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Rail Buy-Back Positive, Says Coastal Operator

News Release 5 May, 2008

Rail Buy-Back Positive, Says Coastal Operator

The Government’s buy-back of rail is positive step towards greater integration of land and sea transport, says Rod Grout, the chief executive of coastal shipping operator Pacifica Shipping.

Mr Grout, who is also president of the New Zealand Shipping Federation, said control of rail freight and inter-island vessels opened the door for Government to lock in policies for a more efficient and sustainable transport sector.

“There is no question that trains and coastal ships provide the most energy efficient and cost-effective modes for moving large volumes of freight over longer distances,” Mr Grout said.

“The problem New Zealand has is that both these modes have not been able to meet their true potential because of chronic under-investment and long-term effects of subsidised competition.

“If the country is to cope with a projected doubling of freight volumes in the next 15 years, rail and coastal vessels will need to handle a large proportion of this increase.”

Without Government intervention, this prospect would be next to impossible, Mr Grout said.

“We expect rail under state ownership will be called on to significantly increase volumes of freight moved between main production centres within the North and South Islands.

“Equally, we anticipate a Government transport policy recognising the support role coastal ships can play in reducing transport emissions, taking pressure off roads and improving freight movement efficiencies.”

He said the Government’s “Sea Change” strategy discussion paper released this year acknowledges both coastal ships and rail have an important co-modal task in meeting freight growth projections.

“Coastal ship operators look forward to working within a policy framework that brings together the two most efficient forms of transport.”


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