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Bridges to Nowhere

Written By: - Date published: 9:13 pm, February 29th, 2016 - 37 comments
Categories: accountability, infrastructure, nz first, Politics, same old national, transport, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , ,

Transport Minister Simon Bridges has been derailed by his underlings at Kiwirail. Or he’s been caught lying. Or he hasn’t got the first clue about what’s going on in his portfolio. Whatever his specific inadequacy is, his resignation should be on John Key’s desk in the morning.

Bridges has repeatedly said that the Otiria to Portland line in the North was not going to be closed. This evening, the truth came out.

Kiwirail has told major customer MWC (Marasumi Whangarei Co.) that the line north of Kauri will be mothballed next year. Leaked documents show that maintenance issues and knackered wagons mean the line is no longer viable. In short, Minister Bridges has failed to make sure a major rail corridor he is responsible for remains open, despite repeatedly saying it was not under threat.

This is a huge blow for the region. MWC will have truck its logs south to the port, further congesting and ruining the already substandard Northland roading network. Remember John Key’s by-election promise to fix Northland’s bridges? Did Key also know what was coming, putting money aside to minimise the damage the extra trucks would do?

Northland MP Winston Peters accuses Bridges of lying, claiming the Minister was in the know about the line’s grim future. The emails show that days after Bridges assured the house there were no plans to mothball the line, Kiwirail were sending emails that said precisely the opposite.

“When you say something that’s not true like that, you’ve got to be accountable as a minister and so he should resign,”, says the Northland MP.

Even if Bridges hasn’t lied, he’s clearly held in contempt by his staff at Kiwirail. If he didn’t know, it can only be because they were deliberately keeping him out of the loop or he simply wasn’t asking the right questions and they were smugly avoiding tell him what was really going on.

Whichever scenario is correct, lies, deception or incompetence, in a decent government with genuinely high standards, a minister this hopeless would himself have come to the end of the line. But we’ve come to expect so little from John Key, I’m picking Bridges will asked to discover he has an urgent meeting overseas and do a McCully until the dust settles.

In the meantime, the people of Northland have been shunted aside by this Government yet again.

Why does Key hate everything north of Omaha beach? Did he once stub his toe on a Kauri tree or something?

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37 comments on “Bridges to Nowhere”

  1. Hayden 1

    I think you’ve omitted a “not” in the second paragraph.

    [Cheers, fixed. TRP]

  2. b waghorn 2

    Key was heard to mutter “pay backs a bitch northland”

    not really but could have

  3. Kevin 3

    Natz hate rail. Period. But they love trucks and big flash roads.

    Kiwirail should not be responsible for the upkeep of the rail lines in the same way truck companies should not be responsible for road maintenance.

    The sooner the rail network is brought under the LTSA the better so the best solution can be applied to each transport need.

    • b waghorn 3.1

      Absolutely , let the trucking companies own the rolling stock to carry their logs.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      Natz hate rail. Period. But they love trucks and big flash roads.

      Yep. Trucks use up a huge amount more resources than rail and thus make more profit for their donors. Not sustainable or efficient but they do make profits.

      • saveNZ 3.2.1

        +1 D T B

        Of course they make profits because public funds underwrite the roads and heavy maintenance required and they just get to pay road user charges like everyone else.

        Are National running down Kiwi rail with a view to sell it again?

        Anyway at least Northland now has an MP that cares even if we are landed with a spiteful government.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1.1

          Are National running down Kiwi rail with a view to sell it again?

          Probably with a view to destroy it and get rid of it completely now that it’s already been run down and profits can’t simply be realised by selling off shit as happened in the 1990s.

  4. Stuart Munro 4

    The Gnats are going off the rails on a crazy train.

    • Kano 4.1

      Millions of Kiwis… Living as fools..maybe it’s not too late… To get rid of these natwits… And forget ponytail ga..e…a..ate

  5. Does the proposed takeover of the construction company ( Higgins ) by the Fletcher Group have any thing to do with the lack of investment in Kiwi Rail ?

