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Sad Farewell To Southerner

Green Party Co-leader Rod Donald today bid a personal farewell to the very last Southerner rail service out of Christchurch.

"There has been a passenger train service running south from Christchurch since 6th September, 1878," said Rod Donald from aboard the Southerner, "but that part of our history ended today.

"While the rest of world, particularly Europe, is increasing services we have allowed a train that serviced a line stretching a quarter of the country, including three cities and many provincial towns, to be axed.

"Clearly, the previous government's decision to allow the sale of New Zealand Rail was the beginning of the end. Since then, Tranz Rail has run down the Southerner, by failing to maintain lines and stations and - more significantly - failing to market the service.

"And the present Government has also failed people who relied on the service by not making the investment it was prepared to make for the Auckland rail track and for Air New Zealand," Rod Donald said.

"Regardless of who's to blame, our immediate challenge is to persuade the government to take back the rail tracks. Until the nation owns the tracks and signalling, the few passenger rail services that are left remain under threat and there will be no chance of restoring lost services.

"The Greens will actively campaign on transport this year. One cornerstone of our transport policy is promoting rail to reduce congestion on the roads and make them safer.

"That means stopping more big rigs from hogging the roads, and getting freight back on the track. It also means making passenger rail services central to a sustainable future for transport in New Zealand."


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