INDEPENDENT NEWS

Rail Freight Action denies pressurising Tranz Rail

Published: Tue 17 Sep 2002 04:45 PM
RAIL FREIGHT ACTION GROUP FIRMLY FOCUSED ON BEST OUTCOME FOR NZ
The Rail Freight Action Group today rejected suggestions that its members are attempting to put public pressure on Tranz Rail over contract price negotiations.
Group spokesperson Cedric Allan said today that members are firmly focussed on the future of rail in New Zealand and most members already have long term contracts with the rail operator.
Mr Allan said it was not credible that any media publicity would have the slightest influence on any members' negotiations with Tranz Rail.
"The Rail Freight Action Group is not campaigning about current prices or service standards. These are all issues dealt with by individual companies.
"Our concern is whether rail, as it is currently structured, can realistically fulfil its potential to be a key part of New Zealand's land transport strategy going forward.
"We are not anti Tranz Rail. However it is evident that they are struggling with the model where they are responsible for maintaining and developing the track network as well as being the sole provider of rail freight services. Rail freight has lost market share, and the company's rail freight revenues were down in the year to June 30.
"Clearly rail is not flourishing at the moment and our members look at the various factors impacting on the business and have considerable concerns for the future. They do, of course, have a strong vested interest in the future viability of rail, as major users of the service, but believe it is strongly in the national interest for robust rail service to play an appropriate role in the economy.
"The country needs a model which will ensure the network is able to be developed to its full potential to meet future demand.
Mr Allan said that, as a major stakeholder in the future of rail, the Group will work within the review process being established by Government, and will be preparing detailed submissions on how a better structure could produce better outcomes for the country.
"The concept of competing service providers sharing use of a national network, on a pre-agreed basis, is central to other transport forms as well as to electricity and telecommunications, and is a model delivering beneficial outcomes."
The Group favours a public/private partnership with a Government body owning and managing the rail network and charging affordable access fees for competitive operators wishing to run freight services.
This would mirror the structure under which the road transport industry operates.

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