State Government likely to run Abt railway as search continues for operator

 

News article: State Government likely to run Abt railway as search continues for operator

The Tasmanian Government is struggling to find an operator for the troubled Abt Railway on the state's west coast.

  jayrail Assistant Commissioner

Location: te Anau Southern Alps NZ

The Tasmanian Government is struggling to find an operator for the troubled Abt Railway on the state's west coast.



The heritage railway, which closed in April, is likely to reopen in time for summer but without a permanent operator.



The tourism venture is likely to be run by the State Government while talks continue with two potential operators.



The railway is being refurbished with a $6 million grant from the Commonwealth.

"State Government likely to run Abt railway as search continues for operator"


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  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
I've never actually been but apparently it's a really spectacular piece of scenery and a great authentic historical attraction; but the issue is (I've heard) it's just too remote to be a proper drawcard for tourists.

Built when Johnny Howard was spending like a drunken sailor after the proceeds of the Telstra sale were put into a regional development fund, it doesn't seem like it was a really good use of that money in hindsight ($20.5 million); it's only kept going to date because the Tassie Government has been kicking in $1.5 million a year to keep it running and even that couldn't keep it going.  From what I've been reading in the media it's apparent the operation might cease altogether and become a static museum which is a great shame.
  LamontCranston Chief Commissioner

Theres no towns around to draw people to the area?
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
It's a superb ride using authentic kit but is, by its own definition of "Wildnerness Railway" remote.  The timetable offers few options and has required a one-way train trip with the return by other means.  Strahan isn't exactly a large town.  Queenstown even less so.  They are in superb remote countryside but off the main tourist trail which revolves around Hobart and the road to and from the Devonport ferry.

It's not just a hop-on-and-go ride.  You need to book accommodation as well and allow a couple of days.  That's beyond what a lot of visitors might be able to manage in a short visit.  Bear in mind as well that many visitors are not primarily rail fans and while they might find it acceptable to be taken by coach tour from Melbourne to Puff for a short ride and a return coach this hasn't been offered on the WCWR.  The potential market may be too small.

I sincerely hope a way is found to retain the operation but it might simply be commercially unsustainable with the only way forward then being as a Government-managed project.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
So will the Tasmanian government be running passenger trains for the first time since the 1970s?
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
Would there be any merit in the Tasmanian government making arrangements with Virgin Australia and if possible Jetstar to fly to Strahan from Sydney or Melbourne? It may make both the railway and the West Coast more accessible for those making a short trip to Tasmania. Longer stay passengers without cars could start their holiday in Devonport/Hobart and finish their holiday in Strahan or vice-versa.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
So will the Tasmanian government be running passenger trains for the first time since the 1970s?
GeoffreyHansen
Ahh the Tasman Limited...***DREAMS***

The Abt railway is sensational to ride on. Queenstown whilst in the west of that state isn't exactly at the end of a 4 wheel drive track Exclamation

Again as has been written so many times, it's always difficult, if not impossible to make any railway pay its way due in part to the cost of infrastructure maintenance and a tourist season in a wet climate.

We went to Queenstown a few years ago to ride the Abt and its a great day out, though in 1st class its not cheap, the Tasmanian wine and good quality hors d'oeuvres, that's 'nibbles' for our simpler folk started flowing the moment we left Queenstown station and didn't stop till we were full..Shocked

The journey along the edge of the tree fern covered river gorge is spectacular and to watch how the Abt rack system works is very impressive considering the age of the system

Sadly the return journey is by bus..Sad

Mike.
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
It is a spectacular trip and its isolation is part of the attraction. There is adequate accommodation in the towns at either end with the isolation being part of the attraction. There is a 5 day a week bus service from Hobart which is a wilderness ride with Midland grazing country and the Hydro as extras.

Only a twice weekly service from Devonport, a spectacular bushland journey but I did find the small bus a bit cramped and almost full.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
It is a spectacular trip and its isolation is part of the attraction. There is adequate accommodation in the towns at either end with the isolation being part of the attraction. There is a 5 day a week bus service from Hobart which is a wilderness ride with Midland grazing country and the Hydro as extras.

Only a twice weekly service from Devonport, a spectacular bushland journey but I did find the small bus a bit cramped and almost full.
Rodo
Off topic a bit, but I find it astounding the dreadful frequencies of regional buses on the holiday Isle.

Mike.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
Have to agree with you Mike. There didn't seem to be any connection between the daylight Spirit of Tasmania and Launceston and Hobart requiring those without access to car to stay a night in Devonport.
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
I can recommend a stay in Devonport, a good place with plenty to see while waiting for the bus connection to the West Coast.

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