Possible extension of the Wellington suburban rail network to Levin and into the Wairarapa has been announced as part of a New Zealand First policy to develop Railways of National Importance as part of a balanced transport policy for the country.
News release from NZ First
New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters says one of the first projects to be funded will be the restoration of the Gisborne-Napier line.
“This line should never have been closed on the flimsy pretext of a washout,” he says. “Would any major road ever be closed because of a washout? Of course not.”
Shutting this line was an excuse by the National Government to close another bit of New Zealand’s rail network, he says.
Other important projects within RONI include:
• electrification of the Auckland suburban rail network south to Pukekohe
• possible extension of the Wellington suburban network to Levin and into the Wairarapa
• New Zealand First believes the existing railway line running north from Christchurch could be used for an express commuter service to the North Canterbury town of Rangiora, which has had significant population growth, particularly since the earthquakes
Mr Peters says funding for the rail projects will be met by diverting money from National’s bloated and hugely expensive roading programme.
He emphasised that maintenance of the national road network was fundamental and must not be compromised.
“New Zealand First will balance roading needs of rural New Zealand and the main centres with the need to reduce dependence on cars. We will maintain and build roads that are necessary.
“We will ensure that all the funds raised through fuel excise taxes and road-user charges go into the National Land Transport Programme.
“We will replace road-user charges with a diesel excise tax for all light diesel vehicles less than 12 tonnes, to be added at the pump in the same manner as petrol.”
Mr Peters says New Zealand First’s transport policy has a clear objective of creating “a cost effective, efficient, safe, secure and future proofed transport infrastructure”.