Who are the main beneficiaries of this? Well large containers coming into Wellington are primarily about imports, as the goods flow southbound is primarily about delivering consumer goods to Wellington and the South Island, after unloading and dispatching from Auckland based distribution warehouses. Exports tend to flow out of more regional ports, so in fact the south-north rail freight flow has historically been lighter than north-south. Wellington doesn't produce much that goes north by rail.
Secondly, of course, are Kapiti coast commuters who would enjoy perhaps a 3-5 minute travel time saving on the train trip, and the chance for a major increase in train service frequencies at peak periods.
So who is Helen Clark expecting to pay for this? The freight customers who presumably would want to pay a premium for " improving journey times, reliability, and capacity for freight trains" as she says. No. Presumably the benefits aren't good enough for Kiwirail to borrow and charge these customers appropriately for the added convenience.
What about the commuters? Shouldn't they expect to pay more for some travel time savings, and a more frequent service? Shouldn't enough extra passengers make it worthwhile? Well no. You see they already don't pay enough to cover the cost of running the existing trains, and a more frequent service would mean buying MORE trains, which is an added cost - and most of the day those trains would be sitting in yards doing nothing.
So it's simple. Helen Clark wants your taxes (or to borrow, your children's taxes) to give Kiwirail freight customers a subsidy, presumably damaging the business of the competing trucking (and shipping) companies, so they can shift containers of largely imported consumer goods into Wellington and down to the South Island more cheaply. She also wants you to give the
I looked at this project in some detail a few years ago, and it isn't worth it. If Kiwirail wants to pursue it, it should borrow the money and recover it from charging customers over the depreciated life of the project - which would admittedly be many years. However it wont. It's not worth it. It's a waste of your future taxes. It's money you should have back yourselves, to decide what to spend it on.