(Inter-regional) Rail Me Daddy

(Inter-regional) Rail Me Daddy

Nothing makes us more horny than public transport

The Government’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee has opened an inquiry into “the future of inter-regional passenger rail in Aotearoa”, hoping to investigate whether trains could play a bigger role in intercity transport. And yes, this means a debauched winter booze train from Ōtepoti to Tāhuna Queenstown could be on the cards. 

Fuelled by a growing awareness of the climate crisis, there have been increasingly vocal calls to develop passenger rail in Aotearoa led by lobby groups like Save Our Trains NZ. After putting mahi into upgrading Aotearoa’s largely century-old rail network and increasing public transport funding, the Government has now focused its attention on passenger rail, and whether it could play a larger role in our transport future. The inquiry is taking a deep-dive into past and existing passenger rail services, their funding and management, and looking at towns and cities which could potentially benefit from getting rails laid right through them. 

The growth of passenger rail would also have large implications for those who cannot afford to have their own transport. Currently, it’s almost impossible for train lovers to get themselves railed into another city, unless you’re wanting to escape Aotearoa’s capitals of gonorrhoea (Kirikiriroa Hamilton) or mediocrity (Papaioea Palmerston North). For anyone who has the unique blessing of not living in those cities, your only way to skip town is to drive, get bussin’ or join the mile-high club. With monopolies (or, if you’re lucky, oligopolies) largely controlling those industries, you’re more often than not getting well and truly shafted for the privilege. There is hope that a passenger rail network could make travelling between cities much more accessible and affordable. One planning student told us that they were “out here poppin’ my bussy at work to afford inter-regional travel, so trains would slap”. 

As well as economic benefits, the inquiry also highlighted climate and emissions reduction possibilities from growing passenger rail, which would be in line with Aotearoa’s Emissions Reduction Plan. Currently, 37% of an average individual’s carbon footprint in Aotearoa comes from transport, with most coming from private vehicles or air travel. As a bonus, with fewer cars on the road, anyone who still needs to drive will find clearer, safer highways ahead of them. KiwiRail estimates that having a rail network already means there are already 24,000 fewer trucks on Aotearoa’s roads than there otherwise would be. 

If you want to have your say on the idea of inter-regional passenger trains, submissions are due on Thursday October 6th on the Parliament website. And if the prospect of a huge, steaming locomotive bussin’ through a town near you doesn’t fire you up enough, think about it like a sexier version of the trolley problem: if you do nothing, someone stays tied up on the congested, polluted highway. If you write a submission, you could have more of a chance to tie someone up in an exotic locale. You could even get railed onboard the rails. Think about it.

This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2022.
Posted 3:25pm Friday 19th August 2022 by Keegan Wells .