To remove a physically closed railway, is an Act of Parliament needed first?

 
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

To actually remove a physically closed rail line, while you need an Act of Parliament (AOP) to officially close a rail line; To actually remove a physically closed rail line, do you need an AOP first?

I was told you need an AOP first, before a physically closed line can be removed. But then again, their is Toronto, Belmont, and the Murwillumbah Branch, that as far as I know, there's been no AOP for those three branches.

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  johnboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Up the road from Gulgong
Closure and disposal of railway lines 99A Closure and disposal of railway lines (1) A rail infrastructure owner must not, unless authorised by an Act of Parliament, close a railway line. (2) For the purposes of this section, a railway line is closed if the land concerned is sold or otherwise disposed of or the railway tracks and other works concerned are removed. (3) For the purposes of this section, a railway line is not closed merely because a rail infrastructure owner has entered into an ARTC arrangement or a lease or other arrangement in respect of it pursuant to an agreement entered into by the Commonwealth and the State.
TRANSPORT ADMINISTRATION ACT 1988 - SECT 99A
It is very clear part of the act that the "railway tracks and other works concerned are removed" = closed.

So there are dozens of lines and hundreds of locations where this has been done, but the line has not been 'closed' by AOP, nothing new.

It is a bit like it is illegal in NSW to serve an intoxicated person alcohol... then every pub and hotel in NSW could be fined if that was enforced....
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

It is very clear part of the act that the "railway tracks and other works concerned are removed" = closed.

So there are dozens of lines and hundreds of locations where this has been done, but the line has not been 'closed' by AOP, nothing new.

It is a bit like it is illegal in NSW to serve an intoxicated person alcohol... then every pub and hotel in NSW could be fined if that was enforced....
johnboy
I think you will find most "closed" lines since 1988 are technically "disused".  Very few if any have been physically removed.  Most of the Murwillumbah branch and the Toronto branch are physically intact.  Local councils and the RTA have in places removed short sections for road maintenance (but would be obligated to do rectification works should the rail line re-activated).  In the cases around Goulburn on the old Crookwell line there are a couple of places where without too much hunting around I've found the "removed" patch of track resting next to the formation.  So it's been moved rather re-moved.

As the law stands, there is no way anyone could build a permanent structure over a disused railway line without an act of parliament.  The land concerned would clearly be "otherwise disposed", even if the rails still existed in the basement.

AFAIK the current proposal involves covering the line but not removing it, and converting it to parkland so as to preserve the space as a future transport corridor.  This would seem to be a bit of a stretch, but perhaps within the law as it stands.  Howver, it does seem to rather defeat the purpose of the "closure", and all I can presume is the developers believe - I expect falsely - that once the line becomes disused obtaining formal closure.

Given they can't get access to the extra space anyway, I really don't see how scrapping services on the line is going to increase the redevelopment's value.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

AFAIK the current proposal involves covering the line but not removing it, and converting it to parkland so as to preserve the space as a future transport corridor.
djf01

That is only part of the reason I asked the question, I asked it as a general question for any rail line in NSW.
  johnboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Up the road from Gulgong
I think you will find most "closed" lines since 1988 are technically "disused".  Very few if any have been physically removed.  Most of the Murwillumbah branch and the Toronto branch are physically intact.  Local councils and the RTA have in places removed short sections for road maintenance (but would be obligated to do rectification works should the rail line re-activated).  In the cases around Goulburn on the old Crookwell line there are a couple of places where without too much hunting around I've found the "removed" patch of track resting next to the formation.  So it's been moved rather re-moved.

As the law stands, there is no way anyone could build a permanent structure over a disused railway line without an act of parliament.  The land concerned would clearly be "otherwise disposed", even if the rails still existed in the basement.

AFAIK the current proposal involves covering the line but not removing it, and converting it to parkland so as to preserve the space as a future transport corridor.  This would seem to be a bit of a stretch, but perhaps within the law as it stands.  Howver, it does seem to rather defeat the purpose of the "closure", and all I can presume is the developers believe - I expect falsely - that once the line becomes disused obtaining formal closure.

Given they can't get access to the extra space anyway, I really don't see how scrapping services on the line is going to increase the redevelopment's value.
djf01
The issue is the Act is the Act, there are no 'technical' changes, but I think the Government will make risk assessments on 'removing' a line and putting it back if needed.

