Monday, 25 July 2016

Hard to see how sea freight cannot threaten rail traffic

A few weeks ago I blogged some thoughts about the Greens' policy of wanting to increase freight movements by sea and rail. I noted that it is difficult for coastal shipping not to compete with rail for the same type of traffic. This is a sound reasoning because the coastal shipping industry in NZ was decimated by the introduction of rail ferries and there have been other related instances, for example many smaller provincial ports lost headway to increased rail services.

It has come to my attention that the sea freight increase policy is not new and in fact Labour had a similar policy called "Seachange" which was brought out not long before the 2008 election. As such there was little opportunity to implement it before the change of government. One of the initial statements in the policy document is that "[it] does not mean that the government will be unfairly supporting the domestic sea freight industry as a competitor to the road freight industry, or to the rail freight industry". Presumably this implies it will be fairly supporting the domestic sea freight industry as a competitor to the others. The difficulty is what is fair and unfair. There is no way that the sea freight industry cannot be competing with rail as well as road, as I already mentioned. The next paragraph of the document states "without a strong domestic sea freight industry there will be further pressure on road and rail networks". Generally railfans think there is too much pressure on the road network and not enough freight movement on the rail network, so they would challenge the assumption that the rail network is not capable of dealing with the increased freight volume.

The important aspect of a sea change policy therefore is to identify where it can be more beneficial to move freight by sea compared to by rail. The areas where rail networks are most under pressure are in the main urban centres of Auckland and Wellington, where the networks are heavily used for passenger services, and the Golden Triangle between Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty where freight volume is very large. Therefore it makes sense to move freight by sea for feeder services into the two largest ports in New Zealand - Auckland and Tauranga. Since the rail networks around these areas are choked with traffic, moving the freight from other ports to these two by sea will be highly beneficial if the goal is to prevent the rail network from being put under more pressure.

It also gives the lie to the notion that the rail network can help Northport become a major freight hub. Kiwirail has identified that the rail networks in Auckland will cause a major bottleneck to the efficient movement of freight to and from Marsden Point by rail in the unlikely event of Auckland closing down its port in favour of Northport. A sum of $2-3 billion would be needed to address this. The amount is so large it would not be viable to re-establish at Northport compared to other possible sites in the Auckland region.





Sunday, 24 July 2016

Facebook blocking

This is a very brief riposte to this controversial topic. Why do people end up in my FB block list?

It is NOT simply because they disagree with me. Almost all of the people in there fit into the category of
  • bullying
  • trolling
  • lying.
People disagree with me all the time but that is no reason to have them blocked. The ones that do end up there are almost completely in the above categories, causing a lot of trouble for me. 

I don't hate a rail union, what I do hate is the assumption by some of their members that bullying or standover tactics are acceptable. The rail industry unions like to bully the rail heritage movement, which I referred to in a previous post. I support key union principles such as the assumption that unions have achieved significant and meaningful contributions to social justice and income equality in our society. What I don't support is the assumption that this means everything they do is morally right therefore it is acceptable to intimidate people or organisations. For example it has been alleged that a group of unions held a picket line outside the HQ of a rail heritage organisation, which pays some of its staff, to protest a management decision, which is a very bad thing for these unions to be doing.

So there !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!