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Save the Gisborne rail line

Written By: - Date published: 9:53 am, April 16th, 2012 - 122 comments
Categories: transport - Tags: ,

Looks like the Nats are going to use the bridge washout on the Gisborne-Napier rail line as an excuse to close it. Despite wagon volumes growing 12-fold this year.

The wall of wood has to come out somehow. The roads can’t handle the trucks. Madness to mothball a massive piece of capital that is in growing demand for want of $4.3m.

More has been spent so far clearing a slip from the nearby Waioeka Gorge road, no questions asked.

The Nats’ anti-rail agenda = more trucks tearing up our roads and more oil imports.

(Not dissing the Waioeka Gorge, btw. A great drive and, without it, the trucks are ripping up the long coast road. I remember a road trip on it when I was a kid. A brace of Skyhawks came screaming past us, flying inside the gorge. Pretty awesome for a ten year old.]

122 comments on “Save the Gisborne rail line ”

  1. Richard 1

    “Over the summer, alone, productivity increased from five to 60 wagons a week.”

    That may just be seasonal variation, so it can’t be used to cite the claim that “volume has increased 12-fold” in the way you intend it. That means “It was running at a loss of $2 million a year” remains the salient factor. Also, even 60 wagons a week is, what, a train per day, which doesn’t sound very viable. On top of that, the tracks are more likely than not to wash out every few years, compounding the cost.

    NZ just isn’t really a rail-friendly country. Hills + seismic activity = low volume narrow gauge rail that gets broken relatively frequently.

    • Bored 1.1

      From a commercial angle if I were NZ Rail (or whatever they are called) be examining the known costs versus established longer term contract revenue. From what I hear it still does not add up in an operational sense let alone a capital sense. Cant blame them for their decision.

      From a political angle the government appears to have taken zip notice of the longer term oil prospects, and the roading industry is taking full advantage in attracting capital expenditure on roads.. In terms of energy efficiency the slowest option is the best, coastal shipping: something which is on nobodies agenda.

      End result, we burn our capital on short term gain, and when we need the capital to replace whole systems we will have too little.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        In terms of energy efficiency the slowest option is the best, coastal shipping: something which is on nobodies agenda.

        Just looking on Google Earth and I really can’t see the logic of rail between Napier and Gisborne. Shipping would be better.

        • KJT

          Shipping would be better.

          But. Ain’t going to happen when shipping has to pay their full costs and trucking/roads are subsidised up to 50%.

          The logic of paying 3 million a year to maintain the Gisbourne Napier line is the 5 million, or more, a year it costs maintaining the road for those extra trucks.

          Of course they could just give a 2 million a year subsidy to a ro-ro service between Napier and Gisbourne, but that does not fit with ideology that values everything as if it has no effects on the wider economy and environment..

    • Colonial Viper 1.2

      NZ just isn’t really a rail-friendly country. Hills + seismic activity = low volume narrow gauge rail that gets broken relatively frequently.

      Your claim is a nonsense.

      Rail was crucial in the early industrialisation of NZ, for decades it was seen as far more practical than roads for heavy transportation and provably so, and it is a robust, cheap, energy resilient form of transport which will continue well after people fall back to using their cars only one or two days a week and in emergencies.

      • Bored 1.2.1

        The sunk investment in rail beds is hugely important for a low oil future: the opportunity is the use of electricity as an alternative motive energy.

        The issue I have with the statement that rail in NZ is subject to seismic and topological issues is that roading has exactly the same problem but far more extensively. It would be really interesting to compare the expenditure of rail in maintaining railbed (bridges / cuttings / tunnels etc etc) with the same for roads.

        • If you compare cost to carriage, rail would by far be the winner.

          • Murray Gibbons

            This wasn’t the case when an independent study for the timber from Wairarapa to Port Wellington Contract was Let. Financially and environmentally, trucks won out and the original decision was reversed away from Rail. Too many people with emotive arguments on this Forum and little facts.

            • Te Reo Putake

              “Too many people with emotive arguments on this Forum and little facts.”
              And now you add yourself to the list, Murray. Make your living on the roads, do you?

            • Colonial Viper

              Financially and environmentally, trucks won out

              Yeah you do that by weighting the calculations the way you pay them to turn out.

      • Richard 1.2.2

        Indeed, low volume narrow gauge rail did make sense in “the early industrialisation of New Zealand” when freight volumes were comparatively lower and road transport was comparatively more expensive. Care to talk about the 21st century or are you just giving the history lesson for its own sake?

        • bbfloyd

          try to use some logic ricky…. do you know how many trucks it takes to match the hauling capacity of one train?

          how difficult must it be for some to understand that the higher the volume of freight, the more efficient, and cheaper way to shift that around the country is by rail…..

          obviously ideology is more important than reality to far too many new zealanders….

          i’m still shocked that you could actually argue against rail freight using the very arguments that make it viable…. too much sugar in your coffee?

