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THE removal of several hundred metres of TasRail-owned railway lines near the Hobart Regatta Grounds has been “a stuff-up”, a parliamentary hearing has been told.
TasRail chairman Bob Annells told Government Business Enterprise committee hearings today the rail had been removed without the knowledge of TasRail or Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding.
He described the removal as “a slight incursion” and “a stuff-up” and said the line had been in poor condition.
Intrastrucutre Minister Rene Hidding has told the GBNE replacing the rail line would cost “a few thousand dollars” and could be done in a day. Picture: RICHARD JUPE“This was all picked up, as I understand it, a contractor working for Macquarie Point Development Corporation,” Mr Annells said.
“If you’re trying to make a decision between a conspiracy and a stuff-up, take the stuff-up every time.
“I think, in fairness to them, I suspect it was a breakdown in communications between them and their contractor,” he said.
“We didn’t know about it, [the minister] certainly didn’t know about it. When it was drawn to our attention, we sorted it out quite quickly.
If you’re trying to make a decision between a conspiracy and a stuff-up, take the stuff-up every time — TasRail chairman Bob Annells
Garney Pearce and Ben Johnston, from the Hobart Northern Suburbs rail action group, on the section of rail line that has been removed to the Hobart Regatta Grounds. Picture: RICHARD JUPE“It’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing for us ... if we had been asked, we would have said ‘absolutely not’.”
Mr Hidding told the hearing there had been no repercussions for the company which removed the rail line. Replacing the line would cost “a few thousand dollars” and could be done in a day.
Mr Hidding said the rail corridor had been maintained and he was keen to advance plans for a light rail through the area.
“I have the same aspirations on light rail ... I would like to see it come through Macquarie Point and continue,” he told the committee.
TasRail chairman Bob Annells is retiring tomorrow and will be replaced by Samantha Hogg.Mr Annells said passenger rail was something TasRail could only contribute limited expertise to and was an expensive undertaking.
“Think of a number and triple it. It’s just a very, very expensive business running passenger rail in the current regulatory environment,” he said.
Mr Hidding said TasRail was not involved in the light rail proposal at this stage,
“We haven’t involved TasRail in any of those consideration. We need TasRail to focus on its operation as a short-haul freight operator.”
Mr Hidding announced Mr Annells, who retires tomorrow, would be replaced by current director Samantha Hogg as the chair of TasRail.
This article first appeared on www.themercury.com.au
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