||Issue No. 293||20 December 2005|
Waves of Destruction
Interview: Back to the Future
Unions: A Real Page Turner
Industrial: The Pin-Striped Union
International: Around The World In 365 Days
Legends: Terrific, Tommy
Your Rights At Work: Worth Fighting For
Politics: The Year That Was
Economics: Master and Servant Revisited
Culture: 2005: The Year of Living Repetitively
Bad Boss: The Bottom Ten
Religion: Hymns from a Different Song Sheet
The Locker Room
Free to Rat
Tax Cuts and Cockroaches
Proportion, Not Distortion
Tassie Rail Win
The state's railworkers joined community protests in September, lobbying politicians after Pacific National threatened to shut down Tasmania's north-south rail corridor unless governments stumped up over $100 million to bail out the system it bought in 2004.
The ultimatum would have unleashed another 300 trucks a day on the state's ageing roads, and cost of over 270 jobs.
"This is a big plus for road safety," says Rail Tram and Bus Union National President Bob Hayden. "Keeping freight trains running on the Hobart-Launceston-Burnie line means that hundreds of trucks a day will be kept off the state's roads."
Tasmanians feared a steep increase in heavy truck traffic would lead to deaths and injuries. A spokesperson from the Tasmanian trucking industry said members could not cope with the increased demand, while a federal study showed transport costs would jump 17%.
Tasmanian RTBU activist, Rex Neil, put together a rail recovery plan that drew on AuslLink funding to Tasmania, a plan that formed the basis of the federal government's $78 million dollar offer.
With the Tasmanian Government agreeing to the package, Hayden called on Pacific National to take up their part of the three-way rescue package to ensure it is delivered. With no current CEO Pacific National is stalling on a decision until next February, but transport economist Bob Cotgrove says he would be surprised if the offer was rejected.
Under the plan Pacific National, which owns the Tasmanian track, would hand it over to the Tasmanian Government at no cost and the State Government will be required to fund estimated maintenance costs of $4 million a year.
Pacific National would be asked to contribute $38 million, for rolling stock replacements and improvements, something Neil says should be a priority to ensure that rail operations in Tasmania remain viable.
Rail workers have also welcomed a planned upgrade of the terminal at Bell Bay.
"This is a bit of an early Christmas present for Tasmanian road users as well as the state's rail workers," said Neil. "Some of them have been retrenched two or three times, and were looking at that happening again.
"The state government shouldn't sneeze at this solution, especially three months out from a state election.
"All parties have to get fair dinkum about fixing the rail track in Tasmania and ensuring it is maintained and managed well into the future."
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