          • Richard

            Then why doesn’t everyone use rail? Oh that’s right, because freight kilometer-tonnes is an incomplete picture of the calculus businesses make when choosing a freight option. Given that rail is, to name just a few factors – 1) Slower 2) Not point to point (increasing handling costs, and requiring a truck anyway) 3) Less regular – it is not surprising that many lines are not economically viable, because there aren’t enough customers. Further hindering rail, our narrow gauges and engineering difficulties make rail less cost-saving per kilometer-tonne than in many countries, with a huge capital cost to repay to boot.

            But hey, if rail is so much better than trucks, I guess you should buy the Gisbourne line yourself, sounds like a great investment. I will note though that it doesn’t carry actually carry much freight at the moment. Wonder why.

            Or you could just admit that rail, while a useful option in many contexts, does not serve the needs of many of our regions at a acceptable cost.

            • RedLogix

              And if you think trucks are so much better, why not build yourself your OWN highway system and run your own trucks on them?

              • KJT

                No good. Can’t get car drivers, taxpayers and rate payers to pay for a private road.

                My trucks would be more expensive than rail!

            • KJT

              Until diesel is $5/litre, if we can get it at all!

            • Matthew Whitehead

              You forgot:

              4) Enormous subsidies for road users of all kinds, especially road freight.

              • Murray Gibbons

                Provide the facts Matthew. Bet you can’t

                • Colonial Viper

                  The facts? What have the facts got to do with anything you are interested in?

                  • McFlock

                    Rockpoint report on coastal shipping and transport modality sec20.5 (page 213):

                    There is an issue of whether transport operators pay forthe full costs that they impose on the road network because of the general assumptions of pattern of usage and allocation of costs.

                • I can, but I don’t have the time to go digging after getting home from work. I’ll instead quote Julie Ann Genter, who is honestly far more of an expert in this area than me, and provide you a link to what I believe is the report she mentions earlier in her speech, which is a good overview and comes from the NZTA, and is thus technocratic and not political in nature, and points out fundamental problems in continuing with business as usual the way the National party seems to prefer to. You can find it at:


                  And here’s the end of Julie’s speech:

                  What I would like to identify about this bill is that currently the road-user charges are contributing 37 to 40 percent of our National Land Transport Fund, and that is about equivalent to the amount of money that is planned to be spent by this Government each year just on new motorways. Now, some may think that is fair, but in fact road-user charges are intended to pay for maintenance and renewal of the existing network, and should be used for transport solutions that are going to enable goods and people to be moved in the most cost-effective way possible. Is a new motorway or extending the expressway north and south of Auckland the most efficient way to enable freight to move on our roads? Evidently not. At peak hour, only 1 percent of the traffic on the roads in Auckland is heavy vehicles, so we could easily free up the roads quite significantly for freight and commercial vehicles simply by shifting commuters on to more cost-effective modes such as walking, cycling, buses, and trains. We do not have to force people to do that; we just need to make the costs of transport more direct and people will be able to weigh up those decisions for themselves. What the transport modelling shows us is that people would choose to take public transport, walk, and cycle more if those options were delivered for them.

                  By continuing transport policy and land use policy that artificially subsidise private vehicles, we are making the transport system more vulnerable to high oil prices, which we know are coming. So spending all the road-user charges on a few motorways is a stupid idea that will not actually be good for the freight industry, as households and businesses have to spend more to get around at peak hour. That means they have less money available to pay for goods in the domestic economy. What does that result in? Lower demand for goods that are transported by heavy vehicles for freight.

  2. Georgy 2

    Who runs the road transport lobby in this country?

    • Kevin Welsh 2.1

      Just another former National government Minister of Transport.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1.1

        Freidlander has moved on. Ken Shirley now runs the Road Transport Forum. He was briefly a minister of Fisheries in the last days of the Labour government of the 80s. Founding member of ACT and a list Mp.

  3. aerobubble 3

    Some money needs to be spent. With the road outages, and now the rail shutdown, a container berth in a bay would seem an option. We could just depopulate the region and leave it too rot.

    • Gosman 3.1

      If the locals are interested in developing the region perhaps they could invest in their development themselves. Or perhaps they could stop protesting against proposals to bring economic development to the region such as deep ocean drilling off the East cape.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        If the locals are interested in developing the region perhaps they could invest in their development themselves.

        Sure grant the region transport autonomy from Wellington then.

        Not taxes without representation mate.

        • insider

          Well they get that to an extent on road funding and public transport through the Regional Transport Committees and the regional transport plan. No guarantee they get 100% of what they pay in in taxes etc but it is close-ish (swings and roundabouts and strategic priorities etc).

          It is the capital expenditure of the much vaunted state owned rail that is centrally controlled….oh the irony

          • Colonial Viper

            It is the capital expenditure of the much vaunted state owned rail that is centrally controlled….oh the irony

            The usual expectation is for central government to listen to and meet the needs of the regions. Why do you think National is not doing this?

            • insider


              Go down any main st in small town NZ and there will be many who think their local project is worthy of funding from central money. Doesn’t mean it should get it.

              • Colonial Viper

                Sure. It does help if you manage to get on National’s list of pet providers and pet projects though, or are a major corporate who already has lots of money.

              • aerobubble

                But a whole region of the country that cannot export their product chilled for the international market…. …if the people of Gisbourne turned themselves into oil the National government would be giving tax exemptions and the like to ‘foster’ the new potential uncapped potential.

