Heriot-Edievale.Com (Trading as Heriot-Edievale Limited) - Public Transport, Rail and Freight Advisory / Consultancy


General Musings
The Transport / Rail Blog

The Heriot-Edievale Business Has Restarted

After an absence of a few years the Heriot-Edievale advisory/consultancy business has been re-established.

Heriot-Edievale Limited was Incorporated by The New Zealand Companies Office Register on 17 August 2020. The business provides advisory and consultancy services to various parties in the Public Transport, Rail and Freight sectors in New Zealand as well as internationally.

We have also started to build relationships with overseas experts who we can bring into our service offering as required.

Please look out for further updates, and the occasional blog, on this website.

Kiwi Rail Announces 2016 Annual Result

As the press release below indicates, Kiwi Rail met its SCI targets by and large for 2016 and it is good that they have a realistic but tough plan in place to achieve their objectives despite the many challenges the business continues to face.

The full Kiwi Raill 2016 Annual Report will be posted here in due course when available which is likely in October 2016.

The press release follows.

Momentum continues in reshaping the business to deliver for NZ

26 August 2016

  • 33% reduction in injury frequency rate

KiwiRail Upbeat On Results For Six Months Ended 31 December 2015

KiwiRail remains upbeat despite the many challenges it is facing.
There are some real positives in this result that signal the sterling steps KiwiRail are taking to get the business more commercially in shape. Tranz Scenic and Interislander are doing better. Great!! 
Restructuring the operating business to increase its efficiency is ongoing - Good.
The increase in Rail Inland Port Hubs traffic is also a paradigm shift that is growing more in importance. This is great also and seems to be area of value bringing back greater relevance of Rail in New Zealands vital Supply Chains to international markets.

Railway North Of Whangarei (Kauri) Seems Set To "Close" From September 2016

Despite aparrent denials in some quarters, it seems almost certain that the railway line north of Kauri, (north of Whangarei where a Dairy factory is), to Otiria in the far North of New Zealand will likely close from September 2016.
In recent years we have seen so many line closures that on a route kilometre basis we have not seen since the 1960's. These include the SOL line, the Napier to Gisborne Line, the Dargaville Branch and now likely the line to Otiria. Sad but perhaps a sign of the times as the network rationalises itself to modern realities.

Earthquakes, Coal Mine Disasters and World Coal Demand Hits New Zealand South Island West Coast Railway Hard - Might It Close?

The New Zealand South Island West Coast railway network viability is under real threat now.
Solid Energy's serious woes continue. They are currently in Voluntary Administration and have now confirmed that closing the Stockton Coal Mine at Ngakawau north of Westport on the South Islands West Coast is a real possibility. This is the source of most of the railable West Coast coal to Lyttelton that is exported to world markets.
They are of course trying to find buyers for this mine as a Going Concern.

Kiwi Rail Reduces Staff By 800 Employees In Company Rationalisation Over Two Years

In a move not entirely unexpected Kiwi Rail has "announced" to a Parliamentary Select Committee, and as reported by News Talk ZB (See below news item from them), that it is and has been, down sizing its Business and reducing head count overall by 800 people from 4,200 to 3,400.

Many of these jobs have already gone (about 200 or so) as the 4,200 staff number quoted was the headcount some time ago. The reporting of these numbers is therefore a little loose and alarmist and not quite the true picture.

"Back To The Future" or is it "Groundhog Day"? - Is Closing Kiwi Rail A Serious Option?

Like a scene from the classic 1980's films"Back To The Future",  or maybe even better an all time favourite of mine "Groundhog Day",as one Tranz Rail stock analyst once said, we all it seems, have been here before.
In many ways there is not a lot further I want to say on the matter that I haven't saidbefore!
The New Zealand Government's Treasury recommendation of pretty much full closure of the Railfreight operation and Rail network in New Zealand is nothing new and I have been warning about this for the past three and half years on this blog for anyone that cares to have noticed.

