Here we go again – trucking companies want more state subsidies for their road-destroying businesses


“Truckers demand billion dollar spend to fix dilapidated roads” is just the latest in a decades-long history of trucking companies with their hands out to us for the destruction their trucks cause to our roads.

One single eight tonne axle does the same damage to a road as 10,000 cars so some of these big trucks – carrying up to sixty tonne loads over seven axles – will do the same damage as 70,000 cars travelling over the same road.

Do the trucking companies pay for the damage they cause? No – not even a tiny fraction of the cost. They pay road user charges but – surprise, surprise – these are not set at 70,000 times the tax on petrol!

Trucking companies are adept at using motorist complaints about poor roads to bully successive governments into spending billions on road maintenance. Meanwhile they work hard to undermine government spending on rail transport at every turn.

The poster boy for political sellouts in transport is former Labour MP Richard Prebble who ran a campaign to “Save Rail” and then set about destroying it on behalf of corporate truckers once he was elected in 1984.

TDB Recommends

Surely it’s time we buried Prebble’s legacy under a rebuilt rail network which would be cheaper, more efficient and with a much lower carbon footprint.


  1. Of course the damage done to roads that the trucking lobby are whining about has absolutely nothing to do with the 55 tonne weight trucks they convinced Steven Joyce were a benefit to mankind, has it? Everyone but that tit and National knew it would happen but they let it happen anyway. Money talks, eh National?

    And given they donate big to National, who really cares what this lobby group think. Fuck them! Best ignored and perhaps consideration to downsizing these things should be looked at, immediately.

  2. All too true, John.

    The ‘good news; is that the economy that generated the outrages you have listed is in terminal decline, and the legacy of the madness will be a network of roads that cannot be maintained, and a completely wrecked climate.

  3. The main problem with large scale rail freight (someone can correct me if i’m wrong) is the gauge and the mostly single line usage between main centers. Sure you could build this up however the investment to do it properly would be in the realms of 30-40 billion when you factor in NZ’s topography and current lack of infrastructure.

    The real issue is that road users aren’t being put back into the roads and are going into the main income pot of the government and being pissed up against the wall on such things as Taranaki Ewok villages. Indeed if petrol tax and road users charges were re-invested into transport and not general expenditure there would be more than enough to meet our road requirements and indeed feasibility funding of rail and maritime transportation initiatives.

    Attack heavy transport all you like however it’s a redundant argument unless you have a viable alternative which doesn’t exist unless you have a few spare billion. Unfortunately Grant has pissed this all up against a wall in order to guarantee an election.

    • There is nothing wrong with 3ft 6in Cape Gauge, just pop over and have a look at monsters on the QLD Rail lines or in WA excluding the ones up in the Pilbara which are Standard Gauge. We mustn’t forget that Japan also uses Cape Gauge as well.

      QLD Rail operations do show you what could happen if the NZ Rail Network was upgraded to almost the same standard be freight or for high speed pax trains. A sample upgrade to NZ Railways would be the increase the loading gauge and axle weights back to pre privatisation standards where speeds on the main trunks lines was a 100kph not the current 80kph. Then you have re-alignment programs to ease the curves and straighten rail lines especially those lines outside of the NIMT.

    • Well said XRAY, John,esoteric pineapples, Afewknowthetruth, covid is pa

      trucks are ruining our climate too, with spewing our kg of toxic Tyre dust every time a 32 wheeler drives a load to a port and that “micro-plastic particles” comes off every Tyre and is washed off our roads into our water supplies and estuaries and into the sea and winds up washing onto the polar ice caps and that black tyre dust attracts the suns heat and speeds up the melting of the polar ice caps and ends up flooding our roads as the sea level rises.

      End result; – trucks are killing there own futures silly people they are, railing against rail because rail has no tyre pollution as rail freight only travels on steel tracks with steel wheels.

      So as public enemy number one WAKE UP!! – ‘Nick Legett’ of the (RTF) ‘road transport forum’ – you silly man!!!

      Public enemy number one is the trucking industry get back onto rail!!!!.

  4. They are right about our roads being in a mess and patchwork like. But the TRUCKS are causing a lot of it and so is the poor standard of road building and the increase of cars due to the increase in our population, due to the lack of planning of infrastructure to deal with more people and more cars.

