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CEAC Calls National’s Transport Anti-rail Policy Cruel To All Regions

The 2020 National party policy for transport is to use truck freight not rail, and already signalled only “more roads” which is dangerous, reckless, and will bankrupt NZ and ruin our future, costing taxpayers billions.

Our case in point;

  • Why fund restoration of regional rail equally to roads?

When in 2001 we met ‘Tony Friedlander’ the former (RTF) ‘Road Transport Forum’ chief at the HB Regional Land Transport Meeting, in 2001, he said he wanted a ‘dedicated double laned road for trucks only’ - to fix the problem of truck gridlocked roads then.

Now that will cost would be estimated to be at least $200 Billion dollars, according to figures found here.

https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2017/08/01/escalating-costs-building-roads/ without any consideration for possible resulting iwi claims to perpetual access charges for rights of use costs added.

Perhaps the cheaper way is to shift 50% of the freight back to rail and fund rail equally to roads?

This is a plea to the Transport Select Committee, - we urge you back this ‘Rail Legislation amendment Bill’ both to get the regional rail operating and especially the Gisborne rail line re-opened please as the whole East Coast is asking for this now.

We will request this at the ‘Transport Select Committee’, during their consideration of changes, give regard to our concerns of how dangerous the roads are for us all with truck gridlock now, regarding the ‘Rail legislation amendment bill’.

We fully support Minister of Transport Phil Twyford’s move to make funding for rail an equal recipient to road funding.

This is long overdue, so well-done Phil Twyford and Winston Peters.

Our community along with our local leaders including our new Mayor of Gisborne District Rehette Stoltz are all now requesting for rail services to be restored for our community’s own health, safety and social wellbeing since the PGF funded BERL report come out in December justifying rail services be restored to Gisborne for our community wellbeing.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/405652/millions-for-gisborne-rail-link-restoration-is-justified-report

  • Proof of our strong support for Gisborne rail’; we provide the latest NZ Herald poll results showing 86% want Gisborne rail freight and passenger services restored. http://www.gisborneherald.co.nz/local-news/20200222/whopping-86pc-favour-restoring-gisborne-rail-link/
  • We are placing our own Provincial Transport hazards and public health issues without any rail services, now before the government; why you must support the Land Transport (Rail) Legislation Bill to increase rail funding to improve rail services to our export rich region and other regions.

History; Before the last election in 2017 we watched the first leaders debate on TV One between Jacinda Ardern & Bill English National’s last PM.

The debate never actually tackled the thorny issues of transport issues we all face deficits from in our East Coast regions without rail.

Our Community concerns at national’s lack of rail for the deficiencies we all face in our regions of HB/Gisborne since the National Party had assumed the mantle of governance over our regions and lives during the nine years of hell.

When the National Party took over in November 2008 the former Labour lead Government had just bought back the rail system from Toll Rail, an Australian Company and had set aside a track Maintenance Company called Ontrack who were given a $200 Million reserve account to rely on to keep the rail line in service, for the new Kiwirail operator to run their services.

National’s new Minister of Transport Steven Joyce somehow reorganised the Kiwirail Company and folded the On Track rail line Maintenance Company up and the $200 million somehow disappeared.

Since 2009 we had witnessed three events of large rail washouts on the rail line between Gisborne and Central HB.

  • First the washout around Otane in Central HB.
  • Later the larger washout at Beach Loop near Mahia Northern HB/Gisborne.
  • Third event was in 2018 was a medium sized washout near Kotemaori in HB.
  • The $200 million Labour finance minister Michael Cullen had setup for the ‘Ontrack’ - track maintenance was to deal with these washouts, as we have seen many other washouts around NZ rail have been repaired since.

Someone in Labour now before the 2020 election must ask the National opposition leader Simon Bridges (who was then Minister of transport) “where was our share of that $200 million Ontrack was given to repair the rail washouts at Beach Loop, Otane, and Kotemaori so our rail to Gisborne is finally repaired after being left closed since March 2012?”

FACT; We now have witnessed that this ‘mess’ was left for the new Labour coalition Government to find that lost $200 Million that was robbed from our Public Rail Company ‘Ontrack’ account?

We met with the Napier National Party candidate David Elliott before the last election in 2017 about the disastrous HB/Gisborne “truck Gridlocked roads” causing immense noise, vibrations and air pollution in our local regions especially around the Napier residential areas near the HB Expressway, as we are now confirming that our continuous cameras count over 2400 truck movements are counted every day that travel on the expressway to the Port of Napier & other areas each day since the rail was cut from the slips in 2012.

We had asked for the Minister of Transport Simon Bridges to visit Napier and meet our Community Committee and inspect the issues we faced then and worse now, but after three attempts to ask for Simon Bridges to attend a meeting here with his own National Party candidate David Elliott he has declined.

Gladly National candidate David Elliot did agree to come and meet residents in west Napier near the HB Expressway, to see the truck gridlock in the residential communities of west Napier, and he responded verbally stated to us that he saw an issue of no adequate mitigation given to us to cope with the heavy truck noise vibrations and air pollution emitted from the high truck volumes going to the Port of Napier, as he saw adequately given to the residents of Hong Kong where he spent some time.

I expect Mr Bridges during 2020 knows what a mess he & his Government’s transport policy is in since there is no support for restoring regional rail, that is previous administration had left for us to live with.

During the last election we watched PM Bill English during the run up to election day in 2017, and then in his first Leaders debate on TV, he was often talking about his Government actively going around the country meeting all those business folks, such as the seafood workers, and truck drivers, to see what issues they wanted to see, we felt somewhat disappointed as every letter request we sent for a meeting with him was declined.

So was Simon Bridges lack of a meeting given, as he was the Minister of Transport then and our issue was seeking his support for regional rail which was declined.

How could our Committee have tried any harder to work directly with the National Party to meet with our Community Committee in Napier or Gisborne then?

So, we need to support this Labour coalition Government to get a fair hearing and support for rail services in our regions.

National can’t criticise us for not trying to work with them can they as we tried?

We need to set the record straight for voters to decide in 2020 who supports rail.


ENDS

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