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Call for road/rail level playing field justified

For immediate release
31 March 2005

Study proves call for level playing field between road and rail justified

The Surface Transport Costs and Charges Study released today has been welcomed by Toll NZ as it proves once and for all the inequalities that exist between rail and road users.

The future and benefits of rail has long been debated in the absence of a comprehensive fact base, this study provides just that. This includes the benefits of rail to ease congestion, improve safety on our roads, and to help the environment.

Toll NZ Chief Executive Officer David Jackson says the figures in the report support their claim that for years there has not been a level playing field between rail and road transport. The report show that trucks directly pay only 56% of their cost while rail freight pay 80% of its total costs.

“This is a far higher percentage than is directly paid by road users. While the Crown have now taken back ownership the responsibility for the cost of the rail network still remains with the rail industry and that cost including capital costs must be recovered from the charges to the consumer.

“There can be no doubt that if the costs paid by heavy trucks to use the roading network were on an equitable basis to rail, a shift of suitable traffic to rail would occur.
“It is interesting to note that the findings state with regards to increasing the road user charges to align them to rail, ‘ The alternative to such a policy, given the Government’s intention to retain the rail network, is long term and continuing subsidies to the rail network”.

“The findings also clearly support the environmental benefits of rail noting that land transport related public health costs are generated almost entirely by road traffic with particulate matter emissions from rail equal to less than 2% of road traffic emissions. This compares with heavy commercials vehicles accounting for 43% of local air pollution.

“The findings from this study will obviously be useful in achieving the Governments objectives within the National Rail Strategy to 2014 paper which specifically looks to encourage a sustainable modal shift from road to rail where appropriate,” says Mr Jackson.


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