Launceston and North-East Railway forge ahead in tourist train quest

 
Topic moved from News by dthead on 29 Apr 2017 08:33
  NSWGR8022 Chief Commissioner

Location: From the lands of Journalism and Free Speech
That project would attract more people to the region than a rail trail.

Launceston and North-East Railway forge ahead in tourist train quest

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  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
There is already a rail trail east of Scottsdale that virtually no-one uses!
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
More info: http://tasmaniantimes.com/images/uploads/NE_Line_Plan.pdf
  theesp Train Controller

And the Mayor keeps banging they don't have a business plan or funding behind them.
He really needs to get out from under his rock.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
In the south we have the DVR (a number of parallels with regard to proximity to major centre, length of track and scenery offered), which has been struggling to survive for over two decades now. Even if the DVR track was handed over tomorrow, it would be a mammoth task for them to keep it operational without ongoing funded because if we look around the country, heritage rail does not generate sufficient funds/revenue to keep 30-40km long branch lines in operation.  I strongly suspect the govt this is in part why the govt won't simply hand over the line.

I have done one trip up the NE, probably the last one under steam. Yes it will be a shame to see it go, but what is the proposal for the NE line going to do any different where others have failed or struggling? ie DVR, Mary Valley, Kingston Flyer, Zig Zag, South Gibsland etc etc and the others who have cut back to static only or closed. Even well placed and very popular Buffing Billy has had its moments. How long has Oberon being underway to return to operations, +10years???

You cannot generate sufficient revenue running 1 or 2 trains a month to maintain a branch line of this length and with limited activities available at the terminus to do much more than get counter meal you won't get the repeat customers. I'm also starting to feel that if you cannot not afford to pay the track access fees to use the commercial network then you probably don't have a business case to maintain a branchline.

The rail trial beyond Scottsdale is too far away from Launceston and too short to be anything more than a local walk/ride. If you want a rail trail to be a success like Otago Central Rail Trail (or Hauraki Rail Trail), then you need to replicate it as much as possible.

The most I would concede is maybe, just maybe viable is to retain the line to Lillydale only, but this still leaves about 15km of track. I know Scotsdale had at least once a nice yard and station, but so what if you cannot afford to keep the line open to Scottsdale. As least Lillydale is close enough to offer a reasonable return trip time from Launceston and far more viable to provide a rail connection for the bike trial.

Overall I suspect the better deal may simply to convert the whole thing to a rail trail because at least its open to all users, whether popular or not and the only maintenance costs are very low compared to a railway. The Otaga Rail trial has been nothing short of a huge success and generates a positive cash flow and seen a number of small business open up along the route (now often dubbed the pub trail) and others based elsewhere supporting the trial with bike hire etc. It also generates traffic for the truncated heritage railway.
  theesp Train Controller

Time will tell.

A rail trail is not going to do any good for the Dorset region.
Mr truck loving Mayor will do anything to get rid of the rail line.

But we will let you tell us all how it will best work from your desk in Dubai Smile
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
In the south we have the DVR (a number of parallels with regard to proximity to major centre, length of track and scenery offered), which has been struggling to survive for over two decades now. Even if the DVR track was handed over tomorrow, it would be a mammoth task for them to keep it operational without ongoing funded because if we look around the country, heritage rail does not generate sufficient funds/revenue to keep 30-40km long branch lines in operation.  I strongly suspect the govt this is in part why the govt won't simply hand over the line.

I have done one trip up the NE, probably the last one under steam. Yes it will be a shame to see it go, but what is the proposal for the NE line going to do any different where others have failed or struggling? ie DVR, Mary Valley, Kingston Flyer, Zig Zag, South Gippsland etc etc and the others who have cut back to static only or closed. Even well placed and very popular Puffing Billy has had its moments. How long has Oberon being underway to return to operations, +10years???

You cannot generate sufficient revenue running 1 or 2 trains a month to maintain a branch line of this length and with limited activities available at the terminus to do much more than get counter meal you won't get the repeat customers. I'm also starting to feel that if you cannot not afford to pay the track access fees to use the commercial network then you probably don't have a business case to maintain a branchline.
RTT_Rules
It's not as clear-cut as you argue. The Pichi Richi Railway in SA is 39km long, runs on effectively a once-weekly basis outside of peak tourist periods and is very successful, especially considering its location is far away from any major population centres. I'm not saying that they're a common example, but it shows that it can be done.

There are many physical characteristics of tourist railways that are factors in their success such as line length, proximity to population centres and other tourist attractions. But really from my experience, what matters is people. This could be enumerated as:

  • Managerial competence - this includes marketing, regulatory compliance, finances, volunteer relations and so on
  • Government support, particularly for large capital projects (Pichi Richi has enjoyed quite strong local government support for decades)
  • Volunteer pool size, age distribution and experience (from what I understand, Pichi Richi is excellent at attracting younger, skilled volunteers from all around Australia)


Whether the proposed Launceston & North-Eastern Railway has these is an open question (with the possible exception of government support, judging by the Mayor of Dorset's negative comments). They should certainly be allowed to have a go, the rail trail extension can wait. Good luck to them!

