There’s nothing romantic in running down rail

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

Nothing exposes the National Government’s inability to think beyond the short term more than its constant belittling of KiwiRail and its rail network, says Labour Transport spokesperson Darren Hughes.

Hon Darren Hughes
Transport Spokesperson

30 June 2009 Media Statement

There’s nothing romantic in running down rail
Nothing exposes the National Government’s inability to think beyond the short term more than its constant belittling of KiwiRail and its rail network, says Labour Transport spokesperson Darren Hughes.

“Finance Minister Bill English, Prime Minister John Key — and now Transport Minister Steven Joyce. The list goes on of senior ministers who disparage rail and its potential contribution to the New Zealand economy,” Darren Hughes said.

“The reality is that provincial New Zealand rail lines would gradually have become the lines to nowhere if Dr Michael Cullen and the Labour Government had not had the foresight to buy KiwiRail.

“That purchase was made with an eye toward an uncertain future about which it would take a brave pundit indeed to say rail won’t play an important part.

“Nothing is more certain than the fact that if provincial lines are allowed to fall into disuse and disrepair — and the one-eyed road junkies in National seems to have no appetite to promote rail — then the lines will never be restored in the future,” Darren Hughes said.

“Rail played a huge part in the development of New Zealand. Overseas evidence showed how crucial rail still is as a means of carrying freight.

“National cannot see beyond tarseal, however. Earlier this month Mr Joyce said there was no future investment planned for KiwiRail. Today in the House he was even more disparaging about KiwiRail,” Darren Hughes said..

“Labour has always acknowledged that rail does not necessarily conform to a short-term commercial model. If that is how National is going to treat it, then rail is being set up to fail.

“Labour believes that investing in rail can be justified on a long-term basis. That is not a romantic notion, as Mr Joyce scoffs. It is a commitment to New Zealand’s future transport options.”

ENDS

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