Ida Bay Railway

 
  hunslet1915 Chief Train Controller

Whilst much as appeared in the public media about the temporary closure of the West Coast Wilderness Railway, little has been published on apparent problems with the 2-ft gauge Ida Bay Tourist Railway, claimed to be the last bush tramway operaing in Tasmania and the southern-most railway in Australia.
A report in the Hobart Mercury several weeks ago indicated that the Railway was in urgent need of $200,000 to replace the remaining 2,000 fifty-year-old sleepers, while a further $400,000 would allow for a complete revitalisation of other infrastructure needs to allow for large tour groups.
Patronage was claimed to be the best ever, around 8,000 per annum, but the income derived, less direct expenses, does not cover these additional costs and so external support was being sought.
A public meeting was to be held, however I have not seen any subsequent reports regarding possible funding sources.
Any update would be appreciated.

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  benscaro Chief Commissioner

presumably since the advent of the WCWR,  there is now a queue and longer waiting times in front of the 'tourist promotions in the middle of nowhere needing public money' handout window.
  BP4417 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Launceston, Tasmania
presumably since the advent of the WCWR,  there is now a queue and longer waiting times in front of the 'tourist promotions in the middle of nowhere needing public money' handout window.
benscaro
What Tasmania needs is something like the Rail Heritage Review as conducted by the N.S.W Govt. This review can be found at
http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/b2b/publications/0513-transport-heritage-report-web-final.pdf
  benscaro Chief Commissioner

What Tasmania needs is something like the Rail Heritage Review as conducted by the N.S.W Govt. This review can be found at
http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/b2b/publications/0513-transport-heritage-report-web-final.pdf
BP4417
i don't think the slightly dodgy superlatives that apply to the ida bay railway, the 'southernmost' this, or the 'last' that, really take away from the fact that we are talking about an unexceptional industrial tramline miles from anywhere, which travels through uninspiring coastal scrub.  that's its big problem.  

back in 1979 when i was far more inclined to foaming and, like most ten year olds, detached from economic realities, i rode the IBR and even then, was not impressed.  i rode it again when in the area with some mates from university, years later, under protest, warning them not to get too excited. they were similarly underwhelmed.  

relocation, to somewhere with a. people, and b. scenery, should be looked at if it is thought that there would be sufficient economic benefit.  

but for the life of me ... why should the taxpayer be expected to perenially fund an under-performing business purely on the basis that it is on rails? i mean, it's just insane.  no wonder australian taxpayers don't like trains much.  it's like being shaken down by a tedious friend who's gotten into heroin.  

sooner or later you get sick of funding someone's bad habits.
  tasstockau Station Staff

i don't think the slightly dodgy superlatives that apply to the ida bay railway, the 'southernmost' this, or the 'last' that, really take away from the fact that we are talking about an unexceptional industrial tramline miles from anywhere...............


ok, so I think we can assume that you are not into heritage as the fact that it is the last industrial tramline in the state makes it worth saving in my view, and which is why the state owns it in the first place. If Meg was just in it to make money she would have abandoned it long ago.

all she is asking is that the state help look after their asset, so that she can make it sustainable through day to day management. Again, I don't think it is ever going to make her money. and she has subsidised it considerably already - money she wont see again.

If we follow the rationale of under performing state assets lets get rid of Tasrail, Metro and many other state based services right now.

Phil L
benscaro
  benscaro Chief Commissioner

tasstockau

faulty rationale, surely.  metro runs in areas where there are people and provides a service to them.  tasrail less so, though it has a few customers.

on that view, who is the IBR is best placed to provide a service to?  lost wallabies?  

i know full well that people have sunk money into it out of love, i knew one or two.  

but my choice to be heroic with my own purse in pursuit of my own passion doesn't necessarily imply that the state should too.

as for preservation, it remains my view that tasmania has many miles of underutilised mainline track that could be used for preserved trains.  

in its incarnation as the IBR (as opposed to the lune river railway) remember too, that track aside, the line is an entirely different beast from the industrial tramline it was.  so no, i don't see retention of the IBR as that significant in terms of the line's status as having once been the state's last industrial tramline.  and there may well be cheaper and more authentic ways of retaining that history.
  CAP_gauge Junior Train Controller

A number of the comments made on this thread about the Ida Bay Railway have been misleading in my opinion.