As for your comment about Puffing Billy - they certainly haven't had any 'moments' recently. They're easily the most successful tourist railway in Australia and rank very well globally. They continue to attract capital funding grants, run at a decent profit these days despite having a fair number of paid employees and have a sustainable volunteer base.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
In the south we have the DVR (a number of parallels with regard to proximity to major centre, length of track and scenery offered), which has been struggling to survive for over two decades now. Even if the DVR track was handed over tomorrow, it would be a mammoth task for them to keep it operational without ongoing funded because if we look around the country, heritage rail does not generate sufficient funds/revenue to keep 30-40km long branch lines in operation.  I strongly suspect the govt this is in part why the govt won't simply hand over the line.

I have done one trip up the NE, probably the last one under steam. Yes it will be a shame to see it go, but what is the proposal for the NE line going to do any different where others have failed or struggling? ie DVR, Mary Valley, Kingston Flyer, Zig Zag, South Gippsland etc etc and the others who have cut back to static only or closed. Even well placed and very popular Puffing Billy has had its moments. How long has Oberon being underway to return to operations, +10years???

You cannot generate sufficient revenue running 1 or 2 trains a month to maintain a branch line of this length and with limited activities available at the terminus to do much more than get counter meal you won't get the repeat customers. I'm also starting to feel that if you cannot not afford to pay the track access fees to use the commercial network then you probably don't have a business case to maintain a branchline.
It's not as clear-cut as you argue. The Pichi Richi Railway in SA is 39km long, runs on effectively a once-weekly basis outside of peak tourist periods and is very successful, especially considering its location is far away from any major population centres. I'm not saying that they're a common example, but it shows that it can be done.

There are many physical characteristics of tourist railways that are factors in their success such as line length, proximity to population centres and other tourist attractions. But really from my experience, what matters is people. This could be enumerated as:

  • Managerial competence - this includes marketing, regulatory compliance, finances, volunteer relations and so on
  • Government support, particularly for large capital projects (Pichi Richi has enjoyed quite strong local government support for decades)
  • Volunteer pool size, age distribution and experience (from what I understand, Pichi Richi is excellent at attracting younger, skilled volunteers from all around Australia)


Whether the proposed Launceston & North-Eastern Railway has these is an open question (with the possible exception of government support, judging by the Mayor of Dorset's negative comments). They should certainly be allowed to have a go, the rail trail extension can wait. Good luck to them!

As for your comment about Puffing Billy - they certainly haven't had any 'moments' recently. They're easily the most successful tourist railway in Australia and rank very well globally. They continue to attract capital funding grants, run at a decent profit these days despite having a fair number of paid employees and have a sustainable volunteer base.
LancedDendrite
Hi,
Comments on Pichie Richie are very valid and its a pity many other groups cannot survive as prosperous or at all. Unfortunately I feel its a outlier not the norm. PB had its issues many years back, probably 90's if I recall after the extension, but has a proven track record since. But having 3m people on your door step connected by a commuter rail line is always going to be a bonus.

Perhaps the focus shouldn't be on starting new heritage rail projects, it should do something with the ones already started or struggling.

Overall if you want to deliver value to the community along the corridor, then it won't be a heritage railway as typically in Australia heritage rail is not a job creation activity. Again looking at NZ, the Otago rail trial and has generated of +1000 full time and part time jobs and more fully covers its NZ$1/3m maintenance cost.

Theesp,
I used to live in Launceston for 9 years and caught what was probably the last steamer to Scottsdale, (I also caught what was probably one of the last DEL trains on DVR with H2 having failed only a few months before and I donated alot towards Dubs8 restoration to operation). I once had visions of what this line could offer for tourism as a heritage/commercial rail line. The NE Line has laid unused now for how many years, how much work is required to bring it back?

Many of the sleepers at Oberon that were deemed fit for continued use when they first took over have since been tagged for replacement due to the time frame of the restoration process. There is about 60km of branchline, probably 80,000 timber sleepers (I know some are steel), but at a stretch thats 3000 per year that need replacing. So how far behind are we now? Also used timber sleepers are no longer as common as the commercial railways move away from using them.

I'm not saying it cannot be done, I'm saying I feel it will be a waste of people money and time and unlikely to have a sustainable operational outcome. In my world wide travels it would appear the best way to give back to the community from these old lines all to often appears to be to not be running trains.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
In the south we have the DVR (a number of parallels with regard to proximity to major centre, length of track and scenery offered), which has been struggling to survive for over two decades now.....

Even if the DVR track was handed over tomorrow, it would be a mammoth task for them to keep it operational without ongoing funding.....

You cannot generate sufficient revenue running 1 or 2 trains a month to maintain a branch line of this length and with limited activities available at the terminus to do much more than get counter meal you won't get the repeat customers. I'm also starting to feel that if you cannot not afford to pay the track access fees to use the commercial network then you probably don't have a business case to maintain a branchline.

The rail trial beyond Scottsdale is too far away from Launceston and too short to be anything more than a local walk/ride. If you want a rail trail to be a success like Otago Central Rail Trail (or Hauraki Rail Trail), then you need to replicate it as much as possible.

