Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

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Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby geoff_184 » Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:54 pm

Press Release 22 December 2009
Rotorua Ngongotaha Rail Trust


The RNRT* has had its Christmas wish come true with OnTrack / Kiwi Rail
granting them a 30 year Lease of the rail corridor between Rotorua and
Putaruru. The Trust stalwart Mr Jim Ross has worked tirelessly with OnTrack
in Wellington to facilitate this possibility.

Never before in New Zealand has a charitable trust or any other similar
group been given the opportunity to have ownership of any part of the
working infrastructure.

The Trust have plans to be involved with commercial operations to turn the
unused corridor and track into a tourism venture and are currently working
with the Rotorua District Council to assist them with their plans to
continue the cycleway system in the District.

Once the track is repaired it will be possible for freight and passenger
services to resume, with steam enthusiasts from around New Zealand able to
bring their own excursion trains to Rotorua to cash in on the resurgence of
interest building in railway worldwide.

The Trust was established in July 1998 and over the years has accumulated
just over $500,000 worth of assets which includes buildings, heritage rail
and rolling stock, restoration locos and equipment. The Trust have rescued
many historical steam and diesel Loco's and wagons which are all in
different degrees of restoration, most of which are located on site. Due to
the high time and cost of restoration, many are on a lengthy restoration
roster. However the main driver to securing the rail corridor is to ensure
that rail options are kept alive for the District of Rotorua for the future.
Without this initiative it is possible that rail will be lost forever to our
community and New Zealand.

* RNRT = Rotorua - Ngongotaha Rail Trust

Issued by
Sharon Fleet
Trust Secretary


________________________________________________
Rotorua Ngongotaha Rail Trust
P O Box 198
Ngongotaha 3041
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby luke.xensen » Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:09 pm

Do you know if anything is happening with the reopening of the first few km of the branch for some sort of freight traffic, was it bottled water maybe?
There was a bit of talk going on earlier this year about it, but haven't heard anything recently.
Hope the agreement allows things like this to go ahead. Great to see the line is secure, and has got someone to look after it. Big job ahead of them though.
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby Cogload » Wed Dec 23, 2009 9:23 am

That looks a smart move. Over here the "Heritage" railways are 25MPH max (apart from one exception - I can think of - which is the Great Central) - are there any limits on speed in NZ. I can well recall my trip on the TGR but I think the limited speed had more to do with the sinuous track than anything else....(and a fantastic trip it was too).
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby Rolls-Royce » Wed Dec 23, 2009 9:35 pm

Good to see that something is now going to happen with this line and that it is not going to become a cycleway. I wonder how the RNRT will fund looking after the whole line from Putaruru to Koutu? The line has been neglected since 2002 and needs a lot of work doing to it, not to mention replacing the bits that have been stolen. They are a small group with not a lot of money.

This line would be a good place for the Kingston Flyer steam train to go to.
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby Rail-it » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:19 pm

Awesome!! They'll need a lot of volunteers!! :D
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby millsy » Fri Dec 25, 2009 7:33 pm

This line would be a good place for the Kingston Flyer steam train to go to.


From what I am gathering, the Kingston Flyer has a few nasty suprises waiting for its prospective new owner, notably issues around ownership of assets, IP, plus NZTA audits and paperwork. Also there are issues with maintenance, and how much it would cost to bring the locomotive and rolling stock up to an acceptable standard - while it would be good, it wont happen anytime soon.

On paper this looks good - it preserves the corridor, but
"...are currently working with the Rotorua District Council to assist them with their plans to continue the cycleway system in the District..."
could mean that they might lift part of the line. So the devil would definitely be in the detail.

But good on them for doing this. About 10 years ago, the Waitara Branch line was secured in a similar fashion (mind you it was purchased, not leased), and perhaps if Railmark (the company that wants to buy the Kingston Flyer) shows some insterest, then we could have some excitement.
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby matthew25187 » Fri Dec 25, 2009 9:53 pm

millsy wrote:
"...are currently working with the Rotorua District Council to assist them with their plans to continue the cycleway system in the District..."
could mean that they might lift part of the line. So the devil would definitely be in the detail.