      • marsman 3.1.2

        Deep ocean drilling is not economic development, it is exploitation of natural resources by foreign corporates who don’t give a fuck about polluting the ocean where food comes from.

        • Colonial Viper

          The search for more energy supplies is in a critical phase now. More expensive and more difficult to access fields are now being considered practical as all the long hanging fruit is long gone.

          At $2/L Regular, a lot of people changed their driving and transport habits. Some people stopped using cars except for emergencies. Wait until petrol is $3/L.

        • aerobubble

          There’s talk a 70% chance of a 7 magnitude earthquake disturbing the already destroyed japanese nuclear plants, and that’s already after the nuclear disaster has pumped ?ton?s of radiative water into the oceans.

          • Colonial Viper

            thousands of tons of radioactive water. But you know its just a “drop in the ocena” nothing to be worried about when its all watered down. You can trust me, would this corporate face lie?

      • bbfloyd 3.1.3

        now you’re just being silly gossamer…. but cv has given me an idea for auckland…. maybe succession would be the only way the city will be able to develop properly…

        god knows the nats are doing all they can to sabotage it’s chances…

  4. Rusty Shackleford 4

    If it is spinning so much cash, it should only be a matter of time before someone comes and fixes it up and starts making mad bank off of it.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Someone – maybe we could sell it off to Toll?

    • McFlock 4.2

      Keep telling yourself that. The Man in the sky will lower his Invisible Hand and make everything okay, blessed be the dollar…

      • Rusty Shackleford 4.2.1

        Such faith in the men in Wellington to do the exact same.

        • McFlock

          Not “faith”. It’s called a “vote”.
          Once again you demonstrate the tory’s innate contempt for democracy. Such a pity that your scepticism can’t be directed at the unsubstantiated guesswork and visceral soothsaying known as “economics”.

        • I think the point is that they’re not and they’re should- I don’t see why faith would have any impact on that. The government is easier for regular people to influence than most corporates so it makes sense to pressure them first, that’s all.

  5. Rusty Shackleford 5

    “Such a pity that your scepticism can’t be directed at the unsubstantiated guesswork and visceral soothsaying known as “economics”.”

    As opposed to what? Whatever you decide is good that day?

    There is more to economics than what you read in your 101 text book. The same as there is more to any topic than what a first year undergrad learns.

    “Once again you demonstrate the tory’s innate contempt for democracy.”
    It’s not a “tory contempt”, it’s a healthy scepticism. Demagogues have a history of perverting the course of democracy for their own gains. I don’t believe democracy, as we have it today, to be the best way of choosing representative govt. So, what? Many bad ideas were considered self evident right up until they weren’t any more.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Economists are faux exports. They look, sound and dress like experts. But they very rarely, if ever, deliver on what they promise (especially the financial economists, who seem to dominate their entire discipline these days).

      And like an incompetent doctor, following their orders can frequently make the patient sicker, make the case more chronic, and sometimes even kill the poor individual, even as they pay good money for the ‘professional advice’.

      • Richard 5.1.1

        The alternative is apparently left wing economics, which isn’t economics (and thus not plagued with the same issues) because it is left wing.

        What do you mean, they also use modelling and theory? I guess left wing economics is out as well! Instead we shall use democracy and the vibe to make decisions about economic (oh shit that word again) investment. I’ve heard there’s a good soothsayer available at the moment: the chicken gizzards say, “Invest in rail, even if it makes no money, because money is capitalism trying to trick you”.

        • McFlock

          the chicken gizzards say, “Invest in rail, even if it makes no money, because money is capitalism trying to trick you”.
          I don’t have too much issue with the concept of “left wing economics” (if we assume such a class of thing exists) being just as much bunk as right wing economics, especially with regards to say 6-monthly GDP predictions.
          The difference is that right wing economics says “public good? There’s no percentage in it. Let the thing die”, whereas left wing economics says “there is a public good here, so the public will maintain it”.

          • insider

            What’s the public good in this case?

            • McFlock

              The same public good as having roads, ports, and airports.
              A rail link provides logistical choice to producers and individuals. For example, even if we assume that the link is not needed now, its existence could well be a deciding factor in a major producer choosing to locate its future facility in the Hawkes Bay rather than elsewhere. 

              • insider

                By that logic we should have airports in every suburb and railways to and from everywhere ‘just in case’. Yet airports have been closed and rail lines ripped up over many many years, while the country apparantly has prospered. Was there no public good in keeping Wigram open or the rail line to Waiau? Imagine the factories they would have been supporting.

                It may be providing a choice but it’s obvious from the traffic that the public generally aren’t choosing it, so the benefit seems rather private

                • McFlock

                  Um, no. Not by that logic. In fact that reduction goes beyond absurdity. But wait, before I go too far I should consider your perspective. Let me adopt the same style:

                  It may be providing a choice but it’s obvious from the traffic that the public generally aren’t choosing it, so the benefit seems rather private  

                  By your logic the government should never invest in new infrastructure, because if it doesn’t exist the public aren’t choosing it. 
                  See what happens if you assume that the other party has never heard of a BCR?