The most I would concede is maybe, just maybe viable is to retain the line to Lillydale only, but this still leaves about 15km of track. I know Scotsdale had at least once a nice yard and station, but so what if you cannot afford to keep the line open to Scottsdale. As least Lillydale is close enough to offer a reasonable return trip time from Launceston and far more viable to provide a rail connection for the bike trial.

Overall I suspect the better deal may simply to convert the whole thing to a rail trail because at least its open to all users, whether popular or not and the only maintenance costs are very low compared to a railway. The Otaga Rail trial has been nothing short of a huge success and generates a positive cash flow and seen a number of small business open up along the route (now often dubbed the pub trail) and others based elsewhere supporting the trial with bike hire etc. It also generates traffic for the truncated heritage railway.
RTT_Rules
1] The only reason DVR has been struggling to survive is because it has been locked out of accessing its line through no fault of its own. The fact that DVR even still exists is a remarkable feat of survival with no access to revenue!

2] The staged refurbishment of the DV Line is based on a solid conservative business case that after initial funding for re-establishment, is self funded to extend in manageable stages.

3] Whether it be DVR or LNER, neither is proposing such a limited scope of operations or non-destinations. DVR has established attractions at its staged destinations (Plenty = Salmon Ponds / Redlands & National Park = Mt Field National Park / Railriders / proposed Maydena mountain bike development at Eagles Eyrie). LNER has Lilydale  = Providence & other wineries; Denison Gorge, Lilydale Falls; Bridestowe Lavender Farm; N.E. bike trail beyond Scottsdale..etc.

4] The rail trail beyond Scottsdale is not that locationally different to the Otago one, with regard to the relative distance from Launceston / Dunedin, remembering the Otago trail buts up to the Taieri Gorge Railway. However, just because rail trails are successful in one country doesn't immediately translate to another. No rail trails have yet matched the N.Z. experience in Australia, to judge from objective reports (i.e. disregarding rail trail promoters propaganda)

5] There are sufficient intermediate attractions through to Scottsdale to justify the line progressively returning. The key is the buy in (financially) of neighbouring businesses / tourist attractions that endorse and intend to link with the railway. like the vineyards, the Bridestowe Lavender Farm - none of which support a trail.

6] The rail trail will NEVER happen, due to the extreme hostility to it by the neighbouring wealthy business landowning community. Lawyers are already engaged. Appeals and injunctions against it will drag on for decades. If LNER doesn't happen, the line will be abandoned to nature and any trespassers will be facing the ends of shotguns.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!

The NE Line has laid unused now for how many years, how much work is required to bring it back?
RTT_Rules
Independent track inspectors have reported that the track will be fit for purpose after about a weeks work. The track is 60 - 70% steel sleepers and thick well packed ballast. Admittedly well short of whats required for a 2000 tonne freight at 80 kmh, but more than suitable for 20 tonnes of railcar at 40 kph.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
1] The only reason DVR has been struggling to survive is because it has been locked out of accessing its line through no fault of its own. The fact that DVR even still exists is a remarkable feat of survival with no access to revenue!

2] The staged refurbishment of the DV Line is based on a solid conservative business case that after initial funding for re-establishment, is self funded to extend in manageable stages.

3] Whether it be DVR or LNER, neither is proposing such a limited scope of operations or non-destinations. DVR has established attractions at its staged destinations (Plenty = Salmon Ponds / Redlands & National Park = Mt Field National Park / Railriders / proposed Maydena mountain bike development at Eagles Eyrie). LNER has Lilydale  = Providence & other wineries; Denison Gorge, Lilydale Falls; Bridestowe Lavender Farm; N.E. bike trail beyond Scottsdale..etc.

4] The rail trail beyond Scottsdale is not that locationally different to the Otago one, with regard to the relative distance from Launceston / Dunedin, remembering the Otago trail buts up to the Taieri Gorge Railway. However, just because rail trails are successful in one country doesn't immediately translate to another. No rail trails have yet matched the N.Z. experience in Australia, to judge from objective reports (i.e. disregarding rail trail promoters propaganda)

5] There are sufficient intermediate attractions through to Scottsdale to justify the line progressively returning. The key is the buy in (financially) of neighbouring businesses / tourist attractions that endorse and intend to link with the railway. like the vineyards, the Bridestowe Lavender Farm - none of which support a trail.

6] The rail trail will NEVER happen, due to the extreme hostility to it by the neighbouring wealthy business landowning community. Lawyers are already engaged. Appeals and injunctions against it will drag on for decades. If LNER doesn't happen, the line will be abandoned to nature and any trespassers will be facing the ends of shotguns.
12CSVT
1. Totally agree. But how long is this going to drag out? Understandable with PNT ruining the rails everywhere but its been a number of years since PN left the building. If the govt or successive govts are not interested, then what?

2. I hope so, but history elsewhere doesn't leave me with much confidence.

3. Some of what you indicate are rarely accessible from a train running a few times a month at best. I have moderate support for running to Lillydale only for this reason. Its close enough time wise to L'ton and doesn't limit your stay to a counter meal or short walk through the local bush. Beyond to Scottsdale I have zero confidence for rail to be viable. .

