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The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester is seeking Federal Government funding avenues for improvements to a popular rail trail between Traralgon and Stratford.

Mr Chester this week met with Chair of the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail Committee of Management Helen Hoppner and consultant Alan Lewis to hear about plans to upgrade the 65-kilometre rail trail.

“The towns and businesses along the trail have reported steady growth in trade as a result of the increasing numbers of cyclists and walkers using the trail as new sections have opened,” Mr Chester said.

“For traders along the route, including those in Glengarry, Toongabbie, Cowwarr, Heyfield, Tinamba and Maffra, rail trail tourism provides a welcome boost to their business or is a future opportunity.

“This trail is one of the few where you can catch a train to one end of the trail and catch another train back home from the other end.”

Mr Chester said he would seek funding opportunities to help fund the improvement projects along the trail.

“It has the potential to attract visitors from other areas, including Melbourne, to boost visitor numbers and help support local jobs,” Mr Chester said.

Mrs Hoppner said the rail trail committee was seeking more than $1 million in funding for four projects including a new bridge over the Thomson River, improving the Eaglehawk Creek crossing and sealing the trail from the Princes Highway to Glengarry.

“The Committee of Management has been working on this project for over 20 years,” Mrs Hoppner said.

“The four projects we are seeking funds for are an important part of connecting the trail for the future and upgrading the busy Traralgon to Glengarry section to encourage access for all abilities.

“With 3000 people accessing the trail each month, it is very important that we make it user-friendly and safe.”

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