    • No. You’re incorrect @ C i P. It’s heavy transport that’s causing road surface decay. Cars, by contrast have so little an impact on tarseal road surfaces that it’s difficult to calculate just how much damage they cause.
      “The relationship between vehicle axle loadings and pavement wear on local roads June 2017”
      And I’d argue that AO/NZ’s road maintenance crews do a world class job at repairing existing, and building new tar seal roads.
      And it’s not a lack of planning either.
      Road designs in AO/NZ are excellent, particularly given the funding. The new motorway south of Christchurch for example is a superb piece of public works.
      There’s zero argument against rail freight and a world of pain coming out of road transport.
      And now ? Heavy transport operators are whining about the poor condition of the roads they fucked and expect we tax payers to bail them out ! Fuck off !
      I see that the ever wondrous person of the year and third world work force exploiter SIR stevie tindal is one of the farces behind building a hydrogen pump infrastructure throughout the main transport service routes around AO/NZ.
      How about, stevie? Bargain basement Knight and where everyone gets fucked over, we build hydrogen filling stations for what are now diesel trains to ship fifty times more freight per trip than trucks can and zero impact on state funded roads and the climate?
      No coin for you in it though aye mate? Trying to keep ahead of the times? Your days are numbered son.

  5. John, agree. God knows where the power lies with this govt.

    A number of years ago I was at a meeting in a Pres church on Willis St when another attendee, Coralie Leyland, raised the railways issue with speaker Richard Prebble.

    He lost his temper and raised his voice at her. No-one should have been spoken to the way this lady was, esp an older woman. I was sitting on the outside seat of the right aisle where Prebble was pacing. He frightened me, and I’m not a shrinking violet. But in effect, the whole audience more or less froze from this point on – maybe because of the unexpectedness of his inappropriate behaviour; little shit.

  6. Good on you @ JM for broaching this laughable situation.
    @ Xray and @ E P are correct too in their appraisals of a crooked industry.
    dick prebble aye. Mr “I’ve Been Thinking.”
    This is a brief explanation of who was behind the set-up then destroy tactic to give road transport a monopoly in freight distribution in AO/NZ. Just follow the links.
    Was it pig muldoon who thought big and pulled up railway lines into our primary industry hinterlands?
    The Last Train to Clyde.
    The deliberate sabotage of OUR rail system to create wealth for a couple of bludger, scumbag heavy transport operators?
    OUR electricity now has ‘retailers’ who literally can’t tell you what it is, in fact, that they do.
    OUR cell phone and internet should be paid for from a stipend from taxation then freely available to us all.
    Road freight is a swindle and to prove that, drive between Gore and Frankton, between Dunedin and Alexandra etc etc and you will see the bridges and embankments of what were our railway tracks well built and would have lasted for generations now all gone. Pulled up by corrupt arseholes now imbedded within our country’s political systems.
    I thought the Apple and Pear Marketing Board decided to use road transport instead of rail to ship fruits from Central Otago to Dunedin. To be shipped to Australia and sold cheaply by Watties.
    Our beautiful AO/NZ’s a deeply corrupt, dirty little country. I could say it was run by the mafia but the mafia have class. Our lot are simply white, pot bellied, vulgar riche with their dirt under someone else’s fingernails.
    Crowd fund forensic political and financial investigators and you’ll be shocked at what they find.
    N.B. IN my personal opinion.
    The Apple and Pear Marketing Board, a producer board who’s sole mission was as a reliable supply of cheap fruits for export to line Wattie’s pockets forbade growers from selling their export grade fruits at road side stalls.
    I know. I was there at the time eating huge, ripe Central Otago peaches in the back of Pop’s old 51’ Ford V8.
    AO/NZ has no idea just how mind blowingly ripped off we’ve been.
    Trucking companies shredding tax paid for roads is a tiny, little, almost insignificant element of the grand swindles. I call them The Great and Institutionalised Lies.

  7. We have to have rail, sure the ones we have got use them, there are plenty of them anything that is travelling more than100 kilometres should go on existing rail if the area has rail. Plenty of room for truckies in other areas.

    And travel on trains for we human beings that is a must, get the lines all up and running again. As a retiree I would take the train to Invercargill stopping on the way staying a night in a motel at several places. Right now is when this would really work.

    The fact is we all pay for the tearing up of our roads.

    And travel on trains for we human beings that is a must, get the lines all up and running again.

