Labour pledges huge subsidies for a train service no one uses

June 24th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Michael Fox reports at Stuff:

The Capital Connection link between Wellington and Palmerston North continues to make significant losses, despite concerted efforts to make it commercially viable, and halfway through a two-year trial the link’s future looks shaky.

has promised to save the financially-stretched passenger service by pumping in millions in subsidies if it is elected in September.

But Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has dismissed the proposal, saying efforts to save the service are failing and if passengers want it to survive they need to use it.

Brownlee agreed to a 2013 proposal from councils, including Greater Wellington and Kapiti District, to maintain the service for an extra two years in a bid to see if it could be saved, after KiwiRail revealed the operation was making a loss.

But in spite of fare hikes and efforts to boost patronage, the line will make a loss of more than $600,000 this year, while the number of passengers has also declined.

Only 250 people a day use it. But Labour wants to spend taxpayers money on subdising it. Why?

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62 Responses to “Labour pledges huge subsidies for a train service no one uses”

  1. dog_eat_dog (743 comments) says:

    Something something Hillside Rail Workers?

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  2. queenstfarmer (748 comments) says:

    Because “cost benefit analysis” and “economic viability” are failed neoliberal policies.

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  3. mister nui (975 comments) says:

    Why?

    Palmerston North and Wellington; two cesspits full of Labour voting gummint functionaries.

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  4. Peter (1,578 comments) says:

    Rail=good. Obviously. Nodding heads. Policy passed.

    Then they go out for a gender-neutral slap up dinner, on the taxpayer.

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  5. lazza (358 comments) says:

    Kiwis and Public Transport … wot a joke. And PD (Len) Brown persists with his Hornby model underground City ChooChoos. Geez!

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  6. David Garrett (6,463 comments) says:

    This is absurd 1970′s thinking. ..and I am an unashamed fan of public transport…if I have to go to the city at peak times I park the car at the park n ride and happily watch dumb commuters stuck in their cars while the bus does 60 kph down the northern bus way…and lots of people obviosly think like me, because peak hour buses are always chocka…this service on the other hand clearly noone likes…scrapping it shud be a complete no brainer…and for the socialists to think “millions in subsidies’” makes.sense amply demonstrates that they have learned nothing in 30 years..

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  7. Fisiani (954 comments) says:

    All Labour spending promises are based on how many votes they will gain for Labour. Efficiency, rationality or sense do not apply. 250 votes might make a difference and give Ian Lees Galloway a chance to beat Jono Naylor. Watch for more and more attempted bribes. It’s in their DNA. They think the public are gullible and cannot understand arithmetic. They want to appear generous in the Manawatu by spending Dunedin and Invercargill taxpayers money. I predict that as well as a baby bribe and a railway bribe they will have a student bribe, a beneficiary bribe and a pensioner bribe. There will be Otago bribes, Marlborough bribes and huge Auckland bribes. They actually have contempt for the average voter whom they regard as voting fodder.

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  8. peterwn (3,168 comments) says:

    Bus feeder to Waikanae would be more economic and there would be no congestion issues north of Waikanae.

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  9. rouppe (919 comments) says:

    Is there a way to add freight cars to it?

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  10. Judith (7,693 comments) says:

    I can’t understand why that rail service isn’t more popular. The road trip between Palmerston North and Wellington is a nightmare, and takes much less time, and is cheaper by train. The congestion along the coast etc is really bad and a real headache for drivers, not to mention a dangerous piece of road.

    I believe more effort should be made to encourage the use of trains, not just for passengers, but to get some of the many trucks and transporters that also use that road. There are often logging trucks on that route, taking logs to the ports, which are both a hazard and hold up the traffic flows.

    I don’t know if what Labour is suggesting will have any effect or not – I haven’t read the policy – but I wouldn’t like to see the service removed, rather encouraged.

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  11. campit (466 comments) says:

    Agree this needs a business case, and there may be other options as well, such as integrating to electric rail services.

