WCWR to close?

 
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld

Articles from The Examiner:

Funds plea to save West Coast railway http://www.examiner.com.au/story/1287759/funds-plea-to-save-west-coast-railway/?cs=95

Plenty of steam ahead in fight for railway http://www.examiner.com.au/story/1290462/plenty-of-steam-ahead-in-fight-for-railway/?cs=12

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  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE



And the Greens want to stop new mines here on the west coast and rely on tourism for jobs Rolling Eyes
I have been on the WCWR two times over the years and it was great. Getting a bit expensive that puts off some peaple.

Cheers Jamie

"jamiec"


I lived in Tassie for the duration of the 1990's. It was always The Greens big utopia to abandon these "dinosaur" industries and focus on modern IT and tourism. 20 years later with the loss of many of these industries along with massive down turn in logging and the loss of some west coast mines and IT industry going to India, the roster has come home to roost.

The Tasmanian population is almost dormant and tourism is on the wane because other states are benefiting from the boom in mining pushing the dollar up. I love Tassie but 3 years back we decided to do a campervan trip around southern half of NZ Sth Island. Anyone who has asked me since in lives in the nth of Sydney, I tell them if you have a choice go to NZ and do the campervan. The country is set up for it.

  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line



Sadly there are some real problems in linking up the west coast to the remainder of Tassie....We aren't talking Outback Queensland distances here.


Mike.
"The Vinelander"



Well no, but you are talking a 4-5 hour trip to most major centres over terrain which is hard on vehicles and drivers. Imagine the wear and tear on a bus going in and out of Queenstown for example.

"Floody"


It matters not a jot the hairpin bends on the road.

Buses and drivers aren't hard done by just because they negotiate winding roads. Population centres and tourist destinations need reasonably frequent PT, it's fundamental to the economic development of a region where tourists wish to travel.

Look at the frequency of the below V/Line bus T/T, it also traverses sharp hairpin curves. This service has been improved and added to over the years due to tourism.

Mike.

http://www.vline.com.au/pdf/timetables/apollobay.pdf

  tasrail2100 Chief Commissioner

Location: Brisbane, Queensland.





Sadly there are some real problems in linking up the west coast to the remainder of Tassie....We aren't talking Outback Queensland distances here.


Mike.
"The Vinelander"



Well no, but you are talking a 4-5 hour trip to most major centres over terrain which is hard on vehicles and drivers. Imagine the wear and tear on a bus going in and out of Queenstown for example.

"Floody"


It matters not a jot the hairpin bends on the road.

Buses and drivers aren't hard done by just because they negotiate winding roads. Population centres and tourist destinations need reasonably frequent PT, it's fundamental to the economic development of a region where tourists wish to travel.

Look at the frequency of the below V/Line bus T/T, it also traverses sharp hairpin curves. This service has been improved and added to over the years due to tourism.

Mike.

http://www.vline.com.au/pdf/timetables/apollobay.pdf

"The Vinelander"


By that timetable Apollo Bay is 4 hours by Public Transport from Melbourne, a city with a population of around 4million.

The times that have been thrown around here suggest Queenstown is a similar distance from Devonport, a city with a population of 25,000.  In fact the population of the entire state Tasmania is only just over half a million.

I think that is the real issue here, PT wise.  Tourism wise something needs to be done to encourage people to get out of Hobart and to stay for longer than a week.



  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen

What will happen to the line if Federal walks away from it?  The infrastructure and the stock are owned by the Tas Govt, and must be worth a considerable amount.  Admittedly the coaches are not authentic, but the locos are, and having been rescued once, they should be preserved in an operational condition - if at all possible.

It would be nice if the track could continue to receive some kind of maintenance as well, so that it does not once again get taken over by the rain forest.  Surely the Govt could protect its asset by running a hi-rail once a month or so, to do weed spraying and basic clearing of vegetation?   Actual track and bridge maintenance would be another thing, but eventually another operator will be found, one would hope - but not if the line has reverted to forest in the meantime.

  Floody Locomotive Driver


Its a 300km/4-5 hour drive to Strahan from Hobart; its more like a 7 hour bus trip.

Tassielink run a coach daily except saturdays.

Probably not bad given the population and tourist numbers.



  Railnthusiast Chief Commissioner

Location: At the computer



Articles from The Examiner:

Funds plea to save West Coast railway

Plenty of steam ahead in fight for railway

"Graham4405"


Hi All,
Did the links work for anyone else?
Thanks

  OK2RUN Assistant Commissioner

^ Not working for me.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld





Articles from The Examiner:

Funds plea to save West Coast railway http://www.examiner.com.au/story/1287759/funds-plea-to-save-west-coast-railway/?cs=95

Plenty of steam ahead in fight for railway http://www.examiner.com.au/story/1290462/plenty-of-steam-ahead-in-fight-for-railway/?cs=12

"Graham4405"


Hi All,
Did the links work for anyone else?
Thanks

"Railnthusiast"


Hmm, a bug that I thought had been fixed. Post edited so that links will work.