The Ida Bay Railway is historically important to Tasmania, both from an industrial history, and railway history point of view.

It operated for over fifty years providing raw materials used in the industrial process carried on at Risdon.

It is the last remaining 2ft gauge industrial railway in Tasmania. As such it represents a type of railway which was very widely used and which played an important part in Tasmania’s history. For that reason alone it is worth saving, it represents what was used in many forms of mining, quarrying, and construction in remote parts of Tasmania.

It is also located in an area which has a rich and interesting history.



remember too, that track aside, the line is an entirely different beast from the industrial tramline it was
Benscaro


That is not true. The line follows the same route as it did when carrying limestone, the rails and track construction are the same, the locomotives are the same. Minor changes have been made to the track layout at Ida Bay and Deep Hole to facilitate running, and the passenger cars are different – they have to be as you cannot carry passengers in limestone wagons! The railway still has the rail-motor which was used to carry quarry workers on the line.



relocation, to somewhere with a. people, and b. scenery, should be looked at if it is thought that there would be sufficient economic benefit
Benscaro



That completely misses the point. It is the remote location and the route of the tramway which gives it its historical significance. Move it and it loses its historical integrity and relevance. When the Tasmanian government took the railway over in about 1975 they recognised that it had historical value. Unfortunately they have subsequently failed to protect their own assets. They apparently do not take pride in the state’s history.




why should the taxpayer be expected to perenially fund an under-performing business purely on the basis that it is on rails?
Benscaro


It is not an underperforming business. It represents a significant part of the state’s history. It is an item of cultural heritage which should be protected. The operators are caretakers of a state asset, an asset which the government thought worth saving in the 1970s. The operators should not be expected to send themselves broke to protect what is a state-owned museum piece. Museum pieces are not intended to make money in themselves.



As for the line’s scenery, the railway more or less follows the shoreline of Ida Bay. I have visited there on three occasions. Firstly in 1971 when I spent two days there, and walked the full length of the line from the quarry to Deep Hole. Secondly in 1987 when the Second River Tramway Krauss 0-4-0T loco was making a visit. Thirdly in 2003.



I did not find the scenery uninspiring. Here are some photographs from the first two visits.  



Between Ida Bay township and Deep Hole jetty looking east, 1971.



View from the railway between Ida Bay township and Deep Hole jetty, 1971.



Empty train returning from Deep Hole jetty, about half-way to Ida Bay township, 1971.



View towards Deep Hole jetty, taken from the railway. The railway follows the coastline a little inland on the right hand side, 1971.

[/font]

Train bound for Deep Hole jetty, in the bushes, 1987.



Train bound for Deep Hole jetty, in the bushes, 1987. A glimpse of the track can also be seen on the bottom righ-hand corner.



Track at the Deep Hole jetty terminus, 1987.



Train bound for Ida Bay from Deep Hole, hauled by the Second River Krauss locomotive, 1987.

Unfortunately the photographs I took in 2003 have been a victim of my filing "system". They will come to light unexpectedly some day.

Frank
  benscaro Chief Commissioner

It was an industrial tramway, now it is a tourist railway.  Very different things, I suggest.  More to the point, I do not think the line in its current form portrays an industrial tramline in any sense, which is why it is allegedly notable. Riding it does not allow you to experience that key facet of its past.  So, I think there is room for two different views here, equally able to be arrived at on the facts.  

There were industrial tramlines in operation after the Lune Rivery Railway became a tourist line, so it probably wasn't the last industrial tramline in the state in any event, hence my comment about the 'dodgy' nature of the superlatives.

