WCWR to close?

 
  Clarke Hudswell Junior Train Controller




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"


ABC News 26 Sept 2012 reported:
"The Victorian Government has revealed Melbourne's Formula One Grand Prix cost taxpayers a record $56.7 million this year......Ms Asher says the race boosts the state's economy by more than $30 million a year."

Maybe the Vic government should close the Grand prix because it is a drain on the Vic and Aust economies too? (personally, I wish they would  -the guvinmint spends 360 days admonishing us not to do what they spend 5 days promoting and spending our money on!)

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  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Any official closing dates mentioned ???? Not interested when the "last train runs" but weeks before say Easter/late March.

Regards,
David Head

  BP4417 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Launceston, Tasmania





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
"Graham4405"

Ultra narrow economic rationism would say so. But who knows what the true benefits to society as a whole are? All groups, including elected officials, unelected officials, representative groups and business, are so heavily mired in self-interest, so much half-truth, overstatement, understatement, dogma and ideology come out that it is almost impossible at times to know the truth.
Benscaro has stated that the report writer for the government in the 1980's was a rail enthusiast. But being a "rail enthusiast" unfortunately doesn't automatically mean they don't have an agenda against one or other rail projects. For what ever reason. Not knowing who that person is, I can't say that they do or don't fit that category, but I've seen a number of "enthusiasts" be quite damaging to rail to various degrees. Some worked for Tasrail!

"i_know_nothing"


Of the 9 people involved in the 1984 Robin Gray ABT Railway Committee there was only one Rail Enthusiast and he went in his professional capacity as a Civil Engineer, 4 had extensive railway knowledge, 2 were engineers and planners, 2 were bureaucrats and 1 other.

I pose a question???
The Federal Group refuse to release its infrastructure report that it bases its reason for closing the ABT Railway. Surely this report should now be included in the Railways Safety Management System particularly if the reasons causes operational and safety difficulties? Any Railways Safety Management System is supposed to be available to the General Public, I believe it to be an offfence not to supply an SMS when requested.
Does anyone with a sound knowlege of the Rail Safety Act know whether this is in fact correct?

  tasrail Moderator

Location: Hobart

I pose a question???

The Federal Group refuse to release its infrastructure report that it bases its reason for closing the ABT Railway. Surely this report should now be included in the Railways Safety Management System particularly if the reasons causes operational and safety difficulties? Any Railways Safety Management System is supposed to be available to the General Public, I believe it to be an offfence not to supply an SMS when requested.
Does anyone with a sound knowlege of the Rail Safety Act know whether this is in fact correct?

"BP4417"


The new act (clause 81) requires public access to  "the current notice of accreditation or exemption; " and "any other document prescribed by the national regulations for the purposes of this section". As far as I can see, the regulations doesn't list any documents though. Under the 2009 act, annual Safety performance reports were the only other document required.

  siroch Locomotive Driver


[/quote]
But being a "rail enthusiast" unfortunately doesn't automatically mean they don't have an agenda against one or other rail projects. For what ever reason. Not knowing who that person is, I can't say that they do or don't fit that category, but I've seen a number of "enthusiasts" be quite damaging to rail to various degrees. Some worked for Tasrail!

[/quote]

Why don't we start naming and shaming these "enthusiasts" then?  I am up for flinging unsubstantiated crap as much as the next person.  No, wait a minute, that isn't me.  I think I will stick to the facts.

So let's start with the facts and have an informed discussion shall we?

(1) What was done by said "enthusiasts" that damaged rail?
(2) What was the actual damage done?
(3) What other options were available that would have been better?
(4) What would YOU have done instead?

  BP4417 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Launceston, Tasmania



I pose a question???

The Federal Group refuse to release its infrastructure report that it bases its reason for closing the ABT Railway. Surely this report should now be included in the Railways Safety Management System particularly if the reasons causes operational and safety difficulties? Any Railways Safety Management System is supposed to be available to the General Public, I believe it to be an offfence not to supply an SMS when requested.
Does anyone with a sound knowlege of the Rail Safety Act know whether this is in fact correct?

"BP4417"


The new act (clause 81) requires public access to "the current notice of accreditation or exemption; " and "any other document prescribed by the national regulations for the purposes of this section". As far as I can see, the regulations doesn't list any documents though. Under the 2009 act, annual Safety performance reports were the only other document required.

"tasrail"


Thanks Stuart.

  benscaro Chief Commissioner







(snip)

So let's start with the facts and have an informed discussion shall we?

(1) What was done by said "enthusiasts" that damaged rail?
(2) What was the actual damage done?
(3) What other options were available that would have been better?
(4) What would YOU have done instead?


