Rail van­dals’ big re­pair bill

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - STEPHANIE NEW­ING­TON

IN­CI­DENCES of van­dal­ism tar­get­ing Der­went Val­ley Rail­way have in­creased in the past month, caus­ing thou­sands of dol­lars in dam­age.

The most re­cent break-ins oc­curred on Christ­mas Eve and New Year’s Eve, which re­sulted in theft and graffiti of the his­toric rail equip­ment.

Der­went Val­ley Rail­way sec­re­tary Owen An­drews said it was un­clear how much per­ma­nent dam­age had been done but es­ti­mates were al­ready up­wards of $5000.

A gate on the yard’s ex­ter­nal fence will need to be re­placed and some rolling stock and re­cently up­dated in­fra­struc­ture may be re­paired, in­clud­ing a track main­te­nance ve­hi­cle.

“As a re­sult we had vol­un­teers in on Box­ing Day and New Year’s [Day]. It’s just re­ally un­for­tu­nate at this time of year,” Mr An­drews said.

“Our vol­un­teers have put in tens of thou­sands of hours to get the rail up and run­ning and main­tain it.

“We need to re­store the train to op­er­a­tional level be­fore we can re­store its his­toric ap­pear­ance.”

Mr An­drews said this was the first ma­jor in­ci­dent for the rail­way in re­cent years.

“It’s in­cred­i­bly dis­heart­en­ing and sad to see such a lack of re­spect for the his­tor­i­cal value of the rail­way,” he said.

This comes as the state’s freight op­er­a­tor TasRail an­nounced a joint ef­fort with Tas­ma­nia Po­lice in Au­gust 2017.

The part­ner­ship aims to re­duce van­dal­ism and dan­ger­ous be­hav­iour on and around rail­ways, as well as shine a light on the risks as­so­ci­ated with trains. This will be done by in­creased col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the two or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing alert­ing po­lice of in­ci­dents and pro­vid­ing CCTV footage.

Mr An­drews said the highly an­tic­i­pated Der­went Val­ley tourist rail­way was “very much still a plan”.

“It will bring up­wards of 30,00 vis­i­tors per year to the area, link­ing in with other Der­went Val­ley op­er­a­tors and giv­ing vis­i­tors a co­he­sive tourism ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

At a meet­ing in March 2017 the Der­went Val­ley Coun­cil unan­i­mously backed rec­om­men­da­tions for restart­ing a tourism line in the area by leas­ing dis­used tracks to Der­went Val­ley Rail­way.

The line would stretch 42km through the re­gion be­tween Mt Field Na­tional Park and New Nor­folk.

The line was dis­con­tin­ued be­yond New Nor­folk in 1995 be­fore a se­ries of re­open­ings and clos­ings un­til 2005 when com­mer­cial op­er­a­tor Pa­cific Na­tional left the state. The rail has been state-op­er­ated since.

Mr An­drews thanked the Der­went Val­ley com­mu­nity for their sup­port fol­low­ing the break-ins.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion is urged to con­tact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or the Der­went Val­ley Rail­way on 6261 1946.

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