The Case for Restoring Regional Rail

Written By: - Date published: 1:49 am, June 6th, 2023 - 53 comments
Categories: climate change, public transport, science, sustainability, transport - Tags: , , , , , ,

Earth’s health failing in seven out of eight key measures, say scientists

Nick Young, Head of Communications at Greenpeace Aotearoa,

This should be the biggest story on the planet. Scientists now say the Earth is in the danger zone, close to multiple tipping points of no return after which human survival is under threat.

The research paper in Nature Safe and just Earth system boundaries,

The stability and resilience of the Earth system and human well-being are inseparably linked1,2,3, yet their interdependencies are generally under-recognized; consequently, they are often treated independently4,5. Here, we use modelling and literature assessment to quantify safe and just Earth system boundaries (ESBs) for climate, the biosphere, water and nutrient cycles, and aerosols at global and subglobal scales. We propose ESBs for maintaining the resilience and stability of the Earth system (safe ESBs) and minimizing exposure to significant harm to humans from Earth system change (a necessary but not sufficient condition for justice)4. The stricter of the safe or just boundaries sets the integrated safe and just ESB. Our findings show that justice considerations constrain the integrated ESBs more than safety considerations for climate and atmospheric aerosol loading. Seven of eight globally quantified safe and just ESBs and at least two regional safe and just ESBs in over half of global land area are already exceeded. We propose that our assessment provides a quantitative foundation for safeguarding the global commons for all people now and into the future.

From the Guardian piece,

Prof Johan Rockström, one of the lead authors, said: “It is an attempt to do an interdisciplinary science assessment of the entire people-planet system, which is something we must do given the risks we face.

“We have reached what I call a saturation point where we hit the ceiling of the biophysical capacity of the Earth system to remain in its stable state. We are approaching tipping points, we are seeing more and more permanent damage of life-support systems at the global scale.”

The situation is grave in almost every category. Setting global benchmarks is challenging. For climate, the world has already adopted a target to keep global heating as low as possible between 1.5C to 2C above pre-industrial levels. The Earth Commission notes that this is a dangerous level because many people are already badly affected by the extreme heat, droughts and floods that come with the current level of about 1.2C. They say a safe and just climate target is 1C, which would require a massive effort to draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They note it is impossible to stabilise the climate without protecting ecosystems.

This is terrifying. But I also see hope, as the necessity of whole systems thinking is being forefronted. It’s whole systems thinking that will help us out of this mess.

It’s not enough to look at regional rail solely in economic terms, we have to see all the interconnected systems and cycles. It’s the linear thinking rather than whole systems thinking that has created the climate and ecological crises precisely because we ignored how everything is interconnected and how cycles work in the natural/physical world.

For instance, if we were to say New Zealand isn’t suitable for regional rail for a range of economic reasons, this would push us back into roading for land transport.

The most obvious problem with roading are the GHG emissions from transport. If we were to imagine a greentech solution to that, say replacing the transport fleet with electric vehicles, we have to look at the fossil fuels burned to achieve that, the power generation needed ongoing to run that fleet, and the issues of material sourcing and disposal of batteries. This is the cradle to grave approach.

But we also have to look at the roads themselves. New Zealand roads are made from bitumen, concrete and rock.  Bitumen is made from petroleum refinery by-products and is a ground and atmospheric pollutant. Concrete has its own set of problems with GHG emissions and pollution. Rock is a non-renewable natural resource that requires nature-destroying extraction.

Because roads have to be maintained in perpetuity, there is an imperative to limit their growth to what we can meaningfully sustain given the inherent environmental impacts in current technology.

In sustainability design systems, closed loops are the holy grail: there is no extraction (renewables are used), there is no pollution (by products are treated as a resource). This is where we are headed, and it still requires working within the natural systems of the physical world.  In other words, we can’t keep building MOAR ROADS as if all these issues don’t exist.

Another aspect of roading often ignored is the air, water and soil pollution from car tyres. This impacts human health and ecosystem health. We also have no good way of disposing of or recycling vehicle tyres (remember the Amberley tyre fire?). So why are we acting as if we can keep increasing road vehicles indefinitely?

Everywhere we turn now we are hitting the limits of growth, both the past growth that has left us on the brink of climate and ecological collapse, and the future growth that is now impossible if we want our societies, ecologies and wellbeing to survive. This isn’t hopeless, but it does mean radical changes to our thinking, approach, and lifestyles.

If we look only to high tech solutions in isolation (EVs or recycled road materials or battery recycling) we stay in the same thinking that has us in overshoot with most of earth system boundaries. Even with the most optimal greentech (we are a long way from that still) we will still have to work within the limits of the systems. Instead, those individual solutions need to be seen in the context of whole systems, because the whole systems view is where we take note of the limits and design accordingly.

None of this means we have to give up all concrete or EVs. It means we can’t replace fossil fuel BAU with greentech BAU and have things work out. We have to change the underlying systems design.

We may develop roading materials that aren’t extractive and polluting, but the technology isn’t enough, we have to be able to do it at scale within sustainable systems. Fossil fuels gave us such dense forms of energy we’ve become used to the idea that we can escape the natural limits of the world. Those days are gone. This doesn’t mean we can’t have nice things, it’s that the nice things come from using sustainability principles within whole systems.

