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Railways must look after their own

12/02/04
PR 28/04

Railways must look after their own

New legislation on rail safety must require railway operators to properly look after their land and infrastructure bordering farmland, said Charlie Pedersen, Vice President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

Appearing before the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee, Mr Pedersen raised a number of safety concerns from farmers with land bounded or bisected by railway lines.

"These farmers gain no benefit from a railway line running through their property, but are increasingly expected to bear the costs of the presence of the line," said Mr Pedersen.

Railway operators, mainly Tranz Rail Holdings, should be legally obligated to construct and maintain all legal level crossings so that they are safe to use, he said.

"This includes maintaining the road carriageway across the railway line, erecting and maintaining appropriate signage and warning devices, and clearing vegetation on railway land each side of a level crossing," he said.

"Railway operators should also be required to control weeds and other vegetation which create a fire risk, manage animal pests, and pay half the cost of constructing and maintaining boundary fences with neighbours," Mr Pedersen said.

"All Federated Farmers asks is that rail operators be required to be good neighbours and not push their cost and obligations on to others," he said.

Federation members have complained about a lack of action of Tranz Rail to ensure that weeds and pests were properly controlled. Others aired concerns about inadequate maintenance of fences and level crossings, and failure to ensure that silt did not build up under rail bridges.

The bill responds to changes to the rail industry and seeks to ensure that responsibility for safety accountability is clearly identified for all industry players.

For a copy of the federation's submission, contact: gpeters@fedfarm.org.nz

Ends

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