Russel Norman Electrifies Auckland trains

genter norman auckland rail electrification day

Julie Anne Genter and Russel Norman

Dear Stephen Joyce

Facebook is a dog when trying to link to stuff. So here is why your twitter campaign this morning to take credit away from the Russel, the Greens and anyone you don’t like is so transparently bullshit. Can’t you, for once, acknowledge that we can sometimes all work together for the common good???

I’ve taken the liberty of copying Russel’s facebook comment and I’ve even put my own hyperbolic headline there just for you.


Russel Norman
3 hrs ·

They say success has many parents. And so it is today with the launch of Auckland’s electric trains and the infrastructure that makes them possible. There were many of us involved in making this happen and everyone will have their story of the part they played, so here’s mine.

One of my first experiences on becoming co leader of the Greens in 2006 was to negotiate with Labour over the electric rail project. This was an incredibly frustrating experience as Labour was opposed to funding the electrification.

As co leader of the Greens all of a sudden I was attending these meetings in the Beehive between Helen Clark, Michael Cullen, Labour’s Chief of Staff Heather Simpson, Jeanette Fitzsimons, the Green Chief of Staff and myself. The six of us would sit around and argue about trains. We would make the case for the electrification of Auckland’s train system and they would make the case against it. These meetings went on for over an hour and were not happy events.

The Greens pushed the issue to the wire. The last thing Labour wanted was to lose control of the House and when Philip Field and Gordon Copeland went doggo our negotiating hand was considerably strengthened.

We were fortunate in that we had allies. Mike Lee and others in Auckland were working hard to put together the business case for the trains. The figures they came up with and the case they were presenting to Cullen were very useful in our negotiations. Also the public transport groups in Auckland were campaigning for the electrification, as they had for a long time. And the Green Party was running our own campaign publicly for the electrification.

So there was a lot of public pressure on Labour but they were hard to move. But eventually between all of us we managed to make the electrification project happen. I’m convinced that the Green pressure was a necessary condition for making the project happen, but it was not sufficient by itself, we worked in tandem with others pushing hard to force Labour to do it.

It was no small achievement because we knew that until we dealt with the dead end at Britomart by building the City Rail Link the system would not reach its potential, and we couldn’t deal with to he dead end at Britomart until we electrified the line because you simply couldn’t put diesel trains through a long underground tunnel that will be part of the CRL.

And if we could make Labour sign up to the electrification contracts then it would be impossible for National to stop the project. But if Labour didn’t sign them then our chances of getting National to support the project were remote, and the 2008 election wasn’t far away.

And here we are today. Amid all the official glad handing remember it was the campaigners who made history and we will again when the CRL happens.



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