Again whether it is a signifcant part of state heritage vs an underperforming business is something where I believe a number of views are possible.  Just as there are a number of ways of preserving state heritage.

The assumption that because the state paid for it in the 1970s is ergo an argument for them continuing to shell out money ad infinitum ...  well, I really question that.  Try to apply that argument to any other area of life, and it quickly stops making sense.  And there is a broader issue ... continual demands for subsidies are one of the things that is, from my perspective, so wrong with the Aussie regional entitlement-focussed mindset.  


Lastly, the 70s was a long time ago.



Should we all be held captive to decisions made in the 70s?Wink  
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
I was down at the IBR in early March and I would hardly call it an "underperforming asset". As well as the well patronised regular scheduled trains, special trains were being run as well for large school groups travelling to Deep Hole on adventure camping trips. What Meg and her small band of volunteers has achieved on the smell of an oily rag is remarkable. What she could potentially do, if the slumlord of an owner, the state Govt, simply maintained the asset it owns, rather than expecting the tenant to maintain the Govts own asset, is something again.

The IBR can hardly be considered a pointless money sucking quagmire (or "boondoggle" as American conservatives would describe it) for the taxpayer that Ben seems to be suggesting (by my interpretation, rightly or wrongly), as the Govt spends virtually NOTHING on it. A substantial difference would be made if the Govt would simply fulfill its obligations as landlord and maintain its asset (the cost of which is miniscule, compared to the atrocious waste of money the Govt seems content to expend on the likes of already wealthy AFL clubs, racing stadiums and non-existant foxes, for instance).

If Meg didn't have to spend her assets subsidising the Govt, she could work towards her plans to develop a major tourist accommodation and hospitality hub at Lune River and grow the areas economy and provide needed employment in the area.

Maybe, if owning the IBR is such an nreasonable burden for the state Govt, maybe it should transfer ownership to the local council?

It would be interesting to see the Govt apply its approach to the road network in a similar fashion to the IBR. We would probably find maintenance on a lot of roads to remote and regional tourist attractions cease through lack of funds. Less and less people would then use the road as its condition gets worse and worse. The Govt then say, no-one uses the road so they are going to close it. Well that doesn't happen, so why should the IBR track be any different? After all, its only the track, which the Govt own, they are being asked to maintain, which is their responsibility. They are not being asked to fund Megs operation - she is quite capable of doing that herself - and could do it a lot more effectively if she wasn't doing the Govts job for them.
  i_know_nothing Train Controller

I think the limit of what she is asking is assistance to acquire new sleepers and some ballast. All it would take is for Parks and Wildlife (the landlord) to organise with Tasrail to transfer some good, used wooden sleepers being removed for concrete sleeper installation. But no. All too hard. Without a policy directive from government, Parks and Wildlife and Tasrail bureaucrats are bloody minded at best.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Q1, how much does the govt actually pay?

Q2, how much do we think the govt should actually pay averaged over say 10 years
  i_know_nothing Train Controller

Q1, how much does the govt actually pay?

Q2, how much do we think the govt should actually pay averaged over say 10 years
RTT_Rules
Q1: nothing

Q2: reassign materials from one asset to another to maintain fit-for-purpose
  Grantham Minister for Railways

Location: I'm with stupid!
What Tasmania needs is something like the Rail Heritage Review as conducted by the N.S.W Govt. This review can be found at
http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/b2b/publications/0513-transport-heritage-report-web-final.pdf
BP4417
As nice as a thorough report is, the price of the report would probably rebuild the Ida Bay Railway and several other tourist lines! The whole reporting and accountability system is fine when there is plenty of unwanted money to throw around, not a circumstance that has ever been known in the rail preservation scene. Wink

M
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
12CSVTI wrote; was down at the IBR in early March and I would hardly call it an "underperforming asset". As well as the well patronised regular scheduled trains [etc]

