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In a historic moment, a new lease for the Derwent Valley Railway will come into effect on Friday giving them access to a stretch of line for heritage train rides and marking 15 years of advocacy and restorations by the community.
The DVR will refurbish the 500 metre stretch of line near the old New Norfolk Station, between Third Avenue and Back River Road, with weekend tourist rides and guided tours to be offered by June 2022.
The DVR has a large fleet of heritage trains dating back to the late 1940s that have been tirelessly and painstakingly restored for this momentous occasion.
DVR secretary Owen Andrews said the commencement of the lease was a wonderful “early Christmas present” for all and would provide an excellent boost for tourism in the increasingly popular valley.
Volunteers carry out work on the track the Derwent valley railway hopes will soon again carry passengers from new Norfolk to national Park.
“Our plans are not to operate the railway in a vacuum, we want it to become the backbone of the valley, linking together the other businesses and tourism providers,” he said.
“Hands down the Derwent Valley is the most beautiful region in Tasmania and there is no better way to see it than from the railway.”
This beauty has been widely noticed with New Norfolk receiving the RACT’s 2021 Small Tourism Town Award and a bronze award in the 2021 Australian Tourism Industry Council’s Top Tourism Town section in recent months.
To further connect New Norfolk with the wider region the DVR has plans to extend the railway services, to include trips to Plenty in a second stage of development, then to Mt Field National Park in a third stage.
Volunteers from “all walks of life” are needed to help the railway prepare for its reinstatement.
A Derwent Valley Railway train approaches New Norfolk in 2002. Photo credit Steve Bromley. I
“Anyone who has some free time to contribute to this community project would be great; we need administration, customer service, tour guides, carriage staff, painters, wood-workers, sheet metal workers, welders and teams that can work on the railway track replacing sleepers,” Mr Andrews said.
“We provide training for all these positions too, no previous qualifications are required.”
The state government has committed $25,000 to the DVR for planning work to enable the rail reconstruction and the DVR will also be a recipient of the commitment of $600,000 over seven years to the Tasmanian Association of Tourist Railways to offset the costs of insurance premiums.
This article first appeared on www.themercury.com.au
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