Locals want decision on fate of North East Rail Trail

 
Topic moved from News by bevans on 22 Feb 2018 09:08
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Reading the news item I can see how an excursion train from Devonport to the area return would bring a lot of benefit and unlike a rail trail everyone can take the train.  The train would have potential to being in a lot of tourists and day trippers but also provide people at intermediate stops with access to the train in either direction.

Locals want decision on fate of North East Rail Trail

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  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
From Devonport? This would be an all day trip in Tasmania, each way and only the diehards would do it and if they could afford it as long ones.gr of $200 to 300.

The numbers who would use the lucky to be fortnightly train would be a fraction of the rail trail option.

My heart would love to see a viable pax train running weekly at least. My head says look around, it will not be viable just like most of the country unfortunately.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
First up, any proposition of a commercial passenger transport rail service in Tasmania on the rail network as it currently stands, is pure fantasy and any serious suggestion of such, diminishes the credibility of the restitution of any form of rail passenger service in the state, and damages the credibility of realistic rail passenger advocates.

Two major things need to happen before any commercial rail passenger transport service would ever be feasible. 1] The main south line would have to be TOTALLY re-routed between Brighton and Antill Ponds (via the Jordan River Valley) and the existing line via Campania, Colebrook, Rhyndaston and Parattah totally abandoned. Simple deviations on the existing line would never be sufficient;  2] The rest of the MSL and Western Line seriously upgraded to high-speed capability, with multiple deviations, curve straightening and super-elevation. Anything less than a 160kph maximum (for passengers) or 110kph average, would be insufficient. Obviously that would cost a fortune - however, the benefits for freight (140kph max) would also be substantial. The prospect of there ever being the money available to fund that is very doubtful (as worthwhile as it would be).

The only realistic prospect at present for passenger services in Tas are those that are currently proposed, i.e. Hobart commuter rail; DVR on the Derwent Valley Line and TTMS on the Hobart Line (which may merge to capture the cruise ship market), LNER on the North-East Line and DRR on the Western Line. Destination & experienced based tourist services in specific limited areas are viable. Expanding those services state-wide is not realistic at present but with a change of management at Tasrail (and State Govt) or a dynamic main-land based entreprenurial player entering the scene, state-wide T&HR services could potentially return.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
First up, any proposition of a commercial passenger transport rail service in Tasmania on the rail network as it currently stands, is pure fantasy and any serious suggestion of such, diminishes the credibility of the restitution of any form of rail passenger service in the state, and damages the credibility of realistic rail passenger advocates.

Two major things need to happen before any commercial rail passenger transport service would ever be feasible. 1] The main south line would have to be TOTALLY re-routed between Brighton and Antill Ponds (via the Jordan River Valley) and the existing line via Campania, Colebrook, Rhyndaston and Parattah totally abandoned. Simple deviations on the existing line would never be sufficient;  2] The rest of the MSL and Western Line seriously upgraded to high-speed capability, with multiple deviations, curve straightening and super-elevation. Anything less than a 160kph maximum (for passengers) or 110kph average, would be insufficient. Obviously that would cost a fortune - however, the benefits for freight (140kph max) would also be substantial. The prospect of there ever being the money available to fund that is very doubtful (as worthwhile as it would be).

The only realistic prospect at present for passenger services in Tas are those that are currently proposed, i.e. Hobart commuter rail; DVR on the Derwent Valley Line and TTMS on the Hobart Line (which may merge to capture the cruise ship market), LNER on the North-East Line and DRR on the Western Line. Destination & experienced based tourist services in specific limited areas are viable. Expanding those services state-wide is not realistic at present but with a change of management at Tasrail (and State Govt) or a dynamic main-land based entreprenurial player entering the scene, state-wide T&HR services could potentially return.
12CSVT
In Rail wish list land
160km/h is max realistic top end speed for NG, but 140km/h would also be reasonable top end speed and the time difference over such short distances is minimal for engineering required. Freight again top end of 100km/h would be more than reasonable for the distances and considering pax is averaging +100km/h station to station more time would be taken to load/unload the train than operate the train.

The by-passed Campania - Parattah abandoned section would make a popular rail trail.

Back to Hobart

I wonder if the Hobart LR/HR pax project will sit in the doldrums as long as the Cruise Ship proposals?

