The End of KiwiRail?

I recently attended an ISCR seminar on the future of rail. According to the speaker, Dave Heatley, there’s basically no future for rail. Rail is unfixable in its present form, he argued, without making some “heroic assumptions” about how we measure externalities and the opportunity cost of keeping rail.

Heatley’s damning report (available soon on the ISCR site) will no doubt be seized upon by the Road Transport Forum and others to justify the further erosion of rail services in New Zealand leaving the growth of road freight unchallenged – their peculiar version of urban hell (unless you’re wealthy enough to live a long way from major arterial routes).

Subsequent questioning from the audience revealed that there was a lot wrong with Heatley’s work. To the question of how Peak Oil was factored into his analysis, Heatley dismissed concerns about the security of this finite resource, responding that there was 1000 years’ worth of fossil fuels left under the ground. Tell that to the International Energy Agency.

Even if you accept all of Heatley’s arguments, they completely sink if you care a bean about energy security. Or climate change. Or if you just think trains are cool.

106 thoughts on “The End of KiwiRail?

  1. Surely a serious political party does not make investment decision on the grounds that think they are cool?

    And trains are less energy efficient that road transport except under very specific circumstances as prevail in the US which is way US rails carries a higher percentage of freight than in Europe for example.

    The best thing to do with most of our intercity rail is turn the bed into truck/bus lanes and use the rapidly developing technology to “train” the trucks to reduce the number of drivers needed and deliver the energy efficiency of near flat truck beds into the new generation of hugely efficient truck systems.

    Rail vehicles have to be heavy and speeds are limited on our tracks. The railway line which I drive over occasionally (Auckland Whangarei) has rusty tracks.
    You do not need to do any more analysis to know this valuable freightway is being hugely under-used.
    If you enjoy trains as a recreation then ride on the tourist lines in the south island or take the Orient Express from Venice to London as I have. It’s a great experience but nothing to do with “efficient” routine travel. Just a pity they don’t run an airship across the channel instead of the dreadful ferry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3 (-2)

  2. Rail is the one transport option our Government should protect preserve and improve. Cheaper to run and will stop those huge trucks polluting the environment, clogging traffic and ruining our expensive roads – it’s an absolute no-brainer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  3. You are a no-brainer Mark. Rail is dead. Expensive, inefficient, and useless for most journeys.

    As Owen has pointed out, you need to get over this silly religious fixation with laying iron on the ground, and start thinking about how these “rail” routes could be used more efficiently.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  4. BluePeter,

    Agree with Mark on this one. Rail has a future provided

    1. The rail network is fully upgraded (and expanded) with ownership retained by the state as per the same parameters tarsealed roads are.
    2. The state gets out of owning rolling stock.
    3. The use of the communal “steel road” is opened up to any operator who want to buy a trainset.
    4. Users of the “steel road” must abide by the traffic control and regulations (same as it is controlled on tarsealed roads) placed on the network.

    What we then will see is private investors making use of the “steel road” to move cargo and people.

    It would not be to hard to imagine Mainfreight, Fonterra, NZ Couriers, NZPost, etc. who move massive cargos up and down the country buying or leasing trainsets.

    That is where the answer lies.

    I just wonder how many trucks though are owned by contractors (most I would say judging by signage on most big rigs) and that may well be a major hurdle.

    Someone like Mainfreight may not actually “own” any trucks and could be reluctant to invest while they dont have an investment in trucks.

    I would envisage the trucking companies to get together (like they did with Cook Straight ferry company, Bluebridge shipping) and purchase trainsets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  5. Mark couldn’t be more wrong. Rail’s only advantages are energy efficiency and lower emissions. Elecrtic rail has the advantage of energy security from international supply disruptions.

    But rail cost allocation studies by the British government and the OECD revealed that energy is a very small part of rail’s costs. Infrastucture fixed costs are so great that even the weight and speed of the trains has little effect on the cost per tonne/km or per passenger mile. These findings are similar to earlier OECD and US government highway cost studies. The main financial consequence of moving freight from road to rail is that the remaing highway users get to pay a bigger share of the highway fixed costs and the existing rail users get to pay a smaller share of the railway fixed costs. However, because of decades of failing to upgrade either highways or railways, New Zealand has to factor in the impact on capital costs. These will be reduced for highways and increased for railways, possibly negating the fixed cost impact but more likely overwhelming the fixed cost impact. In short, moving freight from highways to railways can reduce the costs for the remaining road users and increase the cost for existing rail users. Except that in this country rail users aren’t expected to fund improvements to the rail network, that cost is born by road users, irrespective of whether their region is served by rail or not.

    That’s the problem with no-grainer solutions. They appeal to people who don’t have the time or inclination to be well informed on a subject.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  6. I seriously think those that think that rail is a negative must have some sort of axe to grind. No research has been quoted in any of these postings – certainly not in line with the thinking of the rest of the country or big business.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10556774

    The railways as a right of way for trucks? come off it. Mainfreight have just released their annual report – they and other freightforwarders use rail. Why would they do that if it’s cheaper to use trucks? their only criticism of rail was that the former operater Toll NZ was still allowed to lease railway land.

    It is certainly true that the system is underutilised, the cost of roadmaking is horrendous and NZ’s once flawless pavement is now under tremendous pressure.

    It is however true as well that generally passenger trains are loss making and a luxury, but great for tourism. It seems unbelieveable that it isn’t possible to catch a scheduled service from Christchurch to Dunedin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  7. Gerrit Says:
    February 19th, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    > It would not be to hard to imagine Mainfreight, Fonterra, NZ Couriers, NZPost, etc. who move massive cargos up and down the country buying or leasing trainsets.

    Maybe that would be true if the railways were mostly double-tracked. But actrually they’re mostly single-tracked. I actually find it quite hard to imagine, because you would have to have quite a sophisticated centralised scheduling system to make sure the trains going opposite directions weren’t going to meet where there is no siding to pass one another. I suspect it would end up more expensive and cumbersome than having one operator as we currently do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  8. I expect that the number of accidents per tonne/kilometer moved would be much lower for rail than road.

    Kevyn said:
    “But rail cost allocation studies by the British government and the OECD revealed that energy is a very small part of rail’s costs.”
    which is exactly the point – rail is very low energy use compared to road transport.

    Rail traffic has a much lower impact on the rail network than road traffic has on the roads. Travelling by rail is also smoother than by road.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  9. Since greens always love the technology of the past if we develop some future technology that replaces the automobile will the greens then start asking us to save the highways and keep using automobiles??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  10. Even with the crap state of Auckland’s rail network show me any other way someone could get from Glen Innes to downtown in 13 minutes. There’s a reason why large cities overseas have extensive rail networks – they are clearly the most efficient way of moving people around cities. Imagine Tokyo without its rail system… you’d have about 15 million more cars on the road each day, I don’t think that’d work.

    Regarding freight, truckways/busways aren’t going to be much use once peak oil happens I wouldn’t think. Try powering a truck with an electric battery! Rail clearly does offer cost advantages for bulk products, and even potentially other products as Kevyn has argued in the bettertransport.org forum.

    Rail is the future. Europe has recognised that by constructing its high-speed network over the past few years. California will soon follow suit. Many US cities have built or are building light-rail networks. Shanghai and Beijing are investing enormously in giant metro systems. New Zealand needs to get up with the play and stop living in the 1990s – ie. invest in rail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  11. Peak oil isn’t just going to affect the cost of diesel for trucks. It is also going to increase the cost of roading materials and tyres. Rail has much less wear and tear on the rolling stock than road travel, so it is going to be more cost-effective.

    And as a last resort, we can run locomotives on coal. (I’d prefer electricity, but we could have a problem electrifying some areas.)

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  12. kahikatea

    Maybe that would be true if the railways were mostly double-tracked. But actually they’re mostly single-tracked.

    With plenty of passing loops, which in New Zealand are plentyful, this is not a great problem.

    American freight railroaders use single tracks and passing loops quite easily, safely and efficiently. Especially in mountain passes. You just have to get the signalling infastructure right. Something the rail infastructure in New Zealand is lacking due to there never having been a need.

    Have a look on Google earth sometimes and see how densely the American railroads pack trains on single line tracks and passing loops. 4000 ton – 80 wagon trains pullled by 3 to 5 locos using the same line almost nose to tail. Just requires proper block control of lines using computerisation, skilled traffic controllers and powerful enough locomotives to keep the big trains on schedule.

    Single tracking is not a major problem. As and when the rail network is upgraded double tracking is an easily achieved infastructure addition.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  13. The inane Green religious worship of rail is just sad. I happen to have done work in the rail sector, and personally love trains, but I’m also an economic realist. No brainer solutions are typically advanced by people who don’t use their brains.

    So to go through the comments:

    Owen: Largely right, although I suspect converting most rail corridors to roads is a waste of money in NZ, except Auckland’s urban corridors.

    Mark: Leave the church, you gave not a single valid point. Rail isn’t cheaper, otherwise it wouldn’t take hundreds of millions a year in subsidies, whereas the road transport sector is financially self sufficient and fully funds state highways. The previous government’s study Surface Transport Costs and Charges showed the environment impact of rail freight vs road freight depended on the route – in some cases rail was better in others road. So at best the environmental argument is situation specific. The effect of truck on traffic congestion in New Zealand is highly marginal, and would be addressed by road pricing in the cities (trucks can be charged according to road space). Trucks pay for their share of road maintenance costs on state highways (but not local roads, but then railways don’t compete on those routes).

    Gerrit: Who should pay to expand rail? You want to subsidise businesses who need heavy long distance freight transport? Sadly, your idea of open access on the network isn’t unlikely to work. Though frankly it might be the best last ditch open to give the network a go. The government DID buy the rail network, DID allow others to operate on it if Toll removed services, but Toll didn’t – it just lost money, didn’t pay the full costs of rail network maintenance and got a big gift from everyone courtesy of Dr Cullen.