*******    
Those patrons would have included QLD based retired friends of ours who showed us souvenirs from their very happy Ida Bay trip experience. They also had West Coast Wilderness and Steamranger souvenirs as well. That was a once in a lifetime trip for them and they were happy!!
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
Ida Bay Railway was performing to a better than expected standard when I was there a couple of months ago. The services were frequent and well patronised but there was a lack of public transport from Dover to the railway. I walked about half the way from the hotel until I was finally given a ride by a shift worker going home to Southport. He went out of his way to take  me to Ida Bay and yes, that scrubby open forest about there is not very inspiring. The Green lobby have even banned the grazing of cattle in it, just to increase the desolation.

The railway terminus and workshop was fascinating to visit with time for a good morning smoko at the cafe there. Then there was a most inspiring journey through bushland and along the estuary. The terminus is in a delightful location on a beautiful sheltered beach where fish and oysters abound. I regret not having more time to spend there by waiting for the last train or even an overnight camp. I also could have hitched a ride on a boat across to Southport which has a pub and camping park/cabins.

The chap operating the loco was friendly and said that there was plenty of maintenance  to be done but they were coping. A few speed restrictions on rare dodgy bits of track but it was basically good with replaced sleepers not looking severely past their use by dates. A not to be missed highlight of that region of Tassie.
  VRfan Moderator

Location: In front of my computer :-p
benscaro, I don't know what railway you visited, but I found the scenery as good as a number of other tourist railways around the country if not better. I think the Ida Bay Railway is one of the most important heritage railways in this country. The line itself is IMHO the best remaining example in this country of a bush tramway. Relocating it to another location would totally destroy any historical significance that the railway has. While other industrial railways/tramways existed beyond the Ida Bay, they are no longer around. That's a key difference.
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner

Ida Bay Railway was performing to a better than expected standard when I was there a couple of months ago. The services were frequent and well patronised but there was a lack of public transport from Dover to the railway. I walked about half the way from the hotel until I was finally given a ride by a shift worker going home to Southport. He went out of his way to take  me to Ida Bay and yes, that scrubby open forest about there is not very inspiring. The Green lobby have even banned the grazing of cattle in it, just to increase the desolation.

The railway terminus and workshop was fascinating to visit with time for a good morning smoko at the cafe there. Then there was a most inspiring journey through bushland and along the estuary. The terminus is in a delightful location on a beautiful sheltered beach where fish and oysters abound. I regret not having more time to spend there by waiting for the last train or even an overnight camp. I also could have hitched a ride on a boat across to Southport which has a pub and camping park/cabins.

The chap operating the loco was friendly and said that there was plenty of maintenance  to be done but they were coping. A few speed restrictions on rare dodgy bits of track but it was basically good with replaced sleepers not looking severely past their use by dates. A not to be missed highlight of that region of Tassie.
Rodo

As one who has driven past but not ridden on the IBR I suggest its biggest problem is its location. I don't recall there being much else around and Rodo's experience re accommodation and transport says it all. We only went past because we were looking for Catamaran where my forebears lived.

It would be interesting what Wattrain would make of it?

The real help it needs is kindred activities that would bring people to Ida Bay including a pub and camping ground and other museums or theme activities. (If these are there I did not notice them!).

Those pictures of the Bay-side are beautiful, but so is much of Tassy.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
As one who has driven past but not ridden on the IBR I suggest its biggest problem is its location. I don't recall there being much else around and Rodo's experience re accommodation and transport says it all. We only went past because we were looking for Catamaran where my forebears lived.

It would be interesting what Wattrain would make of it?

The real help it needs is kindred activities that would bring people to Ida Bay including a pub and camping ground and other museums or theme activities. (If these are there I did not notice them!).

Those pictures of the Bay-side are beautiful, but so is much of Tassy.
steam4ian
Regarding there "not being much else around" - well Hastings Caves are nearby, the holiday town of Southport, rainforest trails following the route of the abandoned part of the railway to the old Quarry and beyond, Recherche Bay, the Southwest National Park............

