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The time is right for KiwiRail

The time is right for KiwiRail

1 July 2008

An integrated state-owned railway is the best way to ensure that the necessary investment takes place to make rail a strong performer within the wider national transport system, says the Auckland Regional Council's chairman, Michael Lee.

"The launch of KiwiRail today is historical. It opens another chapter in rail development for New Zealand, and an important one. The Government has made a strategic call about the future direction of transport, and has acted decisively on its vision in which both the economy and environment benefit from a revitalised and integrated rail system.

"The demands on our transport network are going to keep increasing, especially in Auckland, where the population is growing at a cracking rate. We need bold decisions about national and regional infrastructure investment, and the Government has made one.

"We have responsibilities to use less fuel and to create fewer harmful emissions while tackling road congestion, and at the same time moving significantly more people and freight.

"Trains will help us do that. Rail needs significant investment - we know that, so let's get on with it. Congratulations to the Government for taking back the railways so that rail becomes a much more effective and strategic tool for developing the nation.

"A strong, intergrated rail system backed by the state is the best way to ensure New Zealand attains ambitious goals to increase rail's share of domestic freight from 18 per cent to 25 per cent by 2040.

"Auckland's experience with its suburban rail network shows that investment in transport infrastructure does pay off. The upgrade of the core network is only part finished, but we are filling seats on trains as fast as we can supply them.

"This financial year's final patronage figures have yet to be confirmed, but rail has been tracking to grow 18% to a record 6.8 million," Mr Lee says. "This is a dramatic rise from 2.5 million four years ago. Our goal is have commuter trains carrying 30 million people each year, then more.

"The arrival of KiwiRail means a whole new ball game and we look forward to working with KiwiRail on the future shape of Auckland metro rail.

"Speaking as the chairman of the Auckland Regional Council, the Government's clear commitment to rail is immensely reassuring, given the region's own considerable commitment.

"Speaking as a New Zealander, the launch of the state-owned KiwiRail signals the renaissance of rail as part of our national identity. This is an idea whose time has come...again. "

ENDS


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