Greens challenge National to rule out replacing electric trains with diesel

The National Government shouldn’t drag New Zealand backwards by replacing its climate friendly electric trains with carbon-polluting diesel trains, the Green Party said today.

“We are calling on the National Government to rule out replacing KiwiRail’s electric trains with diesel trains,” said Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

Today, Ms Genter, the RMTU, and Generation Zero have gathered near Parliament to tell National not to replace our electric train fleet with diesel trains. The group will then march backwards to KiwiRail to highlight that replacing our electric trains with carbon-polluting diesel trains would be taking us backwards. Similar backwards marches will be held today in Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton.

“The National Government has chronically underfunded KiwiRail so that it has been forced to consider downgrading its electric train fleet to diesel,” said Ms Genter.

“National is spending ten times more on one motorway with a poor business case than they are putting into our whole national rail network each year.

“This December, in Paris, the world is gathering together to determine how to reduce carbon pollution and limit the effects of climate change. It will be an embarrassment if we arrive in Paris having just ditched our electric trains for trains run on fossil fuels.

“No other country in the world is going backwards and replacing its clean electric trains with carbon polluting diesel trains.

“Electrifying our railways is absolutely worth our while.

“Investing in electric locomotives is a common-sense way to cut our carbon pollution and develop rail infrastructure that’s fit for the 21st century.

“Refurbishing the electric locomotives would create jobs in New Zealand, whereas these jobs will be lost if the Government allows KiwiRail to downgrade to diesel.

“It’s time that the National Government stopped being part of the climate problem and started being part of the climate solution. New Zealand’s greenhouse  gas emissions have risen 13 percent since National took office.

“While National's transport budget concentrates on a few expensive motorways to the neglect of all else, the Green Party would preserve and grow our fleet of electric trains,” Ms Genter said.