Back to rail, the issue isn’t whether regional rail is viable within current BAU economics. It’s what systems can we put in place to both prevent the worst of climate change and create resiliency with the impacts that are already locked in? How we do economics should be serving that.

The case is made in these links,

Regional rail: What is, what was and what could be

Ten popular myths about passenger rail in New Zealand

Why restoring long-distance passenger rail makes sense in New Zealand – for people and the climate

Future of Transport Plan (Green Party 2020 election priority)

Restore Passenger Rail

53 comments on “The Case for Restoring Regional Rail ”

  1. Roy Cartland 2

    Excellent article and links Weka.

    Rail isn't just smarter and cleaner, it’s better. An overnight sleeper to AK from WN? That's your night's accommodation as well, plus you can keep working over wifi if you need. Food, toilets, rest.

    Can't do that driving a car. And no hateful airport security, traffic, check-ins!

    • Ants 2.1

      Yes, I totally agree.

      I would definitely use overnight rail if it was available.

  2. Cricklewood 3

    Trouble is a lot of the regional rail just isn't very resilient, it's just as exposed to risk from the climate / storm events as our roads but without the redundancy or ability to make a quick fix (think bailey bridge for example) and far slower to reinstate afterwards.

    • Some rail viaducts have been there for a century. smiley

    • roy cartland 3.2

      Same with roads, and those seems to be doing ok funding wise.

    • weka 3.3

      Trouble is a lot of the regional rail just isn't very resilient, it's just as exposed to risk from the climate / storm events as our roads but without the redundancy or ability to make a quick fix (think bailey bridge for example) and far slower to reinstate afterwards.

      This is a very real concern. We should be looking at all transport infrastructure and where the strengths and weaknesses are in the context of climate/ecology. It’s possible that some places are better suited than others to rail eg at this point the South Island east coast is relatively stable because it doesn’t get the same rainfall events as NI.

      I’m curious if some existing infrastructure there is built differently eg the trans alpine line which has always high rainfall.

      Quakes and tsunami are obvious big risks for the SI, but that exists no matter what we do and presumably will be very infrequent relative to transport needs and climate events.

      A quick google tells me that the Kaikoura section of the main trunk line was reopened for restricted freight within 10 months (and all freight/passenger services the following year). What this tells us is both the vulnerability of our transport network, but also points clearly to the need for resiliency and future proofing. Instead of rail vs road, what would a climate resilient system look like that integrated mitigation and adapation, and used rail, road, sea, air?

      (we should also be looking at why countries like Japan can get up and running quickly after big quakes/tsunamis but we are relatively slow eg the Chch rebuild).

      How well do our current systems hold up? (not very well to cyclones and the closely repeating nature of high rainfall in the NI). How could we redesign those systems to meet our needs instead of relying on BAU fixes? Because we are simply not going to be able to keep fixing everything at the rate it is going to be damaged as climate events increase in frequency and severity.

      That's two very important, interlocking conversations we're not having yet: the reality of the damage and vulnerability, and the potential of using whole system design to create different kinds of systems.

      One aspect to consider is what if we didn't need transport so much? If we relocalised our communities for food, jobs, recreation, holidays, and so on, how would that change our thinking and our approach? If this seems too far fetched, consider that there is a community on the West Coast that is preparing for being cut off from the rest of New Zealand for three months post-Big One. West Coast will lead on that kind of thinking because it's always been hard up against the limits of human systems in the face of nature. NI East Coast is learning some hard lessons about that currently. I wonder if Auckland is, or if most people still think in BAU terms. These are urgent conversations.

      • Cricklewood 3.3.1

        It's not an easy one to solve, no doubt the underlying geography plays a huge part, rail built on hard rock is far more robust than rail built on the soft or unstable ground or amongst deforested hillsides found in many parts of the North Island.

        For New Zealand I think the key is to have our eggs in many baskets and I'd suggest costal shipping is where we should be looking to restore and enhance capacity quickly.

        Its very difficult to compare NZ to countries like Japan. Simply put we do not have the population base to support high speed infrastructure rebuilds the same restriction affects our ability to afford and build large pieces of infrastructure such as high speed rail. We would probably need to increase our population 10 fold to make something like countrywide highspeed rail remotely viable.

      • gsays 3.3.2

        The local example here was the Manawatu Gorge. The road side (Tararua) was victim to slips that seemed to get larger as time went on.

        My exceedingly amateur reckons say the Gorge didn't need to close, there needed to be a roof and a wall put over the road where the slips were occurring so the rockfall could carry on it's merry way into the river.

        The rail side (Ruahine) was essentially free of slips, apart from a memorable one that de-railed a loco. Obviously plenty to do with the geology.

        There is always enough money, it is just a question of priorities. After all, we are all subsidising the road network so we can get our trinkets from afar overnight.

        • Cricklewood

          If memory serves a big section of hill on the road side is basically continuosly moving a bit like slow moving glacier I suppose, basically any engineering solution would be short lived and very difficult to build.

