Cycleway to Woodside Station all go

Plans for a scenic five-kilometre cycle trail from Greytown to Woodside have been given the green light to proceed, and organisers are inviting the public to share ideas and offer support at a meeting at Greytown Town Hall next week.

The Greytown Trails Trust is driving the project and was set up 18 months ago to promote cycle and walkways in Greytown, as well as develop the old council-owned "rail corridor" which runs from the end of Cotter St (near the Transfer Station) at the south end of town, to Woodside Station. The project now has the go-ahead from landowners, backing from the council, and support from a number of local companies.

Trust chair Gerad Taylor says they're now ready to tell the wider community about the project.

"Lots of people are already behind the trail but we are seeking more support and funding to make this happen."

The route will take cyclists through pastures and alongside stands of native and historic European trees, with uninterrupted views to the Tararuas.

Trust member and landowner along the route Bob Tosswill says the new trail will complement the walkway/cycleway recently opened between Udy St and Kuratawhiti St by the Greytown Lions, and fits with the National Cycleway scheme already under way.

"We are looking forward to taking the project to the next stage, with support from the wider community," he says.

"We consulted with all the landowners neighbouring the route and the response was generally very positive. We were very heartened by the fact that a number of private landowners kindly made their land available to complete the circuit."

Pope and Gray Ltd, Farmlands, and Goldpine have pledged labour and materials. Initial work will include creating a bund around the Transfer Station. Kurunui College horticulture students are undertaking landscaping work at the Cotter St end. Art teacher Roger Thompson is designing a sculptural iron entranceway. The project also has support from Greytown School and Greytown Sport & Leisure Society.

The rail corridor has lain idle since December 1953 when the last Greytown-Woodside train rumbled down the line. The Greytown-Woodside line opened in May 1880, and Greytown had its own station building at the end of Cotter St. The station served as the northern terminus of the Wairarapa Line until the opening of the line to Masterton in November 1880, after which time Greytown-Woodside became a branch line. In its infancy, a morning and afternoon train each way was scheduled between Wellington and Greytown, with the journey taking almost four hours.

At its peak, the Greytown-Woodside branch line employed six people running up to six trains each way daily, moving people, livestock, timber and general merchandise. It had steel rails instead of the usual wrought iron, which survived 73 years of service. But better road networks led to the line's demise, which by its close had the sad distinction of being proportionately one of the biggest money losers on NZ Railways.

With the trains gone, the station was moved down the line it used to run to Woodside  at that time the largest single item ever carried by NZR. The building was modified to serve as a goods shed and still stands in a dilapidated state opposite the current Woodside station building.

The trust plans to raise awareness of the history of the route as part of its plans.

All welcome to the public meeting on Tuesday, November 23, Greytown Town Hall, 7pm. Inquiries: 06 304 7271 or 027 222 7599.

Wairarapa News