Ready for rail already!

LETTER

Forgive my complete cynicism when I heard Shane Jones disclose recently his prerequisite for getting the Gisborne end of the rail line restored: “Show me a business case” he declared, thus exposing his failure to distinguish between commercial and environmental criteria for public expenditure.

Rail infrastructure should be classed as a public good, qualifying for eco-nomic central bank nil-interest funding. As Social Credit affirmed in our submission to Gisborne District Council’s Spatial Plan last April: “The argument for restoring rail is overwhelmingly environmental.”

Good news that the Gisborne Herald poll shows continuing popular support for rail restoration — but we should worry that the BERL report is not due for another three or four months. Strange that this should follow closely on the report due late August from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Shane Jones’s proposed NZ Infrastructure Commission.

With very little publicity, the first reading for the necessary legislation — designed to encourage more private investment in our infrastructure — was endorsed enthusiastically by all parties. Should this expensive commission be established, there would be more delays while yet another report is issued from another team of talking heads.

What’s the game, Shane Jones?

Heather Marion Smith

Forgive my complete cynicism when I heard Shane Jones disclose recently his prerequisite for getting the Gisborne end of the rail line restored: “Show me a business case” he declared, thus exposing his failure to distinguish between commercial and environmental criteria for public expenditure.

Rail infrastructure should be classed as a public good, qualifying for eco-nomic central bank nil-interest funding. As Social Credit affirmed in our submission to Gisborne District Council’s Spatial Plan last April: “The argument for restoring rail is overwhelmingly environmental.”

Good news that the Gisborne Herald poll shows continuing popular support for rail restoration — but we should worry that the BERL report is not due for another three or four months. Strange that this should follow closely on the report due late August from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Shane Jones’s proposed NZ Infrastructure Commission.

With very little publicity, the first reading for the necessary legislation — designed to encourage more private investment in our infrastructure — was endorsed enthusiastically by all parties. Should this expensive commission be established, there would be more delays while yet another report is issued from another team of talking heads.

What’s the game, Shane Jones?

Heather Marion Smith

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Phil Hunt, Picton - 4 months ago
Thank you for your update, Heather. I was unaware of some of the points you related to in your letter.
I have many times said that we have had endless reports on this subject since March 2012 when the line was damaged.
Points to note: Apart from Nelson, Gisborne is the only town of any size in the country with no rail service, despite the fact that there is most of the original 1942 formation and line still in place. The cost of road transport to the taxpayer in road maintenance must be very high, but still no figures to let the public know how much it is. I also disagree with the road transport industry when they say their Road User Charges cover their costs, they certainly don't. In fact if you look at the RUC cost increases in recent years, the types of weight/axle numbers do not add up! I know I bought RUCs for years and paid when unfair increases were added to light vehicles, whilst the "juggernauts" did not pay a fair share!
Rail is 5-6 times more fuel-efficient than road for the same weight/distance. This is a researched fact that was trialled back in the 1970s by NZ, Government Railways - and still, after all that time, successive governments have left rail to languish on the sidelines.
When sensible decisions are made regarding land transport we should see a far more efficient freight distribution system. I am not anti-road, there is a place for all modes, but Napier to Gisborne would be the front-runner for rail transport. With a bit of careful planning, a passenger service could be re-introduced in the not-too-distant future.

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