Jos Nagels (Letters, January 12) writes that railway operations should be returned to public ownership. They will be pleased to know that this occurred from July 1, 2008, when Toll Rail was sold to the government and became KiwiRail.

The inefficiency we see today with the railways is, in fact, a result of that public ownership.

KiwiRail hasn't kept pace with global railway developments, and they are mired down with complex cost structures and bureaucracy that would make your eyes water, and could only come from a state-run entity.

The rail union is far too involved in business planning, a remnant of state-run NZR that belongs in the previous century.

Worst of all, railway companies who wish to run trains in New Zealand are prevented from doing so in order to protect KiwiRail's inefficient monopoly that turns away more customers than it accepts. More "last century" thinking.

Under the previous private ownership, rail tonnage in New Zealand increased from 11 million tonnes per year to 18 million tonnes. Since KiwiRail was formed a decade ago, that tonnage level has remained at 18 million tonnes.

What New Zealand needs is an open-access railway network that any railway company can use. Competition on the railways will lead to innovation and greatly broaden the tonnage base.


When the state monopoly railway network in Australia was replaced with open access, tonnage levels tripled. It could happen here as well.

Geoff Blackmore

Important bus trial succeeds

I would like to express my disappointment in the article regarding the trial of free buses for school students living in Welcome Bay (News, January 23).

The misinformation in the article is disappointing but more so is the sensationalising, in my view, of one person's disappointment that her school community's voices have not been heard in the planning of the bus routes, rather than focus on the reasons why Welcome Bay residents fought so hard for three years to have the free buses reinstated – to ease traffic congestion, to support low-income families, ensuring all school students in Welcome Bay have equal opportunities for education.

The school bus timetables were due to be changed regardless of the trial.

Even if the bus route for these few families is not ideal and they make alternative arrangements, it is unlikely to have an impact on the trial to the extent this article suggests.

It is so important for our community that this trial succeeds, and it would be very helpful if our local newspaper could support this initiative with some positive aspects that demonstrate how hard we have worked for this and how much it means to so many families.

Anna Larsen
Welcome Bay
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