The Bombala line is cut and removed in several locations so the RTA could build a road on top to go the Snowy
Tumut line could not be 're-used' unless they plan to significantly destroy parts the Hume Highway to put the right-of-way back, and there are numerous places on this line that have been removed near Cootamundra.
Most of the main Western Line is missing out of Nyngan.
Many other branches, such as Oatlands, Tocumwal, Brewarina, Grenfel, Eugowra. have had great chunks removed to build roads over etc , yet none of the those lines have been closed in line of the said Act.
Most those places the old rails have not been just dumped near by, they had been taken away... a nice little earner for scrap I am sure!... and I bet NSW didn't reap the benefits!

I don't nesscary agree we should have an Act to close a railway line, because it means very little except I would image the right-of-way has to be preserved. The Act should be updated to being sensible.
Just on that, is there any cases that the right-of-way has been sold off where the line has not been closed?
  johnboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Up the road from Gulgong
That is only part of the reason I asked the question, I asked it as a general question for any rail line in NSW.
Newcastle Express
I think the right-of-way has to be preserved is the main thing.

My guess is that for places such as the Hume Highway over the Tumut branch  the Government at the day looked at the risk of breaking up the line to build a mult-million dollar highway. They would/should know that of a demand for the line to be reopened that they would actually change the alignment of the railway and/or road to suit, but the cost risk is low.

But 'technically' they are still breaching their own Act.
If some good lawyer wanted to argue to what 'closed' and then compare it to definition of what open means, they could win an argument.

If a line is not closed, you should be able to run a rail vehicle along that line without any interference as the opposite to 'closed' is open
Somebody
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

The Bombala line is cut and removed in several locations so the RTA could build a road on top to go the Snowy
Tumut line could not be 're-used' unless they plan to significantly destroy parts the Hume Highway to put the right-of-way back, and there are numerous places on this line that have been removed near Cootamundra.
johnboy


AFAIK (and IIRC I got this from Railpage gossip, but I'm not 100% sure), when the Hume was rebuilt in the normal course of events they would have had to build a bridge over the pre-existing rail line.  It's the road builder's obligation to not impede an "open" railway.  But the RTA took the pragmatic approach that as it was unlikely the line would ever see traffic again, they would defer building the required bridges until it becomes necessary.  Lots of smaller level crossings are simply paved over, or indeed a short section of the track removed to make way for the road.  The Bomballa line is substantially intact, the only places I'm aware of that have been removed are locations of former level crossings which would have been hazardous to road users to leave.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
What line do you want to physically remove?
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
More than 10km of line from Nyngan to Bourke is completely removed. Not sure how you can say the line is open?
Especially when the Act is very specific about removing tracks:

... disposed of or the railway tracks and other works concerned are removed....
The Law....

But the Government isn't going to police their own laws would they?!
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
What line do you want to physically remove?
"Junction box"
I nomimate Casino to Murwillumbah.
More than 10km of line from Nyngan to Bourke is completely removed. Not sure how you can say the line is open?
"Jim K"
Wasn't that the section blown up by the armed forces to relieve flooding, and subsequently never repaired?
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
They blew two holes in it... 50 metres apart to let water through.
Actually on that line it is more than 10 km...  the line has been lifted to Giralambone
I'm sure the rest of the rail is recycled somewhere....


But I am sure that "Closed" means we can sell the land off in the Government's eyes... even though you are not permitted to lift the rail unless you are closing the line.

I don't think BOF will lose any sleep.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
They blew two holes in it... 50 metres apart to let water through.
Actually on that line it is more than 10 km...  the line has been lifted to Giralambone
I'm sure the rest of the rail is recycled somewhere....


But I am sure that "Closed" means we can sell the land off in the Government's eyes... even though you are not permitted to lift the rail unless you are closing the line.

I don't think BOF will lose any sleep.
Jim K
Removed or stolen?
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
It is actually irrelevant if they were stolen.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

A source claims that if a rail line that has not been used for 10 years and has not been officially closed by an Act of Parliament, then it is no longer considered a rail line.

Is this correct?
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
A source claims that if a rail line that has not been used for 10 years and has not been officially closed by an Act of Parliament, then it is no longer considered a rail line.

Is this correct?
Newcastle Express

In reality the Government do as they please and none of this really matters in a corrupt society unless you are a minister and challenge it in parliment.
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
A source claims that if a rail line that has not been used for 10 years and has not been officially closed by an Act of Parliament, then it is no longer considered a rail line.

Is this correct?
Newcastle Express

Not correct. It doesn't stop authorities slowly taking bits and pieces away....
  Albert Chief Commissioner

A source claims that if a rail line that has not been used for 10 years and has not been officially closed by an Act of Parliament, then it is no longer considered a rail line.

