.... trying to suppress the constant feeling of impending doom for railways in this pro trucking country of ours..
As I sit in the cab of my loco, spitting distance from Whareroa road, completing a brake test and waiting for paper work, I cant help but despair at the constant stream of multi axle road monsters parading past my window, streaming in and out of the dairy plant like a string of busy ants toiling away to keep the colony stocked and alive.
Not only is the frequency of rigs increasing, but so is the average size of each truck and trailer, now longer, bigger and able to haul more than ever before.  
I know I have not been portraying a very positive image recently, but the way I see it, things are quite dire for railways in New Zealand as we know it.  
Company propaganda will have you believe "that its been a great year" but if look past the smoke and mirrors, there is more than meets the eye. This year has seen the closure and sale of the Hillside workshops and with it the loss of many dedicated and skilled employees. 
Never again will rolling stock be manufactured in New Zealand now that we can buy mass produced cheap products from China!
2012 also saw the closure of the Gisborne line, and the final shipment of timber from Wairoa. Guess what mode all that product is sent via now??
Let us not forget the official closure of the S.O.L, nor the many track gangers and infrastructure staff who we made unemployed this year. 
Such is the mentality that when we derailed in Eltham not long ago, the question was raised if we actually needed the siding we were servicing and if the set of points we had damaged could be removed!! 
Let us not forget that Kiwi Rails corporate structure will change quite dramatically at 0001 hours on the 1st of January 2013 as we are molded into a fair humdinger S.O.E while the New Zealand Railways Corporation is dissolved, its staff and assests (but not the land!) are passed onto the "Newco" books.
One then gets suspicious of the top level managers who are rapidly resigning like rats abandoning a sinking ship, and the massive book cooking  re-evaluation and write down of company assets and worth......

Its is touted that tonnage volumes hauled by rail have increased, but that is hard to quantify around here..... 
Not that many moons ago, it was not uncommon for Whareroa to produce 100 or more loaded wagons a day during the peak of the season, 60 odd from the powder bays, 21 or more from butter and at least 15 from cheese. These days you can almost halve all those numbers..... I wonder if that has any correlation to the increased number of trucks of site???? Nah surely not.
Now that trucks can carry just as much product as we can on our highest capacity wagons I cant help but think we are in for a slow and lingering death.

Nails in coffins? Hmmm - check out this bad boy in the picture below. Fonterra has at least three of these super tankers on the road here now, and we are told they plan to have the Paihiatua powder plant running for the 2014 - 2015 season, which will reduce our milk train services. By how much is unknown but current murmurs are at least one train will vanish.
Finally factor in the large number of contract truckies hauling milk in addition to Fonterra's own fleet, each with "High Productivity" mega tankers (some from as far away as Dunedin and Otago) filling in the blanks its a disturbing trend.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10636549

Its enough for one to question the viability of opening a truckstop lol!

Righto, enough of the doom and gloom.... some recent foamings are attached below.

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Oooo shiney!
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Got rocks!?
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391 arriving in Palmy.
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546 at Marton.
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Crossing with 547 at Ruatangata.
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521 at Stratford.
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528 rolls into Whareroa.
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544 at Wanganui.
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An old warrior rests in the warm afternoon sun.
AH
Steve mc
12/16/2012 04:40:41 pm

Interesting insight andrew.

It seems the trucking companies have some friends in whareroa. Here at edgecumbe site, the trucking companys are left to fight and undercut each other to the point of making a loss. Which i spose benefits fonterra in the long run, although it makes me sad to see the old taneatua branch rotting away next to site.

On a better note, here in the bay its not uncommon to see 50+ log/pulp wagon trains many times a day headed to port. A small success story for rail perhaps?

Love the 547 shot by the way :)

Cheers

Reply
Patrick Dunford
12/17/2012 11:49:57 am

You talk about another restructuring, why isn't this public knowledge (never seen it reported on anywhere)

Reply
AH
12/17/2012 03:48:37 pm

Patrick, Have a read though this:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/7179637/KiwiRail-restructure-adds-to-deficit

AH

Reply
Bruce Rogers
12/19/2012 10:27:57 am

Drew, I feel your pain about seeing all those trucks. Past decisions and some current ones by post KiwiRail management and now the government for allowing heavier trucks hasn't helped where you guys are at.
I wish you could have just a fraction of the traffic we have. The Michael Beard era did the most damage by far. It's too bad.

Reply
1/15/2013 09:48:49 pm

But as usual Andrew, glorious photos.

And (I'm cringing now, i hate the things) . . the truck photos too.

Reply

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