                  • insider

                    Of course it’s absurd. Deliberately so. But not as absurd as trying to maintain outmoded/unused infrastructure ‘just in case’, something you seem to truly believe in.

                    What next? Keep open schools in depopulated areas just in case people move back? Maintain bridges to nowhere when the areas have reverted to scrub in case we need to resettle veterans again? It’s for the public good after all.

                    • McFlock

                      But not as absurd as trying to maintain outmoded/unused infrastructure ‘just in case’, something you seem to truly believe in.
                      Trains aren’t outmoded, and certainly not unused. That particular line might be going through a quiet period, but it’s still being used to shift tonnes of freight. And as fuel prices increase it will become more attractive. Letting it rot and rust will just increase the restart costs “down the line” (to use an apt expression).
                      We aren’t talking about stadia here – decent transport infrastructure is something every nation should have in its hip pocket, like a Swiss Army knife. 

        • Colonial Viper

          The alternative is apparently left wing economics, which isn’t economics (and thus not plagued with the same issues) because it is left wing.

          Not exactly.

          The first step is to empower the small remainder of the economics profession which is developing an understanding actual real-world economics as it affects societies, not just the financialised aspects of the economic system.

          • Bored

            Thanks CV, societal economics versus financialised is a good summary. The interesting thing about Richard and his chicken entrail reading is that he most likely would say ‘let the market decide’…raising the question of why we even need economists at all?

            • Colonial Viper

              The economics profession has been captured by the interests of their major employers and funders: large corporates, central banks and investment banks. Which is a shame because there was potential for economics to be a discipline which worked in the interests of society as a whole – not just the parts of society with significant assets and capital.

              The CTU can afford to hire one economist in total to put forward more holistic analyses; each of the major NZ trading banks employs a team with several economists each, plus support infrastructure, plus economics resources back at their parent bank in Australia. No contest.

              Further in the 1990’s I understand that the news media had a blacklist of economists who were approved for news interviews and those who were not acceptable for interviews.

          • Robert M

            The pre 1984 Railways were dominated by engineers and geographers who were largely devoid of any sophisticated understanding of economics and accountancy. Under think big the assuption was that rail was to continue to carry most of the nations freight as under the advice of his rail adviser in the Prime Minister Advisory Group a certain, Mr Beckett a Rhodes Scholar noted as a 100 metre sprinter who had such brainwaves as converting railcars to be towed by locos, even though it was already known they’d split apart after a few years ,a 150km limit on road competition with rail had been introduced and the rail electrified between Palmeston North and Hamilton. It might actually have been sensible to electrify rail between Paekakariki and Palmeston North and Auckland and Hamilton at the time, because modern rail is about passenger transport . Rail has long ceased to be useful or economical for freight except heavy coal.
            In NZ distances are too short for economical rail freight of any sort . The idea of rebuilding the rail between Northport and Auckland seems absurd. The distance is far too short for economical rail. The freight would have to be moved during the day thru intensely used suburban electrified trackage between Swanson and Newmarket and it would be far more sensible to carry the containers directly by truck from Northport to factories in the Auckland area.
            Rail privitisation could have been a largely sensible way of sustaining rail in a largely traditional freight and passenger role for a quarter of a century if Prebble and Richardson and the Treasury had intended it be the case. With a number of changes it would easily have been possibly for Tranz Rail to have earned another $500 million revenue between 1993 and 2003.
            If Richardsons Finance Bills had not stopped the subsidy of intercity trains an annual subsidy of $20 million a year would have been a fair payment for the intercity system largely maintained by Wisconsin Central to 2001/2.
            Purchasing 40 new fuel efficient Dash 7 or 8 diesels and 20 new intercity carriages would have reduced fuel costs and maintenance costs. New carriages would have raised intercity loadings from 45/55 to about 65 a train on say Southerners or Bay Express and brought in up to $15 million extra over ten years. Given the financing options open to Merchant Banks the likes of Richwhites could have leveraged such assets up to half a dozen times on the international market , gaining several $100 million as was done with the Aratere.
            However the Treasury view was by the mid 1980s was that rail was of little value, that capital investment should stop and that it should be privatised and used hard and fast at maximum capacity for ten years- until it was of little value,new capital investment in rail having no possibility of an economical return.
            The Labour idea that NZ needs to redevelop a substantial industrial manufacturing base to create employment for ordinary people and a more self sufficient society in a world of higher fuel costs seems unrealistic.
            Sophisticated tourism would be a much better thing , with an open society offering a 24 hour party for the young from the US and Europe on their OE and gap year. I doubt if higher cost of fuel will effect international travel much. The problem seemed the keen desire of a timid Clark, English and Banks to close NZ down with for eg the ludicrous proposal to close suburban bars at midnight.
            We need politicians who can endure a bit of turbluence in politics, society and on the streets.

            A fortress NZ economy and the return of substantial local manufacturing would ony seem possible in the event of such low propability as a conventional third world war with NZ trade routes closed by Russian and Chinese subs. I can’t see Labour believing that would be a possibility, but it might be.

            • ghostwhowalksnz

              What a load of nonsense.

              NZ before the 1970s had very heavy restrictions on what could be imported .
              This was to keep the terms of trade in balance, there were no easy loans from overseas in those days compared to now.