  3. Stuart Munro 4

    I did a bit of tramping in my younger days.

    One of the things I came across with some frequency was bush railways. One is not far from Saruman's tower in Glenorchy, where (of course) it was used for logging the nearby entwood. Barry Brickhill, the famous potter, built a railway at Driving Creek to extract clay. The remains of a railway used to construct water infrastructure for Dunedin City can be found up past Hindon on the Taieri River.

    These railways were built because they were the fastest and cheapest way to construct transport access.

    And they still are.

  4. If we charged Transport by road for all the damage and waste, did not subsidise, it would collapse.

    Yet we are constantly told rail won't work.

    Goods are moved by sea in containers, then by truck in containers.

    Putting 2/3 of the containers on trains would lower our emissions by an amazing amount.

    Travel to work in many countries is Park then Ride and back. Now we also have “Working from Home”…. no travel.

    Huge vested interests want road transport, at Earth's expense.imo.

    • gsays 5.1

      "Huge vested interests want road transport…"

      I've been thinking about the trucking lobby and who would be involved. Logging, Fonterra, the oil companies, the supermarkets, the big box retailers… Hardly those with the environment or our best interests at heart.

  5. tsmithfield 6

    Interesting to see two opposing viewpoints put forward on this issue. I haven't had time to comment yet, so now I will say something:

    It appears Advantage has argued more from an economic perspective whereas Weka has argued from a climate perspective.

    I think that, if rail is to be more widely used, it needs to eventually become economically viable, as well as better for the climate. This may mean loss-leading prices that can eventually be profitable when the economies of scale kick in.

    But, a major issue for rail is the amount of maintenance required for rail lines. Another issue for rail between the NI and SI is the Cook Strait Ferries, which are nothing short of a cluster at the moment.

    I think an alternative to rail which ticks a lot of the boxes is local shipping. Local shipping meets the needs of bulk transport, reduces the number of heavy vehicles on the roads, and is more climate-friendly than trucking. Local shipping allows goods to be transported to main centres in bulk, and without the expensive maintenance required for rail.

    Given the fact that NZ is surrounded by ocean, is long, and thin, and has ports around the country, most areas should be able to receive goods via local shipping, and the distance for on-freighting by roading should not be excessive.

    • I would point out if the environment collapses, there is no economy.

      • weka 6.1.1

        this seems to be the biggest shortcoming in our thinking atm. I don't get it. It's not like climate/eco collapse is some fringe thinking, the warnings are right there everyday in our major news outlets.

        • tsmithfield

          If something is good for the climate, and it makes money, then there is a lot more incentive for people to invest in that area. So, it makes sense for things to be profitable. It takes a lot of pressure off the government as well, because funding will naturally flow into profitable areas.

          • weka

            most things that are profitable are still incompatible with stable climate/ecology, which is the main reason we are in the crisis. We've known what needed to change for over 50 years and here we still are arguing about the economy.

            It doesn't have to be like that, but to get there we have to give up profit first models. eg pay farmers to transition to regen until there are enough of those models demonstrating that its financially viable. But also, the government should be running regenag research farms and subsidising those too.

            There’s a whole post in addressing the issues that Ad raises and analysing them through a post-neoliberal lens. How many of our current problems are related to neoliberal ideology?

            • tsmithfield

              It is quite usual in business to run a model at a loss in the first instance in order to meet the market and generate sufficient volume to generate profits through economies of scale. But, things do end up having to become profitable, otherwise, they are a constant drain, and unsustainable in the long term.

              If we don't want the government propping up everything, then models that encourage private investment are much better, because, they are self-sustaining.

              I think neo-liberalism is often mistaken for bad long-term business decisions.

              For example, the outsourcing of production to China to make cheap shit that lasts a fraction of the time of better quality stuff is a long-term unsustainable model IMO because it depends on ever increasing sales, and a constantly increasing drain on resources. Why the hell do we need a new TV model every year for instance that does pretty much the same as the previous model?

              I did sign the Greenpeace petition to make things repairable btw. The amount of shit that goes to land-fills. The carbon cost to produce and transport said shit etc is nuts IMO.

              • Descendant Of Smith

                It is essential infrastructure that has a social good – just like roads. Why does it have to make a profit?

                Does the Army make a profit?

                Do roads make a profit?

                I've argued previously that we should establish a clearer system for things like rail that says this percentage is for the social good and funded by the taxpayer and this percentage is private good funded by fees and charges. I still think there is a good case for that.

                Where it sits I'm unsure but lets say it was an even playing field between roads and rail and both were split at 60% public good and 40% private good. (There may also be an argument for environmental cost to be built in as well in some way). I wonder if the costs paid by transport operators for their private good would be high enough to meet 40% of the cost.

                Profit tends to try and socialise the costs – infrastructure on housing developments is another. Transparency of public and private contribution and cost is really what is needed.

                Rail and roading in NZ will always need the state to meet much of the cost. We live in a land that is long and narrow which prevents economies of scale from having a central hub we can branch out from, we are earthquake prone with soft soils and decent rain with lots of earth movement, we are close to coastline almost everywhere resulting in issues with salt etc requiring extra maintenance and we have lots of hills mainly because of the earthquake proneness. Occasionally we have eruptions as well.

