It's been a long road for volunteers of the Oberon Tarana Heritage Railway, but a $1.5 million federal government grant has provided them with a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel.
After about 15 years of local Oberon volunteers putting in the time and effort to replenish the railway line between Oberon and Tarana, the federal grant has now given the association the backing they need.
"I think initially back in 2007 there was a bit of talk about a rail trail forming, I think some people wanted to see if they could get the tourist rail from Tarana to Oberon up and running," OTHR president Greg Bourne said.
"Basically the volunteers got going at replenishing the rails between Hazelgrove and Oberon but now we have been able to secure a $1.5 million grant so the money is going to go towards getting accredited rail builders to do the job because it's too big for the volunteers."
That being said, the volunteers are still hard at work, walking the existing line to mark the damaged sleepers and maintain the ever-growing weeds.
"We walked the rail from Hazelgrove to Oberon counting the number of sleepers that need replacing and to check that the rail is still in good enough condition to run the train," Mr Bourne said.
"They calculated somewhere around 3000 sleepers need to be replaced and a 500-metre section of the track needs to be completely redone.
"One of our biggest problems has been the recent rain and sunshine, the weeds have grown across the track and we spent about three weeks going along and whipper snippering it all."
The project is currently being turned into a final tender document, with things expected to progress to the construction stage in the next few months.
"Probably somewhere between six and 10 weeks time we will be talking to people who are actually interested in doing the job," Mr Bourne said.
"We would like to see tenderers come in who have experience in laying rails and reworking and repairing the existing line."
The OTHR committee are hoping that the completion of this project and the history behind it will attract more people to visit the scenic town of Oberon.
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