Idiot Savant naturally is cheering the renationalisation of rail. Maybe no one bought him a train set when he was a kid. As is sadly the case of far too many on the left, he’s swallowed hook line and sinker the myth around Tranz Rail. There are elements of truth, but the story is far more complicated.
Well according to Idiot Savant the “private sector's focus on short-term profit led to asset stripping and running a minimal service”. Like he’d know. He is pretty much just churning out the leftwing propaganda from the era. Like he noticed that the privatised Tranz Rail increased long distance passenger rail services and ran them as such for some years before the impact of significant airfare discounting and cheaper car and petrol prices eroded patronage. The privatized Tranz Rail carried more freight per tonne km that the railways in New Zealand EVER did before. Just bigger longer trains on longer distances, many at night are invisible to most. Yes it didn’t spend up large on track, but a report in the mid 1980s said that the track had effectively been goldplated – overengineered for purpose in many cases. Privatised Tranzrail expanded its carriage of milk by rail and coal by rail, and even reopened the odd branch line for regular freight services (Dargaville). It bought a brand new ferry, which turned out to be a bit of a bad purchase, and started the Lynx Fast Ferry service which was eventually killed off by complaints against waves in the Marlborough Sounds that saw a speed limit imposed under the RMA. The last time a ferry had been bought by the government owned railways was 1983 and before that 1974, buying another and leasing a fast ferry was hardly “asset stripping and running a minimal service”.
Oh and if you still subscribe to the rail good, truck bad theory, I've fisked that one before as a study commissioned by this government demonstrated that in some cases trucks have a lower environmental impact than trains per tonne km transported (in some they are higher and in some are the same). So if it's not economically efficient, if the environmental advantages are dubious and sometimes illusory, then why buy the railway at all?Indeed Idiot Savant, why do you want taxpayers to subsidise:
- Solid Energy's coal exports to Asia;
- Fonterra's dairy export business;
- Forestry companies logging and wood product businesses?
Awfully funny position for a socialist methinks.
UPDATE: Rodney Hide tells it like it is - it's going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars for taxpayers without any return.
Jim Anderton talks the same mythology of Idiot Savant, claiming rail is a natural monopoly. Funny how it finds it hard to compete with road freight and coastal shipping, this really isn't the characteristic of a natural monopoly is it? He scares us into thinking the Nats might sell it again - frankly who cares as long as taxpayers don't have to pay any more?!
Reading the PM's speech she makes a key mistake:
- Rail does not necessarily have a fourfold energy advantage over road for freight movements, that is long dated (1981) and discredited figure. The true figure is probably closer to 2-2.5 given improvements in roads, truck technology and the types of freight now moved. The truth is that there has been no good study done of this since then.