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A senior Tasmanian transport bureaucrat who told the Federal Government last year that the Tasmanian rail network needed a $215 million upgrade is to head up a joint study.
Railway industry sources believe Scott Dobie, general manager of Infrastructure Policy and Planning with the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources, will conduct the study, along with Jim Wolff from the Department of Transport and Regional Services.
The study was agreed by state and federal governments to decide whether they should take over the rail track.
Rail operator Pacific National Tasmania has made a decision to quit container transport.
Continuing corporate warfare between Pacific National's partners, Toll Holdings and Patrick Corporation, makes the shutdown more likely.
Mr Dobie wrote to a senior federal transport bureaucrat in April last year recommending upgrades on the Bell Bay line, Derwent Valley line beyond Boyer, passing loops on the North West line and a realignment of the southern rail corridor.
Mr Dobie's comments back those by PNT.
"Pacific National and its predecessor Tasrail have been making submissions to government for various levels of specific and general assistance ever since privatisation in 1997," PNT chief executive Neil MacKinnon told customers last week.
Transport Minister Warren Truss will meet the rail industry tomorrow to discuss the terms of reference.
The study is due to be completed by November 15 for a decision on November 30.
It is understood the terms of reference would also include:
# The economic impact of a cessation of rail services in Tasmania.
# The value of rail to Tasmania.
# A validation of the PNT infrastructure cost estimates.
# An analysis of financial information from PNT.
PNT believes government has to take back the rail tracks and commit to investment of about $78 million over the next 10 years and maintenance of $4 million a year.
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