The press releases keep rolling in on this subject. Good to see so many people taking a interest.
Also of interest was the item on Campbell Live last night on TV3 which "confirms" the narrow view of the road vs rail debate in this country. But don't be "confused" (to use a term often used by a "leader" in the NZ industry) - this is not just a New Zealand thing but a mantra in much of the Westen World in regards to Rail - More's the Pity....
Here are some more:
Press Release: Federated Farmers
3 October 2012
Gisborne must get better roads
A month after predicting the closure of the Gisborne-Wairoa rail line, Federated Farmers is disappointed, but not surprised, the line between Napier and Gisborne is to be ‘mothballed’.
“Last month we knew KiwiRail’s Infrastructure and Engineering Business Plan meant the Gisborne-Wairoa stretch would be axed,” says Hamish Cave, Federated Farmers Gisborne-Wairoa provincial president.
“That put a question mark over Napier-Wairoa stretch but now we know it is going too.
“Phil Twyford, Labour’s Transport spokesperson is right on the button. Fifty thousand tonnes of rail freight previously moved by rail adds up to an extra 1,700 fully loaded 29-tonne truck movements.
“On paper it looks like a marginal increase of five to ten trucks a day, even factoring in rail’s projected volume growth. To be fair, the road network has been handling this volume since the line effectively closed.
“The issue for Federated Farmers and the entire Gisborne-Wairoa community is that we want freight to fill 50 or 100 more trucks each day. That would mean real economic growth but to get to that level requires real investment in our roads.
“Provincial New Zealand has had a gutful of Roads of National Significance being only about reducing city congestion. It is an insulting term because it means, to Wellington, provincial roads are not nationally significant.
“Road funding does not reflect where the export dollars are being generated. Without export dollars, you don’t have much of an economy. Provincial areas are not getting their fair share of the pie.
“Instead of rail becoming some totem, we need to ask how and what resources Gisborne-Wairoa needs to grow. Between 2006 and 2011, according to BERL, Gisborne was the second weakest performing regional economy in New Zealand.
“Successive droughts didn’t help our cause, but we did outperform the Horizons Region, despite Horizons having a major university, diversified agriculture and even some industry.
“That Gisborne did marginally better against all odds shows our potential. That is why we need better roads and infrastructure to realise it. We have to focus on where Gisborne-Wairoa ought to be, instead of feeling like we are in managed decline.
“I don’t imagine Auckland or Wellington would accept it, so why should we?
“Gisborne and Wairoa’s roads are nationally significant to us and should be to the rest of New Zealand," Mr Cave concluded.
Closure of Gisborne Rail a disaster for the region
Press Release: The Kyoto Forestry Association
October 4th 2012
Closure of Gisborne Rail a disaster for the future of the region.
Roger Dickie spokesman for the Kyoto Forestry Association and promoter of a large number of investment forests in the Gisborne region says that residents of the Gisborne region should be very angry with the National Government and minister Joyce for their shortsighted decision not to support the rail link.
Dickie says that economic and employment growth will be hugely stalled by the loss of the rail line and by association the social infrastructure of the region will be severely impeded. He already knows of one significant business that has canned plans to invest in the Gisborne region because of the forecast and now confirmed closure of the rail line. Unfortunately this will continue to happen and the residents of the region will never even know that they have missed out on future growth says Dickie.
Dickie said his forests are only about 6% of the forests in the entire Gisborne region but perhaps 20% of those forests south and west of Gisborne that would move at least some of their product towards Napier. Mr Dickie estimated that in six to eight years time his company would have between 80 and 120 truck movements per day on the Gisborne-Napier Road. When combined with other forest owners, that could be 500 to 600 movements per day or about one every 1 1/2 minutes during a 12 hour day. A very significant number of these truck movements could easily go by rail.
