Provincial rail services at risk in KiwiRail plans
Hon Damien O’Connor
Rural Affairs Spokesperson
Associate Agriculture Spokesperson
28 September 2009 Media Statement
Provincial rail services at risk with KiwiRail plans
The Government’s plans to axe the KiwiRail subsidy will put provincial rail lines at risk and could hike up transport costs for farmers, says Labour’s Rural Affairs spokesperson Damien O’Connor.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce’s plans to remove the $90 million subsidy pose a significant threat to the survival of provincial rail such as the Greymouth to Hokitika line.
"The move could also see a rerun of the 1990s where tracks such as the Midland Line were severely run down through to a lack of investment in maintenance – the inevitable first step to privatising the network once again," Damien O'Connor said.
“I’m also concerned about the impact of any reduction in rail services to farmers, who are increasingly reliant on rail to transport large volume products such as milk and fertiliser.
"Without the competition from rail, it is inevitable they will end up paying more.
“Rail continues to play a vital part in regional tourism and any run-down of rail will have effects on the rural tourism sector, " Damien O'Connor said.
"KiwiRail was significantly under-funded when it was sold off in 1993 and its buy-back and the current subsidy are necessary to rebuild it after years of neglect.
"The last thing rural New Zealand needs is for another concerted attempt to be mounted for it to be run down again, soNational can sell it off cheap to some of its mates."