A Fast Train To A Sustainable Future

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TE HUIA, the “fast train” to “Auckland” has been a subject of some contention in my family. My brother-in-law thinks it’s a great thing. His sister (my wife) thinks it’s the worst sort of white elephant – the eye-wateringly expensive kind. I agree. Te Huia represents the very worst kind of compromise: the sort that saps the strength of the original proposition by confirming the strongest arguments of its detractors. This train isn’t fast and it doesn’t take you to Auckland. The best that can be said for Te Huia is that it reminds us of what we should have – but don’t.

In a sensible country – a grown-up country – Hamilton would be linked to Auckland by the sort of rail services New Zealanders encounter (and travel on) overseas. Trains like Trenitalia’s alta velocita (high speed) service that took my family from Venice to Florence – a journey of 260 kilometres – in just 2 hours. Hamilton is 93 kilometres from Te Huia’s destination, Papakura. The journey takes 1.5 hours! Hamilton to Papakura by car is a journey of barely an hour. To put it bluntly: Te Huia is not a serious rail service. A serious rail service would take passengers from downtown Hamilton to downtown Auckland in half-an-hour.

A serious rail service cannot be delivered to New Zealanders, however, unless and until our narrow gauge railway tracks are replaced by the much broader gauge required for high-speed trains. That New Zealand engineers weren’t permitted to opt for a broader gauge at the time the tracks were laid is just another example of those idiotic penny-pinching decisions that have plagued this country’s development for more than 150 years. The narrow-gauge “solution” was cheaper and allowed more track to be laid, but the long-term consequences were dire. New Zealand’s railway tunnels are as narrow as its railway tracks. Opting for a broader gauge would necessarily entail widening those tunnels – an eye-wateringly expensive proposition.

Too expensive. For New Zealand governments of all complexions it was easier to just go along with the conventional wisdom that dismissed railway transportation as yesterday’s technology. The private motor vehicle and the heavy lorry were deemed to have done away with the whole economic rationale for a comprehensive rail network. Investment faltered, efficiency declined, and the public lost faith in the state-owned New Zealand Railways.

This suited some people just fine. For the Right, railways had always smacked of socialism. Capitalism may have made billions out of railways in the nineteenth century, but in the twentieth all the smart money was on cars, trucks and aeroplanes. Even on the Left, arguments in favour of rail transport tended to be dismissed as the grunting of technological dinosaurs. Rail’s glory days, it was confidently assumed, had come and gone.

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In New Zealand, this dismissive attitude was further entrenched by the gauge problem. The arrival of high-speed trains in the 1960s and 70s may have altered the financial calculations in places like Japan and France, but not here. New Zealand’s narrow gauge could not accommodate the new “bullet trains”, and no one was prepared to invest the sort of money that would allow the country to begin again with the new and improved rail technology.

Matters were not improved by the decision of the neoliberal Fourth Labour Government to turn NZ Railways into the poster-child of inefficient public ownership. Story after story was fed to the news media about the rail network’s extraordinary stuff-ups. Heavy machinery was said to have simply disappeared – only to turn up months later on some forgotten railway siding. Even worse, the whole organisation was described as over-manned. State ownership permitted workers who would otherwise be unemployed to have a job – if sitting around brewing tea and smoking cigarettes could be called a job!

The 1993 fire-sale of the once proud NZ Railways to private American interests was thus presented as a sort of mercy killing. At least the New Zealand taxpayer was no longer on the hook for its costly inefficiencies. A decade later, however, it was clear that New Zealand simply couldn’t do without a functioning railway network – not if Kiwis wanted highways they could drive on safely. What had been TranzRail became KiwiRail, as, once again, the network was brought under state control.

Just as well. The looming threat of Climate Change meant that the fossil-fuel powered transportation systems of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries could no longer be permitted to carry the lion’s share of passengers and freight. Though no one was brave enough to come right out and say so, New Zealand (along with many other countries) was objectively required to completely reconfigure and upgrade its rail network.

KiwiRail needs to become an all-electrically-powered, broad-gauged, and comprehensively re-equipped state-owned enterprise with state-of-the-art locomotives and rolling-stock. An infrastructure project of massive proportions and prodigious expense is required. But, when it is completed, New Zealand will have a sustainable, twenty-first century transportation network, capable of carrying both passengers and freight at high speed from Cape Reinga to Bluff – and all important points in between.

