Greens push for large intercity rail infrastructure to ensure sustainable post-COVID-19 rebuild

The Greens are highlighting fast intercity rail improvements as the type of climate-friendly, job-creating project that should be prioritised for post-COVID-19 economic stimulus investment.

The proposal would mean significant intercity rail investment over ten years to roll out fast, electric passenger services connecting key provincial centres with Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Over time this would see fast electric trains for passenger and freight connecting:

  • Auckland to Hamilton, Tauranga and eventually Whangarei
  • Wellington with Masterton, Palmerston North and eventually Whanganui
  • Christchurch with Rangiora in the North, Ashburton in the south and eventually Timaru.

Green Party Co-leader and Climate Change spokesperson James Shaw said today:

“The large intercity rail project proposed will provide meaningful work whilst driving us towards a sustainable, green, zero carbon future.

“Building rail creates more jobs than building motorways and helps us tackle climate change at the same time.

“If this crisis has shown us anything, it’s that the systems put in place to govern our lives can be quickly changed for our collective good.

“The Greens understand in government we can prioritise caring for people and the environment and create an economy that delivers that. This is our key focus when deciding infrastructure projects with our government partners.”

Green Party Transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said today:

“After the Global Financial Crisis, the National Government’s economic stimulus solution was a $12 billion dollar programme upgrading a relatively small portion of our motorway network.

“The Greens want a transformational infrastructure stimulus package fit for the 21st century that has economic recovery and climate change front and centre.

“That’s why we’re proposing a nation-wide intercity rapid rail programme that would bring our provincial centres and biggest cities closer together through fast, electric passenger rail. This will create real alternatives to driving or flying for people who want to travel around the country for work, to see their family and friends, or for domestic tourism.

“The decisions we make now should set a better course for the future of our communities. And we can push infrastructure projects that connect our communities better than ever before whilst looking after our environment.”

Delivering modern rapid rail in these regions could be achieved for approximately $9 billion over ten years.

The project would be rolled out in two stages:

Stage one

  • A major programme of work to electrify the rail lines between these centres
  • Targeted improvements to the existing track to allow travel speeds to increase up to 110km/h.

Stage two

  • Building new higher-speed track to support “tilt-trains” capable of achieving speeds of 160km/h
  • By-passes to create faster, more direct routes (e.g. around Whangamarino wetland north of Hamilton).

Map

To see a map of the indicative routes click here.

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