End of the day, Tassie's tourism market is very Nice and limited in size and for the long winter, mostly very small. Makes it hard to justify large scale investment unless you have a high degree of confidence.
  lkernan Assistant Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
The government seems to be set on a compromise proposal where rail runs between Turners Marsh and Lilydale and the bike track from Lilydale to Scottsdale.  

https://www.examiner.com.au/news/local-news/5549250/rail-trail-and-cycle-track-both-supported-by-state-government/

https://www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au/infrastructure_tasmania/north_east_railway_proposal
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Interesting outcome.

Certainly the govt hedging their bets and increasing the likely hood of success for both.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
Interesting outcome.

Certainly the govt hedging their bets and increasing the likely hood of success for both.
RTT_Rules
No, it was a total capitulation by a lazy gutless Govt to Dorset Mayor Greg Howard and his manic insistence on destroying the N.E. Line and burdening the Dorset municipality with an ongoing financial black-hole of extending a rail trail, that is already a proven dismal failure (between Scottsdale and Legerwood) against the demonstrated wishes of Dorset ratepayers and major Dorset businesses (inc. the wineries and Bridestowe Lavender farm).

The rail trail "gets" all it was ever going to practically get (all within the bounds of Dorset Municipality) leaving the LNER with an unviable rump (curiously) all within the Launceston council area - noting Launceston Council never subscribed to the rail trail in the first place and would have needed to agree to co-operate with Dorset to allow the rail trail to extend beyond Lilydale. Which there was never any suggestion they would.

All the attractions of the N.E. Line that were critical to the business case of the LNER (Lilydale Falls, Tunnel, Denison Gorge, connections to Bridestowe, etc.) have been removed from access by LNER and pretty much kills it as a viable attraction. Meanwhile all the "justifications" for extending Dorset's, weed ridden, disused, screaming trail-bike hoon and .22 toting vandal path east of Scottsdale west, was to enable "connections" to Launceston - which under the Govts King Solomon proposal (i.e two mothers claiming the same child - "just cut it in half" says the King), kills that as a "need" to extend east (to "increase the viability of the current under-performing trail").

Meanwhile the lines neighbouring property owners, who were never ever consulted by Dorset Council about this hoon and vandal trail in the first place, will likely invoke the original conditions of granting their land to the Govt to build the N.E. Line in the first place - that in the event of closure and removal of the railway, the land reverts to the original property owners. So expect to see community protests against lifting the track and if that fails, with the track gone, expect to see the landowners reclaim their land, fencing off the rail corridor and greeting any users of the "rail trail" with the end of a shot-gun. Exactly what happened to the Mole Creek Line (also once touted as a 'rail trail" without land owner consultation or agreement).

The LNER and North East Residents and Farmers Association (NERAF) will strenuously fight this decision, campaign strongly on the overthrow of Mayor Howard and his cronies and lobby the Legislative Council to block this.

There is every chance the N.E. residents will win. Any State Govt decision to lift track has to be approved by the Legislative Council. The chances of that happening are decidedly iffy, with the Labor opposition led by Craig Farrell (MLC Derwent) and supported by N.E. local Leg. Co. member Tania Rattray (MLC Apsley) and with other progressive MLC's, likely to vote down any authorisation to lift the track.

It will be interesting to see what happens - but without a doubt, this "compromise" is a non starter and the war in the N.E. over the line is about to turn nasty.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
The government seems to be set on a compromise proposal where rail runs between Turners Marsh and Lilydale and the bike track from Lilydale to Scottsdale.  

https://www.examiner.com.au/news/local-news/5549250/rail-trail-and-cycle-track-both-supported-by-state-government/

https://www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au/infrastructure_tasmania/north_east_railway_proposal
lkernan

But would Scottsdale be a  better terminus?
  lkernan Assistant Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
The government seems to be set on a compromise proposal where rail runs between Turners Marsh and Lilydale and the bike track from Lilydale to Scottsdale.  

https://www.examiner.com.au/news/local-news/5549250/rail-trail-and-cycle-track-both-supported-by-state-government/

https://www.stategrowth.tas.gov.au/infrastructure_tasmania/north_east_railway_proposal

But would Scottsdale be a  better terminus?
x31

Maybe, but that's a lot of very average quality track for a small group to maintain.

Remember, this is also a group that was founded with the aim of rescuing a single loco.
They haven't even managed to secure that one yet, years after being told to get it out of East Tamar.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
it will cost money to maintain the rail trail so why not expect the Tasmanian Government to provide some maintenance for the track?
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!

