AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Opponent says NZ government ?starving rail to death?

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> One of New Zealand’s smaller political parties has proposed a $300 million funding switch from roads to rail ahead of the country’s election, and the party leader has criticised the National government for its policies on rail. </span> <p>NZ First, which won eight seats at the last election, proposed the cash swap as part of its policy on transport, the centerpiece of which is its 10-year Railways of National Importance program. The funding is proposed for several purposes, including restoring the Gisborne-Napier line, and investigating the extension of the Wellington line to Levin and Wairarapa.</p><p>The electrification of Auckland’s rail network south to Pukekohe is also a priority, as well as the construction of the City Rail Link.</p><p>“Funding for the Railways of National Importance Program will be fiscally neutral and will be met by diverting money from National’s Roads of National Signifcance program,” NZ First leader Winston Peters said, according to local paper the NZ Herald. “An initial allocation of $300 million will be made.”</p><p>The proposal to funnel cash away from road funding and into rail will no doubt be an interesting one to Australian readers it is the clear cut opposite to the policy engaged by the Abbott Government, which saw federal funding for rail projects cut and money instead put into large road projects.</p><p>Peters says the rail-first policy will ease congestion on New Zealand’s roads.</p><p>“This will apply especially to heavy and bulk freight services,” he was quoted, “but also where passenger services can be redeveloped to attract sufficient demand over time.”</p><p>Peters criticised the National Government’s agenda, which he claimed “is to let rail in New Zealand die”.</p><p>“They are starving rail to death,” he reportedly said. “Our transport policy will give rail a real and value role in the total transport mix.”</p><p>Peters said the closure of the Gisborne-Napier line was a mistake.</p><p>“National was looking for an excuse to close down another bit of the rail network and jumped on the excuse that the washout provided,” he was quoted. “The Napier-Gisborne line will be back in business with NZ First.”</p>