Rail vandals’ big repair bill
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.