The rail network between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga will be electrified if the Green Party has its way.
The party today announced its commitment to the electrification of the "Golden Triangle" at a cost of $860 million.
It is part of the party's plan to get half of New Zealand's freight moving by rail and sea within 10 years, and dramatically reduce the number of dangerous trucks clogging up New Zealand's roads.
Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said the Safer, Cleaner Freight policy sets a target for moving half of freight on rail and by sea within 10 years of the next election. It allows the transport budget to be used to fund rail projects.
"National's single-minded focus on a few expensive highways is downright irresponsible, and will ultimately force more and more trucks onto New Zealand roads," she said
"National spends five times more on a few low-value motorways than it does on the entire rail network. National's pet projects will actually increase congestion and the number of trucks on New Zealand roads, meaning within a decade Kiwis will have to share the roads with an additional 1.7 million truck trips every year."
Every year, an average of 55 people are killed in crashes involving trucks, and over 850 are seriously injured, Ms Genter said.
Figures released to the Greens by the Ministry of Transport show 77 people died and 202 people were seriously injured in truck crashes in the Bay of Plenty from the start of 2002 to the end of August last year.
Ms Genter said a single train could remove 70 heavy trucks from the road so by investing in rail and shipping it would not only make roads safer, but the air cleaner, and create a safer climate for future generations.
"We will invest $860 million to electrify rail between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga - New Zealand's busiest freight corridors. This will help to move freight safely off the road, and create a zero emissions freight service in 'the Golden Triangle'.
"Instead of demanding that rail return a profit, which has set rail up to fail, we'll fund it from the transport budget in the same way roads are, providing the investment needed to move freight in the most effective and clean way.
"Moving freight by rail and ship is not only safer and cheaper, but better for the environment. Shifting half of New Zealand's freight by rail and ship is the equivalent of replacing over 1.6 million petrol and diesel cars with electric vehicles."