These comments follow the release of an unfavourable condition report into the existing rail corridor through Glenorchy this week, which has all but doomed the prospect of light rail in the northern suburbs for the foreseeable future.
While disappointed the report does not support light rail – which a 2020 report by PwC found would result in the greatest economic benefit for Glenorchy – Mayor Thomas said it was now time for action.
“The most important thing is that the transit corridor is made available for public transport, in whatever mode affordable and sustainable for the taxpayer, and as soon as practicable,” Mayor Thomas said.
“Our focus should be to meet the needs of our community while keeping the dream alive for future mode options, as growth and expansion demand it. But for now, we need to put the debate around best mode aside, agree on a solution and get to work on making it a reality,” she said.
“No more debate, no more studies, no more delays.”
Mayor Thomas said the findings of the condition assessment weren’t surprising, given the age of the infrastructure, but remained optimistic about the prospects for investment and growth in Glenorchy, despite the lack of support for rail.
“Modern day passenger rail standards are a lot different than they were 50 years ago when it was operational on these tracks,” she said.
“It is disappointing light rail is not feasible at this time, because it was the clear winner in terms of ability to attract investment and jobs and increase the number of dwellings and access to services for residents of Glenorchy City.
“Facilitating strategic urban growth and prosperity in our city is our Council’s priority and other modes can achieve this. The Hobart City Deal and the opportunity to unlock the land surrounding the transit corridor is a once in a generation opportunity to bring about genuine change.
“So while light rail may not be a viable option, we will keep working with the State and Federal Governments to ensure we capitalise on this opportunity and get the new transport mode operating in the suburbs as soon as possible.”
Mayor Thomas also congratulated incoming Minister for Local Government, Michael Ferguson on his appointment in yesterday’s State Cabinet reshuffle.
“I’ve had many productive discussions with Minister Ferguson around this issue in his role as Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Transport and State Development.” Mayor Thomas said.
I look forward to continuing those discussions and am pleased to see Local Government added to his portfolio.
The Tasmanian Government briefed the Greater Hobart Mayors on the findings of the condition report late last year.
The report’s findings were made public at a Federal Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee hearing late last week.