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Govt risking too much taxpayer money on rail

Gerry Brownlee National Transport Spokesman

19 November 2003

Govt risking too much taxpayer money on rail

The Government bought itself a huge financial risk purchasing the rail network, says National's Transport spokesman Gerry Brownlee.

Papers obtained from Solid Energy, under the Official Information Act, show Tranz Rail estimates the cost of simply maintaining the West Coast Export Coal Route at an adequate level for the current volume of traffic will cost $173 million.

"And the Cobden Bridge needs to be completely replaced - at a cost of an extra $10 million," says Mr Brownlee.

"That brings the total cost of that one part of the network up to $183 million over 15 years. And Solid Energy says up to $50 million of that needs to be spent in the next one to three years.

"Dr Cullen said he will sink $200 million into the entire nationwide network in the next five years, which is nowhere near the amount needed to maintain the network, let alone cover any additional work," says Mr Brownlee

"And the Minister expects the rest of the bill will be picked up by Toll in network access charges - but how much will Toll be prepared, or even able, to pay?

"The New Zealand taxpayer deserves answers now, before the costs spiral out of control," says Mr Brownlee.


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