    Kevyn: Dead accurate.

    Big Wheels: Read Surface Transport Costs and Charge Final Report to get the view on the environmental impacts of rail, reading the three case studies. They pretty much demonstrate that there are no clear conclusions by mode. Try the LEK report to Treasury about rail costs
    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/informationreleases/rail/transaction/pdfs/rt-lek-tsy-30may02a.pdf and http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/informationreleases/rail/transaction/pdfs/rt-lek-tsy-30may02b.pdf

    It isn’t great, but it does outline where rail costs are, and the viability of the network.

    Kahikatea: Well answered by Gerrit.

    Trevor 29: You are right on safety, but then the safety record of road transport has been improving by vehicle/km for the last 30 years. Rail and road both pay ACC levies of course. On wear and tear, half of the costs of the road network are fixed – have no dependency on usage. Yet roads are financially self sufficient, railways are not.

    Jarbury: Trucks could be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which is just as likely as cheap solar power having widespread use in the next 50 years. Europe’s high speed rail is irrelevant in a hilly lightly populated country like NZ, the US rail religion has passed its peak and rail is a very long haul, very high volume freight business there (plus north east corridor passenger services, and NYC subway). The rest are very heavily loss making operations. China? Yep metros are great in densely populated third world cities, now if only Aucklanders could be convinced to live in high rise tiny apartments!

    The peak oil argument doesn’t hold water. I assume the Greens think rail works because it can be electrified, which just adds yet another cost to a grossly underutilised network. Of course this electricity will come from the fanciful sources of wind, solar and tidal, not hydro dams (which are typically opposed) nor fossil fuels or nuclear. So somehow wind and solar technologies will make massive breakthroughs, but the same wont happen for say hydrogen fuel cells, which would enable road transport to function pretty much like today, except no noxious emissions.

    It also assumes rail freight’s energy efficiency on the trunk route makes up for the costs of double handling, shunting and duplicating infrastructure. It simply doesn’t, unless you are talking about high volumes at a fairly high frequency over long distances.

    Kiwirail could probably survive if it were simply Auckland-Wellington, Hamilton-Tauranga-Kawerau-Murupara, Picton-Christchurch-Dunedin, and Rolleston-West Coast. The milk traffic Taranaki-Manawatu-Hawke’s Bay may last as well, but there is precious little else. The rest of the network may be retained by enthusiasts for nostalgia, mothballed like is done in Australia, or converted into cycleways/walkways for tourists (like the Central Otago rail trail, which is a great success).

    Tasmania is facing the same dilemma, with the exception of perhaps one route, there isn’t a future for rail freight on a short distance, lightly trafficked network over rugged country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  14. What it all comes down to is the decision that was made by Sir Julius Vogel in the 1870s. New Zealand’s nationwide loading gauge isn’t even large enough to allow for modern container traffic (there are places where it is possible, but these are relatively few). To expand the loading gauge will require extremely expensive work and I cannot see it being feasible nationwide – there may be the odd route where it could work.

    I am confident that the network can be saved, but the very first thing that needs to be done is that Kiwirail needs some fresh rolling stock; the DC class locomotives are all over the age of 40, and the DFTs are nearly 30. The wagon fleet that was decimated during the Beard era of Tranz Rail was never replaced by Toll and now there is a shortage of wagons. Start off with the basics and work from there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  15. Big Wheels admonishes earlier posters for not citing references but then goes on to do the same thing.

    “the cost of roadmaking is horrendous”. True, but even more true for rail. Now that the NLTP is funding both Transit’s and Ontrack’s construction work in Auckland a direct comparison of costs per km are available.

    “and NZ’s once flawless pavement is now under tremendous pressure. .” The ambitious seal extension program from the mid-1950s through to the mid 1970s tripled the miles of sealed roads. Any road engineer will tell you that the serviceable life expectancy of a pavement is 50 years +/- 10 years depending on local soil conditions. So of course the pavements that many of remember as flawless in out younger days were that way because they were brand new. That they are under tremendous pressure half a century later should come as no surprise. The fact that we benefited financially from a maintenance holiday is not appreciated by those who squeal about rates rises and petrol tax increases. A classic case of denying reality when it hits us in the wallet. See Transits annual report 05/06.

    My comments on the bettertransport.org forum that Jarbury mentioned are about improving the systems for getting freight on and off trains rather than about expensive improvements to tracks.

    Trevor noted that “Rail traffic has a much lower impact on the rail network than road traffic has on the roads.” Damage per tonne/km is proportional to the fourth power of axle weight multiplied by the number of axles. However the roadbeds resistance to fatigue damage is proportional the square of roadbed depth. Engineers have known this for a long time as is amply evident when comparing adjacent sections of SH1 and the main trunk line.

    However as a proportion of total systems costs heavy traffic wear and tear is responsible for less than one quarter of the spending on road maintenance in this country. When capital investment is added (at current levels of expenditure) in the pay/go system we have in this country variations in vehicle wear and tear ends up only have a small impact on system costs. If the costs of vehicles and freight depots are added to the direct road costs then becomes an even smaller proportion of the total costs. Since these costs are an integral part of the rail cost structures it does give the impression that rail costs are less affected by wear and tear then is the case for roads. Unfortunately even with the detailed information provided in the rail and highway cost allocation studies there are simply too many variables to be able to draw any definitive conclusions about how actual maintenance costs compare per tonne/km for highway and railways in this country. I doubt if we even have reliable figures for maintenance of railways and local roads because we simply don’t how much maintenance is supposed to be done and how much is actually being done or what the accumulated backlog of maintenance amounts to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  16. Owen McShane wrote:

    [And trains are less energy efficient that road transport...]

    Not so, rail uses five times less fuel to do the same job, so is far more energy efficient than road. Not surprising as the friction of rubber tyres on tarmac is just no contest for steel on steel.

    Electric trains are even more efficient, and in fact when they run downhill they generate electricity which is sold back to the power company. Imagine that, a train running off the central plateau late at night actually producing energy for the national grid while doing its job of moving freight from Auckland to Wellington, while the labour-intensive and fuel intensive trucks just spew out more fumes as their cowboy drivers hurtle along the desert road at 120km/h, occasionally taking out the odd motorist.

    Owen, you need to take your blinkers off and accept that rail around the world is growing enormously because of the many benefits it offers society and the environment.

    Blue Peter wrote:

    [start thinking about how these “rail” routes could be used more efficiently]

    Replace a railway with a road and you’ll:

    A) Use more land (2 lane road is three times wider than a single track).
    B) Move less, as a single railway has the carrying capacity of a 4 lane road.
    C) Use more fuel, because road transport is far more fuel intensive than rail.
    D) Require many more people to do the same job. You can move 60 40′ containers in a train with 1 driver. With road you’ll need 60 trucks and 60 drivers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  17. Blue Peter wrote:

    [....expensive, inefficient, and useless for most journeys]

    -Less expensive than roads. A billion dollars will give us an excellent national network. Alternatively it will get you a few kilometres of new motorway.

    -More efficient than roads for many rail freight traffics (that’s why NZ has a well-used rail network, although it still has tonnes of capacity remaining)

    -Very useful for many journeys. Port of Tauranga moves 98% of its Auckland import/export traffic by rail, and it is on record as stating it would have to close it’s Metroport operation if rail was not available. Fonterra move 70% of their national products by rail. That’s hardly “useless”. For that matter I’m sure most of the users of the 980 weekly freight trains running up and down the country would disagree with you. They choose rail over road for good reasons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  18. A politician with vision:

    “One of the welcome surprises in the new federal stimulus bill was $8 billion for high-speed rail. It was thrown in at the last minute at the behest of President Barack Obama, who rode a train to his inaugural.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  19. libertyscot,

    Who should pay to expand rail? You want to subsidise businesses who need heavy long distance freight transport?

    The same people who pay for the roads that the heavy trucking idustry uses now. Are we not currently subsidising the road transport industry by providing tarseal roading infastruture?

    The road tranport industry is further subsidised by the private motorist who pay for their share of the road that the road trucking industry so gladly uses.

    And in these reccesion/depression times, capital railway projects would soak up the uemployed

    Sadly, your idea of open access on the network isn’t unlikely to work.

    Not sure if you are in favour or not with that statement. Double negatives (not unlikely to)?

    john-ston

    What it all comes down to is the decision that was made by Sir Julius Vogel in the 1870s. New Zealand’s nationwide loading gauge isn’t even large enough to allow for modern container traffic

    How come the rail goods expresses I see every day carry almost all carry containers. Where cant they go?

    Loading gauge of 3’6″ was chosen because the hilly nature of the country side. Makes perfect sense even today unless you had billions to throw at many more bridges, tunnels, earthworks, etc to cater for the wider and more worldly common 4’8″ track gauge.

    3’6″ gauge is used by many countries in South America becasue of its ability to provided cheaper access to remote hilly areas. Just why Queensland has 3’6″ rail is beyond me though. Maybe it is a leftover of the sugar cane days

    You would never be able to get the minimum 5 chain radius curves achieveable with narrow gauge. So much more infastructure costs are added as such engineering designs as the Rimutaku spiral could not be constructed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  20. Libertyscott said:
    “The peak oil argument doesn’t hold water. I assume the Greens think rail works because it can be electrified, which just adds yet another cost to a grossly underutilised network. Of course this electricity will come from the fanciful sources of wind, solar and tidal, not hydro dams (which are typically opposed) nor fossil fuels or nuclear. So somehow wind and solar technologies will make massive breakthroughs, but the same wont happen for say hydrogen fuel cells, which would enable road transport to function pretty much like today, except no noxious emissions.”

