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Green rail plan will benefit Wellington

27 March 2001

Green rail plan will benefit Wellington

Green MP Sue Kedgley today said the Wellington region would benefit greatly if the Green Party's proposals to bring the national railway track back into public ownership were adopted.

The Green Party today launched a proposal to bring the national railway track (and associated bridges, tunnels, signals and communications systems) back into public ownership under a separate company owned as a joint venture between central and local Government. The company would negotiate access agreements with freight and passenger service operators in return for rail user access charges.

"This would enable the proposed joint venture partnership between the Wellington Regional Council and a private operator to secure a long-term access agreement with the government to run the region's passenger trains," Ms Kedgley said.

Passenger services in the Wellington region would no longer be at the mercy of an overseas monopoly owner, who might put profitability, and a desire to maximise returns for shareholders, ahead of local needs and interests, she said.

"This proposal would also enable the region's rail infrastructure to be upgraded and improved, and would ensure a guaranteed high standard of basic maintenance to the track and the signalling systems," she said.

"The rail user charges that the region would negotiate would not be based on a commercial rate of return but rather on realistic, stable charges that take into account the fact that roading is underpriced. "The Wellington Regional Council would have the option of an ownership stake in the national rail network, if they so chose.They would also have the opportunity to invest in specific facilities eg double tracking, lowering tunnel floors and upgrading the region's network," said Ms Kedgley.

The resulting assets would stay as part of the national network but the regional council would get either preferential access rights or lower access fees.

"The Green proposal is a model for partnership between central and local Government. We have listened carefully to the regions as diverse as Auckland, Wellington, Gisborne and Northland and have come up with a 21st Century rail proposal that meets all their needs."

ENDS

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