    Could we be about to see more toll roads, after all it would be a great new revenue earner for the Fletcher Group.
    And they do have plenty of inside knowledge within the Govt.

    • Good question! Certainly, the road lobby are the real winners out of this cock up.

      I’m told Higgins overextended themselves, buying up every roading and construction contract going. That left them unable to carry on as they were without big investment and they were simply unable to say no to Fletcher’s takeover offer. At least that’s what the boys from the black stuff tell me. It’s not my area of expertise.

      • Ad 5.1.1

        On the Fletchers side they needed Higgins because they had consistently failed to win any major roaring contract since the Wellington War Memorial cut-and-cover nearly a decade ago. They’ve just been awarded one of the Waikato SH1 jobs, but their culture is Neanderthal; lumbering, retreating, needing fresh genes.

        • gristle 5.1.1.1

          Sorry AD, but could you tell me who is doing the motorway that runs from McKay’s crossing (linking Wellington to Kapiti).

    • NZJester 5.2

      They don’t need inside knowledge of within the government. They simply tell the government to jump and they respond “How high?”

  6. AmaKiwi 6

    Te Reo Putake

    You should be writing copy for the Labour and/or Greens caucuses.

    This kind of biting criticism is what opposition parties are SUPPOSED to be doing. Winston has got the message.

  7. Scrutineer 7

    I remember watching Peters question Bridges in Parliament. Looks like through this leak Winston has exposed the Transport Minister most certainly not revealing he knew well before October that the log freighting contract was not going to be renewed. Kiwi Rail is a SOE and both himself and the SOE Minister would have regular meetings with the chair of the board and the CEO of Kiwi Rail. Looking between the lines the National Government are secretly killing off the Northland line. If I recall correct this Japanese owned company was transporting logs by rail from Dargaville till the line had a derailment and was closed. Here is the Hans from back in October;

    • Tc 7.1

      Go winnie, slimy bridges is an easy target as hes a smarmy lying toadie the hollowmen would consider expendable.

  8. Scrutineer 8

    Sorry Administration usually enjoy reading blog sites but not often one to comment. The TV3 news clip has raised my curiosity and Simon Bridges looked very guilty the way he peered at the reporters information held in front of him. I also smell a rat with the Prime Minister coming in to try down play the information as one persons view. I have noticed when Key is quick to react it usually means something isn’t quite right.

    Anyway you can put money on it that oral question time will be very interesting this week as Bridges will be facing a grilling from Peters. I’m retired so I will be tuning in to see what develops.

    http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/business/qoa/51HansQ_20151020_00000004/4-kiwirail—northland-network-and-freight

    • Ad 8.1

      Kiwirail is a spectacular problem for the government: while not dying it’s got massive risks of further selloff.

      They still haven’t agreed on who is going to own and operate the tracks for the $2.6billion City Rail Link. Even though much of it is under construction already.

      They know the Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga Expessway will actively decrease Kiwirail’s remaining profitable port-to-port business as it makes trucking so much easier.

      They are continuing to press forward with plans to get SH1 to Warkworth and finally over the Brynderwins to Northport, which will kill the whole Northern Line flat.

      After the demise of Solid Energy and the West Coast lines, the only major national bulk customer left is Fonterra.

      National are leading us quickly down a path to Kiwirail’s destruction, and just keeping two metro lines going with massive local subsidies.

      It is a government undertaking one of the worst, most mode-monopolising, and anti-COP21 moves possible.

  9. Lara 9

    Great.

    That’s just all Northland needs.

    Driving up further north yesterday I noticed a great many trucks. Carrying all kinds of stuff, including logs heading south.

    They’re an accident waiting to happen. Hit one of those things and you’re dead for sure.

    While there’s a perfectly good rail line beside SH1 mostly unused. That freight should be on rail.

    Must be some pretty strong vested interests lobbying Government to keep that fright in trucks. And keep their profits rolling in.

