Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nostalgic Free Lunches by Rail

Chris Laidlaw – N.Z.’s “renaissance man” - managed to run a fairly balanced 45 minute panel interview this morning on the whys and wherefores of rail transport for freight and people. Lamentably however there was very little focus on getting the pricing right for the free lunch which is “take all you can grab” roading service in N.Z.

While other countries – notably Singapore and urban areas such as CBD London have deployed congestion pricing and charging in ever more sophisticated ways to attack directly the cause of less than optimal consumer decision making we appear to be still predicating our thinking around the notion that roads are “free” and that “making” rail work with as much subsidised capital and operating cost as it takes is the best means for proceeding.

Recent openings of some toll roads holds out promise. The prospect of the state being impoverished enough as to need Public Private Partnerships also suggests hope. Becoming a taxpayer “foamer” over nostalgic views of rail rather than commercially realistic ones does not.

Most remarkable statistic to emerge – average flights out of Auckland to NZ destinations (potentially reachable by rail) per day 147. Number of trains 1.

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