This new KiwiRail would make it possible for a commuter bound for downtown Auckland to board the high-speed Te Huia service in the heart of Hamilton at 7:45am and meet his contact in Aotea Square at 8:20am for breakfast.

My brother-in-law should not settle for the present service’s very, very poor second-best – and neither should the rest of us.

48 COMMENTS

  1. I just long for a train service of international quality in NZ.

    NZ’s ideological obsession with neoliberalism has meant we can’t get anything done anymore many of our workers seem to be on visa scams and bought into NZ knowing little about the country, while being managed by Kiwi idiots who also know nothing and want to keep it their little fief hood that way,

    If only we could get fast and efficient trains as it’s one of the best ways to travel – especially for a longer commute.

    Instead in NZ, management seem to deliberately design train services to fail. Trains don’t go to main centres without changes in strange stations, they are incredibly slow, they are infrequent, there is not much interconnection, there are parking issues to park at the train station in the first place…

  2. Our mountainous terrain presented a problem for the Victorian engineers and the technology they had at hand. Narrower gauges were the answer here and overseas and made possible a nationwide railway network.
    Electrification and gradient/curvature easing and realignments would greatly improve what we have without regauging.
    Completing the electrification of the Main line in the North Island is a no-brainer. Further extending this is also a no-brainer. With track realignments we would see vastly improved, GREENER services, fit for 21st century NZ.
    But unfortunately, like many entities in NZ, Kiwirail is run by corporate clones with their bean counting qualifications and Koru lounge passes – no actual expertise in the business they ‘run’. Add to that the hands-off politicians and their “that’s an operational matter” get-out-of-jail-free cards and nothing changes.
    A vote for our neoliberal parties come election time is a wasted vote in that regard.

    • Whilst it is true we have had decades of ‘nothing changes’, you can be sure everything is going to change over the next few years. And the criminals and clowns that constitute the political parties are going to have more that ‘egg on their faces’ by 2024.

      In case you hadn’t noticed, everything is falling to pieces now, and the neoliberals have NO answers. That’s why they are ‘hiding in cupboards’.

    • First of all left-wing politics will have to come to a consensus that the left-wing project kiwi style is an utter fail so we can distance ourselves from Labour and the Greens and the rest ofnthe lame duck parties in order to create a new left-wing political project that reflects left-wing values and principles in a very kiwi way. Something that can accept both private and public capital, who hires the baruacrates, NZDF, war. And what the fuck is expert? WTF does it mean to commission reports then ignore? Why is the left so impotent. We got to take a stand.

      • “We got to take a stand.” (Something.Must.Be.Done)
        We do @ Sam, and you’ve caused me to reconsider whether or not I re-join the Labour Pardy in that political space going forward. I will, tho’ I can’t commit to voting for them at the moment. I wouldn’t be that high on the waiting list for the treatment of mental health issues caused by trauma.
        Like my father-in-law, I’ve always considered it an act of utter cowardice that the neo-libs didn’t have the decency to start their own bugger’s muddle of a political party, but instead chose to sabotage the one they were already sucking on the tit of.
        I’m a bit preoccupied watching and listening to what’s going on with media at the moment, and it’s a bit depressing.
        Not unlike a lot of other concerns this gummint is having to deal with – in public health and education, in providing the basics of life, in ensuring sustainability of Mother Erf, in at LEAST making an attempt to rehabilitate or embrace those already left behind, all I see at the moment are Munsters and their ‘officials’ still learning to drive the digger by pulling levers here and there, and not doing anything useful other than creating a bloody big hole with a pile of useless shit stacked up beside it.

        • Every time I see a new political party I check first there defence policy and compare it to the budget ambitions of every other party. Basically I’m looking for a neutral budget. Non political, no ideological spending or at least on paper we are all equal.

  3. Overall you are absolutely right but technically in respect of this new service, Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains run on our gauge so gauge is not the issue.

    And on that subject, which simply highlights the bigger picture, the issue between Hamilton and Auckland is the line has not been significantly upgraded since the mid 20th century under steam trains. Worse the 13 km between Amokura and Te Kauwhata remain single track, through a swamp at Whangamarino, that section is slow, as does Ngāruawāhia bridge remain single track. It’s windy in part, slow most everywhere when, if highway upgrades had been mirrored on rail, the whole track could have been far more direct.

