Secrecy surrounds report on railway

A REPORT that details the cost of fixing the West Coast's heritage railway will be kept secret.

Federal Group announced its plans to stop operating the West Coast Heritage Railway on April 30, after receiving an engineering report that found significant capital works were needed to fix sleepers, rail and ballast.

Those costs, as well as falling passenger numbers were behind Federal Group's decision to end a 20-year lease with the state government halfway through.

Federal Group director of corporate affairs Daniel Hanna said while the report was provided to the state and federal governments, the company had no intention to release it publicly.

``It's a report the state government needed to see as it's their assets, and will help them decide what to do about the issues, but we won't be releasing it publicly.'' 

He said there would be commercial-in-confidence issues for the company in doing so.

West Coast Mayor Darryl Gerrity is calling for the report's release.

``These are not state secrets. This is about identifying exactly what the problem is with a government-owned asset,'' he said.

Cr Gerrity also wants the Tasmanian government to put a proposal to the Commonwealth as soon as possible.

``It's day eight since the (Federal Group) announcement, and as we keep saying: time is of the essence,'' he said.

``But until the feds receive such a request that identifies what the issues are, and the cost to fix them, well, of course they won't hand over the money.''

State Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne and Braddon Labor MHR Sid Sidebottom both said discussions between the governments were continuing.

``The state government has supplied key briefing documents to the federal government for its consideration,'' Mr O'Byrne said.

``As both I and the federal government have previously said, it is critical that there is a viable business case for this railway to ensure it has a long-term future.''

It's understood that up to $5.8 million is required to immediately upgrade the track including sleepers, rail and ballast, plus another $2 million a year to keep the trains running.

Tasmanian Greens Acting Leader Tim Morris thinks details of the lease should also be released.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway on the state's West Coast.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway on the state's West Coast.


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