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The Gisborne rail line

Written By: - Date published: 9:19 am, April 25th, 2012 - 42 comments
Categories: transport - Tags: ,

Zetetic’s recent post on the Gisborne rail line generated a lot of comment. Almost a week later a final comment was added clean.air (a new contributor). Clean.air has an insider’s knowledge of the issues, and the comment deserves a wider audience, so here it is as a guest post. If you need to refresh your memories on the issues go back and check out Zet’s original post first.

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.

— clean.air

42 comments on “The Gisborne rail line ”

  1. hellonearthis 1

    Well said, it seems like this government wants to help make Gisborne a geto/poor region of NZ.

  2. marsman 3

    Sneaky Steven Joyce sabotaged Kiwirail, that has long been my contention. Did he not also take away the Govt. subsidy Kiwirail was getting? He’s in thrall to the trucking lobby. He is one of a number of people without whom NZ would be a much better place. And now we have that lump Gerry Brownlee to carry on Sneaky’s nasty agenda.

    • marsman 3.1

      PS Great post clean.air. I like what you said about rail being 5 to 9 times more efficient than road transport, would love to be able to quote the actual studies to rail-bashers.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        would love to be able to quote the actual studies to rail-bashers.

        As long as the objective is for your own self satisfaction, not a (futile) attempt to change their minds with rational evidence.

    • Fortran 3.2

      Why did Michael Cullen/Helen Clark buy Kiwirail at three times its value.
      – to make life difficult for the incoming Government, as it knew it would be soundly beaten, so this would embarrass the Nats.

      [lprent: Book value has little or no relationship to actual value or a sale value. I am personally tired of hearing that old troll assertion that has no basis in fact. Never has a supporting link. And simply reveals the person making it to have no understanding of the topic.

      Take two weeks holiday for being a stupid troll. Come back refreshed, with better lines, and a renewed determination to provide valid links to your assertions of fact. ]

      • r0b 3.2.1

        Why did Michael Cullen/Helen Clark buy Kiwirail at three times its value.

        Huh? Proof for this assertion please.

      • Chris 3.2.2

        I would assume he is talking about this:


        This is based on fair value which is based on actual value rather than book value. 

        Still the rest of the point was still stupid wasn’t 3 times the value and definitely wasn’t purchased to difficult for an incoming government. 

        • RedLogix

          And replacement value (the price you would pay to build it from scratch today) would probably in the order of $10b.

          The crucial point is simply that Dr Cullen had only three practical options open to him:

          1. Do nothing and keep on subsidising the Australian private sector company Toll Holdings to the tune of $200m a year or more via OnTrack.

          2. Negotiate a market price to buy it back. Bear in mind Toll’s opening bid was $1b. He opened around $500m After 18 months of tough negotiation they settled on $690m.

          3. Or he could have nationalised the whole caboose.

          Even then the difference between the $690m purchaase price and the $360m ‘fair value’ price … is pretty much the cash input the govt was putting into OnTrack for over just one to two years.

  3. Sanctuary 4

    Where is Labour on this? $4,300,000 is chicken feed, and saying they’ll restore the line means Anne Tolley can kiss the East Coast electorate goodbye in 2014 if the Nats don’t repair the rail link.

  4. jcuknz 5

    I think you should give Burt some brownie points for the humour, ridiculous as it was.

  5. prism 6

    Only a crazy short sighted irresponsible government would allow an important rail link with an export producing area go down when oil is due to go up as it becomes scarce. We have a lot of sunk costs in the rail line. Kiwi Rail said in one interview that earlier this year they widened the rail line which allows the carriage of containers that the previous narrower line couldn’t manage and that volumes are increasing but don’t show up in the historical tonnages being quoted.

  6. Draco T Bastard 7

    Several large world wide studies have confirmed that rail frieght is 5 to 9 times more efficient than road freight…

    That’s the telling bit. If costs were properly allocated long distance trucking would disappear overnight.

  7. ianmac 8

    Trucking up and down the East Coast of the SI is heavy. The road between Blenheim and Picton is being constantly resealed. This must be hugely expensive but I bet that the trucks pay almost none of the true cost. So in Gisborne the case to make better use of the rail link has the same validity.
    The historical reasons for lifting the old embargo on Trucking included slowness of rail, losing of goods and so on. Today technology would easily solve the old problems.

    But can you see National (or Labour) making a case for rail at the expense of trucking? Joyce? Ha ha ha!

  8. The Surface Transport Costs and Charges study commissioned by the last government included a specific case study comparing infrastructure costs and externality costs and charges for road and rail between Napier and Gisborne.

    What it found was that there was no great distortion in charging between trucks and rail on the route, in that trucks on the highway paid more in RUC that it cost to maintain the road.

