KiwiRail: Stratford Stays Closed


KiwiRail confirmed tonight that the Stratford-Okahukura Line that links Taranaki with the North Island Main Trunk Line near Taumarunui will remain moth-balled for at least the next two years.

The line is one of four ‘minor lines’ identified for review because they carry limited traffic and do not meet their operational and capital costs.

KiwiRail Chief Executive Jim Quinn says the decision has been taken because KiwiRail “needs to act in a commercial manner.”

“Minor lines that carry little or no traffic will only survive if they can prove their worth or have an anchor customer waiting in the wings,” he said.

“We’ve worked with the local community and customers over the past six months but have been unable to secure freight traffic that can underpin the line’s viability,” Mr Quinn said.

“A wide range of community interests have worked with us and I’d like to acknowledge their input in helping us reach this decision.

“Community leaders in the Taranaki-King Country area have raised the prospect of new business with us. Moth-balling the line means if opportunities arise to make the line viable then we can take advantage of those.”

In the meantime KiwiRail will undertake regular inspections to monitor safety and manage vegetation.

KiwiRail says the decision to moth-ball won’t have any impact on KiwiRail staffing levels.

Mr Quinn said the line would not be moth-balled indefinitely.

“If we can’t identify enough business to justify keeping the line open, we’ll take another look at our options. If the best option is closure, we’ll look for an alternative use for the land but we will retain the rail designation.”

He said one of the most common submissions made during the review was the SOL’s value as an alternative to the North Island Main Trunk (NIMT). In practice, outages on the NIMT have generally been brief and capable of being managed.

Almost all freight traffic which previously ran on the SOL continues to be moved on alternative rail lines and KiwiRail remains confident that it has the opportunity to grow business in the Taranaki area.

Services on the SOL were suspended in November 2009 after a derailment seriously damaged 9.5 km of track. Given the costs involved in repairing the damage and improving the condition of the line, and the limited revenue it generated, KiwiRail chose to suspend services and review the line’s future.

Last week, Mr Quinn warned that more than $20m over 10 years would have to be found to keep the Gisborne-Napier line profitable.

He says that line will be mothballed for 3 to 5 years if that can’t be found. That would “provide a breathing space for opportunities to be developed or for something on the horizon to emerge.”

In May, transport minister Steven Joyce announced a KiwiRail turnabout plan.

Explaining at the time the impact on regional lines, Mr Quinn says one of the central elements of the plan is the need to maintain a connected network rather than reverting to a series of ‘short lines’.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the network we operate at the moment will remain the same.

“We will review the minor lines and ultimately, unless they have an anchor customer or there is a compelling public good reason for them to stay open, they will be closed or moth-balled.




  1. Geoff says:

    The two year mothballing was announced to staff on June 1st, the idea being that the final decision for all of the threatened lines will be made at the same time, in 2012.

  2. rtc says:

    I don’t honestly think one anti-rail transport minister has the right to remove the option of re-using these lines in the future by closing them permanently rather than merely motballing them indefinitely.

  3. R Askew says:

    The Minister of Trucks ( thanks for all the donantions trucking lobby) does not like rail. It is clear there’s only one way to keep our strategic infrastructure…and it isn’t with the Nats/Act camp.

    Poor decisions being pushed on KiwiRail by Steven Joyce.

  4. Jon R says:

    This is not moving NZ forward. I understand KiwiRail’s requirements. However, look who masterminded the requirements one Minister of Transport, aka Steven Joyce. The Road Transport Forum will be having a toast today.

    On the day the ETS came in with increased costs for diesel… the rail network gets cut. The Govt. is not making sense!


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>