Right, but the press release also states that:
Once the track is repaired it will be possible for freight and passenger
services to resume, with steam enthusiasts from around New Zealand able to
bring their own excursion trains to Rotorua to cash in on the resurgence of
interest building in railway worldwide.

Now unless the entire branch line is restored it won't be possible for either a) freight traffic to resume on the branch, or at least for it to go as far as Rotorua, or b) steam excursion trains to visit Rotorua. If any part of the line is lifted, particularly any part of the line that isolates a section of that which remains (à la the Kingston Branch), then the utility of the line is effectively limited to only those services that can be provided by the RNRT themselves.

It may be that "assisting" the council with cycleway projects was a condition of their consents where such projects cross, are parallel to, or otherwise near the rail corridor without affecting their ability to have trains run from Putaruru to Rotorua. There is a similar condition on the Rimutaka Incline Railway project which requires them to establish an alternative track for the current recreational users of the Rimutaka Incline Rail Trail before they can relay track on the original formation.
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby royce » Mon Dec 28, 2009 6:27 pm

This is a pretty big undertaking for the trust. Fifty odd kilometers of track. Matches the Tairi Gorge Railway without the scenery although the trip from Putararu to Koutu is quite pleasant. I hope the trust has negoiated a non disconnection agreement with Kiwirail. Railway engineers love to disconnect any track or siding that hasnt been used for a few days. They then love to charge to have the removed tracks reinstated. But perhaps this can be taken care of by paying a yearly siding charge. I took a bit of a peak through the fence at Ngongtaha yesterday they have put in about six new sidings to accomondate their heritage collection it all looks a bit cramped to me. There is a couple of small shunters and two ballest wagons as well as some wagons which look as so they have bush railway heritage. Anyway they seem to have the basis to run work trains which would be neccesary to get the line back in running condition. Maybe the idea is to restore the track using lottery grants and money from the theiving pokies or perhaps the council or govt and private tourist organisation and then run an open access railway for anyone who wants to run their rolling stock there including Kiwirail. The section between Ngongtaha and Koutu could probably support an operation similar to what is run at Waihi ie three return trips a day carting whoever turns up. Seems to work OK at Wahi I see they have recently built new storage for their rolling stock at the Waihi end. So presumably they are generating a bit of income. Anyway maybe a similar operation could be run. The Wahi operation just uses an old shunter but I would hope something with a bit more class could be dreamt up for Roturua. Maybe use some sort of bush railway contraption to give a bit of novelty value. I expect steam would be to difficult and expensive at least to start with. Any way good luck to them.
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby geoff_184 » Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:36 am

Railway engineers love to disconnect any track or siding that hasnt been used for a few days


The branch has not been used since 2002, but is still connected. Why would that suddenly change, especially after the line has just been leased?
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby royce » Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:24 am

geoff_184 wrote:The branch has not been used since 2002, but is still connected. Why would that suddenly change, especially after the line has just been leased?
Railway engineers love to disconnect any track or siding that hasnt been used for a few days


Up until now they havent had anyone to charge to reconnect the line now they have.
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby eurokiwi78 » Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:20 am

I see this line as having huge potential for passengers with it being part of the route tourists travel anyway. Rotorua should have a daily service from Auckland in my opinion.
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby geoff_184 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:32 am

Up until now they havent had anyone to charge to reconnect the line now they have.


KiwiRail have just leased the line, they would hardly disconnect it. I very much doubt the lease enables KiwiRail to remove any part of it anyway.
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby royce » Wed Dec 30, 2009 11:57 am

geoff_184 wrote:KiwiRail have just leased the line, they would hardly disconnect it. I very much doubt the lease enables KiwiRail to remove any part of it anyway.
Up until now they havent had anyone to charge to reconnect the line now they have.



Watch this space or rather the one at the south end of the Putararu yard.
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby john-ston » Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:55 pm

eurokiwi78 wrote:I see this line as having huge potential for passengers with it being part of the route tourists travel anyway. Rotorua should have a daily service from Auckland in my opinion.


