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Alliance position on RailAmerica

Alliance position on RailAmerica offer follows:

Missed opportunity to take back Tranz Rail The sale of Tranz Rail to RailAmerica will be a significant loss to the people of New Zealand, the Alliance says.

"The Government could have bought back the rail network for as little as 30 cents a share at one stage and secured a vital piece of our infrastructure," says Alliance spokesperson Jill Ovens.

She is not impressed at the announcement of the offer on the same day as the Government announced that $1.9 billion of the Budget surplus will be speculated on overseas markets.

"It is very short-sighted. Our transport infrastructure is vital to the economy and to our quality of life. We've allowed our rail network and facilities to be run down, putting huge pressure on roads as people have been forced to rely on cars and trucks for transport."

Ms Ovens says CTU economist Peter Conway told the National Affiliates Council in Wellington yesterday that Auckland's daily gridlock is costing the national economy nearly $1 billion a year in lost productivity.

Ms Ovens says workers are stuck in traffic for hours and this has a significant impact on quality of life, as well as needlessly adding to the working day.

She says anyone who has travelled on New Zealand highways among the logging and container trucks knows the aggravation of driving under these conditions, but also the frustration at knowing that the goods could be carried by rail if only we had a decent system.

"But instead of securing the system for all New Zealanders, the Government is standing by as our rail network is sold to US owners whose specialty is scouring the world for 'basket cases' to exploit."

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