The Herald reports:
Closure of the entire KiwiRail freight network was an option if the company didn’t get more public funding earlier this year.
Bill English, Simon Bridges and Todd McClay presented a paper to Cabinet earlier this year arguing for continued financial support of KiwiRail, but outlined big challenges KiwiRail faced.
The finance, transport and state-owned enterprises ministers said a nine-month KiwiRail review showed the rail business faced two main options.
One was to retain most of the network and cut back unprofitable services on the network fringes.
The second option was to “close most or all of the freight network” with the option of retaining the upper North Island section only.
The northern section, Auckland to Hamilton to Tauranga, carried the biggest freight volumes and covered most of the network’s costs.
Passenger rail services in Auckland and Wellington were never in doubt.
Today, a spokesman for Finance Minister Bill English said the Government was “committed to a national rail network, but ongoing subsidies of around $200 million a year are unsustainable”.
Why not spend the $200 million a year subsidy on turning the rail network (outside major cities) into a national cycleway? You’d probably get ten times as many people using it!