Is this correct?
Newcastle Express

No.
  hunslet1915 Chief Train Controller

No.
Albert

The unwritten current procedure is that it is up to the Local Member to introduce a Closure Bill to (State) Parliament.   As objections to formal line closure "always" originate from the locals who think that it will be re-opened some time, it is felt that the local Member would only introduce the Bill if he has the support of the local citizens.
If my memory serves me correctly, this has only been done once - and that was with the Glenreagh-Dorrigo line.   Unfortunately, the original Bill was not what was "desired", so it had to be re-drafted and resubmitted before being passed.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

A source claims that if a rail line that has not been used for 10 years and has not been officially closed by an Act of Parliament, then it is no longer considered a rail line.

Is this correct?
Newcastle Express

Completely incorrect.

The executive government of the day can't sell or otherwise dispose of the land, and they can't remove the track.  The relevant act expressly defines these activities as "closure" and that requires an act of parliament.
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
.... and they can't remove the track....
djf01

Obviously an ignored law which there will be no challenge for.
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
I think the real issue is 'closure' vs actually selling the land upon which the ROW occupies. An Act of Parliament is obviously required for the latter. They can let a line rot away (disused, services suspended etc) and ignore the 'trespassers' who use the ROW or 'borrow' bits and pieces of what sits on it, and that is usually what has happened in recent decades - and that can be 'fixed' by simply evicting the 'trespassers' and restoring (rebuilding) the line and infrastructure if they want to re-open at a later date. But, it's rather more difficult if the land has been sold - they would have to start from scratch.

The Camden and Rogan's Hill lines would be good examples, presumably an act was passed and the ROW sold off in parcels, else lots of owners of properties around Narellan and Baulkham Hills would be in for a nasty surprise (as would the Solicitors etc who checked the title particulars when they 'purchased' same).

As to the Hume Highway around Gundagai, you could probably squeeze a track in between the road and fence north of Tumblong (the Southbound lanes sit on top of the old ROW for about 2km), but its gets more expensive around Coolac where the bypass was built across the ROW on an embankment, so an underbridge would be required.

I am not sure whether the Picton-Mittagong Loop Line was still 'available for use' between Braemar and Colo Vale when the Hume Highway bypass of Mittagong was built, but it does cross the Loop Line between those two locations on a Bridge. You can't see it from the road itself now though due to the growth of trees on the roadside.

(I am actually travelling down that way late next week, and I will try and get a photo of where the Highway crosses the ROW south of Coolac).
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Not correct. It doesn't stop authorities slowly taking bits and pieces away....
Jim K

I think you'll find that most rail lines "disused" since 1988 in NSW are largely intact.  I know there are the odd exception, but by and large the law is being adhered to.

There are no specific enforcement mechanisms, but it should be possible for any member of the public to apply to courts and get an injunction against and removal of rail track.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

The Camden and Rogan's Hill lines would be good examples, presumably an act was passed and the ROW sold off in parcels, else lots of owners of properties around Narellan and Baulkham Hills would be in for a nasty surprise (as would the Solicitors etc who checked the title particulars when they 'purchased' same).

As to the Hume Highway around Gundagai, you could probably squeeze a track in between the road and fence north of Tumblong (the Southbound lanes sit on top of the old ROW for about 2km), but its gets more expensive around Coolac where the bypass was built across the ROW on an embankment, so an underbridge would be required.

I am not sure whether the Picton-Mittagong Loop Line was still 'available for use' between Braemar and Colo Vale when the Hume Highway bypass of Mittagong was built, but it does cross the Loop Line between those two locations on a Bridge. You can't see it from the road itself now though due to the growth of trees on the roadside.

(I am actually travelling down that way late next week, and I will try and get a photo of where the Highway crosses the ROW south of Coolac).
mikesyd


The act in question was only gazetted in 1988.  It didn't apply when the Sydney branch lines you mention were decommissioned.

I understand - for other posts here on Railpage - the RTA have a "make good on demand" arrangement with the agency that owned the track at the time of the Gundagai line crossing by the Hume.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
The Act only applies to the Rail Infrastructure Owner.
Its totally silent on the issue of rails being removed by someone who is not the owner.
Its also critical to determine who the Rail Infrastructure owner is .
If, for example , the owner is a Govt owned Corporation, then the Govt is not the owner, but merely a shareholder.
  hunslet1915 Chief Train Controller

The Act only applies to the Rail Infrastructure Owner.
Its totally silent on the issue of rails being removed by someone who is not the owner.
Its also critical to determine who the Rail Infrastructure owner is .
If, for example , the owner is a Govt owned Corporation, then the Govt is not the owner, but merely a shareholder.
MD

The Camden, Taralga and Batlow-Kunama branches were closed by a specific Act of Parliament.

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