The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Progress on rail corridor


Horsham Rural City Council is taking steps to reinvigora­te Horsham’s rail corridor after years of communicat­ion with Victrack.

Victrack owns the land at the Horsham Railway Station and leases the rail infrastruc­ture to the Australian Rail Track Corporatio­n.

Environmen­t Protection Authority, EPA, Victoria issued a clean-up notice for the rail corridor, due in 2023, for historic contaminat­ion, mainly regarding fuel.

The council, at a meeting on Monday night, endorsed a Rail Corridor Landscape Plan, which went to public comment in November.

The council also voted in favour of referring the developmen­t of the rail corridor to the long-term capital works program and investigat­ing funding opportunit­ies.

Mayor Robyn Gulline said while there had been hold-ups with developing the rail corridor, the council was now pursuing opportunit­ies to beautify the area.

She said council staff were working with Victrack to establish what areas the council could buy or lease.

“Victrack has looked at all the land they own, assessed what they would need if passenger rail ever came back, and they were able to declare what was surplus land,” she said.

“They followed through with the EPA clean-up order, so the land has been rehabilita­ted back to industrial standard.

“The community has said safety is the highest priority for the space.

“There will be paths, great lighting, seating, a playground, car parking for the silos and all sorts of things.”

Ninety-five percent of survey respondent­s to the plan in November indicated it was visually appealing, 90 percent said it would provide good connection­s, 87 percent thought it provided enough open space and 82 percent thought it would be safer.

Councillor Gulline said while it was not a space designed to spend hours in, it would be good for people in Horsham North to have access to a green, open space in their backyard.

“We will be looking at all sorts of sculptures and things to liven up and beautify the area for the locals and also for visitors to the silos and those who pass by on the Overland,” she said.

“It is going to be a user-friendly space.”

The council also moved to advocate for funding from the State Government for a new underpass at the rail corridor.

Cr Gulline said the underpass was one of the council’s highest priorities.

“The government is on board, but their budget is tight, if not tighter than ours, so when it could be funded, I don’t know,” she said.

“It is something we will continue advocating to them for because it is a matter of urgency and a high priority for safe access for people to transit between north of the railway line to the rest of the city.”

Cr Claudia Haenel said the sentiment from the community was to get the upgrades at the rail corridor complete.

“It’s really critical everyone is on board for the beautifica­tion of the area,” she said.

“Particular­ly for when the Overland passes through Horsham and they can see a beautiful space.

“For the community’s benefit and from a tourism aspect and how we present ourselves as a town, I think it is important to get this done.”

Cr Haenel said she also wanted to see pedestrian­s and people using mobility aids, including electric wheelchair­s, safely access the centre of town from Horsham North without having to use a narrow footpath on the overpass.

Cr Ian Ross was an apology for the meeting and Cr Penny Flynn is on a leave of absence.

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