A report released today – Road and rail – delivering for New Zealand – produces evidence to counter the ideology that rail can be a serious competitor to road freight in New Zealand, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand (Transporting New Zealand) chief executive Nick Leggett says.

“The Government has chosen to spend billions of dollars on rail – at the expense of the much more valuable road network – and this report unpicks the value of that,” Leggett says. “We estimate about 12 percent of freight movement is contestable by rail.

“We don’t believe the Government should try to manipulate the market for no apparent reason other than some ideological view that trains are ‘better’ than trucks.

“The reality is that 93 percent of New Zealand’s goods are moved on trucks by road because that is faster, more efficient and more reliable than rail, delivering door-to-door.

“We are sick of the unsubstantiated rhetoric against trucks and believe this is a strange view- point for a trading nation to take given our vast distance from our nearest market and our need to get goods moved as quickly and efficiently as possible, in the most cost-effective way.

“Evidence and independent research point to the bulk of future freight growth being accommodated by trucks, both in New Zealand and internationally, even where there are excellent rail networks.

“Saying there are environmental imperatives behind the desire to shift freight from road to rail is all smoke and mirrors. The arguments don’t stack up.

“If the Government was serious about the environmental concerns presented by trucks, they would start taking some of the steps available now, rather than wait for some yet to be developed viable alternative to diesel-powered trucks, and trains for that matter.

“The Government seems to ignore the steps that have been taken for the truck fleet to reduce emissions. Trains have not been required to meet the same standards in New Zealand. Older trains, which are still in the fleet, are likely to be emitting nitric oxides and particulate matter at levels four and 18 times greater, respectively, than Euro 5 trucks.

“Progress won’t be driven by ideologically captivated politicians or government officials; it will be driven by tried and tested technology.

“Rail has never been able to run as a profitable business in New Zealand. Even with all the Government control and subsidies, customers still prefer to send their goods by road.

“We are not anti-rail and support Government investment in rail where it makes good sense because rail has a role to play in the movement of goods through the supply chain. In fact, the road freight transport industry is one of the largest consumers of rail. It is particularly good for moving the likes of coal, chemicals and other bulk goods over a long distance, with little if any, pressure on urgency of delivery.

“We want to bring evidence, balance and informed views to decision-making about rail investment where it is clearly detrimental to vital investment in roads.

“There is much at stake, primarily the well-being of people in communities all over New Zealand who depend on a strong economy and efficient, customer-driven freight systems for their lives and livelihoods.”


Please note: The content of this Advisory has been issued to inform members of Transporting New Zealand. It is for road freight transport industry circulation, not for media publication. It can be forwarded in its entirety to members of Transporting New Zealand. It cannot be reproduced, or printed in parts, under any logo other than Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand’s logo, without written permission from Transporting New Zealand.