But would Scottsdale be a  better terminus?

Maybe, but that's a lot of very average quality track for a small group to maintain.

Remember, this is also a group that was founded with the aim of rescuing a single loco.
They haven't even managed to secure that one yet, years after being told to get it out of East Tamar.
lkernan
Yes Scottsdale is the railways ultimate terminus.

One thing that needs to be understood about the LNER. Whilst it did evolve from DTT (which sole purpose was to preserve recently withdrawn Tasrail E.E. locos), it has gone far beyond DTT's modest origins.

As well as the growing membership of LNER itself, it is backed by the substantial (and wealthy) membership of the North East Residents and Farmers Association (NERAF), whose members comprise major land-owners in the N.E. including owners of most of the vineyards, the owner of Bridestowe Lavender Farm (the biggest tourist attraction in the N.E.), pine plantation and woodchip mill owners and local livestock farmers.

These landowners have already granted space to accommodate railcar DP14 and offered heavy earthmoving equipment, trucks and financial assistance to restore the railway. The line itself, is over the majority of its length, is well ballasted, clean (i.e. not overgrown) and steel sleepered. The main areas of deterioration are the deck (only) of one major bridge, some smaller ones, a couple rough (still timber sleepered) patches of track and the tree across the track or minor landslip. Other than the bridge decks (the biggest issue), most other problems could be resolved in a couple weeks.

This is not a campaign by a small group of rail enthusiasts. Most LNER / NERAF members are not rail enthusiasts at all, but hard headed and successful business people that are aghast at the thought of their rates going to waste on a useless trail (going by the performance of the existing section east of Scottsdale to the Billy Cock) and see far better economic use of the line by preserving it for the benefit of all, rather than just a small coterie of cyclists (other than the majority of dedicated road cyclists or mountain cyclists, already catered for at Blue Derby, or whatever its called).

Most original DTT members have stepped away from LNER, as loco preservation is no longer the primary focus.

The ironic thing is, the current "compromise" whilst anathema to LNER, would actually suit the original DTT, as it allocates Turners Marsh to the railway, which in its original fruitless search for a home to house its currently and planned preserved E.E.'s, DTT originally identified Turners Marsh as a site to house and restore the E.E.s, with the eventual aim of establishing a museum on the Roundhouse site at Inveresk.

It was DTT's enquiries after Turners Marsh (with no initial interest in the N.E. Line beyond that) that galvanised the NERAF to co-opt DTT in their campaign in opposing the "rail trail" with a more substantive use for the corridor (a tourist railway) rather than simply invoking their historical rights to resume the track-bed into their land if the track was lifted.
  lkernan Assistant Commissioner

Location: Melbourne


Most original DTT members have stepped away from LNER, as loco preservation is no longer the primary focus.
12CSVT

I might as well point out at this stage i'm one of those former members.
Finding out about the LNER from public postings was the last straw for me not renewing my membership.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
it will cost money to maintain the rail trail so why not expect the Tasmanian Government to provide some maintenance for the track?
x31
That's the thing - the whole premise of the LNER, is that there is sufficient available sponsorship by supporting landowners and businesses (including major tourist establishments like Bridestowe Lavendar Farm) that the railway can get into operation by private funding and then sustain itself (with NO call on Govt or ratepayers funds) whereas the "rail trail" will be nothing but an endless drain on ratepayer and State / Federal taxpayer funds for very little return for local residents / businesses (other than some niche cycling support enterprises).

The existing rail trail east of Scottsdale to the Billy Cock has already demonstrated that it is a continual drain on the public purse with negligible return. So how do you turn a small failure into a giant failure? Triple its size! (No, a magic fairy doesn't miraculously turn it into a raging success!)

With the business case study done on the railway and Govt funded consultants showing irrefutable data that the railway is viable (if left alone) and no concrete evidence other than over the top assumptions by rail trail proponents, that a rail trail west of Scottsdale would work any better than the one east, one has to wonder why the Dorset mayor and by proxy, his friends in the State Govt, are so obsessed with a potential costly failed project, over one that has local community support and better chances of financial sustainability? In light of recent corruption outrages in some of Tasmania's councils (Glenorchy & Huon) one can easily draw the conclusion that the problem is endemic and Howard is getting paid off.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!


