Since 1978, Tasmania’s rail services have been compromised by the competing ideals of running a profitable transport entity whilst avoiding significant investment and maintenance costs.
A series of ownership changes and a lack of political will, have almost destroyed what was once an economic strength for Tasmania.
It is time to look to the future, and consider carefully the rail system that Tasmania needs to have, and to plan and implement it.
Future Transport Tasmania (FTT) firmly believes that Tasmania’s economy must have a strong infrastructure base in order to cope with any future expansion and minimize current energy waste and other environmental impacts. For the last forty years or more, there has been a massively disproportionate level of funding allocated to roads in comparison to railways, by State and Federal Governments. Railways are not only cheaper to maintain, but rail is twenty times safer than road, as well as around three times more energy efficient.
Future transport infrastructure spending should be altered to give rail priority, to get heavy freight off the roads. If there are further delays in upgrading this vital element of the state’s economic infrastructure, it will cost the state exponentially more in years to come.
The plan includes:
- The Tasmanian railway system to be run as a Government Business Enterprise, similar to TT Line and Metro Tasmania.
- New locomotives ordered immediately.
- New rolling-stock constructed.
- A deviation constructed to straighten the main line.
- Currently closed lines reopened or rebuilt.
- The eventual reintroduction of passenger services including suburban services.
FTT believes that Tasmania needs a modern railway system. The infrastructure and investment required is extensive. However, it will still be much cheaper than constructing a four lane highway from Hobart to Launceston, and certainly much cheaper to maintain. By removing heavy freight vehicles from the roads, the government will then save further maintenance money, not to mention improve road safety. If Governments are prepared to spend taxpayer’s money on a transport system, then FTT believes that system should be controlled by the Government. An increase in rail services will also mean an increase in jobs in the rail industry, not to mention the jobs that will be created for the upgrading of the lines.
Upgraded, the railway network will be a reliable and active assistant in Tasmania’s further economic development.
The full document can be downloaded from here: http://vanpraag.info/cotu/