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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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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Some facts about Tasmania's railways

The current (and soon to be departed owner), Pacific National Tasmania, has owned Tasrail since 2004.

Tasmania’s main line from Hobart to Launceston was originally constructed by a private company, owned by investors in London. In an ironic twist of repeating history the Tasmanian Main Line Railway Company was purchased by the Tasmanian Government after a string of derailments and complaints.

The Tasmanian Government Railways constructed many branchlines including lines from Bellerive to Sorell (isolated from the rest of the network), Bridgewater to Kallista (near Maydena), Conara to St Marys, Launceston to Herrick, Burnie to Smithton and also a link from Zeehan to Strahan, amongst many others.

The TGR ran at a loss for its entire existence.

The last line constructed by the TGR was from Launceston to Bell Bay near George Town, completed in 1974.

The TGR was sold to the Federal Government after an offer made by the then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, who wanted to bring the entire national railway network under the control of one body, the Australian National Railways. However, only South Australia and Tasmania accepted the offer.

Ownership of the TGR passed to the Federal Government in 1975, however operational control did not take place until 1978. TGR became part of the Australian National Railways Commission, and was later renamed Tasrail.

The last new locomotive purchased for Tasmania was ordered by the TGR, and arrived in 1976. No new locomotives have been purchased by any operator or owner of the railways since.
Many second-hand or rebuilt locomotives have been purchased or transferred from elsewhere, including 81 locomotives (at different times) by Australian National, and 17 by Australian Transport Network.
Few of the 81 introduced by AN remain in service, and some never entered service at all, but were used for spare parts.

The National Rail Corporation was created in 1992 to operate the interstate rail lines on the mainland. Its creation severely dented AN’s profits and after the Howard Government took power in 1996 Australian National was sold. Australian Transport Network, a company largely owned by the Wisconsin Central Railroad of the USA, purchased the Tasrail portion of AN.
Shortly after this, ATN purchased the Emu Bay Railway from Pasminco Metals.

Under ATN, Tasrail made a profit for the first time in the history of the Tasmanian Railway system. It could be argued that this was due to the profits from the Emu Bay mineral haulage.

After Wisconsin Central was purchased by the Canadian National Rail company, investment in Tasrail stopped. ATN was then purchased by Pacific National (the current owner) in 2004.

In 2008 ownership of the track passed back to the Tasmanian Government, with the exception of the former Emu Bay line (now referred to as the Melba line), which had never been government owned.

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