Funding closer for heritage rail project

28 Jan, 2012 04:00 AM
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A WHEATBELT project has moved to the final application stage for round two of the Regional Development Australia Fund.

The Wheatbelt Heritage Rail Project, involving the shires of Dowerin, York and Beverley, has applied for $2.2 million funding.

Around Australia 165 projects will be considered for $200 million in funding.

Applications are for amounts between $500,000 and $5 million.

Regional Development Australia (RDA) Wheatbelt had to choose three projects out of 15 proposals to go to Canberra for final assessment.

Its three nominated projects received no first round funding but about one-third of the number of projects have been nominated this time.

The project already has $1.1 million in shire contributions from Royalties for Regions funding.

A recent meeting considered a business plan.

Although this has been a long-term Dowerin project, enthusiasm is growing in York with shire councillor and former Hotham Valley Railway volunteer Roy Scott the catalyst.

He has found a benefactor in David Hockey from Perth who is giving two diesel railcars and two superannuated Transperth buses to the project.

“We had about 20 members of the public to the business plan meeting,” Mr Scott said.

The documentation for RDA is being prepared by Melbourne consultant Chris Le Marshall who was heavily involved in the successful Peterborough Steamtown project.

“There is a very good economic return from this project,” he said.

“The investment is less than what would be put back into the regional economy in one year.”

As the project is planned, one steam and two diesel locomotives along with seven carriages would be based in Dowerin.

York would have three diesel railcars, one diesel locomotive and three carriages.

“Many of the train trips would be allied with major events in the region,” Mr Le Marshall said.

The Avon Valley AdvocateSource: http://www.avonadvocate.com.au

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