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We've got the track back - now let's use it!

1 July, 2004

We've got the track back - now let's use it!

The Green Party has welcomed last night's agreement to buy back the rail tracks, but warns that government must now commit to restoring the network and expanding it.

"This is another success in the ongoing cooperation on transport between the Government and the Greens," said Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons. "The Greens launched the 'buy back the tracks' campaign in April 2001 and have used their influence with Government to strongly advocate returning the tracks to public ownership.

"It should never have been sold-off in the first place, but action became essential as soon as it was clear that TranzRail was prepared to let rail fall into wrack and ruin.

"Today's deal - and the hundreds of millions it will now take just to restore our rail network to the position is was a decade ago - should serve as a salutary lesson to any future government that could contemplate selling off essential public assets.

Jeanette Fitzsimons said New Zealanders could now look forward to better passenger rail services and a better rail system that will get freight off the roads and back on to the track where it belongs.

"The Minister of Finance has acknowledged that oil prices are unlikely to fall to the levels of the past decade, which means our ability to move people and freight will rely increasingly on rail transport, which is four-to-five times more efficient than road," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"With the track back in public ownership there's no excuse for Transfund to continue dragging its heals over rail funding. This is an opportunity for New Zealand to build up a sustainable transport infrastructure."

ENDS

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