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G'day all....My state is the smallest but second oldest in Australia .. In the 1990s the State Government sold off the rail services to a private company who ran it down so bad it was basically unusable..In the early 2000's the Labor State Government bought it back. It was literally a basket case.In the late 2000's the Federal Labor Government came on board to help out....This little video will show you it is possible to salvage a wreck from obscurity...This vid was shot 2-3 years ago and since then Tasrail has plans to re open closed lines and is gaining back more and more market share from expensive trucking companies.Here's the link ..Go rail https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiIXnJYtU9I Cheers Rod..
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G'day Bob....Thanks for your interest...Our population is a little over half a million in a state about the same size as West Virginia...In all our states the main rail freight services are GBE's Government Business Enterprises...There are some privately owned services or closed use services such as BHP Billiton , Rio Tinto , Pilbara Rail and Hammersley etc for mining haulage etc...seems to work okay but no competition like in the US...All now are standard gauge 4' 8.5"..as in the USA (not always the case though)...which is a story in itself..but Tasmania (here) as an island has no links with the mainland so we've almost always been narrow gauge 3' 6"...as you'd see all through the state.. The brand new locos are US built (none in that video though )..seventeen of them bought so far and are basically EMD ones..called PL22...replacing older English Electric , Alco ,EMD and a bit of GE stuff..although some ex Queensland Rail locos are still running too...Due to the bad condition of the trackage until fairly recently there are only plans to do heavy freight but at some stage there was talk of limited passenger stuff but somehow I think that'a a long,long way off...Tassie is a very hilly place so extra motive power for the tonnage is often seen on videos...The more train traffic the better I say...Trucking companies not happy TasRail on the way back..Too bad boys...Cheers Rod..
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Rodney, I'm somewhat familiar with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto as I used to work for Komatsu Mining Systems and we sold a lot of huge mining trucks to them back in the 90's. Oz is tops on the list of places my wife and I would like to visit but that would probably require winning the lottery!


Master Mechanic
Interesting video. I'm always glad to see the return of rail in an area that it has be gone from. Now is TasRail government owned, or are they just providing the money? I really couldn't determine that from the vid, but I would guess that it's yes on both counts.

It does seemingly remind you of Conrail, just as it was formed. Poor equipment, lots of deferred maintenance, and worst of all poor service to the customers. By Conrail's end, while not making money hand over fist, it had a good bottom line, (it was in the black). Service had improved immensely, most, if not all of the deferred maintenance had been corrected, new equipment was improving on-time performance, with lots fewer breakdowns. It turned into a modern well run RR, that was built on the remains of all those bankrupt RRs that formed it.

I wonder what would have happened if the Penn/NYC merger never happened, and none of the separate RR's that eventually formed Conrail had never had to declare bankruptcy...
G'day CJ and Iron Horseman ....Yes TasRail is again solely owned by the state Government again..Pacific National was the buyer when the then State Government were cash strapped and sold off public assets such as TasRail to private sector..It failed miserably..In the late 1990's because of masses of breakdowns , derailments , unreliabllity in delivery Tasrail went to the wall and the State Government bought it back for a pittance...They hired a chap called Damien White as CEO and over the past decade or so he and his team have done an amazing job with limited State funding but it took the Federal Government to kick in 220 million dollars for stage 1 of the re development of the below the rails infrastructure , replacing 35 old locomotives , many 40 plus years old with 17 new American built EMDs as well as some newer Australian built ones , new rolling stock from different places and the new southern rail hub near the capital , Hobart...The proof is in the pudding...future back from the brink...It's awesome to see more rail action again..so money does talk.Here's a couple of the 'newer' old locomotives that the American EMDs are replacing they are QN's from Queensland but some of them will be retained for a while i think.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZvn4P0lrfI ..Cheers Rod...
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It does seemingly remind you of Conrail, just as it was formed. Poor equipment, lots of deferred maintenance, and worst of all poor service to the customers. By Conrail's end, while not making money hand over fist, it had a good bottom line, (it was in the black). Service had improved immensely, most, if not all of the deferred maintenance had been corrected, new equipment was improving on-time performance, with lots fewer breakdowns. It turned into a modern well run RR, that was built on the remains of all those bankrupt RRs that formed it.
I think you will find the turn around occurred staring in 1980. That was the same time all the railroads in the USA turned around because of the Staggers Act. I'm pretty certain the government's experience with Conrail was influential with the passing of that bill. So in one way of looking at it, had Conrail not been failing, the entire rail industry in the US might have failed.

I wonder what would have happened if the Penn/NYC merger never happened, and none of the separate RR's that eventually formed Conrail had never had to declare bankruptcy...
Move the Staggers act up 20 years and that might have been a reality. All the mega mergers would have started happening much sooner, but the Milwalkee and several others might have been saved also.
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G'day Iron Horseman..and all ....I've read a bit here and there about Conrail and i also saw a video from Louis about the Penn Central demise in the 1970s that was the filip for a lot of changes..really interesting and depressing that rail suffered so badly for that..but Conrail seemed to be a genuinely good outcome at least for a time...TasRail HAD TO CHANGE after the privatisation stuff up..or no rail at all...Just found this.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geGk_CMRawI It features a lot of our Fingal Valley 'local' as it is , with our coal train...and a bit of a look of the new stuff here and there...The coal wagons were sourced from China and that went down like a 'lead balloon' as they say initially...Railton Goliath Cement are our main customer...Private or Government owned , still good to see trains running more and more..Cheers Rod
G'day Montanan and all.....Watch this from 18 years ago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl8EWbm4FeY This was the first time one of our publicly owned assets was sold by a cash strapped Government in 1997..(Wisconsin Central via Pacific National) had it for about a decade and not much if any of the things mentioned in the story really eventuated as planned.Maybe it was far worse than they expected after they took control Best intentions but didn't really work it seems..As with the Senator Lin Thorp video I posted earlier in the thread , it took a monumental restoration in about 2009 to salvage the wreck...They have a long way to go yet , but the new US built locos , about 200 new rolling stock and a quarter of a million new concrete sleepers (ties) are a big start..Thank God as you say , the Government had the sense to get back into rail...Cheers Rod
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Active Member
Brilliant thread!

