The Rail Advocacy Collective(TRAC) is disappointed that KiwiRail Ltd are to end the long service of operating train services between Auckland and Wellington and Christchurch and Picton. The North Island service has a long history of over 100 years and is occurring at a time when the government should be promoting better public transport options for New Zealanders at a time when we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be promoting more equity in transport. These one day rail travel options need to be reinstated, and the government needs to prevent any further deterioration of public transport options immediately.
Guy Wellwood, Chair of TRAC says, “The provision of public transport in Aotearoa New Zealand is currently haphazard at best and totally uncoordinated and the government is asleep at the wheel in this critical time of need for national infrastructure”. TRAC believes that there is a need right now for the below wheel infrastructure to be removed from the control of KiwiRail and returned to the government to provide services and be administered for the people of New Zealand. TRAC also believes that there is a need for a government run national public transport coordination service to overcome KiwiRail’s inability to provide for public transport and local governments having to compete for government investment dollars as illustrated by the Te Huia debacle between Hamilton and Auckland authorities. TRAC also opposes the proposed $9-$16 billion (plus) investment in light rail to the airport in Auckland which serves very few people and takes too much money away from other more effective forms of public transport, both in Auckland and throughout the country. We believe this to be a political decision and a waste of resources which would not have been considered by a national public transport authority
TRAC believes that true competition with KiwiRail through an open access railway will create far more options for New Zealanders and far better utilisation of the New Zealand railway network. KiwiRail’s current goals are simply profit driven with no ability to consider wider common good services such as regional freight services and public transport. TRAC believes that the government should recognise the Treasury report indicating that the wider economic benefits of rail amount to $1 billion to the New Zealand economy per annum currently. The entire New Zealand rail network should not be pegged to KiwiRail’s next quarter’s bottom line.