All aboard city trams

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - ANNE MATHER

HO­BART’S orig­i­nal city trams would roll back to life un­der a pro­posal for a her­itage tram ser­vice that would run along a pic­turesque stretch of the city’s wa­ter­front.

The plan, which is be­fore Ho­bart City Coun­cil, would see cen­tury-old city trams take tourists along a dis­used rail line from the Re­gatta Grounds to Cor­nelian Bay.

The pro­posed tourism at­trac­tion would also see the de­vel­op­ment of a her­itage tramway mu­seum, with mem­o­ra­bilia for vis­i­tors and space for a vol­un­teer work­force to carry out tram restora­tion.

Pro­po­nents say Ho­bart’s orig­i­nal trams would be a tourism draw­card, es­pe­cially for those dis­em­bark­ing from cruise ships or head­ing to any fu­ture de­vel­op­ment at Mac­quarie Point.

The trams would run along a 2.8km sec­tion of track, with a po­ten­tial stop at the Royal Tas­ma­nian Botan­i­cal Gar­dens.

The Ho­bart Tram Restora­tion and Mu­seum So­ci­ety is be­hind the plan and has pre­sented a busi­ness case to Ho­bart City Coun­cil’s In­fra­struc­ture Com­mit­tee.

So­ci­ety vice-pres­i­dent John Kelly, the owner of North Ho­bart’s State Cin­ema, said the trams would be a unique ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Tourists would love this,” he said.

He said the busi­ness case was solid be­cause the ini­tial cap­i­tal cost would be mod­est as many of the main in­gre­di­ents were ready to go.

He said the tracks had been as­sessed as fit for the pur­pose, and three orig­i­nal trams were al­ready fully re­stored and wait­ing in the wings.

“This would use the re­stored trams that have sat idle for many years,” Mr Kelly said.

He said one of the re­stored trams, Tram 17, was an orig­i­nal dou­bledeck tram.

“That dou­ble decker is unique in all of Aus­tralia,” he said.

So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Dr Richard Roffe said the so­ci­ety did not want to lock away the trams to tinker with them, but share them with the wider pub­lic.

“This is an op­por­tu­nity for our city, the trams would be for gen­eral use,” Dr Roffe said. The so­ci­ety’s busi­ness case says the coun­cil owns “three beau­ti­fully re­stored trams, which need only a lit­tle ex­tra work to make them fully op­er­a­tional”.

“It has so far in­vested about a mil­lion dol­lars in these trams, but they are cur­rently locked away in a se­cure fa­cil­ity for all but two days of the year,” it says.

“The pro­posal will fi­nally en­able the trams to be show­cased in the man­ner they de­serve.”

Re­port au­thor Ross Har­ris said the busi­ness case showed the ser­vice could be a fi­nan­cially sus­tain­able oper­a­tion based on a ticket price of about $10 an adult, with at least 10,800 adult pas­sen­gers a year.

Mr Har­ris said the so­ci­ety had paid for a pro­fes­sional in­spec­tion of the rel­e­vant sec­tion of track, which had con­firmed the line was in good con­di­tion and the cor­rect gauge for the trams. The line would be leased from Tas Rail.

The so­ci­ety says the tram ser­vice would not only be a draw­card be­cause of the wa­ter­front scenery and des­ti­na­tions, but be­cause of Ho­bart’s rich tram her­itage.

Ho­bart had the first com­plete elec­tric tramway sys­tem in the South­ern Hemi­sphere, which was es­tab­lished in 1893 and closed in 1960.

Mr Kelly said the so­ci­ety was ready with the skilled vol­un­teer labour to op­er­ate and main­tain the trams and staff the mu­seum.

At Ho­bart City Coun­cil’s In­fra­struc­ture Com­mit­tee meet­ing, it was rec­om­mended the busi­ness plan be ex­pertly re­viewed and ad­vice pro­vided on the po­ten­tial cap­i­tal cost as­so­ci­ated with the pro­posal.

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