Review contradicts KiwiRail decision
Tue, 15 Jan 2013 6:16p.m.
By Rachel Tiffen
An independent review released today has raised doubts over KiwiRail's decision to abandon the Napier-Gisborne rail link.
The report was written by economists and funded through public donations, and found the rail line could become profitable within a few years.
Before the rain brought it down and KiwiRail refused to put it back up, the Gisborne-Napier rail line was a lifeline for many businesses, so news that an independent review has found it commercially viable is welcome.
Local business owner Murray McPhail is one of those hoping it means KiwiRail’s decision will be reconsidered.
“Assumptions were made about the amount of freight, and this vindicates that and says, ‘Hey, the Government really needs to have another look at it,'” he says.
Gisborne mayor Meng Foon agrees.
“You've got billions going into Christchurch, you've got millions going into the fixing up of the rail, the floods, the fire in the South Island and here we're stuck on the Tairawhiti, the East Coast here, and all we want is an opportunity to use rail as a viable option,” he says.
The report, written by economists BERL and reviewed by international rail specialists, found fault in KiwiRail's decision to mothball the line.
The report says that to make the line break even, about 200,000 tonnes a year would be needed, in contrast to the 400,000 to 800,000 suggested by KiwiRail.
The new report also says that with better engineering maintenance costs would drop, and that once upgrades are made to put rail on par with road for hauling wood, the Mohaka-Napier route could attract 750,000 tonnes a year and be profitable within several years.
Despite those claims, KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn says he hasn’t changed his mind.
“There's nothing in the report that gives me a clear view that there's a commercial opportunity here,” he says.
“The facts are clear. Revenue only just covered the running costs of trains before any maintenance or capital is required, that hasn't changed. Nothing in the report changes the raw facts.”
KiwiRail says while there's nothing to stop private parties or the Government putting up cash to resurrect the line, it won't.
The Government says it's a commercial decision for KiwiRail, and not their call. But Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee is due to meet with KiwiRail, community and business leaders to discuss the report.
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25/01/2013 3:34:57 p.m.
Robert M wrote:
David B's comment is nonsense, a 200km long line like Gisborne -napier could not be operated as a shortline. If the Gisborne line ever had promise it would have been as a passenger line. If Prebble-save rail or Micheal Fay had invested in new carriages for two Wellington-Gisborne trainsets- the line would probably have generated $7-8 million passenger revenue a year but still lost money compared with the $1 million a year it earned from freight. Hopelessly uneconomic either way but if investment had been made in passenger rail rather than loging jobs- possibly useful.
18/01/2013 10:39:56 p.m.
david b wrote:
I think the problem is Kiwirail is looking at this as a mainline , when in reality it is a shortline . In the USA , many shortlines are run on rails in much worse state than the Gisborne line .There is no real need for speed on this line , it could be run slower , at a lot lower capital and maintenance cost . Its future lies in Forestry , and in some ways that goes back to the original bush tramlines . built cheap to access the forest ,in the same way the Gisborne line could have spurs built off it to access the wood cutting areas .
17/01/2013 11:48:06 a.m.
Make cullen/clark sort this sh*t out.
16/01/2013 7:55:30 p.m.
The reality is that the Gisborne -Napier railine ran thru about 210km of some of the most difficult geography in the country and carried less freight that the 17 mile Rakaia -Methven tramline in 1973 which didn't have a single bridge and was basically was two rails running thru grass. The Gisborne line has always been ludicrous it falls into huge weather and fault created chasms every 15 years.Look the track route would make suburb bikeways, walkways and camp grounds on a staggering coastline. The disputes with maori tribes over commercial and access rights would entertain the country and keep laywers in expemsive restauraunts for the next 30 years. I've never believed NZRail is economical or useful for freight. You needs hauls of a 1000 miles or 20 million tons of coal on the West Coast line to think of that. It will probably be unprofitable to move the East Coast logs by rail or any other means. The east cost is unspeakably beautiful and its future is toursim and rock concerts.Those who live by extracting natural products are not well regarded in reward or rights terms in the advanced world which is why NZers who do the work that Aussies won't lower themselves to to do are effectively stripped of their citizenship by the Australian government. A far higher priortiy that the ridiculous East Coast freight services should be restoring a National Rail passenger service. Labours refusal to back a National twice daily rail service for passengers between all cities with more than 60,000 people shows the contempt Labour holds provincial people. The Labour Green attitude is patronising contempt -ordinary people are only good for trades and must have their lives managed.
16/01/2013 3:10:50 p.m.
scenic trains wrote:
Kiwirail.. you are useless, and I have much bigger plans to bring trains back into our backyard. If you don't bigger fish will come in and take it all from you. So with that, I best you think of other ways to fix the lines.
16/01/2013 2:08:01 p.m.
iron side wrote:
Haul the old timer railway workers out of mothballs and set up crews for line repair and maintenance. It would fix high unemployment in the young loud n snotty and the old geezers
16/01/2013 10:44:55 a.m.
its a shame we can't fired the National GOVT for a BIG FAIL!
16/01/2013 10:29:34 a.m.
That's what you get when you vote in a government that's 'work' is purely based on economical considerations! Don't complain now, you wanted it, New Zealand!
16/01/2013 10:11:07 a.m.
I am wondering why NZ has not opened up its full potential of rail travel and transport. Having scrutinised the maps old and new, there is an impressive system of old tracks criss crossing The North Island lying mostly closed and mothballed ( what a great technical term!!). The South Island tracks were never completed. NZ is a long straight and narrow country based on industries that rely heavily on efficient and expedient transport. Timber, dairy, agriculture, tourism, machinery/ equipment transport. NZ is in dire need of training and employment for under 25yr. Rail construction and maintenance would be ideal and would create business and employment opportunities to support, accommodate and provide for workers. Why is the rail system being shut down ?? When I read that fixing these lines would only cost a couple of million; I wonder why the govt can spend 30 million on reports saying low socio mums are to blame for high youth unemployment, but can't spend 2.78 million on contracts employment for rail maintenance. This job creation would lead to a reduction in other social ills related to unemployment and disaffection.
16/01/2013 9:51:18 a.m.
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