"siroch"


not an answer. just some observations from RP and other sites over the years.

IMHO, rail enthusiasts damage rail projects for simple and consistent reasons. many of these apply not only to preserved railways, but rail projects in general.

they come to it with a pre-ordained solution to a transport question that they are hell-bent on. if the fact scenario turns up a transport question to which their pre-ordained solution is not the answer, they are often happy to ignore a large part of the facts so that the the question can be twisted so 'a train' remains the answer. this is the single biggest failing.

there was the infamous campaign on the SA forum a few years back with a protagonist promoting the re-introduction of trains to the barossa. as discussion and debate progressed, it became very clear that a halfway decent solution to the transport needs of the barossa was a decently integrated bus service connecting the towns in the valley better and enabling many more people to access vineyards by P/T, so enjoying their products without the worry of having to drive. this would have fed back to the existing railhead at gawler. had the campaign gone that way, it would have helped existing rail.

but the protaganists didn't want a bus. they were hell bent on the return of a train to the barossa track. the chief campaigner could see that trains ran to gawler, the track went beyond gawler, they used to have a train in the 60s, some railcar sets had ventured up there on tours and a private operator had a go for a few years using ancient but restored bluebirds, ergo why couldn't a train go beyond gawler now?

so hellbent on one solution as they were, what did they get in the end? nothing.

this brings us to the second issue. railfans have a specific interest in technology. they are enthused by the technology to the extent of assuming that it provides answers which it largely doesn't. the technology is a blunt and simple civil engineering answer and is pushed as a solution to a complex set of social questions.

nostalgia. rail enthusiasts are keen on seeing something from the past, that they loved, come back, even when the world has moved on and there are better options. eg, i've seen light rail opposed for such reasons when it was clearly a better choice than heavy rail.

nostalgia is selective. in the UK and australia the period in the mid 60s - early 70s saw a huge number of tours as the era of steam was ending and standardisation projects and the like in oz meant many parts of the rail network were going to change forever. i notice that many of the preservation focussed advocates lived through that era, and some forget that the full-to-bursting trains they saw were tours and specials, and in no way reflected the volume of riders actually using the rails regularly. if you look at country rail in tasmania, the last time it was heavily used was in the 1930s. WW2 petrol rationing temporarily extended a decline that started in the 20s. what this means is that the swansong many preserved rail advocates look back to was itself a delayed last hurrah for a type of travel most australians had walked away from by the 1940s.

many enthusiasts are keen to ignore the uncomfortable reality of the last days of passenger trains on the lines they want trains to return to. the slowness, the abysmal fall-off in patronage, the huge losses. they are happy to point the finger at rail administrators for trying to shrug off 'community service obligations'. there are times when that is true, but at the same time there are many instances when investment in new equipment was not warranted; it may have arrested part of the decline in patronage, but even had it done so, the operation would not have come close to getting defensible ridership figures, let alone paying its way. the last years of the mt gambier bluebird exhibited elements of this. sure, AN could have done more to maintain the railcars and promote the service, but OTOH, would patronage have ever come close to justifying investment in new railcars? not likely.

perspective. people picture trains running through green fields and think they look lovely. but they ignore the fact that this physical perspective is only possible because they are alongside the track looking at the train. that is, they are not USING it, helping it pay its way. 'someone else' is expected to be riding it to make it viable. maybe the person picturing the postbox-red M class and blood and custard coaches chuffing through the pretty green hills will ride it, but only once or twice a year. people who advocate the return of passenger rail to tasmania, for example, always fall into this error, focussing on how nice the tasman limited looked and ignoring the depressing reality of what it was like if you actually had to use it as a form of transport. i had to use the tasman once to get somewhere and while interesting to me, it got boring after an hour. it was abominably slow and a ride on it, even in retrospect, isn't something i'd wish on anyone.

the hankering for authenticity. for example. it might be that a train should return, but not to the track it once ran on. a good example is the ida bay railway. it largely travels through C-grade coastal scrub tens of miles from anywhere. would it not fare better if relocated somewhere closer to population centres in the huon?

gullibility. many proponents of rail are so one-eyed they are easily sucked in by liaisons with politicians seeking re-election -who will promise more or less anything, fraudsters and pranksters just seeking to have a lend of them for their own amusement. some of the proposals for regional rail in SA fit the last criteria.

lastly, preserved rail, anywhere, is a small world. within it are a few personalities with an unswerving ability to replicate their own dysfunctionality across a wide range of projects and organisations. you see a litany of ill advised proposals, threatened and actual lawsuits, blog attacks, and similar. luckily, this doesn't usually get in the public eye, but where it does, it reinforces an already negative stereotype.