    And where is that hydrogen supposed to come from? Your choices are biomass, fossil fuels and electricity. But wait, you have already rules out electricity and we’re running out of fluid fossil fuels. The efficiencies of any of these options are much lower than electric trains. But wait, you have already rules out electricity and we’re running out of fluid fossil fuels. More food shortages?

    Have you any idea of the volume and weight of hydrogen cylinders and hydrogen fuel cells required to give trucks a similar range and power to today’s diesel fleet? Hydrogen-powered trucks are not going to be just business as usual.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  21. The fact that a train may be more energy efficient than a truck as a vehicle has little bearing on the efficiency of the transport mode.
    If rail mode was more efficient than rubber on road mode than all freight would be transported by rail mode.
    Container ships are far more efficient that road or rail but hardly any internal freight is carried by container ship for obvious reasons.

    And by the way passenger rail is not safer than vehicle on motorway when you compare fatalities per passenger mile. Check it out.

    I did not say all rail beds should be converted but a useful guideline if the tracks are rusty we should have a cold hard look at it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  22. California has invested heavily in rail – so we should too?

    The state of California has a $41 billion budget deficit. This is even worse when you realize its total budget is $143 billion, so the deficit is is 29 percent of the budget. California is about to declare bankruptcy.

    Meanwhile, the state has overspent on high-cost transportation systems in five major urban areas, while stinting on the forms of transportation that people actually use. (Californians travel more than 400 billion passenger miles by auto in urban areas and take transit only 7 billion passenger miles.) This did little to relieve the traffic that makes Los Angeles and San Francisco-Oakland the worst-congested urban areas in the nation while it added to the state’s deficits.

    Yes, lets follow California down the road to financial hell.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  23. Frog; “Or if you just think trains are cool.”

    It would be good if you can refrain from this sort of language as it paints a picture of rail-fanatics whereas many people in Auckland actually don’t really care about trains, but just want normal transit services deployed in the city.

    libertyscott; “…now if only Aucklanders could be convinced to live in high rise tiny apartments!”

    It is a chicken and egg situation. Dense urban development around mass-transit can’t happen without the mass-transit. The current laise-faire urban planning (sprawl) together with 100% private-car transport infrastructure is simply not working so what is the point in doing more of it when there are proven examples from other countries of mass-transit systems to copy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  24. Why did the Labour Govt. but the network back, and so soon after selling it? Because it runs on….. Electricity – that’s right – no overseas fuel bill for our transportation costs – even my lazy last woozy brain cell can do those sums. Billions of $$$ saved!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  25. Owen,

    You are just little off the “track” by comparing the Californian mass transit rail system for people with KiwiRail.

    California is not looking at the freight option at all. Freight rail options are vitually all private enterprises in the USA. California is the central hub for Union pacific Railroad. BNSF also has private freight lines in California.

    While you may be right about people moving by rail as too expensive an option, you are not comparing apples with apples.

    I would still have ALL the railway corridors owned, maintained by the state (as tarsealed roads are now) and let private enterprise utilise the tracks for freight and passengers movement to suit consumer and business demands.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  26. Owen,

    California’s budget problems have a lot more to do with the three strikes law and escalating prison costs than their plans to build trains that they have not yet built.

    If anything related to transport, I would think it is the ongoing building and maintenance of freeways and the huge road network needed to support them that have been sucking state budgets dry. Congestion wasn’t a problem at all when gas hit $4 a gallon last year. People are highly sensitive to increases in fuel prices, and yet they have no alternative for transport.

    I can’t comment on rail for freight, but in France passenger rail (high speed and other) makes a profit despite heavily unionised labour.

    Their inter city highway system is a PPP and users pay hefty tolls to travel on very high quality (and never congested) highways. It seems to me that it was the equivalent of $80NZD for a car to travel 120km from Toulouse to Montpelier. The fact that private car travel is not as subsidised as in NZ is doubtless one reason their passenger trains have been able to develop and remain competitive. Travelling from Paris to Bordeaux by TGV is nearly twice as fast as driving, less expensive or the same price, and far more comfortable (you can read, sleep, work, walk around).

    Freight trucks are happy to pay the high tolls, but when oil prices spiked last year the truckers were rioting and protesting. Which suggests to me that their profits are largely dependent on oil prices remaining low forever.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  27. A typical selection of anti rail propoganda (no suprises though). If anyone cares to look, both the land transport charges study (ca1997) and the land transport costs and charges study (2003) showd that road transport in general and heavy trucks in particular pay less than full cost for infrastructure. Until we are honest about the full cost of road transport claims that rail is uneconomic are totaly meaningless. When it comes to gauge the rail gauge is less of a problem than the clearance (or loading) gauge. At present the only problem is carrying hi-cube (2.9m) containers on the midland and northland lines (btw. our loading gauge is similar to the the uk’s. That is why we can use second hand BR Mk2 rolling stock with only a bogie change). When it comes to energy rail is competitive for double intermodal traffic over distaces of 150km+, when traffic is by rail at one or both end of the journey (i.e. from rail serviced warehouse to rail serviced port) then the competitive distance distance is a lot less.
    I’m still quite optimistic that this government will invest at least some money in rail (in spite of national’s past record) because of the political clout of the major rail users Fontera,Solid energy Mainfreight,the forestry industry.Even if rail services are only as good as they were in the early 1990,s then traffic levels and profitability will both improve from present levels.
    I am sure that in the future companies that we think of as “trucking” companies will adopt rail as the long haul segment of their supply chain because a certain amount of this already happens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  28. Geoff_184 said: “Not so, rail uses five times less fuel to do the same job, so is far more energy efficient than road” Source? Yes that train run in 1981 by the Railways Department, a Wellington Auckland freight train compared to a truck doing a parallel trip. NO double handling of the freight by rail, NO local delivery element. If you bothered reading my references you’ll see only about 20% of rail’s costs are fuel, it has NO advantage on any others. Meanwhile painting the trucking sector as illegal operating cowboys shows a rather nasty bias – such operators exist, but who endorses them? Not the RTF.
    “as a single railway has the carrying capacity of a 4 lane road” Nonsense. Even if true, where in New Zealand do you need that capacity over distances of over 150km? Nowhere!
    “A billion dollars will give us an excellent national network. Alternatively it will get you a few kilometres of new motorway” nonsense it will get you the Waikato expressway, which would remove traffic from townships, save lives, fuel and emissions. A billion on rail would just be enough for the track, but not rolling stock. Funny how the road freight sector CAN sustain itself financially.
    “NZ has a well-used rail network” nonsense, half of it spends hours every day without a single train on it, especially weekends. It wouldn’t be in crisis if it was “well used”.
    “I’m sure most of the users of the 980 weekly freight trains running up and down the country would disagree with you. They choose rail over road for good reasons.” Fine Geoff, let them pay for it, why should taxpayers subsidise Fonterra’s freight movements?
    And Obama’s “vision” for high speed rail suggests he has been smoking something. Beyond the North East Corridor, none of the US has densities or traffic to justify long distance passenger rail except as tourist trips.

    Gerrit: “Are we not currently subsidising the road transport industry by providing tarseal roading infastruture? The road tranport industry is further subsidised by the private motorist who pay for their share of the road that the road trucking industry so gladly uses.” No, RUC from heavy vehicles fully recovers the fixed and marginal costs of their road use for maintenance and their share of capital costs on the state highway network. The charges are set to do that.
    “in these reccesion/depression times, capital railway projects would soak up the uemployed”(sic) lots of railway engineers are they? So would road building, and telecoms infrastructure. Better something that generates net economic benefits, rail doesn’t.
    Sorry I DO approve of open access, apologies for the ambiguity.

    Trevor: Where is the electricity coming from for the trains? How do you expect freight to reach the trains? I can’t answer the question about fuel, but there is such demand for fuel for road transport there will be alternatives. Gas is the obvious one in far more abundance than oil, so are fossil fuels extracted from coal. The idea that questions of energy can be answered by an inflexible mode that has no fuel efficiency benefits except for long distance traffic of heavy volumes is absurd. Rail could never attract anything close to half of all freight movements, unless you wreck the economy and it is like North Korea – where it does!

    Mark: It never sold the network. Over 75% of the network runs on diesel. Get some more braincells. A report in the late 1980s stated that even if electricity was free, the Main Trunk electrification would be a net loss to the nation of NZ$80 million or so in 1988 values (significant more today).

    Mango: Um as someone who likes railways a lot I am unlikely to quote propaganda. According to STCC, Trucks only pay less than the full costs of infrastructure because local roads are half funded by rates – local roads don’t compete with rail. Anyway, a 25% hike in RUC (and fuel tax) to cover that will make sod all difference. You can selectively quote the parts of the STCC report as you wish, so don’t talk about propaganda when you didn’t do analysis yourself. You might also note that talk of a return on capital for the road network is hardly fair when the rail network isn’t expected to make a profit either.

    Rail cannot efficiently haul freight less than 150km except very large bulk commodities that need no double handling. It only really works over 250km, with long train loads. It can’t handle less than wagon load lots efficiently. Few freight railways in the world handle general goods at all or at a profit. Rail is only efficient with containers or low value bulk commodities (coal, logs, milk, ore). When you stop worshipping at the church of the railway and use something called analysis, you learn how little it can actually do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  29. “How come the rail goods expresses I see every day carry almost all carry containers. Where cant they go?”

    Northland and Wellington are two examples I can think of off the top of my head. There are undoubtedly others.

    “Loading gauge of 3′6″ was chosen because the hilly nature of the country side.”

    You are mixing up loading gauge with track gauge. Loading gauge is the size of the tunnels in the network, and we have the smallest loading gauge of any First World railway. You can’t fit containers in places due to our small loading gauge.