4. Why is the Otago one actually working and others fail? It Otago was a business in its own right and easily capable of charging directly the business would be highly profitable and well respected by most of the locals along the route. Yet, when we try to copy and paste to Oz, the answer is no. We all know full well if Otago was fully restored as a heritage rail operation, most of those jobs the rail trial has brought in would not exist. For example if DVR issues were resolved tomorrow and given a golden handshake to get things up and running, it would not produce over 100 jobs longterm. Otago is +1000 jobs. For many of the failures in Australia its about location, access, route interest, promotion etc.

5. No one will buy in to a few times a month railway operation. Sure they won't ignore it, but it won't be a major contributor to their income and its difficult to man up your staff only a few times a month.

6.  If the landowners stop LNER, then why bother trying to run a railway up there?
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE

The NE Line has laid unused now for how many years, how much work is required to bring it back?Independent track inspectors have reported that the track will be fit for purpose after about a weeks work. The track is 60 - 70% steel sleepers and thick well packed ballast. Admittedly well short of whats required for a 2000 tonne freight at 80 kmh, but more than suitable for 20 tonnes of railcar at 40 kph.
12CSVT
Hi Steve,
Ok so the line is in fair to good condition. The line never supported 80km/hr running when it was open and in good order so yes this is not an issue. IF I recall the steamers took 2.5hr to get to Scottsdale and abotu 1.5 to 2hr to get back without the issue of needing to take water and gravity assist but still running tender first.

70% steel sleepers still leaves 20,000 timber sleepers which are how old? I assume most of these are probably immediately spaced rather than continuous which is easier but still cannot be ignored.

A weeks work to return to service seems optimistic for a line out of use now for what a decade? Has it be maintained by Tasrail in near running order?

For the record, I'm not anti-Heritage rail and have donated more than a small proportion, I will note however the reason I rarely do now is simply because they wouldn't provide a receipt mailed to me. I offered to donate to others stating unless they agree to this I will not donate, no agreement was forthcoming.

However I acknowledge times have changed and the days when a few mates could get together and play 1:1 scale trains is over. Even today the ability for the commercial operators to simply donate is increasingly less viable as modern freight and passenger rollingstock is often not compatible with the bulk of the heritage operators and weekend warriors doing track work at the local heritage rail operator cannot take a discharged +100kg concrete sleepers and simply jam it in like timber. Even steel sleepers needs a bit of T&C to make it work. This along with significantly increased govt regulation has made being a heritage operator hard work. I also feel the customer base has changed somewhat and my gut feel have less time for all day tours and more focused on shorter tours. Unfortunately this also now applies to me.

Overall, based on observations around Australia, I don't have alot of confidence for LNER to succeed unless potentially other operators support this project in a big way and there is significant community and govt support.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
1. Totally agree. But how long is this going to drag out? Understandable with PNT ruining the rails everywhere but its been a number of years since PN left the building. If the govt or successive govts are not interested, then what?

2. I hope so, but history elsewhere doesn't leave me with much confidence.

3. Some of what you indicate are rarely accessible from a train running a few times a month at best. I have moderate support for running to Lillydale only for this reason. Its close enough time wise to L'ton and doesn't limit your stay to a counter meal or short walk through the local bush. Beyond to Scottsdale I have zero confidence for rail to be viable. .

4. Why is the Otago one actually working and others fail? It Otago was a business in its own right and easily capable of charging directly the business would be highly profitable and well respected by most of the locals along the route. Yet, when we try to copy and paste to Oz, the answer is no. We all know full well if Otago was fully restored as a heritage rail operation, most of those jobs the rail trial has brought in would not exist. For example if DVR issues were resolved tomorrow and given a golden handshake to get things up and running, it would not produce over 100 jobs longterm. Otago is +1000 jobs. For many of the failures in Australia its about location, access, route interest, promotion etc.

5. No one will buy in to a few times a month railway operation. Sure they won't ignore it, but it won't be a major contributor to their income and its difficult to man up your staff only a few times a month.

6.  If the landowners stop LNER, then why bother trying to run a railway up there?
RTT_Rules
1. It has been a long process with the State Govt having been less than helpful and Tasrail being hamstrung by (again) the State Govt (who had the ability to grant Tasrail means to facilitate access, but chose not to). However public pressure has weakened the State Govts resolve against heritage rail and DVR are now waiting on a formal lease application (under the SIC Act 2016) being submitted on our behalf by the DV Council.

2. T&H rail has successes and has failures. The difference is the capability of the membership and confidence & support of the council & community. DVR has both. LNER has one and half of the other (community support but only a hard core faction of the council at issue - one which has no community support).

3. Running will be staged firstly to Lilydale Falls, then Lebrina / Denison Gorge then Scottsdale / Bridestowe Lavendar Farm later. 1st year projected running for 91 days with est. 5460 pax ($40K) profit scaling up to 30K pax by Year 5. Figures from the LNER Business Plan - produced by independent professional tourism consultants.

4. Conservative estimates on job generation by DVR in the Derwent Valley have been estimated at c. 95 FTE (yes not over 100 granted). I highly doubt the Otago Rail Trail single-handedly generates 1000 jobs. Most would exist regardless of cyclists by general tourist visitation. The attraction of the Otago region is just that - the region. The trail is just in the right place to capitalise on the region. The region would only slightly capitalise on the trail. While the D.V. and N.E. are attractive in their own right, they are no Otago region. Like Wave Rock in Hyden in W.A. is popular, but it is no Uluru.

