16 August 2001
Green Party co-leader Rod Donald today called again on the Government to take back ownership of the entire New Zealand
rail track to secure the future of both freight and passenger services.
"As developments concerning the Southerner passenger service show, New Zealand is unlikely ever to have a comprehensive
and integrated land transport strategy to meet the nation's needs unless we once again own our rail tracks.
"The rail tracks are an essential part of our national infrastructure and should never have been sold," he said.
"Taking back control of the rail lines is crucial for regional development, meeting our climate change obligations, road
safety, public transport and tourism," he said.
Mr Donald said in the meantime the Government should commit to keeping both the Southerner and the Bay Express running
until Christmas, during which time the ongoing viability of these services could be properly assessed.
"We need to keep our passenger rail services running because of their contribution to regional tourism and local travel.
We need to get long-haul freight off our public roads and onto rail.
"We cannot afford to let crucial services die just because National sold the Railways and the services have been run
down ever since," he said.
"It's crunch time. This Government has inherited a problem that has been building for years. They must negotiate to take
back the control of New Zealand's rail tracks and commit to supporting in the short term existing passenger services,"
said Mr Donald.