    “Just why Queensland has 3′6″ rail is beyond me though. Maybe it is a leftover of the sugar cane days”

    It was a budgetary issue back in the 1860s; they were the first major system to deploy the 3’6″ gauge (and there was also the issue of getting up to Toowoomba). Sugar cane systems often used 2′ gauges.

    “It is a chicken and egg situation. Dense urban development around mass-transit can’t happen without the mass-transit. The current laise-faire urban planning (sprawl) together with 100% private-car transport infrastructure is simply not working so what is the point in doing more of it when there are proven examples from other countries of mass-transit systems to copy?”

    How many times must I say – you don’t need frecking apartments to make rail work. Let us assume you utilise six car EMUs with 500 seats each with five minute headways. That is enough seats for 12,000 people in peak hour. Assuming that 20% of the commuters are going to the CBD, and that you have an average household size of four people, that makes 144,000 people that you need in a rail catchment. 20 stations, and each station only needs 7,200 people living in the area. You could comfortably fit 7,200 people (i.e. 1,800 households) on quarter acre sections around a railway station and still be within walking or at a squeeze, feeder bus distance.

    “Travelling from Paris to Bordeaux by TGV is nearly twice as fast as driving, less expensive or the same price, and far more comfortable (you can read, sleep, work, walk around).”

    What you also find is that the TGV has eliminated domestic air travel in France, and has drawn all that traffic. Of course, there are other factors to the success of the TGV as well, although I personally prefer the way the Germans have done things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  30. Hey libertyscott I agree totaly that road and rail should be judged by the same standards but rail has not been for the last 30 years (or even since the 1920’s).I don’t agree that the rates subsidy is the only one. there is a cross subsidy from private cars as well. It just annoys me that rail is expected to be totaly user pays when road is not ( and probably never has been). As for the 150 km distance that is when rail starts to save enregy over road and as I said is less if road is used only at one end. As for your 250 km distance that is also less relevent when when rail is used at one or both ends (Btw all the main centers are further apart than that and quite a lot of the traffic between provicial centers would be more than that also) and that figure would be based on the projected future fuel cost at the time of the study and it would reduce as fuel costs increased. As for a 25% hike in RUCs not making a diference I seriously doubt any trucking company could make a profit if that happened. All formes of transport have pretty thin profit margins, trucking included.
    I think that rail will be much more improtant in a future of restricted/expensive fuel and I think there is a lot of biased information out there. I think we can agree to disagree on on these points.
    Also sorry for infering that you were a propogandist, I was refering to the original report refered to above and some of the other comments. You can quote it if you want but I and others think it is innacurate.
    P.s. I would like to think I am quite hard headed and not a blind “worshiper” after all I’m not advocating a 1950″s style regulated market just a different modal share than present.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  31. I was not trying to compare California rail with NZ rail. (By the way California has invested billions in rail starting with BART).

    I was just suggesting that doing something because California is doing it is about as rational as investing in rail because trains are cool.

    Residential density is not the key factor in making public transport work in the new world cities. It all depends on job concentration. Jobs are becoming decentralised and dispersed as all modern cities become increasingly multi-nodal.
    New York metropolitan area is low density – lower than Los Angeles – but it rail and bus systems work because of the massive concentration of employment in Manhattan.

    Residential density is not relevant because most households have more than one person and those people have totally different travel demands. So if you move a household to a transport node to be closer to the CBD you may increase the travel of the student who wants to get to Massey University every day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  32. Some more points.the stcc summary concludes that truck users directly pay 56% of the total costs while rail users pay 85%(It’s on line so you can check for yourself). Studies in other countries come out with similar findings. My main point is that road and rail need to be compared fairly for economic judgements to be valid and I and many others (some much better qualified to comment than me admittidly) dont think they have been. If a government wants to subsidise road that’s ok if rail gets proportionatly the same amount but at present it dosen’t and auguably hasn’t since the establishment of the national roads board in the 1950’s or even earlier.
    I am sure that if the two are compared on a true level playing field then rail comes out ahead for long distance freight transport(200-250km and under some circumstances much less)
    At the moment prospects for rail are uncertain but not hopeless. after all rail survived threats of total closure in the early 1980’s the late 1980’s and the early 2000’s

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  33. Liberty said ‘”NZ has a well-used rail network” nonsense, half of it spends hours every day without a single train on it, especially weekends.’

    Do you not think the same applies to motorways, roads and parking spaces? Outside peak hour over 30% of the valuable land in town centres sits mostly empty. Especially weekend and night time.

    But I guess that it’s not in crisis because we don’t expect that infrastructure to make a profit…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  34. True julie. also roads are cross subsidised where rail lines are treated as seperate entitys and not a complete network.
    Huge chunks of the state highway network would be “uneconomic” if they were not funded from revenue earned on high traffic roads.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  35. Mango: There isn’t a subsidy from cars to trucks, the RUC Cost Allocation Model used to advise setting of RUC rates is designed to avoid that. The rates one is largely irrelevant because RUC over recovers the costs of maintaining state highways, so the only fair way to charge trucks on local roads is to have a location variable RUC system, like Germany has.

    Fair enough, I know the STCC report better than most, the LEK report gives another view on rail. I note ISCR has the presentation on its website now. Well worth a read, I agree 90% with what it says. Recent studies in Australia suggest rail is 2x more fuel efficient than road, but over very long distances.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  36. Mango: Strip out sunk costs of the network (unrecoverable cost of capital) and the difference between rail and road narrows considerably. Remove the rates funding of local roads (largely irrelevant), it narrows further. Take into account the significant RUC increase recently as well, and the subsidies for rail and the picture has changed considerably. When you read the marginal cost studies for freight, which is really what we are talking about – moving freight from one mode to another – the differences are tiny. Get into the detail of the tables.

    Julie: Indeed it does, yet motorways don’t need subsidies to get built or maintained. The right way to address that is to price demand on them off the peaks and into the off peak. Almost ALL networks have low demand in weekends and evenings. The difference is almost nowhere in NZ does rail freight face a capacity issue at ANY time. What state highways in New Zealand can you spend 8 hours sitting at and see NO traffic – I can name 8 rail lines today that this is a daily occurence.

    Work done by MOT in the late 90s suggested many rural roads do not generate enough revenue of themselves to pay for maintenance, but the issue was whether property owners are willing to pay for access – which is effectively what rates funding does in rural areas. It is a charge for property access. Rail on the other hand offers none of that. It is a duplicate network, so it better add value compared to a state highway or it’s redundant, which is why virtually all branch lines between Invercargill and Rolleston are closed. They added no net economic benefit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  37. Libertyscott. it’s clear that we are not going to agree on this. I stand by my distance figure of 150 km as the point where rail starts to save fuel in intermodal service. It dates back to the early 1980’s and I have seen the same figure quoted for some other countries. 150 km isn’t “long distances” by australian standards. Others have also pointed out that RUC’s under charge heavy vehicles although hard numbers for nz are unavailable there is some proof of this in other countries U.S U.K etc.The same for the car cross subsidy. As the original post says people who were at the iscr presentation started picking holes in it as soon as it was given so I think I’m justified in being sceptical.
    I know I won’t convice you but I don’t have to and hpefully
    I have put across to others that there is real reason to doubt the pronouncements of the ant-rail brigade.
    Can’t stay on line all day so this is it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  38. Chanelling Dad from bro’Town for a moment:

    Not my Overlander!

    Not my suburban commuter rail network, either…

    Does anyone remember what the semantic derivation of the phrase “Public Service” is? … a service to the public, acknowledging that some services are the duty of the State to provide, if one is to be part of a compassionate, dignified society which values the lives of all citizens, regardless of their social standing or wealth/poverty.

    Or else we fall back into the ‘short, nasty & brutish’ description of society, circa mid-19th century. Hmm, social progress?
    I think not!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  39. The End of KiwiRail?….Yes

    We simply cannot afford it, nor can we afford funding for “the arts” or “culture”, while I am at it we should also be pulling our funding for the rugby world cup, the America’s cup and all SPARC money until the economy comes right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  40. “Residential density is not the key factor in making public transport work in the new world cities. It all depends on job concentration. Jobs are becoming decentralised and dispersed as all modern cities become increasingly multi-nodal.”

    Owen, I wouldn’t be a 100% sure about that. Brisbane, for instance, had a massive influx of construction activity in its CBD in the 1980s and that occurred at about the same time as electrification. In Auckland, we have had a similar influx of construction activity in our CBD.

    I would suggest that job concentration and the provision of public transport networks may be related. You look at Sydney for instance, all their major employment hubs are near rail infrastructure (CBD, North Sydney, Parramatta, et cetera).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  41. I am not talking about the past.
    I am talking about now and the future.

    The past shows us the importance of job concentration for public transport systems.

    If the trend is now for dispersed multi nodal cities (London, LA) as opposed to monocentric cities (NY) then it will be very difficult to use increased residential densities to sustain increased public transport of the traditional radial variety.

    Brisbane as a whole is a highly dispersed city both back into the hinterland and along the coast. Auckland central metropolitan area is now losing population to the outer areas and beyond to the growing areas based on “tree-change, sea change and ski change.”
    Trying to turn cities which are already well down the multi nodal path back into monocentric cities (which are now quite rare) simply reduces economic efficiency, increases costs and drives people away even faster.
    As my colleague Phil McDermott says:
    “And then there is the internet. The old, city-living model was based on the
    need for a central hub of banks, libraries, offices, cinemas, meeting
    places. But with broadband, Skype, YouTube and MySpace, even socialising can
    be done from a pleasant spot in the countryside.”
    McDermott lives in Matakana, north of Warkworth. Much of his consultancy
    work is done from home, he says. He uses a car much less than might be
    expected and his research shows this is typical.
    “When you live in a city, you are more likely to jump in your car to get a
    coffee or pick up a video. When you live more remotely, you let the tasks
    pile up and perhaps head to the shops once a week.
    “If you’re talking about carbon footprints, small town living will probably
    reduce our car dependency,” he says.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  42. I used California as a rebuttal against the indea that “rail is a thing of the past”.

