Thursday, 7 December 2017

NZ First’s “Railways of National Importance” policy platform (2017) [3]

Here are the last few bits of the programme and the statements of what Kiwirail should be structured as.

11. New suburban services
New suburban passenger train services will be investigated for Christchurch, Dunedin, Tauranga and between Hamilton and Auckland.
This includes an initial investigation into establishing suburban passenger train services in Christchurch, Dunedin, Tauranga and between Hamilton and Auckland using Auckland’s surplus diesel rolling stock immediately following the introduction of electric services in Auckland.
For Christchurch this could cost up to $200 million. There's doubt that Dunedin is big enough to warrant suburban train services being reinstated after a 35 year gap.
12. Rail siding grant scheme
New Zealand First will introduce a grant scheme to encourage greater use of rail transport by industry and by distribution centres, where the cost of installing or re-commissioning rail sidings will be met 50/50 by the businesses using the rail siding and the New Zealand Railways Corporation.
New Railways structure proposed by NZ First
KiwiRail would be restructured by splitting it into three new  organisations:
1. New Zealand Railways Corporation - owning and managing rail land, tracks and infrastructure, stations and rail-freight centres, shunting yards, workshops, train control systems, managing and maintaining the rail network, allocating access to the rail network for rail operating companies, setting rail training standards and qualifications, and acting as the rail regulator and licence agency.
2. Kiwi Rail - operating rail passenger services between all main centres, and operating the Interisland ferries.
3. Rail Freight – a new State Owned Enterprise operating a commercial rail freight business.
To have a commercial rail freight business implies open access or competition for rail freight operations. This will see the same challenges as currently occur in road transport where intense and rapacious competition between operators see safety standards widely flouted and accident rates increasing. Kiwirail is already under pressure to cut costs and such a move will not do anything to reduce this pressure.

Overall, the policy on "Railways of National Significance" seems to have limited reporting and detail available. There have been a few speeches by Winston Peters referring to it, but as I noted the detail appears to be missing in action.