Most original DTT members have stepped away from LNER, as loco preservation is no longer the primary focus.
I might as well point out at this stage i'm one of those former members.
Finding out about the LNER from public postings was the last straw for me not renewing my membership.
lkernan
Yes, I sympathise Leon, you are not the only one, as the whole raison d étre for joining DTT (preserving the E.E.s) has been overtaken by the N.E. campaign (obviously not what you signed up for). Exactly why I stepped down from the Committee and Executive.

However, I am disappointed you only found out about the evolution of LNER from public postings, as when I was Secretary, I was scrupulous in fully documenting all proceedings and decisions from meetings in the minutes and religiously posting all minutes out to all members by e-mail (or post if there was no e-mail) including yourself.

Obviously proceedings at NERAF meetings (in which I wasn't involved) weren't documented or any other meetings that didn't include myself, but I tried to ensure members who couldn't get to meetings knew exactly what was happening. If your lack of communication cropped up after I left, I understand, but whilst I was there, I did my best to ensure all members were fully informed.
  lkernan Assistant Commissioner

Location: Melbourne


Most original DTT members have stepped away from LNER, as loco preservation is no longer the primary focus.
I might as well point out at this stage i'm one of those former members.
Finding out about the LNER from public postings was the last straw for me not renewing my membership.Yes, I sympathise Leon, you are not the only one, as the whole raison d étre for joining DTT (preserving the E.E.s) has been overtaken by the N.E. campaign (obviously not what you signed up for). Exactly why I stepped down from the Committee and Executive.

However, I am disappointed you only found out about the evolution of LNER from public postings, as when I was Secretary, I was scrupulous in fully documenting all proceedings and decisions from meetings in the minutes and religiously posting all minutes out to all members by e-mail (or post if there was no e-mail) including yourself.

Obviously proceedings at NERAF meetings (in which I wasn't involved) weren't documented or any other meetings that didn't include myself, but I tried to ensure members who couldn't get to meetings knew exactly what was happening. If your lack of communication cropped up after I left, I understand, but whilst I was there, I did my best to ensure all members were fully informed.
12CSVT

I appreciated the minutes as they were pretty much the only communication I got. Often though, public statements were made before they went out.  Not that that is your fault.

Anyway, I'm veering well off topic now..
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
A few comments
- 50km long heritage rail lines in Australia and indeed similar places world wide are not renown for their on going sustainability without on going 3rd party financial support, usually the taxpayer.

The so called wealthy supporters will find themselves with regular requests for more money with limited return if any.

- the cost of maintaining a 50km long rail trial is also well known with the Otago Case study available along with others in Vic. It will be less than $100k a year.

- the economic return from the likes of Otago is also well studied and produces a positive return for the community and the govt maintaining it.

- having done one if not last steam service to Scottsdale, an all day steam/diesel trip i think it's too long although starting from Turners Marsh would save alot of time.

- it's not tge Ned Kelly era, if the line is a legal rail trial, no one will be holding a fire arm at innocent and legal users and should they attempt to do so they will be arrested and charged accordingly.

- weeds will grow on cleared ROW, regardless of it's use.

- the legal status of the corridor post railway use is a matter for the courts if some intend to take legal action, so no further comment. Although I suspect win or lose for the govt there will be no further trains running.

- yes, I would love to see a regular rail service contine. However I think it's simply too long a line in too remote a location and the business case is likely full of optimistic assumptions.

EDIT: A rail trail less than 20-30km long in the near NE tip of Tas is pretty much useless to any other than locals and unless I was in the area I wouldn't travel to it and the small numbers of vistors doesn't enable sufficient service industries to support it, ie bike hire.

On the other hand a rail trial that takes 5-7 days to travel is potentially a tourist attraction in its own right, again the Otago model is well documented and proven with its recorded number of international travellers as well as Kiwi's from further away.

2nd thought
We all know once the track is ripped up, it won't come back unless there is +1mpta of freight. The govt could therefore give the rail option a go on a fixed time frame. The supposedly have well heeled backers, ok lets see them put their money where their mouth is, give them say 3 years to get a regular operation up and running, with various milestones along the way. Should they achieve this target then they keep the track until such a time they can no longer provide a regular service, at which time they default and the line is removed and converted to a rail trail. All parties must sign on such that if the rail option fails, there are no legal action or protests.

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