    I think a clear distinction should be made between urban rail and inter-city rail. Clearly, inter-city passenger rail is very marginally justifiable in New Zealand at this time. With significant upgrades it possibly could be, but I agree it’s not worth it at the moment. Once Peak Oil hits then that situation may well be very different.

    Inter-city freight does appear to be justifiable. Sure KiwiRail have made a small loss in the past 6 months, but they’ve only just taken over the network so that’s not surprising. A profit is not too unreasonable to expect in the near future. For some types of haulage rail is clearly shown to be the most efficient means of transportation. Imagine 200 coal trucks a day on the Arthurs Pass road and the havoc that would create? Many other examples could be made.

    Regarding urban rail, clearly it has a future in Auckland. Patronage has increase 3-4 times over since Britomart opened. Wellington’s commuter rail network has operated successfully for a long period of time, and is probably one of the better used heavy rail networks for a city of its size in the world. Electrification of Auckland’s network is going to lead to further increases in the number of people using rail – as will future projects like the CBD rail loop, rail to the airport, a North Shore Line and potentially an East Tamaki/Howick Line. Tell me how a road is ever going to get you from Botany to Britomart in approximately 30 minutes in peak hour.

    The future for rail is bright internationally. For New Zealand there is a clear future for urban rail and inter-city freight. There may also be a future for inter-city passenger trains once peak oil kicks in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  43. “If the trend is now for dispersed multi nodal cities (London, LA) as opposed to monocentric cities (NY) then it will be very difficult to use increased residential densities to sustain increased public transport of the traditional radial variety.

    Brisbane as a whole is a highly dispersed city both back into the hinterland and along the coast. Auckland central metropolitan area is now losing population to the outer areas and beyond to the growing areas based on “tree-change, sea change and ski change.””

    It isn’t population that matters of those central city areas, it is the number of jobs in those areas that matters. The first thing is that London and Los Angeles are simply too big to have a single central CBD; heck, even Sydney struggles and it has a population of a mere four million with a reasonable public transport system.

    Yes, Brisbane is a dispersed city, but that is only residentially; you still have a large number of jobs based in Brisbane’s CBD and that helps ensure that QR gets 200,000 passengers daily.

    “And then there is the internet. The old, city-living model was based on the
    need for a central hub of banks, libraries, offices, cinemas, meeting
    places. But with broadband, Skype, YouTube and MySpace, even socialising can be done from a pleasant spot in the countryside.”

    While the internet has changed things, it hasn’t changed other things and I suspect that your colleague has put too much on it. People still use libraries because that is the only way they can access a lot of material; but they also might use Wikipedia. People still go to traditional bank branches because it is far less risky than utilising internet banking where a hacker might grab your details. People still socialise in a physical context because not even Skype can take away the fact that people need flesh and bone contact with people.

    Also, we must remember that we are going to run out of IP address in the next few years.

    “Much of his consultancy work is done from home, he says. He uses a car much less than might be expected and his research shows this is typical. “When you live in a city, you are more likely to jump in your car to get a coffee or pick up a video. When you live more remotely, you let the tasks pile up and perhaps head to the shops once a week.””

    I have a friend that lives on a lifestyle block a few kilometres from Samford, a village to Brisbane’s Northwest, and I’ll have to agree with that. His folks have cupboards stocked with food, and they only go to the supermarket once a week; for more urgent tasks, they have a scooter which they use.

    I personally agree with the idea of small town living, and I do believe it should be looked at far more. Small town living is, in my view, ideal when you still maintain a public transport link with the larger centre. In the case of New Zealand, I am thinking of places like Carterton, Featherston and Masterton. In the case of Australia, I am thinking of places like Lithgow, Katoomba, Picton, Moss Vale, Nambour, Landsborough, Rosewood, Bunbury and so on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  44. libertyscott asked “Where is the electricity coming from for the trains? How do you expect freight to reach the trains?”

    I could answer “what electricity? Electric trains use practically none anyway” but if we invest sensibly, New Zealand will be one of the few countries where electricity won’t be a major problem. Oil, gas, bitumen, vehicle tyres etc will become scarce, but we will have enough sources of renewable electricity. In case you hadn’t noticed, we have geothermal, hydro, wind, wave, tidal and solar resources which we can harness. The first 3-4 can use existing technology, and we can also use existing solar water heating technology to supplement other heating sources. No problem.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  45. Gerrit wrote:

    [Loading gauge of 3′6″ was chosen because the hilly nature of the country side]

    3’6″ is the track gauge, which is different to the loading gauge. NZ’s loading gauge is narrow and low compared to overseas, although it’s about the same as most of the UK network.

    Owen McShane wrote:

    [The fact that a train may be more energy efficient than a truck as a vehicle has little bearing on the efficiency of the transport mode]

    There are many variables, in which door-to-door rail would clearly be the most efficient use of rail, just as door-to-door is for trucks. In that instance the train would use roughly five times less fuel than trucks doing the same job. This is why anti-rail people often point to peak oil not being real, as they know that by promoting increased fuel use through pushing “trucks for everything” they must take the stance that fuel wastage is nothing to be concerned about.

    [And by the way passenger rail is not safer than vehicle on motorway when you compare fatalities per passenger mile.]

    I’ll bet in true anti-rail brigade style, you will be counting people who drive their cars into the paths of trains, illegal tresspassers and suicides, as rail fatalities. You are lumping in all these non-rail people to say that rail travel is unsafe. If you put forward a responsible argument and exclude such external deaths and injuries, you’ll be left with passenger rail being considerably safer for its occupants than for the occupants of cars.

    [I did not say all rail beds should be converted but a useful guideline if the tracks are rusty we should have a cold hard look at it.]

    Very few are rusty, and none are suitable for any other purpose. The railway to Taneatua is disused, but as SH2 already goes through Taneatua, what good would the single track railway land be for any other purpose? MOst railways around the country are well used. Almost 1,000 long distance freight trains ply the rails every week. You may not see them much, but they are there and keeping hundreds of thousands of trucks off the roads. NZ’s biggest businesses support rail (CHH, Fonterra, Solid Energy, POA etc but to name just a few). Do you not support NZ business?

    libertyscott wrote:

    [Yes that train run in 1981 by the Railways Department]

    That train came out at 4 times more fuel efficient. But there have been many more detailed and more accurate tests done around the world over the years, and most have come out at around 5 times more fuel efficient.

    Interestingly, that locomotive type they used in the 1981 NZ test is still in use with KiwiRail. Back then it produced 2,750hp. Today, following modifications with modern technology, they produce 3,300hp while using less fuel than they did when they produced 2,750hp.

    [Meanwhile painting the trucking sector as illegal operating cowboys shows a rather nasty bias - such operators exist, but who endorses them? Not the RTF]

    Have you been on the desert road at midnight during the week? You’ll find plenty of trucks, but I would challenge you to find a single one driven at or below 90km/h. They mostly sit on 100, and a number up to 120. Of course RTF will not endorse that publicly. But they do know about it, and keep silent. In my books that is an indirect endorsement. Just like they keep silent about truck drivers running well over hours. Look at Countdown Napier, which receives grocery loads from Auckland by Linfox three days a week. One driver, Auckland to Napier and back in one go, including loading time at Auckland. You think they don’t speed because of the vast distance they have to cover?

    [Funny how the road freight sector CAN sustain itself financially.]

    No it can’t. Tell the truckies that they have to provide their own roads, and you’ll see a 100% shutdown of all trucking companies in the country.

    Road transport in NZ pays 56% of the costs it imposes on the taxpayer. Rail pays for 82% of its costs. Put another way, the truckies receive a 44% public subsidy.

    [“NZ has a well-used rail network” nonsense, half of it spends hours every day without a single train on it, especially weekends.]

    Do you even understand the nature of rail? It isn’t like a road, with vehicle after vehicle after vehicle. Almost 1,000 long distance freight trains operate in NZ every week. Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they are not there, although it does demonstrate nicely how less intrusive trains are to NZ society, when people say they don’t even notice them. As I type this, there are 32 freight trains currently on the move, probably doing the work of over 1,000 linehaul trucks. Over the next 24 hours another 120 odd freight trains will get underway, carrying massive amounts of tonnage off-road, lowering road maintenance, burning less fuel and keeping the road toll lower than it otherwise would be. And, almost nobody will even notice them…

    [Fine Geoff, let them pay for it, why should taxpayers subsidise Fonterra’s freight movements?]

    Rail pays 82% of its costs, so the public subsidy is considerably less than it would be if Fonterra moved the same tonnage by roads. Roads are paid for by taxpayers and ratepayers, much to the benefit of the private trucking companies who pay road user charges that do not cover all the costs they impose. In some areas 60-70% of rates are going into roads, as if there is nothing else for the community to be concerned with. In all fairness, roads should be far more user pays than they currently are. Bring rates down, and put road user charges and petrol excise tax up.

    [It can’t handle less than wagon load lots efficiently.]

    Tell that to Mainfreight, Owens and Toll, who every day in Southdown and Otahuhu, load individual pallets into railway wagons for delivery to Palmerston North, Wellington and the South Island. They do it, because it works out cheaper than providing a fleet of trucks. Mainfreight want more wagons to expand on that operation, but KiwiRail don’t have any more, supposedly (I’m not convinced, as there are plenty of laid up wagons at Westfield and elsewhere that are suitable).

