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TASRAIL has 36 locomotives and 374 wagons "you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy", the chairman of the state-owned enterprise told a parliamentary committee yesterday.
Bob Annells also told the committee that the $30 million operation needed more than $500 million for upgrades to rolling stock and the 632km of operational track.
"In a perfect world, if we can get the funds we will replace the whole system with a heavier gauge," Mr Annells said.
However, Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne said the importance of rail to business in the state meant the Government would stay the course.
"We inherited arguably something you'd turn off the light and walk away from, but we're not walking away," Mr O'Byrne said.
The State Government brought the railway back from the brink of collapse after private operator Pacific National announced its intention to leave Tasmania in 2009.
Liberal MP Rene Hidding yesterday raised concerns that, despite hundreds of millions of Government dollars having been allocated, an additional $240 million Tasrail has requested from the Federal Government may not come.
"I do get concerned we could get shuffled out in the middle of this," Mr Hidding said. "What happens if you don't get this money in three to five years? Will you do what you're doing now, going very slowly across this rail?"
Mr O'Byrne refused to speculate on what would happen if the Federal Government didn't commit to further funding.
"All indications from the Federal Government are that they are going to work with us on this program," he said.
Mr O'Byrne admitted the State Government had not done a study to examine the viability of the capital expenditure compared with alternatives.
Mr Hidding argued that the full spend was closer to $1 billion if the $78 million Brighton transport hub and other projects were included.
"The state's rail network and its operator Tasrail has run up almost a $1 billion tab in cash spent to date, in forward commitments and in urgent current requests for extra funds," he said.
Tasrail chief executive Damien White also revealed that the 2.5 million tonnes of freight moved by rail replaced the equivalent of 100,000 B-double truck movements each year.
This article first appeared on www.themercury.com.au
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