The situation may gradually be looking up for Auckland's suburban rail network, but the case in other parts of the country looks to be the complete opposite.

KiwiRail has acknowledged it is so low on funding that it simply cannot afford to manage some lines in line with their current standard.

The state-owned enterprise confirmed on 26 January that the Stillwater-Ngakawau, Napier and Northland railway lines are currently being managed to a standard that will inevitably result in deterioration.

Meanwhile, the road transport lobby is pushing for more and larger trucks to be allowed to use New Zealand's road, and the Government is tending toward this policy according to a recent release by the Ministry of Transport.

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Rail and Maritime Transport Union general secretary Wayne Butson said the problem runs further than the potential deterioration of lines.

"Discussions with KiwiRail and our union on a proposed change in the make-up of maintenance gangs led to management admitting this sorry state of affairs," said Mr Butson.

"Other lines, for example the Wellington to Auckland North Island Main Trunk Line and the Picton to Invercargill South Island Main Trunk Line are only being cared for to a standard that will maintain their current state. We are of the view that this is not good enough and our national railway network should be improved."

Butson continued to emphasise that New Zealand is working against the international trend toward more sustainable modes of transportation such as rail, particularly when it comes to freight operations.

"It beggars belief that in a modern 21st century developed economy we have a railway system that is funded in a manner that loads cost on the operator whilst the trucking industry does not pay the price for the environmental damage and congestion it causes.

"KiwiRail pays for the upkeep of the rail network whilst the trucking companies certainly do not pay their fair share of the cost of maintaining our road network or for the impact of the pollution and traffic congestion they are responsible for.

"A forward thinking government would be investing in rail for the 21st century and beyond rather than considering increasing the size and number of diesel belching dinosaurs like trucks."

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