  Z1NorthernProgress2110 Chief Commissioner

Location: Burnie, Tasmania
Well said Ben, round of applause
  benscaro Chief Commissioner






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
"Graham4405"


Benscaro has stated that the report writer for the government in the 1980's was a rail enthusiast.

"i_know_nothing"


no, i did not.  i talked about a state public servant who wrote a report on the abt project in 1998-99 as part of the approval process.  i worked for the federal government, he worked for the state and showed us the report because he trusted us and knew i liked trains as well, and wanted to show us how political the whole thing had become and how much of a joke the finances were.

he may have had a liking for trains, but he was a senior fellow who knew his job and had no interest in pushing rail proposals to the head of the queue. he remained impartial and detached, as a civil servant should.



  Floody Locomotive Driver


So basically economically, the choice is to keep tipping cash into a bottomless hole and maintain the status quo;  find some way to (even partially) mitigate the losses (e.g. increased traffic, tie in with other attractions, better marketing);  or put a lid on it and walk away from it as a failed experiment.


Its hard because I think the social benefit and the economic reality are polar opposites in terms of appropriate action.

  benscaro Chief Commissioner






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.

"benscaro"


"i_know_nothing"


check your decade. this was not to do with any abt proposals in the 1980s, this was 1998. i do not want to confuse the two.

  Floody Locomotive Driver

I predict if something major doesn't happen soon and the Abt does go down, the only place you'll be able to ride a train out of yard limits in Tasmania will be Don. Would that enhance or decrease the heritage lobby's chances of getting back on the main lines?
  benscaro Chief Commissioner




I predict if something major doesn't happen soon and the Abt does go down, the only place you'll be able to ride a train out of yard limits in Tasmania will be Don. Would that enhance or decrease the heritage lobby's chances of getting back on the main lines?

"Floody"


i don't know, but i recall that in discussions with the report writer in 1998 the possibilities of using existing under-utilised track featured in rumbles of discontent that seemed to make more sense than rebuilding 30 miles of isolated track in inhospitable and remote country.  

i do not know if they progressed to discussing alternatives; one problem with the process was that everyone was hellbent on the abt because of its iconic nature and didn't consider something 'less iconic' might make more sense.  

i talked to my state colleauge about something based on burnie and the EBR workshops that could travel to stanley, devonport or down the EBR.  my personal bias, but i liked the idea of getting an ASG rebuilt, which to me would have been as 'iconic' as the abt, cheaper, and burnie as as a town seemed at least to have a prayer of a chance of surviving.  queenstown didn't then, and doesn't now.  

i remember i wrote something lampooning the style and argument of the abt proposal, arguing the NMLR be rebuilt.  Wink
  Floody Locomotive Driver


Haha, I would think the NMLR proposal would still be entertaining reading now. Does it involve submersible rolling stock?

It seems to me if a small amount of money was tipped into revitalising general rail heritage and broadening access, it could go some way to indirectly offsetting the bulk cash which will forever need to be tipped into the Abt, just as the money pit Abt could help get people visiting the other attractions.

  benscaro Chief Commissioner




Haha, I would think the NMLR proposal would still be entertaining reading now. Does it involve submersible rolling stock?

"Floody"


of course not! ... merely the recreation of hobart's old floating bridge.



It seems to me if a small amount of money was tipped into revitalising general rail heritage and broadening access, it could go some way to indirectly offsetting the bulk cash which will forever need to be tipped into the Abt, just as the money pit Abt could help get people visiting the other attractions.

"Floody"


that was the sad thing. with so many existing societies, rolling stock and skilled people in plenty of more viable places, a little bit of rail access and smaller, targeted grants would have gotten much more 'bang for buck.'  instead, we got an icon.  howzat?

  Floody Locomotive Driver


I think the telling thing is the other heritage groups are surviving (if barely) with almost nil subsidy by comparison. The other side of it I think is that if the other societies could be active with the Derwent Valley line access restored for DVR, Don and TTMS able to access mainline routes again (TTMS using the soon to be disused Hobart urban corridor surely has great potential for little outlay; heritage rail to MONA,Derwent Valley wineries etc anyone?) it would be a carrot for tourists who might otherwise only visit the West/North-West tourist traps to spend more time and money in more places.

It wouldn't have to be exclusive of the Abt line, spreading tourist dollars around the state might enable indirectly raised revenue to be spent in that direction to help mitigate the extent of loss better than relying on it to fund itself which is clearly unlikely to ever happen.

  stopblock Junior Train Controller

Location: Planet Earth

Well, here is an answer for all the previous speculations on this thread.....

Must be a federal election coming up soon and whatever tourist railway is suffering in that 'marginal' area, will benefit.

