31 May 2017

Mainfreight boss calls for national transport strategy

1:46 pm on 31 May 2017

The country's political leaders must up their game and deliver better long-term transport and infrastructure planning, according to the head of the country's biggest freight company.

Train stuck between in a tunnel between slips.

A train is trapped in a tunnel between landslips after November's Kaikōura earthquake. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Mainfreight managing director Don Braid said politicians - local and national - have failed to take the initiative to plan adequately for the future.

Mainfreight managing director Don Braid

Don Braid Photo: Supplied

"We have not reacted as a country to the increase in population growth and the tourism numbers, out infrastructure is poorly set up and government and councils are only just coming to grips to what they need to do," he told RNZ.

Mr Braid said the transport network's vulnerability was shown by the Kaikōura earthquake's impact on road and rail links, and it was the revival of coastal shipping that minimised the disruption.

He said an example of the lack of investment in key services was the treatment of KiwiRail in the latest budget, with funding for new engines and other hardware limited to a two-year timeframe.

"We need to be planning 30 years out, and making investments early.

"Around the Cabinet table I think there's an aversion to want to think about any sort of integrated transport philosophy for both freight and transport ... but we need to be thinking more seriously about it."

The comments come as a delegation of engineers in Beijing said China was the answer to Auckland's transport problems.

Warren Hills of Babbage Consultants said New Zealand needed to tap into the expertise of the Chinese workforce, if it was to meet the demands of an unprecedented infrastructure building programme.

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