  Railnthusiast Chief Commissioner

Location: At the computer
Thanks for that.
  benscaro Chief Commissioner


'The West Coast is not something you muck about with.' Ah yes, fighting talk, man of action, tough pioneer spirit and all that codswallop, but the back read could just as easily be read as 'Keep subsidising our way of life for no apparent long term benefit, or else.'

Why is it so many folk who want to live in remote, economically marginal regions come with a pre-ordained sense of grievance and think the rest of the world owes them a handout for their sufferings in having chosen to do so?



  Floody Locomotive Driver




'The West Coast is not something you muck about with.' Ah yes, fighting talk, man of action, tough pioneer spirit and all that codswallop, but the back read could may just as easily be read as 'Keep subsidising our way of life for no apparent long term benefit, or else.'

Why is it so many folk who want to live in remote, economically marginal regions come with a pre-ordained sense of grievance and think the rest of the world owes them a handout for their sufferings in having chosen to do so?



"benscaro"


Well yes, and it is unsurprising that aside from Gerrity most of the loud voices are from people who have moved there from far away to exploit opportunities around the railway.

Anyway surely there has to be some way to make it workable. Maybe drop the pricing a tier and hire a railcar from another preservation group to run a cut price sightseer service? Close it during the low season and carry out major permanent way and loco maintenance works then?
People have suggested drafting in volunteers but I'd imagine on the current schedule there really isn't scope to...however if there was, maybe setting up some permanent and comfortable accommodation would be a sensible way of drawing people in for a working holiday.




  Z1NorthernProgress2110 Chief Commissioner

Location: Burnie, Tasmania



hire a railcar from another preservation group to run a cut price sightseer service?
"Floody"


Non of the bigger DP railcars would run down there, to long etc. If someone happen to get the old Flying Flea, restore that, maybe.

  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld

hire a railcar from another preservation group to run a cut price sightseer service
"Floody"


Surely it would require fitting a rack system for the steep grades? I suspect that would make it cost prohibitive. Anyway, a big part of the appeal is the steam rack locos. According to another thread these locos are continually being made more efficient to reduce costs.

  Floody Locomotive Driver

The FP/DP 'flying flea'  MLMRRco owned didn't use the rack. I didn't think of the curve radius, grade transitions etc and clearances needed, presumably the line would be almost unique in those demands. I imagine there is no chance of getting that one from Launceston and its probably too far gone anyway.
  mikado5910 Chief Train Controller

Location: Kurri Kurri NSW



A ,oment to reflect, as the staff have a end of employment on the railway in sight. We recently got a few of these people to join, argue, inform us here on Railpage, very proud of the locos in their care. These same people will be hurt more than our regret on not going.

And I wish to do it now late MArch, 2 days worth - want to do entire line, even in 2 legs - I hope. But will it be running ?

a major Railfan mob should quickly arrange a official one too - so 30 years from now it is a historic excursion, how often do we talk about the old last days of ThrBeechy etc. ?

Public regards tot he people down there.

David Head

"dthead"

ARHS NSW will be running a farewell tour from 4-7 April. Watch the website for details

  benscaro Chief Commissioner




The government has a nasty habit of foisting substandard rail infrastructure (and probably other non-rail) onto unsuspecting and naive tourist operators. Yes, those operators should have taken more care but who would expect a government to be underhanded and conniving? From what I can can gather, the tenants are responsible for maintenance, not capital works. The landlord should ensure the infrastructure is in a fit for purpose state. If the tenants have to undertake capital works at their own expense, those cost should come out of the lease payments. Frankly, there are simply elements in the government or public service who just want rail to disappear. There is an irrational fear of rail and their warped perception of its high level of risks. It's been all but stated outright by some that they would quite happily pull it all up given half a chance. They just cannot and will not see the actual and potential financial and social benefits to the state, both from the tourism side and the transport side, of rail. Most politicians rely exclusively on the advice of the public service, failing to get real and quality advice from independent sources. All it takes is a phone call. Ministers are also too gutless to give directives to their all-powerful departments. Department which have their own agendas.