    IPENZ selectively quoted the overall results of that study, but failed to quote the specific case study (another two case studies in that report indicated road freight was undercharged in one case, overcharged on another) which is what is relevant here.

    In short, sadly given I have a nostalgic affection for the line, there is no economic case for retaining it, particularly given that most of the road freight movements in the region don’t have origins or destinations that could remotely be served by it – and those that could face the high cost of double handling.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      The economic case is diesel going to $3/L.

      What it found was that there was no great distortion in charging between trucks and rail on the route, in that trucks on the highway paid more in RUC that it cost to maintain the road.

      EXCEPT that RUC charges aren’t assigned to areas in that way.

    • RedLogix 9.2

      Well if the trucking companies are being overcharged for using the public highway system, why don’t they build and maintain their own private roads? Make a lot more money that way…

      • Libertyscott 9.2.1

        No. On that route, the RUC revenue generated is notably in excess of the long run capital costs for maintaining the road that can be fairly attributed to those paying it.

        On some routes the RUC revenue is in excess, on others it is inadequate. As it is a national price for using all roads, that is to be expected, but the study specifically investigated three routes to test these issues. It so happens Napier-Gisborne was one of them (and no coincidence since the issues with the viability of the rail line have been around for over 30 years – 1978 being the first time a study was done about it).

        There actually are extensive networks of private forestry roads in the North Island, paid for and maintained by the forest owners, with them setting the weight limits for the vehicles and no RUC paid on those routes.

        • Colonial Viper

          There actually are extensive networks of private forestry roads in the North Island, paid for and maintained by the forest owners, with them setting the weight limits for the vehicles and no RUC paid on those routes.

          Of course they pay for them its ON THEIR PRIVATE LAND and they are making a PRIVATE PROFIT from activities on that land.

          No. On that route, the RUC revenue generated is notably in excess of the long run capital costs for maintaining the road that can be fairly attributed to those paying it.

          Totally irrelevant.

          RUC’s and the roading costs they cover are not assigned in that way, except theoretically in very narrowly focussed management consulting reports.

        • Colonial Viper

          And give us a link to your bullshit reports

          • Libertyscott

            It is hardly totally irrelevant that the revenue generated from trucks for using the network that competes with the railway more than covers the infrastructure costs when you are arguing that taxpayers pay for the railway infrastructure costs rather than the users of the railway.

            If you can’t see that there is little hope for a rational debate. Given that you are calling something that challenges your own view of the world a bullshit report, it doesn’t bode well.

            The study is no longer on the MoT website. It is called Surface Transport Costs and Charges, dated March 2005, published by MoT. It was undertaken by Booz Allen Hamilton with the Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds. There have been follow up studies undertaken which do not include that specific case study to update the data.

            I suggest you contact MoT and be asked to be posted a copy, there were plenty in storage when I was last there.

            • McFlock

              Don’t be a doofus. You know the title of the report, oh wow let’s google it. Is this the report you’re referring to?

            • Bored

              Bloody hell that is a mindless document i.e it shows no vision or any reference for anything outside of known parameters.

              I think this Gisborne rail issue actually shows the end result of “leaving it to the market” which as then been distorted again by powerful lobbying by interest groups. And it is related to a whole pile of other issues like the sale of state assets, port labour conflict etc.

              Here is a brave cure (that I have not heard Labour advocating)…
              * Give the Economic Development Ministry (or whatever it is called) control of a national integrated “energy and infrastructure” organisation that would:
              1. Take total control of electricity generation and the grid….replacing the “competitive” companies. The mandate would be for the electricity generation body to supply at cost plus future investment commitments (no profit).
              2. Nationalise all of the Ports: Centralise negotiation with shipping companies, uniformity of costs and again, no profit above reinvestment.
              3. Mandate that rail is both electrified where possible, and built locally where possible. Zero balance pricing.
              4. Remove any road user subsidies / tax write offs etc, make trucking pay true cost of use.
              5. Review coastal shipping as alternative to rail and road, invest from tax until it becomes part of integrated model.

              Dont get me started on banking and finance and the other “rentier” groups who hold back true economic performance in NZ. What I am advocating is a productive business friendly environment, as opposed to a big corporate business subsidising economy. Wake up Labour.

    • Macro 9.3

      All well and good!
      But your comment completely misses the point that clean air is making; and that is the cost of the externalities that are being passed on by the trucking companies to the local communities. Were the analysis, which you refer, to also take into account all the other costs to the community of this form of transportation, the result would I’m sure be somewhat different. Unfortunately economic analysis as always is somewhat blinkered to externalities as they are “unreal” (ie can’t be measured easily in dollars and cents) and therefore aren’t worth considering; and anyway they only apply to poor people. Rich people can move to a more salubrious location.

