This was posted in railsa.org by Barossa Bluebird:
RAIL INQUIRY…BAROSSA PASSENGER SERVICE… ADELAIDE – ANGASTON 24/06/2009
The facts presented to you here today, in relation to a passenger rail service to the Barossa, are not just about a train. This is about what the passenger rail service will do for regular commuters and the benefits to the elderly, the disabled and for school and university students.
It's about the creation of jobs and growth throughout the region that the service will provide for the tourist and business sectors. Not just for the Barossa region, but for the State of South Australia, and the development of the enormous potential of this world famous wine region.
The last passenger rail service to Angaston was run on the 16th December 1968. The Barossa residents fought hard to retain the rail link. They expressed concerns in many letters to the press, held a public meeting, and the Government was petitioned by over 2,000 signatories. To this day the residents of the Barossa and the public of South Australia continue to vigorously campaign for the reintroduction of this service.
A document released in 2007 by Chris Hall from Bluebird rail states that “The AN Board was not happy about the positive performance of the passenger business. The Board’s aim was to get rid of the business at any cost, and for political reasons, it was considered that the electorate would oppose the sale of a profitable Government owned business. The aim therefore was to make the passenger business appear unfavourable and to be making a substantial loss. When an advertising campaign was launched over a Christmas period, Chris was called in to explain why the Business was being advertised. The Board made it clear that there was not to be any advertising of the AN Passenger trains.”
In a Letter to me dated the 20th April 2005, Michael O’Brian MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport stated that, “the Commonwealth Govt sold the country rail services in 1997…The State Govt lobbies the commonwealth for funding support of the rail infrastructure in South Australia. However over 80% of the rail funding by Auslink has been directed by the Commonwealth to the Eastern States”.
The people of South Australia understand the enormous implications to reinstating the outer suburban and regional passenger rail services, however is this not one of the reason why we pay taxes, to have a reliable fast train service as part of the transport network?, not to have these services could be seen as discrimination towards the people who live in these areas and their respective regions.
Many view the sale, and in some case’s the removal of our regional and suburban passenger railways, as the single most destructive element to the future growth of our state. It is clear that the privatisation of these railways has had no benefit to any of the passenger services throughout S.A., It has destroyed the very fabric of passenger rail with the closing down of all the regional lines and stations that used to serve these communities, this lack of foresight is just one of the many reasons why so many people have turned away from public transport in the past 20 or so years.
On Sunday, the 29th of August 2004, Sandra Williams and I toured the Barossa Valley to canvass public opinion on the loss of the Barossa Wine Train service. We were both surprised and heartened by the enthusiastic response to our petition. In only one month we collected 1,500 signatures from South Australians who wanted to see the return of the Barossa Wine Train. …The petition was then handed to the Hon. Jane Lomax-Smith in February 2004.
An additional 1,000 signatures were submitted by the Bluebird Preservation Group not long after.
During the Barossa Wine Train campaign, we discovered that the Barossa people knew the service had ceased, but no one was aware that the Barossa train was for sale. They were very perturbed that South Australia may lose the last of the well-known and popular Bluebird railcars.
Secondly, There was a growing demand for a regular Barossa-Adelaide commuter rail service.
Unanimously they wanted to see the return of this train as a PROPERLY MANAGED FACILITY.
The business community did not believe that the tourist train ever achieved its full potential to promote Barossa trade and industry.
A Bluebird/Barossa Wine Train public forum was held at the Tanunda Clubhouse on Wednesday the 14th of December 2005 in conjunction with the Bluebird Preservation Group and the Barossa Herald Newspaper. Steve Callery from the Tanunda Tourism Office was Chairman .The forum was also attended by John Evans, Sandra Kanck, Michelle O’Reilley and many interested local businessmen.
The previous operations manager of the Barossa Wine Train, Norman Murphy, also addressed the meeting.
During the course of our campaign we have established regular contact with Ivan Venning, Member for Schubert. …Ivan has raised the matter on several occasions in Parliament; the importance of running a tourist train and the railway to the Barossa, we are also in regular contact with Brian Leedham a keen rail enthusiast and strong campaigner for the Barossa rail services.
Trevor Langridge, a Tanunda resident, had also handed in a petition with over 2000 signatures from Barossa residents who believed that a regular rail service is essential between Angaston and Adelaide.
More recently, with the involvement of Nicholas Greer and Denis Hood from the Family First Party, we have discovered that the Angaston Railway Station is a State Heritage listed building and the Nuriootpa Station has local heritage status. Retaining this heritage railway could also play a major role in drawing the tourist dollar not only from around this State, but from around the nation and the world.
This was expressed very clearly to us, as the Bluebird Preservation Group, when we canvassed throughout the region in 2004.
The Gawler to Angaston railway, like the revered Pichi Richi and Cockle Trains has huge historic significance.
Brian Leedham and I are also aware that both the Tanunda and Gawler Tourist Information Centres receive regular enquiries from tourists from all over the nation and the world who would like to travel to the famous Barossa wine region by rail. I quote from the ABC news on the 11th April 2008. In an article titled
“Support Grows for Train Extension to the Barossa”
‘”The South Australian Tourism Commission has joined the calls for the Adelaide to Gawler train line to be extended into the Barossa.
The commission's Rachel Klitscher says an extension would open up opportunities for tourism in the region. “From a tourism point of view it is a really good opportunity that's waiting to happen for us,"
She said.” The Barossa Wine Train that was operating quite a few years ago really was a great addition to our tourism offering here, so we'd certainly support any move in that direction.” I guess from a tourism point of view a passenger service is also important, but the tourism opportunities it would bring are very important as well."