    A business case is also required for Transmission Gully, in particular as a PPP. I look forward to the support of Kiwibloggers and the Taxpayers Union for a cost benefit approach for all transport projects.

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  12. PaulP (142 comments) says:

    Judith, maybe not that many people actually travel between Palmy and Welly on a daily basis so there actually isn’t the road traffic either. It’s 90 mins north of Welly and I can’t see many doing that commute for work.

    If not people working then you are catering for visitors between the cities and that wouldn’t be a significant number.

    Of course this is only me surmising as I haven;t seen the research of travel between the two cities.

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  13. Komata (1,114 comments) says:

    No idea about the local political demographic in Palmerston North, but, given J A Genter’s recent ‘carbon-generating’ trip from Dunedin for a radio interview in Masterton, one has to ask if this wouldn’t also be a rather-lame and forlorn attempt to grab gween votes by ‘topping’ that party’s ‘Public transport is good, private transport is bad’ policies and applying ‘money’ to the problem?

    Couldn’t be, surely not…

    (Funny how, until now, labour ha given absolutely no attention to this issue, until suddenly, and out of nowhere it becomes VERY important!! Perhaps they think they might actually loose… )

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  14. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Labour once again greasing for votes in PN and Otaki. PN is a Labour seat that will soon become National, and they won’t buy votes for rail because it is also funded by Horizons, another bunch of lefty losers.

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  15. campit (466 comments) says:

    I question the $600k figure. How much of that is an apportionment to line maintenance? The question is what is the marginal cost of keeping the service going?

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  16. CHFR (219 comments) says:

    Judith the question should be how many people in Palmerston North work in Wellington and commute daily?

    People who actually commute the route seem to have voted with their cars and don’t agree with you. Who cares if the route is a nightmare, they obviously would rather the nightmare by car than train and that should be the end of the matter.

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  17. Nigel Kearney (864 comments) says:

    Only 250 people a day use it. But Labour wants to spend taxpayers money on subdising it. Why?

    Because there are votes in it. Wasting large sums of money to benefit a small number of people is popular, when the cost is spread across the entire country. The real question is why voters reward this behaviour and how to convince them to stop.

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  18. WineOh (557 comments) says:

    Does the Capital Connect also service Paraparaumu and Waikanae, or is this on a different service & priced/funded separately?

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  19. Laksa (15 comments) says:

    Well given the way they are polling, 250 votes is not to be sniffed at.

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  20. Simon (687 comments) says:

    Fail rail is a SOE and supposed to operate like any normal business. Failing sectors of a businesses dont/shouldnt get bailed out by the State.

    Another admission that the SOE model is a failure.

    In the real world the line losing $600 k would be gone because clearly there is no consumer demand to justify it continuing to trade.

    Just pointing this out to the clowns out there who think SOE are comparable to the real world despite all Fail rail management will be paid market salaries.

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  21. peterwn (3,168 comments) says:

    The other problem is there are many people who would like to see public transport services for ‘other’ people to use -these people either have no use for the service or would find it too ‘inconvenient’ to use. Remember Sue Kedgley admitting some time back that she did not have a ‘Snapper’ card – golly! at least she ought to have got one even if she was never going to use it. And now she is grandstanding on the imminent demise of the trolley buses (the necessary replacement of transformers and old mercury arc rectifiers would cost a fortune and Wellington Electricity is not going to do that out of the goodness of their hearts).

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  22. Judith (7,693 comments) says:

    @ CHFR (205 comments) says:
    June 24th, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Yes I agree, people tend to be lazy. The walk to and from the car is much easier than going to the bother of catching a train. I have a friend that makes that trip everyday. She pays a fortune on petrol and parking and complains bitterly about the time it takes. When I suggest she should catch the train her answer is that she can’t really be bothered. She accepts she can probably catch up with some work on the train (she’s self employed). That it would be cheaper by far, and more relaxing. “but, ohh, you know… its not really all that flash… is it” – is her standard reply. Something I remind her when she complains about the size of her credit card account due to the copious amount she pays for parking in wellington.

