West Coast Wilderness Railway Mon 4 February 2013 David O'Byrne Minister for Infrastructure The Infrastructure Minister, David O'Byrne, today expressed disappointment at the imminent closure of the West Coast Wilderness Railway from April 30th. The Federal Group has announced it will stop operating the service because of rising maintenance costs, the financial costs of operating in rugged isolated terrain, and the tourism downturn affecting most of regional Australia. "This is a disappointing outcome which is largely beyond ours or the Federal Group's control," Mr O'Byrne said. "The West Coast Wilderness Railway has been a valuable tourism asset for the past decade. "Unfortunately, the operation isn't viable for the foreseeable future, and the Federal Group has decided to withdraw," he said. The track has been damaged by severe weather in recent years, which has contributed significantly to escalating costs. The Federal Group has advised these and other ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs are too high for the operation to remain viable. To maintain the operation would require additional investment of between $15-20 million over the next five years. The ideal scenario would be for the West Coast Wilderness Railway to continue operating, effectively under a different owner. However, that level of investment is not something the State Government could manage on its own. The post-GFC downturn affecting tourism spending, and the high Australian dollar attracting Australians to holiday overseas instead of at home, has also reduced passenger numbers from 45,000 a year five years ago, to 30,000 in the past year. "The Tasmanian Government appreciates the efforts of the Federal Group to maintain the service, and we'll look to support affected workers wherever possible, at this uncertain time," Mr O'Byrne said. "I'm pleased to see the Federal Group will look to redeploy those workers to other internal positions, wherever possible," he said.