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A long-time Burnie resident has made a last ditch attempt to establish a passenger railway service to Wynyard before the rail corridor is taken over by the Coastal Pathway.
Peter Mudford believes a light rail service linking the city centre, the airport at Wynyard and communities such as Somerset would support commuters and tourists alike.
He said the public transport could help alleviate the Cooee Crawl and ensure the North-West could handle a "considerable expansion" in population in the coming years.
"It's only a matter of time before people on the mainland decide they've had enough of bushfires and drought and come to Tassie to live," he said.
"If there's that sort of expansion, we've got to be looking ahead."
Mr Mudford has asked Burnie City Council to create a committee to investigate the preservation of the corridor and a light rail service.
He said there was enough room most of the way for a light rail alongside the Coastal Pathway and it would be far cheaper than acquiring properties to build a service in the future.
BRING IT BACK: Burnie resident Peter Mudford wants the council to consider developing a light rail service to Wynyard. Picture: Brodie Weeding
But the idea received next to no support from mayor Steve Kons, who said a rail service was "financially unviable" and unlikely to attract enough passengers.
He said you only had to look at what happened when Burnie City Council tried to launch a rail service to Penguin back when Alvwyn Boyd was mayor.
"Burnie has had an experience with that in the past and I don't think we'd be getting involved in that in the future," he said.
"If a private operator came along or the state government wanted to run it, they would probably have to do a financial analysis and work out it's just not viable. Not to rain on anyone's parade.
"But if Wynyard (council) wants to go on its own, we won't object."
NO USE: The outdated and unused Somerset train line and platform. Picture: Brodie Weeding
A feasibility study commissioned by Burnie City Council years ago revealed "significant up-front and on-going operational costs to council to operate a passenger train on a regular basis", according to acting general manager Gary Neil.
Mr Neil said the council subsequently decided it wanted to take over management of the rail corridor and advocate for the removal of tracks, sleeps and ballast to enable the construction of the Coastal Pathway.
"The state government is currently undertaking the transfer process, and has provided funding to build the pathway as well as mitigate the impacts of coastal erosion on the rail corridor," he wrote in a briefing to councillors.
"The capital cost to establish the coastal pathway is far less than upgrading the line for passenger trains, and the on-going operational costs are minimal."
Mr Neil said bridges would need to be duplicated and the corridor "considerably widened in a number of areas" if a railway were to run alongside a pathway.
"The Coastal Pathway has received widespread community support, and will provide a safe environment for cyclists between Burnie, Somerset and Wynyard," he wrote.
Burnie City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to advise Mr Mudford that a passenger rail service was not viable.
This article first appeared on www.theadvocate.com.au
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