Video Of The Month May 2015 - "Reshaphing Britains Railways - March 1963"

A great set of videos that really set the ball rolling for the Beeching era of railway rationalisation in Britain in 1963.
In New Zealand we had our Dr Beeching - a Mr Peter Gordon Minister of Railways who embarked on a similar exercise to modernise and reshape New Zealand Railways closing down many country branch lines and uneconomic services in the move from steam to diesel.
Even today some of the lessons alluded to in this classic set of videos are still relevant. Well worth a look and maybe something to ponder on for a while!

Video Of The Month April 2015 - New Zealand National Film Unit - "Railways Of The Pacific Wonderland 1939"

Click on link here to see the Video Of The Month for Aoril 2015
Yet another special treat from New Zealand is this vintage 1939 documentary from the NZ National Film Unit titled "Railways Of The Pacific Wonderland -1939" - it is a good snapshot of how New Zealand Railways were just as World War Two was breaking out. The end of the Golden years and the begnning of the turmoil that was to be Woirld War Two.

Video Of The Month March 2015 - New Zealand National Film Unit - "The Railway Worker - 1948"

Click on link here to see the Video Of The Month for March 2015
Another special treat from New Zealand is this vintage 1948 documentary from the NZ National Film Unit titled "The Railway Worker"- it is a good snapshot of how New Zealand Railways were 67 years ago. A "romantic" look at NZ Railways as they were in the post war years.

Video Of The Month - February 2015 - NZ National Fim Units "Destinations" - 125 Years Of New Zealand Railways From 1988

Click on link here to see the Video Of The Month for February 2015
Another special favourate of mine from 1988 is the NZ National Film Unit Documentary to mark the 125 years of New Zealand Railways - Called "Destinations" - it is a good snapshot of how New Zealand Railways were 25 years ago. A lot of changes have ensued over the following 25 years.

Video Of The Month - January 2015 - KA942 Steam Train On The Midland LIne, New Zealand

Click on link here, and here  to see the Video(s) Of The Month for January 2015.
A special double treat from New Zealand in two parts - Spectacular video of Mainline Steam KA942 excursion from Christchurch to Greymouth and back on the Midland Line 01 and 02 September 2012 - South Island - New Zealand Includes spectacular aerial footage

Video Of The Month - December 2014 - National Geographics "Love Those Trains"

Click on link here to see the Video Of The Month for December 2014.
It is another special  favourate of mine from the mid 1980's and is National Geographics "Love Those Trains" a just lovely video documentary of the romance of trains and railways.

Video Of The Month - November 2014 - Michael Palin's "Confessions Of A Train Spotter"

Click on link here to see the Video Of The Month for November 2014
The video of the month for November 2014 is a favouriate of mine from the early 1980's and is MIchael Palin's "Confessions Of A Train Spotter " a wonderful video documentary.

Video Of The Month - October 2014 - Between Mountains And Sea - Following The Coastal Pacific Train Between Christchurch and Picton - New Zealand

Click on link here to see the Video Of The Month for October 2014
Another Wonderful Treat From New Zealand - Following The Coastal Pacific Train from Christchurch to Picton, New Zealand - A unforgettable train journey that takes you from Rails to Whales!

Video Of The Month - September 2014 - "The Wine And Dine Flyer" Hauled By Steam Engine JA1250 "Diana" - Auckland, New Zealand

Click on  link here to see the Video Of The Month for September 2014 
A Special Treat From Downunder - New Zealand Famous Mountain Class Engine JA1250 ("Diana") hauling "The Wine and Dine Flyer" through the greater Auckland region in September 2013 - a wonderful sight and sound to behold!

This lovely story from John B in the LNER Railfan forum from the UK complements this video well and talks about "Diana" as she was on the New Zealand KiwiRail Overlander service in 2006.

