Railway NOT busway
Railway line into Hobart must remain a railway line
Community-based public transport advocacy group, Future Transport Tasmania (FTT), today called on the State Government to commit to retaining the Hobart to Bridgewater railway line. FTT is concerned that government and transport planning often refer to the railway ‘corridor’, implying that the railway line is a temporary fixture and in future could be removed. Following the Community Advisory Panel discussions around the Light Rail Business Case (LRBC) it was clear that Metro Tasmania and certain other parties believe that the railway line should be pulled up and replaced with a tidal busway. FTT wants to make it clear that based on the LBRC there is no financial case for a busway, and removing the railway line carries a great risk.
Future Transport Tasmania spokesperson Toby Rowallan said: “We know from the Light Rail Business Case that pulling up the tracks and putting down a concrete busway would cost more than upgrading the line and buying some trains. Therefore we can say with confidence that a busway would be an even greater risk. We know also that passenger rail has a much greater chance of attracting new public transport users than bus services, so we believe that a busway would be a very retrograde step. If the busway proponents were pleased to see the Light Rail case fail to come up with sufficient patronage, it is very clear that a busway will have even less. Given the higher cost of building the busway, it is a no-brainer that a busway will be an expensive white-elephant. The railway is the only option for ensuring the possibility of future transport demand growth. FTT believes there is also a possibility of a future Hobart to Launceston fast train, which would obviously use the Bridgewater to Hobart line.“
Mr Rowallan added; “There is also the issue of heavy trucks using the Brooker Highway once the new Brighton Freight Hub is opened. We are not convinced that all freight operators who currently use the Hobart Railway yards actually want to shift operations to Brighton. FTT believes that the railway yards should be retained at Hobart, even if reduced in size, to enable a freight shuttle service to operate from Brighton to Hobart, thus negating the potential increase in heavy vehicles on the Brooker Highway. Maintaining the freight line will also help lower overall costs for keeping the railway open for the Northern Suburbs Commuter rail service.”
“Finally, if the railway line is removed, then there will be no chance for heritage rail operators such as the Tasmanian Transport Museum or the Derwent Valley Railway to operate their restored trains into Hobart. Potential tourism operations would be impossible.”
“As an example, few people would know that there was once a railway line from Bellerive to Sorell. No one would seriously consider building such a line now, despite the population being more than ten times greater than existed when the line was originally built. It shows us that once gone, it is gone forever. We cannot afford to lose our railway into Hobart.” finished Mr Rowallan.