Submit to save the Stratford to Okahukura Rail Line

Kiwirail is considering closing the Stratford to Okahukura Rail Line because of damage to the tracks after a derailment last year.

Kiwirail has told the media they are asking for submissions from the public before making a decision. Although, in practice, I can’t see any mention of the submission process on their website

Anyway, if you want to make a submission to Jim Quinn, the Chief Executive of Kiwirail then send it to ruth dot larsen at ontrack dot govt dot nz.  The closing date  is this Friday, the 12th of February. If you’re struggling for ideas here are:

6 reasons why we should keep the line open:

  1. The cost of reopening lines snowballs the longer they are closed. It would cost far less to keep this line open now than to close it and re-open it again 10 years later. According to Jon Reeves Kiwirail has just discovered that it will cost them almost $10 million to fix up the Rotorua-Waikato railway line which they closed down in 2001. That’s because a lot of the sleepers have been stolen.
  2. It provides an alternative (the only open rail line) to the North Island Main Trunk Line in case of a volcanic eruption or earthquake
  3. It could be a major tourist attraction. It is easily one of the most scenic rail routes in the North Island
  4. Closing it will mean yet more freight moves around our country by trucks, which are energy inefficient and tear up road surfaces. Maintenance would make it more attractive to freight and probably increase it’s usage
  5. Closing it will continue the process (which Fonterra has already started) of shifting most of our freight through 1 or 2 major ports. That may be good for Fonterra but it’s very bad for the environment (and road surfaces) driving freight 100s of kms more than necessary
  6. Given what experts are saying about peak oil we will need this rail line in future to transport freight and people when oil prices rise

Any other reasons you can think of?

15 Comments Posted

  1. I believe that the idea of Cycle ways is great,however we need to keep and indeed reopen lines such as the Stratford Okahukura line. Not much use making an old rail line a cycle way. Tourists both domestic and foreign could be encouraged to use lines such as the Northland line ( under threat at present ) the Stratford line and indeed the disused Rotorua line for access to remote areas for recreation and eco tourism, given suitable passenger services. Thereby creating both employment and revenue in isolated areas. Government needs to be pushed to connect the link with Marsden Point from Oakleigh thereby taking several hundred trucks off the Kaikohe ( once a railhead ) to Marsden Point roading system.As blogs above have pointed out once closed lines are very expensive to reopen. The argument that Kiwirail uses, that stolen sleepers and rail make reopening prohibitive is rubbish. Sleepers need replacing as they rot in the ground whether being used or not and the rail stolen on Rotorua line was older light weight rail anyway laid from other lines once past serviceable for heavily trafficed lines.

  2. As well as putting the 6 reasons on the Green Party submission regarding the closure of the Ohakura railway line I added

    Kia ora Kevin Ramshaw,

    any rail line closure is a concern, below are some reasons for not closing the Ohakura line, and these reasons should be considered when making future decisions on other lines throughout New Zealand. Do roads suffer the same threat of closure when they have major disasters happen to them? I think not, although I am sure some of the repair bills to roading when the similar situations occur are equally if not more prohibitive than equivalent rail ones. As a senior rail official it is your duty to uphold the virtue and integrity of the rail network, not to think of the most negative response to a situation, no matter who your political masters are at any given time.

    Michael O’Leary, Paekakariki

  3. I would add safety – rail causes fewer accidents per tonne-kilometer than road. However I don’t have access to any figures to back this up.


  4. I’ve visited friends & family members who live on the surf coast highway – anything that gives/keeps rail transport access in this area will improve the capacity of the region to keep inhabitants.

    Road transit of goods makes the road very dangerous for cyclists; a family member who regularly biked to work in Wellington, gave up the shorter commute into New Plymouth because the road is so narrow & the trucks go past at high speed, causing eddies that can suck a cyclist into the path of the next truck travelling behind.

  5. This is the problem with private enterprise that we see over and over again.

    Big business never takes into account social cost or social purpose and without a social cost or purpose what is the justification for the business existing in the first place ?

    It’s all about the private sector cutting down our options and forcing us into cars and trucks

    Save the Rail !

  6. We need to improve rail links, not remove them. From a visit to Taranaki last year we were staggered by the number of trucks on the road at all hours. The prospect of there being even more with the closing of another rail line does not make sense. We need to find ways of making the truck/rail combination more viable and use rail for long haul frieght.

  7. Thanks for this. I emailed Kiwirail and asked who the best person to send submissions to was and they responded saying email Ruth.

    I think either address will be fine really.

  8. May I suggest a different approach. Perhaps the way to keep the line open is to convince the government that the line is worth keeping for their own reasons. Focus on reasons why they would want to keep the line open rather than why you would. Convincing using green party reasoning will likely not work. There are reasons for keeping the line relevant to the present governments interest:

    Coal. There is a large undeveloped coal resource around and reasonably near the railway line, including an area which has been previously mined near Ohura which is very close to the railway. Most coal is carried by rail in New Zealand, as it is the best way to do so. Solid Energy is already in the area drilling for coal seam gas, it is only logical to conclude that they might be interested in the coal as well. Possibly even the gas could be carried by rail, I am aware that LPG (or some form of gas) is already carried by rail.

    Iron sands mining. There is interest from mining companies in mining iron sands in the Tarnaki region as well as building a steel mill. Although the steel mill would likely be coastal much like Glenbrook and not require rail for the actual iron sands it would require a way to bring in coal (maybe from the Huntly mines, this is where Glenbrook gets its coal), as well as send out steel. It might be of interest to a steel company to export through a port other than New Plymouth, as Fonterra has done with its dairy products, which leads me to the next topic.

    Port reform. The global trend is towards fewer and larger ports being visited by fewer and larger ships. The port at New Plymouth might close, with freight needing to be railed in from Auckland or Tauranga or even Marsden Point as those three ports are the most likely ones to become the main port for the north island.

  9. “Any other reasons you can think of?”

    I can think of two reasons – coal and logs; there are rumours that coal mining might start up again near Ohura, and there is apparently a large amount of forestry products that are due to be brought to market anytime soon. Coal and logs are two items which are very rail friendly.

  10. Oops, looks like I have terrible reading comprehension. Guess thats what happens when I post before I finish reading.

  11. It has been suggested by a poster on the message board to email to Kevin Ramshaw at KiwiRail

    I don’t think there is any official channel which to send submissions to, which makes this difficult. Also apprently last chance is this friday before submissions close.

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