KiwiRail's 2014 - A Difficult Operating & Trading Year

Well Kiwi Rail have announced their 2014 annual result (seehereandhere) and what a result. It is not good and to be fair they acknowledge this - it is their "Annus Horribilis" as the beloved Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain once said.
This is totally expected. I have said for some time now that their current strategy will not make them financially sustainable and at last they seem to be coming to the same conclusion.
It is good that the Business is at last doing its "Back to Basics" work and the Strategic Review underway is looking at and realises the following:

KiwiRail To Undertake Major Strategic Review Of Business

Just four short years after the review that resulted in theKiwiRail Turnaround Planbeing formulated in 2010,KiwiRailare to undertake another major Strategic Review of their business.
What? Another major Strategic Review. Surely not.
Well - I have to say I am not at all surprised by this and I believe it is well overdue. Whilst theTuranound Plan ("TAP")has not yet "failed" in the classic sense it has had some material execution issues that have resulted in below par financial performance for KiwiRail.

Heriot, West Otago Historical Musings

Heriot, West Otago is a small town in New Zealand, where I grew up. It is an apparently diminutive little town in the middle of nowhere on the South Island but a town that few know was pivotal in New Zealand’s Commercial and Farming heritage.
Growing up in Heriot in the 1970's was great time but is was also very much the end of an era. For starters there was the railway station and the daily freight train from Gore (I have to say that as this is a Railway Transport blog after all). This gave the town a sense of importance and also connection to the larger world out there.

Aucklands New Electric Trains Launched 27 April 2014

A truly great red letter day for Rail in Auckland, New Zealand today 27 April 2014.
Auckland’s electric trains are finally launched today with public running of the first celebration services on 27 April. On Monday 28 April the first timetabled services will run from Onehunga to Britomart station, Auckland Central and the line will hence forth be fully be operationally electrified. This is especially poignant as this was the first public railway in the North Island of New Zealand back in the 1870's.

KiwiRail Appoints New CEO

KiwiRail has appointed its new CEO to start in February 2014. He is Mr Peter Reidy and will join the organisation as Chief Executive, effective 10th February 2014.

The press release follows below:
New KiwiRail Chief Executive Appointed
8 November 2013

KiwiRail’s Chairman, Mr John Spencer, today announced that Mr Peter Reidy will join the organisation as Chief Executive, effective 10th February 2014.

A New Zealander, currently based in Sydney, Peter brings to KiwiRail a successful track record of leading and building service and infrastructure-based businesses in the freight, engineering, energy, building products and asset management sectors in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the United Kingdom.

Will Gisborne Rail Link Partially Reopen Later This Year

Another piece of rail news from New Zealand.
The Napier to Gisborne Rail link may reopen to Wairoa later this year if a business case currently being undertaken by a consortium of interested parties stacks up
Good luck  with that one - I do support it but it will be a hard road I think. Much more than the parties realise. Just look at Mr Bryce and the Kingston Flyer (re)closure again to see that! And that was only 15km of track in a prime tourist area with well established markets!

Waitakere Rail Passenger Service To Close

As predicted on this website blog last year the Passsenger Rail service beyond Swanson to Waitakere in Auckland will close once electrification is in place across Aucklands rail network.
What is disapointing about this is that an alternative of an commuter rail extension to Huapai, as previously proposed, is not mentioned.
Waitakere rail by itself has long since been a lost cause. Sad but true!
Anway hate to say I told you so but
"I told you so"
See my previous blog comments on this

Jim Quinn To Leave KiwiRail

Jim Quinn, CEO of Kiwi Rail since 2009, is to leave Kiwi Rail before February next year. 
I beleive that overall, in balanced way, Rail history in New Zealand will eventually look relatively kindly on what Jim as leader has acheived in his four years at Rails helm. It is not a easy role in New Zealand as many will know.
The press release from Kiwi Rail Is below:
Change to KiwiRail Chief Executive
7 June 2013

The Chairman of KiwiRail, Mr John Spencer, and the Board have announced they will not be renewing KiwiRail Chief Executive (CE), Mr Jim Quinn’s, five year contract when it expires in February 2014.

Coastal Pacific Train Cutback But Capital Connection Train Saved (For Now)

In a new development KiwiRail have announced that they will save the Capital Connection passenger rail service between Palmerston North and Wellington for the next two years to June 2015. This is good news and probably politically motivated (which is not bad in of itself) and gives people a chance now to improve its commercial viability. I still think it may be better managed by the Regional Council (both GWRC and Horizons) for long term sustainability.
Ultimately it needs a more frequent enhanced service but this will clearly require subsidy to gain momentum much like the Wairarapa Connection does from GWRC - and why shouldn't it get a subsidy for the tangible benefits it provides like the other trains in the region do?

