Welcome to Future Transport Tasmania

We are here to lobby for better public transport and rail infrastructure in Tasmania. We aim to find solutions to allow all Tasmanians to have environmentally responsible and affordable commuting options to get around our state and towns. A more detailed mission statement can be found in the left column or <here>.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Media Release

Tuesday June 9th

Thursday’s State Budget must include a plan for rail

Community transport lobby group Future Transport Tasmania (FTT), stated today that the upcoming State budget desperately needs to have a plan for the continuation of rail services in Tasmania. FTT believes that for Tasmania’s future economic prosperity to have a serious chance, a viable rail service is a vital and fundamental requirement. Unfortunately the significant amount of uncertainty over operator Pacific National Tasmania’s future is having an extremely detrimental effect on rail’s chances in Tasmania.

Early this year when Asciano announced that it had been unsuccessful in finding a buyer for Pacific National Tasmania (PNT) the State Government said that it would begin talks with Asciano, the owner of PNT, yet stated that taking over the operation was a ‘last resort’.

FTT believes that it is completely against the public’s interest for this hesitation and uncertainty to continue, and affirms that the State Budget is the best place to start.

In a submission to the National Transport Commission Dr Philip Laird from the University Of Wollongong noted that; ‘about one fatality in ten involves an articulated truck’. For this reason alone it is obvious that rail should receive priority, yet out of the $800 million of Federal Government infrastructure funding for Tasmania announced in April, only $200 million of that is for rail. Many other studies and reports exist to justify prioritisation of rail infrastructure development, yet in Tasmania (and Australia) the highways are still receiving far more than the lion’s share of money.

Future Transport Tasmania spokesperson Toby Rowallan said: ‘There is no doubt that we are still in the midst of a rail crisis. The north-south line has still not reopened, and Pacific National has made it quite clear that it wants out. We need to know what the Government’s plan is. If they will not take over the operations of Pacific National, then who are they hoping to get to run the trains?’

‘The State and Federal Governments have committed over $200 million dollars to upgrade the rail network –but this is for the track, not the trains or services. There is still no guarantee that there will be anyone operating trains in Tasmania next year.'

‘Already the effects of the north-south line closure (caused by a derailment) may be extremely difficult to redress. Intermodal freight users currently have no choice but to use trucks, and when the line is finally re-opened, it will be understandable if their confidence and business is correspondingly slow to return,’ added Mr Rowallan.

‘Thursday’s State Budget must have a plan and a strong commitment from the Government to ensure our rail network operates. It must be aimed at taking heavy trucks off our roads and thereby increasing the use of rail. This will improve road safety, decrease road maintenance costs, improve overall economic efficiency and also decrease carbon emissions. It is true that this will cost the state money and there is little to spare. However we firmly believe it will cost Tasmania far more in the long run, if we do not invest in our rail network now,’ finished Mr Rowallan.

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Contacting Future Transport Tasmania

For further information:
Toby Rowallan (secretary) 0418 997 069

Mailing address:
Future Transport Tasmania
Bathurst St. Post Office
PO Box 4515
Hobart 7000