              Trucks and diesel were restricted as they seen as un necessary as we had coastal shipping and rail for long distance freight.
              On the same basis imported shoes were restricted as there were many shoe making businesses in NZ, which helped employment.
              There were many other examples , TV sets, cars etc were assembled here.

              The economic policies were to ensure full employment AND ensure the country paid its way .

              Now its different and money is easily borrowed overseas but pre 1970s that was the way it was.

              Dont rewrite history, when you know nothing about it.

        • Bored

          Ricko, there are neither left wing or right wing economics, only a lot of conjecture that very occasionally touches on reality. When reality raises its ugly head economists (of both descriptions) check their theories and declare the reality as an anomaly…theory always trumps reality. Econometrics is the supreme chicken entrail exercise of Treasury and it is never officially wrong (note officially, reality is not allowed to keep score).

          So now for some reality. Oil is in decline, and that fekks up all the growth based models economists hold dear, and it also stuffs up future modeling by economists of what happens with road and rail etc etc. The market is going to decide the outcome, it will do what businesses can afford to do with a very visible hand.

          My prediction (please check this again in 5 years) is that trucking into Gisborne will become a marginal exercise, rail will not have capital expenditure until too late, shipping will be the way to go but the region in the meantime will be severely handicapped. Any advances?

    • McFlock 5.2

      If economics were more reliable than a religious fetish, then NZTreasury predictions would be consistently correct. They are bunk. As is your article of faith that the market will satisfy demand, regardless of infrastructure costs.
      The advantage that democracy has over the market is that everyone in a democracy has an equal say, regardless of fortune or privilege. But this is irrelevant to whether the Hawkes Bay keeps a rail link.

      • Gosman 5.2.1

        I didn’t realise this was about Hawkes Bay losing it’s rail link. I thought it was the one south from Gisbourne.

        • Te Reo Putake

          This is a Hawkes Bay rail link, Gossie. Buy a map, have a look and then have a ponder about what this means for the Napier Port.

          • Gosman

            Isn’t there a rail link between Napier and Wellington and Napier to Palmerston North? I swear I saw something last time I checked an Atlas. Did they shut that down recently?

            • Te Reo Putake

              As I said, buy a map. Educate yourself, man, it’s not up to me to do it for you.

        • McFlock

          Where’s Gisborne?
          Where’s Napier?

          • Gosman

            Gisborne is in Poverty bay I thought.

            Where’s Wellington?

            Where’s Palmerston North?

            • McFlock

              Nowhere near Hawkes Bay.
              Okay Magellan, Poverty Bay (and Gisborne) are just north of which bay?
              And Napier is on the south coast of which bay?
              Hence, along the coast of which bay does the Napier-Gisborne line travel? Hint: It’s not via Palmerston North. In fact, the Palmerston North – Gisborne route goes via Napier. Tool.

              • Gosman

                The point is Hawkes Bay will continue to have rail links even if they decided to not reopen the Gisborne line. The fact that the Gisborne line looks to be uneconomic would suggest that Hawkes Bay isn’t getting much in the way of economic benefity from this route anyway.

                • McFlock

                  Um, no. That’s like saying (recent anniversary in mind) that everyone has access to a lifeboat, even though there aren’t enough lifeboats for every passenger.
                  Most of the Hawkes Bay will not have a rail link. 

                  Economic idiocy of closing the link is discussed elsewhere. 

                  • Gosman

                    Well lets put that theory to the test shall we McFlop.

                    This map suggests the population density of Hawkes Bay is, (not surprisingly), concentrated around Napier and Hastings.


                    There will still be a rail line leading away from there through all the southern districts of the Hawkes Bay.

                    Therefore it looks like around half the geographic area of the province will be withing 40 to 50 kilometers of a rail line and over 80 percent of the population being within a much smaller distance than this.

                    So what was your argument about again? Was it that not ALL of the Hawkes Bay will be covered by railway lines and that a poor (most likely National voting) Cow Cocky in the North of the province might have to resort to road transport instead of rail? Wow! I didn’t realise you cared so much about traditional National leaning voters your would happily subsidise their economic choices.

                    • McFlock

                      So half the Hawkes Bay will lose a rail link. The other half (and the cape) can eat shit.
                      And by the way, you trying to score points by suggesting that I shouldn’t care about the welfare of others simply because they might vote national says more about you and your ilk than it does me.
                      Besides, I already subsidise their choices because trucks are subsidised. I just want them to have the option of choosing a more efficient and environmentally friendly form of transport when that imbalance is addressed. 

                  • insider

                    The majority of traffic on the Napier Gisborne line is taking bulk cargo into Gisborne – mainly fertiliser. A lesser amount comes out and that mostly goes straight to Napier port (it was mainly wood and timber products but that has dried up). 99% of inter-regional freight doesn’t use rail. Most of the Hawkes Bay doesn’t have a rail link on that measure (or pretty much any other).

