University Proposal Still Needs Railway
26,000 students need decent public transport
Community-based public transport advocacy group, Future Transport Tasmania (FTT), today said that the proposal by Professor Jonathon West to relocate the entire University of Tasmania Hobart Campus to the current Hobart railway yards requires the railway line to be retained. This would ensure that a commuter rail service can provide a decent public transport service directly to the University. FTT commented that whilst they do not have a view on the specific merits of such a proposal, any redevelopment of the area that dramatically increases the number of people using it will justify retaining the railway line access for a commuter rail service. FTT also believes there is a significant advantage in retaining the freight railway service in a truncated freight yard which allows for a freight shuttle service from the new Brighton Transport Hub. This could therefore avoid additional heavy trucks on the Brooker Highway.
FTT is appalled at the lack of foresight shown by planners who continually seem to forget about the higher capacity and efficiency that rail transport brings.
Future Transport Tasmania spokesperson Toby Rowallan said: “If the railway line is pulled up and the link to Hobart broken, it will be impossible to rebuild the line at a future date when the mistake is finally realised by government and planners. We cannot afford to rip up this railway line. We can change the use of most of the area at Hobart, whether it is a new University or some other development but whatever happens, it is perfectly placed to have a commuter rail service run right through the centre. If the development is a University, it would be far more efficient and cost effective to have a rail service from the Northern Suburbs straight to the campus, so as to avoid having to build large costly and car parks, thus ensuring the most space available for the development.
“We believe that this would be essential to the success of any development of the rail yards area, but particularly so for a relocation of all or even part of the University campus. This would not take up much space and there is room for the line to continue through the area and into Hobart to maximise the availability of this new service for commuters and University students alike.”
“The cost of improving parts of the Brooker Highway to cope with increasing demand is over twice as much as the cost of introducing a commuter rail service. We know this from the State Government’s preliminary submission to Infrastructure Australia that was released late last year. Along with the costs of increased traffic congestion in the area, as well as the cost of building more multi-storey car parks, it would seem ridiculous not to include this in the planning for the use of the rail yards area.”
“We are not yet convinced that the Government is very interested in the Northern Suburbs railway line; but if they are to proceed with any development of the Hobart rail yards then it must include the retention of the rail access and a commuter service to the Northern Suburbs. All other options are more expensive and involve greater traffic congestion,” finished Mr Rowallan.