BERL Report Released On Napier Gisborne Line

I am not at all surprised about the BERL report on the Napier Gisborne rail line or KiwiRalis highly, almost comical,  reaction to it. I could say a lot but I wont except to say that the way that  this line has been looked at is a national development let down.
The BERL report can be downloadedhere. They make some excellent observations.
KiwiRail should not be making these types of decisions on their own given they can't see past their own noses on it. And I am not saying it's their fault.

New Direction and Changing Times At Heriot-Edievale.Com

Readers may notice some subtle changes to this website as it has been renamed Heriot-Edievale.Com.
The Heriot-Edievale Enterprises Ltd consulting business is now closed. I am no longer resident in New Zealand and have moved to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and as such it is not possible to continue with this business any longer for various reasons.  I am now refocusing my efforts on my new role as Strategy and Performance Director at Etihad Rail in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Hilside Railway Workshops To Close - Foundry Sold as Going Concern

In a move widely anticipated but never the less unfortunate, Hilside Railway Workshops in Dunedin is to finally close down. Dunedin, no doubt, wil be gutted by the annoucement but there is a sense of the inevtiable about it given the direction of KiwiRail in recent years and how they placed more and more rolling stock construction work off shore.
The good news is that the foundry will remain and is being sold as a going concern to Bradken.
The press release follows:
Future of Hillside Workshops Resolved

Clifford Bay New South Island Port Looks Promising

It seems that the Clifford Bay new port proposal is moving forward to the next step. This is a project of sound national ambition / importance and in a transport sense literally brings the South and the North Islands closer together. The only issue I have is why in the heck is it taking so long to get to the building stage? I understand the need for consultation and some due care but lets hope they move as fast as they can on this one as this is often New Zealands problem - a lot of talk too little action (although that thas improved in the last six or so years but it still isn't good enough).

Waitakere Passenger Train Services Likely To Close – Possibly before Electrification Fully Implemented

Some time ago I wrote a blog on the future of services in greater Auckland beyond Swanson to Waitakere township. I suggested the future looked bleak. Well this is now being played out as I expected and services could be closed in favour of a regular bus connection from Waitakere to Henderson sooner rather than later. This is indicated in the draft Auckland Transport Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP). See the link here:

More News Items on Napier Gisborne Rail Link

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.

KiwiRail Release 2013-2015 Statement of Corporate Intent

KiwiRail have released their Statement of Corporate Intent for the forecast financial years 2013 to 2015.
It has a wealth of detail about the financial and operating targets for the coming three years but has some interesting observations re the future for Rail in New Zealand that are quite concerning. There is a sobering reality about this document. It is well worth a read.
It can be found here

Further Press Releases On Napier Gisborne Line

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:

More Press Releases On Napier Gisborne

More press releases on the Napier - Gisborne line closure follow.
Especially good press release from Hawkes Bay Regional Council.
But I must say that I find the NZ First press release a little offensive to fair play. Whilst it is good to see them support the rail link they should play the game - not the man in this instance!
Press Release: Hawkes Bay Regional Council
Media Release
3 October 2012
Disappointment over closure of Napier-Gisborne rail line
Yesterday’s confirmation of mothballing or closure of the East Coast line is unsurprising but extremely disappointing according to Alan Dick, Chairman of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Transport Committee.

