National must rule out new diesel for Main Trunk Line

The National Government must rule out KiwiRail’s proposal to replace electric with new diesel trains on the Main Trunk Line, the Green Party said today.

KiwiRail is proposing to replace electric trains with more diesel-powered engines in a cost-saving plan to buy a dozen more diesel locomotives from China rather than refurbish or replace the electric units. The move will also put hundreds of jobs at risk.

“The Government must ensure the massive investment in rail electrification is protected and not sacrificed for a short-sighted cost-saving operation,” says Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

“Electrified rail is future-proofed infrastructure that needs a long-term investment horizon to manage.

“KiwiRail has been cash-starved by a National Government that is pouring all its transport investment into one pot – motorways.

“Our cash-starved rail operator should not be able to put decades of investment into electrification at risk for a short-term, one-off gain.

“Without an effective price on carbon, for example, KiwiRail will be mispricing new diesel locomotives over refurbished or new electric units.

“Without placing a value on the wider economic benefits of retaining skilled manufacturing jobs in New Zealand, KiwiRail will also be mispricing the benefits of diesel over electric.

“The Government needs to rule out new diesel on our Main Truck Line and properly fund KiwiRail given the strategic role it will play in our transport network as our economy moves towards a smart, low-carbon future,” Ms Genter said.