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Green call to 'Get Back the Track' becoming urgent


20 June 2001

Green call to 'Get Back the Track' becoming urgent

Green Transport Spokesperson Sue Kedgley today again called on the Government to take back ownership of New Zealand's rail tracks, to prevent the disintegration of the national rail network.

"In March the Green Party launched a detailed plan calling on the Government to seize a rare opportunity to take back the ownership of New Zealand's rail network from TranzRail," said Ms Kedgley.

"Since then the future of rail in New Zealand has become increasingly grim with a number of lines under threat of closure as TranzRail looks to get out of running our rail network."

"Tranz Rail is not interested in further investment in the rail infrastructure such as connecting the new port of Whangarei to the rail network and investing in new signalling equipment that would enable both passenger and freight services to run on the Auckland line," she said.

Ms Kedgley said it was unfortunate that at a time when New Zealand needed significant investment in rail to meet projected industry demands, and to meet our environmental commitments, Tranz Rail was moving in the opposite direction.

* Much of New Zealand's forestry will be ready to harvest in the next five years and log volumes being freighted across the country are projected to double in the next few years;
* If a spur line is not built to connect the Whangarei port to the rail network around 700 logging truck movements will be on the roads around Whangarei per day;
* In a few years, trips by logging trucks between Napier - Gisborne will increase from 20 to 350 per day;
* Rail is five times more energy efficient than trucks per tonne - kilometre;
* Rail produces only a fifth the CO2 emissions than trucks per tonne - kilometre;
* In 1999 trucks were involved in almost 20 per cent of all road fatalities and without investment in the rail network the numbers of trucks on the roads is projected to skyrocket;
* Rail has a crucial role to play in urban passenger transport and tourism.

"While the Government is now negotiating to buy back Auckland's rail tracks, we risk fragmenting this crucial strategic asset unless we take this opportunity to reclaim what should never have been sold," said Ms Kedgley.

"If we do not take this opportunity now we may never get another chance and our ability to control a key piece of strategic infrastructure maybe gone forever. We repeat our call to this Government to Get back the Track."

ENDS

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