    One single eight tonne axle does the same damage to a road as 10,000 cars so some of these big trucks – carrying up to sixty tonne loads over seven axles – will do the same damage as 70,000 cars travelling over the same road

  8. The roads ARE crap and there are a few reasons why.
    Poor design: we still have many sections of our national state highways where vehicles pass each other head on at a velocity of 200 km/hour or more with barely a metre between them. In many other countries such a design would be unthinkable. So many of our “main” roads (and bridges) are too narrow and too cambered (which the tyre retailers love).
    There is only a small margin of error between passing each other safely and a collision.
    Sometimes it happens and then there are more grieving families and shattered communities.
    They are hastily and badly constructed.
    In the rush to get new roads and by-passes built before the next election (eg. the Kapiti by-pass) standards slip and necessitate continuous repairs to new roads that shouldn’t need them.
    There is too much emphasis on building four lane highways to everywhere.
    Better to make the main roads high standard and let the rural townies actually have to use the capabilities of their new SUVs and have to negotiate a few corners on their way to the corporate office from their country mansions.
    Not every goat track requires bitumen and white lines.
    And above all, what is needed is some forward thinking.
    We should have taken heed of the American experience of building extensive new suburbs in our main cities that needed more and more new roads and the resulting disastrous levels of traffic.
    Instead our politicians, particularly National Party politicians, still have their heads in the 60s when there was a fraction of today’s traffic on the roads.
    The road transport industry has a point when it says that bad roads are costing it big time in repairs and maintenance but the answer is not just to improve all roads – it is to overhaul road policy completely, bring it into the 21st century and start thinking about how to get the traffic off our existing roads instead of how to get more onto our existing and new roads.
    Fat chance, I fear.

    • Here is the real elephant in the room from trucks spewing out massive tyre dust every time they travel. Tyres are ‘ACTUALLY MICRO-PLASTIC POLLUTION’ – READ THE TOXICITY OF THIS IGNORED POLLUTANT.

      CEAC – How to stop destructive loss of ocean oxygen?
      Monday, 9 December 2019, 9:03 am
      Press Release: Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre
      The shock of an alarming release of the report at the Climate Change conference in Madrid COPs 25 yesterday on the discovery loss of widespread ocean oxygen is another watershed moment that must be recognised as dire for our future survival.

      “Oceans losing oxygen at unprecedented rate, experts warn of the loss of ocean oxygen at-unprecedented-rate”

      Quote ;

      “Oxygen in the oceans is being lost at an unprecedented rate, with “dead zones” proliferating and hundreds more areas showing oxygen dangerously depleted, as a result of the climate emergency and intensive farming, experts have warned.
      Sharks, tuna, marlin and other large fish species were at particular risk, scientists said, with many vital ecosystems in danger of collapse. Dead zones – where oxygen is effectively absent – have quadrupled in extent in the last half-century, and there are also at least 700 areas where oxygen is at dangerously low levels, up from 45 when research was undertaken in the 1960s.”

      Losing-oxygen-at-unprecedented-rate-experts-warn Oxygen Level Decrease in Air from Climate Change

      A scientist Paul Beckwith University of Ottawa already has a study about this issue in a discussion you tube presentation.

      Paul Beckworth states; “Combustion of fossil fuels causes oxygen to decrease in the atmosphere/ocean system.
      As does deforestation, exponential population growth and phytoplankton loss in the oceans from warming stratification limiting nutrients at the surface.
      It is often said that the oxygen in every second breath you take is produced by photo plankton, that are the true lungs of the planet. I discuss the extend of the oxygen decrease, which is more than you want to know.”

      We know already that micro-plastics are detected in our oceans and even deposited in ice packs and alpine snow in many areas of the globe now.

      So where could some of the “micro-plastics” come from?

      Now a German scientific study has traced the micro-plastics to tyre ‘particulates’ from vehicles, so we are now part of the problem apparently.

      Tyres are used in every corner of the globe now, and we have never considered tyre dust to be a threat and a potential pollutant to our environment, have we?

      Tyres are made from oil ‘distillate’ products like styrene ,polyethene, nylon, butadiene and many others including formaldehyde, – so we should not be surprised at the sheer problems these “micro-plastics may be causing to our environment now and all living organisms.

      So could we find ‘cleaner less toxic materials’ from which to make those tyres from?

