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