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Rail Run Down Highlights Need For Buyback

18 June 2002

Green Transport Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said the run down state of parts of the rail network and Tranz Rail's under-reporting of damage to it highlighted the need for Government to take back ownership of the asset.

An independent review by Australian consultants Halliburton KBR found that Tranz Rail has been grossly under-reporting incidents of heat buckling and broken rails and that concerns were held over the company's plans to contract out maintenance.

"Clearly the rail infrastructure is being run down to the point where it poses a potential safety risk. There are high levels of concern about Tranz Rail's maintenance of the national rail track and this report confirms that 'a number of significant incidents are not being reported'," said Ms Kedgley.

"In some areas of the country, such as the East Coast, the rail network has been seriously run down to the point where its future viability hangs in the balance and today's news of serious under-reporting of risk incidents further undermines public confidence in our rail services."

Ms Kedgley said the risk of leaving the rail network in Tranz Rail's ownership could be the shutting down of significant parts of the network due to deferred maintenance.

"The rail network should never have been sold in the first place. It is a crucial strategic asset that New Zealand cannot afford to lose.

"Rail will play a huge role in meeting New Zealand's future transport and freight needs, especially with the forestry boom that is nearly upon us. Rail is the most efficient way of moving heavy freight and will play a crucial role in meeting our Kyoto obligations.

"We cannot afford to let this asset deteriorate further and the Greens will continue to keep pushing for Government to buy back the tracks," said Ms Kedgley.


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