Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Media Release

Rail Corridor Unsuitable for Trains …

The proponents of Light/Passenger Rail in Hobart say they’re battling to get a sensible response on the future rail corridor through the Macquarie Point redevelopment site.

Rail Action Group President Ben Johnston says a meeting with the Macquarie Point Development Corporation (MPDC) last Friday has increased concerns that the specific needs of a future rail corridor are going unheeded.

Mr Johnston says, “I understand the MPDC is committed to protecting a ‘rail corridor’, however in the absence of any detail I remain concerned its proposed corridor seems to be unsuitable for trains”.

“I am mystified the MPDC is constructing a cycleway on what was the rail corridor, with apparently no detailed plans for a future rail corridor. Macquarie Point is a blank slate; there is no excuse for ‘stuffing up’ rail access to our capital”.

New Macquarie Point Master Plan concerns:

 No direct reference to rail or a rail corridor on the Master Plan (above)
 The utility/vehicle corridor is directed toward the ABC, rather than the CBD (rail vehicles cannot make a sharp turn)
 Numerous requests for assurance on rail corridor curvature (100 m minimum radius) and gradient (2.5% maximum) have gone unanswered

The Hobart Northern Suburbs Rail Action Group Inc. was formed to facilitate the establishment of a passenger rail service as the centrepiece of an integrated transport network and preservation of the rail corridor between Hobart and Brighton for rail services.


Sketch of a possible low impact rail approach to the city and integration with buses and ferries at Mawson Place [Hobart Northern Suburbs Rail Action Group]
The Rail Action Group understands the MACQUARIE POINT DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AMENDMENT BILL 2018 incorporating the new Master Plan will be debated in State parliament this week.

In January this year then Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding said the Government would pull out all stops to get it built. The Minister said, “I can see the first rail carriages on this line within five years”.

Ben Johnston is President, Hobart Northern Suburbs Rail Action Group

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  1. Chris

    November 23, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Reds under the sewerage works eh, Rob?

    Do you play Nixon dominoes?

  2. Rob Halton

    November 20, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Light rail is a waste of time to be considered within the Hobart City Deal however more realistic options it to look beyond bus and taxi lanes at peak hour on the Southern Outlet which draws most of the traffic that congests the city as massive development to the south of Hobart accelerates at an unprecedented rate, in today’s Mercury ” Kingston project boasts $300m jolt, where does all the material and support come from, pasing through Hobarts Davey and Macquarie Sts, there is no other access because of geographical constraints getting to Kingston, Channel, Bruny, Huonville and beyond.
    Looking at a road traffic solution beyond the Southern Outlet which was opened in 1972 and not completed from Sandfly to Vinces Saddle until much later, traffic flow o nthe entire route from Huonville and the Channel area is now constant throughout most of the day.

    Any Hobart City Deal must include a study into both a Bypass or a Tunnel under the city! now as bus lanes and taxi lanes are only a short term remedial fix.

    • Mike Eric Seabrook

      November 20, 2018 at 10:25 pm

      require collins st extension from molle st to anglesea st along the hobart rivulet.

      require emergency event accesses to southern outlet – south lanes near intersection of king st/proctors rd and at garden crescent.

  3. pat synge

    November 20, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Thanks Ben, for your ongoing work on this.

    Light Rail for Hobart’s northern suburbs seems so obvious that it’s difficult to understand why it isn’t being supported by all.

    • Raylan

      November 21, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Yes Pat, I agree, and my thanks also to Ben for his work in trying to promote the Northern Suburbs Rail.

      It seems like a no-brainer … and perhaps you’ve just nailed it. Perhaps the reason the light rail isn’t being considered is that there are no vested interests for the government. No prominent developer has come forth with an ‘all bells and whistles’ proposal like some other things in town, no lobby group has made significant donations to the government, and so no single construction contract can be handed out.

      In Newcastle, NSW, the train line was terminated at Broadmeadow. Yes, there were many factors at play in this situation, but, and a very important but at that, the narrow rail corridor for the reader of the line to Newcastle was some of the most sought after land in the city. It’s now mostly in the hands of private property developers and the fervour with which the lines were ripped up and large, mostly empty apartment blocks were built speaks volumes. Good work, NSW state government .. and your mates.

      Yes, in Hobart the rail corridor for the most part doesn’t pass through scenic beach-side or high value real estate areas, so it’s a little different, but if the government really wanted this to happen, to do something positive for the future, to leave a positive legacy, then it could and it would. Just imagine if the MWCC had thrown its energy into the “Hobart Light Rail” project.

