INDEPENDENT NEWS

Government must keep rail rolling

Published: Thu 21 Nov 2002 04:43 PM
Government must keep rail rolling
The precarious state of Tranz Rail reinforces the need for the Government to own the country's rail track as the company is no longer capable of guaranteeing rail and ferry services, Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.
Tranz Rail's failure today to secure financial backing from Citibank comes on top of a reduced forecast, a plunging share price, a downgrade in its credit rating and the Halliburton KBR report that was highly critical of its safety record.
"The situation is such that Tranz Rail can no longer be entrusted with operation of the country's rail and ferry network," said Ms Fitzsimons. "To ensure continued service, the Government must own the rail tracks and lease services to those companies most capable of operating them.
"Rail is essential infrastructure in a world which must reduce greenhouse gasses and congestion on roads."
The Green Party policy on rail is to establish a new SOE to own the rail network, possibly as a joint venture between central and local government. The right to run trains would be the subject of access agreements.
"This was probably the most disastrous of all New Zealand privatisations," said Jeanette Fitzsimons. "Our vital rail network can still be saved - if we act now."
ENDS

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