Napier - Gisborne Line Is All But Officially Closed For Good (New Speak - "Mothballed")

Napier - Gisborne Line Is All But Officially Closed For Good (New Speak - "Mothballed")
In a move that is not entirely surprising, but never the less dissapointing for the region, and symbolic of the nations lack of vision - The Napier - Gisborne line is all but officially permanently closed.
More comment to follow but the press releases from KiwiRail, NZ Government, the Green and Labour Parties are as below:
KiwiRail to mothball Napier-Gisborne line

KiwiRail Announces FY2012 Annual Result

KiwiRail this week released their annual result for FY12.
As expected, and previously indicated by the company, they missed their 2013 SCI target EBITDA by $35 Million. Whilst dissapointing for the industry and observers this result was not unexpected and had been well signalled.
Also of note was the confirmation of the $7.1 Billion asset writedown on the balance sheet which was some $400 Million higher than previously estimated.
The press release is as follows:
KiwiRail’s growth continues with revenue increase of $50 million

KiwiRail Confirms Balance Sheet Restructure

KiwiRail have today confirmed their asset writedown as previosuly foreshadowed in their half year report for 2012.
The press releases from the Crown followed by KiwiRails are as below:
Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Press Release: New Zealand Government
Hon Bill English, Minister of Finance
Hon Tony Ryall, Minister for State Owned Enterprises
Next steps in KiwiRail’s Turnaround Plan
The Government has today announced that KiwiRail’s balance sheet will be restructured in another step towards putting the company on a more commercial footing under its challenging Turnaround Plan.

Overlander Services Cut and Train Relaunch

As indicated on this blog a few months ago theOverlandertrain service between Auckland and Wellington is to be restructered and the trains running freqeuncy materially reduced. Also many of the intermediate station stops such as Te Kuiti, Levin, Taumaranui and Taihape are to be closed.
The good news is that theOverlanderis to get brand new carriages and rebranded as theNorthern Explorer.
In a innovative solution the train is to be run by one new train set based in Auckland with alternate day running six days a week all year round (three days a week in each direction) between Auckland and Wellington.

Hillside Railway Workshops Offered For Sale

As part of Kiwi Rails quest for financial sustainability the Hillside workshops in Dunedin is being offered for sale.
Ironically Hillside was the one Mechanical plant that wasn't outsourced during the Mechanical outsouricing to Alstom (later United) by Tranz Rail in 2002.
What its future is outside of the rail sector in Dunedin remains to be seen. Its viable future is far from certain.
The press release is here:
Hillside Workshops Offered For Sale
19 April 2012
KiwiRail is seeking expressions of interest for the sale of our Dunedin-based Hillside Workshops business.

Reflection - 100 Year Anniversary Of Titanic

I have always been fascinated byTitanic, Ocean Liners and big ships in general. 
As a young lad I spent many weeks at sea on theAchille Lauro, another liner with its own sad history, that is now also at the bottom of the ocean. Also likeTitanicssister shipBrittanic,her sister theAngelina Lauronow also lies at the bottom of the ocean. So I guess for this and many other reasons the drama of the ship has special meaning to me. Like many I feel that I know her. Not to mention the maritime transport interest I have always had.

Coastal Pacific Services Reduced - Further Cutbacks Loom

TheCoastal Pacifictrain service is to be reduced to a four day a week operation over the winter months from 11 May 2012, returning to full daily operation from 11 September 2012.
This Blog has been warning for some time about long distance rail passenger in New Zealand and its doubtful future if nothing is done to recover the situation.
A recent Blog at this site called for action on long distance rail in New Zealand -Blog link here.
The Christchurch earthquake truely has had a devastating effect.

A Case For Reopening Napier Gisborne Railway

Gisborne is rallying to save its Rail link. Good on them!
This was always going to be a tough case for everyone concerned to deal with.  Few times have Rail links been successfully saved from closure in New Zealand in the past. The storm damage has now presented another major “chasm to bridge” in order to save this scenic line.
Observers of Rail will note that closures of Rail links in New Zealand have nearly always been strongly opposed by the regions directly affected by closures.

Last Train To Gisborne Has Been and Gone? Lines Future Hangs By A Thread!

For those that know the Napier to Gisborne Railway well it was just a matter of time. Storm damage was one day going to claim this scenic piece of Railway. Cyclone Bola nearly did it in 1988 (killed the passenger train service) but it was saved by one sympathetic Minister of Railways by the name of Richard Prebble. This time it may not be so lucky (at least the Wairoa to Gisborne section anyway) and it seems that the dye may have finally been cast.
The official word from Kiw Rail is that the line is being evaluated to see how extensive the repair work will need to be and how long it will take.