5. Like I said, initial ops are 91 days. Also no issue with 'buy in' as local business owners in the region are the drivers of the LNER project. DTT is just the facilitator.

6. Not sure I understand that statement. Like I said, the locals (business & property owners) are driving and promoting LNER - why would they stop it? They started it!
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
70% steel sleepers still leaves 20,000 timber sleepers which are how old? I assume most of these are probably immediately spaced rather than continuous which is easier but still cannot be ignored.

A weeks work to return to service seems optimistic for a line out of use now for what a decade? Has it be maintained by Tasrail in near running order?

Even today the ability for the commercial operators to simply donate is increasingly less viable as modern freight and passenger rollingstock is often not compatible with the bulk of the heritage operators. Even steel sleepers needs a bit of T&C to make it work.

This along with significantly increased govt regulation has made being a heritage operator hard work. I also feel the customer base has changed somewhat and my gut feel have less time for all day tours and more focused on shorter tours. Unfortunately this also now applies to me.

Overall, based on observations around Australia, I don't have alot of confidence for LNER to succeed unless potentially other operators support this project in a big way and there is significant community and govt support.
RTT_Rules
Yes, a fair bit of timber remains but varies in age and is intermittent. Tasrail are upgrading their steel sleeper coverage and with low value return (i.e. none - it now costs to dispose of them) in scrap, Tasrail have been earning more returns by selling at nominal cost to T&H groups. DVR has thousands in stock. LNER has also commenced recovering surplus track components and has some major sawmillers as backers that can provide timber sleepers.

The track assessment was done objectively by professional track inspectors. The line was heavily upgraded just prior to closure. The track due to its high standard has suffered minimal deterioration. Tasrail has maintained the right-of-way weed free as part of their Govt obligations.

LNER has high levels of commercial backing. One backer has bid for all withdrawn Tasrail  EE's, available for sale through Mannheims. The Burnie Council railcars were purchased at commercial rates. Another backer is planning to provide access to some of their recently acquired fleet of QR 'M' series carriages.

A backer in the commercial rail training / safety & accreditation field is offering his services for cost.

The proposed operations are focused on shorter tours, with high concentration on off train activities.

The key for LNER is the support of TATRail, and major regional businesses with the finance to match. It is the regional business identities that prompted the development of the LNER Project. It was never the original intention of DTT, who simply wanted space in Launceston for a static museum. The confluence of DTT searching for a base and the North East business lobby looking for a T&H body to adopt the N.E. Line resulted in the evolution of the LNER project - thus it is community and business driven, not rail enthusiast driven (though supported).
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
HI Steve,
I don't agree with what the state has done with the DVR line any more than you do and the state doesn't appear to be supporting heritage rail at all since I pretty much left Tasmania in 1998 and I'm not sure why. Is that they see it as non-sustainable on its own two feet? I hope not.

My gut feeling even back then was that perhaps the 3 x big heritage rail operators in 1997, DVR, Don and TTM should have merged and pooled resources and potentially more political clout, but I know they work together pretty much anyway. TTM is now an island so not sure what their future holds apart from offering short rides and static museum but I feel its a shame to see M5 and some of the rollingstock limited to 1/4 mile of track and personally I'd like to see this rollingstock moved to DVR and/or Don or maybe Launceston (in future) to enable it to do what its was designed to do and be enjoyed by all.

I know once Tas govt took over Tasrail it was going to be a while before they allowed heritage rail to venture onto the mainline, but for me this time has come and gone and enough's enough. The govt should make it quite clear under what conditions the heritage operators can hit use the mainline. I also feel that so any heritage operator should be given access for each trip on Sunday at minimal cost because the impact on Tasrail minimal and difficult to calculate and running these trains is in the best interest of the state because if they could once again have specials each year where steamers explore the entire operational network, there will be interstate and OS tourist come to Tassie for no other reason.  

Otago, I don't share your less optimistic view on its financial contribution as I thought this was fairly easy to calculate and the NZ govt has done this and hence their strong support for other like ventures. The area for which the line travels was not as immersed with tourists as you indicate before the rail trail. Certainly the bike hire companies and newly established shops and pubs along the way were not there. The route is favorable because its 150km long (so pretty much a weeks trip including transfers), the hilly scenery with deep valley's and bridges is mostly exposed and extended visually along the bulk of the corridor (thanks to deforestation) and there are enough small villages/towns along the corridor to keep people "watered" and sleep overs but no bigger towns to loose the atmosphere of being in the countryside. The weather is also generally never too hot, but likely excessively cold for some portion of the year. Its also close to enough to other tourist areas such that the support services and businesses can grow on more than a rail trail.

You might be right if the railway to Scottsdale can get up and operate frequently enough to be viable (90 days a year is what I would call be a minimum to have an impact on employment, Taieri operates daily for at least 2/3 of the route), the rail trial beyond to Herrick would thrive off this access and the railway off the rail trail, I hope so. Again looking at state wide, surely replicating even 20% of what Dunedin Railways has achieved would be a major bonus for the state.  

