Council Calls For Rail Freight


Substantial investment in rail to boost transit speeds and reliability is one recommendation in a report on the future of freight released today by the Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Other suggestions to lift the freight sector and supply chain productivity, include:

  • Real-time management of traffic flows
  • Real-time reporting on freight movements
  • Time-specific charging for congestion,accident, noise and other externalities
  • New funding sources and mechanisms,including tolling, PPPs, a national motor fuel tax surcharge available to be allocated for regional roading
  • Hub and spoke networks, super-sized container ships, and deeper ports

“With the expected upward trend in fossil fuel prices, a lower carbon footprint will be synonymous with better cost efficiency,” says the council’s report called Freight Future.

The Business Council says no country can build enough roads and motorways to overcome congestion and smarter and better use of infrastructure is needed.

The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development says its research suggests 66% of New Zealanders now do not believe it is possible to eliminate congestion by building more roads and motorways.They support paying fees to use fast lanes to manage congestion peaks.

Chair Bob Field says if we want to match Australian material living standards, we are going to need to grow about 2% each year faster than Australia for the next fifteen years or 1% faster each year for the next 30 years.

“We can only do that if our exports and imports grow even faster. Historically, for each 1% our economy has grown, our freight volumes have grown even faster. Just based on maintaining expected economic growth rates around current levels, we are advised that freight volumes will need to grow by about 70% – 75% over the next three decades.

“When told of these trends, 75% of New Zealanders expressed surprise, and more than 80% expect traffic congestion will get worse over that period (ShapeNZ, Dec. 2010). More than 70% of the public also expect that air and noise pollution will increase over the next 30 years as a consequence.

“If we are serious about catching Australian levels of income, then freight volumes will need to grow by more than 100%. To achieve these growth rates, we need a better performing freight sector.”

Problems identified in the report include rail not achieving its potential along with:

  • The need for a shared long-term vision;
  • Inefficient landside access to ports
  • Inadequate capital investment
  • The inability of supply chain participants to consistently co-ordinate to optimise





  1. Martin says:

    … and here we are talking about mothballing (read eventual ripping up) of lines in Northland, Taranaki, Poverty Bay, Hawkes Bay etc.

    NZ = Country with no real long term transport vision.

  2. Patrick R says:

    Not how this was reported in the herald this morning… no mention of rail:

  3. Matt says:

    Patrick, not even a mention of the general scepticism towards “solving” congestion, either. Very biased reporting there.


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