    [how do you expect freight to reach the trains?]

    How do you get freight from local businesses to the truck depots, for transhipping to the linehaul trucks? You don’t see B-trains and semi’s outside shops in Queen St do you? That’s because the linehaul trucks end their run at the depot, where the load is broken down onto smaller trucks and vans for delivery to final destination. Same concept for rail. Trucks smaller than the trains deliver to the depot, where it put on rail to move it all in one efficient move. Of course there are plenty of examples where big trucks go door-to-door, just as I can give you many examples of where rail wagons also go door-to-door.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  46. Geoff,

    You are right I should have said track gauge. And yes I have driven from Wellington to Auckland at night and was astounded at having to dip lights every minute or so for oncoming “B” trains. Huge numbers.

    Loading guage is restricted on soem lines but the wagons currently available at KiwiRail are so old in design tha thy sould be scrapped. Currently containers can only be carried on flat deck wagons. What are required are wellsiders where the bottom of the container is dropped down by at least 800mm. That will give loading gauge clearance.

    Now the tax payer cant afford to purchase all these new wagons (nor the locomotives to pull them) so let private enterprise own the rolling stock.

    Plus they can be built in New Zealand. Cable Price in Thames already cast and make railway wagon bogies for the Australian rail networks. I’m sure that they could for New Zealnd private investors who wanted to run a trainset.

    Another aspect overlooked by libertyscott and others in regards the road freight contribution to roading infastructure cost is the fact that their contribution only goes to state highways. We the rate payers have to stump up all the money for local roads damaged by trucks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  47. Kahikatea wrote:

    [> It would not be to hard to imagine Mainfreight, Fonterra, NZ Couriers, NZPost, etc. who move massive cargos up and down the country buying or leasing trainsets.

    Maybe that would be true if the railways were mostly double-tracked. But actrually they’re mostly single-tracked. I actually find it quite hard to imagine, because you would have to have quite a sophisticated centralised scheduling system to make sure the trains going opposite directions weren’t going to meet where there is no siding to pass one another. I suspect it would end up more expensive and cumbersome than having one operator as we currently do.]

    You do not need two tracks to have more than one operator. The network is controlled by an operator-neutral Network Control Centre (aka Train Control, in Wellington). They don’t care who the operator is, they just keep the network flowing regardless of the train operator. NZ has a number of independant operators in addition to KiwiRail.

    Single track has nothing to do with it. Take the Hamilton-Tauranga route, which with 40+ freights a day, is NZ’s 2nd busiest freight railway. It’s single track, with crossing loops at regular intervals. It would make no difference whether it was 40 KiwiRail freights, or if it was 10 KiwiRail freights, 10 CHH freights, 10 Port of Tauranga freights, 5 Genesis Energy freights and 5 Fonterra freights. The line would still handle the same 40 trains.

    One of the smaller operators ran a train from Wellington to Napier a few days ago. They crossed some KiwiRail trains on the way. Where’s the issue?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  48. Gerrit, KiwiRail’s own workshops in Dunedin are our main wagon builder. We still build railway wagons, and we do it in big numbers. In recent years they have built over 60 new high-capacity coal wagons for Solid Energy and Genesis Energy, the latter who started railing imported coal from Tauranga to Huntly in 2006. It went by road briefly, but there was a big public uproar, and the roads started to get quite damaged as the 24/7 truck movements pounded the pavements through various Waikato towns. Now it all goes in two moves a day unnoticed by the public.

    In 2008, Port of Tauranga purchased 100 brand new wagons from China, for moving imports and exports between Tauranga and Auckland. It was an enormous investment for the port company, and they basically just contract KiwiRail to provide locomotives and crews to pull their trains for them.

    During the 1990’s hundreds of new wagons of various types were constructed, so a lot of today’s wagon fleet is actually quite modern.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  49. Take your point on freight wagons Geoff,

    There is a point to be made for triple lines in the Auckland and Wellington regions where paasenger traffic could be dense enough to revent effective freight movement or restricting that movement to night only.

    If the passenger network was to get to say a train every ten minutes, freight would not be able to occupy the same tracks on a efficiency bases. To much stop starting. Hence the need for a dedicated freight track in those areas. Possibly only from the Wiri on south to Papakura in Auckland. Dont know where you would need to get triple lines from in the Wellington region to get to the inter island ferries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  50. Yes indeed, rail congestion is a growing issue in Auckland. Particularly with passenger trains getting into and out of Britomart, and getting freight trains south out of Otahuhu. Weekday evenings already sees passenger trains running every 10 minutes on each of the two lines between Westfield Junction and Papakura. Getting freights out of Otahuhu onto the mainline to run between those passenger trains is a tight squeeze already, and it’s not uncommon to have freights waiting at both ends (Otahuhu and Papakura) to get through. A third track is definately going to be needed sooner rather than later. A partial third track will be laid next year as part of the new Manukau Branch construction, where there will be three mainlines provided between Puhinui and Wiri.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  51. “There is a point to be made for triple lines in the Auckland and Wellington regions where paasenger traffic could be dense enough to revent effective freight movement or restricting that movement to night only.”

    I have to agree with you there Gerrit, and we better get onto it sooner rather than later; Sydney, for instance, delayed track amplification for far too long, now it is far too expensive to do it and they have a freight train curfew that lasts for seven hours each day which inconveniences customers as they cannot get their freight when they want it. The further advantage of amplification of course is that you can run Express services, although in that instance, I would be more in favour of quadruplication instead of triplication.

    “Weekday evenings already sees passenger trains running every 10 minutes on each of the two lines between Westfield Junction and Papakura. Getting freights out of Otahuhu onto the mainline to run between those passenger trains is a tight squeeze already, and it’s not uncommon to have freights waiting at both ends (Otahuhu and Papakura) to get through.”

    That isn’t the bit that concerns me, the bit that concerns me is the post electrification proposal of running 4tph off-peak from Papakura, and another 4tph off-peak from Manukau – that would mean that Puhinui to Westfield would have a train every seven and a half minutes, and you couldn’t run freights – even running freights on an electrified system with fifteen minute frequencies is difficult (part of the reason why Brisbane still runs half hourly off-peak, except for Corinda to Northgate, which is quad track).

    “Road transport in NZ pays 56% of the costs it imposes on the taxpayer. Rail pays for 82% of its costs. Put another way, the truckies receive a 44% public subsidy.”

    Geoff, how much of that 44% subsidy is merely cross-subsidisation from private motorists?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  52. In the introduction to the meeting, mention was made of rail being squeezed by “environmentally-friendly sea transport” for long-haul traffic. This assumes of course that sea freight can get the oil that it needs, although we might see a return to coal-fired ships.

    Sea freight can take advantage of the winds, but this is only likely to supplement their main engines, not replace them, particularly if they expect to keep to schedule.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  53. But we already have privatised KiwiRail.
    Anyone in doubt should take an hour out – go down to court, speak to the accused (surprisingly difficult) then listen to the result.
    It has far more customers and PAYS so much better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  54. The local week-end rag has an article about heavy trucks using a minor arterial road shaking the houses and cracking the plaster on walls and ceilings on their way to a major arterial road. Just another expense that the trucking companies don’t pay.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  55. Yup Trev: and put my place on that that list
    Unfortunately (for me) I have already lived in a community which has switched to rail – that’s why I wake at all hours to rumblimg trucks, asking myself “where are these bozo’s at?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  56. If you remove heavy vehicles from the roads then the carriageways will cease to contribute positively to the economy and will therefore no longer be a public benefit and will only be of private benefit to the owners of cars. Thus the government will have a moral obligation to convert those carriageways to tramways or cycleways or pedestrians malls to ensure that this public land is used for public benefit instead of the private benefit of the few who can still afford to use cars once the economy has been stripped of affordable transport for food.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  57. Liberty said ‘”NZ has a well-used rail network” nonsense, half of it spends hours every day without a single train on it, especially weekends.’

    Julie responded “Do you not think the same applies to motorways, roads and parking spaces? Outside peak hour over 30% of the valuable land in town centres sits mostly empty. Especially weekend and night time.”

    I haven’t been able to find any town or city where 30% of the land is occupied by roads and carparks. London and Manhattan are the only places that even come close to 30%.

    But more importantly, isn’t the reason the 30% of valuable land sits mostly empty simply a consequence of the other 70% of the valuable land sitting empty most of the time?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  58. Julie said “I can’t comment on rail for freight, but in France passenger rail (high speed and other) makes a profit despite heavily unionised labour.”

    SNCF’s financial statements are available on-line in English. Regional passenger transport made a profit, metro and freight services made losses. Without state subsidies for its pension costs SNCF would have made a three billion euro loss instead of a 1 billion profit.

    SNCF only pays RFF for operational costs of the track network. RFF gets most of it’s funding for improvemnets and renewals of the track network from government and EU subsidies. With fuel taxes of more than $NZ1 per litre European governments can probably avoid having to pay rail subsidies from income taxes or sales taxes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  59. That the rail network is in disrepair is not contested; that it should be left so is economically indefensible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  60. No Mark, that it should be left so is economically defensible.

    Whether that defense is based on more valid assumptions than is the case for the defense of the argument that ‘it should not be left so’ is what this thread has been discussing.

    Note that Frog’s post concluded by stating that Heatley’s arguments may be correct and therefore rail’s sole justification is energy security. Or climate change. It’s a bit difficult to debate Heatley’s points when the report still has not been posted, only the powerpoint presentation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  61. I heard on the radio today of another car versus truck fatality in Southland. Whether the truck driver was at fault or not, having more trucks on the roads leads to more accidents, more injuries and more fatalities. Car versus rail accidents also happen but are less frequent for the tonnage moved.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  62. Kevyn: even if you could remove all the heavy trucks from our roads, they would still be contributing to the economy, being used to move light freight, taxis, buses, fire engines, etc. Workers still need roads to get to work even if they can travel by train most of the way which isn’t usually the case. Most businesses aren’t located with rail terminals so roads are required to close the gap of the last few miles.