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  23. TimG_Oz (917 comments) says:

    It might only be an average of 250 people, but there is probably a much larger group of people that uses the service periodically. I’ve used it and I was very impressed. Much better than driving.

    It stops along the way in Levin and Otaki.

    The biggest downside is that it only runs once a day. In Aus they have a similar Diesel VLine services that run servicing obscure places hourly (Frankston to Stony Point?) – Why can’t NZ be as efficient??

    I think the biggest problem is the inefficiency of NZ rail (OK probably due to lack of patronage).

    The romantic in me would rather see a smaller Railcar service as used to Run in the 1960s, that runs more frequently. Probably not realistic unfortunately

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  24. Tarquin North (141 comments) says:

    Plenty of the Labour M.P’s will be unemployed after the election and most of them look like anorak wearing train spotters in waiting. Hanging around between P.N and Wellington should keep them off the streets, and as with all Labour ideas we get to pay for it.

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  25. OTGO (512 comments) says:

    In the 2012-2013 financial year, the NZ taxpayer tipped over $181 million into Kiwi Rail to keep it solvent http://www.kiwirail.co.nz/uploads/Publications/2013%20Annual%20Report%20(Web%20Version).pdf

    If you want to close this line because it doesn’t make money, using that logic then KiwiRail has to be closed down too.

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  26. Lucia Maria (2,208 comments) says:

    My husband often uses that train to get from Paparam to Wellington. He prefers it because there are tables, which makes it easier to sit and work on the (now less than an) hour journey into Wellington. Plus from Paparam, it doesn’t stop till it gets to Wellington.

    We won’t be voting for Labour because they might save this train, however, especially since all politician change their tune once they get elected. (Thinking of Ross Church who was against water meters until he became mayor of Kapiti.) I doubt many of the people who use the train will vote Labour just to save the train given that Labour is a train wreck themselves.

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  27. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    campit>Agree this needs a business case, and there may be other options as well, such as integrating to electric rail services.

    I’m struggling to identify any public good from this long distance commuting that requires a subsidy. If people want to do it then they can pay the full costs of it. Tourists can use the existing coach services, so we don’t require commuter trains to enable tourism.

    In which case the business case will read: Costs = Something. Benefits = Nothing. Therefore cancel the service.

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  28. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    What really killed this service was the extension of the electric units to service Waikanae. Previously, many of the Capital Connection’s passengers went to and from Waikanae. Possibly a dedicated bus service between Palmie and Waikanae would be more cost efficient.
    There are also existing bus services from Palmie to Wellington, so canning the train will not necessarily increase road use.

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  29. Brett Hudson (4,734 comments) says:

    Labour spending taxpayer money on a service that not enough people will use to justify the expense?

    Completely consistent for them – after all they have also pledged to fund the Auckland CRL immediately and the current and projected passenger numbers don’t stack up there either.

    Labour – wasting your money since way back when

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  30. KiwiGreg (3,181 comments) says:

    @ OTGO that is of course the correct answer. Subsidies represent misallocated resources. NZ isn’t rich enough to screw around with this. By all means charge car owners the full cost of their consumption but rail should stand or fall on its own merits.

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  31. burt (7,841 comments) says:

    rouppe

    Is there a way to add freight cars to it?

    Ummm, like make it economically viable … It’s not a good Labour party policy unless it wastes tax payers money to buy votes.

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  32. Fentex (867 comments) says:

    A few years ago after visiting my sister in Auckland and planning to visit a friend in Wellington on the way home to Christchurch I thought I’d make the Auckland to Wellington trip by train, treat it as a sight seeing excursion.

    I regret having done so.

    The carriage was a pretty tired, ill kept thing. I could live with that, it remained roomy. The food was appalling and I was extremely unimpressed with how terribly simple heated pies could be ruined.

    But worse of all was being stopped somewhere in the middle, put off the train, waiting for a couple of hours for a bus that was cramped and uncomfortable for a three hour trip around work I was not warned about at any time prior.

