Decarbonising the Transport System Conference

Published on 23/02/2022 at 12:46 pm.

Open letter to the Minister of Transport:

Hon. Michael Wood
Minister of Transport
Parliament Buildings

Dear Hon. Michael Wood

We are writing about the ‘Decarbonising the Transport System’ online conference the Ministry of Transport is organising on March 1. 

While we welcome the attention given to this important subject, we are concerned that the rail sector is not represented at the conference.  Transport comprises 21% of New Zealand’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, the second largest source, and has been New Zealand’s fastest growing source of emissions over that last 30 years. We believe rail transport is part of the solution and should be given a voice at the table. 

Amongst the line-up of keynote speakers are representatives for the land transport lobby, farmers, and car manufacturers. A spokesperson for rail is not included on the agenda.  

Rail plays an important role in getting people out of cars and onto public transport across the world. Long distance passenger rail between towns and cities is a key part of decarbonising transport overseas. There are passenger rail revival projects in California, Illinois, Texas and Florida, places traditionally associated with cars. 2021 was the year of rail in Europe with the expansion of fast rail and night trains. In 2021, it was announced that the Northern Explorer service between Auckland and Wellington and the Coastal Pacific between Picton and Christchurch would be suspended indefinitely. New Zealand is now the only significant advanced economy in the world without passenger rail linking our major cities. In addition, New Zealand does not have any night trains in service. 

Rail also plays a significant role in low emissions freight transport.

The lack of a keynote speaker representing rail is a further indication of the low prioritisation the Government gives the sector, as well as a lack of recognition of rail’s key role in decarbonising transport.

We call on the Ministry of Transport to include a keynote speaker from the rail sector.

Best regards,

Paul Callister & Patrick Rooney
On Behalf of the SaveOurTrains Campaign

Hon. James Shaw, Minister for Climate Change
Mr Peter Mersi, CEO, Ministry of Transport

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