      A light rail system may not be the complete solution, but to not give legitimate and transparent effort to evaluate it is a crime.

      While a cross city tunnel is good, anybody with even a cursory knowledge of civil engineering knows that the cost is at least one, if not several orders of magnitude greater than what could possibly be afforded by a small government like Tasmania. Its a pipe dream. Move on.

  4. Rob Halton

    November 20, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    Personally I don’t think that Light Rail is a goer until there are significant population increases along the outlying suburbs of Greater Hobart in the direction of the western suburbs, and only on condition that the rail is eventually extended to Brighton housing estates, but that could be a decade or two away!

    It is pointless to end the rail at Glenorchy or Granton Of course the limiting factor could be the new Bridgewater bridge for which is not essential at the present time. Any light rail would require the technology to deal with changing gradients to cross the Derwent River. I can’t see a new Bridgewater bridge for at least another five years, and that will be dependent on any surplus, given the huge Defence budget that Australia is now facing to maintain our sovereign rights and securing our borders with the expansionist activities by China.

    I think that all these fancy dreams about Macquarie Point need to be revisited. The site is fine as an industrial site to cater for the future needs of Hobart as a storage and marine engineering facility behind a busy and noisy working port which appears to be picking up more port business.

    The grinning Massina woman as Mac Point CEO is clueless about the purpose of the area she is supposed to facilitate, and she is nothing more than a Hodgman government puppet as there is little decision making, but lots of confusion.

    I don’t expect that Ben Johnson will ever get any straight answers as there are too many questions about the role of Mac Point.

    I am not sure where light rail is meant to end beside the Old Hobart railway station.

    Of course the Port Of Hobart may no longer support a massive Polar network as involvement with China diminishes after the recent PNG APEC summit. These changes will most likely lead to a strengthening of Port facilities, and a remote port such as Hobart may serve as a naval patrol and maintenance establishment. Macquarie Point would be requisitioned accordingly as would the DEC facility upstream from Hobart beside Commonwealth owned Dowsing Point.

    You can bet any money Mac Point will be taken over to serve the Defence Force for various roles within the next few years, most definitely with China prowling the high seas and other foreign vessels plundering our fish stocks in Australian waters. There will be a need for a southern fleet stationed at Albany WA, and the other location at the port of Hobart is ideal.

    In that case Light rail will be sidelined as other road priorities within the State require urgent attention such as a complete rethink of traffic tearing through Hobart’s CBD from the Southern Outlet, and addressing the traffic constraints coming from the airport and the Eastern Shore.

    As we rely heavily on road transport, either a city bypass behind Knocklofty coming from the Southern Outlet near Cascades, or a city tunnel as recently suggested by Bob Cotgrove at UTas and a team of retired HEC engineers. Either way, one or the other is required to bring Hobart into the present instead of it remaining locked into the colonial thinking of the past.

    Greater Hobart is expanding at an unprecedented rate. The car and the heavy transport truck are kings of the road and will remain so for decades to come. Modern facilitation of modern road networks is essential now!

    The City deal needs to be realistic and must stick to the priorities of addressing traffic movement from the south and from the airport with some bypass measures in place to counteract congestion and the chances of serious accidents involving cars and heavy transport trucks.

    • Leonard Colquhoun

      November 21, 2018 at 11:22 am

      At least (and at last?) Mr Johnson actually mentions radius curves and track gradients, both being critical factors in building any fixed rail permanent way. 19th century Tasmania chose the 3’6″ / 1067mm gauge largely because of the colony’s hilly topography. It was also cheaper to build, which was probably the main reason for that choice in WA and Qld.

      In this early 21st century, there is another very important criterion^: a critical mass of passengers, which in practice means a lot of weekday suburb>CBD >suburb commuters needing that sort of regular – language trigger warning for Seppophobes – ‘mass transit’.

      Putting together topography + demography = c. 50,000 northern suburbs train riders doing the five-days-a-week suburb>CBD>suburb shuffle is 90% improbable.

      ^ wonder how long ‘criterion’ will stay in public usage? Likely evolution: ’criterion’ > obsolete / academic use only, becoming a singular noun, with ‘criterias’ > the plural. Doesn’t really matter much as vox populi rules here, but it would have been encouraging to hear ‘criterion / criteria’ in the English department I most recently worked in.

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