Volunteers needed to get rail service back on track

Upgrades to the Cooma-Monaro Railway have taken longer than initially expected, prompting a call for more volunteers from CMR President Rodney Clancy.

Upgrades to the Cooma-Monaro Railway have taken longer than initially expected, prompting a call for more volunteers from CMR President Rodney Clancy.

IT has been more than seven months since the Cooma-Monaro Historical Railway (CMR) last operated and with progress on much needed track work slowing, Railway Society President Rodney Clancy has issued a call for more volunteers to help restore the line to its former glory.

Despite running as a community listed heritage organisation, CMR is required to adhere to commercial railway standards in order to carry passengers. Mr Clancy says the society is working extremely hard to reopen the line as the influx of tourists hit the region.

"We've spent quite a lot of time, energy and money upgrading the line to Cooma North," Mr Clancy said.

"A small group of volunteers who work very intensely are trying to get the railway operational.

"People with no 'railway' skills can still be involved, we will find a job for any age or skill."

The 19km stretch of track has been a popular tourist attraction for many years, allowing people to revisit the town's railway heritage.

With strict regulations hampering efforts to quickly restore the line, Mr Clancy knows it will be a costly exercise to complete the necessary improvements.

"To completely upgrade the line it will cost in excess of $100,000, this is money we need to raise."

"There is no heritage concessions, our fleets need to be that of mainline standards."

Not only do the tight regulations hamper the Railway Society's bid to return to full operation but Mr Clancy believes other locations in Cooma will be adversely impacted as a result.

"I've been told a few of the local hotels have noticed a reduced number of tourists so far."

"Holiday groups would come to Cooma to take trips on the CMR, other tourist attractions are noticing a slight decline."

As well as track upgrades, the CMR is currently renovating part of the historic train station building. Plans are in place for local clubs to make use of these facilities once maintenance work is finished.

Since beginning operations in December, 1998, CMR has been a popular site for people wishing to relive the railway days which once thrived on the Monaro.

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