The Green Party today announced a plan to get half of New Zealand’s freight moving by rail and sea within 10 years, and dramatically reduce the number of dangerous trucks clogging up New Zealand’s roads.
“National’s single-minded focus on a few expensive highways is downright irresponsible, and will ultimately force more and more trucks onto New Zealand roads,” said Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.
“National spends five times more on a few low-value motorways than it does on the entire rail network. National’s pet projects will actually increase congestion and the number of trucks on New Zealand roads, meaning within a decade Kiwis will have to share the roads with an additional 1.7 million truck trips every year.
“New Zealanders are sick and tired of more and more trucks congesting their towns and cities and bearing down behind them on the road. Every year, an average of 55 people are killed in crashes involving trucks, and over 850 are seriously injured.
“Rail is our second corridor. A single train can remove 70 heavy trucks from the road. By investing in rail and shipping we will not only make roads safer, but the air cleaner, and create a safer climate for future generations.
“We will invest $860 million to electrify rail between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga – New Zealand’s busiest freight corridors. This will help to move freight safely off the road, and create a zero emissions freight service in ‘the Golden Triangle’.
“Instead of demanding that rail return a profit, which has set rail up to fail, we’ll fund it from the transport budget in the same way roads are, providing the investment needed to move freight in the most effective and clean way.
“Moving freight by rail and ship is not only safer and cheaper, but better for the environment. Shifting half of New Zealand’s freight by rail and ship is the equivalent of replacing over 300,000 petrol and diesel cars with electric vehicles.
“National has neglected rail and shipping, choosing instead to spend almost five times the amount invested in rail on new motorways every year,” Ms Genter said.