                    But waht Gosman is obtusely saying is that the Gisborne spur line is only a (minor) part of the Hawkes Bay rail ‘network’ and its loss would not mean the loss of rail in Hawkes Bay

                    • McFlock

                      Um – so the majority of rail traffic on the line is taking cargo into Gisborne, but the loss of that traffic won’t mean the loss of rail in the Hawkes Bay?
                      Reminds me of some developments down here a while back – a short street lined with arts&crafts cottages. Developers were permitted to tear half of them down because several others would remain, then within five or ten years they tore the other half down because they “were poorly maintained and stuck out like a sore thumb from the surrounding structures”.

      • Gosman 5.2.2

        What I think you meant to state was this is irrelevant to whether the Hawkes Bay keeps a minor rail link between Napier and Gisborne as well as the existing rail links (plural) between Napier and Palmerston North and Wellington.

        • McFlock

          You would think that, because you are a moron.
          I’ve been on the Napier:Gisborne roads. They are winding and surrounded by mud, and that’s when you’re not on the flood plain. Works were frequent. Every truckload that goes by rail means the roads are that bit safer and less damaged.
          In a fair market (where trucks weren’t subsidised) that line would be essential infrastructure. And it will be soon.

          • Gosman

            Excellent. Let the market decide then. Start charging for use of key roads via tolls. Trucks can pay more of course.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              Or trucks can just pay fair amounts for diesel and road user charges, which would cost them several times what they currently pay, and probably reverse which mode of transport was considered economical for long-distance freight. Tolling doesn’t make sense as it creates perverse incentives, slows traffic, wastes labour, and several other problems, when compared with abstracting the cost into a tax or surcharge.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.3

      There’s more to economics than what comes out of the Austrian and Chicago Schools combined.

      • Gosman 5.3.1

        Yeah apparently you have some wacky idea where you print money and people’s ideas are valued at the level of value they get implemented at or something or rather. Either that or is is all about the Jelly Beans. Frankly I can’t keep up with your economic thinking. It is so very advanced. How’s the process of implementing it going BTW?

  6. Georgy 6

    Is there a Road Users transport Lobby independent of the govt? If so who is involved? Are they getting the ear of the govt or the national party?

  7. Costs of repair $4.6m, continuing losses $2m a year.
    Sad I agree, but does not make sense from any viewpoint.

    • Gosman 7.1

      Well you could pass a law forcing people and goods moving between Gisborne and Napier to use the railway. Then you could hike up the price and pay for the repairs and make a profit.It is good old fashioned Command Economy stuff. the sort of things lots of you lefties love.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 7.1.1

        Is the highway ‘ economic’ using your analysis ?

        Is it being subsidised by other roads that are busier , ie Napier Taupo

        • Gosman

          I support the concept of toll roads so I’m unsure what you mean by uneconomic. In it’s current form it isn’t exactly market driven I will grant you.

          • Matthew Whitehead

            Even if you wanted to measure traffic to make objective decisions about road maintenance/development, it’d be better to just measure it directly and abstract the charges rather than implement tolling. In fact, it’s probably cheaper to do it that way, too.

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      Sad I agree, but does not make sense from any viewpoint.

      Whatever – your argument is based on a purely financial argument not from “any viewpoint”. You are looking solely at the financials and they are easily engineered to load costs up on any single line to make it look bad.

      Meanwhile – $2000M for a fucking highway which will be empty in 10 years time – what a good deal.

      • If you take subsidies out of the equation, we don’t even need to explore the indirect costs and benefits that comprise a “non-financial” argument that is convincing. The assumption that road subsidies are natural but any other public investment in transport is blasphemy is one of the weirdest parts of right-wing economics.

  8. ghostwhowalksnz 8

    Land line telephone services that are ‘uneconomic’ are required to be subsidised by all other phone users, even mobile companies.

    This legal obligation is in Telecoms’ kiwi share’ and requires different contributions by other telecoms companies

    Whats so different about Gisborne Napier rail link ?

    I bet there are quite a few isolated small towns or rural farms which are uneconomic for telephone service. Are we to cut off phone service on the mantra of no uneconomic services allowed to exist.

    National did try that with rural postal deliveries, when they wanted to introduce a charge, because they are “uneconomic”. Didnt happen when the farmers revolted.

    • Gosman 8.1

      Lot’s of rural communities have never had a rail link and lot’s of them used to have a rail link but don’t now. Following your logic we should be building railway’s everywhere to ensure all the main rural communities have a rail link.Do you really think this makes economic sense?

      • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1.1

        It part of a ‘rail network’ . The line all ready exists, no one says new lines should be built everywhere. What fantasy led you to think that.
        All Im saying is existing parts of networks are subsidised, why not rail. Keeping those lines open improve the economics of other parts of the network, say half the rail wagons travel from Gisborne to Napier and then onto Wellington.
        Its like roads, we dont abandon back country roads because they are little used, the money comes from busier highways

        • Gosman

          I’m saying we should abandon back country roads if they are little used. If there is no economic benefit from keeping them open then why should be waste scare resources doing so?

          • Colonial Viper

            If there is no economic benefit from keeping them open then why should be waste scare resources doing so?

            Because we should not run our country and our society on the basis of your financialised version of economics.

            • Gosman

              Ahhhh! Ulitmately we do run it on my version. Whereas your version is a still born idea waiting for enough people to have the gumption to get up and create themselves a working example of it in action. How’s that going for you again C.V, or are you too tied up mooching off your girlfriend’s parents?