"i_know_nothing"


in relation to the abt, i know that senior public servants in DIER (or whatever it was called in 1998-99) told state and federal government bluntly that the project would never be viable, and they were ignored. i was in the room when it was said.

the project approval was about getting the federal government re-elected, and it was equally politically handy for state politicians.  everyone knew this. economic considerations did not come into it.  

part of the project involved the sale of sub-standard material TO the government by interests closely associated with the promoters.  again, this was brought to both government's attention but no one wanted to know.

financial benefits to the state? hardly.  you, the taxpayer, have paid for this project every day since the day it was approved.  

and the town that was supposed to derive social benefits has nosedived in population in the decade and a half since then. so, precisely what social benefits are we talking about?  

  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld



The WCWR may not make money in isolation, but how much money is generated on the back of it? Tasmania is economically depressed. Does it need more, or less, reasons for people to visit, stay longer and spend more money?

"i_know_nothing"


Sounds great in theory, but are the entities that make money on the back of it willing to subsidise the railway in return? Unfortunately I suspect not...

  Floody Locomotive Driver


So...Wages aren't the problem, so volunteering won't fix it. Passenger volume is down. Outflow of money for maintenance/upgrading on the surface looks fairly constant regardless of passenger volume on the current timetable.



What volume of passenger traffic do they need to get to make it closer to self sufficient, and how? Would money spent now in marketing to get the volumes up make a saving down the track (no pun intended) in terms of revenue top ups needed?
Can more passenger volume facilitate enough revenue keeping on top of the maintenance? Is there even the capacity to make it self sufficient, I mean could it even support the numbers of tourists needed for that revenue level?

Will more trips/passengers mean higher maintenance or is it influenced more by weather and scheduled upkeep?

My big question is whether a wider investment in heritage rail across the state (e.g. upgrading and certifying in safeworking etc, OH&S stock/infrastructure upgrades) and reopening of the mainline to heritage groups might get a bigger cohort of rail tourists into the state, staying longer, spending more and more widely which may offset the Abt's future top ups? If a tourist were to come down and spend a week visiting Abt, Don, Redwater creek, DVR, TTMS, QVMAG, Lune River and so forth could it make it worth the subsidy for what is a very expensive potential flagship attraction.



  benscaro Chief Commissioner




I was talking more generally about rail in Tasmania - heritage, tourist and freight. But lets concentrate on WCWR. What other factors have influenced population loss in Queenstown? WCWR isn't the only industry in the area. How does Queenstown present visually now, compared to before the railway was reinstated? Somewhat more pleasantly in my view. How narrow was the focus of DIER in its viability predictions? They are well known for ignoring wider economic and social implications when it suits them to do so. Did they take a broader view in this case? The WCWR may not make money in isolation, but how much money is generated on the back of it? Tasmania is economically depressed. Does it need more, or less, reasons for people to visit, stay longer and spend more money?

"i_know_nothing"




the guy at DIER who wrote the report showed it to us before the meeting. he was a railfan himself. the scenarios were as i recall- remember this is a long time ago- quite extensive. he wanted to look at ways it could work.

but there was no plausible set of circumstances under which this line could make money. i'll wager he was right and it never did.

i think it's a bit lame to blame civil servants for providing competent advice that would have saved you, the taxpayer, a lot of money and which turned out in the end to be correct.

in relation to the way the abt got approved,  it was a joke.  everything to do with it was about being 'iconic' and a 'flagship' and 'unique' and ' seamless experiental synergies' with other attractions, whatever they were.  but the proposals were woeful on anything that actually proved that this train on a very expensive track in the middle of nowhere was going to take in more dollars than it would spend.  

if the abt had been put through the process i applied to assess regional grants, it would have been flung out the door onto collins street after two minutes and told to get the bus home.

  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!

I recall back in the late 1980's, when the first proposals were floated to ressurect the Abt line during the term of the Gray Liberal Govt, a number of southern rail preservation identities expressed skepticism that the Abt proposal was viable. However, there was acknowledgement that a rail tourism venture on the West Coast could be worthwhile. Hence an alternative plan was floated to rebuild the North East Dundas Tramway and integrate it with the restored Hercules Haulage and bucketway, to make an iconic industrial heritage site at Williamsford.

Evidently, the discovery of this (probably far more economically sustainable) alternative plan did not suit the Gray Govts agenda, hence as soon as it became known in the corridors of power, the Hercules Haulage and bucketway was suddenly demolished with almost indecent haste - after sitting disused for several years. Thus the alternative plan to the Abt restoration was strangled at birth.

In light of the issues with the WCWR, it is interesting to speculate now, whether a restoration of the NEDT and Hercules Haulage would have indeed been a more economic and sustainable proposition. Of course, it would have been Zeehan that got the spin-offs from it rather than Queenstown and Strahan and in the end, the interests of the latter two towns would have likely been the biggest influence.

