Monster Gobbles Real Rail Funding

Published on 20/05/2022 at 5:48 pm.

Opinion - The City Centre to Mangere light rail project is set to gobble anything from $15 -$30 billion of funding when that money could be better spent elsewhere. The Rail Advocacy Collective (TRAC) national coordinator Niall Robertson says, “The light rail monster will gobble up so much in materials to build it, it won’t save one carbon molecule until about 2052. This is inexcusable in a situation where millions die or are displaced due to climate change”.

The money should be diverted to projects that really do save carbon and really do provide more social equity. TRAC believes the Mangere light rail project should be replaced by the extension of the heavy rail system from Onehunga to Wiri via Mangere and the airport. Further, TRAC supports the proposed line from Avondale to Southdown for freight from Northland and to connect the west of Auckland to the south of Auckland.

Further south, there is a need to electrify gaps in the NIMT (North Island Main Trunk) and to electrify to Tauranga. There is a need to reopen lines to Rotorua, from Stratford to Taumarunui, from Wairoa to Gisborne, North of Whangarei and to open a new connecting line to NorthPort.

There is also a need for the government to fund rail forms of regional and long distance public transport, and to develop a well connected network throughout the country using trains, buses and ferries. New Zealand has these networks in place, but they are currently not used to potential or not used at all.

The recent budget has restricted KiwiRail to treading water. There is provision to replace locomotives and rolling stock on a one new for a one old basis and to replace track on existing used infrastructure but no increase in the amount of rolling stock or extensions to the rail network. Rail carries just 12% of the New Zealand freight task, and just 36% of the potential freight that could be carried by rail. Apart from Auckland and Wellington and a couple of fledgling regional services, there is no rail public transport anywhere else in New Zealand.

Robertson says, “There is a growing chasm of regional inequity regarding public transport and rail services as politicians seemingly splurge on expensive vanity projects in their city electorates, but ignore the regions. We need to get serious in Aotearoa New Zealand about inequality and climate change. We have to stop planning transport based on where the votes come from, and base developments on the best ways to save emissions and to provide transport equity”.

Opinion/Press release dated 20 May 22. Authorized by Guy Wellwood Chair, The Railway Advocacy Collective (TRAC)

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