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 3.3.2.1

          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 6.1.1.1

          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 6.1.1.1.1

            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 6.1.1.1.1.1

              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.

                      https://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.pdf

                      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.

                      https://www.mpi.govt.nz/food-business/running-a-food-business/reducing-food-waste-tips-for-businesses/

                      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.

                      https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/15/the-right-to-repair-planned-obsolescence-electronic-waste-mountain

                      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 6.1.1.2

          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 6.1.2.1

          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 6.1.4.1

          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 6.1.4.2

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

        • Descendant Of Smith 6.1.4.3

          "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 6.1.4.3.1

            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 6.1.4.4

          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 7.1.1.1

          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.

    https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2017/11/28/value-rail-new-zealand/

    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

    https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/24-11-2018/a-new-plan-for-christchurch-rail

    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

    https://www.greens.org.nz/greens_announce_bold_transport_plan_for_christchurch_to_tackle_climate_change_and_congestion

    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,

    https://www.railconference.info/agenda.html

    • 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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