The Hawkes Bay and Poverty Bay councils are not giving up on their Rail link just yet and are fighting fit to retain it with some potential innovative solutions - Good on them!
Someone has to have a vision when our national transport organisations and central Government seem to be letting the country down in this specific instance.
It is interesting that they are using BERL to do the analysis. This is the same organisation that did the Hillside analysis on EMU procurement for Auckland that was viewed as a failure in terms of uptake and ultimate outcome by Transport Minister Joyce at the time. Lets hope they talk to the right people this time (not just unionists etc) otherwsie it will be just another waste of effort and contributors money.
Anyway I would like to see them suceed so good luck to everyone involved!
Here are some new articles from recent days
'Free and frank' talk on mothballed line
Hawkes Bay Today - Lawrence Gullery | Friday, October 12, 2012 8:29
Options are still on the table to promote the now-closed Napier to Gisborne rail line.
KiwiRail will meet Hawke's Bay transport leaders behind closed doors next week to have a "free and frank" discussion about the possible future of the mothballed Napier to Gisborne rail line.
Regional transport committee chairman Alan Dick said he needed to give the company's chief executive Jim Quinn a chance to explain the reasons behind the closure and a chance to put forward some ideas from the committee.
"We need to call for a pause and then have some free and frank discussion, to get a bit more information," Mr Dick said.
He hinted that a joint private and public arrangement could be looked at to fund an independent East Coast rail operation.
"All of those options are still on the table, nothing is off."
Mr Dick said the feedback following KiwiRail's decision to close the line had been overwhelmingly in favour of looking for alternatives to restart it in the future.
"It is another opportunity lost for the Gisborne and Hawke's Bay communities. You know the view of the exporting community in Gisborne, they are so disappointed to have lost the opportunity to send full containers to the Port of Napier."
Mr Dick said it must be noted KiwiRail spent thousands of dollars upgrading the line to take bigger containers which would improve the economic viability of the network.
"They had made a big effort in 2011 to improve the line but then we had the major washout and slips [north of Wairoa] that put the line out of action."
The slips had closed the line since March and it was expected to cost close to $4 million to repair.
"But I believe if there was a commitment made, the line could still operated and we could make it viable within two years."
Mr Dick said the committee supported the initiative taken by Gisborne people for an independent economic study focussing on whether the line should be closed.
The Hawke's Bay Regional Council had approved about $1000 towards the study, Mr Dick said. The results of next Tuesday's meeting with Mr Quinn would be discussed by the transport committee at its public meeting this month.
KiwiRail co-operates to assist rail review
Gisborne Herald Thursday, October 11, 2012
THE independent review of KiwiRail’s decision to mothball the Gisborne to Napier rail line will be started by Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL) today.
KiwiRail had agreed to fully co-operate with the review, said Gisborne district councillor Manu Caddie.
KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn said any information behind last week’s decision to mothball the line would be made available.
BERL is expected to take two weeks to complete the review.
Mr Caddie said rather than using the Official Information Act, Mr Quinn had agreed to give access to staff reports, briefings, cost assessments and any other information required by the review.
“We are pleased Mr Quinn has offered to be the first point of contact and work constructively with the review team to help them understand how KiwiRail arrived at its decision”, said Mr Caddie.
If there was some error or new information, KiwiRail was happy to revisit the decision, he said.
The mothballing date for the line is November 11.
At the moment the line is still open between Wairoa and Napier, and Gisborne and Muriwai for the vintage steam tourist passenger train Wa 165.
The train will run trips to Muriwai over Labour Weekend
Battle lines drawn
Gisborne Herald - Wednesday, October 10, 2012
THERE is renewed pressure from both Gisborne and Wairoa to keep the rail line open as the review into the Government’s decision to close it gets under way.
It is just over four weeks until the date set by KiwiRail to mothball the line between Gisborne and Napier.
Money raised for a review of the decision has exceeded $14,000 and continues to rise with help from businesses who want to use the line, plus $10 and $20 donations from individuals.
One of the organisers behind fundraising to review the decision is district councillor and Gisborne Rail Action Group member Manu Caddie.
Speaking on Radio New Zealand this morning, he said KiwiRail had indicated it would need two weeks to look at the report, which left just over two weeks to get it finished.
Mr Caddie is confident they can do it.
The donations will pay for an independent economic review.
“We think the figures in the KiwiRail report don’t stack up and we want economic analysis.”
Mr Caddie said rail supporters had done their own spread sheets and even if rail took 5 percent of present road freight, the line could break even in 10 years.
“It would actually be making a profit and have a positive net present value.”
There would also be an engineer’s peer review of the KiwiRail conclusions on the infrastructure.
Mr Caddie said if the decision to mothball the line went ahead, it would mean Gisborne products would be more expensive to transport.
Not only were there safety benefits in using rail, there was a good case economically and environmentally for using it as well, he said.
Wairoa Mayor Les Probert says that while KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn is adamant the line will be mothballed, the Wairoa community is equally adamant it will not.
Mr Quinn met Wairoa District Council bosses to explain the decision.