We have seen what happens when government has no vested interest in railroads and only regulates from the outside. As Iron Horsemen pointed out the knowledge the US government gained from funding Conrail led to better legislation to help instead of hinder the American railroads. I only hope they don't forget the lessons learned now that they have sold of most of Conrail.

I am glad to see government funding in Tasmania's railroad. I wish our government would provide more funding for US railroads. Private business is too much concerned with quarterly profits to be as far sighted as needed. Hi quality railroads provide nearly infinite benefits to society, many of which won't boost the railroads bottom line for years to come, but everyone will benefit from the strong economy railroads can support.
G'day Louis , Thanks so much...Thanks also for alerting me to the Penn Central happenings in the 1970s via the video you told me about a few months ago.I can't find it again since my computer troubles a few weeks ago but the guys might like to see it too if you can post it on the Forum...TasRail was heading down exactly the same track at one stage...Government Business Enterprises (GBE's) here are Aurora Energy Hydro Electric power , Tas Rail (again ) Forestry Service , and at least a few more but that's the big three..The money they generate supposedly benefits us all , so long as they are well maintained and DO turn a profit..For a good time TasRail wasn't doing that , not quite yet either as we speak but the CEO is looking by 2017 to be in the black again..I hope so...Cheers Rod..


Whiskey Merchant
It's a shame that local companies can't compete with China. They have to do what is economically the best for the railroad. With such a difference in prices, it's an easy decision.

Myself, I try to avoid buying products from China if at all possible and will seek out alternatives. In may cases alternatives can be found and I will pay a buck or two more especially if it is made in the USA, but in many cases there is no choice. Look at where many of the model railroad products are made.

Thanks for the update Rodney.
G'day Montanan , Louis ...and fellow forum friends....Penn Central.....How do you all feel on the demise of that massive railroad...That video link posted before , made in 1974 was a real eye opener (thanks again Louis) that made me realise how crucial funding is to keep a rail service reliable...Penn Central and TasRail , apart from their physical size had an awful lot in common...The privatisation of TasRail , for us was an unmitigated disaster and almost cost us the whole service...In Penn Central's case it was a case of huge competition from rival companies that cost this iconic railroad it's identity...Many say the same with ATSF...when Santa Fe merged with Burlington Northern ..Not sure on that myself whether ATSF could have survived off it's own bat or not..It's a huge deal either way..Re Montanan's comment about China I totally agree .The model rail industry is a barometer for the 1:1 rail industry lots of stuff from China these days..TasRail's rolling stock a case in point but we do have new US built locomotives to work alongside our not so old Australian built ones . No Chinese loco's Here's a short news story from 2013 of the first two brand new American EMD locos that arrived All 17 are here now and working with some of the not so old , older former fleet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_Bhm73hCwU In 1987 AN TasRail whilst it was still part of the Federal funded system was seeing money disappear and I believe this video (Part one of three) was made to encourage more business https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpEb7Y0hwwM It was privatised 10 years later...Notice the dear old ZA and ZB and ALCO locos of the era..some of those has literally just been retired with the arrival of the new American EMD's...Cheers Rod...
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Milwaukee Road 113

Milwaukee Road addict...
Great thread and videos Rodney, glad to see that TasRail is coming back from the almost dead...I'll be looking forward to see more!
Was much of what happened earlier due to mismanagement?
G'day Milwaukee , Thanks...It was genuinely really close to falling off the planet...It got so bad that they nearly changed the name to Tas Derailment...I forget the number but it was embarrassing...thankfully no-one killed except for the level crossing tragedies at times ...The trackage was that bad..The trucking companies made hay while the sun shone. the State Government l offloaded TasRail in 1997 as a cost cutting venture as a short sighted decision ..They also mucked around with our hospitals and our local one here in the valley as one that went too..The original video with Senator Lin Thorp wasn't guilding the lily..It was in crisis...The new State Labor Government and the Federal Labor Government pulled in Damien White as CEO from South Australia and had already bought back the wreckage of the privatisation and they have quite literally re-invented the wheel....Money talks...much safer track , replacement purpose built rolling stock to cater for customer needs and 17 brand new locomotives , more powerful and more fuel efficient and guess what...they are actually clawing back market share from the trucks and hope to be in the black by 2017 or so...It's all freight , no passenger yet and the CEO in an interview that until the rail freight service is optimum there will be no passenger service return..They still have a lot of track to replace and make faster but it's heading very much in the right direction..AT LAST...We fought and kicked and screamed and the new Government re installed our hospital in 1999 too...Never give up and never stop fighting and you can win..The Penn Central story was a lot like our story except that Conrail was our State Government in this instance Sorry , YES , IT WAS MISMANAGEMENT..Thanks again for your interest in this....Cheers Rod..
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Hi Rod,
Nice to see you here! May I ask, please?
It's now half way through 2017, hopefully TasRail is now in the black?
Even if not, I hope it's rapidly approaching.
The whole TasRail, ConRail story is so familiar to my British eyes, when will governments learn that rail is as much a socio-economic thing as a purely economic one?

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