    And in the last few years rail in NZ was on a managed decline, think tax cuts, think National Party. Maintenance has been based on sheer necessity to maintain low track speed.

    Add to the mix the large fleet of recently purchased Chinese made loco’s built to flawed NZ design specs cannot run over 80 km/hr which allows Kiwirail to get away with bare minimum track maintenance and design.

    And the coup de etat, the train terminates at Papakura meaning no direct connection to Britomart with passengers having to transfer to metro trains, adding lots of time. For reasons only known to bureaucracy, Britomart dies not allow diesel powered trains any longer, despite 12 years of allowing them, no issues.

    This is a bunch of very unnecessary own goals. It does not surprise me one bit that Phil Twyford was behind this and so unaware of the history that makes speed on this service such a challenge.

    Public transport geeks like Greater Auckland love transfers, now recommending it stop instead at Puhinui. But the very minimum that could be done, given the seemingly insurmountable track alignment obstacles and freight based locomotives powering it, is to have this service connect directly with Aucklands CBD, non stop from Papakura, to speed it up.

    Somehow, knowing our government, that simple adjustment will be beyond their thought processes.

  4. These are two stories of stupidity about transport in NZ.

    Firstly, talking to one of the people bought in for Skypath with his family . They were recruited by the sky path provider and headhunted into NZ from overseas. Now here, he had nothing to do and were waiting for it to start…. for a long time… twiddling his thumbs but obviously ok as still being paid and enjoying the paid holiday in NZ, buying a house etc….

    Apparently Skypath did not go out to tender, the parties ‘collaborated’ together to fix the price which actually sounds illegal but the transport bosses didn’t mind and accepted the joint price. The person was astonished how NZ ran things, I got the impression that he did not think, fixing the price was normal international practise with the bosses in NZ being ok with it.

    Now as anybody who had a working brain could have guessed, sky path has now been cancelled due to technical problems. It was always unworkable how they planned for it and concentrated more on marketing and spin. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/438907/skypath-project-likely-cancelled-over-technical-problems.

    You wonder if it was the public paying for all those people just sitting around.

    Skypath is a good concept, but like much in NZ, idiots were running it and appear to be trying to make as much personal profits as possible to fit their agenda, If it had been run properly, Auckland harbour bridge would have a cycle lane/walk lane by now. Rather than constructing an addition you would have thought they could find 2 meters for a cycle walk lane on the existing bridge.

    Number 2,

    Person cames into NZ from Asia due to being a relative of someone who got residency/citizenship here. After not knowing what to do, gets a place on learning to drive a train in Auckland. He gets the qualification and then moves over to OZ as you earn a lot more as a train driver there. (The wife and kids stay in NZ, as better conditions for them, everything is free here, unlike OZ). There didn’t seem to be any conditions from the train company or whoever ran the course, that he had to work in NZ if he got the qualification .

    The main industry in NZ seems to be recruiting as many people as possible (which seems to be the main money making venture) to sit in NZ and do nothing (or take up qualification places) before abandoning family in NZ and leaving to go elsewhere.

    Lowering wages has actually increased the brain drain and exodus of skilled workers in NZ. The only people successful in NZ seem to be in the lucrative business of people trafficking, drug smuggling and expanding services to meet those high social needs!

  5. Folks, I googled train speeds in history. In 1850 they had train doing 130kph. 170 years later, Te Huia runs at an average speed of 55 or 60kph. It’ll be shut down. I’m taking bets already.

  6. Roads are so much cheaper! Not!

    The 27 kilometre stretch of motorway was supposed to cost $850 million but has now exceeded a budget of $1.25 billion.

    The report, lead by an international expert reviewer Steve Richards and peer reviewed by Sir Michael Cullen and Lindsay Crossen has found serious flaws at the planning stage of the public-private partnership project, undermining its successful completion.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/440825/transmission-gully-never-likely-to-hit-initial-cost-estimates-review

    Government to build world’s most expensive road
    It’s an arterial road linking State Highway One at Sylvia Park to State Highway 20, estimated to cost $1.8 billion.
    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/09/government-to-build-most-expensive-road-in-world.html

    Construction and Roading in NZ seems to be getting worse and worse! It is not just the train planning that is dysfunctional!