“The reasons he gave us were simply that there was not enough freight using the line and the decision was based on the cost of maintaining it into the future,” Mr Probert told National Radio.
“We heard those reasons but we believe there is more in it than just dollars and cents.”
At 212 kilometres in length, the Gisborne-to-Napier rail line was the only alternative to the “fragile, hilly” State Highway 2, he said.
“The projection is that the percentage increase of heavy traffic on that road is going to be very large over the next 10 years.
“We are concerned about increasing pressure on that road but we also believe there is a principle involved. In Wairoa we have enough product going into the national economy to have some funds spent in our area.”
Mr. Probert gave the example of a Wairoa timber mill that put 500 tonnes of product on rail freight every week.
“That’s only a small amount but that mill sustains 25 households in the Wairoa area. The extra costs involved in putting that freight on the road could be the difference between maintaining that business and losing it.”
Mr Quinn had been “very frank” in telling WDC officials there was no going back on the decision to mothball the line, Les Probert said.
“But our bottom line is that we want the line to remain open, and dollars and cents should not be the only criteria.”
His understanding was that the final decision lay not with KiwiRail but with the Government and Wairoa planned to release a statement reiterating that it wants the line to remain working.
“We are in absolute solidarity with our neighbours in the north in Gisborne.
“We are going to take a stand on the matter and if we need to negotiate, then that is what we’ll do.”
Wairoa council to fight rail closure
Hawkes Bay Today - Lawrence Gullery | Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:37
Wairoa's Clyde Lumber director John Ebbett listens to KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn speak to the Wairoa District Council on Tuesday, about the Napier to Gisborne rail closure.
Wairoa plans to counter KiwiRail's decision to close the Napier to Gisborne rail line by proving the impact it'll have on its community and the loss of "untapped" economic opportunities such as oil and gas exploration.
KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn met with the Wairoa District Council on Tuesday and will meet with the Hawke's Bay regional transport committee in Napier next week.
Wairoa Mayor Les Probert said Mr Quinn explained the decision to mothball the line with "dollars and cents" but had not taken into account the "people factor".
"We believe there is more in it than money.
"There is a whole community of people from Napier to Gisborne which need to be considered."
Wairoa's Clyde Lumber director John Ebbett spoke at the meeting where he pointed out his business was currently using the railway line to transport 22,000 tonnes of timber per annum from Wairoa to Huntly.
"In John Ebbett's case, that's a fairly large number of trucks which will be needed to carry his timber on road if rail closes," Mr Probert said. "The cost of moving his timber by road will be more and that could have an impact on the 20 people he employs, which is an example of how it could affect our people.
"We believe closing down the line is a backward step for the East Coast. Everyone knows there's going to be exploration for oil and gas all around here and closing the rail line leaves only one access point via the fragile State Highway 2."
There was a perception State Highway 2 would only be maintained and not upgraded to deal with extra traffic over the next decade.
Mr Probert was also worried the rail line would not be maintained but left to fall into disrepair and over time "be made redundant".
He said the Wairoa council was working on a detailed presentation on its case to keep the rail line open for its MP, National's Chris Tremain.
It would also ask to present it directly to the government as KiwiRail "was just the messenger".
The Wairoa council would also wait with interest to see the outcome of next week's meeting between Mr Quinn and the regional transport committee.
"There may be something significant come out of that meeting but at the moment I can't forecast it."
Protesters rally in face of rail closure
Hawkes Bay Today - Tuesday, October 9, 2012 5:27
Protest over the closure of the Napier-Gisborne railway line is gathering momentum.
Opposition to the Government's decision to shut the Gisborne to Napier rail line is gathering momentum.
Nearly $8000 has been raised in two days to help pay for an independent review of the KiwiRail report used to justify the closure.
KiwiRail confirmed last week the line would close, saying it was not economic to fix after it was severely damaged at Beach Loop in March.
The company said there were major infrastructure issues and $6 million a year would be needed to keep it open.
However, railway supporters say the decision was based on inaccurate economic data.
Campaign leader and Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie said the figures used to justify the closure did not "stack up".
The line was an economic lifeline for the district, he said.
Gisborne resident Bob Hughes said it would be heartbreaking to see the rail line close.
"I saw the first train come into Gisborne and I don't want to see the last," the 80-year-old said.
Labour East Coast list MP Moana Mackey said it was hoped the report would force the Government to intervene in KiwiRail's planned closure.
"If KiwiRail's figures are shown to be wrong, then the Government needs to step in and keep the line open."
Mr Caddie said the response to the call for support had been overwhelming.
"This is not just a Gisborne issue, we have had huge donations from all over the country - many New Zealanders are as angry about this decision as us."
The group has released its initial assessment of the KiwiRail report and says that even if conservative freight figures are used, the future for the line looks secure.
"Based on this initial analysis, we are keen to get independent experts to have a close look at the KiwiRail figures and also an engineering second opinion on some of the claims made in the report," Mr Caddie said.
"Of course, there are also wider economic impacts that KiwiRail should consider as a State Owned Enterprise, such as the loss of tourism and potentially much higher costs of freight, should the rail not be available.
"It would have been good to see some of those included as well."