Peer review of business case for Hobart light rail plan released

TASMANIAN Sustainable Transport Minister Nick McKim last week released the peer review of the business case for a Hobart light railway and announced the next steps in order to progress the project.

Mr McKim said the review by Aecom Ltd endorsed most of ACIL Tasman's original findings and suggested that assessing a shorter light rail from Hobart to Glenorchy could significantly improve the business case.

Aecom's report said that ACIL's business case was "in essence a fair and sound appraisal of the economic benefits and costs of the HNSLR [Hobart to Northern Suburbs Light Rail] project. It also generally adheres to the requirements of Infrastructure Australia."

The Minister said that based on these findings, he has asked the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources (DIER) to begin work on commissioning a new business case for Stage One, with the intention of submitting it for Commonwealth funding consideration early next year.

In their report, Aecom also suggested that "the provision of light rail would need to be supported by significant changes in the Greater Hobart community, such as changes to the local government planning schemes to support TODs ... and reducing the provision of car-friendly developments".

In response, Mr McKim said he will write to key state and local government decision makers to form a taskforce to help progress the Hobart light rail and place it at the centre of an integrated vision for urban and social renewal for Hobart and the northern suburbs. 

"In the future, with changes to Greater Hobart's economy and demographics, there could be scope for further stages to extend the light rail from Glenorchy, further north," Mr McKim said.

Mr McKim said he was delighted that the peer review suggested the business case for Hobart light rail could be significantly improved.

The review suggested that if Glenorchy were the northern terminus, it could bring the project's costs down to a level which could significantly improve the Hobart light rail business case.

"Glenorchy is the best choice for a northern terminus… In terms of optimising the location of the northern terminus, Glenorchy stands out because not only is it a major generator but also a major attractor of the Hobart originating trips," the report stated.

More information about the proposed Hobart to Northern Suburbs Light Rail project is available from the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources website at <http://www.dier.tas.gov.au/>.

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