    • Maybe you don’t understand the process, which is to put in an impossibly low tender and then, once the contract has been secured, do the real costings and do the real work of making the thing function as cheaply as possible whilst providing as many opportunities as possible for rorting.

      The upgrade of the northern outlet from New Plymouth was originally costed at around $16 million but eventually cost of the order of $48 million. A fair portion of that was for consultants, people wandering around with hardhats and clipboards all day pretending to be doing something, vehicles left idling all day, redoing parts that failed during construction, i.e. the bridge structure that was knocked over when there was rain, and people moving orange-and-white cones and installing and demolishing temporary fencing.

  7. Drill a hole into an oil reservoir. Construct a cheap pipeline to direct the flow of oil into the premises of banks and corporations; allow the proles to collect a little of the oil that leaks from the badly constructed pipeline.

    Take some used garments and briefly inset them into the said oil. Hold the used garment a few centimetres from the nose and breathe in.

    This is the model governments use to run the country: direct the major portion of the resources to banks and corporations, and let everything else -schools, hospitals, social welfare etc. run on the smell of an oily rag.

    One of the most important components of the system is to maintain a propaganda war centred on the [faux] notion that proles can move from being proles to being recipients of government largesse via hard work and education etc.

  8. It came as a (mental) relief when I finally discovered/researched that NZ railway track was in fact a narrow gauge. I pick my wife up from the train station every night and over the years used to stare at the track trying to reconcile its width with standard gauge, as in the UK and most everywhere else (4 feet 8 1/2 inches)! It is highly restrictive and does not permit high-speed trains – as Chris points out. The most the Metrolink trains travel at on straight sections is about 100km/k (60 mph). NZ is doomed to never have proper grown-up trains, which is a pity as it would be good to travel to distant places that take bloody hours in the car.

    • An awful lot could have been done to rectify the poor rail system during the period when NZ had a guaranteed market for its exports and a high-value dollar. But there was no political will to do anything sensible, and the oil companies were dictating the narratives of governments throughout the western world.

      Now that NZ has been stripped of pretty much everything by the neoliberals, and almost all the energy resources have been squandered in an orgy of unrestrained consumption, it’s too late to do anything much, other than ponder what might have been if the world was not run by banks and corporations hell-bent on making short-term profits.

  9. Rail was a dying commodity once big trucking firms breached the National party with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.

  10. Benn reading up on the history of NZ rail.. The people we have to thank for the shortsighted approach to building rail was the colonial government that preceded the formation of the National party.. It was under Keith Holyoakes leadership that the reduction of train lines began in earnest.. The tipping point was the land transport act passed in 1981 by the Muldoon government, which removed restrictions on distances trucks could travel on the highways (not built for trucks btw).. I remember well that once the laws took effect, the roads in Auckland, and practically every highway in the country started to become congested.. Add to that the drop in driving skills as a result of the flood of new drivers in those trucks.. I well remember the first time I witnessed a truck being driven like it was a sports car.. Scary, and incredibly dangerous, and irresponsible.. Yet that was just the start of the hell NZ’s highways turned into… Whatever happened after that was just rubbing salt into the wound… Funny, that that NZ rails own historical records, and writing on this subject only name the labour government of the 1980’s as helping to destroy the network.. So even the railways were engaged in spreading partisan propaganda… So let’s give the national party, it’s founders, and it’s predecessors a rousing cheer for trapping us in the 19th century.. I’ve ridden the trains in Europe.. Amazing services, and fast.. I went from Velance to Charles De Gaul airport in just over three hours.. That’s around 600km… If we’d had a colonial/national party government interested in more than keeping their snouts in the trough, then we might well have rapid rail already.. Sir Dove Meyer Robinson wanted to establish an elevated rapid rail system across the Auckland isthmus, but was shouted down through the news media by the precursors of the citizens & ratepayers party.. The local government equivalent of the national party.. Once again, forcing Auckland into the trap it has been in now for around 35 years… I would vote for a ten year plan to completely upgrade the network.. It will pay for itself within the first two decades…