  BP4417 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Launceston, Tasmania



I recall back in the late 1980's, when the first proposals were floated to ressurect the Abt line during the term of the Gray Liberal Govt, a number of southern rail preservation identities expressed skepticism that the Abt proposal was viable. However, there was acknowledgement that a rail tourism venture on the West Coast could be worthwhile. Hence an alternative plan was floated to rebuild the North East Dundas Tramway and integrate it with the restored Hercules Haulage and bucketway, to make an iconic industrial heritage site at Williamsford.

Evidently, the discovery of this (probably far more economically sustainable) alternative plan did not suit the Gray Govts agenda, hence as soon as it became known in the corridors of power, the Hercules Haulage and bucketway was suddenly demolished with almost indecent haste - after sitting disused for several years. Thus the alternative plan to the Abt restoration was strangled at birth.

In light of the issues with the WCWR, it is interesting to speculate now, whether a restoration of the NEDT and Hercules Haulage would have indeed been a more economic and sustainable proposition. Of course, it would have been Zeehan that got the spin-offs from it rather than Queenstown and Strahan and in the end, the interests of the latter two towns would have likely been the biggest influence.

"12CSVT"


THe ABT Railway Restoration Committee was set up in 1984 by Robin Grays Liberal Government. The report was presented to the Minister for Tourism Geoff Pearsall. This report should be in the Parlimentary archives.

  Rowallan Junior Train Controller

Location: Cardiff South

The lack of interest in re-building the Abt pre 1984 probably had more to due with the various Hydro Electric proposals that were around during this time.  In particular of the two choices put forward in the dams referendum the separate development of the Gordon and King rivers involved a scheme called Sailor Jack which probably would have drowned much of the route.  

Ironically I understand that the Abt railway was eventually re-built with the last of the money from the Federal compensation payout for Tasmania missing out on the Franklin Dam.

  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE



I was talking more generally about rail in Tasmania - heritage, tourist and freight. But lets concentrate on WCWR. What other factors have influenced population loss in Queenstown? WCWR isn't the only industry in the area. How does Queenstown present visually now, compared to before the railway was reinstated? Somewhat more pleasantly in my view. How narrow was the focus of DIER in its viability predictions? They are well known for ignoring wider economic and social implications when it suits them to do so. Did they take a broader view in this case? The WCWR may not make money in isolation, but how much money is generated on the back of it? Tasmania is economically depressed. Does it need more, or less, reasons for people to visit, stay longer and spend more money?

"i_know_nothing"


Queenstown rides on the back of the mining industry. Its been contracting from I believe 1970's when the Open cut closed and as Mt Lyell moved away from micro mining of rich veins into heavy equipment stuff for primarly the Prince Lyell Ore Body. I believe in early 1990's the last non Prince Lyell Ore body was closed.

When I moved there in 1994, alot of people were finishing up with the Hydro which have given the town a short term boost for about 10 years. Many were simply leaving often abandoning their houses. Only good conditions ones could be sold or rented.

After first being saved by CMT in 1994 and again Vedanta in 1997, Mt Lyell Mine operates with a reduced workforce compared to previously. CMT introduced the 3 tier shift pattern. I don't know if its still there. The Henty Mine gave the town a minor boost around 1994, but I believe its now operating small scale on an extended basis. How much longer? With the loss of Renison Tin Mine further up the road, Zeehan would have contracted and I would imagine more support services have left the west coast. Many of the workers at Mt Lyell when I was there were only drive-in-out as the relatively good road to Burnie enabled job options for partners and better schools for kids.

At a guess I'd say a Qtr of Queenstown's workforce is in tourism. When I lived there in 1990's, abandoned houses were being demolished by the coucil which no longer had its office in Queenstown following the merger. People lived there in hope for jobs at the mine and that one day the West Coast would agin ride the wave of many mines, lots of work and money. But Queenstown was down to two pubs when I was there. 48 jobs in WCWR would be a fair chunk of workers who now may leave. What stops some from leaving is that there houses have little or no value so for the price of a small car you could buy a house and basically live cheaply. I knew a few people on social security who moved there for this reason. But even the locals often retired to Strahan.

The railway might have a chance if there was more to do there.

2006 census 2517
2009 2119

In mid 90's when I lived there I think it was over 3500

  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld



The West Coast Wilderness Railway is a net economic and social drain on the Tasmanian and Australian economies? Sounds like this is an unarguable fact. Though it would be sad to see it close (for puffernuts at least), it seems its the best thing to do.

"i_know_nothing"


Do the Gordon River cruise boats pay their way? Perhaps they are a drain on the Tassie and broader Aussie economies too? Perhaps all tourist ventures in Australia should close... Smile

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