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Bill English turns ‘Think Big’ into ‘Think Backwards’

Today’s announcement that KiwiRail will ditch electric locomotives for diesel ones to haul freight in the central North Island shows a Government going backwards in its thinking, says Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Sue Moroney. 

“Bill English has failed for 8 years to put adequate resources into KiwiRail and today’s short-term decision is the result.

“Minister Simon Bridges has approved the daft decision, making his apparent commitment to increasing the use of electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions look hollow and hypocritical. 

“The electrification of the Main Trunk Line between Hamilton and Palmerston North was a $250m “Think Big” project investment in the 1980’s. The rest of the world is now following suit.

“National’s 'new' Cabinet is already looking like a relic of a bygone era, within a day of its first meeting.

“It is absurd that the electric trains will be ditched, but KiwiRail will still have to keep an electric current going through the overhead lines for security at a cost of $3m per annum.

 “The new diesel trains will spew out five times the greenhouse gas emissions of the existing freight operation and will take longer to traverse the difficult terrain of that section of the Main Trunk Line. Any time saved in not changing engines at Palmerston North and Hamilton will be lost on the journey between the two with the diesel decision.

 “It simply comes down to a short-term saving on the initial purchase price of new trains, rather than looking at the “whole of life” costs for such an important investment.

 “The only good news from this announcement, is that it will take two years to implement – giving New Zealanders the opportunity to elect a Government that will support the most efficient, effective use of rail.

 “Next year New Zealanders will have the choice between a modern, progressive Labour-led Government that believes rail is such a vital part of an integrated transport system or the tired approach from National that has begrudgingly run a rail system it never wanted to own, because it would rather increase freight on our roads,” says Sue Moroney.