Is it time to take the Interislander away from Kiwirail?

The Herald reports:

KiwiRail’s seemingly endless requests for more money is damning. At one point, KiwiRail assured Robertson when he was the Finance Minister that the worst-case scenario would be an extra $300 million before requesting $1.2 billion a few months later.

Not what most people regard as worst case.

It’s no wonder Ministry of Transport officials have raised the question of KiwiRail’s suitability to run the Interislander business in the medium to long term.

I think that is the real question.

But officials are already investigating how the market might respond to the hypothetical exit of KiwiRail, including whether rival operator Bluebridge could provide more capacity across Cook Strait.

They have mulled over whether the Interislander business could be separated into another SOE or sold via a trade sale.

The ripples of this failed project are already being felt beyond Cook Strait.

It is no longer only a question of what will replace the Interislander fleet but also whether KiwiRail should have anything to do with running the business.

The answer must be no. Ferries over Cook Strat is a competitive enterprise. It is not a natural monopoly like train lines. There is no reason taxpayers need to be paying out billions of dollars for one ferry service, when there are others that actually are profitable.

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