  11. Mr Trotter,

    Obviously you don’t have a clue on what you are talking IRT High Speed Tilt Trains operating on 3ft 6in Cape Gauge. Queensland Rail operate both Diesel & Sparks High Speed Tilt Trains on 3ft 6in Cape Gauge, the Diesel Trains operate on the Brisbane to Cairns service which also includes 1st & Economy Sleeping Berths and the Sparks are used for the Inter- Regional Service from Brisbane to Rocky & Maryborough.
    QRail is owned by the State Government, since the Freight Arm was flogged off. NZ can operate these Trains & the new diesel Railcars that WA has which is also 3ft 6in Cape Gauge, but this would require a sizeable Investment into the NZ’s Rail Network not since days of Think Big when Piggy electrified the NIMT and the loading gauge ie increase the weight of the trains to allow faster trains & heavier trains including freight trains which in QLD there are some monster freight trains especially hauling coal out of central QLD & else where.

    • If we are talking about using the main trunk line for passenger we’d have to go standard gauge (4ft 6″) like in NSW where passenger and freight share the same track or can and are a double decker passenger trains and faster in a straight line but faster over all travel times.

      Where as QLDRails narrow gauge is faster around corners and has a far better managed system. Not only that Queensland gets a far higher percentage of GST and taxes than other states.

      • No it’s the current loading gauge not the operating gauge of 3ft 6in Cape Gauge that is holding back KiwiRail from operating fast trains. Heck NZ’s loading gauge is the equivalent to Class2 Rail in QLD, WA and even poor old Tassie, fix the NZ Loading Gauge would do wonders for efficient Rail Freight & Pax Services.

        • Of course we could use 3xisting lines. The real problem is linking the North and south islands. And, could quickly bring lots of people/stuff to places that usually can’t handle the scale at a reasonable rate due to the economic and business decisions of domestic airports.

        • And another thing. To extend the range of EVs our railways network is going to have to accept vehicles including electric trucks upto 18 wheelers. So 4″6 gauge for me thanks. Have a nioce day

  12. Put some flashing lights and live music, a few celeb’s etc … on it and spend a billion bucks on it and the Mels will come! They’ll pay for it somewhere down the line in their future.
    There’s still $38b left of the first tranche of $100b and there’s another $100b earmarked.

  13. I think the point is missed.
    Building communities where transport is not needed for most of the daily function of work, food supply, education, dwelling construction and infrastructure maintenance, is a challenge but a much more sustainable and cost /resource/energy consumption effective future takes both planning and time to implement. But we need to start that yesterday.
    This is not a new idea as most communities a century plus ago were designed or grew that way.
    Rail as a spine network for distributing the foods that just cannot be grown locally, and moving freight from inland communities to coastal ports for transport by water, needs to be a planned infrastructure but must be under state control.

    Modification of the existing rail network should not be done just to continue long distance commuting to work places as the energy cost of such a system is a crazy and unneeded squandering of precious resources.

    Just converting diesel engines to Electric may lower emission but increases the need for more electrical energy. We can’t keep on hiding our heads in the sand and think electrical energy will solve all problems as many studies done in NZ show we cannot generate enough electrical energy to replace our expansive use of fossil fuels.
    But the public are given the idea that electric cars, trucks and trains will provide a transport answer using existing practices of vehicle use
    .
    Windpower from turbines and solar panels are but very short term excuses not to curb our energy hunger. Those energy harvesting devices have a comparatively short life, take significant energy and resource to make and at the end of their life have very limited prospects for salvaging useful materials so add to the landfill problem which is projected to be enormous unless we change our thinking.

    Trees on the other hand can provide a fuel source that is renewable. The NZ govt organised the planting of the largest exotic forest in the world during and after the great depression. Unfortunately a corrupt govt sold off much of the cutting rights to foreign investors. Our potential energy source and building material supply is now being sent off overseas as logs. China knows that the logs will provide resource for a process of adding value so the Chinese govt can facilitate the buying up of our logs at prices above that paid by NZ timber millers.
    We have no govt protection of this resource as the neoliberal trade parameters have effectively removed the power of the NZ govt to protect our logs for local use.
    Meanwhile we have a young Kiwi developing a steam power alternative to fossil fuel use for transport. His boilers and fire boilers are a radical improvement on the old coal or oil fired steam locomotives. His runs on wood and the emissions are cleaner that those of a well maintained high tech diesel engine.
    So we have a path of locally produced wood being a source of usable motive energy. The development of steam powered tractors and trucks are not new but with the highly improved steam generating steam and the local supply of renewable fuel just cannot be ignored as a solution path for food production and distribution using mainly rail as rail does not use environmentally polluting tyres and has a greater rolling efficiency plus the rail network is engineered to have the minimum of altitude change.

