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Joint Venture for Wellington Commuter Rail

NEWS RELEASE
24 May, 2002

Regional Council Proceeds with Joint Venture for Wellington Commuter Rail

The Wellington Regional Council today decided to proceed with its plan to establish a joint venture partnership with a private rail operator to purchase the Wellington passenger rail services currently owned by Tranz Rail.

“The public wants a solution to the problems with passenger rail – the current situation must be changed.” said Council Chairperson Margaret Shields. “The Council has been unable to gain sufficient assurance from Tranz Rail that it is receiving value for money from the ratepayers money it is investing each and every year (presently $18 Million per year).”

Margaret Shields said that the Council had listened carefully to the alternative approach put forward by some of the region’s mayors but had decided that the joint-venture proposal represented a better option for addressing the problem.

“The joint-venture proposal is a way to break the current private monopoly situation, and provide long-term certainty to commuters. In our view it is a superior solution to the other options we have examined.”

“Very large capital investments in rolling stock will be needed in the near future to improve services. The Regional Council will be called upon to fund a significant share of this capital investment and therefore wants greater transparency and greater control over how ratepayers money is spent.”

Margaret Shields said that now was the time for all the councils in the region to join the three Wairarapa Mayors and Councils and the Porirua City Council and support the Regional Council.

“I am convinced that the public wants local politicians to get on with the job of improving rail services.”

“When we surveyed 700 regional residents in December last year, 67% said they supported the proposal for a joint venture purchase of the passenger rail service. Only 13% opposed the proposed purchase. That’s a five to one ratio in favour.”

“There is a lot of work yet to do, and there will be a formal public consultation process once we have a firm proposition for the purchase of the rail service,” concluded Margaret Shields.

ENDS

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