Accommodation and a pub is available AFAIK in Southport. The huts at the IBR depot at Lune River are also available for lodging.

If she didn't have to squander her resources in maintaining the Governments assets (the track), IBR operator Meg Thornton had ambitions to redevelop the huts at Lune River to a better class of accommodation and possibly expand or redevelop the existing cafe into a more elaborate hospitality establishment, including a pub. Obviously this would greatly increase the appeal of the IBR and attractiveness of the region.

Unfortunately, the Govt and its mindless bureaucracy cannot see the economic potential in Meg's vision, instead considering her and the IBR a nuisance.
  benscaro Chief Commissioner


Unfortunately, the Govt and its mindless bureaucracy cannot see the economic potential in Meg's vision, instead considering her and the IBR a nuisance.
12CSVT
"And there is a broader issue ... continual demands for subsidies are one of the things that is, from my perspective, so wrong with the Aussie regional entitlement-focussed mindset."

SNAP.


As one who has driven past but not ridden on the IBR I suggest its biggest problem is its location. I don't recall there being much else around and Rodo's experience re accommodation and transport says it all. We only went past because we were looking for Catamaran where my forebears lived.

It would be interesting what Wattrain would make of it?

The real help it needs is kindred activities that would bring people to Ida Bay including a pub and camping ground and other museums or theme activities. (If these are there I did not notice them!).

Those pictures of the Bay-side are beautiful, but so is much of Tassy.
steam4ian


that is the issue.  poor location, a line that runs through scenery that's about the same as fifty other little bays you'd drive past to get there, many of which are better provided with other things to do and all of which are closer to hobart.

VRfan and those others who don't seem to understand what railway they visited Smile may stay in after class and consider these issues over again, since they are the same ones i raised at the beginning of the thread.  

as someone who used to allocate a lot of taxes on regional projects, plaintive cries for more money and an inability to 'change the record' were bad signs for us.  we'd either look not to fund, or  not to put more money in.  what you look for in a business (or museum) operator,  is the ability to pick up the ball and run with it without continual returns to the honey pot.  

now, sometimes these cries indicate a mentality that just couldn't progress beyond a certain level.

but sadly, in territory as thinly populated as much of regional australia, often they meant that the enterprise was situated in such an area or market that however valiantly the operator tried, it was just never going to survive on its own.

either of these means the decision maker is faced with an unpalatable decision, if he is to be ethical with what are, after all, public funds.
  CAP_gauge Junior Train Controller

And there is a broader issue ... continual demands for subsidies are one of the things that is, from my perspective, so wrong with the Aussie regional entitlement-focussed mindset.
Benscaro
If Benscaro's view prevailed, there would probably not be any heritage railways operating in Australia. To succeed they all need financial support in one way or another, even those that have been operating for a very long time. Nor would the great majority of museums (of all types) be able to survive.

Thankfully, so far Benscaro's economic-rationalist views have not prevailed, and a reasonable amount of Australia's history has survived.

The real question is whether the Ida Bay Railway is sufficiently special to warrant some Government support as an historic object of heritage significance.

I think it does, and its retention would be of ongoing educational value.
  djukinX1016 Deputy Commissioner

"And there is a broader issue ... continual demands for subsidies are one of the things that is, from my perspective, so wrong with the Aussie regional entitlement-focussed mindset."

SNAP.




that is the issue.  poor location, a line that runs through scenery that's about the same as fifty other little bays you'd drive past to get there, many of which are better provided with other things to do and all of which are closer to hobart.