                The environment that makes us useful for primary produce is the same environment that makes road and rail infrastructure difficult.

                • tsmithfield

                  Are you suggesting just the rails are publicly owned or the trains as well?

                  Because there was huge wastage and inefficiency when rail (including trains etc) was publicly owned. This was well documented years back.

                  And my brother, who did an apprenticeship in the publicly owned version of NZ Rail has lots of stories to tell about the incredible wastage and inefficiency that took place back then.

                  That doesn't mean it can't also happen in private companies. But, the difference is, that private companies can go broke as a result.

                  • Descendant Of Smith

                    Those who like to talk about inefficiency in the public service across that period of time oft exaggerate it but certainly forget to mention that it was official policy for the public service to mop up the people left behind by the private sector – those the private sector would not employ through lack of experience eg school leavers or through physical or intellectual disability.

                    That generations welfare system was a job in the public service.

                    Having had experience of family in the railways one well knows they provided many jobs for people who were unwell. Jobs that gave them a purpose and some meaning, often gave them accommodation as well via single men's quarters or railway housing.

                    To talk about it in the disparaging sense of inefficient is a total mis-representation of the societal environment and strictures in which it operated. This was true across all government departments.

                    It was an effective way of supporting people and not leaving them on the miserable pittance of a benefit.

                    A monkey could have laid all those people off. It took no particular skill or knowledge.

                    Some of those inefficiencies were things like paying people for a full day – bus drivers were another good example where the private sector has diminished payment to only while you are actually driving – although in between buses our time is not really your own, or in many trades etc where the firm / employer traditionally supplied your vans and equipment but now you are required to provide your own and become a contractor – also shifting the cost to the worker from the employer for sick leave, etc.

                    Efficiency then is really about cost and removing as much of that cost from the employer as possible – worker be damned.

                    And the private sector companies that went broke were often the really good employers, the ones that cared for their staff, the ones that paid a good wage – that is the employers who went bust in the main. Went bust cause they couldn't compete against the arseholes who paid minimum wage and treated workers like crap.

                    Even the oft talked about making up clothes lines during downtime in railway workshops was presented as a negative when in fact was policy linked into the state housing builds where clothes lines were not part of the build but later on the workshops built and supplied many for state housing tenants.

                    All government departments took on a minimum number of school leavers – each and every year – so they could transition from school to employment.

                    It was an effective part of the government strategy to have people fully employed – not just the most capable. Was never intended to be that Randian fuck the worker notion if "efficient".

                    What we do know is that in making these things efficient they in fact were asset stripped became ineffective, The workers and school leavers languish on benefit, the railway barely exists, the trucks destroy our roads, "contractors" have little job security and eke out a living, ….

                    But you know we can buy twenty different types of shitty baked beans in the supermarket so it has all been worthwhile.

                    Tell me in what private sector profit driven efficient world are those with intellectual disabilities, alcohol and drug addiction, psychiatric health issues, inexperienced school leavers going to be fully and gainfully employed. It just isn't going to happen.

                    All we really did when it comes down to it was sell off our assets so the private sector could extract a profit from them and become wealthier. They could then use that profit to buy houses and rent them back to the workers.

                    • tsmithfield

                      I agree with you to the extent that I think it is much better for everyone, including the people themselves, to have people employed doing something productive rather than sitting around doing nothing.

                      The sort of wastage my brother talked of was situations where large amounts of parts continued being made that were far in excess of what could be usefully used in a lifetime, and just used to keep rolling in, despite the fact they were totally surplus to requirements.

                      And, if he couldn't go and help other people who were busy if he had run out of things to do, so ended up sitting around somewhere reading a book.

                      The problem with the public sector owning businesses is that there often is a lack of financial feedback that controls such excesses. If a private sector company were to act in the same way, it would soon become insolvent.

                    • Descendant Of Smith

                      Nah private sector companies love over production.

                      Take the shoe people. They like war. It brings business with abnormal profits. They made huge profits on sales abroad to our allies. Perhaps, like the munitions manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to the enemy. For a dollar is a dollar whether it comes from Germany or from France. But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For instance, they sold Uncle Sam 35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service shoes. There were 4,000,000 soldiers. Eight pairs, and more, to a soldier. My regiment during the war had only one pair to a soldier. Some of these shoes probably are still in existence. They were good shoes. But when the war was over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left over. Bought — and paid for. Profits recorded and pocketed. There was still lots of leather left. So the leather people sold your Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of McClellan saddles for the cavalry. But there wasn't any American cavalry overseas! Somebody had to get rid of this leather, however. Somebody had to make a profit in it — so we had a lot of McClellan saddles. And we probably have those yet. Also somebody had a lot of mosquito netting. They sold your Uncle Sam 20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of the soldiers overseas. I suppose the boys were expected to put it over them as they tried to sleep in muddy trenches — one hand scratching cooties on their backs and the other making passes at scurrying rats. Well, not one of these mosquito nets ever got to France! Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make sure that no soldier would be without his mosquito net, so 40,000,000 additional yards of mosquito netting were sold to Uncle Sam.


