INDEPENDENT NEWS

KiwiRail Not Just a Business but an Essential Public Service

Published: Sun 2 Sep 2012 12:28 PM
KiwiRail is Not Just a Business; It is an Essential Public Service
ALLIANCE MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  30 AUGUST 2012
It is time to accept that rail is an essential public service,  necessary to build communities and facilitate industries.  Rail is  there to serve the public good.  It will never be a cash cow, according to Alliance co-leader Kay Murray.   Ms Murray says "What KiwiRail needs to be is  a high quality  accessible rail network   that moves both people and freight safely and efficiently."
To try and make more profit KiwiRail has reduced services and outsourced work to the cheapest overseas  companies. They now  propose  to get rid of assets such as Hillside Workshops and  to reduce track maintenance.   All to no avail.  The new rolling stock is substandard,  skilled jobs and training opportunities have been lost and local  businesses and communities affected.  Yet another $250 million   of taxpayers' money was earmarked for KiwiRail in the last budget and our  roads are constantly needing expensive upgrades to cope with the number of very large trucks ferrying goods around the country.
KiwiRail is only trying to do what successive governments have insisted it should do as a State Owned Enterprise; run at a profit. Reputations and financially lucrative career paths are at stake for  those at the top if this is not achieved. They are not about to  admit  that it can't be done.  But the reality is that rail cannot be run as a purely profit driven enterprise.
It is long past time for common sense to  prevail. The government needs  to step in and sort  out the KiwiRail  debacle before any more damage is done.
The Alliance believes plans to sell off passenger services should be cancelled.  Maintenance schedules should be maintained and New Zealand workshops,  such as Hillside,  should be upgraded  to enable them to build all of the rolling stock KiwiRail will require in the future.  Rolling stock will then be fit for purpose and  taxpayers  money will be spent in New Zealand providing work and training  opportunities here with spin-off benefits for other local businesses.
Innovation and long-term vision are required on the part of both the government and KiwiRail  to make sure that rail is the way of the  future. KiwiRail will need money.  But this money, if spent  wisely,  should provide not only a top class rail system for passengers and   businesses, but  a plethora of ongoing work and  training  opportunities  for local communities.
Sadly, all we are getting is the repetition of the very expensive  failed ideas from the past.   New Zealand's rail system is being  dismantled in much the same way as it was after it was sold off in the  1990's.
ENDS

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