KiwiRail unable to meet Cook Strait ferry commitments due to Governmental flip flopping

Published on 14/12/2023 at 5:43 pm.

Press release: TRAC (The Rail Advocacy Collective) is concerned about the fallout from the Cook Strait budget blowout. KiwiRail (KRL) has been on a shoestring budget running this service for decades, which has led to KRL owning three unreliable ferries. TRAC national coordinator Niall Robertson says, “...every ship owner knows that ships are notoriously unreliable in their third decade of service, and the current fleet of KRL ferries have proved this to be so”. Robertson adds that the government is to blame as they should have bought KRL the new ferries a decade ago. That would have saved all of the recent nail biting dramas at sea and the cost escalations second to the current global cost increases and supply change problems

KiwiRail is now contemplating going back a decade by continuing to lease non-rail capable ferries. Robertson says, “...this is a direct threat to the Picton to Christchurch railway line, which is running well below capacity currently due to this very problem!” Robertson adds, “If the government was really serious about climate change they would be investing in rail, which is currently doing about 30% of the rail freight task and 2% per cent of long distance public transport rail task in New Zealand”.

TRAC urges the government to reach out to other parties to organise a bi-partisan approach to transport (and other) infrastructure development in New Zealand which looks rationally at the nation’s needs and provides a pipeline of projects to meet those needs, rather than reacting to short term political popularity factors.

The Auckland vanity light rail project wasted a decade of proper rail development in Auckland and flawed rail funding structures has led to rail line closures and the current Cook Strait debacle. Robertson points out that rail is a vital transport asset across the motu that is needed to reduce congestion, traffic accidents, road maintenance costs, transport pollution and greenhouse gases. It also helps businesses in remote parts of New Zealand and used to provide high quality social connectivity for these communities.

TRAC urges KiwiRail to look at a less gold plated shore infrastructure project and seriously consider going back to the government with a plan for three smaller rail capable ferries. After all the cost of the ferries was not the problem.

Press release dated 14 December 2023. Authorized by Guy Wellwood Chair, The Railway Advocacy Collective (TRAC)

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