                      In more modern times you can look at companies like Watties who drove prices down by contracting directly on the basis any produce they don't need is bulldozed into the ground or orchardists who over produce (in part as a safety net in case of inclement weather) then use the over production on the ground as evidence they can't get workers.


                      Food waste reduction is good for business, the environment, and people

                      Food waste is a major issue globally and in New Zealand. During 2020 in New Zealand, household and commercial businesses sent more than 300,000 tonnes of food to the tip (landfill).

                      And then there is planned obsolescence.


                      In the US, Apple has recently agreed to pay up to $500m in settlements related to allegations that software updates caused older iPhones – such as the iPhone 6, 6s Plus, 7 and 7 Plus – to slow down (the company denied any wrongdoing, and insisted the technique prevented older devices from shutting down altogether). In France, the same issue resulted in a fine of €25m (£21m).

                      Over production is a trait of modern capitalism which depends on continual growth. With the baby boomers starting to die off I've argued for a numbers of years that continual growth will be nigh on impossible from selling consumer products. Such a large chunk of the population moving out of employment and not having spending power. The last twenty to thirty years of two incomes and no kids is ending.

              • Craig H

                I'm fine with running rail transport as a public service personally, in the category of public infrastructure. If it's the most environmentally sustainable transport option, then funding it from CERF seems like a great use of that fund.

        • Tiger Mountain

          A mix weka, of denial and “climate disaster be damned!” by people that are otherwise very keen on numbers and data when it pertains to their shares and financial bottom lines.

      • tsmithfield 6.1.2

        That is why I have suggested local shipping as an option.

        It would help make rail more economically viable, in that, a combination of both would likely reduce the number of rail-lines required, and thus reduce the amount of mainteance required for rails.

        In the end, everything needs to be economically viable. Though, sometimes, the market price needs to be met with a view to making an initial loss for a longer term gain.

        • Tricledrown

          Rail can be electrified even if it means burning coal at Huntly its 8 times more efficient than burning fuel in a car or truck.National are totally opposed to Rail because of unions are formed where large numbers of workers are involved while owner operator truckies vote National.For passenger transport Rail in NZ is to expensive with slow trains much higher up keep than freight and a spread out population, Urban trains are the way to go in major Cities.

      • AB 6.1.3

        Not so much "no economy", but more likely some form of brutal command economy. That means an ugly loss of personal autonomy – which ironically is being made more likely in the future by the staunch defenders of market freedom in the present who are resisting change.

      • Ad 6.1.4

        Arguably New Zealand rail has done quite a lot for our environmental collapse already, and continues to do so.

        Rail was the primary mode for stripping out our native forests for about a century.

        Rail was and is the primary mode for mining and exporting coal.

        Rail was and is a primary mode for transporting combustion vehicles across the country.

        Rail is also a primary mode for transporting low value logs.

        • roy cartland

          Now roads do all that. I doubt Weka and others are suggesting that rail has some kind of net benefit to the environment, but that it can be made to have a smaller carbon footprint than roading, and previous rail, as well as providing other benefits.

        • weka

          this is a 'people don't shoot people, guns do' argument.

        • Descendant Of Smith

          "Rail was the primary mode for stripping out our native forests for about a century."

          Cause there were no roads and it was cheaper and more efficient to build rail.

          • Stuart Munro

            My granddad had a bit to do with the driving dams used to float kauri logs to the mill. Efficient, compared to oxen, but not so environmentally friendly. Bush trams & rail were a step up.

        • newsense

          Peacekeepers get guns too.

          Tools used to exploit can be repurposed when needs change.

    • newsense 6.2

      As you say, the economy ignores the inability to grow produce as before, suburbs being constantly flooded, the destruction of now misplaced infrastructure…As farmers have told us for 40 years climate change affects other people. #sarc

      I’m sure I’m not the only one who after generations of family holidaying in the Coromandel who are rethinking that because of the increasing possibility of flooding, road slips and difficulty in getting to medical treatment if something happens. That could be an issue for the tourist economy there. Plus the loud one time Mayor of Thames who didn’t believe in climate change doesn’t make you predisposed to pour money in to prop up the area.

      Also Advantage argued based on a world where the dairy industry isn’t prominent in NZ. Do you agree with that as a prediction for our economy?

  6. Tiger Mountain 7

    Great piece weka, have read most of the links and info graphics previously and the case is rather obvious.

    What Advantage is on about I have no idea when the ESB context is considered.

    In the Far North the roads are so bashed around by logging trucks and general trucking traffic, rail would be such a relief. There is only SH10 now that the Mangamuka route is under major repair after rainfall collapses, and SH10 has a number of marginal bridges.

    Back in the 1920s the “main trunk” rail line was intended to go all the way to Kaitaia, but a local politician “Colonel” Allen Bell (Reform Party & an independent), local conservatives and the trucking lobby intervened to stop it going much past Moerewa. I discovered this while viewing archived copies of the Northland Age.
    As todays new gens are discovering–they have to deal with previous generations blunders, miscalculations, greed and selfishness.