    Rail is one of those things that is better done by Government IMO. Not sure if there are many examples of rail being nicely profitable in private hands. But Government maintaining a rail network, not necessarily for profit but to break even if possible, could be considered a public good. Keeps our roads safer and requiring less maintenance.

    The costs saved on road maintenance and deaths surely would offset any costs in maintaining rail networks.

    • Jenny Kirk 9.1

      There have been plenty of accidents with trucks in the north, Lara. Horrific crashes.

      And the absolute stupidity is that the transport people are going to allow even bigger, higher, heavier trucks on our roads – roads which are often narrow, winding, unstable and ALWAYS needing to be repaired. We have objected, but of course govt knows best !

      As to whether Simon Bridges knew or not, he must be the only person around who hasn’t known the one remaining rail link in the north was going to get the chop. The only question we all had was : when ?

      • Lara 9.1.1

        Yeah, true. I read about another one just yesterday.

        Every time I have to get on SH1 it feels like I’m playing Russian Roulette with my life.

        Large fast moving trucks driven by drivers with too little sleep, overworked and underpaid, on potholed narrow winding roads…

        Goddam it’s insane.

        And that railway. Sitting there. Unused.

        Where is the value for human life and decency in this land?

        And before the truck drivers complain “I’d be out of a job” No. Just, no. There are plenty of other things / jobs we can do in this land. No one’s job should endanger the lives of so many other people.

  10. RedLogix 10

    This and the Gisbourne Line failure are examples of deliberate govt policy to kill off Kiwirail. Deliberate choices have been made to allow these lines to run down and become noncompetitive.

    In particular the Northland line has become slow and load limited, with a particularly troublesome 574m long Makarau Tunnel 9km north of Helensville, built in the 1890’s through some very difficult ground. In order for this line to ever achieve modern loadings it needs replacing.

    An energetic govt that understood their role to invest and build the nation’s infrastructure would see beyond the immediate costs … but not this lot of lazy, shiny-arsed bankers who’ve never done a day’s real work in their lives.

    • Jenny Kirk 10.1

      Totally agree with you, too, RedLogix.
      Its disgraceful just how poorly the northern line has been maintained – and what a sheer waste of an asset for transportation. This govt is too much under the thumb of the big trucking companies.

      • Tc 10.1.1

        Follow the money…which is nigh on impossible as they tweaked the EFA to shield such contributions.

    • b waghorn 10.2

      There’s a lot of “jobs jobs jobs” in getting the rail fully functioning in nz.

  11. Brutus Iscariot 11

    The roads are a bloodbath up there because of those fucking logging trucks. Motorways are the only rightful roads for heavy trucks, the rest of freight should be on rail. There is a massive hidden subsidy for trucking companies that makes a mockery of the explicit subsidy to the rail network.

  12. Macro 12

    Expect Bridges to be promoted and become deputy PM in the near future, such is his capacity!

    /sarc

  13. Warren 13

    I agree all I worked in the rail industry for 30 odd yrs and towards the end of my time there the writing was on the wall they put all there eggs in the 1 basket ie fonterra and westcoast coal now the coal has bitten the dust it’s only time that the guts falls out of the milk trade and rail in this country will be gone the Nats don’t want rail

  14. KiaOra 14

    If KiwiRail is doing such an outstanding job, why are there only 2 freight trains a day going north from Auckland? One is logs and chips, the other containers. This is competition against the second busyiest road in NZ for trucks – SH1 Ak to Whangarei. That is the best they can do?
    As for the Northland line, a fat contract to haul bulk logs each day, every day – that is what trucking companies kill for and work on the finest margins. I can’t imagine a trucking cmpany saying they weren’t interested because the trucks were too old. Go and buy a few more wagons Kiwirail.

  15. Graham. 15

    The Trucking Companies Pay Lobbyists to Convince the Govt that their Idea is a Good one ..and if Approved there will be a Big Bag of Cash as a Bonus..Major Donations to the Party Election Campaign

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