Questions still remain on detail, funding and the Bridgewater Bridge

Community public transport group, Future Transport Tasmania (FTT), today congratulated the Tasmanian State Labor Party for finally committing to the Northern Suburbs Railway proposal. FTT agrees that it is far more than just a railway or transport project, but one that can revitalize inner-suburban development, creating many more jobs, as well as improved access to jobs. However, FTT does have concerns regarding Labor’s proposal regarding seeking private investment. FTT does not believe that a public-private partnership is likely to deliver value for money for Tasmania.

FTT’s view has always been that the Northern Suburbs Railway (or Light Rail) project can be funded entirely by the State Government without any need for assistance from the Federal Government or any Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. The cost of the necessary infrastructure and rolling-stock will inevitably take a few years to properly plan and implement, thus enabling it to be spread over a number of years. PPPs effectively mean that Governments are paying a private company a sufficient subsidy to be profitable, thus costing more money in the long term.

Future Transport Tasmania spokesperson Toby Rowallan said: “It is good to see that the ALP has finally made a commitment to the Northern Suburbs Railway. It is a pity that they did not support it in their last term of Government, as it could have been operating by now. The ALP did not want to pay for it then, and presumably also did not want the Greens to get any credit. FTT is not interested in this sort of political point-scoring game, nor do we believe that any private funding is necessary. The cost of the project can easily be afforded by the state, as the entire capital cost will not be required in one hit.”

“FTT now seeks a commitment from the ALP and other political parties, to ensure that heritage rail operators can use the Northern Suburbs Railway. Also, most critically, that they guarantee the rail link between Bridgewater and Granton will not be cut, and that the replacement Bridgewater Bridge includes a new rail crossing. FTT also seeks clarification on the precise nature of what the ALP are proposing, and whether it will be a light rail network that can be expanded to suitable parts of Hobart in future, or if it will be restricted to the existing corridor.”

“FTT also wants to stress the critical nature of the Northern Suburbs Railway to the Macquarie Point Development (MPD). The MPD simply will not succeed without the railway going through it into the CBD, to ensure that the area is properly connected without creating more demand for cars and car parks. FTT is most encouraged by the ALP’s policy, but we remain cautious. In the event of a minority government after the state election, we urge the ALP to stick to their guns on this, and help push it through, in the interests of Tasmanians, rather than the usual blame game perpetuated by party interests,” finished Mr Rowallan.
Toby Rowallan, Spokesperson, Future Transport Tasmania