13 March 2014
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, will today call again on the Labor and Liberal leaders to commit to restoring passenger rail in the greater Hobart area. He will be joined by Glenorchy Alderman Kristie Johnston who has been campaigning for 10 years for a northern suburbs rail service.
“I call again on Premier Lara Giddings and Opposition Leader Will Hodgman to sign a pledge that they will build the northern suburbs light rail system in the term of the next parliament if they are elected Premier this Saturday,” Mr Wilkie said.
“Neither Labor nor Liberal leader have so far agreed to sign such a pledge, despite widespread public support for the proposal and the significant response in recent weeks to the distribution of more than 20,000 light rail information leaflets to households in Glenorchy.
“Premier Lara Giddings at least had the courtesy to reply to the invitation to sign a pledge. But her apparent interest in the project rings hollow considering the repeated inquiries into light rail during the 16 years of Labor Government have resulted in not a single tangible outcome except more talk, more reports and a pile of glossy pictures fed to the media.
“Alternative Premier Will Hodgman didn’t even go to the trouble of replying to the invitation, which clearly shows the Liberal Party’s complete and utter disinterest in restoring passenger rail.
“The Greens are the most cynical of the lot of them. This is the party that constantly trumpets a northern suburbs light rail system but in nearly four years of sharing power in government, including holding the balance of power, two cabinet positions and the sustainable transport ministry, has also achieved nothing tangible.
“The suggestion by the Greens, that the failure to deliver on their 2010 promise that trains would be running by 2013 is all somehow Canberra’s fault, is simply rubbish seeing as no application for funding has ever been developed or submitted,” Mr Wilkie said.
Andrew Wilkie has been a long-time supporter of restoring a passenger rail service from Hobart’s northern suburbs to the CBD and is a foundation member of the Northern Suburbs Rail Action Group. The Group is the initiative of engineer Ben Johnston and Alderman Kristie Johnston.
A light rail system would feature modern electric vehicles on the existing rail corridor between Hobart, Glenorchy and beyond to Brighton or at least Bridgewater. Travel time between Bridgewater and Hobart would be less than 30 minutes by express service.
Restoring passenger rail will link communities, ease road traffic congestion, reduce the cost of living and help clean up the environment. It will also be a catalyst for economic development and urban renewal.