Full Steam Ahead For West Coast Wilderness Railway Mon 6 January 2014 David O'Byrne Minister for Infrastructure Scott Bacon Minister for Tourism The West Coast Wilderness Railway is again on track and open for business. The Minister for Infrastructure, David O’Byrne, and the Minister for Tourism, Scott Bacon, today officially reopened the heritage railway alongside some 100 paying travellers, and hundreds more locals, during a community celebration. “Today is a great day for Tasmania and the West Coast community,” Mr O’Byrne said. “We said we would stand up for the West Coast community and back this important piece of Australian History so it is really exciting to see tourists again filling seats. “It has been a major task to get the railway moving again with the replacement of over 1 200 sleepers and clearing of nearly a kilometre of drains as part of the work. “The railway is quintessentially West Coast and embodies all that is great about the region and its pioneering spirit.” Mr O’Byrne acknowledged and thanked the previous Federal Labor Government for its contribution of over $6 million for capital improvements. “The support of former federal Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese and former federal member for Braddon, Sid Sidebottom ensured the railway’s future. “Together we’ve always understood just how important the railway is to the local community. “I’m also proud of the State Government’s contribution of $6 million over four years to ensure it continues to operate. “This combined support has ensured that the railway will continues to operate and bring tourists to Tasmania and the West Coast,” Mr O’Byrne. Mr Bacon said the new railway was already proving it has a strong future in drawing tourists to the West Coast. “To date, there have been more than 800 bookings on the reopened railway, with people hailing from around Tasmania, interstate and overseas. “Today’s maiden trip was a sell-out, with many hundred more locals coming along to celebrate the rebirth of this local icon. “Tasmanian tourism has grown into an annual $2.2 billion industry with record visitor numbers. “With drawn-cards like the West Coast Wilderness Railway back on track more and more visitors will get out into Tasmania’s regions and experience all that we have to offer. “Tourism appeal is often about offering something unique and original and the West Coast Wilderness Railway is all that and more. “We will continue to support the railway through an innovative and marketing campaign, as well as partnerships between Tourism Tasmania, Cradle Coast Authority and RACT for future marketing campaigns.” Mr O’Byrne thanked the staff of the railway and officers of the department, saying without their hard work and dedication, the January re-opening would not have been possible. “Apart from the millions of dollars this railway generates in tourism spending on the West Coast, it is also providing jobs for more than 40 people and countless other indirect jobs,” he said. Mr O’Byrne also paid tribute to the contribution of the late Daryl Gerrity, who as a crusader for all things West Coast had made it very clear to both State and Federal Governments the importance to its community of reopening the railway. For more information about the West Coast Wilderness Railway or to make a booking check out www.wcwr.com.au.