Hopefully the support is as you say and it works, although I think its optimistic on the weeks return to service, all depends on what resources are thrown at it. Time will tell.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
Unfortunately, when the ALP, which has as policy, retention of all disused track and support of T&HR, was in power, they had the wind down of PN to deal with then the establishment of the state owned version of Tasrail. In those early days, the system was still to raw and run down to viably re-instate T&HR access. At least Tasrail had commenced T&HR forums to start looking at the issues. By the time Tasrail settled down, the Liberals had gained power.

Sadly they brought with them an extreme hostility to rail - with the ongoing refurbishment of tasrail tolerated under sufferance. More than one Liberal (both Federal & State) have openly declared Tasmania shouldnt have railways full stop. The Liberal President, is a trucking company owner who despises rail.

Rene Hidding has developed an impression of all Tasmanian T&HR by his difficult experiences with the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Thus DVR, DRR, TTMS and the nascent LNER are being judged against that, which is completely unfair, as the WCWR is a completely different beast to the other Tas groups being that it:
  • Was developed as a Govt "boondoggle" to buy votes on the West Coast. It never had the basis of development by a volunteers based society - hence -
  • Has always been a fully paid employee supporting commercial venture, which has created an additional cost burden - which -
  • Has stymied private operators to the point the Govt was forced to take it over to prevent closure, embarrassment and consequences from the local community and thus -
  • Finds it is now a burden, due to the high cost of maintaining the infrastructure in extremely difficult country (which is precisely why MLM&RCo. abandoned it!);
  • Struggles with off-season patronage in a remote region beset by inhospitable winter weather;
  • Has little variety in the type of services offered (do it once, why go back?)

With Rene Hidding thus equating TTMS / DVR / DRR / LNER with WCWR, we get short shrift, despite being totally different creations, comprising a volunteer base, more manageable country for the track; more aligned "experiences" and destinations; close proximity to major population centres, a kinder climate...etc. There is also an impression that additional T&HR's will reduce patronage at WCWR (thinking people think, done one, done em all) when in fact, more T&HR's build synergies in that more people are attracted to get more bang for their buck - i.e. why go so far to see one T&HR when you could go and see 4 or 5 in close proximity?


Despite the uphill swim with the State Govt, the unrelenting public pressure in support of T&HR in this state has finally started to turn the ship. Thus after years of going no-where, D.V. Council is now waiting on a lease application, on our behalf, from the council, applied under the auspices of the Govts S.I.C. Act 2016, which was deliberatly framed to enable the removal of track for rail trails, but with the help of the Leg. Co., was amended sufficiently to enable T&HR - which was always possible under the Tasrail Act of 2007, but never considered with regards to T&HR.

Things are thus looking much more promising than a year or two back, but as you said, how it all pans out.../ Time will tell.
  Southern Aurora Locomotive Driver

Unfortunately, when the ALP, which has as policy, retention of all disused track and support of T&HR, was in power, they had the wind down of PN to deal with then the establishment of the state owned version of Tasrail. In those early days, the system was still to raw and run down to viably re-instate T&HR access. At least Tasrail had commenced T&HR forums to start looking at the issues. By the time Tasrail settled down, the Liberals had gained power.

Sadly they brought with them an extreme hostility to rail - with the ongoing refurbishment of tasrail tolerated under sufferance. More than one Liberal (both Federal & State) have openly declared Tasmania shouldnt have railways full stop. The Liberal President, is a trucking company owner who despises rail.

Rene Hidding has developed an impression of all Tasmanian T&HR by his difficult experiences with the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Thus DVR, DRR, TTMS and the nascent LNER are being judged against that, which is completely unfair, as the WCWR is a completely different beast to the other Tas groups being that it:
  • Was developed as a Govt "boondoggle" to buy votes on the West Coast. It never had the basis of development by a volunteers based society - hence -
  • Has always been a fully paid employee supporting commercial venture, which has created an additional cost burden - which -
  • Has stymied private operators to the point the Govt was forced to take it over to prevent closure, embarrassment and consequences from the local community and thus -
  • Finds it is now a burden, due to the high cost of maintaining the infrastructure in extremely difficult country (which is precisely why MLM&RCo. abandoned it!);
  • Struggles with off-season patronage in a remote region beset by inhospitable winter weather;
  • Has little variety in the type of services offered (do it once, why go back?)

With Rene Hidding thus equating TTMS / DVR / DRR / LNER with WCWR, we get short shrift, despite being totally different creations, comprising a volunteer base, more manageable country for the track; more aligned "experiences" and destinations; close proximity to major population centres, a kinder climate...etc. There is also an impression that additional T&HR's will reduce patronage at WCWR (thinking people think, done one, done em all) when in fact, more T&HR's build synergies in that more people are attracted to get more bang for their buck - i.e. why go so far to see one T&HR when you could go and see 4 or 5 in close proximity?


Despite the uphill swim with the State Govt, the unrelenting public pressure in support of T&HR in this state has finally started to turn the ship. Thus after years of going no-where, D.V. Council is now waiting on a lease application, on our behalf, from the council, applied under the auspices of the Govts S.I.C. Act 2016, which was deliberatly framed to enable the removal of track for rail trails, but with the help of the Leg. Co., was amended sufficiently to enable T&HR - which was always possible under the Tasrail Act of 2007, but never considered with regards to T&HR.

