Keep our Closed Railway Lines
Future Transport Tasmania Condemns Rail Trail Campaigns
Community-based public transport lobby group, Future Transport Tasmania (FTT), today said that rail trail proposals that involve ripping up existing railway lines in Tasmania should not go ahead. Both the North-East Railway line from Launceston to Scottsdale, and the Derwent Valley Railway line should be retained, with the intention to reopen them in the future for possible rail freight and rail heritage trains. The Derwent Valley Line in particular has an enthusiastic and active rail heritage group ready to operate tourist trains to National Park as soon as all the necessary conditions are fulfilled. To remove that railway line after all the effort of the Derwent Valley Railway Preservation Society would be an ill-thought out decision. FTT doubts the tourism potential of these two rail trails, especially given the existing unrealised potential of the lines for freight and tourism.
Toby Rowallan, spokesperson for FTT, said; “What the community in both Scottsdale and the Derwent Valley need to understand, is that if these railway lines are pulled up then they are gone forever. There will be no going back. The removal of the lines means that there will be no chance to get heavy trucks off the roads in those areas, and no chance to have heritage rail tours come back either. There are very few cases where a railway line has been rebuilt from an actively used trail.”
“Today we also want to show our support for a new group that has recently been created, called “Keep Our Rail Lines – Tasmania, and we strongly believe in their very simple and clear aim, to keep our closed railway lines.”
“We appreciate that the groups who are lobbying for these ‘rail trail’ proposals believe that under current conditions these railway lines will never reopen. However the business case for the North East Rail Trail pays no consideration to the cost of increased heavy truck use in these areas in future. There has been no assessment of the possibility of freight returning to these closed lines. We have log trucks passing through the Scottsdale area all the time, freight that used to be carried by rail. There is potential for farming produce and possibly bauxite ore that could also go by rail.”
“In the Derwent valley we also have log trucks in use, again another freight task that used to be on rail. We do not support the rail trail proposal for the Derwent Valley, given that it would condemn the Derwent Valley Railway Society to the status of a static museum for their heritage vehicles, and totally prevent the use of the railway for freight trains in the future.”
“We know that heavy trucks are involved in a much higher proportion of serious crashes than private or light vehicles. We should be doing more to make sure that we reduce the use of these vehicles wherever possible. We also know that the vast majority of Tasmania’s carbon emissions are transport related. Rail freight is around six times better for emissions than road. The solutions are obvious, and the need is clear. We cannot afford to lose these railway lines,” finished Mr Rowallan.