OFF TRACK: North Burnett Regional Council have pulled out funding for the Inland Rail Trail after last week's meeting.
OFF TRACK: North Burnett Regional Council have pulled out funding for the Inland Rail Trail after last week's meeting. Contributed

Council: No funding involvement for rail trail

NORTH Burnett Regional Council has stepped away from its financial involvement in the preservation of a disused rail corridor between Gayndah and Taragoola in a twist that could see the tourism project come to a screeching halt.

According to the mayor, Rachel Chambers, no funding was ever promised.

"Although supportive of the rail trail project, in principle, and of rail trails and the benefits they offer in general, council has never supported any financial commitment to this rail trail project,” Cr Chambers said.

Cr Chambers said council supported the feasibility and scoping study of the line between Gayndah and Calliope if the study was fully funded by the State Government.

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"Unfortunately, even though the State government has $14 million dollars to contribute to rail trail projects, councils are still expected to also contribute 50 per cent of capital costs and 100 per cent of future maintenance costs,” she said.

"This is an unacceptable and quite frankly an unworkable arrangement.

"The costs of the 270km of line which is being considered could reach well into the millions (and millions) of dollars.

"To take a large chunk of this budget for a project of this nature, would not be at all achievable, nor palatable to our rate payers.”

Gladstone councillors were informed at last Tuesday's general council meeting that "North Burnett Regional Council will only proceed on a cost-neutral basis and won't be providing any ongoing financial or human resources for the project.”

As it currently stands, ownership of the rail corridor would remain with the Department of Transport and Main Roads, however, all responsibilities regarding maintenance, management and public liability would become council's responsibility if it entered into a lease.

Gladstone Cr Kahn Goodluck said during last Tuesday's meeting the latest development had raised some "red flags” for him, as it differed from the three resolutions agreed on through a notice of motion at a previous council meeting on March 20.

He was one of many councillors concerned with NBRC's perceived lack of interest.

"If we look at the initial notice of motion, Point 1 says GRC would join with North Burnett Regional Council,” Cr Goodluck said.

"The fact that we already had North Burnett on the journey was a reason for myself, and I'm sure other councillors, being in favour for it.

"Now that they've pulled out... Point 3 - which I was strongly in favour of - was that GRC supports the ownership of the assets remaining with DTMR and it not become the burden of ratepayers and it's clear to me that's now not possible.”

Gladstone Regional Council will hold its next meeting on June 19 in relation to the ongoing matter.