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Dear Ministers and other parties,

My name is Mathew Sharp and I’m a student living in Hobart. I’m writing to you about a possible strategy in regards to the operation of a Hobart light railway, and the operation of the West Coast Wilderness Railway.

At the present time, there is the push to create the Hobart Northern Suburbs Light Railway (HNSLR), as well as to find an operator for the West Coast Wilderness Railway (WCWR). Both are vital and necessary elements for the areas where they are located: Hobart for its transport solutions, and the West Coast for its tourism and economic benefit.

I am a supporter of a Hobart railway network, and for that reason, I have had the idea that if the railway ever takes shape, a government-financed company; similar in form to the original Tasmanian Govt. Railways, could operate both the Hobart Northern Suburbs Light Rail and West Coast Wilderness Railway.

The idea behind this is not only to make it easier to divide the freight-only operations of TasRail from a passenger network, but to pool the income from both enterprises and in the long-term, save valuable money. The company, the Great Tasman Railway, would operate the West Coast Railway in its current form and operate the HNSLR as a general mass transit option. Weekday services would run modern rolling stock and Sundays seeing express heritage trains (operated in conjunction with the Tas. Transport Museum) travel to destinations such as Mt Field National Park.

The Great Tasman Railway (GTR) would also operate a larger service than what has been devised in the HNSLR project. Two trains would operate in conjunction on the single line, timetabled so as that when Train #1 arrives in Hobart, Train #2 would depart Hobart and once at a certain waypoint on the network, Train #1 could depart again.

This would mean a high frequency on the inner-city line as far a Bridgewater. One train would go as far as New Norfolk, and the other as far as Brighton. New Norfolk as a destination presents an issue with the paper mill at Boyer, but a detour could always be laid if GTR trains could not work around TasRail freight workings.

My only concern in regards to the railway being implemented is that there is not enough forward thinking and co-operation on the part of the Government and its departments. The DIER, Metro and TasRail have all been stiff opponents towards the railway development, and I feel it jeopardises the entire likelihood of a railway coming to fruition. Of course, capital investment is needed by the Government and DIER, but with proper marketing, branding, park and ride options and linkage to buses, the GTR could far outweigh any cost-to-benefit ratio and bring financial return. Advertising on trains could also attract greater revenue.

Heritage trains to Mt Field alone could be viable even by themselves, with past heritage trains being very popular with locals and tourists alike. Fares for these could be priced higher, and would be a good local attraction to have. The New Norfolk train would also open up the Derwent Valley a lot more to investment, tourism and be a popular alternative to slow and miserable buses and/or road networks.

The idea behind this is not just to see the railway back, but also to generate money. I am always inclined to think financially, and an immensely small capital investment could perhaps reap many rewards for this state, if only decisive action is put forward AND the State Government decides to do, not think. The option to have a trial using the Tas. Transport Museum’s railcar is also there, and should be considered and perhaps discussed.

Please find attached to this email a proposed route map for the Hobart line, and an advertising poster for the Great Tasman Railway showing the branding and logo.

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Regards,

Mathew Sharp
http://hobartinquirer.tumblr.com