By Natalie Woodlock
HOBART — The federal government has recommended handing the management of Tasmania's railway system back to the state government, raising the prospect of part-privatisation and more than 200 job losses.
The Brew Report — produced by the federal commission investigating Tasrail — advocates cuts to operations and staff as the only solution to the large Tasrail debt. However, Michael Cook, acting branch president of the Public Transport Union, told Green Left that Tasrail had managed to clear some of its debt and was running at a profit, not a loss.
The debt had been accumulated, he said, when control was handed from the state to the federal government and the combined debt of Australian National (which includes South Australian railways) was split between the two operating railways of AN.
Cook said that if rail services were cut, there would be an extra 1 million tonnes of freight on the roads, and truck movements would increase by 1000 a day. The PTU will be waging an industrial campaign against the cuts.