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Track buy-back is a Capital opportunity

Track buy-back is a Capital opportunity, says Kedgley

Green MP Sue Kedgley says buying back the national rail track provides a golden opportunity to upgrade rail services used by Wellington commuters.

"Wellington has the busiest rail corridor in the nation," Ms Kedgley, the party's Associate Transport spokesperson, pointed out today. "It is vital that the government allocate money for upgrading the signalling system and dilapidated rail infrastructure in the region.

"TranzRail skimped on track maintenance to the point where parts of the tracks were buckling so badly that speed restrictions were needed, but with the tracks back under public control Wellington has the opportunity to expand passenger services without concern about track quality.

"Government ownership means public funds can be spent on upgrading and expanding the system in the confidence that money will go straight to the track rather than propping-up an ailing private company."

The government's buy back of the rail track is also a huge boost for Wellington Regional Council's stalled joint venture proposal to run urban passenger rail services in Wellington, Ms Kedgley said.

"It's just the boost Wellington's urban passenger rail needs. The Wellington Regional Council's relations with TranzRail have been bedevilled by uncertainty over the future of the company.

"The buy-back will make it much easier for a specialist operator to run the urban passenger rail service, which TranzRail has signalled it has no interest in.

"The fact that the government has signalled it will offer reasonable track access fees and upgrade and maintain the track means that a new operator can invest in refurbishing dilapidated trains and improving the efficiency and frequency of passenger services with confidence that the track will be there to run them on."

The buy-back will also make it easier to fund new infrastructure for Wellington's passenger rail services, such as sorely needed new stations along the route, Ms Kedgley said.

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