If you were to run a passenger service between Auckland and Rotorua, you might as well make it a decent one - that means that it would need to be more frequent than once daily; I would try for once every two hours (and try to get the Auckland to Rotorua time down to three and a half hours). That would only require five DMUs (one for spare/maintenance), and should be sufficiently attractive to potential Auckland to Rotorua passengers (as well as others).
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby royce » Wed Dec 30, 2009 6:01 pm

john-ston wrote:If you were to run a passenger service between Auckland and Rotorua, you might as well make it a decent one - that means that it would need to be more frequent than once daily; I would try for once every two hours (and try to get the Auckland to Rotorua time down to three and a half hours). That would only require five DMUs (one for spare/maintenance), and should be sufficiently attractive to potential Auckland to Rotorua passengers (as well as others).


eurokiwi78 wrote:I see this line as having huge potential for passengers with it being part of the route tourists travel anyway. Rotorua should have a daily service from Auckland in my opinion.

All true but who is going to put the sort of money into it that would be needed. Obviously not Kiwirail or they would not have leased out the line.
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby geoff_184 » Sat Jan 02, 2010 12:44 am

Watch this space or rather the one at the south end of the Putararu yard.


I'll repeat - the line has been leased to Putaruru. I'm not sure why you would think KR will suddenly sever the line after it has been leased. The lease will not allow that, and cutting the connection has never been on the agenda, even before it was leased. I'm not sure where you have gotten your info from, but it's incorrect.

All true but who is going to put the sort of money into it that would be needed. Obviously not Kiwirail or they would not have leased out the line.


That's like saying the BOIVR, or Waiuku Branch, or OCB to Middlemarch are all not worthy of operating or else NZR would have retained them.

The Rotorua Branch lease is intended to enable the group to look after the line initially, and in time upgrade it for use by heritage trains and possibly commercial services at a later date still. Volunteers can achieve more than a commercial company because their costs are lower.
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby Rolls-Royce » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:27 am

Back in the days of the Second Chance Train Trust at Rotorua (the group before the RNRT), there were plans to build a big storage shed over the stoage compound at Ngongotaha and to bring the X class steam loco (that originally operated on the Ohai Railway Board's line) to Rotorua to operate on the line. This never happened in the end and the Second Chance Train Trust folded and the RNRT was then formed.

A lot of the current rolling stock and buildings etc came from the Tauranga Historic Village which closed down a few years ago. The village used to have a circular railway around it. The RNRT bought all the railway items and moved them to Ngongotaha.

If the RNRT can get all the track up to scratch, perhaps they could apporach Ian Welch from Mainline Steam about establishing a steam regular operation on the Rotorua line? I understand Ian is purchasing some ex BR carriages for Mainline Steam to run excursions with due to KiwiRail's charter fleet constantly being reduced (carriages being scrapped).

I wonder if the RNRT lease includes the Koutu yard on the south side of the Koutu overbridge? The Rotorua District Council have plans to widen Lake Road to four lanes and part of the project is to demolish the Lake Road overbridge over the railway line. I doubt the council will want a level crossing across their new four lane arterial road. The RNRT may just build a new station beside Railway Road by extending the former Geyserland Express's little platform on the north side of the Lake Road bridge.

If a new passenger service is to be started between Auckland and Rotorua, it needs to be fast and with modern rail vehicles or at least a train with good facilities and comfort running twice daily (morning and evening). A good high quality tourist train could be created using the six former Silver Star carriages currently sitting in the yard of A & G Price at Thames. Perhaps the UK company Serco, who has recently expressed an interest in Tranz Scenic, may be interested in establishing a Auckland-Rotorua tourist service?
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby matthew25187 » Sat Jan 02, 2010 4:46 pm

Rolls-Royce wrote:A good high quality tourist train could be created using the six former Silver Star carriages currently sitting in the yard of A & G Price at Thames.

Aren't those carriages still owned by an Asian tourist company?
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby john-ston » Sat Jan 02, 2010 5:28 pm

matthew25187 wrote:
Rolls-Royce wrote:A good high quality tourist train could be created using the six former Silver Star carriages currently sitting in the yard of A & G Price at Thames.

Aren't those carriages still owned by an Asian tourist company?


And don't those carriages have absestos?
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Re: Rotorua Branch Railway Leased to RNRT

Postby lcmortensen » Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:46 pm

john-ston wrote:And don't those carriages have absestos?


Yep. The Japanese obviously hadn't heard of Pink Batts back then.
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