1 Jul 2015

Backwards march against diesel trains

7:30 pm on 1 July 2015

A group of people walked backwards from Parliament to KiwiRail today to protest against the possibility of replacing a fleet of electric trains with diesel.

Protesters walk backwards from Parliament to the Wellington Train Station, highlighting the backwards move Kiwi Rail is making by replacing electric trains with diesel ones.

Protesters walked backwards from Parliament to the Wellington Train Station today. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Green Party, the Rail and Maritime Union and lobby group Generation Zero led the protest.

Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said the National Government was holding KiwiRail back by not investing enough in the country's rail network.

"We want KiwiRail to keep our electric trains and refurbish them in New Zealand and we want National to start investing in rail on the same basis that it invests in motorways."

Ms Genter said KiwiRail would be forced to downgrade due to the lack of funding.

She said protesters marched backwards because it was a "backwards move" to replace the fleet.

The group also delivered a set of oil barrels to the KiwiRail office as part of the protest.

Union spokesperson Todd Valster said it was essential that important issues, such as the potential loss of the electric train fleet, were debated in the public arena.

Decision not expected until late August

KiwiRail said that its EF electric trains, used on part of the North Island Main Trunk Line between Wellington and Auckland, were nearly 30 years old and "increasingly unreliable".

It has been looking at options including refurbishment, replacement with new electric trains or replacement with diesel trains.

The state-owned company said its board was expected to consider the decision in late August.