The Save Our Trains campaign says a high level Government conference on decarbonising transport has a huge hole in it.
The Ministry of Transport is organising an online conference with the title ‘Decarbonising the Transport System virtual conference’ to be held on 1 March.
Save Our Trains spokesperson Paul Callister says the campaign welcomes the attention being given to this important topic.
But he says it is staggering the rail sector is not represented at the conference, and the Save Our Trains campaign has written an open letter to the Minister of Transport about it (editorial note: letter attached below.)
The lack of a keynote speaker representing rail is a disturbing gap and the Ministry needs to explain how this situation could occur, says Mr Callister.
Mr Callister says the line-up of keynote speakers includes a representative of farmers’ organizations, someone from the trucking industry, a car share company speaker and a spokesperson from Toyota. Later in the conference there will be a presentation from a cycling researcher – but nothing from the rail sector.
“In cities around the world, rail plays a very important role in getting people out of cars and onto public transport. Rail plays a significant role in low emissions freight transport. Long distance passenger rail between towns and cities is a key part of decarbonising transport overseas.”
Mr Callister says in diverse areas ranging from the United States to Europe there are passenger rail revival projects.
“New Zealand is now the only advanced economy in the world without passenger rail linking our major cities.”
He says the campaign is calling on the Ministry of Transport to include a keynote speaker from the rail sector.
The Save Our Trains campaign was started in late January by members of the public who were concerned by KiwiRail’s announcement in December to withdraw same day scheduled passenger services on both islands.
The petition to Save Our National Passenger Rail Network reads:
We call on the Government and KiwiRail to commit to maintaining existing intercity passenger rail services. Furthermore, we ask for a comprehensive national strategy for future passenger rail services built around concern for accessibility, climate action, and economic development.
The petition to Save Our National Passenger Rail Network can be found at: https://our.actionstation.org.nz/p/saveourtrains