Not multiple failures equals success, it is more a case of getting a material result, and as far as I am concerned, four wagons a day is not material enough to call it a success.
Any business would regard that 400% growth in such a short time to be highly successful. Your view that it is not a success is certainly not shared by Toll. Taking a nightly truck they have been running for years and turning it into four truck loads in just a few weeks, is by all measures, a successful venture.
By using the percentage, you are implying that something is impressive when clearly it is not
I'm not implying anything. Just stated the fact that the traffic has grown by 400%. Why should I describe it as something other than what it is? But I do think it is impressive. Any company would be very happy with that result.
You seem happy about the status quo where we are getting an extra four wagons a day
I haven't said it should stop at that. I've pointed to it as an example of how the NAL is more competitive than SH 1 for bulk cartage. I only mentioned it because you erroneously claimed that the NAL is not competitive with SH 1.
The reason the growth has occurred is because Toll have bundled multiple customer's freight into a single cartage contract with KiwiRail, thus they get a reduced rate that is more competitive than standard truck haulage rates. This in turn attracts more customers, which in turn lowers the rates even further. That's why growth has occurred quickly.
By comparison, individual companies moving their freight by truck don't receive the benefit of reduced rates. If you want to move twice as much, you just double your costs, because a second truck and driver will incur the same running costs as the first truck. No rates reduction, and it's much the same for freight forwarding companies when they use trucks. They can't offer cheaper rates to customers by only using road. That's why all the major trucking companies are using rail nowadays, because it enables rates reduction to customers, the more they carry.
...it just isn't enough to keep the line open, especially now that train services on the North Auckland Line are being cut again.
You talk as though you see the line as somehow on the brink of closure. I've yet to see any evidence of that, excluding the RTF type propaganda that comes out every now and again about various lines.
What do you mean cut again? Lines are not justified on train counts. Less trains does not mean less tonnage. The Midland Line only has half the trains it did 30 years ago, but its tonnage level is ten fold of what it was 30 years ago.
Having ten freights a day each consisting of a DA or DG hauling 150-300 tonnes makes for a busy NAL, but it's not all that much more tonnage than what the line sees today, especially after you exclude livestock and intermediate station traffic.
I highly doubt that an additional four wagons has made the difference to the North Auckland Line given that services are being cut.
Of course it's made a difference. It has eight more wagons a day than it did before. That's growth, and therefore a "difference".
Your view that a service cut is an indication of losing tonnage is just your assumption, and it is not correct. Tonnage on the NAL has grown with each successive year from 2004 to date. Do you regard the Midland Line as being in decline because it only has half the trains it did 30 years ago? That's quite a big service cut after all!
What you have essentially admitted is that there isn't enough traffic out there to make the line viable because there isn't enough railable tonnage out there.
Nope, the only person claiming the NAL is unviable is you (and the RTF crowd). I have pointed out that your claim of the line needing hundreds of additional wagons per day is unrealistic. That does not mean that the lack of it happening means the line isn't viable, because it is only your assumption in the first place that the line is unviable. The line is viable right now. Why do you think KiwiRail is investing in it? You are setting your own measures of what is viable and what isn't, and because the NAL doesn't stack up against those self-set measures, you declare it unviable.
Well then make the LCL/LWL traffic bulk delivery, like you indicated can and does happen from time to time.
You could only do that by convincing the business community that they should cease making their own transport arrangements, and do everything through freight forwarding companies. Good luck.
That isn't good enough, if you cannot get the traffic, then the line will need to be shut.
Why close a line that has tonnage growth, and huge potential with Marsden Point?
I stated that we would need hundreds of wagon loads of traffic to make the North Auckland Line viable, to which you responded by saying that was unrealistic. Essentially you are saying that there isn't enough traffic out there to make the line viable again
I meant it was unrealistic to expect hundreds of wagons of additional tonnage per day, not that making the line viable is unrealistic, because I've yet to see any evidence that it's unviable. It's just your assumption that it is.
You don't need a freight grant subsidy, you need some method of making shipping such freight viable...
A subsidy will do that. Nothing else will, because rail cartage rates are based on tonnage levels. That's why such traffic is no longer carried by railways throughout the western world.
...Obviously, one method would be to make the route much faster and thus justify a higher charge...
Right, so even though LCL/LWL traffic doesn't go by rail because the rates are higher than road, you want to increase the rates further, in an effort to achieve the same speed as the trucks. So same delivery time as the trucks at massively higher cost. This will cause people to use rail how?
Once again I'll repeat - the current NAL is ALREADY the fastest way to move bulk tonnage between Auckland and Whangarei. Making the line more direct will not make LCL/LWL traffic shift from road to rail any more than it does now, because the modal shift is only enabled by tonnage levels, not by time keeping.
Look at places where the railway is as direct as the road, like say Napier-Palmy, or Christchurch-Timaru. LCL/LWL still all goes by road. Why then do you think that Auckland-Whangarei will somehow attract more tonnage with a direct route, when all the existing direct rail routes around the country are no better off with LCL/LWL traffic than the NAL is? It's because freight rates are set by tonnage of the contract. Road is cheaper for LCL/LWL freight.
Obviously, all of those options have their rates determined by the speed of their operation
NO! Rail rates are set by tonnage. A truck is faster from Auckland to Wellington than a railway wagon, but the truck is cheaper. Rail rates only come down below that of trucks after you reach a certain tonnage level. Only bulk contracts are cheaper for rail. It has nothing to do with speed, and everything to do with tonnage.
It will not change for bulk tonnage, but like we both agree, bulk tonnage will simply not be enough to keep the North Auckland Line viable. We are seeing a service cut on the North Auckland Line, which indicates how much of a knife-edge that the line is on
There is no tonnage cut. I like your reference "to keep the North Auckland Line viable" - here I was under the impression that you thought it wasn't
Bulk tonnage is all you can add to the line, like all railways, as LCL/LWL traffic will not add any value to the operation and you won't attract it in the first place because even if you matched or bettered the speed of a truck, you won't match the low rates of the truck, UNLESS you combine multiple LCL/LWL customers into a single contract. That can only be done on a limited basis as you need businesses to do everything through freight logistics companies for it to work.
Maybe not Auckland to Whangarei per se, but certainly to the intermediate destinations
I don't believe that intermediate stations on the NAL would still be open and in use if the Harbour Bridge wasn't built. Every line in NZ lost those stations, and the types of traffics they generated, a long time ago.