    For the temporary want of higher steep trains, the rail gauge is not an impediment. High speed needs track design much beyond just the gauge. But pushing the speed limits of existing 42 inch or 1.067m gauge is very possible using existing rolling stock with modification to the standards of the track.

    Privatisation of NZ rail net work left the rails in a shocking state as extraction of profit and stripping out resources became crippling for the rail network. Now it is back in Govt hand the remediation is ongoing but costly. Public investment is crucial as is public control allowing long term planning and development which may be outside of present day to day profitability.

    https://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/china-launches-prototype-gauge-changing-train-inte/

    https://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/china-devel1oping-400kmh-bu5llet-tra4in-can-run/.

    Freight trains do not need to be high speed. The greater the speed then the lesser the efficiency and the higher the consumption of energy to propel the train.

    Commuting is a growing problem that is not being tackled at its root source.

    • Hello John W. Thanks for this constructive analysis. Perhaps the only comment that is able to put the issue into a proper context. Obviously there are not many that can build up such logical framework without falling into the trap of wailing and wailing and wailing whilst probably remaining just an observer.
      System. Change. Now.

  14. To misquote ‘The Castle’: What is it with Socialists and railways?
    A prize for posting the original quote! 🙂

    Chris, those marvellous high speed rail systems in Europe, Japan and China are largely just national status symbols that bleed enormous amounts of money. A German friend told me that in order to make their ICE train look good they had to ban bus travel between the cities it serves…

    We already have a perfectly good road that connects Auckland and Hamilton so for nil capital expenditure we could put on a bus service….

    BUT WAIT! There already is one:

    https://www.intercity.co.nz/north-island-buses/bus-auckland-to-hamilton

    Now, I’ll bet it costs less than a rail ticket, drops passengers in the CBD and takes less time to travel. And it’s got Wi-Fi so commuters can get some work done en route. If there was so much demand the free market would ensure more busses were provided, but of course there’s not.

    Electric cars and buses are on the way, undermining the case for rail even more.

    New Zealand doesn’t have the spare cash to splash on status symbols and our population density is a fraction of that required to make any form of public transport work.

    • Why do you think electric vehicles will solve emission and pollution.
      https://www.autocar.co.nz/autocar-news-app/air-pollution-from-tyre-wear-worse-than-exhaust-emissions
      https://eunomia.co.nz/microplastics-from-tyres/

      And that is without taking in the whole of life emission from manufacturing e cars, their batteries and eventually the problems with scrapping them when at the end of their short life.
      Please don’t think that recycling is green as it uses a lot of energy and creates significant emissions and also the landfill space growing scarcity.
      Electric vehicles are not an answer to protecting the future from human degradation.

    • Banning bus travel between the cities it serves was last century. I’ve taken a few of those buses and compared to the ICE its slow and bloody uncomfortable. In Germany the train is usually a far superior way to travel even with 130kph (or no limit) on their autobahns.
      Another major advantage is trains run on time. No traffic jams.

      • Not too many decades ago in NZ a truck could not carry goods beyond a set distance without a permit. That was to protect our rail usage and the roads. It was inconvenient and meant double handling but environmentally sound and a good model for future organisation of freight. It became a filter that made freight more considered and prioritised where road transport over distance was permitted.
        That was dropped and we end up in a mess with private companies and corporations cutting up roads, increasing the demand on existing road, creating more tyre particle pollution, increasing GHG emissions and taking custom away from state rail which is a cleaner more energy efficient system with longer life rolling stock and less consumption of precocious an diminishing natural resources.
        So a new organisation of transportation of goods evolved with no overall consideration of energy used, resource consumption, road congestion and damage, along with complete ignore of the environmental damage along with the crippling of previous transport infrastructure.
        The corporatisation of rail also has been a disaster. Under corporate lines NZ Rail is/was looking at de electrifying a part of the norther main trunk and moving over to diesel because of financial stress of their operation. As a Ministerial responsibility Govt would be involved in such decision rather that a corporate board looking at only fiscal elements of operation. The Gisborne line is another example of corporate inadequacy in the role of managing our national rail system,

    • Agree. All these folks that want the best next thing from Europe should fuck off there!
      Who hasn’t been to the EU? It’s huge, highly overpopulated and is full of Nazi’s.
      Me and a mate were travelling and we were in Paris. Got bored and jumped on a TVG to the South of France. We were there in about 6-7 hours.