    • tWiggle 7.1

      Sonja Davies in her autobiography Bread and Roses talked about how involvement in the failed local campaign to stop closure of the Nelson railway network set her on the road to social activism.

      I seem to remember the economic case for taking the railway away was poor, with powerful freight companies moving for the closure to benefit themselves.

      • Tiger Mountain 7.1.1

        Yes, have read it, and knew Sonja in various union circles during the 80s. Her joining the Rogernomic era Labour Caucus was not a good move!

        • newsense

          Sometimes you need to see a red rose in winter to remember the spring!

  7. PsyclingLeft.Always 8

    Good Post Weka. I was never going to respond to the other one. No point.

    And your links (some of which I have seen previously) are excellent.

    Here are some older ones..still valid IMO

    The former National government were never happy rail was bought back and many party members were ideologically opposed to rail.

    And IMO more than a few in "Labour" also ideologically opposed……Can only wonder why? Another agenda?

    Also see the Link comments re Proven heavy truck damage. Which I..and others have linked, many times.

    And so obvious :

    we need to prepare Christchurch for the effects of climate change. We know that we need to make massive changes to the way we live to have any chance of stopping climate change

    The Green Party’s plan for Christchurch includes:

    • A new commuter rail services connecting Rangiora, Kaiapoi and Belfast to the CBD
    • A new commuter rail service to Rolleston
    • Extended fast passenger rail services out to Ashburton and eventually further north and south

    Well , there does seem to be Interest from quite a number to get Regional Rail back in NZ. I'm hopeful, Active, and Activated : )

  8. weka 9

    the Future is Rail conference is in Wellington at the end of this month. Interesting list of topics and speakers,

    • PsyclingLeft.Always 9.1

      Good link Weka. I hope that Julie Anne Genter gets the Green cause/position across well. (She does a good job : )

  9. Doogs 10

    Excellent article.
    Weka 1 Ad 0

  10. Mike the Lefty 11

    Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the Dog and Lemon Guide, believes that the Kiwi car culture is the problem and he is not wrong.

    While success (and National Party approval) is measured on the number of fuel-guzzling Ford Rangers sold every year, public transport is always looked on as the poor man's option.

    While Labour is in power public transport has a fighting chance, with NACT it is effectively f….d.

    • newsense 11.1

      Labour have some questions about sneaking through car industry friendly walk backs too. A slow step forward and well, quick half jump back.

  11. gsays 12

    Thanks from me as well.

  12. Nick Nicholas 13

    Kiwirail should join up the Gisborne to BoP link and thus complete a Great NZ Eastern Rail. Apart from tourism and freight etc, it would greatly open up all eastern N Is. Land. Why does no one suggest this but me? Costly, but surely logical.