    In reality, we will still need heavy trucks – just not as many of them – if we reinforce rail transport.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  63. Thanx Trev; for me it’s more about where we could be, than where we are.
    As a Market Distributor in Australia – i found rail transport beat other costs by about 5/1.
    If that equation lies not in the running costs – then i proclaim you a victim of FUBAR

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  64. McDermott noted “When you live in a city, you are more likely to jump in your car to get a
    coffee or pick up a video. When you live more remotely, you let the tasks
    pile up and perhaps head to the shops once a week.
    “If you’re talking about carbon footprints, small town living will probably
    reduce our car dependency,”

    The inititial observation is supported by a 1979 Minsistry of Energy study of petrol consumption per capita. Of the four urban areas in the study Hamilton car trips average 3km, Christchurch 5km, Auckland and Wellington 9km. However Hamiltonians made the most trips and Wellingtonians the least. The result was that litres per person were the same for Auckland and Hamilton and the same for Christchurch and Wellington. Aucklanders and Hamiltonians used 20% more fuel than residents of Wellington and Christurch. Essentially, using motorways to encourage ribbon sprawl instead of using railways has a 20% fuel penalty but avoiding ribbon sprawl altogether is an altogether cheaper way of avoiding that fuel penalty.

    Although that study didn’t seperate small towns from other rural residents the MoTs Transport Monitoring Indicator Framework does, and that study shows that McDermot’s conclusion needs to replace probably with possibly:
    km per capita travelled in single occupancy cars, vans, utes and SUVs by residents of main urban areas on weekdays.
    Auckland 3,310
    Christchurch 2,390
    Dunedin 2,760
    Hamilton 3,630
    Wellington/Kapiti 3,510
    Other main urban 2,550
    Other SI 2,780
    Other NI 2,510

    Travel per person by city/ town and rural dwellers: trips – tripkm
    Main/secondary urban (population centres of 10,000 or more) 879 – 8.2
    Minor urban/ rural (population less than 10,000) 813 – 12.4

    That multiplies to 12,000 km/person in larger urban areas and 16,000 km/person in smaller urban/rural areas.

    These figures are for residents only so it’s not influenced by tourism but it will take into account the zero km commutes enjoyed by most farmers. What’s not really being captured is how much of the travel in rural areas is created by weekend/hobby farmers or city workers living in dormitory towns where houses are still afforcable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  65. All that bugs – is our unrelenting potential for for tourism . Will someone please explain the fiscal reasons for goin backward (already quoted) as against our potential for improvement.
    It seems that we had it figured much better 50 years ago, than we do today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  66. libertyscott said: “The peak oil argument doesn’t hold water. I assume the Greens think rail works because it can be electrified, which just adds yet another cost to a grossly underutilised network.”

    Rail works because it needs less energy to move a given load a given distance. It can also use a wider variety of energy sources – electrification being one of them and permitting wave, solar, tidal, hydro and geothermal power to be used to power the train. However trains are less restricted by size or weight considerations than road transport and also have economies of scale. It doesn’t matter much if a train engine needs to pull a tender to carry enough fuel (or water), but it makes a big difference to a truck. Thus we can consider trains that run on coal, wood, gas or possibly even hydrogen. We can also consider adding batteries to electric trains to cover short areas which aren’t electrified. These are not options for road freight transport.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  67. Owen McShane Says:

    “And trains are less energy efficient that road transport except under very specific circumstances as prevail in the US which is way US rails carries a higher percentage of freight than in Europe for example.”

    May I suggest that Mr McShane cites a reference or two for this claim. In return I will provide cites to the contrary:

    http://www.voxeu.eu/index.php?q=node/658
    http://strickland.ca/efficiency.html
    http://www.dft.gov.uk/foi/responses/2006/jul/aandrenergyreview/rmationregardinganalyses2733.pdf
    http://climate.dot.gov/ghg-reduction-strategies/other-modes/rail.html
    http://www.ccdott.org/transfer/projresults/2005/task%201.26.1/task%201.26.1_11.pdf
    http://cta.ornl.gov/data/tedb27/Edition27_Full_Doc.pdf

    Mr McShane goes on to say:

    “The best thing to do with most of our intercity rail is turn the bed into truck/bus lanes and use the rapidly developing technology to “train” the trucks to reduce the number of drivers needed and deliver the energy efficiency of near flat truck beds into the new generation of hugely efficient truck systems.”

    What is his definition of “hugely efficient”? Aproaching the energy efficiency of rail perhaps?

    “Rail vehicles have to be heavy and speeds are limited on our tracks.”

    Similarly trucks have to be heavy and speeds are limited on our roads (by legislation if not in fact).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  68. “Similarly trucks have to be heavy and speeds are limited on our roads (by legislation if not in fact).”

    Where can I buy one these trucks that can exceed 90km/h on the Kilmog, the Hundalees, the Kaimai’s or the thousands of other ranges, passes and saddles where only the railways could afford the luxury of building hundreds of tunnels and viaducts?

    That is why rail is only four times more fuel efficient between Christchurch and Timaru but is ten times more fuel efficient between Christchurch and Greymouth. It is also the reason why the Midland railway cost ten times more than the Arthur’s Pass highway (excluding the cost of the Otira Viaduct).

    The other main consideration is the small proportion of freight tonne/kms
    carried on routes substitutable by rail and that these non-substitutable routes and trucks are the least energy efficient per tonne/km. Basicly rail could potentially remove one-third of freight tonne/km from our road but this would only reduce truck kms by one-quarter and truck fuel use by one-fifth. Owen’s solution won’t be any more effective for exactly the same reasons.

    The Strickland site erroneously compares the fuel efficiency of modes of passenger transport using passenger miles per gallon instead of gallons per hundred passenger miles. Using mpg it appears that there are only small benefits from getting people to shift from SUV’s (21 pmpg) to hybrids or deisel buses/hatchbacks (70 pmpg) and huge benefits switching from hybrids to trains (600 pmpg). Using gallons per 100 passenger miles reveals exactly how much fuel will be saved by someone ciommuting 100 miles per week. Switching from an SUV to a commuter train saves 4.6 gallons. Switching from an SUV to a hybrid or deisel bus/hatchback saves 3.4 gallons. That’s 75% of the saving for, probably, 25% of the cost in both time and money. We’ve delayed adressing peak oil and GHGs too long to have the luxury of embarking on the slowest and most expensive options. Especially on options that only adress a minority of our transport needs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  69. Most analyses of rail’s CO2 emmissions assume that rail either uses fossil-fueled engines or electric trains powered from electricity generated from fossil-fuel sources (marginal generation). New Zealand is heading towards an electricity generation system where the marginal generation is not powered by fossil fuels, so there will not be CO2 emitted as the result of running electric trains. That makes a significant difference to our CO2 emissions – and our balance of payments.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  70. The other advantage that rail has is that we can electrify it now, with existing technology and reasonable expense. The technology to electrify big rigs just isn’t available yet, and if it does become available, it won’t be cheap until a lot of them have been made. It also won’t be readily available for a while, and the first rigs will go to whoever can pay the most.

    Other technology may come on stream, such as the H2CAR process (fuel from biomass using hydrogen to increase the yield), but again it won’t be cheap and the first beneficaries will be those who want to pay or who need it the most.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  71. Right on Trev: Add in the savings in fuel costs, which are a tax deduction and paid for by (oh my gawd) – then we take all that accident inducing polution off our roads – as well as removing the main reason for near constant road repair – I don’t dare call it a no-brainer again (it attract exactly those) – but it’s a very attractive notion hey?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  72. Mark, Three false statements in one paragraph, pretty good going.

    Are you seriously suggesting businesses should be taxed on their revenues instead of their profits?

    I assume you also want all those accident inducing trees removed from our roads too.

    “as well as removing the main reason for near constant road repair” That’s definite proof that you’re not a home owner, home owners know what the main reason for near constant property repair really is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  73. “Are you seriously suggesting businesses should be taxed on their revenues instead of their profits?”

    Why not? Individuals are taxed on their revenues.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  74. Ah yes but that system was only supposed to apply to rich people. The working man and businesses were supposed to just keep paying their sales taxes, ie only being taxed when they spent their earnings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  75. Kev: 1st Q = No.
    2nd: If I see a tree in middle of road – I’ll post it – fair enough?
    3rd: Read Road repair – if you must say things that aren’t there (3 out of 3) I won’t bother with a reply. best hopes etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  76. geoff_184 Says “Now let’s see, would business rather pay the wages of 2 people on the train, or 306 truck drivers????”

    When we look we see that trucks account for 67% of freight tonne kilometres and trains account for 15%. But if only half those tonne/km are on routes served by rail then it’s clear that roughly equal numbers of businesses choose trucks, trains and ships. Coastal shipping is dominated by the oil industry, rail is dominated by bulk cargo. Perhaps trucks get all the fragile or time-sensitive freight. LInehaul trucking will continue as long as there are businesses prepared to pay a premium for the service that those trucks provide. If/when peak oil prices those services off the roads expect to see most of those businesses either disappear or relocate rather than switching to alternative modes. That’s not necesarily a bad thing as most of those businesses are import distribution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  77. Worked for Years in Melbourne’s Head Office for Public Transport – and spent 20 years using transport for my companies – know the subject all too well Kev; – what is your vested interest in holding our country back?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  78. Mark, I look forward to reading your contributions the next time urban PT is discussed.

    However not one of your comments on freight transport has been factually correct.