    As a whole it was a tiresome, unpleasant and uncomfortable trip that cost more than a quick flight would have. It had very little to recommend it, especially since the most spectacular portion of the trip was spent with my knees in my face on a clapped out bus and through out which no effort what so ever seemed to be made by any employee to contribute a reason to using their service.

    It is possible I think to make money from such a trip, if it were made enjoyable.

    The Tranz Alpine can be heard from my home tooting it’s steam horn as it routinely takes tourists and locals on day and weekend trips to Westport. It’s an acclaimed experience. Even if not used for the whole trip a section of the rail on the plateau and in the national parks of the central North island pulled by a steam engine and promoted as an experience could make a profitable service of rail there I suspect and in turn promote connections to it from Auckland and Wellington and other services (I dunno, ski excursions, cycling the Lost highway train stop to train stop, weekends at Rotorua etc sometimes rail in, fly out or the opposite).

    But a sad dreary cattle service city to city is not going to cut it in competition with airlines that even if you don’t enjoy the trip are over a lot faster.

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  33. OTGO (512 comments) says:

    And that is my point KiwiGreg. A taxpayer subsidised service competes alongside and with privately owned businesses. Where’s the fairness in that?
    Let’s take coastal shipping as an example. KiwiRail run trains in direct competition to Pacifica Shipping but Pacifica have to operate without any subsidy. Ridiculous when you think about it.

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  34. ross411 (220 comments) says:

    Turn it into a biking track. Keep the rails and allow people to rent those little carts where you can pump a lever to move it along the rails. Rent parasols and wet weather gear, and other added extras. Better yet, build a wall around Palmerston North and give it to the Australians. Or just build the wall and turn it into a lawless area like that New York movie with Kurt Russell, by which I mean, just build the wall.

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  35. jcuknz (704 comments) says:

    And road transport runs in competition with Kiwirail subsidised by the rest of us maintaining the roads for them while rail has to maintain its own track.

    Unfortunately I see a one day ‘service’ between Wellington and Parmerston as a miss use of funds and the suggestion of smaller and more frequent service would take my vote .. except unfortunately I doubt if the rolling stock is available to do that.

    I gather that RM24 is on lease to the Taieri Gorge Railway and quite popular, if only we had more like it … it was refurbished to a high standard by Hillside Workshops.

    The capitalist America has AMTRAK so why doesn’t New Zealand have NZTRAK … just the mindset as illustrated in above postings.

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  36. srylands (387 comments) says:

    “smaller and more frequent service would take my vote .. except unfortunately I doubt if the rolling stock is available to do that.’

    This would simply bleed money.

    “The capitalist America has AMTRAK so why doesn’t New Zealand have NZTRAK [?] … ”

    For much the same reason we don’t have (many) import tariffs, agricultural subsidies and a 5,000 page tax code. Be grateful you live here.

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  37. Rich Prick (1,557 comments) says:

    “Because there are votes in it. Wasting large sums of money to benefit a small number of people is popular”

    That’s going to make helping Labour get above 23% VERY expensive for the rest of us.

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  38. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    We don’t really have the population to support inter-city rail services, and they have gradually died. The only viable long distance services are the tourist friendly ones like the Tranzalpine and the Coastal Pacific.

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  39. Colville (2,085 comments) says:

    Driving is much faster than the train. A mate uses train each day I have offered to pick him up from work in Wgtn and he has declined because he was already on the train and I beat him home by 30 mins.
    5.30 am leave and 7.30 pm return. Ewwww.
    Bus to Waikanae is a much better answer, maybe spaced 15 mins apart to be a bit more flexible.

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  40. backster (2,082 comments) says:

    Is Labour still also going to subsidise Napier-Gisborne service.?….I think the main reason for the economic nonsense is that they are afraid of losing votes to the Greens, so they are white-anting Green Policies.

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  41. OneTrack (2,624 comments) says:

    “That’s going to make helping Labour get above 23% VERY expensive for the rest of us.”

    It always has.

