THE heritage-listed Oberon Railway Station is set for a major upgrade as part of a plan to unlock the tourism potential that historic rail offers the region.
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole has announced a NSW Government grant of $133,000 from its Stronger Country Communities Fund to restore the 85-metre platform at the station, which is a vital part of the vision to attract visitors to town.
He said the station forms part of Oberon’s history and locals and visitors alike will benefit from the project.
“Oberon Railway Station was built between 1921 and 1923 when the Oberon-Tarana branch line was built and opened,” Mr Toole said.
“Oberon-Tarana Heritage Railway (OTHR) Incorporated has been working to restore steam engines and reconstruct rail trucks to run heritage railway trips for the public.
“Upgrading and restoring the platform at the station is a critical part of this project.
“The platform restoration is part of the infrastructure that includes a working museum display which explores the five decades the railway operated as part of the lifeblood of the Oberon economy.”
Mr Toole said the OTHR estimates the branch line has the potential to attract between 5000 and 8000 visitors of all ages in its first year of operation.
“Improving the platform’s alignment will ensure the station’s safety and accessibility for visitors and passengers boarding and alighting from trains into the future,” he said.
“It also creates a visually and practical enjoyable visitor experience as they understand how the station ran in its day.
“The platform upgrade enhances Oberon's history by showcasing its transport heritage with a recreated return train trip to Tarana depicting the way a much older Oberon lived, worked and played.
“Recreating this historically important piece of transport infrastructure will also encourage local schools to visit, experience and learn more about past generations.”
OTHR ran a survey with Oberon’s retailers earlier this year on the economic benefits of a tourist railway to Oberon.
Responses to the survey included that “tourist numbers would go through the roof” and the tourist railway would be “a huge benefit to the local area”.