Push for light rail link

Written By miftah nugraha on Jumat, 15 Februari 2013 | 19.55

TRACK TO THE FUTURE: A light rail service, such as the one through Sydney's Haymarket area, pictured, could make Hobart feel more like a big city.

A GROWING list of heavyweights is throwing support behind a northern suburbs light rail development.

Transport experts, business and community groups and politicians will take part in a roundtable discussion today to look at ways of funding the project.

They say a light rail link with Hobart's CBD will boost the economy by generating investment and development opportunities in the northern suburbs.

One of the state's leading investors, MONA owner David Walsh, is also throwing his support behind the proposal.

While a stop at MONA is proposed for the railway, Mr Walsh said his support for the project was a matter of social justice.

He wants the line to extend from the Hobart CBD to Bridgewater and Gagebrook, which he said were "rights-denied" communities with limited access to city services.

Mr Walsh said it took an hour to travel by bus from the far northern suburbs to the CBD, which was too long.

He said the light rail project would reduce travel times and give residents in the area which has about 20 per cent unemployment a greater chance to find work.

Consultants who have worked on light rail projects around the country will speak with about 40 locals, including representatives from Glenorchy and Hobart councils, the Derwent Entertainment Centre, Northgate shopping centre, transport union, UTAS, RACT, commerce and tourism groups, architecture firms and disability advocates.

Mr Walsh said there had been major growth in northern suburbs along the rail line in recent years, which would underpin the project's success.

He said it would also take pressure off the congested Brooker Highway and decrease the need for costly upgrades, while reducing the need for inner-city parking.

"A working railway is a thing that makes a city feel like a city," he said.

Greens Denison candidate Anna Reynolds and Dr Bob Brown organised today's roundtable meeting, which will be held at MONA.

"We expect from this meeting that a delegation will be formed to lobby for funds for this project in Canberra and locally," Ms Reynolds said.

Dr Garry Glazebrook, from Sydney's Institute of Sustainable Futures, will explain about how light rail developments have benefited Sydney, Canberra and the Gold Coast.

He said the northern suburbs project could push up real estate prices along the rail corridor by 15 to 20 per cent.

Dr Glazebrook said the railway could transport several thousand people every hourand spur affordable housing, business and tourism developments along the line.

It would also connect entertainment venues and tourist spots, such as the Botanical Gardens, Derwent Entertainment Centre and MONA. Dr Glazebrook said the railway could be delivered in stages with popularity increasing as new sections came online.

He expected the project to be relatively affordable.

"Given the corridor already exists, it's a relatively low-cost exercise. It's a matter of [developing] stations, buying trains and provide the necessary facilities," he said.


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