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National should support rail buy back - Greens

8 June 2001

National should support rail buy back - Greens

Green Transport Spokesperson Sue Kedgley today said if National is serious about preventing chemical spills as a result of truck crashes they should support the Green Party's plan for the Government to negotiate a return of New Zealand's rail tracks and a signficant investment in upgrading the nation's rail system.

Ms Kedgley said the Green party wants new regulations to ensure that toxic or dangerous chemicals are transported on rail instead of trucks wherever rail transport is available.

"The real issue here is not so much how chemicals are stored and transported on trucks but how we can get chemicals and heavy freight off our roads and onto rail," said Ms Kedgley.

"Unless this Government invests in a significant upgrade of our rail network and negotiates a return of the national rail track, there will be an explosion in the number of heavy trucks on our public roads in the next few years. There will inevitably be more crashes, more deaths and more spillage of dangerous chemicals," she said.

Ms Kedgley said a new spur line is needed to connect the new Whangarei Port to the main rail line. However TranzRail are reluctant to make the investment and, if the new line is not built, around 700 logging truck movements will be on the roads around Whangarei every day.

Without investment in the Napier - Gisborne rail line, trips by logging trucks between Gisborne and the Napier Port will increase from 20 to around 350 per day from 2004.

"If the National Party is serious about trying to stop the spillage of dangerous chemicals from trucks then they will support us in our campaign to buy back the rail network and to get all dangerous chemicals off trucks and onto rail wherever possible," said Ms Kedgley.

ENDS

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