      We studied this problem and discovered that in 2001 three large international tyre companies came together to fund a study to produce a ‘prototype tyre’ that contained far less toxic chemicals than tyres are currently made from, which consisted of wood, grass and corn derivatives which may be a part solution to our reduction and less use toxic petroleum waste products and those companies are Bridgestone, Michelin, and Yulex Corporation specifically.

      From sustainable feedstocks to finished products. at

      On the product application font, Bridgestone has recently launched Ecopia EP001S tyre with an A/A rating for wet grip as well as fuel economy in Europe and Japan.

      144 Optimized top tread compound with maximum resistance toward aquaplaning and increased stiffness of the tread blocks has led to such improved tyre performance.

      In 2012, Michelin had launched the MICHELIN ENERGY EV tyre for electric cars to increase their autonomy, which improves fuel economy and hence contributes toward sustainability.

      145 Bridgestone has very recently developed tyre, which is made of 100% Guayule rubber. The company has also set an ambitious target of producing its entire tyre portfolio from sustainable materials.

      146 Recently, Yulex Corporation has launched Yulex Pure, a guayule rubber that meets the requisite critical performance standards for many medical, industrial, and consumer applications and surpasses the performance standards of many synthetic lattices.

      147 The company is using advanced genomic technologies for commercial production. These are a few instances, which reflect the urge and motivation of various companies toward sustainability.
      Perhaps now NZ could become a world leader by finally producing the first ‘new commercially available ‘eco-friendly vehicle tyre composition’ since it has been science tested but yet to go into production here?

      ‘Eco-friendly vehicle tyre composition’ has been on the scientific horizon and has been known since 2001, – so why is it not in widespread use by now?

      Perhaps ‘Big Oil’ felt it would damage their financial status after an oil free component vehicle tyre may be popular as they can be made of grass, trees, corn, and perhaps no petrochemicals may be needed to build the first “Eco-tyre?
      (QUOTE) “According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, each tire produced takes 7 gallons of oil”

      These two documents provide the evidence to show about “road dust from tyres is an overlooked pollutant of our waterways.
      Tyre dust is micro-plastics.
      • If the world is to limit the effects of global warming, drastic changes must be made and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report Executive Summary.

      • All must be taken seriously now along with; “Comparison of Tire and Road Wear Particle Concentrations in Sediment for Watersheds in France, Japan, and the United States by Quantitative Pyrolysis GC/MS Analysis” report on sediments for watersheds.
      QUOTE: “Comparison of Tire and Road Wear Particle Concentrations in Sediment for Watersheds in France, Japan, and the United States by Quantitative Pyrolysis GC/MS Analysis

      Impacts of surface runoff to aquatic species are an ongoing area of concern. Tire and road wear particles (TRWP) are a constituent of runoff, and determining accurate TRWP concentrations in sediment is necessary in order to evaluate the likelihood that these particles present a risk to the aquatic environment. TRWP consist of approximately equal mass fractions of tire tread rubber and road surface mineral encrustations. Sampling was completed in the Seine (France), Chesapeake (U.S.), and Yodo-Lake Biwa (Japan) watersheds to quantify TRWP in the surficial sediment of watersheds characterized by a wide diversity of population densities and land uses. By using a novel quantitative pyrolysis-GC/MS analysis for rubber polymer, we detected TRWP in 97% of the 149 sediment samples collected.

      Plastic carpeting?

      When we looked into the humble household carpet for any emissions of “micro- plastic particulates we were again shocked that 95% of the standard carpeting today is made from oil based derivatives again such as ‘Nylon 6’ and it’s many volatile organic chemical components.

      What Toxic Substances are Present in Carpets according to the EU.
      Nonylphenols (NPs)
      Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEOs
      Flame Retardants
      Stain Repellents: Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS
      Heavy Metals & Metal Compounds
      Dyes and Pigments.
      Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
      Other VOCs – “New Carpet Smell”.
      Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC).
      Styrene Butadiene Rubber Latex (SBR Latex)

      This potentially toxic combination used in carpeting was only produced since woollen carpeting was less aggressively marketed as a floor covering for insulation during the 1970’s although the performance of insulation using wool was three times more thermally efficient than ‘Nylon 6’ plastic acrylic carpeting insulation is.

      Now any nylon carpeting dust is linked to many health concerns, and is regarded as a human toxic exposure if the dust particles and VOC gasses released are breathed into the lungs and consumed in food consumed. The nylon dust from walking and wear will become a ‘micro-plastic’ when we are walking outside and removed from our shoes then washed down drains by rain. Did we ever think of this?

