Rail history, external savings being ignored

LETTER

I always read with interest the letters regarding the Gisborne to Napier rail line. Some regularly state “the railway could not make a profit in the past and therefore cannot make one in the future”. Most of this correspondence is from people out of Gisborne who obviously don’t have the facts, but some is also from Gisborne people who either don’t know or choose to ignore the following:

• The rail did not make a profit in the past because the modern 40-foot-high cube containers could not go through some of the tunnels. Tunnel bases were lowered to increase the height and enable transport of containers. This reduced handling costs and damage during handling, and increased efficiency.

• This improvement created increased freight for the short period that followed until the washout.

• During this time producers in Gisborne had seasonal freight requests which could not be met as KiwiRail was unable to provide the rolling stock.

• The washout was caused by lack of maintenance.

• Agricultural production has increased since then, along with logging and the potential of proposed wood-processing ventures.

Do any of these correspondents know the savings which could be gained from reduced road maintenance and capital costs, reduced environmental damage, and reduced accident/death costs resulting from the huge reduction in the number of trucks on the road?

Ignoring these external savings may assist KiwiRail to validate its decision, but is a short-term view focused only on internal cost/benefit and is totally inadequate for a long-term, comprehensive assessment.

If KiwiRail, with its significant overseas debt financing costs combined with government pressure for a dividend, cannot look past the internal financial returns, then the government has an obligation to take an overview and provide necessary funding or subsidies.

I suggest correspondents have a look at the BERL report (as many of us dingbats have already done) and consider a comprehensive, long-term view.

This report can be Googled: “Berl Report Gisborne Railway”, or a digital version could be sent to you on request to grasshopper@xtra.co.nz

D. Arthur

I always read with interest the letters regarding the Gisborne to Napier rail line. Some regularly state “the railway could not make a profit in the past and therefore cannot make one in the future”. Most of this correspondence is from people out of Gisborne who obviously don’t have the facts, but some is also from Gisborne people who either don’t know or choose to ignore the following:

• The rail did not make a profit in the past because the modern 40-foot-high cube containers could not go through some of the tunnels. Tunnel bases were lowered to increase the height and enable transport of containers. This reduced handling costs and damage during handling, and increased efficiency.

• This improvement created increased freight for the short period that followed until the washout.

• During this time producers in Gisborne had seasonal freight requests which could not be met as KiwiRail was unable to provide the rolling stock.

• The washout was caused by lack of maintenance.

• Agricultural production has increased since then, along with logging and the potential of proposed wood-processing ventures.

Do any of these correspondents know the savings which could be gained from reduced road maintenance and capital costs, reduced environmental damage, and reduced accident/death costs resulting from the huge reduction in the number of trucks on the road?

Ignoring these external savings may assist KiwiRail to validate its decision, but is a short-term view focused only on internal cost/benefit and is totally inadequate for a long-term, comprehensive assessment.

If KiwiRail, with its significant overseas debt financing costs combined with government pressure for a dividend, cannot look past the internal financial returns, then the government has an obligation to take an overview and provide necessary funding or subsidies.

I suggest correspondents have a look at the BERL report (as many of us dingbats have already done) and consider a comprehensive, long-term view.

This report can be Googled: “Berl Report Gisborne Railway”, or a digital version could be sent to you on request to grasshopper@xtra.co.nz

D. Arthur

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