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KiwiRail faces slow death through bleeding

18 December 2008 Media Statement

Hughes: KiwiRail faces slow death through bleeding

Labour transport spokesman Darren Hughes says KiwiRail will bleed slowly to death if it is denied the funding it needs to buy new rolling stock.

“Finance Minister Bill English has said today that large increases in rail infrastructure will have to be re-examined to see if they make sense,” Darren Hughes said.

“That can only mean one thing. KiwiRail will not be able to source funding, either directly from the Government or through borrowing, to buy the new rolling stock it so desperately needs to be able to compete.

“We are talking about an investment of half a billion dollars --- roughly the same cost as completing the Waikato Expressway, but the rail investment makes so much more long-term sense for the future of New Zealand.”

Darren Hughes said the rundown and aging nature of KiwiRail’s rolling stock meant it was struggling to maintain existing customers.

“If KiwiRail is denied the opportunity to modernise its stock, it makes nonsense of any idea that it could actually attract new customers,” he said.

“National is setting KiwiRail up to fail by dying a slow death, and when that happens the Government will be able to crow that Labour made the wrong decision in the first place by buying KiwiRail back.

“It will be a national tragedy if this opportunity to revitalise rail is lost, and it makes a further mockery of National’s approach to climate change. It has already cancelled the biofuel sales obligation and the moratorium on new fossil-powered electricity generation. Now it looks set to encourage even greater use of road transport at the expense of a far more environmentally friendly alternative.”


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