Passenger Rail, Grants, light rail, Major Projects & Infrastructure, Social Governance, Track & Civil Construction

Passenger rail needed for Hobart project



The Hobart Northern Suburbs Rail Action Group is maintaining its push for a passenger rail solution in Hobart, where the only public transport option is the bus.

The call comes as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese last week officially announced the Federal Government would contribute $240 million towards a stadium on the Hobart waterfront. It forms part of a partnership between the Australian and Tasmanian governments to develop a refreshed precinct plan that stretches from Macquarie Point through to crown land at Regatta Point, including a focus on transport connections, while prioritising Hobart port upgrades and housing for Tasmanians.

The proposal also connects with the State Government’s plan to convince the AFL to grant the state a team, with the business case predicting that the $750m multi-use entertainment precinct would annually host about 44 events and let 587,000 people walk through its doors.

Group president Toby Rowallan warned that choosing a busway over a rail system for the project would be a ‘significant mistake’, given the high number of people the stadium is designed to accommodate.

He said any busway that was built would be incapable of handling the enormous number of people that the major stadium was designed to hold.

In a previous submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the stadium, the Group said a light rail service could move between 4000 and 20,000 people each hour in one direction, more than twice what buses can over the same time period.

“It is no coincidence that every other AFL city has passenger rail services,” he said.

The Group has been lobbying for the instalment of a passenger rail service since 2010, focusing on a decommissioned heavy rail corridor in Hobart’s northern suburbs.

Formerly a freight rail line, the corridor was decommissioned in 2014 after the last freight train passed through Hobart.

Group founder and former president of the Group, Ben Johnston, said it was preferable for the decommissioned railway tracks to be utilised for passenger rail services rather than being converted into a busway.

“It would be a tragedy to remove the rails from the railway, it would be a very backward step in my opinion,” Johnston said.

“Keeping rails on the corridor has strategic advantages for future freight if becomes necessary again, and you keep a lot more options open than if you convert it into a busway.

Hobart’s public transport network is currently served by bus services travelling lengthy routes to the widely spread-out suburbs.

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff said the urban renewal project had the multi-purpose stadium at its core, which would “inspire economic activity around it and strengthen economy for decades to come”.

“It will be a unique destination to attract visitors to our state, and will finally mean Tassie can host events that have previously bypassed the State. It creates certainty for investment and thousands of new jobs which will give young people a reason to stay in Tasmania,” he said.

I remember a time when many of us were forced to leave for opportunity. Now we’ve got it right here at home. And we’ve got it in spades.”
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