geoff_184 wrote:Except the Taupo and Waipa mills would only get you a train a day, which falls well short of justifying the cost of construction.
This is not the only traffic that the line would carry, it would carry log trains as well. There would also be traffic from the Fonterra dairy factory at Reporoa.
geoff_184 wrote:Would the economics stack up? The transhipping costs/time, and the dog leg of Kinleith-Rotorua-Taupo (double the direct distance) seems very cumbersome to me. If the freight is already on a truck to Taupo, it may as well keep going to Auckland instead of going in a different direction to get to a transshipping point, to then start a slow train to Auckland. You would struggle to provide an overnight service, whereas the trucks would do it easily.
I really don't think tonnage levels would justify building a multi billion dollar line in this day and age. The ship has sailed on building new inter-regional railways in this country.
The route of the line is longer than a direct line between Kinleith and Taupo because it is following a route that serves Rotorua and other industries between Rotorua and Taupo that a direct line from Kinleith to Taupo would not serve. A direct route south from Kinleith would encounter difficult terrain and would requite two bridges over the Waikato River. The route via Waipa and Reporoa involves much easier terrain and would be much more suitable for heavy log trains, which the current Rotorua Branch is not suitable for.
Freight between Auckland and Hawkes Bay could quite easily be transported overnight by rail with truck transfer at Taupo, there is more than sufficient time. A freight train would probably take around five to five and a half hours to get from Auckland to Taupo, then two hours between Taupo and Napier.
Operating one line over a longer (and less steep) route is more efficient and cost effective than operating seperate branch lines - obviously not viable with the current Rotorua Branch.
It is also about economies of scale, one freight train can carry considerably more freight more efficiently than multiple trucks, even if it does take longer - which is not an issue for an overnight service.
Then there is all the other factors with a freight train verses multiple large heavy trucks on the roads - fuel usage as oil prices increase, road wear and tear, road crashes involving trucks; the noise, vibration and fumes inflicted on communities with large numbers of trucks passing through them, not to mention pedestrian safety (eg school children attempting to cross busy roads with large numbers of trucks travelling along them).
Having Rotorua and Taupo linked along one line would also enable a high quality Tranz Scenic service to be established between Auckland Hamilton Rotorua Taupo, linking these major popular tourist centres with the main entry point for tourists in Auckland. Yes, the train may be slower than a coach along this route, but it is not a race between coach and train between point A and B, it is about the journey and a quality experience - and this is what many wealthy tourists want and are willing to pay for, and consequently this is what Tranz Scenic train journeys are about now - a high quality train experience. Rotorua and Taupo are popular destinations and there is a market there for tourists who are willing to pay a premium fare to get to places like Rotorua and Taupo in comfort eg new AK Premier carriages. The line just needs to be built to these centres.
Both Rotorua and Taupo are large growing forestry and tourism centres, a line from Kinleith linking them both would be viable and would be well used in this day in age. Forestry traffic is ideal for rail, general freight and passenger traffic would complement it in these regions. The line would pay for itself in time with the traffic it would carry, and the investment that the Government would have made in funding the line, will return to them in the form of dividends from KiwiRail in the years to come.