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Government on wrong track over Tranz Rail crisis

Government on wrong track over Tranz Rail crisis

Transport Minister Paul Swain was wrong in saying there was nothing the Government could do to end the current rail crisis, Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said today.

The Government could take back the national rail track, which the Green Party has been urging it to do for a long time, Ms Kedgley said. It could then embark on a much-needed upgrade of the rail infrastructure to get a fully-functioning and efficient rail network back on track.

Tranz Rail has clearly shown it is incapable of maintaining the passenger rail network, she said, creating the most significant public transport crisis in recent years.

Mr Swain was quoted in The Dominion yesterday as saying there was nothing the Government could do to solve Tranz Rail's problems, as National's sale of the track in 1993 had been unconditional.

However, Ms Kedgley said she was mystified by Mr Swain's claims that the Government's hands were tied.

"The Government continually says it is committed to public transport but it has sat twiddling its thumbs for the past 18 months while the most significant piece of public transport infrastructure has been disintegrating before its eyes.

"While the Government fails to act, it must be held responsible for the inconvenience being suffered daily by New Zealanders and tourists trying to simply catch a train, the loss of public confidence in commuter rail and the inevitable decline in patronage," Ms Kedgley said.

Train services have been cancelled or slowed in different parts of the country recently due to heat-buckling track fears resulting from poor track maintenance by Tranz Rail.

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