Things are thus looking much more promising than a year or two back, but as you said, how it all pans out.../ Time will tell.
12CSVT
Surely the LNER would have a strong case to take to the equal opportunity board/fair trading/ACC whatever it's called this week..

Especially when the local council and the Tasmanian Government appear to be showing complete disregard and prejudice towards the proposal.

Because they're not even willing to meet and consider options, and with so much public support behind the heritage train possibility then maybe this is another option if all else fails.
  The_trolley Deputy Commissioner

Location: Banned
SFA was achieved as Diesel Traction Tasmania and now that objective has been abandoned in favour of an even bigger pipedream.

Have the calenders I purchased gone anywhere near moving the ZC or even protecting it against the elements?

Forgive me if I have no confidence in this LNER rubbish at all. In fact, it's laughable.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
SFA was achieved as Diesel Traction Tasmania and now that objective has been abandoned in favour of an even bigger pipedream.

Have the calenders I purchased gone anywhere near moving the ZC or even protecting it against the elements?

Forgive me if I have no confidence in this LNER rubbish at all. In fact, it's laughable.
The_trolley
Actually DTT achieved a fair bit against the odds. In addition to managing to avoid the 1300 / ZC class becoming totally extinct, it gained a 2350 / ZB as well - so far. The original objective (Roundhouse Museum) has NOT been abandoned - just deferred whilst the LNER project is worked through.

How many recently formed preservation groups have managed to attract the support of their local regions biggest business and property owners, with large reserves of cash and resources? The direction of DTT was necessarily adjusted to take advantage of the offers of support (it would have been suicidal not to).

If the LNER Project had simply been the lone ambition of DTT itself, yes, it would have most definitely been an unachievable pipedream - but when community and big business get behind you, things become far more "real".

The only reason the depot at Turners Marsh isn't already under construction and the ZC / ZB and a number of other EE's one of our backers is buying, is not there yet, is the interminable process of dealing with a corrupt mayor of a disfunctional council (Dorset) and a useless State Govt that despises rail of any sort. The respective council and state elections cant come soon enough.

If anything is laughable, it is the pathetic excuses of those in power desperately trying to ignore the wishes of the community!
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The longterm viability of Tasrail has yet to be proven. The amount of money "gifted" needs to prove that Tasrail can survive as a heavily subsidised govt railway.

The issues that have hit numerous T&H rail groups cannot be ignored and overall I'd say more are struggling than thriving. Hence the govt being a little stand back ish is not unreasonable. However if there is clear community support then opinions should be adjusted accordingly.

The poor winter numbers that inflict the West Coast railway will apply to all including a rail trial. But a rail trial can still operate with 2 person a day travlung on their timetable.
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
The longterm viability of Tasrail has yet to be proven. The amount of money "gifted" needs to prove that Tasrail can survive as a heavily subsidised govt railway.

The issues that have hit numerous T&H rail groups cannot be ignored and overall I'd say more are struggling than thriving. Hence the govt being a little stand back ish is not unreasonable. However if there is clear community support then opinions should be adjusted accordingly.

The poor winter numbers that inflict the West Coast railway will apply to all including a rail trial. But a rail trial can still operate with 2 person a day travlung on their timetable.
RTT_Rules
Yes, the long term viability of Tasrail is yet to be proven, but that should fairly only be assessed in regards to making a profitable return on freight services, the KPI's being freight volume gained and income derived from that being sufficient to provide a living wage to essential staff and enough for future capital investment for replacement rolling-stock. The biggest risks to that are an inflated and unviable management structure and failure to build sustainable freight volumes. All investment in track should be excluded as essential state infrastructure investment, as is done with roads. Infrastructure investment must not be looked at as a subsidy, unless it is considered in the same way that road expenditure is looked as a "subsidy" to the road industry.

The only issues the T&H Groups are struggling with those that are are purely Govt imposed, so the fact that the T&H sector has struggled through to survive despite the determined efforts of Govt to exterminate the sector, is a credit to their resilience, which holds them in good stead if the Govt shackles are removed. The corporate amnesia of the Govt with respect to the growing capability of the T&H sector pre-2005, in an environment of less tourist numbers, less proficient volunteers and the many structural obstacles back then is far from being "not unreasonable", instead a mark of the culpability of an ignorant, hostile, self-agenda brandishing Senior State Service, with a long animosity towards rail.

I am still of the opinion that the WCWR is very much a unique beast and any extrapolation of seasonal patronage of that enterprise towards the T&H Groups with access to major year -round population and tourism generators (Hobart & Launceston) is "apples and oranges" in my view. On the reverse side of the coin, the success of Puffing Billy cannot really be extrapolated either, again due to its unique circumstances on the other extreme.