      • Libertyscott 9.3.1

        Sorry, I forgot to be more thorough. The study was not blinkered to externalities at all. Bear in mind this study was commissioned under the last government.

        RUC has always been about recovering infrastructure costs, which it does more than adequately in this case. The rail line users can’t pay for those costs and so the argument goes whether the externalities saved are sufficient to justify those costs being cross-subsidised.

        The study also included environmental externalities. Table 3.6 in the main report outlines the case study. Revenue per freight tonne km from trucks on the route came to 4c. Infrastructure costs were 1c per tonne km. Although these costs have gone up, so has RUC.

        It assessed congestion costs, being the delay caused by the trucks in towns and also uphill sections affecting cars. That cost was measured at 0.3c per tonne km. Given some money has been getting spent on the road to provide passing lanes (and a lot spent in Napier on the expressway by both governments), this cost is being mitigated by modest infrastructure investment.

        Accident costs were much higher, at 1.8c per tonne km, as the route has death/injury rates three times the national average. Accident costs were measured by records according to the proportion of accidents including trucks.

        Environmental costs, despite the claims by CleanAir were negligible at 0.2c per tonne km. The primary reason being the very limited exposure of people to the emissions. With the exception of Wairoa, the route is rural. The remainder being exposure in Napier and Gisborne where the trucks on this route add to the general level of emissions from all other traffic, and in Napier’s case particularly bad winter emissions from domestic fireplaces.

        All up, whilst RUC generated 4c per tonne km, all of the costs including maintenance, environmental externalities and accident costs came to 3.3c per tonne km.

        Rail was measured as well. As the network was private at the time, infrastructure costs were excluded, all that mattered was externalities. The accident externality was virtually zero, but the environmental one was 0.2c per tonne km. Why? Because the large locomotives when they haul freight, create similar levels of exposure given the average tonnage of trains on the line at the time to trucks doing the same job.

        I stress this was that case study – indicating the case for the Napier-Gisborne line is poor.

        However, the parallel case study for freight between Auckland and Wellington gave a different result, indicating that, including externalities, trucks are undercharged. This is hardly surprising, given the volumes of freight involved, the relatively higher levels of congestion on parts of the network and the higher exposure to people for emissions. Rail environmental costs were interesting higher per tonne km than Napier-Gisborne, also reflecting exposure to emissions from Auckland to Hamilton, and Palmerston North to Wellington.

        In short the point I am making is that it is erroneous to claim a blanket assertion that one mode is always inferior/superior to the other on environmental grounds, or indeed that one is always disadvantaged by the other due to government policy, rather than the inherent features of the mode itself. i.e. rail is well suited to high volume long haul freight, not low volume short haul freight. The threshold for rail to start to be competitive is typically trips of over 150km, and is seriously competitive over 250km.

        • Colonial Viper

          Thanks for the regurgitation.

        • Macro

          And the cost of increased GHG’s?

        • Macro

          “Environmental costs, despite the claims by CleanAir were negligible at 0.2c per tonne km. The primary reason being the very limited exposure of people to the emissions. With the exception of Wairoa, the route is rural. The remainder being exposure in Napier and Gisborne where the trucks on this route add to the general level of emissions from all other traffic, and in Napier’s case particularly bad winter emissions from domestic fireplaces.”

          Which just goes to show you just how shonkey these figures are! Obviously the authors have never lived alongside a road used by heavy trucks day in, day out! I did once when posted to Singapore in 1984. Admiralty Rd had about the same number of movements that are being talked about here. 2700 per day. Doesn’t sound like much – but that is in fact one truck every 30 seconds. Try living alongside that day in day out and contending with the dust and noise they create. 0.2c per tonne! pfffft!

  9. seeker 10

    He’s in thrall to the trucking lobby. He is one of a number of people without whom NZ would be a much better place. And now we have that lump Gerry Brownlee to carry on Sneaky’s nasty agenda.

    So many in thrall to someone else. Jim Quinn to the government, Len Brown on the way, judging by his ‘contemplation’ of the pokie sell out, John”slippery’ Key possibly in thrall to Goldman Sachs and in league with Michael Ashton, Steven ‘sneaky’Joyce probably in thrall to the truckers and both slippery and sneaky probably in league with McDuck from Sky ‘sin’City. A right nest of vipers.

    And now to begin a list of ‘important’ people New Zealand could really do without. I felt such a cathartic need to do this having read marsman’s comment and especially on Anzac Day when so many wonderful and truly honourable men gave their lives so we could exist and progress into a better world as humans rather than sink back into the darkness of cruel times of history where poverty, disease and despair were rampant for so many.The people I am about to list appear to to be trying to rekindle such times.

