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Rail Passenger Service Cuts Risk Fragmentation

Rail Passenger Service Cuts Risk Serious Fragmentation

The Green Party is brokering a cross-party accord between MPs, local body leaders and stakeholders such as tourism operators in an attempt to keep five axed or threatened rail passenger services running.

Green Co-leader Rod Donald and Transport Spokesperson Sue Kedgley expect to meet this week with the new owner of New Zealand's passenger rail services - Australian-owned West Coast Rail - to discuss how services can be kept running in light of today's announcement on five passenger services.

The three services to be axed are the Waikato Connection (Hamilton - Auckland), the Geyserland Express (Rotorua - Auckland) and the Kaimai Express (Tauranga - Auckland). There is a stay of execution over the Southerner (Christchurch - Invercargill) and the Bay Express (Wellington - Napier).

"These services can be saved," said Mr Donald. "They are important for tourism and local passenger travel and have been poorly promoted in the past.

"We are confident that with the right attitude and marketing strategy the new owners of TranzScenic will be able to turn around all five axed or threatened services. Crucial to their success will be close co-operation with all interested parties.

"To that end Green MPs have written to local body mayors, tourism operators and local MPs seeking a multi-party commitment to keep these regional passenger rail services operating.

"The success of the TranzAlpine and Capital Connection services demonstrate what is possible when tourism and commuter services are well packaged and presented," said Mr Donald.

Green Transport Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today's announcement was the beginning of serious fragmentation of rail services and again urged the Government to take back control of the national rail track to ensure that this fragmentation did not extend from services to the crucial physical infrastructure.

"Government must seize the moment and widen its negotiations outside of Auckland to take back control of the national rail tracks," said Ms Kedgley. "Otherwise we will continue to see the splintering of the physical track network and the closure of important sections of line."

Ms Kedgley said the sale of selected station buildings around the country (number not known) and carriage maintenance depots in Christchurch and Otahuhu was alarming and showed the splintering of the physical assets was already starting.


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