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Two Thirds of Public Support WRC Rail Proposals


NEWS RELEASE

December 11th, 2001

Two Thirds of Public Support Regional Council Proposals for Passenger Rail

An opinion poll undertaken for the Wellington Regional Council has shown that two thirds of the public support the Council’s proposals to purchase Wellington’s passenger rail services from Tranz Rail.

“Across the whole Wellington region 67 percent of the public said they support the proposal for a joint venture purchase of the passenger rail service,” said Regional Council Chairperson Margaret Shields. “Only 13 percent oppose the proposed purchase. That’s a five to one ratio in favour.

“This result shows strong public endorsement for the Regional Council’s approach. The public have clearly grasped the fact that we must take action to save our passenger rail service from further decline. Given that the Regional Council already subsidises the system with $17 million of public money every year it seems sensible that we should have some ownership interest.”

Councillor Shields said that a second question, asking the public which type of ownership model they favoured, also strongly supported the Regional Council’s approach.

“We asked the public if they would prefer the local passenger rail services to be wholly owned by the private sector, wholly owned by the public sector, or owned by a mix of the private and public sector. The result was absolutely clear. Fifty-four percent want a mix of private and public ownership, 27 percent prefer wholly public ownership, and only seven percent want the private sector to own the system. That’s 81 percent in favour of some form of public ownership.

“The public’s preferred option is also the Regional Councils’. Our plan is to set up a joint-venture company owned 50:50 by the Council and an experienced rail operator, to own and run the passenger rail system. This option will lower the financial and operational risk to the Council, as the private-sector partner will be asked to commit money and experience to the joint venture.”

Councillor Shields said that the current system was run-down and needed committed long-term ownership. “If the rail system continues to run-down, or even fails entirely it would mean much greater congestion on the roads and motorways. That would be an economic and social disaster for the region.”

The survey involved telephone interviews with 700 residents of the Wellington region. The overall margin of error was 3.7 percent.

“The results of this survey should give community representatives confidence that there is broad public support for the Regional Council proceeding to due diligence with a joint-venture partner. This will of course be followed by public consultation,” concluded Councillor Shields.

For further information please contact:

Margaret Shields
Chairperson
Wellington Regional Council

Telephone: 04 384 5708

OR

Andrew Cutler
Communication Manager

Telephone: 381 7782
Mobile: 021 44 99 32

SUPPORT OR OPPOSE WELLINGTON REGIONAL COUNCIL & PRIVATE SECTOR RAIL OPERATOR EACH OWNING 50% OF THE PASSENGER RAIL SYSTEM

The proposed joint venture would mean the Wellington Regional Council and the private sector rail operator each owning 50% of the passenger rail system in the greater Wellington Region. Do you support or oppose this proposal?
ALL
% REGION
Kapiti
% Lower Hutt
% Porirua
% Upper Hutt
% Wairarapa
% Wellington
%
Support 67 67 61 66 62 69 70
Oppose 13 18 13 15 15 9 11
Depends / Unsure 20 15 26 19 23 22 19


OWNERSHIP PREFERENCE FOR PASSENGER RAIL SERVICES

Would you generally prefer that local passenger rail services are wholly owned by the private sector, wholly owned by the public sector or owned by a mix of the private and public sector?
ALL
% REGION
Kapiti
% Lower Hutt
% Porirua
% Upper Hutt
% Wairarapa
% Wellington
%
Prefer wholly owned by private sector 7 7 7 8 8 6 7
Prefer wholly owned by public sector 27 26 32 28 32 22 25
Prefer owned by mix of private/ public sector 54 63 48 52 47 57 57
Depends / Unsure 12 4 13 12 13 15 11


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