      It takes a lot of taxpayers dollars to do that kinda shit.

  15. So many falsehoods about narrow gauge rail. Most of Japan’s regional network (not Shinkansen) is narrow guage like ours but runs 160kmph tilt trains. That’s a realistic aim for the upper north island as we still have a relatively low population

    • And across the ditch with Queensland Rail with Diesel & Spark Tilt Trains running on 3ft 6in Cape Gauge. Even the new WA Railcars are nudging the 160kph as well & again the same operating gauge as NZ.

      • Okay – bear with me – my final rant on this subject.
        Thanks Omega & Scud for reminding those who don’t realise that regauging to Standard gauge (1,435 mm or 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in.) from our existing Cape gauge (1,067 mm or 3 ft 6 in.) is UNNECESSARY.
        The track gauge (width apart of the rails) is less important than the loading gauge (width/height of the loco’s/rolling stock you put on the rails).
        Improving loading gauge will certainly help with freight and permit more spacious carriages for passengers. And yes, increasing track gauge allows faster speeds (by effectively lowering centre of gravity and increasing stability at higher velocities) BUT, as many have observed, we are still yet to fully realise the potential max speeds (around 160kph) possible with Cape Gauge. And that’s what we should be doing for the distances involved and our population size.
        Finish the bloody electrification of the Nth Is Main Trunk, make the necessary track upgrades, realignments, tunnel easements and curvature reductions, and start building the bloody loco’s/rolling stock in NZ.
        This is but a small part of the essential futureproofing of our crucial infrastructure we desperately need for an increasingly challenging century ahead. Yet our neoliberal politicians and PMC enablers do NOTHING but fiddle with their balance sheets.
        All of our infrastructure upgrades are possible, especially if you subscribe to Modern Monetary Theory (along with restoring our Health Service etc…….but that’s another thread!).

        • Building rolling stock in NZ is still possible in spite of the last big disastrous contact for supply from China through mates of johkey, effectively collapsed the Hillside works which got sold off to Australian private interests.
          We have built rolling stock ib NZ for well over a century including the world class at the time KA and Wab engines.

          A relative youngster is leading thinking in NZ at the moment with NO state backing.
          https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/94319793/could-steam-bring-back-commuter-rail-in-christchurch

          But more than that the revised steam generation is being considered for small tractor application as well as road transport.
          Steam engines last a long time and with low tech design can be services or rebuilt with minimal engineering plant after say half a million hours of use or 50 years of continuous running.
          Large stationary steam engines used in Asia for processing rice are from an era late 19th early 29th century and still work reliably.
          For those interested Sam Mackwell has a website and supporters.
          Steam generated with wood has a strong future being low tech. Engines are being manufactured and sold commercially from an enlightened manufacturer in India.
          https://www.tinytechindia.com/product/renewable-energy-equipment/6
          There is a lot to read on the above site if you think about ongoing food production.

        • Jase I agree with your thread but using existing rolling stock. line and tunnels, loads can be increased by adding more wagons. Modification of existing wagons to carry bulky low density loads has not really been looked at.
          The lowering of the loading deck between wheel bogies and marginally increasing load width could increase payloads at little expense. Triple wheeled bogies are used elsewhere for heavier loads.
          The limits have to be explored sensibly but tunnel sizes are generous for most current loading practices.

  16. It’s not 1 hour by car vs 1.5 hours by train, because the train journey requires local transport from home to station and station to destination, whereas the car goes direct from home to destination in most cases. Add the local trips and you quickly result in the train option being twice as long as the car option. It’s 6 hours of commuting per day instead of 3 by car.

    • The 1.5 hours is only to Papakura (there is Auckland commuter rail from there) and does not include destination beyond that, or time to make use of a parking garage (and its cost). More like 3 hours vs 2 hours.

      • No mate. Wrong again. This country will not be stationary stuck with Richard Prebble in the nineteen fucken 80’s you dweebz

  17. Compulsory Unionism,no train back,as politicians exploit done,fast train forward, humanity its care, compulsory Unionism.

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