( by Imram Ali )
KiwiRail has temporarily suspended a Northland route while still looking at the possibility of mothballing the Northland to Auckland line - four years after announcing a review of the line.
The government entity this week confirmed the discontinuation of the Dargaville line since a train derailed on the route in July due to a broken rail.
That route has also come under a cloud as KiwiRail has had only one customer using the line for the past 10 years.
Spokeswoman Jenni Austin said a full assessment which took into account the movement of relatively low volumes and the poor condition of the line that required significant investment over coming years had been undertaken since the derailment.
The locomotive had remained upright and wasn't damaged and the driver wasn't hurt. Ms Austin said the company lost most of the traffic on the line when the port was moved out to Marsden Pt.
"We only run a train down the line in response to our customer requirements. In 2013/14, between one and two services ran a week. Volumes moved over recent years have typically been less than 40,000 tonnes per annum."
Kaipara District Council chairman of commissioners John Robertson said there would be no direct impact on Dargaville as a result of the suspension by KiwiRail.
"Some logs that were brought to Dargaville by trucks are carted to the port by rail. Now those logs are all taken to the port by trucks so it's just a change in the way logs are transported."
With regards to services between Auckland and Whangarei, Ms Austin said two return services most weekdays and some local ones were still operating while the line was still under review.
The possibility of the rail line between Northland and Auckland being mothballed first emerged in 2010 when KiwiRail announced it was reviewing the link.
KiwiRail said that as part of its $4.6 billion "turnaround plan" it was considering mothballing four under-used railway lines, including the link between Auckland and Moerewa.
The spokeswoman for Save Our Rail Northland, Vivienne Shepherd, accused the Government of relying on fossil fuel rather than implementing sensible and practical solutions.
"They can't envision changing the economy to other forms of energy," she said.
By Imran Ali
To KiwiRail from Save Our Rail Northland re (proposed closure of ? ) the Dargaville Branch Line
We recently (24th of November 2012) received the following message:
"CLOSING DARGAVILLE LINE- "The last 15 km of the Dargaville line from Tangowahine to Dargaville are set to be closed.
Tangowahine will then become the end of the line and logs will be railed from there to Portland.
Presently Dargaville is still receiving trains from Whangarei almost every weekday."
( requesting this information under the Official Information Act )
Please verify if there is any truth in this.
Has KiwiRail consulted with the affected ( i.e. Dargaville ) community about this ?
Has a Cost Benefit Analysis ( that takes into consideration long term strategic and social, health and environmental impacts) been carried out ?
If not, does KiwiRail intend to carry out a Social Impact Assessment ?
What is going to happen with the 15 kms of track / rail corridor between Dargaville and Tangowahine?
When is this section of the line due to be closed down ?
Please forward a copy of the 'infrastructure and engineering business document' mentioned in the following article.
Naku noa na
for Save Our Rail Northland
( see contact details below )
Freight Closure ' Logical'
It might signal the end of the line for Dargaville, but an infrastructure and engineering business document suggests plans are afoot to move the logging freight hub to Tangowahine.
The plan suggests the final 15km of the Dargaville rail line will be closed with a railhead created at Tangowahine and the line upgraded so it can do two daily return low-speed shunts to Portland.
Northland Regional Council growth and infrastructure manager Vaughan Cooper says the report was meant to be an internal document but was released publicly.
"There is no formal position from KiwiRail, no public statement that it is going to occur," he says.
But closing the last 15km of the Dargaville line is logical, Mr Cooper says.
"It seems Tangowahine is a logical place to have a loading point because it is central for forestry.
"The last 15km is quite lightweight and when you combine that with the logical collection point, you'll get more logs coming into the area."
A railhead is a point where freight is loaded on to rail. It is called a head because it is the end of the line as opposed to a siding or yard, which is so named because the line passes through it.
Mr Cooper says he does not know where the suggested railhead will be sited in Tangowahine if the suggestion goes ahead, but the logs would be stored there.
The business plan outlines the risks, opportunities and priorities for rail over the next 30 years.
The North Auckland rail line, which has been on the chopping block since 2011 as KiwiRail looks at ways to cut costs, is on track to stay open but with minimum service and maintenance to keep it open.
The regional council has been trying to gather information about the North Auckland line and potential users so KiwiRail can make an informed decision about its future, Mr Cooper says.
In a report to the regional transport committee, he says KiwiRail
now sees there is a market opportunity in Northland. Given capital
upgrade costs are much lower than originally anticipated, the situation
merits further investigation.
contact Alan Preston in Mangawhai, Northland ( web-site) Tel: +64 9 4315389
Vivienne Shepherd Whangarei, ( Spokesperson ) Ph:(09) 436 2610, 021 65 6605.
e-mail @ e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
see also: www.thewayforward2011.org.nz
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