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  42. Ed Snack (1,739 comments) says:

    jcuk, AMTRAK bleeds money too, and road transport pays road user charges, and they’re pretty hefty for large vehicles. So there may be some subsidy and I haven’t looked at the calculations, but I doubt that there’s that large a subsidy.

    NZ Railways are a dog, and there’s a variety of reasons. For a start NZ is a lousy country for rail, the terrain is often steep requiring either extensive earthworks or diversions; for financial reasons when rail was first installed they went with a narrow gauge used almost nowhere else and in a further cost cutting measure they restricted the carriage dimensions and bored narrow tunnels. So NZ trains have a restricted carrying capacity and slower speeds because of these early decisions which would be extremely expensive to change.

    In order to be more popular trains would need to be faster, smoother, and preferably be able to carry more people on a per carriage basis without overcrowding. None of these are really possible on the toy trainset we have. I can’t see any economic argument in extending train services or even retaining them in many areas. And if you don’t use economic arguments you’re left with political ones, which basically means vote buying with other peoples money and the always uncalculated and unmentioned opportunity costs: what else do you not do that the money spent could have been used for ? Or even more importantly, what would the people you took that money from have done with it had they retained it.

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  43. tom hunter (4,436 comments) says:

    It’s worth remembering the arguments of the likes of “Campit” above when the question gets more complex. Even in a case like this, where it is about as cut and dried as could be – no need for screaming about libertarianism or fighting over economic theories – the bloody service loses money hand over fist because people do not want to use it.

    And yet “campit” is still willing to argue the cause. You can easily see what it’s like in situations where the case is not so clear cut, as was seen here with this comment (and others) from Psycho Milt during this debate over Why do taxpayers own some ferries

    It is an ideological position – one that says that if a particular piece of required infrastructure can’t provided at a profit by the private sector, it should not be provided. The fact is, NZ’s private sector is not up to the job of providing decent infrastructure (due to small population, low population density, highly varied geography etc), but its public sector is and sometimes the public sector has to step in

    Or this older debate when Cullen bought his Hornby set, where I made the following comment:

    I’d be willing to bet that over the next few years, irrespective of whether National or Labour form the government, this rotting corpse will produce endless new ideas as to how they can improve – new media campaigns to persuade people to ride or send freight by rail, new ‘more efficient’ locomotives and carriages, new IT systems that will provide ‘improved control’. Just as in the 1980’s people lobbied for electrification of the main trunk with all that new, cheap, electricity coming soon from the Clyde dam. It was modern. It was using our own resources. It would work wonders we were told. There will be a whole new stream of such silver bullets – and they’ll all hit the taxpayer.

    Which is exactly what we’re seeing here, and then these supporters have the gall to accuse their opponents of being ideological. Having said that there’s this delicious DPF thread from March 6, 2008

    A National government would consider selling off a renationalised railway company, the party’s finance spokesman Bill English said today.

    Finance Minister Michael Cullen confirmed today the Government had made an offer for Toll’s rail and ferry business, but the Crown and company remained poles apart about a fair price.

    If the purchase was completed then a National government would get out of the business as quickly as possible.

    So there you go. Get Lucy Lawless onto the job together with old ladies crying about how they won’t be able to visit little Timmy in Wellington anymore and National will fold like a cheap suit.

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  44. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    It would be nice to look at Kiwirail from an economically pure position. If we didn’t have it, would we build it now? Probably not. But from the perspective of maintaining a viable piece of infrastructure, the case is hardly there to abandon it.

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  45. projectman (205 comments) says:

    Looking forward to Labour using the same logic to say they will support the restoration of the Napier-Gisborne railway.

    Announcement due shortly (yeah right).

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  46. metcalph (1,384 comments) says:

    The Tranz Alpine can be heard from my home tooting it’s steam horn as it routinely takes tourists and locals on day and weekend trips to Westport

    Greymouth, not Westport. And it would be an even better experience were Greymouth not such a hole…

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  47. RRM (9,478 comments) says:

    There’s only one train each way per day on that schedule, so if you agree there are 250 weekdays in the year then the loss amounts to 600,000 / (2 x 250) = $1,200 each time the train runs.

