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20160805 Response from Parliamentary Library

   In late July 2016 I sent the following questions to the Green Party of New Zealand re KiwiRail's proposal to discontinue its freight services between Otiria and points south along the North Auckland railway line. 

    A researcher at the Parliamentary Library has just provided this response .

Kia ora again Alan,

Please find the information the library was able to source. I hope it’s of some use!

From Kiwirail:

Last month, KiwRail announced trains would no longer run on the line from Otiria to Kauri, just north of Whangarei.It couldn't get the price it wanted from the only customer left on that line, the Marusumi woodchip mill at Portland, south of Whangarei.KiwiRail's assets manager Dave Gordon said the old wagons used for that contract are past their use-by date and the cost of replacing them proved too high."Marusumi declined to renew the contract," he said. "There are costs associated with fixing those wagons; they're the only type of that wagon we have in the country, so effectively Marusumi was the only customer, so that's where it ended."[1]

Costs of upgrading Northland rail: http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/northland/78592378/KiwiRail-delivers-a-reality-check-at-Grow-Northland-Rail-meeting-in-Whangarei

Do you have figures about what number of truck trips will be required to carry the logs currently being carried by KiwiRail's trains between Otiria and Portland?

The Northland Age reports that:

Currently two trains use the northern part of the line each day. From September Marusumi's logs will be hauled to its Portland mill by road.[2]

Wikipedia (usually quite robust on rail related issues) notes:

Freight services currently operate twice every weekday each way between Auckland and Whangarei, with localised services shunting the line north of Whangarei - one service operates all the way to Otiria and two terminate in Kauri with a third if required. KiwiRail has announced that services north of Kauri will end in September 2016.[16] Furthermore, south of Whangarei, a shunt operates each weekday to Portland, and a second if required to Wellsford;

Sue Moroney MP has estimated that it would mean 150 extra logging trucks “on the roads”. I’m not sure how she has calculated this but it appears to be the only recent figure available.[3] The Grow Northland Rail campaign may have provided another estimate but I haven’t found it.

From a NewsHub report:

Well, I'm no expert, but I managed to find two companies that want to use the line:

1.     Marusumi Whangarei Ltd -- it runs a chip mill at Portland, and currently uses the line to transport 1600 tonnes of logs a day from Otiria to its factory;

  1. Northland Milk Ltd – it's building a milk factory near Kerikeri and wants to transport a dozen containers a day on the rail line from Moerewa to Auckland.

So two customers, the ball's in KiwiRail’s court.

KiwiRail says 'no'. No to Marusumi because it wasn’t prepared to pay enough. 'No' to Northland Milk because its containers couldn’t fit through tunnels, and KiwiRail lacks the proper wagons.


Yet Simon Bridges still talks about a "lack of commercial demand" for a line that’s "there and ready to be used".

He also claims the 1600 tonnes of logs can fit onto 14 trucks, rather than 150 estimated by lobby groups.

Read more: http://www.newshub.co.nz/opinion/opinion-kiwifail----why-no-ones-using-northlands-rail-2016030209#ixzz4GKolCljm


I have found a report produced by Warren Slater with 2008 statistics that estimates that Marasumi uses 35 trucks per day to move its wood chip from Portland to Marsden Point (i.e. from the end of the rail to the port). Presumably this is the chipped amount, not the raw logs.

See: http://www.warrenslater.co.nz/docs/Taylor%20report.pdf


Do you know what kinds of roads they will be travelling on (State Highways or secondary roads) ? ( i.e. to what extent are ratepayers going to be subsidising trucking companies?

As far as I can see from Google Maps they would have the choice of travelling down SH1 or the route which has recently been confirmed as the new SH15. This is a route which was previously under local control which is now being managed by NZTA. Logging trucks on the road have caused issues for residents.[4]

NZTA states that: Our Northland team is working to identify what needs to be done to bring the road up to a state highway standard from a maintenance perspective. We will then work through our funding process to focus on the safety, resilience and improvements we can achieve for our Northland network.


The Gazette notice from 28 July is here: https://www.gazette.govt.nz/notice/id/2016-au4228

Obviously this has only occurred recently so no upgrades to the road will have been made to date but equally, the funding should all come from the National Land Transport Programme rather than ratepayers.


Have any calculations been done to estimate the inevitable increase in carbon emissions that will result from moving freight from trains to trucks?

KiwiRail calculates the carbon emission savings from a certain number of net tonne kilometres (NTKs) by sector.



With the small numbers involved it is difficult to calculate robustly. There would be definitely be an increase in emissions when moving from rail to road but it would depend on topography, volumes, speed etc.

For instance transporting 155.5 million net tonne kilometres by rail (total for Kiwirail’s forestry movements in Q1 2016) saves 8,299 tonnes of carbon emissions in comparison with being transported by truck.

• What is the $ value of all of KiwiRail's properties / the rail corridor / rail infrastructure along the North Auckland and Dargaville Branch Lines?

Unfortunately I haven’t found any information on this.



[1] http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/insight/audio/201801306/insight-road-vs-rail-in-northland

[1] http://m.nzherald.co.nz/northland-age/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503402&objectid=11601827

[1] http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11597581

[1] http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/insight/audio/201801306/insight-road-vs-rail-in-northland



From: Carys Goodwin
Sent: Thursday, 4 August 2016 2:36 p.m.
To: 'North Auckland Line'
Subject: RE: 20160804 To Julie Anne Genter from Alan Preston @ Save Our Rail Northland