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Greens want freight shifted to rail

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/05/2016

The Greens have unveiled a plan to get half of New Zealand's freight moving by rail and sea within 10 years.

They say it would dramatically reduce the number of trucks that are clogging up roads.

The plan allows the transport budget to be used to fund rail projects, and commits to the electrification of rail between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

Transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter announced details of the plan on Tuesday, saying it was "downright irresponsible" to spend money on expensive highways that would force more and more trucks onto the roads.

"National spends five times more on a few low-value motorways than it does on the entire rail network," she said.

"National's pet projects will actually increase congestion and the number of trucks on New Zealand roads."

She says motorists have had enough of trucks congesting towns and cities, and bearing down on them on the road.

"Every year, an average of 55 people are killed in crashes involving trucks, and over 850 are seriously injured."

Ms Genter says a single train can remove 70 heavy trucks from the road.

"By investing in rail and shipping we will not only make roads safer, but air cleaner, and create a safer climate for future generations."

The Greens would invest $860 million to electrify rail between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

"This will help move freight safely off the road," Ms Genter said.

"Instead of demanding that rail return a profit, which has set rail up to fail, we'll fund it from the transport budget in the same way roads are."

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