Road plan will not include rail

File picture

STRONG pleas from rail advocates failed to sway the Regional Transport Committee, which has opted to leave unchanged a draft 2018-21 local roads national land transport programme, which did not include rail.

In a presentation at the start of the meeting Gillian Ward and Nikki Searancke said there was no reason rail should not be part of the investigation into the draft plan.

Gisborne Rail Action Group’s Gillian Ward said the draft plan should consider economic development, safety and personal security, access and mobility, public health and environmental stability and was required to look ahead to 2028.

The Rail Action Group’s investigations had found no evidence that rail should not be included in the plan.

The Maori Party, Green Party, NZ First and Labour were looking to the future and saw the restoration of the Napier-Gisborne line, as well as other regional lines, as a key part of regional economic development.

Neighbouring regions had rail firmly included in their regional plans.

A Wairoa Star feature said several Gisborne businesses involved in the export of fresh produce could send that by rail to Napier port. At present they struggled to find enough trucks and drivers, the committee was told.

Weatherell Transport was building a new transport hub in Aerodrome Road. This would be connected to rail. Steve Weatherell had said “if the rail is repaired, investment and growth will come.”

Gisborne Rail Co-operative's view

Nikki Searancke, of Gisborne Rail Co-operative, said they had a new business case, prepared by an outside company, that showed the railway line would be viable carrying initially 55,000 tonnes. Repairing the line would cost about $7 million.

“We already have a financier on board,” she said.

They were proposing a co-operative, something that had proved very successful.

Rail opportunities identified included fresh produce for export, chilled and frozen goods, chilled lamb, pouch products, landfill rubbish, recyclable wine, bulk wine, fertiliser, aggregate, road metal and processed timber.

More money was spent on roads that ever before to keep them safely viable.

Graeme Thomson asked why, if the line was so viable, anyone would throw it out? Labour had said it would support the line if it was economically viable, which was the same as National’s policy. Why were the co-operative’s figures so different to KiwiRail’s?

Nikki Searancke said KiwiRail’s overheads were more extensive than theirs. They operated on a different platform.

Operating and maintenance costs were smaller under their model.

KiwiRail and NZTA had a policy on tunnels after Pike River but the rail co-op had looked at that and believed they could maintain the link through the Te Kauwhata Tunnel, the fifth-longest in New Zealand.

Disappointment

Gillian Ward said she was disappointed the Carno Report used to scope the draft plan did not consider the opportunities of rail coming through the city.

There was an opportunity to use a rail connection to the port to reduce truck traffic through residential areas.

Malcolm Maclean asked if any businesses had committed to rail.

Nikki Searancke said the support was indicative at the moment. Businesses could not commit until the rail link was restored.

A change of government was likely after the election. They had never been able to sit down and explain their position to Cabinet ministers.

Murray Palmer said some factors, like the cost of carbon, resilience and safety, had to be factored in — which would improve the group’s business case.

“We have a railway line,” said Gillian Ward.

“We need to honour the people who designed and constructed it, and enable it to be used for the purpose for which it was designed.


STRONG pleas from rail advocates failed to sway the Regional Transport Committee, which has opted to leave unchanged a draft 2018-21 local roads national land transport programme, which did not include rail.

In a presentation at the start of the meeting Gillian Ward and Nikki Searancke said there was no reason rail should not be part of the investigation into the draft plan.

Gisborne Rail Action Group’s Gillian Ward said the draft plan should consider economic development, safety and personal security, access and mobility, public health and environmental stability and was required to look ahead to 2028.

The Rail Action Group’s investigations had found no evidence that rail should not be included in the plan.

The Maori Party, Green Party, NZ First and Labour were looking to the future and saw the restoration of the Napier-Gisborne line, as well as other regional lines, as a key part of regional economic development.

Neighbouring regions had rail firmly included in their regional plans.

A Wairoa Star feature said several Gisborne businesses involved in the export of fresh produce could send that by rail to Napier port. At present they struggled to find enough trucks and drivers, the committee was told.

Weatherell Transport was building a new transport hub in Aerodrome Road. This would be connected to rail. Steve Weatherell had said “if the rail is repaired, investment and growth will come.”

