National On Rail - A Vandal Trying to Look Responsible

The government’s review of KiwiRail indicates they now realise a roading disaster has been created under their watch with deficits everywhere, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland Member of Parliament Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“Up until now the government has been hell-bent on shutting down rail – as has happened in Northland and Gisborne.

“Now with roads falling apart, congestion in major cities and State Highway 1 knocked out by the earthquake between Picton and Christchurch they have had a sudden epiphany: they have woken up to the fact the country cannot operate viably without rail.

“New Zealand First has been saying this all along and we’ve been ignored, and  ridiculed by the government.

“Remarkably, this dollars-obsessed government has even hinted at removing the requirement for KiwiRail to be commercially viable and to make a profit, which it’s currently required to do by law.

“This is a remarkable back-down by the National government and another sign they are failing,” says Mr Peters. 

“National has never been a fan of rail. It flogged NZ Rail off 24 years after sacking thousands of workers, thus beginning the rundown of regional New Zealand.

“The excuse for the sale was that only private interests could maintain the railways in profit and pay for future infrastructure. The new owners bankrupted  NZ Rail and it had to be bought back.

“National has ignored all advice on how vital a rail network is – closing Northland lines, East Coast lines, buying low quality wagons and locomotives and now axing the electric section of the North Island main trunk line.

“National even ignored Mainfreight head Bruce Plested, who said rail had been treated appallingly.

“He pointed out that without rail, ‘our desperation for more roads intensifies to the point of impossibility, and our options for port locations become hopelessly restricted.’”