All aboard for the socialist utopia

via Kiwirail

This is where socialists always go wrong, they think they know best how to run a business?in this case a clapped out, narrow-gauge dinosaur of a business that has had its best days and even then it never made any money. Quote.

Newly released documents show the government forced KiwiRail to backtrack on its decision to ditch the electric locomotives on the North Island’s main trunk line.

According to the Treasury, it’s the first time a state-owned enterprise has been directed by a minister to make a decision that didn’t stack up commercially.

End quote.

Just in case anyone missed the subtle, nuanced, inference in the preceding paragraph, let’s spell it out.

Twyford insisted that a state-owned enterprise needlessly waste our taxpayer dollars. Quote.

The State-Owned Enterprises Act said an entity’s principle objective was to be a successful business.

End quote.

The definition of a successful business is one that is efficient and makes money, not one that throws money down the gurgler on some ideological whim. Quote.

In 2016, KiwiRail’s board decided to replace its 15 electric locomotives with diesel, arguing it would make the company more efficient and better able to take freight, and with less freight going by road, there’d be a positive environmental impact.

On 30 October last year the government put a stop to the plan instead promising a $35 million cash injection to refurbish the electric locomotives.

In a letter to Transport Minister Phil Twyford two weeks before the decision was announced, acting chief executive Todd Moyle made it clear KiwiRail didn’t have the money to refurbish the locomotives.

“KiwiRail has no funding for these additional costs and is unable to recoup the investment and there is no uplift in revenue associated with this decision,” he wrote. End quote.

I think that is polite business speak for, “This is a really dumb idea and we are not paying for it!” Quote.

But a Cabinet minute written the day before the government’s announcement, showed Cabinet agreed to use its powers under the State Owned Enterprises Act to direct the company to provide a non-commercial service.

Mr Twyford said being a successful SOE was more than just about profit and loss for a particular year, and this government wanted to grow rail. End quote.

Ummmmm … wouldn’t making profitable decisions and increasing cashflow be a better way to grow rail increase KiwiRail’s business?

But how would muddling Twyford know? He has never run a business. Quote.

He said previous governments had left KiwiRail on financial life support with no future vision.

“That’s not how our government sees it, we’re committed to bringing rail into the heart of the transport system, instead of treating it as the poor cousin and drip-feeding it a little bit of money year after year and barely keeping it alive,” he said.

KiwiRail uses electric locomotives on the main trunk line between Hamilton and Palmerston North. […]

Engineer Roger Blakeley said the decision to scrap the electrics was at odds with the Labour government’s target of getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and leader Jacinda Ardern’s claim that climate change was her generation’s “nuclear free moment”.

“With the diesel locomotives, if KiwiRail went ahead with them, it would burn an extra 8 million litres of diesel fuel per year and add around 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year. That’s what would have been the implications of a switch back to diesels,” he said. End quote.

I trust that Engineer Blakeley has accurately accounted for all the diesel fuel saved by the truck haulage not needed if more powerful diesel locomotives haul the freight instead and the thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide consequently saved from spewing into the atmosphere. /Tui. Quote.

The Palmerston North to Hamilton route was electrified in the 1980s and the plan then was to carry on and electrify the whole main trunk line from Wellington to Auckland.

It’s estimated completing the project now would cost around a billion dollars.

Mr Twyford said it’s not part of the government’s immediate work programme. End quote.


It is probably just as well that Twyford is not going to electrify the rest of the Auckland – Wellington line as that would require another 4.5 windfarms.