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Rail buffs are speculating Australian company Toll Holdings Ltd is finding New Zealand too hard a place to make a dollar and may sell its rail business to the government.
"Green and yellow locomotives might not be seen for much longer," editor Graeme Carter said in the latest New Zealand Railway Observer magazine.
However, Toll NZ is not for turning.
Toll NZ spokeswoman Sue Foley said Toll NZ was absolutely committed to rail in New Zealand and freight was increasing on a number of its services.
She said the article's claim that Toll had not honoured its contractual obligations in the National Rail Access Agreement were not correct. Toll had spent the $100 million it agreed to invest in rail.
The article pushes the idea that the government should have bought the rail operator as well as the tracks in the interests of the national economy in much the same way that the government rescued Air New Zealand.
It is now four years since the government bought the rail network back but it has not been able to agree long term access fees to it with Toll NZ and this is holding up investment in new locomotives.
Mr Carter said the government was proving to be a hard player on the access issue and Toll was not getting its own way.
Further, Toll NZ did not have a harmonious relationship with the government track operator Ontrack. At the same time parent Toll Holdings was focusing on Asia.
"Toll Holdings could be a keen seller," he said.
October 8, 2007
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