As for rail trails, regardless of all the overseas "successes", the most realistic prediction on the effectiveness of such an enterprise is the current performance of the existing rail trail, extending from the significant population centre of Scottsdale, east to the Billycock. Despite the hype, patronage by the targeted market, "high spending cycle tourists" is dismally low, even with the "novelty factor" encouraging the "try it & see set". Most usage is by local dog-walkers and hoons on trail-bikes. If that part of the trail was a roaring success, the argument to extend it would be valid. Regardless of whether there are two cyclists a day using it or twenty, the lack of cost recovery from users and lack of proven consumption by users, imposes the entire cost of development and ongoing maintenance on local ratepayers with little prospective return. That is precisely why property and business owners (ratepayers) in the N.E. are so unanimously opposed to the rail trail extension.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Sort of agree with the exclusions

You cannot write rail infrastructure spending like roads and roads are not either. It has to demonstrate it is producing some sort of a return because real money is what takes to build it. What could that real money do instead? It is also not a community asset as such as the community cannot use it like a park or a road. Road funding is a mix of commercial, political, emotional and basic need as we all live alongside a road and use it to get about.

I tend to feel rail track funding should be a mix of commercial return and deferred spending. The commercial return bit being it should pay for its own day to day operating costs. ie rail, ballast and sleeper maintain and replacement. Major capital works however needs other factors in most cases to justify the costs.

Tassie's biggest problem for commercial rail freight is the loss of major customers from the state with few replacements. If you go through the freight lost from Tasrail since 1990's, most no longer exists and what still does was small change that needed other freight to survive. Overall my rough est is around 1 to 1.5mtpa is gone and this was a high of just under 3mta.

The Scottsdale rail trail is nothing more than a local bike track in tourists because thats all it is and anyone trying to use this to justify why rail trials don't work, or at least the entire NE Line rail trail won't work is scratching at the bottom of the barrel for excuses. I mean seriously, 30km of route km 70km from Launceston. Read the Tripadvisors reports, "nice, but a bit far out, so if you have time". NZ options works because its a Rail Trial, not a regional bike track. 30km is a day trip for even the most average riders. Otago is 150km long. Billycock Hill is what sort of destination? it doesn't even come up on Google. Launceston would have a much longer bike track. Is there even a shop along the route apart from Scottsdale? The route needs to be extended back to Herrick as a minimum to make it start to be worth while for people to want to make the effort to want to go there. I know people in UAE who have travelled to NZ to do Otago, no one will fly to Tas for 30km of route km. The route towards Launceston can wait until the north East line rail group have run their course.
  BP4417 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Launceston, Tasmania
You would have thought the Dorset Council first option for a bike trail would have been from Tullendena to Derby the missing link, or will this be another request for finance from the Commonwealth and State Governments?
  12CSVT Chief Commissioner

Location: Drowning in accreditation red tape!
Tassie's biggest problem for commercial rail freight is the loss of major customers from the state with few replacements. If you go through the freight lost from Tasrail since 1990's, most no longer exists and what still does was small change that needed other freight to survive. Overall my rough est is around 1 to 1.5mtpa is gone and this was a high of just under 3mta.
RTT_Rules
Yes, I agree, the loss of a lot of large traditional bulk freight customers has been hard on Tasrail. Also the failure of a number potentially lucrative new projects that either failed to develop (magnesite mine, silica refinery, pulp mill, coal exporter) or have stalled through either legal challenges (Venture Minerals) or inability to sell product (bauxite mine) has been a disappointment.

Nevertheless, there is still remaining legacy traffic, given away by P.N. that has not yet fully been recovered from road (pine logs & coal to Boyer) and a significant contestable portion of intermodal traffic on the highways that could be obtained with sufficient effort. Of course, that is the key - significant effort.

Tasrail has to lose the mindset of a large mainland railway with guarantees of large interstate intermodal or bulk mineral traffic flows that naturally gravitate towards rail due to their sheer bulk, thus be able to sit back to let them fall into their lap. Tasmania (bar a couple exceptions) is most definitely the wrong place for that! Tasrail has to think more like U.S. short-line operators that will eagerly scrape up any traffic going and succeed through energetic and persistent sales staff that are relentless in pursing traffic opportunities, never mind how unlikely. They also need to consider active site based customer liason. Boyer, for instance, has supplier representatives, from a good many of its service providers, based on site at Boyer Mill to manage their business with Boyer. Does that include Tasrail? Nope. Yet Norske Skog are one of Tasrail's biggest customers?

So yes, whilst Tasrail have significant structural obstacles to becoming a success, its attitudinal obstacles are even more of an issue. Frustratingly, that cannot be simply explained by private versus Government managed business practice. Both  types have been proven failures.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
You would have thought the Dorset Council first option for a bike trail would have been from Tullendena to Derby the missing link, or will this be another request for finance from the Commonwealth and State Governments?
BP4417
My first and only drive trip east of Scottsdale following the railway was back in mid 90's. The line had been ripped up to Gladstone and it looked like the Gladstone yard was being used for log transfer but stopped and I believe within 2 years the line was ripped up back to Toonaga(spelling) mine.

East of the current Rail Trail you have something the existing trail doesn't have, civilisation, access to services and supplies. However the views and mother nature of the current trail east of Scottsdale is magic draw card, but it's too small too far away, you need more. Scottsdale to Herrick is probably a 2-3 day trip. This requires places to eat, stay and ultimately drink.

I'm guessing a typical rail trial tourist will spend around $50-150/day/person, depending if camping or hard roof style. Bike hire alone is about $30-50/day.

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