VRfan and those others who don't seem to understand what railway they visited Smile may stay in after class and consider these issues over again, since they are the same ones i raised at the beginning of the thread.  

as someone who used to allocate a lot of taxes on regional projects, plaintive cries for more money and an inability to 'change the record' were bad signs for us.  we'd either look not to fund, or  not to put more money in.  what you look for in a business (or museum) operator,  is the ability to pick up the ball and run with it without continual returns to the honey pot.  

now, sometimes these cries indicate a mentality that just couldn't progress beyond a certain level.

but sadly, in territory as thinly populated as much of regional australia, often they meant that the enterprise was situated in such an area or market that however valiantly the operator tried, it was just never going to survive on its own.

either of these means the decision maker is faced with an unpalatable decision, if he is to be ethical with what are, after all, public funds.
"benscaro"



Interesting, as we find in a lot of Australia it is in fact the regional areas generating the wealth on which the parasitic capital City's are becoming increasingly dependant . I do not know of any of are capital cities where there public transport or major freeways do not require a hefty subsidy to exist along with museums etc. this is especially relevant now we seem intent to kill off our remaining manufacturing capability.

Here in W.A. We heard the screams from City dwellers when only 25% of mining royalties were retained for the regions. That money being generated in the regions so Perth could have all its shiny new toys. If we really take an economic rationalist view of our major Cities we actually will find that their geographic spread of suburbia is unsustainable without massive draws on the public purse.

I am not denying that there should be some assessment undertaken on railways such as Ida Bay but their role in the overall tourist draw card should not be underestimated. It is often a collection of smaller operations that bring tourists in not just the big cash generating ones, tourists will go to a major generator then the next day want to go somewhere else etc.

Regards
Phil
  Floody Locomotive Driver

Djukin, Tasmania is probably pretty much unique in that the primary industries are minority employers and massively subsidised to exist because its almost impossible for anything but niche businesses to defeat economies of scale, while the vast majority of the workforce lives in Hobart and Launceston.
  djukinX1016 Deputy Commissioner

Djukin, Tasmania is probably pretty much unique in that the primary industries are minority employers and massively subsidised to exist because its almost impossible for anything but niche businesses to defeat economies of scale, while the vast majority of the workforce lives in Hobart and Launceston.
Floody
I appreciate that but it is similar in many ways to W.A. most of the population lives in Perth, and most of the mining is fly in fly out, farms are larger and have fewer employees, most of the timber mills have gone meaning the local communities miss out and have to fight for basic facilities that automatically get provided in Perth (I live in the country in W.A. so I know the battles we have to get facilities). The latest "initiative" in W.A. is for gas to be processed in large "factory" ships off the coast meaning effectively workers can be sourced overseas not only for the construction but also in operations meaning local communities get even less a role.

It is a major problem and railway preservation itself really struggles to survive in the regions and once it goes its gone for good, Great Southern Steam Association, Leschanault Railway Preservation Society and Pilbara Railway Historical Society as well as the Loopline were all operating railways at one time. The Loop Line Railway in Kalgoorlie is trying to rejuvinate itself after a long absence of almost folding but for the push by a few for it to keep going. Leschanault Railway Preservation Society is now part of Rail Heritage W.A. (ARHS) but does not operate and one of the G class is at Hotham Valley.

Just imagine what could have been done with the $300 million cost over run at a Perth sports facility, would set up many facilties elsewhere for decades!
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
Benscaro wrote [quote] "And there is a broader issue ... continual demands for subsidies are one of the things that is, from my perspective, so wrong with the Aussie regional entitlement-focussed mindset."
SNAP.
[quote]

This is where the debate has been derailed in my view. Ben paints the issue as a demand for subsidies. However, Meg doesn't want Govt funds to prop up her operations - she just has a reasonable expectation that the Govt maintain THEIR asset (the track) in a fit state of repair. I don't consider the basic responsibility of maintaining state assets as subsidisation (by my definition), as opposed to propping up unsustainable businesses.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Djukin, Tasmania is probably pretty much unique in that the primary industries are minority employers and massively subsidised to exist because its almost impossible for anything but niche businesses to defeat economies of scale, while the vast majority of the workforce lives in Hobart and Launceston.
Floody
And which ones are subsidised?

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