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Time is ripe for taking tracks back - Greens

09 November 2001

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today the Transport Minister should act now on signals from Tranz Rail that they were interested in selling the national rail network back to the Government.

Tranz Rail managing director Michael Beard told the Evening Post today that Tranz Rail would be interested in discussing the sale of the track network with the Government.

Ms Fitzsimons said the Government should seize the opportunity to start negotiations to take back the tracks.

"The Green Party presented exactly the same idea to the Mr Gosche seven months ago urging the Government to take back ownership of the rail network before it falls to pieces.

"The time is ripe to take back the tracks, and if the Government waits any longer there could be nothing left to salvage from our once proud rail network.

"Mr Gosche has done nothing since the election to address the emerging rail crisis in this country. He has sat on his hands while the rail network disintegrates. We haven't seen a rail strategy or even a land transport strategy yet, despite being promised both for the last two years."

Ms Fitzsimons said Tranz Rail was right to say that rail was struggling because there were large maintenance costs on the rail network.

"In previous years, the company has paid out capital to its shareholders rather than maintain its assets. Now the whole nation is paying.

"Until road users pay the full environmental costs they cause, the answer to freight needs will always be to put more trucks on the road.

"More trucks mean more greenhouse gas emissions and more road crashes.

"Fiddling around with the finer details of the Kyoto protocol at the COP7 talks going on in Morocco right now is all well and good, but the Government has to take some positive action to reduce our exploding transport emissions, otherwise they might as well not bother."

ENDS

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