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Govt rail track control more urgent than ever

Government rail track control more urgent than ever

The Halliburton KBR report highly critical of Tranz Rail's safety record was further evidence of the urgent need for the Government to take back control of the national rail track, Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

"The report paints a picture of a company desperately cutting corners in order to stay afloat. Tranz Rail seems to be trying to stay in business by shedding staff and safety procedures rather than providing better service," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"The report adds impetus to the Green Party call, repeated frequently since we put it to the Government in April last year, for the Government to resume ownership of the track and tender for the right to run services."

The report's concerns that Tranz Rail had excessively cut staff, unsafely welded track joints to reduce maintenance costs, and had inadequate reporting requirements for rail incidents showed it was even more urgent than ever before for the Government to be in control of the track, Ms Fitzsimons said.

Safety, service and sustainability were key requirements of any national rail service and all three were being run down in New Zealand.

"This was probably the most disastrous of all New Zealand privatisations. It's not possible to undo the mistakes of Ruth Richardson without it costing us some money, but we should bite the bullet and pay now -while there is still a rail system to save," Ms Fitzsimons said.

"In a world constrained by climate change and congested roads, rail is becoming increasingly essential to a sustainable future. Rail is four times more energy efficeint than road per tonne of freight."

The Green Party policy on rail is that a new state-owned enterprise would be set up to own the physical components of the rail network. It could be owned by a joint venture of central and local government where there are commuter rail services. The right to run trains would be the subject of access agreements.

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