              • ghostwhowalksnz

                They are beginning to install fibre optic, with a government subsidy for quite a lot of places.

                Imagine that, fibre optic is not economic everywhere that wants it.

                How could this be ? A major infrastructure which is built on the basis of community need.

                And it was National who was ‘throwing a lot of money to solve the problem’ compared to Labours more modest proposal.

              • felix

                That word, ultimately. It does not mean what you think it means.

  9. burt 9

    So who’s gonna pay … Oh I know – other peoples money. The gummit will pay to fix it….

    Perhaps if you lovers of trains want to maintain the line you can put your own money in and purchase the line from the gummit. Fix it up and maintain it….. Run your one train a week and see how the economics stack up.

    Oh no… 3, 2, 1 for loud screams of – “other people need to pay for what I want…..”

    • Gosman 9.1

      The other solution is unpalatable to them. They bemoan the fact that Roads get subsidised yet aren’t too fond of toll roads even though that would largely resolve this issue and also likely make rail more competitive. Leftists just like subsidies because they can manage patronage and feel good about ‘helping’ people.

    • RedLogix 9.2

      Perhaps you lovers of roads can put your own money in and purchase them from the government…oh wait.

      • Gosman 9.2.1

        That would be great. Sell off some of the roads to private sector investors to turn them into toll roads. Now you’re thinking like a Capitalist Red 😉

        • RedLogix

          Don’t suppose you’d mind if I started with the road outside your place Gos?

          • Gosman

            You can start wherever you want. However it would make more economic sense to start with some key routes that are between centers which require large capital investment to maintain them. Selling off the Manawatu Gorge might be a goer for example.

            • KJT

              Burt and Gosman are so thick it is funny sometimes.

              Do they really want to pay the thousands of dollars a year it costs to maintain access to their front gate.

              Have cockies paying the hundreds of thousands for a road that serves two or three farms.

              Or, for other networks? 25k to get a phone line to a farm.

              Start cutting networks into bits and only keeping the “profitable” bits means you no longer have a network.

              We have seen how well that works with ports.

              If they want user pays, trucks should pay their full costs, in RUC’s including ETS charges. Instead of being subsidised by car drivers and rate payers.

              The costs to NZ of having a rail network are much lower than the cost of not having one!
              The savings in overseas exchange, for fuel, from the electrified part of the line, alone, makes it worthwhile.

              • RedLogix

                If they want user pays, trucks should pay their full costs, in RUC’s including ETS charges.

                Personally I’ve always argued that the trucking companies should be forced to build their own separate private highway system… completely paid for and maintained by them. (Including having to build bridges, overpasses and crossings where they inevitably have to cross the public system.)

                Then let’s see how ‘economic’ they are.

              • Gosman

                Ummmmm… we already pay the hundred’s of thousands of dollars per year it costs to maintain access to our front gate. Your argument is that we should be happy to pay for the access to your front gate as well. Why should I be happy to pay thousands for a road that serves two or three farms? If the farms can’t afford to pay for the roads themselves then they really aren’t economic are they?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Next you’ll be arguing if children and parents can’t pay for their schooling that their schools should be closed down.

                  Dumb dumb dumb

                  At least the people who built NZ in the 1800’s and 1900’s, and built roads, rail and power to every corner of the country had a vision which wasn’t run by financialised economics.

                  • Gosman

                    Yeah we all know your solution C.V. It involves printing money and nationalising everything. Some day you might even get off your backside and do something about it. I look forward to seeing that day. I’ll probably be really old by then though.

                • KJT


                  If you close the farms because they cannot pay the full cost of their roads, who is going to export to pay the cost of importing your gas.

                  • Gosman

                    You obviously have reading comprehension problems. I didn’t state close any farms. I stated if the use of the road is uneconomic, (i.e. there isn’t enough economic activity on it that is able to pay for the road), then the road shouldn’t exist. I am sure there are many roads out there where the economic activity along them is enough to pay for them. Do you believe in paying for uneconomic infrastructure? On second thoughts don’t answer that. You are obviously a lefty after all.

      • burt 9.2.2

        It’s called tax on petrol or RUC on diesel RedLogix – we pay for them if we use them. No rocket science in that funding model.

        • RedLogix

          That’s the point burt. You constantly complain that railroads shouldn’t be paid for by the taxpayer, yet you are happy to pay for roads? What’s the difference?

          Primarily it’s because you actually get to drive your own little jallopy on various roads, while the freight (which is mainly what rail is best at) you aren’t personally involved in… so in typically myopic right winger fashion… you can’t see the value of it.

        • Draco T Bastard

          The problem, burt, is that the RUCs and fuel charges aren’t covering the full costs. Roads also get a massive cross subsidy – cars subsidise trucks – and without those subsidies trucks wouldn’t be economic either.

          The reality that neither you nor gooseman can accept is that trains are far more efficient than trucks and it’s efficiency that we’re going to need in the not too distant future.

