CHEERS erupted at the old Murwillumbah train station today as NSW Minister for Tourism Adam Marshall announced $6.3 million for the Tweed stage of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT).
The Tweed stage of the rail trail will involve the re-development of 24km of disused rail corridor from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek.
Mr Marshall said the rail trail was a "deadset winner" for the region and would bring many benefits to the wider community.
"You'll find a whole lot of business growth on the back of the rail trail because rail trails attract people which bring dollars," Mr Marshall said.
"So, whenever those two things exist, business will respond.
"It will provide opportunities for businesses right along the trail as people take a leisurely stroll to see the beautiful Northern Rivers area."
NRRT president Pat Grier said today's announcement would mean great things for the region.
"The rail trail will bring prosperity which is greatly needed, it'll bring jobs to the region and it'll be fantastic for the community," he said.
While Tweed Shire Council has committed $600,000 to the Tweed stage of the project, the Federal Government is yet to announce whether it will supply the remaining $6.3m needed to complete the trail.
"(The Federal Government has) always told us 'if you get the State onside, we'll follow," Mr Grier said.
"Once people see it's starting to happen, the community will start to say make it happen and I can't understand why the government wouldn't do that."
Mr Marshall said the 24km project was "just the beginning" for improving the region's tourism industry.
"You've got the neighbouring Lismore City Council and Richmond Valley working very hard to continue that along and open up more sections," he said.
Lismore MP Thomas George welcomed the news as a major win for the North Coast community.
"We've echoed the passionate voices of the North Coast community in Macquarie Street and we've succeeded in attaining full support from the NSW Government," Mr George said.
Member for Tweed Geoff Provest said the community's crowd funding efforts for rail trails had been astonishing.
"There has certainly been a tangible and measurable statement of support for the rail trail from the community, there's no denying that fact," Mr Provest said.
"The Northern Rivers Rail Trail has enormous potential to enhance the local tourism industry, create jobs and grow the regional economy.
"I look forward to moving this project forward and completing further community and landholder consultation so this project can progress and deliver a fantastic new tourism asset to the North Coast of NSW."