    So….New Zealand could really do without the likes of: dishonourable John Key, Stephen Joyce, Bill English, Gerry Brownlee, Paula Bennett all who have broken the law, told untruths or done things for cronies. Phil Heatley is added too for his Uriah Heepedness which is causing him to ‘heep’ agony on the vulnerable in state homes. Tony Ryall for his horrible highhandedness and tau henare just because he is a bully. Anne Tolley is too silly to worry about, Judith Collins is too vain and pearlset Kate W. should go on a long, long bush walk in an attempt to become rehabilitated to the environment, if nothing else. Nick Smith and Rodney have already been put out to the thistle paddocks and John Banks and Peter Dunney should follow.

    Were it not for this National Government, Kiwirail, the Gisborne Rail line, our public utilities and New Zealand would be safe, just as, I believe, those brave and honourable men who gave their lives for us intended.

    • I’ll add that if this government was completely in thrall to the trucking lobby it would have abolished RUC in favour of diesel tax, which RTF was pushing for, because RUC charges trucks undertaking long distance heavy freight more than diesel tax ever will.

      There was much pressure to do that, but thankfully the economic case for RUC – which NZ was a pioneer in back in 1978, is compelling.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        The more compelling case is to reduce the RUC on private passenger diesel cars, and increase it signficantly on heavy trucks.

        I’ll add that if this government was completely in thrall to the trucking lobby it would have abolished RUC in favour of diesel tax

        Nah, too obvious. Shonkey knows he doesn’t have the political capital to waste on this.

  10. millsy 11

    If Libertyscott had his way, we wouldnt *have* a rail network.

    Anyway, KR decide tomorrow.

  11. freedom 12

    and in other really wise and rational moves by kiwirail
    So many of the issues facing passenger rail are, i suspect, wrongly centered on a costing model that is not focused upon the practical and necessary challenges of an everyday person trying to travel in NZ. Closing the Paraparaumu stop on the Overlander is a blatant example of Kiwirail’s impaired vision. Now a person in Paraparaumu will have to travel an hour south just to catch a train that is travelling back whence they came. Considering the recent addition of shorthaul flights into Paraparaumu Airport we have lost yet another opportunity for networked travel.

    Kiwirail want to go and build more new purpose-built carriages, mmm where could they go to build new purpose-built carriages, Hillside? oh that’s right it’s being sold/closed/discarded like anything of practical worth, it is unwanted refuse. Kiwirail’s owners are not interested or apparently aware of a time when rail in this country was an aria of our abilities, now rail is just an ongoing wail of excessive and debilitating capitalist dogma. We built a mining railway on a cliff face for gawdsake, We shifted hundred tonne kauri logs through ravines that most rail would run screaming from, we built locomotives that were envied around the world, even if our PM believes otherwise. That makes four or is it five major rail contracts that hillside could have been used for. Roughly a billion dollars that could have stayed in the NZ economy.

    to quote Clare Curran (via pete george)
    ” There’s more at stake than the nearly 130 jobs, the loss of wages, taxes, skills and the more than 137 year history of a competent and valued rail manufacturing plant to the city of Dunedin. There are more than 70 engineering businesses clustered around Hillside. It’s the backbone of our city. It’s becoming more high tech. It’s a hugely important part of our local and regional economy.”

    The wide-reaching affects of stuffing up what any reasonable society would admit to being a basic and badly needed main trunk line rail service? Overlander’s ever diminishing services have resulted in amongst other things a skyrocketing increase in Bus travel costs. Sure the main trunk line has some competition thanks to Naked Bus and the big boys offer some scraps of cheap seats between Wellington and Auckland but the spin-off from that move is the regional changes it spawns. The Levin to Napier fare for example, has effectively doubled in the past year alone. The market as always shifts to devour any available resource and those who used rail to travel are getting royally screwed for no other reason than to allow freight to be shifted at a lower cost to the supplier. A cost saving that is not passed on to the consumer. A cost saving that is as short sighted as it is ignorant of the diversity and economy offered by rail.

  12. Lloyd 13

    Its worth remembering that millions of dollars are being spent clearing a slip in the Manawatu Gorge whilst the rail lines on the other side of the Gorge are clear. Sure as John Key won’t be reallocating tax breaks to the poor, the Manawatu gorge Road will be hit by more slips in future. In other words this bit of road will be a constant cost to the taxpayer. You could say the road is not profitable, that it should be closed down and anyone with freight or a desire to travel to the other side of the range should use rail. Will this happen? Hell no! It wouldn’t make sense.

    Neither would taking out part of the rail network. With petrol costing $20 per litre within a few years we will need all the rail network we can install now, while we can still afford it.

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