Thursday, 7 December 2017

NZ First "Railways of National Importance" (2017) [1]

This is a post about the 2014 policy. It is a republishing of a previous article with some updates by me. I have not received any new information about the policy as it is difficult to find very much about it. Below is the actual statement of policy as it was listed in 2014. The next part of this series will address some of the points raised.

  • New Zealand First will ensure that none of New Zealand’s railway lines and other strategic railways infrastructure will be privatised, and will remain under state control and ownership to ensure that public service rather than commercial objectives is the paramount consideration.
  • New Zealand First’s vision includes passenger train services along all rail routes between the main centres, with connecting coach services linking outlying areas or running services between centres which don't have a railway line. These services would provide a mixture of accommodation standards and fares to make rail services more affordable for New Zealanders to use e.g. half the carriages to be high standard premium fare similar to that provided on current KiwiRail tourist focussed trains such as the Northern Explorer and Tranz Alpine services, and the other half of the carriages being basic, affordable economy fare intercity market, e.g. railcars would have one premium carriage and one economy carriage. The Silver Fern railcars, former Overlander carriages and Silver Star carriages could be appropriately refurbished and upgraded locally in railway workshops to operate daytime regional Intercity services. Fast modern railcars and new carriages, New Zealand built where possible, could later be purchased for certain routes.
  • As a state-owned enterprise, KiwiRail is currently heavily constrained because it is required to pay for the maintenance, renewal and upgrade of rail infrastructure through the revenue generated from its freight and other businesses.
  • New Zealand’s rail network is a national asset that must be developed to optimise its long term role in support of New Zealand’s economy and of an efficient and cost effective multi-modal and well integrated transport system.
  • New Zealand First will develop a programme of railways of national importance (RONI) to ensure that better use of our railway network and services are achieved, with improvements and extensions where there is opportunity to significantly reduce dependence on the roading network, especially for heavy freight and bulk freight services, but also where passenger services can be redeveloped to attract sufficient demand over time.
  • To this end New Zealand First will not require the whole cost of development of new railway tracks and services, and of electric reticulation, to be met by revenue generated by railway service charges; and these will instead be met in whole or in part by a combination of Land Transport Fund funding and crown grants.
  • The Land Transport Fund funding will be achieved by reallocating funding from the current RONS $12 billion plus programme. An initial budget of $400 million would be created by reprioritising Roads of National Significance (RONS) projects that have low or marginal benefits.
  • The rail routes listed below would form the basis of the core transport network between the main centres with daily passenger and freight services, and with the tracks being upgraded or new lines built as required, together with new transport interchanges between trains and buses, and freight hubs in all the main centres:
    • Auckland-Whangarei-Opua
    • Auckland-Pokeno-Paeroa-Te Aroha-Tauranga-Whakatane
    • Auckland-Hamilton-Tokoroa-Rotorua-Taupo
    • Auckland-Wellington
    • Wellington-New Plymouth
    • Wellington-Gisborne (via the Wairarapa line)
    • Nelson-Blenheim
    • Christchurch-Greymouth
    • Picton-Christchurch-Dunedin-Invercargill.