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All aboard for a rail buy-back

Agreement is emerging from political parties, major users and from the public for the Government to regain control of the nation's rail track, Greens Co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

"The rail network, once one of our most prized national transport assets, is going to the dogs," said Jeanette Fitzsimons. "Almost daily, we have reports of red-light running, industrial accidents and the slow, inexorable deterioration of the tracks."

"To suggest that allowing competition on the tracks, while they remain owned by Tranz Rail, will solve these problems is simplistic. The Courts are clogged with private companies arguing over access rights. As more and more countries around the world recognise - public ownership of the network is both efficient and common sense.

"We don't accept private ownership of our roads, so why allow our rail network to remain in the hands of a private company?

"The time has never been more opportune for a Government buy-back," Ms Fitzsimons said. "On current share prices buying back the whole company is probably cheaper than negotiating with Tranz Rail to buy back the track.

"We see no reason to throw a lifeline to this company - a complete takeover is probably the cheapest route to public ownership of the network."

"Government control of the network is the easiest way of guaranteeing the system's safety and integrity and it is essential for controlling and directing new investment in the infrastructure," Jeanette Fitzsimons said.

"Once Government owns the company it can then look at the best way to get private involvement in running services. We support private operators being able to provide rail services on a publicly owned network."

Ms Fitzsimons said the growth in forestry freight traffic in the next ten years, coupled with existing public concern about heavy trucks, meant action on rail was urgent.

"Major rail users and parties across the spectrum have taken up the Greens call to bring the network back into public ownership - its time to get transport back on track."

ENDS




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