A MUCH-LAUDED multi-use trail will now cover just half the original distance and will have no trains running alongside, it has been revealed.
Cornwall Council says it has reached agreement with Defra over the future of plans for a trail originally intended to link Launceston and Egloskerry.
The plans form part of the Council's Tourism and Rural Access in Cornwall (TRAC) project which aims to create a trail for cyclists, walkers and horse riders along former railway corridors at Launceston and Bude.
Original proposals for the scheme, part-funded through Defra's Rural Development Programme, included an aim to extend the Launceston Steam Railway from Newmills to Egloskerry. However, last year the council informed Defra and the LSR that it would no longer be able to deliver both aspects of the project.
Agreement in principle has now been reached that the council will remodel its proposals for the Bude component and provide a revised proposal for Launceston.
At Launceston, the cycle path will be progressed as a modified route – including an off-road section some 650 metres long, running parallel with Under Lane. While acknowledged as a potential project for post 2013 Convergence funding, the extension of the Launceston Steam Railway will not proceed as part of the TRAC project.
Jonathan Mann, marketing manager for the railway, said they were disappointed at the outcome.
"It should have been a fabulous project for the town, but now the off-road section will be ending at a scrapyard."
Councillor Bert Biscoe, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for Highways, Transportation and Environment, said: "I regret that expectations have been raised in terms of the LSR, but much work has been done to inform a future project."
Launceston councillors and North Cornwall's MP have slammed Cornwall Council for dropping the trail from the town to Egloskerry.
"Cornwall Council was given more than £1 million to provide the trail," said Councillor Adam Paynter. "All local councillors supported the idea as it would attract visitors and enable local people to enjoy our wonderful countryside. We are bitterly disappointed.
"More than half a million pounds will have to be handed back to the Government and there will be little or nothing to show for all the money already spent."
Councillor Alex Folkes added: "It is clear the council have let the people of Launceston down through their incompetence.
"The original project plan was a partnership between the council and Launceston Steam Railway. But the council lost the support of the railway and of many local residents when they failed to guarantee to keep the way clear for a possible future railway extension."
Dan Rogerson, Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall, said he would support a new project using European funding: "But we have had these promises before and I think there will need to be change at the top before the council is capable of delivering what Launceston should have had."