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Inter-regional rail very popular with blokes called Andrew

Tuesday 1 Nov 22 10:30am

Nineteen of the 19 Andrews who made submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Future of Inter-Regional Passenger Rail in New Zealand are enthusiastic supporters of bringing back a comprehensive regional passenger rail network.


By the close of submissions on Friday 21 October more than 1700 individuals, community groups, academics, councils and experts had had their say.

There were seven Catherines, 19 Chris or Christophers, and nine Brians or Bryans. 


No doubt there’s a public servant or two beavering away right now on a summary of the thousands of pages of submissions and we’ll tell you about that once it’s completed..


But for now we can tell you what those Andrews thought.


In essence: there’s a climate emergency, our roads are unsafe, and trains are excellent.


Many stressed the importance of rail for cutting our high transport C02 emissions.


Andrew Nicholson pointed out that in 2018, New Zealand was ranked 4th in the world for per capita greenhouse gas emissions from domestic air travel and in 2021 we were fifth in the world for car ownership with 897 vehicles per 1000 people.


“This ranking is completely unacceptable given how small New Zealand is and the fact we have a railway network sitting largely unused by passenger services. France and Austria have already banned short haul flights where a suitable passenger rail service exists. This position shows decisive global leadership in the battle against climate change.”


Some, like Andrew Akerly, shouted their views in caps. “RAIL IS A MUST HAVE FOR AOTEAROA. 


“Invest in high-speed high frequency passenger rail from northland to Wellington and also passenger rail throughout the country (South Island too).”


As a frequent flyer between Auckland and Wellington, Andrew Chen said it was frustrating not to have the option of travelling in a less climate damaging way


“Even though the flight time is only about one hour, travelling from Wellington to Auckland or vice versa generally takes 3-4 hours door to door, which includes travelling to/from the airports from the respective city centres. I would happily take a train between Wellington and Auckland city centres if the total time was comparable or even slightly longer (up to 5-6 hours). I would be happy to take a longer trip if it was overnight and there were suitable sleeping compartments.”


Registered forester Andrew McKewen said he had done everything he could to cut down on his carbon footprint for the benefit of his grandchildren.


“We no longer directly purchase any fossil fuel energy. We had all gas appliances removed from our retirement village home, we had solar panels installed on the roof, along with a battery to save surplus generation for future use. We replaced our hybrid car with a full EV two years ago, we even have an electric barbecue.”


But without a regional rail network there was little they could do that would cut down on visits to the regions.


Andrew Riddell said in the past he had been a regular passenger on overnight, steam-driven train between Auckland and Levin.


“I submit that a fast, regular regional rail service using modern electric and battery-powered trains, including tilt trains, equipped with dining facilities and wifi are an essential component of our national response to climate change.”


Andrew Simpson said he frequently felt unsafe on our roads and would like another option


“There are so many reasons why inter-regional passenger rail is good for NZ (low-emission, improved access/mobility, economic development, tourism etc).


“We've been lagging on this for a long time. It's embarrassing.”


Others, like Andrew Slight had very specific requests. “Passenger rail to Huapai is a must.” 


Andrew Jones supported the reintroduction of frequent passenger trains between Auckland and Tauranga and Wellington and Palmerston North and called for tilt technology to be introduced to speed up the Wellington to Auckland trains.


Bring back railcars: Otago University Business School


Another Andrew, Professor Andrew Perchard, was one of three academics calling for a“New Silver Fern Railcar” in a submission from the Otago University Business School.


Perchard, lead author Duncan Connors, and Sarah Carr presented the inquiry with what they said was a comprehensive and cost-effective proposal for intercity passenger rail in New Zealand using hybrid electro-diesel railcars on the existing rail network.


 “There is no inherent economic nor socio-demographic reason for New Zealand not to develop intercity rail between the major population centres. The sole issue is a ‘poverty of imagination’ that holds New Zealand back in terms of its infrastructural development, a belief that frugality is the only option and that the pre-1973 prosperity has left this country for good,” the submission says.


They said in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Hokkaido in Japan – which shares our gauge of 1067mm -  all have similar terrain and small populations to New Zealand all have extensive networks of railcars.  


“A New Silver Fern would produce substantially less carbon dioxide than a fully loaded Airbus A320 between Auckland and Wellington and be able to carry significantly more passengers. With an average speed of 120 kph, including stops in Palmerston North and Hamilton a five-to-six-hour long rail service between Auckland and Wellington city centres (in this example Britomart Station to the Beehive) is competitive with a best journey time with travel between city centres, airport security, bag check and collection of approximately five hours by plane,” they wrote.


Mountain climbers keen on rail


Federated Mountain Clubs – representing 22,000 members – said rail had a critical role in opening low carbon travel to the great outdoors to all New Zealanders.


“From an outdoor recreation perspective it is particularly important that passenger rail provides amply for specific needs such as cycle carriage and firearm/dog carriage and considers recreation opportunity when making decisions on station location and scheduling.”


And the Disabled Person Assembly said rail could play a crucial role in opening up the country to people with disabilities.

Story copyright © Carbon News 2022
Related Topics: Transport


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