuff like that. So it's just a momumentally costly exercise. You'd be talking $8-10 million. You couldn't justify spending $8-10 million of public money on something like that," Mr Howard said.   

Dorset Council has special permission to assess its own development application for the 26km section of bike path, but will need a independent consultant to assess the planning scheme. 

14 kilometres of the proposed trail sits within the City of Launceston municipality and will be subject to a separate DA. 

Mayor Albert Van Zetten indicated in-principle support for the project, but declined to formally comment until the matter comes before his council.