          • burt

            Hey I have a great idea, lets rebuild the rail line and use legislation to make sure trucks and busses are slower and more expensive than trains. That way we could use the power of government monopoly to protect government investment paid for by end consumers…

            Doooh – we tried that in the past didn’t we… Tell me again how cool it was when you wanted to take a bus from A to B but had to take stops along the way to make sure the trip took longer than the train….

            Oh, and lets not forget that you can’t dominate private trucking & bus companies with a single union in the best interests of a single job – train drivers.

          • Gosman

            I’m quite willing to accept that idea. Stop the cross subsidisation, and create toll roads. Heck, even throw a carbon tax in for good measure. In short let the market decide what they prefer.

  10. Georgy 10

    Road Users Transport Lobby : Ken Shirley and Tony Friedlander

    What kind of influence are these two having ?

    Is it really about economics?

  11. vini 11

    Railex 5 day non-stop private coast-to-coast railway transport with state of the art quality controlled distribution centers and real-time GPS inventory tracking is the greener alternative to refrigerated trucking companies

  12. Gosman, & Richard, do what Mc Flock suggests, come up to Napier and Gisborne to see the sheer lunacy of relying on Heavy Goods Vehicles, (HGV’S) are causing to the roads and suburban way of life with the noise vibration & pollution that is causing a public health crisis in Napier and Gisborne.

    Read the facts, from IPENZ rerport to Government, in their study it reveils the cost of rail freight is paid 77% by the users, private road users, 66%, and the road transport industry only 56% so trucking is heavily subsidised by by the public, and to toll trucks you will get a powerful fight there, as the road transport lobby is very veryt powerful.

    Back to the issue of HGV;s causing diesel particulate pollution, and tyre dust pollution (which is cancer causing) look up on the web what tyre particulate pollution does to humans living near truck corridors.

    Go get a copy of the PCE (Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment) on their website entitled “HB Expressway Kennedy Rd noise and air quality issues. 2005”

    His year long study summarised states that HGV’s causing health issues to residential communities can be mitigated by more freight moving back to rail, funny that!! rail is much much lower in per tonne carried per Km and also there is a Ministry of Transport study from 1999 Entitled Impacts of Rail Transport on Local air Quality.

    It was buried in the archives because nothing on this subject has ever been done since, but we found it, and if anyone wants a copy drop me a line, I can send one. It essentially shows in almost every case, be it short haul, or long haul that rail emits virtually no pollution compared to truck freight, so if you want to breathe poisonous air go ahead but I aint’.

    Several large world wide studies have confirmed that rail frieght is 5 to 9 times more efficient than road freight, so if you want to use inefficient road freight only you will see the cost of your goods bought spiralling, due to trucking cost increases, and it is happening here in Gisborne now.

    This leftie bashing is interesting, your right wing mates are cossying up to a very large Communist Country right now, China to be axact, what do you say about that, I as a moderate are uneasy to see a torry Government geeting into bed with the largest most oppressive Communist country in the world.

    Anyway, when it comes back to rail Vs road, there are many more “cost externalities” to consider than the narritive “economic model this lot are singing, ask yourself what cost is the public health services paying, (your tax dollars) due to 2500 trucks passing by your door every day and polluting your entire airspace, causing you to get chronic disease?

    This is happening right at the HB expressway at Kennedy Rd every day, and is now according to a letter we have now become a public health risk. This truck count increase is directly caused by the closure of the Gisborne rail link, now creating more heavy truck movements.

    About the potential freight carrying on the Gisborne line, we have located 10 new large customers that want to use the Gisborne to Napier rail line, two wood products companies, two aggregate companies with btheir own quarries, two trucking companies, (one is Main Freight) two meat processing plants, a second fertiliser company and a feedstock supplier, so guess what was holding them using the rail line before it was washed out? A lack bof rolling stock, locomotives and staff to handle the massive extra freight, so y6ou can place the blame right at the Government door with the lack of regional funding for rail infrastructure.
    Lastly think about what happend here, just as our group in Gisborne was getting frieght up and running on the line nature deals us a cruel hand right?

    Wrong, because Kiwirail’s communications Manager has admitted in the press up here on the 17th April, Quote;

    Last Friday KiwiRail cited a combination of factors leading to last month’s catastrophic and costly dropout.Ms Brady said the geography in the area of the slips was very challenging and experienced unusually high levels of rain in a short space of time, she said.

    This combined with some old, damaged and blocked culverts is what caused the huge slips.
    Many culverts needed replacing, not just the debris
    removed, and that would come at a high cost.
    Kiwi Rail has been actively upgrading the long-neglected
    national rail network for the past three years, but funds were limited and needed to be allocated elsewhere.
    So here’s the facts,
    “Many culverts needed replacing, not just the debris
    removed, and that would come at a high cost.

    Government screwed us when they directed KiwiRail to to send the provincial rail maintaintence funds elswhere, and Gisbornites now feel cheated that a large increasing export lead recovery that was occurring is now being screwed by a Government that wants to close their only choice for transport other than road down, because they caused the rail closure and now wont fix the rail line they destroyed, infact thay feel as though Government sabotaged the rail, because we were showing that so many companies wanted to switch to rail, and their road lobby mates wanted to shut the treat down.

    Believe what you want but we are at the coal face.

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