    $1,200 / 250 passengers = $4.8

    So single fares need to go up by $4.80, ten trips need to increase by $48, and monthly passes need to increase by $144.

    Or they could take a couple of carriages off and do something more worthwhile with those? I notice there are about 7 cars + service van on the capital connection, the carriages take 50-60 each so by rights they only need 5 if they are expecting 250 pax. Surely that’s fewer guards to work the train, fewer toilet cleaners, fewer brake & systems checks to carry out… less cost?

    Or people could just take the hint and either (A) get the hell out of Palmerston North permanently; or, (B) if you like it there, then stay where you belong! :-)

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  48. jcuknz (704 comments) says:

    Of course AMTRAK is subsidised as NZTRAK should be…. this not based on profit in dollar terms but in social ones and so remains a political choice. So thank goodness we have political parties suggesting the maintenance and improvement of existing services … but for the next term I hope National gets in … poor pollies simply cannot win :)

    Fewer people working means higher taxes for those lucky to have a job as the geeks invent ways to replace human workers.
    The solution of course is fewer people needing to have jobs found for them by society …. but that is a very long term solution.
    Don’t forget that those on benefits help to sustain the ecconomy to a greater extent of their means than those in work, that includes all the old folk.

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  49. jcuknz (704 comments) says:

    The Tranz Alpine can be heard from my home tooting it’s steam horn ….I think not :) It is a diesel loco these days.

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  50. Zapper (926 comments) says:

    I also heard Ruth Dyson promising 100% pay outs for those who are uninsured in the red zone in Christchurch, speaking of handouts.

    Great policy, no-one will bother paying for insurance again. And as for buying votes, I think people who bothered to pay for insurance won’t be impressed so even as a vote buyer it’s probably a failure.

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  51. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    I think people who bothered to pay for insurance won’t be impressed so even as a vote buyer it’s probably a failure.

    For owners of vacant land which cannot be insured it’s a great vote buyer.

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  52. Zapper (926 comments) says:

    Yes, but that’s not what she was talking about

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  53. cha (3,779 comments) says:

    Really?.

    Ms Dyson says a full buy-out offer “is the right thing to do” for people who were unable to obtain insurance cover on bare-land or commercial properties before the earthquakes.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11279899

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  54. Komata (1,114 comments) says:

    Ed Snack:

    Re: When rail was first installed they went with a narrow gauge used almost nowhere else and in a further cost cutting measure they restricted the carriage dimensions and bored narrow tunnels.

    Not quite correct: During the mid-late Nineteenth Century, when railway construction was perceived as a method of connecting settlements and uniting territories, 3ft 6 in gauge (aka ‘Cape’ Gauge’) was seen as being an ideal gauge to provide the advantages of large sized trains without the disadvantage of large and expensive earthworks and infrastructure. As such it was widely adopted, with 48 counties eventually having some sort of 3ft 6 in gauge system operating within their borders. It cannot be said therefore that it was used ‘…Almost nowhere else. ‘ as you have stated. Currently NZ, South Africa, Zimbabwe, various African states as well as Western Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland all still operate this gauge.

    In regard to the statement that ‘…They restricted the carriage dimensions and bored narrow tunnels’: Certainly, because the available trains were (when compared with what came later) small – that’s all that was available from the manufacturers. Agreed too that tunnels were certainly small; there was no reason to make them wider than necessary as to do so would have been a WASTE of money. The ‘narrow tunnels were appropriate for the time, but as the technology grew, so did the size of the locomotives and rolling-stock, and older equipment was retired, scrapped or (rarely) rebuilt to a larger width and height. The tunnels were either widened or replaced by cuttings. That was seen a ‘progress’ and was a process also used on similar railways world-wide. As such it is still occurring. BTW, and FYI, New Zealand now runs ex British Railway’s STANDARD GAUGE rolling stock on its services; equipment that was built for the larger 4 ft 8 1/2 gauge, and is considerably wider and taller than would normally be expected for the 3ft 6 in gauge. Certainly before they arrived in New Zealand, local tunnels were widened and deepened to accommodate this equipment, and the carriage wheels altered to suit the local track gauge, but that notwithstanding, these larger units are running quite happily on NZ tracks, and have caused few problems inn service. . As a result, Your argument in that context, while initially correct, is no longer so. BTW a smaller track gauge does not mean smaller-sized loads; it merely requires local engineers to think more creatively; ISO containers do not shrink in size when they arrive in this country…

    Hope that this helps to clarify the situation.