    What point were you trying to make about tourism? If you mean it’s a poor choice of industry to be dependent on with peak oil looming then I definitely agree with you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  79. Kevyn said:”I assume you also want all those accident inducing trees removed from our roads too.”

    Removing some of the dead trees that have been planted beside our roads wouldn’t be a bad idea. They are ugly and get in the way of foot traffic, as well as the odd errant motorist.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  80. Potentially fatal Trev.
    The Ministry sent me on a US wide tour to study all Major rail/commute systems there also – however, that info is free only to the GP – not free to all, feckless like.
    In some cases a little knowledge would be a dangerous thing. Why do you not loan us your wisdom Kev? I would enjoy reading that.
    Looks very like a conversation you have all alone wid yourself. Long as you are happy…

    Frog: My research says that a Troll remains stationary;ie: under a bridge – but one that floats through like a chimera must really be termed a Trollop – you don’t mind if I make this distinction then?

    Is National’s Women’s page still empty then? Perhaps I should hop over and encourage them to go on strike!?!??? Might sharpen up some of their blokes….

    Can I also term overseas oil lovers; Right Against Transposrt Sense (RATS)? Just to keep the thread clean and decent.
    regards Mark

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  81. Mark, I wasn’t being sarcastic when I said I look forward to reading your contributions the next time urban PT is discussed.

    Although you are obviously being sarcastic I will never the less lend you my most important wisdom: Visit the library of your nearest university school of engineering and study the transport research journals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  82. Not quite Kev: You just hopped in and said I wis ingorant without asking – when I assured you I’ve done considerable planning for urban and trans urban rail – as well as other transport forms, instead of a slight apology you leap straight to the conclusion that I will be setting out theses for your benefit, whilst you characterize yourself as the inquisition….wholly inappropriate to my mind – no offence meant – but have a look at what you are trying not to say…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  83. Verdict….anti train wins by volume of pieces of evidence whislst pro losses due to fasle claims and nasty digs in place of facts…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  84. Mark, I didn’t need to ask if you were ignorant about freight cost structures. That was obvious from your comments.

    Australia has one of the least transparent land transport funding systems in the OECD. New Zealand has one of the most transparent. Consequently experience with Australian freight services reveals absolutely nothing about the actual cost structures. By contrast the annual reports to Parliament of the railway and highway administrations have always contained sufficiently detailed information to allow acurate comparisons of the cost structures of road and rail freight.

    There is nothing for me to apologise for. You prove by your statements that you are not cognizant of any data for freight modes and, from the tone of your comments, willfully so.

    The opposite is likely to be true regarding passenger transport. I did assume that part of your reason for joining this forum is to fight ignorance with facts in which case your investigations of PT systems should have provided you with greater knowledge of PT systems than most members of this forum have.

    Whatever you think I am trying not to say is entirely in your head. Spell it out, whether you are right or wrong it will be helpful to know what you see and I don’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  85. Right on Kev – am familiar with Australian and US systems. Can only offer ideas on NZ’s potential.
    Sorry – I’m used to people being more forthcoming – it’s an Ozzie thing. But some of the protestations against Rail read like ads from the Oil Biz to me

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  86. Im sick of people bagging Rail in New Zealand when they dont know the potential benefits.

    Rail has the potential to reduce New Zealands dependance upon foreign oil

    It has the potential to save on highway maintenance

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  87. “Im sick of people bagging Rail in New Zealand when they dont know the potential benefits.

    Rail has the potential to reduce New Zealands dependance upon foreign oil

    It has the potential to save on highway maintenance”

    Sigh….someones in lala land….

    As Liberty Scott has pointed out rails a pig…its a vast toilet that billions of taxpayers dollars have been poured into…and there is more to come it seems.

    Only a few lines are viable…..the reat is scrap waiting to happen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  88. James wrote: “As Liberty Scott has pointed out rails a pig…its a vast toilet that billions of taxpayers dollars have been poured into…and there is more to come it seems. Only a few lines are viable…..the reat is scrap waiting to happen.”

    The rail network is a network, not a collection of separate railways. The branches feed the trunk routes. Cut the branches, and you cut the viability of the trunk routes.

    Of course your description is perfect for the roading network. It’s a pig that is a vast toilet that flushes even larger amounts of public money. If you take the same approach people such as yourself say needs to be applied to rail, you would be left with almost no financially viable roads. They would all be closed, and we would be riding horses.

    It’s funny how the pro-roaders contradict themselves by insisting each railway needs to earn its upkeep individually, but not the roads.

    I’d love to see user pays introduced for roads. GPS units in every vehicle charging the total cost of the road upkeep, according to the specific road being driven on. Make every road pay for itself on a purely commercial basis. Just as is expected of rail.

    James, you can deny it until you are blue in the face. That won’t change the fact that diesel trains use five times less diesel than trucks.

    Put the linehaul on rail. Keep the local on trucks. Simple.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  89. The people in lala land are those who expect the prices of petrol and diesel to stay under $2/litre. When oil shortages hit and we watch helplessly as the prices of tyres and bitumen climb along with the petrol, oil and LPG prices (and CNG if we are stupid enough to plan on importing CNG) then we will appreciate having a good rail network that is at least partially electrified.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  90. Trevor,

    If you are so certain of this, then surely there is a good opportunity for you to invest your own money in an NZ rail enterprise and make a killing?

    Or is it only other people’s money you are so gung-ho about?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  91. Wat:

    Before I retire, I expect that I will have paid over $1,000,000 in taxes. Shouldn’t I get some say in how this money is going to be spent?

    How much are you waging that petrol, oil, gas and aviation fuel prices won’t rise much above present levels? …apart from the future of New Zealand that is.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  92. Trevor,

    – “Before I retire, I expect that I will have paid over $1,000,000 in taxes. Shouldn’t I get some say in how this money is going to be spent?”

    You only have one vote. You can never influence how that money is spent once it has been taken out of your pocket.

    Only special-interest groups wield any real influence. From teachers’ unions to business sectors, they spend big bucks (as is their right) to buy hand-outs and concessions (or simply to avoid being screwed over by the politicians.) And have you seen the pork attached to the recent US mega spending bill? It is obscene.

    – “How much are you waging that petrol, oil, gas and aviation fuel prices won’t rise much above present levels? …apart from the future of New Zealand that is.”

    The point is, how much are you planning to make me wager on this, by taxing me to fund your monorail?

    Nobody knows where petrol prices will go. The US is (yet again) talking about energy independence and is throwing huge money at it. What effect would it have on oil prices if they are largely succcessful (though at huge cost) and US demand were to drop significantly? Why not let the US proceed with its costly folly, and allow Kiwis to enjoy (probably) far cheaper petrol for decades? Or who’s to say it won’t be a cheap hydrogen economy in a couple of decades’ time? Or electric?

    Almost every week it seems there is a new breakthrough in energy technology, and I’m probably missing most of it. It seems that, through a failure of imagination, you want to forcibly tax me to make a wager against all of that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  93. “Almost every week it seems there is a new breakthrough in energy technology,…”

    I must have missed some of those break throughs. Could you give me links to some of the more recent break throughs? Or are you just hoping that your lifestyle can continue against all the real evidence and logic.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  94. Trevor,

    Well, for one there’s:

    http://www.physorg.com/technology-news/energy/

    Page after page after page of news about developments in energy.

    But you’ll also see such stories crop up regularly everwhere from digg.com and slashdot.org, through to theinquirer.net and theregister.co.uk

    The issue is not that there are no new ideas or technologies, but that there are so many of them; everything from groundbreaking new techniques for generating and storing energy, through to bacteria that clean up formerly unacceptably dirty processes.

    Nobody can hope to be aware of or understand all these technologies, nor accurately predict their economic impact and potential, but a free market can synthesise the information and, through the prices that emerge, sort the sheep from the goats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  95. Thanks for the link. Some interesting stuff there – not all of it optimistic. Various mentions of batteries, solar technology, fuel cells, etc which could be applicable to powering electric trains. Not so much progress on ways of powering a diesel truck fleet or coastal shipping or aircraft. Building up our diesel truck fleet as you appear to be suggesting (implicitly) could be likened to collecting dinosaurs.

    Trevor.

    PS I suspect some of the articles lack technical accuracy, based on a quick look at the all-liquid battery article which appears to claim that antimony loses electrons in going from an ion to a metal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  96. Geoff, Your latest comment makes a great deal of sense. It’s precisely why rates ceased to be the main source of money for roads when horsepower replaced horse power, roads ceased to be solely of local benefit.

    The only thing you have to be careful of with branch lines is that locomotives are only five times more fuel efficient than trucks when the freight trains are the right size. The sort of small mixed trains that used to operate daily on branch lines in the 1920s might have been too small. However, that could be balanced by the fact that trucks operating on local roads are less fuel efficient per tonne km than linehaul trucks. To be really effective at moving freight from road to rail there does have to be sufficiently frequent services and that does run the risk of making the trains too small. Tranzrail actually did operate a daytime express freight service between Christchurch and Dunedin but with a 100 tonne loco pulling fewer than a dozen wagons it would have had little advantage over a truck in tare to gross weight ratio and aerodynamic drag. Lower rolling resistance may still have made it worthwhile. I did see some of these trains with only half a dozen wagons which is a much worse tare to gross weight ratio than a linehaul truck so it may actually have defeated it’s own environmental objective. Kiwirail would have to invest in suitable locomotives to follow that route, and they probably will have to when peak oil really begins to bite.

    I am optomistic that road freight can dramaticly improve it’s fuel efficiency in local services where rail isn’t a solution. The nature of the roads and the operating characteristics of local trucks are ideally suited to get the maximum benefit available from hybrid technology, and that is already offered by major truck and truck transmission manufacturers at reasonable cost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>