KiwiRail announcement an exercise in subtle criticism
More than a few barbs were lobbed during yesterday's KiwiRail pre-budget announcement at the Wellington Central Railway Station.Prime Minister John Key began by restating National's opposition to the previous government's KiwiRail purchase, while Transpor
Wed, 19 May 2010
More than a few barbs were lobbed during yesterday’s KiwiRail pre-budget announcement at the Wellington Central Railway Station.
Prime Minister John Key began by restating National’s opposition to the previous government’s KiwiRail purchase, while Transport Minister Stephen Joyce launched his speech with a slightly ominous congratulation for the KiwiRail board and senior staff.
“You’re doing a great job,” he said, “and you’ll need to keep that up because you have a large and very serious job ahead of you”.
The task in question is a nine-step programme to turn KiwiRail into a sustainable freight business, expected to cost $4.5b over ten years.
The major Wellington-Christchurch freight line will receive a major overhaul and the North Auckland, Stratford-Okahukura, Napier-Gisborne and North Wairarapa lines will be closed or “mothballed” by 2012 if anchor freight customers can not be found.
A third crucial step will be to clarify and assign accountability for costs associated with operating metro networks in Auckland and Wellington.
Mr Joyce emphasised the need for all stakeholders to be realistic, pragmatic and work together to support national rail operations.
He said that freight customers would need to follow up on verbal commitments to put more goods through the KiwiRail network if service times improve, and refrain from the "seduction" of discounts in exchange for choosing rail over road transport.
Regional councils will need to “step up” in terms of the costs of operating the metro rail passenger networks, particularly in Auckland and Wellington.
“Rail advocates will need to be more realistic about what’s possible, know when to pick their fights and know that we’re supporting sensible decisions for KiwiRail and encourage us to do so,” Mr Joyce concluded.
Wed, 19 May 2010
© All content copyright NBR. Do not reproduce in any form without permission, even if you have a paid subscription.