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.
As stated recently in this Blog Solid Energy's woes could see more line closures soon. Already the short Kimihia branch for coal north of Huntly has closed.
A leak from KiwiRail as detailed in the below news story seems to confirm the inevitiable.
KiwiRail will not be renewing its contract for log haulage with Marusumi. The line has been loss making for years and commercially this is the right choice - strategically now thats a entirely different matter but mothballing the route would be a good idea for now.
In any case substantial expenditure would be required on the line were it to be upgraded to modern standards.
Perhaps a nice new cycle way might be in the offing.
The story below explains it all:
Trains north of Whangarei will come to a halt later this year.
Newshub has exclusively obtained leaked documents which show the rail line from Kauri to Otiria will no longer be in use come September. Kiwirail has not renewed the contract with the sole operator of the line, Marusumi -- but Transport Minister Simon Bridges says there is no plan to close the line.
"No intention to shut lines that are operating at the current time," he said.
He also said that last year. On October 20 last year Mr Bridges was asked by Winston Peters whether there was any plan to close the rail line, and he said no. But documents show that just seven days later, on October 27, Kiwirail was talking about axing the contract with Marusumi -- rendering the track useless. An email dated 27 October 2015 says:
"Our contract with MWC (Marasumi Whangarei Co.) expires 31 Aug next year and will not be renewed".
Another sent on February 17 2016 gives reasoning, saying "our contract with Marasumi finishes 31 August and has not been renewed with life expired wagons and poor commercial return to justify reinvestment".
That means that while the line won't officially close, no trains will use it.
Newshub showed Minister of Transport, Mr Bridges, the documents -- but he says he had no idea.
"I'm not aware of exactly what the nature of any internal discussions may or may not be within KiwiRail," he said.
But Northland MP Winston Peters is accusing Mr Bridges of lying, saying he was in the know about the lines future.
"When you say something that's not true like that, you've got to be accountable as a minister and so he should resign," he said.
Currently there are just two trains a day travelling on the line, transporting logs down the country to Whangarei. Without them 150 logging trucks per day will need to be on the road. Northland's roads are already packed with trucks, and they're not in the best shape.
"The National Party comes up here and talks about a brighter future and its massive 58-point plan -- and right under their nose, they're shutting down the key infrastructural investment."
Alan Preston from Save our Rail Northland says the move is a huge loss to Northland's infrastructure.
Read more and see the video link on this story at www.newshub.co.nz at the link below: