INDEPENDENT NEWS

Regional Council Decisions on Rail

Published: Tue 10 Dec 2002 02:58 PM
Regional Council Decisions on Rail
At today’s meeting of the Wellington Regional Council Councillors rejected Tranz Rail’s demand that an indicative bid be made on Tranz Metro (Wellington) before due diligence could take place. At the same meeting Councillors also gave staff direction on how to proceed now that sale negotiations have effectively ended. Among the actions agreed:
The Council will be seeking a new, non-assignable contract with Tranz Rail, or an alternative provider, with strong conditions on future investment, sanctions for failure to deliver services and vastly improved transparency and information disclosure. The Council will write to Tranz Rail to ask if it wishes to remain in the business of supplying passenger rail services in the Region in the long term; The Council will seek – in conjunction with the Mayors of the Region - the Government’s view on regulating urban passenger rail services.
Council also directed staff to update their earlier investigations on how the current Wellington rail based passenger transport services might be replaced, partially or wholly, with bus services and/or other alternatives.
Council Chairperson, Margaret Shields, said that the option of partially or wholly replacing rail services with buses was the least desirable option open to the Council, but that it must be investigated.
“As commuters know, the rail system is increasingly unreliable. Therefore we must consider all the alternatives, however unsatisfactory they are. At the end of the day, whether it’s buses or trains, we will provide a commuter transport system for the people of the region.”
Councillor Shields said that the decisions taken at today’s meeting provide a clear indication of the Council’s intentions.
“Sooner or later Tranz Rail will have to open its books, either in the process of selling the business, or when a new contract is signed. It is very regrettable that Tranz Rail has placed unreasonable conditions on the sale process, and refused to open their books now, but in the end they can’t escape the need for more accountability and transparency when using public money.”

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