Manukau Rail Passenger Link Opens Sunday April 15 2012 & Future of Services to Waitakere

Good news! The Manukau new rail link opens on Sunday April 15, 2012.
Rail services will operate for the first time to Manukau at a three train per hour peak and one train per hour off-peak frequency, with the first day of operation being on Sunday, 15 April 2012. The offpeak frequency is somewhat short of what the blogging commnuity were expecting for this new service but is probably not surprsing due to funding constraints. This will be a red letter day for the New Zealand Rail industry as the first wholly new passenger line to be opened since the 1950's when the Hutt lines in the Wellington region were expanded up the eastern Hutt side of the Hutt Valley.

Equity Analyst Report On Kiwi Rail by Macquarie

It is good to see that what we have been advocating on this blog in respect of analyst monitoring of Kiwi Rails financial performance has in fact been started. This is a good start on monitoring the true financial performance of the company and has been done by Stephen Hudson of Macquarie Research. This analysis is now being done for all SOE's so Kiwi Rail is simply being monitored in the same way as all its fellow SOE's are.
In November 2011, Macquarie performed an equity valuation report for COMU (Business unit of Treasury tasked with monitoring State Owned Enterprises) on Kiwi Rail.

An Anniversary, A Reflection, A Call To Action On Long Distance Rail Passenger Trains

Ten years ago today, on the 10th February 2002, New Zealand’s longest running long distance passenger train route (operating since the 1870’s in fact), between Invercargill and Christchurch, closed for service. TheSoutherner  train did its last respective daily run each way between the two cities on that day. It closed as a mere shadow of what it was in its glory days as a new named train service introduced in December 1970.
In late 2000 all of the Tranz Scenic services were all offered for sale by Tranz Rail as it struggled to find the capital to sustain anything beyond a basic rail and road freight network.

Links To Kiwi Rail 2011 Annual Public Meeting Presentation, 2012 - 2014 SCI & 2011 Annual Report

For general interest we provide a link to the Kiwi Rail Annual Meeting presentation linked from their website. The meeting was held on 28 October, 2011 in Wellington
References to their performance against the Turnaround Plan and proposed asset write offs are particularly interesting.
The most recent Kiwi Rail Statement of Corporate Intent for the period 2012 to 2014 can be found at the link below:
The annual report for 2011 is here:
We will be posting links to various other  interesting subject matters at this site from time to time

Time For Change And The Economics Of Rail In New Zealand

Much has been written about the financial performance of Rail in New Zealand over the past few years but few seem to understand, at least from the writer’s perspective, the true economics, or dare I say it the bigger picture of Rail in the broader economy and in the socio / political environment. This post is about the former, the broader economic  justification for Rail in the macro sense.
In reading the Productivity Commissions draft report on New Zealand“International Freight Transport Services”,

Productivity Commission Release Draft Report On International Freight Transport

The Productivity Commission today released its preliminary findings on the New Zealand International Freight Transport sector. 
Key findings were in the area of Governance and  ownership structure of the nation’s Ports. In particular there were findings around accountability structures and a suggestion that Port companies governance should be put under a type of SOE model format with less interference from Councils (more independent directors - no Councillers or Council officers) and independent external monitoring by an agency like COMU which does that for the Crown owned SOE's.

"Eleven Minutes Late" - A very funny, sad and insightul look Into what may as well be, as Jeremy Wells (ex "Newsboy" and "The Unauthorised History of New Zealand" star) would say is "Our New Zealand Railways"

I have been reading a interesting book lately callled "Eleven Minutes Late" by Matthew Engel. The comparisons of British Rail to New Zeland Railways are truely astounding.
In New Zealand we have had much the same experiences as Britain as regards to our Railways (both today and in the past). I cannot recommend this book strongly enough to anyone who has a interest in the social history of British, or for that matter, New Zealand Railways. Substitute Rt Hon Peter Gordon for Dr Beeching in 1960's and the other comparatives right up to the present day are astounding.
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