This is a letter published in the Dom Post 31 March, 2016.
The Government is systematically destroying the railway asset of New Zealand.
Currently many lines are on a maintenance system of”managed decline”. Smaller branches have been”mothballed”and KiwiRail has a policy in many regions of not looking for and refusing work offered.
They are closing down the North Island main trunk electrification and taking rail as an option out of the Cook Strait ferries.
To be fair, KiwiRail management have been forced into this process of asset stripping by the Government, which has expected them to make a profit when lumbered with permanent way maintenance and depreciation costs that do not exist for their competitors in road transport.
This is political manipulation of the worst kind and it treats the people of New Zealand, especially those in the regions, with contempt. In Hawke’s Bay, a consortium of business people, a transport operator and a heritage train operator, supported by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, presented a viable plan for a short line operation between Napier and Gisborne, KiwiRail has stonewalled this for four years. Free market or the politics of favouritism?
Its time we fought to protect our assets. We need to fund rail like roads.
A number of points in this letter, but I feel the main point is that there is a huge disparity between road and rail funding – rail’s funding is easily packaged into the ‘subsidy’ basket, whereas we ‘Invest’ roading projects, despite being more heavily-subsidised than rail.
It is also hard to give the full picture in a ten-second sound-bite, but very easy to slander it.