Rail Fail: Coalition Risking New Zealand’s Future
The coalition government is putting our social, economic and environmental future at risk by not investing in critical rail infrastructure.
In the space of a few short weeks the new government has signalled they will mothball the rail line to Wairoa, cancel light rail in both Auckland and Wellington, and scuttle the new iReX Cook Strait ferries. These are alarming signs.
“Rail is critical infrastructure. It’s been built up over generations and provides opportunities to future-proof our transport system around resilience, emissions reduction, linking communities and the creation of economic and social opportunities ", says The Future Is Rail spokesperson, Dr Paul Callister.“After decades of neglect, rail needs investment. The alternative is to slump into a state of decline. The costs to economic growth, our climate, and human lives will be significant if we don’t invest in the future of rail.”
Dr Callister says the decision on the new iReX Cook Strait ferries is particularly concerning because of its critical importance in ensuring the resilience of our national transport infrastructure across both islands.
“We must have new, rail-enabled ferries on the Cook Strait. Any delays or shortcuts not only risk the safety and economic wellbeing of New Zealanders, but they also risk the viability of rail and potentially condemn future generations to limited transport choices.”
“The flow-on effects are potentially disastrous. There can be no passenger or freight trains if there is no rail network.”
The Future Is Rail spokesperson, Patrick Rooney, says “more than 1000 people have attended our public meetings across the country and tens of thousands more have signed petitions or made submissions. It’s clear that many people feel isolated from economic opportunities and their loved ones. Others fear driving because of the volume of freight on the roads. Reducing rail services puts more pressure on our strained roads and the mental and physical health of drivers.”
“This hatchet job on rail comes at a time when other countries are making large investments into both freight and passenger rail networks. They are doing that because they understand the benefits.”
The Future Is Rail campaign was founded as Save Our Trains in late January 2022 by members of the public concerned about threats to passenger rail services throughout New Zealand.