Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Rail union urges govt to keep promise, save electric trains

Rail union urges government to keep promise, save electric trains

The Rail & Maritime Transport Union calls on the government to honour it’s campaign pledge of maintaining electric locomotives on the North Island Main Trunk.

Almost a year after the Labour-led government was formed, and despite statements while in opposition from Labour, the Greens and NZ First, there is deafening silence from the Beehive as KiwiRail prepares to mothball its electric machines in favour of Chinese diesel engines.

Todd Valster, acting RMTU General Secretary, warns that the Labour-affiliate union will raise its concerns loudly at the Party’s November conference if required.

“We were thrilled to see Jacinda and the team elected, on a strong platform of protecting workers rights and tackling climate change,” says Mr Valster.

“I remember her describing it as the challenge that defines her generation. Well, this is a chance to make that slogan a reality. It’s time for a government of action.”

15 DL class diesel engines were unloaded onto the Tauranga wharves last week, with KiwiRail intending to deploy them as replacements for the EF class electric locomotives currently in use between Hamilton and Palmerston North.

The Chinese-made diesel engines have previously been criticised for asbestos contamination and “extraordinarily poor” performance.

They are expected to burn through eight million litres of diesel a year, adding an extra 12,000 tons of pollution to New Zealand’s carbon footprint.

Without electric locomotives operating, this may only be the beginning; it is easy to imagine KiwiRail asking why they should maintain an electric-capable section of track, without engines to match.

“KiwiRail haven’t properly maintained the EF engines for years, but it would still cost only $12 million to get them ready for another decade of operation. Compare that to $35 million for just eight of these diesels,” says Mr Valster.

“Our union has always fought hard to keep secure, well paid jobs in New Zealand, and it’s difficult to see how importing dodgy diesels from China will help with that. For once, the cheapest option is also the greenest and the most forward thinking.”

Since KiwiRail’s diesel plan was first announced in 2016, concerns have been raised by the RMTU, industry experts, and environmental groups such as Generation Zero.

Green co-leader James Shaw spoke recently of broadening the government’s plans to spend millions in support of electric vehicles.

“Perhaps he should let us know if his opinions on electric locomotives have changed since he was in opposition,” says Mr Valster.

“Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First have promises to keep and a $5.5 billion dollar budget surplus to keep them with. If the government cares about secure jobs in Palmerston North, Taihape, Taumaranui, Ohakune and the Hutt Valley, if they care about saving our planet, the time to act is now.”


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Whakaari / White Island Eruption: Body recovery operation

The NZ Defence Force recovered the bodies of six people who tragically died in Monday’s eruption on Whakaari/White Island and will support efforts to recover the bodies of two others in the hope there is resolution for those families. .. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Welfare Vs Infrastructure Spending

If New Zealand has a pressing need to stimulate its flagging economy, it seems very weird that the government is choosing a $12 billion package of infrastructure spending – mainly on road and rail – that by definition, will take a very long time to deliver their stimulatory benefits ... More>>

New Reports: "Immediate Commitment To Doing Justice Differently"

Justice Minister Andrew Little released two reports today, Turuki! Turuki! from Te Uepū Hāpai I te Ora, and Te Tangi o te Manawanui: Recommendations for Reform from the Chief Victims Advisor. Both recommend a fresh approach to the way criminal justice has been approached... More>>


"Heart-Breaking And Confronting": Surgical Mesh Restorative Justice Report

Minister Genter: “People have talked about losing the life they had enjoyed before surgical mesh harmed them – the loss of a steady job, the ability to exercise, a loving relationship in some cases. Others described the chronic pain they experienced..." More>>


Law Foundation: Government Decryption Powers Must Respect Privacy

The power of government to order users and companies to decrypt encrypted data and devices needs stronger privacy protections and additional safeguards, according to a study published by researchers at the University of Waikato. More>>

Latest 'Discussion Doc': National On Healthcare

National has today released our eighth Discussion Document which focusses on health and outlines a range of policies which will enable more Kiwis to access high-quality healthcare, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says. More>>


Select Committee Report: Combatting Foreign Election Interference

MPs have finally delivered their recommendations to combat foreign interference in elections in a long awaited and much delayed report. More>>

Mosque Attacks: Names Of Arresting Officers Released

Police are now in the position to name the two officers involved in the arrest of the alleged gunman responsible for the attacks on the Al Noor and Linwood Mosques on March 15. More>>

Big, Bold, Permanent Change Needed: Children's Commissioner On 2019 Child Poverty Monitor

“I want to see family incomes dramatically raised by increasing benefits and making the minimum wage a living wage. And the Government needs to move much faster at increasing the supply of social housing..." More>>






InfoPages News Channels