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Bridge Collapse Blamed on Neglect

Friday 6 May 2005

Bridge Collapse Blamed on Neglect

The collapse of a rail bridge while a train was crossing on the Napier-Gisborne line this morning can be squarely blamed on years of neglect following the privatisation of the rail system, said Rail and Maritime Union general secretary Wayne Butson.

Nobody was hurt when the bridge collapsed around 7.30am as two Dc-class locomotives were towing a 60-tonne rail crane across the bridge near Nuhaka.

The central bridge pier collapsed and the crane fell into the river. The two locomotives were now stranded on the Gisborne side of the collapsed bridge.

"From 1993 the rail industry has been a constant cycle of staff cuts and reduction in capital expenditure on the tracks, and this incident illustrates what a disaster the rail privatisation has been for New Zealand and New Zealanders," Wayne Butson said.

"The rail transport network needs considerable sums of money spent on it over the next few years to return it to being a fit and proper rail system able to cope with the needs of a buoyant national economy and rising demand for transport."

Wayne Butson said the tragedy was that New Zealanders, who bore the brunt of wiping off $1.2b of debt to set up the railways corporation for privatisation, were once again faced with the cost of restoring the rail system as media reports suggest that Toll NZ is opposed to paying a true and fair levy for track access.

ENDS

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