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  55. tas (596 comments) says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliamentary_train

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  56. Ed Snack (1,739 comments) says:

    Komata, actually I agree with some of what you say, you obviously are well informed. But look at those running the gauge, in WA it isn’t everywhere, just “local” rail, same in other states as they run interstate rail traffic on a single gauge.

    Yes, we did widen a lot of tunnels (a lot were for, as I recall, container traffic), or rather all tunnels, and I didn’t know we were running standard 4’8.5″ stock on narrow bogies. Narrow gauge does restrict cornering stability and speeds. But the original carriages were small because of the gauge, not that the manufacturers only made size small. Narrow gauge also restricts engine size and with it hauling power. And we can’t double stack containers as they do, for example, in the US, so our loads both per unit and per train are well below overseas examples.

    I’d also point out that “standard gauge” is very common, but also less than optimum for modern service, most high capacity (and especially high speed) tracks are far wider, more like IKB’s original 7′ Great Western tracks.

    But yes, a little exaggerated originally !

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  57. Odakyu-sen (442 comments) says:

    And don’t forget Japan:
    22,301 km (13,857 mi) of 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) (“narrow gauge”), of which 15,222 kilometres (9,459 mi) are electrified. Used for general passenger and freight.
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_transport_in_Japan#Gauge

    The shinkansen lines (aka “Bullet Train”) run a wider gauge.

    Oh, and there are a lot of steam train enthusiasts in Japan, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pwl6F-nesq4

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  58. libertyscott (356 comments) says:

    $2400 a year per passenger for choosing to live a long way out of town. Environmentalists would usually say this sort of thing promotes urban sprawl, except it is a train and so they are conflicted.

    The real reason this service is in trouble is because the subsidised electric service has been extended to Waikanae. Ratepayers and motorists (through regional council rates and petrol tax/RUC) paid for the latter, and it has put a commercial rail service out of business. Of course it could charge a higher premium fare for Waikanae and Paraparaumu passengers (there already is a small one), but it would also be interesting if Kiwirail doesn’t want to run it, if someone else could be allowed to provide a service with track access charges priced marginally (after all the fixed costs have to be recovered anyway, and if the service doesn’t run it wont contribute towards them).

    Labour is obviously desperate for the votes of a few hundred.

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  59. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    I think Kiwirail wanted to pull out of providing the Tranzscenic between Auckland and Wellington. There was some hitch which meant theoretically a competitor coud offer an alternative, so the service was retained, albeit only at three days per week.

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  60. Johnboy (15,011 comments) says:

    When Wainui hold the Jubilee Cup, later on this year, I suspect Cunner’s will suggest a new train service via a new tunnel so Hutt chaps can come and do proper obeisance at William Jones park! :)

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  61. Johnboy (15,011 comments) says:

    “I’d also point out that “standard gauge” is very common, but also less than optimum for modern service, most high capacity (and especially high speed) tracks are far wider, more like IKB’s original 7′ Great Western tracks.”

    Bollocks Ed. Name a country with a gauge wider than 1676mm? :)

    And that’s bloody India. …………Hardly the epitome of high speed railroading! :)

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  62. OneTrack (2,624 comments) says:

    mike – “I think Kiwirail wanted to pull out of providing the Tranzscenic between Auckland and Wellington. There was some hitch which meant theoretically a competitor coud offer an alternative, so the service was retained, albeit only at three days per week.”

    If kiwirail didn’t want to provide that service, why wouldn’t they let a private competitor have a go? Seems strange unless some politician leaned on them or something.

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