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Greens urge Govt. to act on planned rail closure

1 May 2001

attention Transport Reporter

Greens urge Government to act on planned rail closure

Green Party Transport Spokesperson Sue Kedgley is urging the Government to start immediate negotiations to buy back the national rail track after TranzRail today said it was looking to close or mothball some sections of track.

A TranzRail spokesman was today reported as saying that it was "likely that certain lines will shortly be closed or mothballed which will enable resources to be redirected to more profitable areas".

Ms Kedgley said she was particularly concerned with this announcement given that question marks currently hang over the Napier - Gisborne and Rotorua rail lines. She said there were already signs that TranzRail was preparing to shut down the Napier - Gisborne line and transfer operations to road freight.

"The Greens again urge the Government to adopt the Green Party's proposal to broaden their negotiations from trying to buy back the Auckland rail track to buying back the whole national rail track," said Ms Kedgley.

"Clearly time is of the essence. If the Government does not negotiate to buy back New Zealand's rail lines now, then certain sections of these lines will soon start closing."

Ms Kedgley said a crucial and strategic piece of New Zealand's infrastructure was at risk of being shut down unless the Government committed to buying it back.

"Rail is crucial if New Zealand has any kind of commitment to meeting our Kyoto obligations as well as keeping our roads safe and keeping our regions viable," said Ms Kedgley.

"The Greens have always said negotiations over buying back the Auckland rail track need to be seen in a national context. It would be inequitable to buy back the Auckland rail track and allow other sections of the track - such as the Napier - Gisborne line - to close.

"Now more than ever what is required is a comprehensive national rail strategy to get the rail tracks back in public ownership. The sale of our rail network has been a disaster," said Ms Kedgley.

Sue Kedgley will be asking an oral question during question time this afternoon on this issue.

ENDS

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