Dickie pointed out that the efficiency of rail from a fuel and environmental perspective was well known. Proof of the savings it could offer was the railing of logs from Wanganui to Napier (a similar distance to Gisborne -Napier). After allowing for the trucking to railhead costs, rail on the Wanganui-Napier link was $7.00 per tonne cheaper than trucking
The Gisborne port is the second biggest log export port in New Zealand but unfortunately it is also by far the most expensive port to use in New Zealand having the highest wharfage and log storage charges in New Zealand by a margin of 40%. These exorbitant charges will be costing the region investment and jobs. As well, it is well known that shipping lines only use certain ports in the country and it is necessary for many exporters to move their product to Napier to meet those ships. Future growth of export industries in the Gisborne region will be severely curtailed by the loss of this rail link.
Dickie says if one looks at what has made countries like Germany and USA so dynamic and successful is their fully developed transport infrastructure. The Chinese have a good and significantly developing infrastructure to allow them to move goods and services efficiently around their country.
The building and maintenance of infrastructure is a long term plan that needs central government involvement in a country like New Zealand with low population and isolation in many productive areas such as Gisborne. The National Government have totally abrogated their responsibilities in this regard and it is unfortunate that politicians in this country take a short term view revolving round three yearly election cycles rather than the more mature and developed thinking of successful countries overseas.
Dickie thinks that this is a classic case of the silent majority sitting back and doing nothing because they think the closure of the rail link will not affect them. But everyone in the Gisborne region needs to realise the loss of this important economic link will affect them by way of less jobs for their siblings, less growth in the region and a diminished social infrastructure, not to mention a nightmare trip to drive to Napier unless the trip is made in the middle of the night or weekends.
Dickie has been astonished to find that one major employer in the Gisborne region actively lobbied the Government ministers Brownlee, Carter, Joyce and Hon Anne Tolley supporting the rail closure presumably on the basis that less competition meant cheaper product for their processing facility. As well, there has been discussion on the use of increased vehicle weights and dimensions (IVWD) trucks. These giant rigs will carry about 30% more weight but require upgraded roads, bridges, culverts etc. The congestion situation on SH 2 will hardly be improved by the use of these large units
Dickie said in summary there are a huge number of reasons why the rail link should be retained and only one (short term operational losses) why it should be closed.
Press Release: Generation Zero
Rail line closure another step down the wrong road
Wednesday October 3, 2012
Youth organisation Generation Zero has joined the chorus of voices criticising the decision by the Government to mothball the Napier-Gisbourne rail line while boosting spending on the local state highway.
“This is a short-sighted decision that risks completely losing a valuable strategic asset for our future. The Government’s narrow focus on Kiwirail’s bottom line misses out on the wider costs and benefits of its decisions to New Zealand and to local communities,” said spokesperson Paul Young.
Calculations by Generation Zero based on Kiwirail’s review of the rail line show that closing it could increase New Zealand’s annual oil import bill by around $750,000 in years to come, assuming oil prices remain at today’s levels, and increase CO2 emissions by 1,800 tonnes per year.
“This starts to put the estimated operating shortfall of $6 million in perspective – and that’s before we consider rising oil prices, or the costs of an increase in congestion, car crashes and road maintenance spending due to all the extra trucks on the road.”
Kiwirail says it will cost $4 million to repair the line after weather damage in March, and further investment on the order of $6 million per year will be required over the decade for maintenance and infrastructure upgrades.
The Government has refused pleas for assistance from local councils, businesses and residents, but is set to spend $14 million over the next three years on State Highway 2 between Gisbourne and Napier, including an extra $4 million for new passing lanes announced on Monday.
“Gerry Brownlee says he wants rail to “pay its own way”, but will these passing lanes pay their own way?” asked Mr Young.
“There is a completely unlevel playing field where some motorway projects are being justified almost entirely on “wider economic benefits” and supposed long-term significance while rail is being held to a narrow, short-term model that ignores anything except for Kiwirail’s bottom line. Let’s see some full and balanced analysis.”
“This decision epitomises a short-sighted and risky approach, putting all of the East Coast’s eggs in one basket.”
“The rail line had only just been made fully operational at the start of this year and by all accounts business was starting to boom and exporters were singing its praises. The Government should redirect its transport money to re-open the line and give it a fair go for the next few years.”
Generation Zero is running an online petition to Gerry Brownlee, ‘Stop New Zealand going down the wrong road’. The petition calls for a rebalancing of transport spending away from the $12 billion Roads of National Significance towards “smart transport choices” including rail freight.