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  • Government backing mussel spat project
    The Coalition Government is investing in a project to boost survival rates of New Zealand mussels and grow the industry, Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones has announced. “This project seeks to increase the resilience of our mussels and significantly boost the sector’s productivity,” Mr Jones says. “The project - ...
    1 hour ago
  • Government focused on getting people into work
    Benefit figures released today underscore the importance of the Government’s plan to rebuild the economy and have 50,000 fewer people on Jobseeker Support, Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston says. “Benefit numbers are still significantly higher than when National was last in government, when there was about 70,000 fewer ...
    4 hours ago
  • Clean energy key driver to reducing emissions
    The Government’s commitment to doubling New Zealand’s renewable energy capacity is backed by new data showing that clean energy has helped the country reach its lowest annual gross emissions since 1999, Climate Change Minister Simon Watts says. New Zealand’s latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory (1990-2022) published today, shows gross emissions fell ...
    5 hours ago
  • Earthquake-prone buildings review brought forward
    The Government is bringing the earthquake-prone building review forward, with work to start immediately, and extending the deadline for remediations by four years, Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk says. “Our Government is focused on rebuilding the economy. A key part of our plan is to cut red tape that ...
    9 hours ago
  • Thailand and NZ to agree to Strategic Partnership
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and his Thai counterpart, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, have today agreed that New Zealand and the Kingdom of Thailand will upgrade the bilateral relationship to a Strategic Partnership by 2026. “New Zealand and Thailand have a lot to offer each other. We have a strong mutual desire to build ...
    21 hours ago
  • Government consults on extending coastal permits for ports
    RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop and Transport Minister Simeon Brown have today announced the Coalition Government’s intention to extend port coastal permits for a further 20 years, providing port operators with certainty to continue their operations. “The introduction of the Resource Management Act in 1991 required ports to obtain coastal ...
    1 day ago
  • Inflation coming down, but more work to do
    Today’s announcement that inflation is down to 4 per cent is encouraging news for Kiwis, but there is more work to be done - underlining the importance of the Government’s plan to get the economy back on track, acting Finance Minister Chris Bishop says. “Inflation is now at 4 per ...
    1 day ago
  • School attendance restored as a priority in health advice
    Refreshed health guidance released today will help parents and schools make informed decisions about whether their child needs to be in school, addressing one of the key issues affecting school attendance, says Associate Education Minister David Seymour. In recent years, consistently across all school terms, short-term illness or medical reasons ...
    1 day ago
  • Unnecessary bureaucracy cut in oceans sector
    Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones is streamlining high-level oceans management while maintaining a focus on supporting the sector’s role in the export-led recovery of the economy. “I am working to realise the untapped potential of our fishing and aquaculture sector. To achieve that we need to be smarter with ...
    1 day ago
  • Patterson promoting NZ’s wool sector at International Congress
    Associate Agriculture Minister Mark Patterson is speaking at the International Wool Textile Organisation Congress in Adelaide, promoting New Zealand wool, and outlining the coalition Government’s support for the revitalisation the sector.    "New Zealand’s wool exports reached $400 million in the year to 30 June 2023, and the coalition Government ...
    2 days ago
  • Removing red tape to help early learners thrive
    The Government is making legislative changes to make it easier for new early learning services to be established, and for existing services to operate, Associate Education Minister David Seymour says. The changes involve repealing the network approval provisions that apply when someone wants to establish a new early learning service, ...
    2 days ago
  • RMA changes to cut coal mining consent red tape
    Changes to the Resource Management Act will align consenting for coal mining to other forms of mining to reduce barriers that are holding back economic development, Resources Minister Shane Jones says. “The inconsistent treatment of coal mining compared with other extractive activities is burdensome red tape that fails to acknowledge ...
    2 days ago
  • McClay reaffirms strong NZ-China trade relationship
    Trade, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Todd McClay has concluded productive discussions with ministerial counterparts in Beijing today, in support of the New Zealand-China trade and economic relationship. “My meeting with Commerce Minister Wang Wentao reaffirmed the complementary nature of the bilateral trade relationship, with our Free Trade Agreement at its ...
    2 days ago
  • Prime Minister Luxon acknowledges legacy of Singapore Prime Minister Lee
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon today paid tribute to Singapore’s outgoing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.   Meeting in Singapore today immediately before Prime Minister Lee announced he was stepping down, Prime Minister Luxon warmly acknowledged his counterpart’s almost twenty years as leader, and the enduring legacy he has left for Singapore and South East ...
    3 days ago
  • PMs Luxon and Lee deepen Singapore-NZ ties
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon held a bilateral meeting today with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. While in Singapore as part of his visit to South East Asia this week, Prime Minister Luxon also met with Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and will meet with Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.  During today’s meeting, Prime Minister Luxon ...
    3 days ago
  • Antarctica New Zealand Board appointments
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has made further appointments to the Board of Antarctica New Zealand as part of a continued effort to ensure the Scott Base Redevelopment project is delivered in a cost-effective and efficient manner.  The Minister has appointed Neville Harris as a new member of the Board. Mr ...
    3 days ago
  • Finance Minister travels to Washington DC
    Finance Minister Nicola Willis will travel to the United States on Tuesday to attend a meeting of the Five Finance Ministers group, with counterparts from Australia, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.  “I am looking forward to meeting with our Five Finance partners on how we can work ...
    3 days ago
  • Pet bonds a win/win for renters and landlords
    The coalition Government has today announced purrfect and pawsitive changes to the Residential Tenancies Act to give tenants with pets greater choice when looking for a rental property, says Housing Minister Chris Bishop. “Pets are important members of many Kiwi families. It’s estimated that around 64 per cent of New ...
    3 days ago
  • Long Tunnel for SH1 Wellington being considered
    State Highway 1 (SH1) through Wellington City is heavily congested at peak times and while planning continues on the duplicate Mt Victoria Tunnel and Basin Reserve project, the Government has also asked NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) to consider and provide advice on a Long Tunnel option, Transport Minister Simeon Brown ...
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand condemns Iranian strikes
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Foreign Minister Winston Peters have condemned Iran’s shocking and illegal strikes against Israel.    “These attacks are a major challenge to peace and stability in a region already under enormous pressure," Mr Luxon says.    "We are deeply concerned that miscalculation on any side could ...
