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Railways Bill delivers promised safety regime

Railways Bill delivers promised safety regime

The Acting Transport Minister Judith Tizard has introduced legislation to improve the safety regime for all rail operators.

The Railways Bill implements the recommendations of the Ministerial Inquiry into Tranz Rail (the Wilson report), which reported in late 2000.

"The bill addresses gaps in the current safety framework, that have arisen because of recent changes in the rail industry," says Judith Tizard.

"Tranz Rail has contracted out its maintenance, sold its long-distance passenger services to Tranz Scenic, sold the Auckland rail corridor to the Crown, and may yet sell its Tranz Metro service."

"However the current law assumes there is only one major rail operator -Tranz Rail, which is assumed to own the infrastructure, provide the rail service and do its own maintenance."

Judith Tizard says "the bill seeks to improve safety so that rail passengers, rail workers and rail freight will not come to harm. Travelling by rail is safe, but there is always room for improvement."

"The bill is focussed on safety issues. It is owner-neutral, and is not related to sale of Tranz Rail."

The Government originally planned to introduce the legislation early this year, but delayed this while it worked through issues related to small heritage operators.

"They will not be disadvantaged by the bill because they generally have a good safety record, requiring less intervention. The bill is also flexible enough to ensure safety requirements are tailored to the scale of their operation," says Judith Tizard.

"They will also be further consulted over fees and charges under the bill."

The bill, which is also supported by the Green Party, extends rail safety legislation to cover a wider number of industry players, ensures a clear chain of accountability for safety, and consolidates all rail safety legislation in one Act.

It introduces a new regime for licensing, documentation, assessments and audits, enforcement, and costs.

LICENSING: All existing rail operators will have to re-licence, as will those who provide access to the track. Everyone who is part of the rail sector must be covered by a "safety case" provided by either an operator or access provider.

DOCUMENTATION: All licence holders must prepare a high-level "safety case" for approval and publication by the LTSA. The safety case will include increased reporting requirements for all in the rail sector.


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