Tasmania’s Historic Train Services

Tasmania’s rich history includes a network of historical railways that once connected towns, villages, and industrial centers across the island. While regular passenger services are no longer available, several heritage railways offer scenic journeys through Tasmania’s wilderness and historic sites. Here are some popular options:

West Coast Wilderness Railway: This renowned railway operates between Queenstown and Strahan, traversing 35 kilometers of stunning river and mountain scenery. Climb aboard a vintage steam or heritage diesel locomotive and travel through historic sites, experiencing a bygone era of Tasmanian travel. Website: http://www.wcwr.com.au/

The West Coast Wilderness Railway. Image by Christopher Neugebauer

Tasmanian Tramway Museum: Located in Launceston, this museum offers a glimpse into Tasmania’s tram history. Take a short tram ride through the city center on a restored 1940s tram, accompanied by sounds and sights from the past. The museum also houses a collection of restored trams, locomotives, and other transportation artifacts. Website: Launceston Tramway Museum

Postcard Launceston railcar 16 on the entrance square Gunpowder Mill. Creator: Tasmanian Postcards. Credit: Henrik Boye

Don River Railway: Located along Tasmania’s northwest coast, this heritage railway features steam train trips along the picturesque Don River. Explore the surrounding bushlands and limestone quarries while enjoying the tranquility of the Tasmanian countryside. The railway also boasts a museum showcasing restored locomotives for train buffs. Website: http://donriverrailway.com.au/

The Don River Railway. Image by Steven Penton

Tasman Limited: Though no longer operational, the Tasman Limited holds historical significance. This train service once ran between Hobart and Launceston, offering passenger transportation until 1978. Today, the train carriages are preserved at the Tasmanian Transport Museum in Hobart. Tasmanian Transport Museum. Website: https://tasmaniantransportmuseum.com.au/

The Tasman Limited in Hobart. Image by Leonard J Matthews

Labor’s Measures to Address Cost of Living

The Albanese Labor Government has taken significant steps to alleviate the cost of living for Australians. Here are some of the measures they have implemented:

Direct Financial Assistance:

  • Increased income support payments: The base rate of several working-age and student income support payments, including the JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance, has been increased by $40 per fortnight for eligible recipients. Additionally, eligibility for the higher rate of the JobSeeker Payment has been extended to single Australians aged 55 to 59 years, matching the criteria for those over 60.

Healthcare:

  • Reduced medication costs: Implemented reforms expected to save consumers $250 million in medication costs over the past year.   
  • 60-day dispensing: Allowed for longer prescriptions (60 days) to potentially reduce dispensing fees for patients. To reduce the cost of medicines, the government is allowing some patients to receive 2 months’ worth of their medicines per visit to the pharmacy, resulting in savings of $1.6 billion in out-of-pocket costs over 4 years for at least six million Australians.
  • Bulk Billing: The government is investing $3.5 billion to triple the bulk billing incentive for common GP consultations for children under 16 and Commonwealth concession card holders. This move ensures that 11.6 million eligible Australians can access a GP without any out-of-pocket costs, making it easier and more affordable to see a doctor.

Energy:

  • Energy Bill Relief Plan: Partnered with states and territories to provide up to $3 billion in electricity bill relief for over 5 million households and 1 million small businesses, resulting in lower electricity and gas price increases in 2023-24 compared to earlier forecasts.

Early Childhood Education:

  • Increased investment in childcare: Aims to increase affordability and accessibility of childcare through increased funding, potentially benefitting families by reducing childcare costs.

Rental Affordability:

  • National Housing Accord: While not directly addressing immediate cost concerns, this initiative aims to increase housing supply in the long run, potentially leading to improved rental affordability in the future.

Tax Relief:

  • Tax cuts: The Albanese Labor Government has made decisions regarding income tax cuts. They plan to retain the 37% tax rate for high-income earners, unwinding the most controversial element of the Morrison government’s stage-three tax cuts. This move redirects savings to low- and middle-income earners, ensuring that everyone earning between the tax-free threshold of $18,200 and $45,000 will receive a tax cut. While this decision has sparked political debate, it allows Labor to argue that it is providing more generous cuts to about 80% of Australians.

Wage Growth:

  • Indirectly supporting wage growth: While the government doesn’t directly set wages, their broader economic policies, such as increased investment in skills and training and supporting economic growth, aim to create conditions that could lead to higher wages over time. Additionally, the Fair Work Commission raised the minimum wage by 5.2% in July 2023, directly impacting the lowest-paid workers.

Other Initiatives:

  • Fuel excise cut extension: Agreed to a temporary extension of the fuel excise cut, providing some relief at the pump.
  • Free TAFE courses: Introduced free TAFE courses in priority areas, potentially leading to upskilling and potentially higher wages for some individuals.
  • Concessional loans for pensioners: Increased the maximum concessional loan amount available to eligible pensioners, aiming to help them manage unexpected expenses.

Featured image from by -Chupacabras- at https://flickr.com/photos/25222005@N08/2755112918