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
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.
He says the decision by Kiwi Rail, but sanctioned by the Government, will have serious consequences for the future of the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne/East Coast economies, which are closely linked and interdependent.
“It means a loss of transport choices and competition. Road transport freight costs will inevitably go up. Wairoa and Gisborne exporters will face difficulties and extra costs in connecting to container export ports in Napier and Tauranga and to the wider national rail freight system,” says Mr Dick.
“We will be dependent on a tortuous, secondary standard state highway, which traverses difficult terrain and has stability risks. It is a most inadequate lifeline for both regions.”
Mr Dick says unlike rail, trucks have difficulty carrying fully loaded high cube containers - and economical, two return trips per day between Gisborne and Napier are usually not possible.
“Road safety is already an issue and risks will increase as heavy traffic volumes inevitably increase. Reliable sources indicate that the additional truck movements quoted by Kiwi Rail are significantly understated.”
He says the decision ensures Gisborne and the East Coast will be confirmed as one of the most isolated regions in New Zealand.
“It is most unfortunate the Government has chosen to ignore the fact that the Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay economies are highly export focused and need reliable and economical transport links to get their goods to market. Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay are where New Zealand earns its living in the world and deserve better recognition.”
Alan Dick says the decision also confirms that the commercial model for KiwiRail does not work properly.
“The model forces expedient, short term focused decisions that ignore wider and longer term strategic considerations. The model needs to be reviewed to be brought into line with road transport planning and funding that take into account wider strategic and future considerations.”
He says the Government’s announcement that it will spend an additional $4 million on passing opportunties between Napier and Gisborne is little consolation.
“I am also concerned to confirm that this is not to be funded from our already fully allocated R (Regionally collected) roading funds.”
Alan Dick is calling an early meeting of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Transport Committee to formulate a response and hope to have a representative from KiwiRail present.
“It is a most unfortunate, at a time when our region is considering ways to increase prosperity that we have to face the setback of this heavy blow.”
Media Release: Rail and Maritime Transport Union
Tuesday October 2, 2012
East Coast and Hawkes Bay let down by KiwiRail’s mothballing announcement
East Coast and Hawkes Bay communities are the latest to be let down by a defeatist attitude to rail by the government and KiwiRail management, the Rail & Maritime Transport Union said today.
KiwiRail has today announced the decision to mothball the Napier-Gisborne rail line.
“We are witnessing the line by line destruction of the national rail network,” said Phil Spanswick, RMTU organiser.
“If this is what the KiwiRail Turnaround Plan represents, then regional communities will be angry that KiwiRail is systematically mothballing lines to manage the network into extinction, rather than having a long term plan that recognises the critical role rail will play into the future.”
Once a rail line is mothballed, it becomes difficult to bring it back into operation, Phil Spanswick said, and it represents an immediate safety risk for rail staff to operate if it is needed at short notice, such as in natural disasters.
“A quality, national rail network should be a cornerstone of our national transport logistics supply chain.”
“But instead, today’s decision, alongside the loss of 158 jobs in Infrastructure & Engineering and reluctance to use a local skilled workforce carry out rail construction, demonstrates the Turnaround plan is taking us backwards,” Phil Spanswick said.
Press Release: New Zealand First Party
Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
3 October 2012
Kiwirail Blunders Behind Gisborne - Napier Rail Link Closure
New Zealand First says KiwiRail’s expensive blunders over the Cook Strait ferry Aratere, buying cheap China-made locomotives, and importing dodgy Peruvian sleepers contributed to the closure of the Gisborne-Napier rail link.
Rt Hon Winston Peters says the East Coast is a highly productive export region and even the management of KiwiRail knows the best way to transport bulk goods is by rail but finances are tight because of financial mistakes made.
"There are still problems with the Aratere after it was lengthened in Singapore at great expense.
“Then KiwiRail had to buy the ship at more expense and it is still causing problems and costing money.”
Mr Peters says the financial cost of buying China-made locomotives that weren’t fit for purpose, and the importation of thousands of Peruvian sleepers riddled with foreign fungi, were also significant factors in the closure of the rail link.
“It’s easy to work out that the millions wasted on the Aratere, cheap locomotives, and dodgy Peruvian sleepers could have been used to keep the rail link alive.
“The cost of saving the line is just a fraction of the bungles KiwiRail have engaged in.
"Add to this the frenzy of cost cutting and restructuring and you have mayhem which can be traced back to the management of KiwiRail.
“It isn’t the Gisborne - Napier line that should be going. It is KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn,” says Mr Peters.