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Government repurchase of rail great news

Monday 5 May 2008

Government repurchase of rail and ferry operations great news for rail workers and NZ

“Railway workers will be celebrating today’s news of the government’s repurchase of the national rail and ferry operations. This purchase will see the national railway asset and the “iron bridge” across Cook Strait returned to the people of NZ, and the industry will finally have an owner who has the means to be able to back up the promises for much needed investment,” Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) General Secretary Wayne Butson said today.

“The RMTU campaigned long and hard to get the Labour led Government to buy back the rail tracks but we always knew that in order to have the rail industry deliver what this country needs that they couldn’t stop there. We have all been urging the Government to go the final step to renationalize the network.”

Mr Butson says that from the day that the National government sold off the SOE NZ Rail Limited to an American led consortium, the lot of rail workers and customers has been down hill in direction. The flavour of the day was to extract the cash, replace it with debt and do just enough to keep it going.

“Toll purchased the rail business and they have promised new locomotives since they arrived. Years later, not one order for a new locomotive has been placed. It has been ‘paint them up’ in Aussie colours and send it back out into service,"

“Recent years has seen an exodus of key skilled workers, who were leaving because they didn’t see this industry going anywhere. Today’s announcement will start to stem the drift.”

“The RMTU is keen to be a part of the rejuvenation of the NZ rail industry so that it can deliver the safe sustainable transport option demanded by global warming and escalating fuel prices, and we call upon the Government to make strong early statements of investment in new locomotives and wagons.”

“We know that there will be those who will condemn the Government buy back as a return to the “bad old days”. To them we say look at the record of the SOE from 1987 to 1993, which saw the entity turn into a profitable enterprise.”


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