Gisborne Rail Co-operative's view

Nikki Searancke, of Gisborne Rail Co-operative, said they had a new business case, prepared by an outside company, that showed the railway line would be viable carrying initially 55,000 tonnes. Repairing the line would cost about $7 million.

“We already have a financier on board,” she said.

They were proposing a co-operative, something that had proved very successful.

Rail opportunities identified included fresh produce for export, chilled and frozen goods, chilled lamb, pouch products, landfill rubbish, recyclable wine, bulk wine, fertiliser, aggregate, road metal and processed timber.

More money was spent on roads that ever before to keep them safely viable.

Graeme Thomson asked why, if the line was so viable, anyone would throw it out? Labour had said it would support the line if it was economically viable, which was the same as National’s policy. Why were the co-operative’s figures so different to KiwiRail’s?

Nikki Searancke said KiwiRail’s overheads were more extensive than theirs. They operated on a different platform.

Operating and maintenance costs were smaller under their model.

KiwiRail and NZTA had a policy on tunnels after Pike River but the rail co-op had looked at that and believed they could maintain the link through the Te Kauwhata Tunnel, the fifth-longest in New Zealand.

Disappointment

Gillian Ward said she was disappointed the Carno Report used to scope the draft plan did not consider the opportunities of rail coming through the city.

There was an opportunity to use a rail connection to the port to reduce truck traffic through residential areas.

Malcolm Maclean asked if any businesses had committed to rail.

Nikki Searancke said the support was indicative at the moment. Businesses could not commit until the rail link was restored.

A change of government was likely after the election. They had never been able to sit down and explain their position to Cabinet ministers.

Murray Palmer said some factors, like the cost of carbon, resilience and safety, had to be factored in — which would improve the group’s business case.

“We have a railway line,” said Gillian Ward.

“We need to honour the people who designed and constructed it, and enable it to be used for the purpose for which it was designed.


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Julian Michael Tilley - 2 years ago
Smart transport hubs which minimize transhipping, double-handling and prioritise the turnaround of rolling stock make rail the obvious choice for bulk and heavy freight. Socially and environmentally rail is a no-brainer. Economically rail works well with smart operators, fit-for-purpose wagons and good planning. In forestry operations, logs stockpiled close to the tracks can quickly be loaded on USL log wagons while the connected loco waits for loading to finish and the train departs. Even the log loader can be positioned into inaccessible locations on a low loader wagon along with the empty log wagons. These self-loading trains with up to 20 wagons can then be loaded with logs to a schedule. This was the standard mode of operating for remote woodlots in Ohura and Te Wera in Taranaki and Lismore Forest in Wanganui back in the late 1990s. Even main trunk line loading occurred often enough. When Carter Holt Harvey woodlots in Upper Hutt were harvested logs were stockpiled close to the tracks and loaded on to wagons every three days during a three-hour window of opportunity before the Hutt Valley commuter train schedule kicked in. Log wagons were placed and loaded with a loco running on standby at each end of the rake of wagons for safety and a quick departure. Placing log wagons into Gisborne Port log yard was eventually banned by the Tranz Rail Forestry Business Unit as the turnaround time for the highly utilised USL log wagons was too long due to unloading delays. The log wagons were ignored while trucks were attended to and so often the empty wagons were stranded by containers or obstructions being placed across the tracks. It was decided that the log wagons were better utilised in the BOP. There were even several occasions that in order to get the wagons back, local crane hire firm C R Taylor was employed to lift the log wagons out of the port log yard and past the obstructions blocking the tracks to a place the shunt loco could collect them and return them back into cartage operations. Demurrage payments then became a contentious issue. Rail infrastructure on a port is seen as a balance sheet asset as it is a capex that attracts export volumes and new business and that's exactly how the Ports of Napier and Wellington continue to compete with each other for the Winstone Pulp traffic out of Karioi and for forestry volumes from all over the Lower NI. The rail siding that was installed by Rayonier at Matawhero in approx. 1996 was intended to be used for prepared export log shipments. The debarking and sap-staining process was being completed at Matawhero and Rayonier signed a 10-year contract with Tranz Rail to shift by rail 200,000 tonnes of logs per annum to the Gisborne Port. It never happened. Rayonier paid its way out of the contract and left the country. Surely it's time to look at the same options again now. We can't just keep putting heavier and heavier trucks on the road, and more and more of them.

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