Plan to lease Millthorpe railway Station to private operation

Millthorpe Railway Station. Photo Tim Kelly
Millthorpe Railway Station. Photo Tim Kelly

Community run dances and private birthday parties “on the platform” could become a thing of the past if a commercial operator takes over the lease of Millthorpe Railway Station.

Councillors voted on Monday evening to give general manager Andrew Roach authority to rescind the lease it has with Australian Rail Track Corporation in favour of ARTC leasing the building, platform and public toilets to an unnamed private operator who, Mr Roach said, wants to run a café and art gallery from the site.

During the council discussion on this matter Cr Bruce Kingham asked that provision be made so that the public toilets stay open.

In his report to the council Mr Roach said Blayney Shire Council could save up to $350 in annual lease fees and a further $2000 in annual cleaning and maintenance costs if the lease was taken up by a private operator.

For many years after the closure of the station in the 1980’s it remained unused and subject to vandalism.

Millthorpe village residents tried unsuccessfully for many years to raise funds and find a viable use for the station but were unsuccessful until a small group “Millthorpe On Track” formed in the late 1990’s approached State Rail for permission to renovate the station. Local fundraising activities attracted thousands of dollars for the station and State Rail provided initially funds for a conservation study and restoration plan, and then took over the full funding of the restoration program. This included new toilets, floors, and restoration of existing fittings where practicable. “Millthorpe On Track” which operated as a sub-committee of the Millthorpe Village Committee disbanded in 2004 transferring its own funds to the Millthorpe School of Arts for the building of a new toilet.

A fundraising dance set down for late November and “sold out” could be in doubt if ARTC and the Council resolve this issue in the next few weeks.