Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Track to the Future

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  • Russell Brown,

    Russell - thanks for conceding my point.

    You're welcome ;-)

    It ended up in an effective PPP with Toll but with the access arrangements far too loose.

    But Cullen says even the access agreement they had was never adhered to, and that if it had been enforced, Toll made it clear would simply have started closing down services.

    I'll concede that Toll has arguably done us taxpayers like a dinner here. But I think it was going to keep on doing that no matter what sweetheart deal it got.

    I checked Cullen's full statements on the deal on the Beehive website just now - the rent-free deal is not mentioned. Toll made it explicit in their own press statement to the ASX.

    I think Cullen can do a lot better here when it comes to transparency.

    You're right. That's poor.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I'll concede that Toll has arguably done us taxpayers like a dinner here. But I think it was going to keep on doing that no matter what sweetheart deal it got.

    I think we should have sent in the men in jackboots and berets. The final solution to corporates screwing us over - nationalise!

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Fran O'Sullivan,

    Russell: Hhmn we could go on all day - I'm sure there will be lots of lessons in these privatisations and renationalisations for years to come.
    Chz Fran

    Wellington • Since Sep 2007 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But Cullen says even the access agreement they had was never adhered to, and that if it had been enforced, Toll made it clear would simply have started closing down services.

    Well, perhaps time for some enterprising journo to start firing off the OIA requests (or cultivate some leaky sources). No disrespect intended, Russell, but I know a few people involved in the rail industry who wouldn't take anything Cullen or Toll says about the access agreement at face value. And with good cause.

    In a funny way, both parties ultimately got what they wanted. And if this was two private companies I had no interest in, I probably wouldn't really care. But Fran's right: I think the lack of transparency should raise a few more eyebrows than it has, no matter what your views on private vs. public ownership are. After all, it is hundreds of millions of dollars in public money that's involved. None of that just falls off a magic money tree in the Beehive basement.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Freight is the answer to profitablity and efficiency for rail and if the Auckland/ Hamilton and Palm Nth./ were electrified then Tony Friedlander and his trucking buddies would face a serious challenge to their long distance journeys.

    Was talking to my engineer flatmate about trains and such, and he said that electrics just aren't suited to freight. They do superbly as passenger carriers because they accelerate fast, and are quiet, but they're also very light. They don't have the weight to try and haul thousands of tonnes on any kind of gradient, never mind some of the gradients that we've got going for us. A DX diesel, weighing in the vicinity of 100T, still needs a sanding unit to ensure traction on hills. The feather-weight electrics don't stand a chance.

    So, really, electrifying the NIMT would be great for improving passenger carriage speeds but it would be obscenely expensive and improve nothing for the side of the equation that actually makes money - freight.
    We'd be better off spending those large sums of money on re-cambering NIMT to allow higher speeds.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    We'd be better off spending those large sums of money on re-cambering NIMT to allow higher speeds.

    Isn't the issue then that the slower freight trains can't deal with the greater camber?
    Also, I don't know what they have inside them (because, actually it doesn't make any sense) but Wikipedia reckons the NIMT EF-class electrics are a touch heavier than the DX (although they have more power, the same weight, and the same no wheels, so may have worse traction than a DX)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Duncan McKenzie,

    Kyle way back up the thread was asking what happened to the Ministry of Works and Development.

    It was corporatised into two SOEs in 1988 - Works Civil Construction (that built things) and Works Consultancy Services (multi-disciplinary mostly engineering consultancy). Both of these businesses were obliged to compete with other businesses in the same field - which after many redundancies they managed to do.

    Of course a lot of functions the old MWD used to do just weren't done any more, or were picked up by other departments like Environment.

    Around 1997 both of these SOEs were privatised. WCC went to Downers (Australian) where it operates as a division, and WCS went to Kinta Kellas (Malaysian crony capitalists as far as I can tell). WCS is now called Opus International Consultants and still competes in the same area. It has recently listed on the stock exchange.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Isn't the issue then that the slower freight trains can't deal with the greater camber?
    Also, I don't know what they have inside them (because, actually it doesn't make any sense) but Wikipedia reckons the NIMT EF-class electrics are a touch heavier than the DX

    Interesting indeed. Maybe they've just got lots of steel to make them heavy? :P That'll learn me to listen to my flatmate, though his point about power:weight issues for electrics is still somewhat valid. He didn't actually say you couldn't get heavy electrics, or that they couldn't be more powerful that diesels, just that heavy haulage trains aren't commonly electric because diesels have lots of weight inherent in their design. I didn't even realise that there was electrification of NIMT over any significant distance.

    As for the camber thing, someone posted a quote further up (look about page 5) saying that the camber was a cheap-arse design decision early last century. The rails could've been cambered, but it would've cost money so it wasn't done. Such an illustrious history we have of being fucked over by cheapskate designers and polly tubbies (yes, Craig, that "we" includes you).

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Now you've got me obsessed Matthew (not that that is hard). I'd always thought the North Island locos looked a little on the flimsy side. It transpires that the NIMT fleet receive 25kV AC from the overhead lines, and I suspect the weight is in sodding great transformers which convert it to a lower voltage to drive the traction motors (otherwise, what would they keep in the main part of the body). Interestingly, and something which would be a bitch for further electrification, wellytown has 1500V DC. Apparently electrics are popular for freight, especially because of regenerative braking. Further interestingly, according the wikipedia page, half the cost of an electric loco is in the drive electronics (which are apparently not very simple at all). This is to do with making AC traction motors variable speeds, something DC is relatively good at (e.g., the 'inverter' heat pumps convert electrickery to DC so that they can vary the compressor speed).

    The rails could be more cambered, but the bends are also pretty tight. I've wondered whether we could have trainer wheels for our trains so they would be more stable at high speed. Or we could just have tilting trains. That technology seems pretty good now. I didn't actually realised I'd been in a tilting train, but it turns out that I've probably ridden them in Switzerland (ICN) and Germany (ICE) without realising.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    James fill your boots on Toll
    http://www.tollnz.co.nz/index.php?page=Enthusiasts

    Everyone conceeds the need for Rail but the quibbles are over who should own it.

    As for a waste of tax dollars and an inditement on society $1.2Billion in 6 years for what will only achieve literally a waste of time.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10508394

    There seriously shouldn't be anyone in prison serving less than 3yrs, as protection for the community and enough time for some work to assist the person to be a more functional member of society.

    Anything less should be Home Detention, which is a sh!tload cheaper, and much better for society as a whole.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

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