      Then we have now according to this UN press release below;
      Wednesday, 4 December 2019, 9:34 am
      Press Release: UN News
      “Exceptional global heat driven by greenhouse gas emissions mean this decade will most likely go down as the warmest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which released its provisional statement on the State of the Global Climate on Tuesday.”

      So if our every day use of plastics in ‘every walk of life’ is not checked for ‘micro-plastics’ then we are part of today’s problems that are causing climate change.

      Big question is; – ‘How to firstly stop destructive loss of ocean oxygen’?

      We have always advocated to Government for our transport to return using rail as our prime mover ‘of people and freight’ around our country.

      With rail we have no transport tyre ‘micro-plastic’ emissions, as micro-plastics are seen as the worst enemy causing climate change in the articles above.

      So less ‘transport micro-plastic dust’ is considered as a major plus – and only ‘steel wheels on a steel track’ will do the job to deal with Climate change, so if we lower the micro-plastics emissions in our environment we will make our lives healthy again then.

  9. Trains are great for bulk movement but that is only a small percentage of the freight carried. I worked for a Chch hospitality firm and need to get freight to all parts of South Island . Some freight trucks had as many as 50 drop offs to isolated towns and business in the middle of nowhere before they reach their final destination . We only have 5 million people spread out in 2 Islands that is long and thin with mountain ranges that are not stable subject to earthquakes floods etc. We cannot spend a fortune on rail that can easily be wiped out like the Kaikoura line. Without trucks being able to divert to an inland route overnight we would have been in deep shit.
    The quality of road build is very poor but that is what happens when the lowest tender is excepted which is the norm which ever government is in power

  10. Trains are great for bulk movement but that is only a small percentage of the freight carried. I worked for a Chch hospitality firm and need to get freight to all parts of South Island . Some freight trucks had as many as 50 drop offs to isolated towns and business in the middle of nowhere before they reach their final destination . We only have 5 million people spread out in 2 Islands that is long and thin with mountain ranges that are not stable subject to earthquakes floods etc. We cannot spend a fortune on rail that can easily be wiped out like the Kaikoura line. Without trucks being able to divert to an inland route overnight we would have been in deep shit.
    The quality of road build is very poor but that is what happens when the lowest tender is excepted which is the norm which ever government is in power

  11. TS Where there is a will there’s a way. The South Island needs an inland route for sure, it is vulnerable on the coastline. But once done it would offer a valuable pathway of a long lasting type. A lot of stuff could go into containers that would be offloaded along the way and trucked locally. Things have to change. Last century’s methods won’t take us to 2050.

  12. Rebuild rail and fuck what is effectively bailing out the trucking industry.
    And while we’re at it, grab back Ear NuZull. Thanks Sir John (not very much) but it always was going to be an inevitability.
    And while we’re at it, consider taking a few (now parked up assets) and give them for the Air Force to replace those 757 dungers. Second a few crew to the AirForce as well to keep them in jobs jobs jobs. Even one or two or three of those ATRs could be used to do the weekly electorate-to-parliament Polly run

  13. Totally agree John.

    The main engineering issue that keeps NZ railways hobbled is the current pitiful 18t or lower axle load limit. We are stuck in the mid 20th century and the SOE that runs rail knows it.

    The main political issue maintaining the hobbled status quo is the upper SOE management are pro National voting trucking companies – just as in the Holyoake and Muldoon and Lange eras.

    The current SOE is being run by the son of the late JB Gordon to ‘continue fathers legacy’.

  14. As well as trucks ruining the roads, apparently motocross bikes are allowed to kill people too, even thought they are supposed to have strict rules (WOF, licensed, lights, indicators) to be able to be ridden in public places and should not be on bike lanes and footpaths.

    Parents of dead toddler frustrated as motorcyclists speed along pathway

    Police seeking witnesses to Muriwai crash


    Another child killed on a footpath by a truck but gets off and the company does not receive a work place fine. There was no interviewing of the driver who killed Carla Neems from work safe when a waste management truck (Chinese majority owned company) killed her near her own driveway,

    The truck had no sensors due to cost (unlike other trucks), to alert known blind spots.

    Their driver also found not guilty in judge only trial which work safe ‘investigation’ evidence was questioned.


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