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Walking alongside rural railway lines

PostPosted: Mon 26 Jul, 2021 8:25 pm
by BarryK
I lived for 12 years near Perenjori in the Midlands region of WA. WA, as in many other States, has thousands of kilometres of railway line, all with a maintenance track running alongside. I used to regularly go for a walk along one of those access tracks, and even drove on one a few times.

I have been hunting on the Internet to find any statements about the legality of this. The only reference I found:

https://www.artc.com.au/community/tresp ... vandalism/

As I understand it, the railway land in WA is owned by the WA State Government, and in some cases leased to a private company to manage the line. I presume that ARTC is one such company.

All over rural WA there are these access tracks alongside railway lines, and never once have I ever seen a sign saying you shall not enter here, nor have I ever seen a locked barricade.

Is it one of those situations where technically you are not supposed to walk on the access track, but no one cares if you do? Would the police approach you if they saw you walking on a rural railway access road/track?

In rural WA, you could walk between towns along railway maintenance tracks instead of along public roads, which would be far more pleasant.

Curious if anyone has any experience with this, or has a clearer understanding of the legal situation.

EDIT:
This thread has turned out to be very WA-specific, but I did intend to seek input on the situation Australia-wide. Is WA unique in having hundreds of kilometres of closed lines? (see my posts further down).

Re: Walking alongside rural railway lines

PostPosted: Mon 26 Jul, 2021 9:00 pm
by BarryK
I do recall, the WA Govt used to maintain all of the rural train lines in WA, but then they leased maintenance to a private company.

That's when the lines started to degrade, and many of them were closed, or at least no longer used to haul grain -- instead, it is transported by truck.

Some references about this:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2021- ... /100299984

https://www.farmweekly.com.au/story/677 ... ity-study/

This means that, apparently, there are huge sections of the rail network in rural WA that are not being used. Walking alongside those lines would seem to be OK?

Re: Walking alongside rural railway lines

PostPosted: Mon 26 Jul, 2021 9:14 pm
by BarryK
The lines that were closed are described as "Tier 3", closed in 2014. More information here:

https://www.countryman.com.au/countryma ... 881646518z

Specifically, what lines are these? This link identifies some of these lines:

https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/P ... lines.aspx

Quoting:

Quairading to York
Kulin (via Yilliminning) to Narrogin
Kondinin (via Narembeen) to West Merredin

And here is a map, showing the Tier-3 lines:

https://www.farmweekly.com.au/story/679 ... er-3-push/

Another map:

https://savegrainonrail.com.au/what-is-tier-3-rail/

SGNR-Map-724x1024.jpg


...so, how about this for an interesting hike: catch the train to Merredin, then walk on a choice of two closed railway lines, to Narrogin, then bus back to Perth.

Re: Walking alongside rural railway lines

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jul, 2021 9:40 am
by north-north-west
I've driven and occasionally overnighted on similar roads in rural areas in both Victoria and SA. Never had any issues and it never occurred to me that there were any legal questions about it. Admittedly, I do tend to operate on the principle that if it isn't signed and/or gated, it's fair game.

Re: Walking alongside rural railway lines

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jul, 2021 12:42 pm
by keithj
In Blue Mtns its pretty normal to use the rail corridor for walking/running. I often come across rail workers with no issues & I'd be surprised if train drivers report walkers who are keeping a safe distance from the tracks, and also that police would treat it as a low priority incident. As far as legalities... dunno.

Edit: It's normal in Upper Blue Mtns - i.e. Bell to Medlow Bath. There's no other way of walking between those villages except on the hard shoulder of the road. The rest of the mtns rail corridor is fenced.

Re: Walking alongside rural railway lines

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jul, 2021 4:29 pm
by johnw
keithj wrote:In Blue Mtns its pretty normal to use the rail corridor for walking/running. I often come across rail workers with no issues & I'd be surprised if train drivers report walkers who are keeping a safe distance from the tracks, and also that police would treat it as a low priority incident. As far as legalities... dunno.


My own view is I think it should be allowed in the circumstances described by the OP. Whether it's legal is a whole other question.

Probably different in each state but being on railway land without authorisation in NSW is definitely unlawful.
How strictly policed, dunno. Personally I wouldn't take the risk.

https://transportnsw.info/travel-info/using-public-transport/travel-offences-fines-penalties
"Trespassing on railway land
Penalty Notice $400
Maximum penalty $5,500"


https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/sl-2017-0473#sec.68J
68J No trespassing

(1) A person must not, without reasonable excuse, go onto or into, or remain on or in—

(a) the restricted area of a station, or

(b) any running lines or associated part of any rail infrastructure, or

(c) any workshops forming part of rail infrastructure, or

(d) any offices or administrative areas of a railway, or

(e) any other railway premises.

Maximum penalty—50 penalty units.

Re: Walking alongside rural railway lines

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jul, 2021 10:02 pm
by Heremeahappy1
Might be off topic however I'm quite interested in the OPs motivation for using this rural rail pathway to walk. Is it convenient? Interesting?
The way we identify and utilise paths, trails and tracks may offer an insight, the way we speak of Aboriginal trails, stock routes etc. In Victoria years ago the Kirner Govt angled to use old railway lines for recreation use. These now represent some fine urban and rural cycling, walking and contribute to a regional visitor economy.

Re: Walking alongside rural railway lines

PostPosted: Wed 28 Jul, 2021 9:16 pm
by Mark F
I remember learning to abseil in a railway cutting between Wollstonecraft and Waverton stations on the Sydney North shore line. There were about 8 to 10 of us. Trains went past and gave a toot but nobody seemed interested in chasing us off - but it as the early 60's.

Re: Walking alongside rural railway lines

PostPosted: Wed 28 Jul, 2021 9:17 pm
by BarryK
Heremeahappy1 wrote:Might be off topic however I'm quite interested in the OPs motivation for using this rural rail pathway to walk. Is it convenient? Interesting?


It would be a different experience, compared with, say, the Bibbulmun Track here in WA.

A long straight track following the railway line, you can't get lost!

It goes from town to town, so you have places to restock, many small towns also have caravan parks. Looking at that Merredin to Narrogin, it is a long haul between some towns, you would need to camp overnight between-town. I guess that would qualify as stealth camping.

I guess, it just seems like something interesting to do. Besides, I grew up in Narrogin, would like the experience of arriving there on foot!

Note, the above map I posted doesn't show Narrogin. It is a largish regional town, where that Tier-3 blue-dashed line from Corrigin meets the red line.