We had interesting feedback by email on Duncan Webb and his lack of performance last week. Some of it was that the large billboards around town promoting him are hacking people off. They remind them of Phil Mauger’s campaign last year.
However, much of the response was on rail. In Newsroom last week there was a podcast which analyzed Railways in this country. Below is how the article summarized the current operating model for railways which is precisely what Duncan Webb could fix with a bit of effort.
The structure of Rail is another manifestation of the sort of neo-liberal thing this country has had enough of. It’s all about “markets” solving everything. It’s fascinating to see how passenger trains have been delegated to Regional Councils and RailCorp must focus on tourists. No wonder this monster is hard to manage. A Minister of SOE’s could do something about this:
KiwiRail, a state-owned enterprise, owns and manages the nearly 4000 kilometres of tracks and looks after the freight business, as well as the Interislander ferries, the tourist trains, and some inter-regional services. It is also charged with providing support for the passenger services in Auckland and Wellington.
Regional councils are responsible for providing the passenger rail services and contract out different parts of the system. For example, Greater Wellington Metlink train services are contracted out to overseas firm Transdev.
Overseeing it all is Waka Kotahi as the rail regulator.
“There are a lot of different players all getting into the same spaces and sometimes their aims and their lines of organisation and accountability don’t seem to match up and they’re on different pages”
Rail historian Andre Brett said:
That he thinks needs to happen to bring our train services up to scratch and how our railway needs the same treatment as roads.
“We shovel billions and billions of dollars every year into road construction and maintenance and we don’t ask the state highway network to be returning profits. We recognise that this is important for our transport. We need to do the same with rail.”