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Whitfield Railway revival

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Vision of city up for comment
Border Mail 7 Feb 08

TRAMS, trains, a university and a thriving cafe culture could become a reality for Wangaratta over the next two decades. Wangaratta Council yesterday launched its program to engage the community in planning for the future.

Council chief executive Doug Sharp said the Wangaratta 2030 Community Vision was in ratepayers’ hands.
“Nothing will be off the agenda,” he said. “We expect people to look at what they want — whether it’s more public transport, better footpaths, car-free zones or something like more educational opportunities — and where they want them to be built.”

Mr Sharp would not divulge his visions of the city, leaving it up to the public to guide the council and consultants at forums, workshops, surveys and polls.

“We want people to come with no limitations, only ideas,” he said.

“We want long-term visionary ideas that will no doubt unfold over the course of the process.”

The community review of the 2030 plan, to be held in the next five weeks, will result in an update of the plan, which was released in 2005.

It is fascinating to contemplate life in 2030 and what we will need.

With an ever increasing depletion of oil and the inevitable price rises of petrol and diesel, it is a pretty safe bet that public transport will figure well in these deliberations.

Here is an idea without limitationsLet’s bring back the Wangaratta – Whitfield railway.

The original was the first narrow gauge railway in Australia. Building of the Wangaratta Whitfield line began on 1/3/1898. The line was officially opened on 14/3/1899. The line closed beyond Moyhu to trains in February 1952 due to bush fire damage. After that, the small amount of traffic was handled by a motor trolley. The last train ran on 6/10/1953, the last trolley on 10/10/1953.

Imagine what a new narrow gauge steam driven railway would mean for the tourism industry. You could guarantee that every one of the original 14 stops would be at a winery with accommodation attached.

Imagine what it would mean for the people of the King Valley. A return of public transport after a 55 year hiatus.

Imagine what it would do for the farmers. The railway used to ship out their produce and stock and bring in their fertilisers and other supplies. Let’s go back to the future

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Written by Greg Naylor

7 February 2008 at 6:34 pm

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