The Bluebird railcars were run in September of 1998 as the Bluebird/ Barossa train, and a shuttle service using the railcars was also run from Angaston to Gawler North. The Angaston Information Centre sold the train tickets. 2 trips were run at $10 per head and it was expressed another 3 trips could have been run with the train being filled to capacity each time.
A concurrent tourism survey conducted by radio station Triple M received many calls complimenting these Barossa train services.
Regional Rail Watch members also ran our own questionnaire “Barossa Rail Services”.
We had a great response from people who live in the Barossa and surrounding areas. We asked…..……
If a passenger rail service was reinstated between Adelaide and Angaston would they use it? The answer was a resounding and very confident YES.
There is an estimated Barossa population of 20,000.The survey was funded and conducted by the Regional Rail Watch. Only 400 questionnaires were circulated with 270 replies returned, indicating that more than half this number would use a passenger rail service 5 days a week. How many others would have given a definite YES if 20,000 were able to answer the questionnaire?
In 1996 The Barossa Discovery Train (using a two car set from the 2000 class railcars), commenced a four week trial period to Nuriootpa on Sunday November 10. A three car set was needed on Sunday the 17th & 24th of November & December 1 due to its popularity
TransAdelaide buses were used to ferry the passengers to various areas of the Barossa upon their arrival at Nuriootpa and also conduct shuttle services around the Barossa area. All a passenger had to do was hail a Trans Adelaide bus, show their ticket and board. It was that simple!
A survey form was also circulated to the passengers with most complimenting the rail service. They also wanted to see the train running to Angaston using local bus services as the shuttles to and from the station.
The 2000 & 2001 Passenger Transport board Annual report revealed…….
Patronage for 1999-2000 in the Barossa was 169,289
Patronage for 2000-2001 in the Barossa was 188,336.
2006-2007, Barossa Patronage had grown to 235,849.
In a recent survey by the Australian Traveller team it was discovered that out of the top 100 towns people prefer to visit throughout Australia, Angaston was 36 in the top 50, rating 2nd top town in SA. The Barossa Region has been rated at no 5 of the tourist destinations in the world. “Trip Advisor” named the Barossa region as one of the top ten wine regions in the world for the tourist.
The Bluebird Preservation Group commenced campaigning for the reinstatement of the Barossa Wine Train in 2004. More recently, in response to enquiries by the Regional Rail Watch, various Ministers and Government media spokes people have claimed that the Barossa is currently well served by a private bus company, the Barossa Valley Coaches.
It has also been suggested that this service is not well patronised and there therefore no need for a passenger rail service to the Valley. Most local residents cannot afford to regularly use this service. Residents of the Barossa Valley and it’s surrounding districts have told us that the buses are too expensive to use.
In an article titled “Derailed” from the Barossa Herald on the 12th of February 2008 Mr Clemow (Media spokes person for the Transport Minister Patrick Conlon,) said that “The state Govt already makes a substantial contribution to the local public transport by funding all concessions to the private bus operator”
But the paper also reports in the same article “While the Barossa has private bus companies to transport people to the city, many have said they can not afford this type of service on a daily basis”
Regional Rail Watch received many letters in response to our survey regarding the prices of this service. A return trip between Angaston and Adelaide costs $ 42 or $ 21 with a concession. That is $210 for a 5 day working week. A student or aged or disabled pensioner would pay $105 per week per person.
This is the reason that 350 to 400 cars are parked adjacent to the 2 Gawler Railway Stations each working weekday. From our Survey we know that about 75% of these cars come from the Barossa daily.
We also know that many others also drive to the railway stations at Smith Field , Elizabeth, Salisbury and Mawson Lakes.
It seems extraordinary that any State Govt will allocate tax payer's money to subsidise a private bus company, a service that people have said “they can not afford on a daily basis” but is reluctant to run a public rail service to the Barossa Valley.
There are many reasons why a public railway must return to the Barossa Valley. The economic and environmental benefits cannot be ignored. In the 1960s outcry prevented the removal of the Glenelg Tram line. The public then had the foresight to speak out. This line was saved and has now been extended for the future growth of Adelaide for all to use and enjoy. ..........Not just now but in the future.
• A Barossa Rail service has many advantages over a bus
• Rail is speedy, usually more direct and less polluting.
• A train does not have to contend with other traffic condition such as, Traffic lights, busses, trucks, cars roadwork’s etc.
• A train also has many obvious advantages for the aged and disabled.
• A rail service from the Adelaide station to Angaston return can run express from Gawler to Salisbury – Mawson Lakes and then to Adelaide, this has the advantages that commuters would no longer, as explained in correspondence to the Regional Rail Watch, have to drive to these stations to get to the city,
This would also have obvious advantages for those who drive from towns such as Blanchetown,
Truro, Freeling or Kapunda.
Before I conclude my report here in Parliament today I would like to acknowledge those people who have helped with the research over the Barossa railway, they are
Norman Murphy. Former Barossa wine train manager
Nicholas Greer and Dennis Hood from the Family First Party
A special thank you to Michelle O’Reilley from the Barossa Herald Newspaper and Alyx Takla from the railsa website, who over the years through the media, has helped us to keep the public informed in relation to the Barossa railway, and who also helped us to retain the Barossa wine train in South Australia.
And Last but not least, Thank you to Ivan Venning member of Schubert, who personally invited me to add our voice, and bring these very important issues and finding here today, and who like so many others, has never lost sight of the significant importance of the reinstatement of a passenger rail to the Barossa Valley.