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Rail Meeting In Dunedin Has Positive Signs

Rail Meeting In Dunedin Has Positive Signs For Long-Distance Passenger Rail Services


West Coast Railway's optimistic statements about the Southerner are very encouraging, says Associate Transport Minister Judith Tizard, who has been meeting representatives of West Coast Railway and the Otago and Southland communities in Dunedin today, with Dunedin South MP David Benson-Pope.

"We take it as a postive sign that, as the prospective buyer of the rail service, they have come to Dunedin to meet with the local community."

Tranz Rail is negotiating exclusively with Australia's West Coast Railway as the preferred purchaser of Tranz Scenic, which includes the Southerner passenger rail service running between Christchurch and Invercargill.

"It's a real step ahead for New Zealand that for the first time ever, we have a specialist passenger rail service provider interested in New Zealand's passenger rail," says Judith Tizard.

"We are looking forward to working with West Coast Railway and the regions to ensure that the best passenger services are available, and we hope this is the start of a true passenger service througout New Zealand.

"This is the first in a series of meetings that Transport Minister Mark Gosche and I will be having with regional leaders around the country to look at this major new development.

"We will be meeting with Canterbury, Otago & Southland over next two months to ensure that the best case possible is made to West Coast Railways and Transfund for the development of the Southerner service.

"Regional subsidies can be made available for passenger rail services, as all regional councils have the ability to fund necessary passenger transport services in their regions using money from Transfund in the same way they subsidise rural and urban bus services, and even ferries in some cases.

"Using this funding to subsidise passenger services spanning more than one region has not been done up until now, but it is possible."

Ends

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