So Mary Valley and Zig Zag miss out and WCWR gets the jackpot of $6mill from the feds.


http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/latest/16218722/rail-rescue/


  Floody Locomotive Driver


The deal is subject to the Tasmanian Government finding an operator and underwriting its ongoing operational costs for the next four years.


Guess thats another 4 years in the wilderness (pun intended) for all of the other rail preservation groups in Tassie.

  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE



I think the telling thing is the other heritage groups are surviving (if barely) with almost nil subsidy by comparison. The other side of it I think is that if the other societies could be active with the Derwent Valley line access restored for DVR, Don and TTMS able to access mainline routes again (TTMS using the soon to be disused Hobart urban corridor surely has great potential for little outlay; heritage rail to MONA,Derwent Valley wineries etc anyone?) it would be a carrot for tourists who might otherwise only visit the West/North-West tourist traps to spend more time and money in more places.

It wouldn't have to be exclusive of the Abt line, spreading tourist dollars around the state might enable indirectly raised revenue to be spent in that direction to help mitigate the extent of loss better than relying on it to fund itself which is clearly unlikely to ever happen.

"Floody"


"Surviving barely" is probably being optimistic. I wouldn't say nill subsidy, they have all received handouts, some substantial. Dewent Valley got some money after Tasrail was sold, had it not its likely trains would have finished in the valley in 1995. Yes I appreciate the guys there have busted a gut and probably been partly screwed by PN.

TTMS is soon to become land locked. With the last freight train the line will surely be closed pending a decision on its future. If they want a longer piece of track to run back and forth on now would be the time to ask for it. For years the options of restraunt trains etc have been talked about, but nothing has come of it. Why would it happen now with the full cost of line maintanence now falling on the operator? DVR and many other similar groups in Australia knows too well the cost of maintaining a long branch and longterm sucess have been very limited and rocking restraunt trains won't be popular.

Don and DVR are awaiting Tasrail to open the doors for passenger services again, currently I thought they didn't have insurance for same and need time to get the line up to a required standard for their services first. Even once access has been regained, the same old issues come back of where to run with very stations or people freiendly locations to get on/off a train. The DVR will be limited to Boyer to Bridgwater and something return within a reasonable distance for shorter day runs. Don will at least have the choice of East or West. The Western route to Pengin, Ulverston and Burnie is probably their best selling point. Heading East from Don offers little in destinations without spending all day getting there.

  Z1NorthernProgress2110 Chief Commissioner

Location: Burnie, Tasmania



Guess thats another 4 years in the wilderness (pun intended) for all of the other rail preservation groups in Tassie.

"Floody"

Floody, the rail preservation groups may never ever get back on the mainline. Its a lot more complicated than what others think it is.

  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE



Well, here is an answer for all the previous speculations on this thread.....

Must be a federal election coming up soon and whatever tourist railway is suffering in that 'marginal' area, will benefit.

So Mary Valley and Zig Zag miss out and WCWR gets the jackpot of $6mill from the feds.


http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/latest/16218722/rail-rescue/


"stopblock"


How much money have they got in past?

  Floody Locomotive Driver






Floody, the rail preservation groups may never ever get back on the mainline. Its a lot more complicated than what others think it is.

"Z1NorthernProgress2110"


I imagined that might be the case. What I was intimating is that if the state govco is looking down the barrel of maintaining this thing for 4 years, I daresay the cupboard will be bare for quite some time in the future for the other organisations.





"Surviving barely" is probably being optimistic. I wouldn't say nill subsidy, they have all received handouts, some substantial. Dewent Valley got some money after Tasrail was sold, had it not its likely trains would have finished in the valley in 1995. Yes I appreciate the guys there have busted a gut and probably been partly screwed by PN.



"RTT_Rules"


True, but WCWR has to date absorbed what, $30+ million in federal and state funds. The grants meted out to the entirety of other heritage operations in Tassie wouldn't go near that surely.

  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p

I would have no issue with WCWR getting 6 million if the other groups around Tassie and Australia got similar amounts over the years, but they don't.

With that being said, I don't want to see any group or railway fold.

  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner




I would have no issue with WCWR getting 6 million if the other groups around Tassie and Australia got similar amounts over the years, but they don't.

With that being said, I don't want to see any group or railway fold.

"VRfan"


Its $6 million for infrastructure from the Federal Government.

Its also $1.5 million per annum for four years from the Tasmanian Government to underwrite the operating costs.



  benscaro Chief Commissioner


""We're also asking that an operational model be developed so that this is sustainable. We don't want to be back here in three years' time," Mr Sidebottom said."

... mmm. good luck on that one.

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