    4 days ago
  • Huge interest in Government’s infrastructure plans
    Hundreds of people in little over a week have turned out in Northland to hear Regional Development Minister Shane Jones speak about plans for boosting the regional economy through infrastructure. About 200 people from the infrastructure and associated sectors attended an event headlined by Mr Jones in Whangarei today. Last ...
    6 days ago
  • Health Minister thanks outgoing Health New Zealand Chair
    Health Minister Dr Shane Reti has today thanked outgoing Health New Zealand – Te Whatu Ora Chair Dame Karen Poutasi for her service on the Board.   “Dame Karen tendered her resignation as Chair and as a member of the Board today,” says Dr Reti.  “I have asked her to ...
    6 days ago
  • Roads of National Significance planning underway
    The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has signalled their proposed delivery approach for the Government’s 15 Roads of National Significance (RoNS), with the release of the State Highway Investment Proposal (SHIP) today, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  “Boosting economic growth and productivity is a key part of the Government’s plan to ...
    6 days ago
  • Navigating an unstable global environment
    New Zealand is renewing its connections with a world facing urgent challenges by pursuing an active, energetic foreign policy, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Our country faces the most unstable global environment in decades,” Mr Peters says at the conclusion of two weeks of engagements in Egypt, Europe and the United States.    “We cannot afford to sit back in splendid ...
    6 days ago
  • NZ welcomes Australian Governor-General
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has announced the Australian Governor-General, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley and his wife Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley, will make a State visit to New Zealand from Tuesday 16 April to Thursday 18 April. The visit reciprocates the State visit of former Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy ...
    6 days ago
  • Pseudoephedrine back on shelves for Winter
    Associate Health Minister David Seymour has announced that Medsafe has approved 11 cold and flu medicines containing pseudoephedrine. Pharmaceutical suppliers have indicated they may be able to supply the first products in June. “This is much earlier than the original expectation of medicines being available by 2025. The Government recognised ...
    6 days ago
  • NZ and the US: an ever closer partnership
    New Zealand and the United States have recommitted to their strategic partnership in Washington DC today, pledging to work ever more closely together in support of shared values and interests, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.    “The strategic environment that New Zealand and the United States face is considerably more ...
    6 days ago
  • Joint US and NZ declaration
    April 11, 2024 Joint Declaration by United States Secretary of State the Honorable Antony J. Blinken and New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs the Right Honourable Winston Peters We met today in Washington, D.C. to recommit to the historic partnership between our two countries and the principles that underpin it—rule ...
    6 days ago
  • NZ and US to undertake further practical Pacific cooperation
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced further New Zealand cooperation with the United States in the Pacific Islands region through $16.4 million in funding for initiatives in digital connectivity and oceans and fisheries research.   “New Zealand can achieve more in the Pacific if we work together more urgently and ...
    6 days ago
  • Government redress for Te Korowai o Wainuiārua
    The Government is continuing the bipartisan effort to restore its relationship with iwi as the Te Korowai o Wainuiārua Claims Settlement Bill passed its first reading in Parliament today, says Treaty Negotiations Minister Paul Goldsmith. “Historical grievances of Te Korowai o Wainuiārua relate to 19th century warfare, land purchased or taken ...
    7 days ago
  • Focus on outstanding minerals permit applications
    New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals is working to resolve almost 150 outstanding minerals permit applications by the end of the financial year, enabling valuable mining activity and signalling to the sector that New Zealand is open for business, Resources Minister Shane Jones says.  “While there are no set timeframes for ...
    7 days ago
  • Applications open for NZ-Ireland Research Call
    The New Zealand and Irish governments have today announced that applications for the 2024 New Zealand-Ireland Joint Research Call on Agriculture and Climate Change are now open. This is the third research call in the three-year Joint Research Initiative pilot launched in 2022 by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Ireland’s ...
    1 week ago
  • Tenancy rules changes to improve rental market
    The coalition Government has today announced changes to the Residential Tenancies Act to encourage landlords back to the rental property market, says Housing Minister Chris Bishop. “The previous Government waged a war on landlords. Many landlords told us this caused them to exit the rental market altogether. It caused worse ...
    1 week ago
  • Boosting NZ’s trade and agricultural relationship with China
    Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay will visit China next week, to strengthen relationships, support Kiwi exporters and promote New Zealand businesses on the world stage. “China is one of New Zealand’s most significant trade and economic relationships and remains an important destination for New Zealand’s products, accounting for nearly 22 per cent of our good and ...
    1 week ago
  • Freshwater farm plan systems to be improved
    The coalition Government intends to improve freshwater farm plans so that they are more cost-effective and practical for farmers, Associate Environment Minister Andrew Hoggard and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay have announced. “A fit-for-purpose freshwater farm plan system will enable farmers and growers to find the right solutions for their farm ...
    1 week ago
  • New Fast Track Projects advisory group named
    The coalition Government has today announced the expert advisory group who will provide independent recommendations to Ministers on projects to be included in the Fast Track Approvals Bill, say RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones. “Our Fast Track Approval process will make it easier and ...
    1 week ago
  • Pacific and Gaza focus of UN talks
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters says his official talks with the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York today focused on a shared commitment to partnering with the Pacific Islands region and a common concern about the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.    “Small states in the Pacific rely on collective ...
    1 week ago
  • Government honours Taranaki Maunga deal
    The Government is honouring commitments made to Taranaki iwi with the Te Pire Whakatupua mō Te Kāhui Tupua/Taranaki Maunga Collective Redress Bill passing its first reading Parliament today, Treaty Negotiations Minister Paul Goldsmith says. “This Bill addresses the commitment the Crown made to the eight iwi of Taranaki to negotiate ...
    1 week ago
  • Enhanced partnership to reduce agricultural emissions
    The Government and four further companies are together committing an additional $18 million towards AgriZeroNZ to boost New Zealand’s efforts to reduce agricultural emissions. Agriculture Minister Todd McClay says the strength of the New Zealand economy relies on us getting effective and affordable emission reduction solutions for New Zealand. “The ...
    1 week ago
  • 110km/h limit proposed for Kāpiti Expressway
    Transport Minister Simeon Brown has welcomed news the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) will begin consultation this month on raising speed limits for the Kāpiti Expressway to 110km/h. “Boosting economic growth and productivity is a key part of the Government’s plan to rebuild the economy and this proposal supports that outcome ...
    1 week ago

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