Monday, May 05, 2008


NZ govt buys back rail, ferry systems

New Zealand government buys back national rail, ferry system for US$519 million
- May 5, 2008

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: The New Zealand government will pay NZ$665 million (US$519 million; €336 million) to Australia's Toll Holdings Ltd. to buy back rail and sea ferry operations that were privatized in the 1990s, the finance minister said Monday.

The government decided that buying the rail and sea operations from Toll Australia's subsidiary, Toll New Zealand, was the best way to increase investment in the industry, Michael Cullen said.

"The selling of our public rail system in the early 1990s and the running down of the asset afterward has been a painful lesson for New Zealand," he said in a statement.

The publicly owned national rail network was sold to private sector owners in 1993 for NZ$400 million. Australian transport concern Toll Holdings bought a majority stake in 2003, naming the company Toll New Zealand.

"Running a commercially viable business that was able to contribute to the economic and environmental development of New Zealand was proving extremely difficult without government support," Cullen said.

He plans to explore options for significant modernization investment in the coming months, he said. Details of the new operating structure had still to be worked out, he said.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said the Labour-led government's plan to modernize the national rail system was a step toward building a sustainable transport network.

"With rising fuel prices and growing awareness about the challenge of global climate change, many nations are looking to rail as a central part of 21st century economic infrastructure," Clark said.

A modern rail system could reduce the emissions of the overall transport network, take pressure off roads, and allow trucking and shipping to operate more efficiently, she added.

Settlement of the purchase is expected on June 30.

In 2001 the government stepped in with nearly NZ$1 billion (US$780 million; €505 million) to rescue privatized national carrier Air New Zealand from bankruptcy. The now-profitable airline remains 76 percent government owned.

"With rising fuel prices and growing awareness about the challenge of global climate change, many nations are looking to rail as a central part of 21st century economic infrastructure, Clark said."

What a great find this article is, BC Mary. Thanks.

Neanderthal governmental thinking and policy has turned "our" BC Rail cutting edge success story, (a role model for 21st century environmental and economic infrastructure) into a 990 year pre-historic swampland of lost opportunity.

I hope we can buy it back but I definitely know who the bill should be sent to - along with a subpoena.

New Zealand has definitely sent us an Encouraging Word with this news.

Kinda sad that none of the CanWest newspapers have reported on it.

I've just been reading a challenging report called "Auditor General's Report on the BC Rail Investment Partnership" at

It doesn't provide a copy of the BCRail deal(s) but talks ABOUT the 2, 3, or 4 deals (which make my head spin) between the Campbell Government and CN.

I was interested in Page 29 where it asks: "Is CN succeeding in fulfilling its commitments to the Province and stakeholders?

It says, in part, "After 2-1/2 years BCRC is satisfied that CN has met or is actively pursuing all of its one-time commitments including:

* increasing CN's centre-beam car fleet by more than the required 600 cars and upgrading more than the required 1,500 railcars ..." But get this ...

The Auditor General does admit that this acceptance is based upon "not receiving any formal complaints."

I've heard otherwise, on the railcar situation and was especially interested to know that this sort of problem is a possible deal-breaker.

CN's "Guaranteed car order supply program" for example means that shippers would be entitled to receive financial compensation for each car not provided. If BCRC knew, that is.

But BCRail -- when it became CN -- slid into federal jurisdiction because CN is a company operating outside our provincial borders. Thus CN answers to the Canadian Transportation Agency, resulting (for some boneheaded reason) in nobody telling BCRC if they have received formal complaints (which could become deal breakers).

I can't figure out yet if this stuff is intentionally dense, like the architects of these legal instruments were intentionally throwing sand in the eyes of people trying to follow their legal steps.

But it's nevertheless the closest glimpse so far into the actual deal(s) which allowed BCR to CNR. And cripes, it was presented in March 2007.

It says nothing about whether B.C. or BCRC ever got paid, either.

BC Mary could you give us a link to the sources of your headlines?

Such as: New Zealand government buys back national rail, ferry system for US$519 million - International Hearald Tribune

New Zealand buys back national rail, ferry system - Headlines

NZ govt buys back rail, ferry systems - Google -keywords NZ govt buys back rail, ferry systems

Not sure what you're asking for.

Google either of those headlines or the keywords to go to the sources you mention. And more.


It is a pity to have to, for almost two decades' wait for the penny to drop on the New Zealand Experiment
north van grumps: I'd be very interested on how you make those links. I'm still learning this stuff and could use some help. It's tiresome pointing people to the links at one side of the page on my blog at How Bad is the Record?
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