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Govt offers funding to keep Southerner going

20 September 2001 Media Statement

Govt offers funding to keep Southerner going


The Government is offering funding in partnership with local authorities and TranzRail to keep the Southerner rail service operating for four months, Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton announced today.

"This offer is being made because of the potential regional development and tourism benefits from the service. However a more detailed assessment of the service is needed before a long-term solution is concluded," Jim Anderton said.

He wrote to the Invercargill and Dunedin city councils, Waitaki and Waimate district councils and the Otago Regional Council today offering funding of $140,000. The funding is subject to two conditions:

The local authorities meeting the remaining amount required to continue the Southerner service for the four month period.

A commitment to investigate the potential for the Southerner passenger service to contribute effectively to regional development and tourism. The Government will contribute a further $30,000 towards the investigation if its contribution is matched by local authorities.

"This offer shows that the Labour-Alliance Coalition Government is working in partnership with local communities to provide development opportunities for regional New Zealand," Jim Anderton said.

He is hoping to meet with the mayors of the five councils by conference call next week. And he is writing to councils which haven't yet indicated support, asking them to make a contribution with all other councils on the Southerner line. Those councils are Southland Regional Council, Clutha, Timaru and Selwyn district councils and Environment Canterbury.

Transport Minister Mark Gosche said he was glad that weeks of work by government officials, local MPs and TranzRail was bearing fruit.

"This gives the councils some time to do the homework, so they can make long-term decisions on subsidising the service."

ENDS

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