Rail line not 'decommissioned’ says action group

Group disputes finding in report and seeks clarity over whether council "not misleading the public".

Group disputes finding in report and seeks clarity over whether council "not misleading the public".

File picture

A STATEMENT that the Gisborne-Napier rail line had been decommissioned was wrong, Rail Action Group spokeswoman Mary Liza Manuel told the District Council’s Future Tairawhiti committee.

She referred to a statement in a report on progress towards developing a draft regional economic action plan, which that said the line had been decommissioned. She was seeking more detail and clarity on what was documented in the report, and disputed the statement that the line had been decommissioned.

It was still part of the national network, she said. In fact Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and a tourism operator were in negotiations with KiwiRail and they should have an indication by the end of this month that some part of that line between Gisborne, Wairoa and Napier was going to be in use.

Was the council referring to removing its support from the line when it used the word "decommission", or was it simply another instance of what she had seen throughout the report, of a lot of grey areas that were simply unknown?

The other thing that had taken her by surprise was that the report considered using the line for local purposes because there was no support locally for the rail apart from tourism. That would mean using only the section from Matawhero to the port.

In talks with potential rail users

She disputed that part of the report. The Rail Action Group had already been in talks with LeaderBrand, which would provide freight to support the rail going to Napier, and with Steve Weatherell, the spokesman for many of the packhouses and other local businesses.

“I need more clarity and a review of your decision to ensure that you are not misleading the public or that you are letting the public know exactly everything that has been put out there,” she said.

The group had put this into the long-term plan for the council to consider, but the lack of public consultation had been a reflection of their findings to date about the rail.

It would have been wonderful if the council had collaborated with them on the issues they had found in the document, she said.

She asked that the document be reviewed as far as the rail corridor was concerned before the council considered ratification of a plan. Economic development occurred over a long period of time and the market went up and down.

It would be very hard to say that rail was not going to be sustainable or that roading was going to be sustainable.

“We really need to start looking smartly and say to ourselves are we going to incorporate and support rail with our plan.”

The staff report said there were no identified feasible freight options apart from the section from Matawhero to the port. However, there were several options for development of tourism activities and interest from a range of parties.

The committee has instructed the chief executive to review council policy instruments with the aim of reducing the costs of doing business in Tairawhiti without compromising community values.

A STATEMENT that the Gisborne-Napier rail line had been decommissioned was wrong, Rail Action Group spokeswoman Mary Liza Manuel told the District Council’s Future Tairawhiti committee.

She referred to a statement in a report on progress towards developing a draft regional economic action plan, which that said the line had been decommissioned. She was seeking more detail and clarity on what was documented in the report, and disputed the statement that the line had been decommissioned.

It was still part of the national network, she said. In fact Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and a tourism operator were in negotiations with KiwiRail and they should have an indication by the end of this month that some part of that line between Gisborne, Wairoa and Napier was going to be in use.

Was the council referring to removing its support from the line when it used the word "decommission", or was it simply another instance of what she had seen throughout the report, of a lot of grey areas that were simply unknown?

The other thing that had taken her by surprise was that the report considered using the line for local purposes because there was no support locally for the rail apart from tourism. That would mean using only the section from Matawhero to the port.

In talks with potential rail users

She disputed that part of the report. The Rail Action Group had already been in talks with LeaderBrand, which would provide freight to support the rail going to Napier, and with Steve Weatherell, the spokesman for many of the packhouses and other local businesses.

“I need more clarity and a review of your decision to ensure that you are not misleading the public or that you are letting the public know exactly everything that has been put out there,” she said.

The group had put this into the long-term plan for the council to consider, but the lack of public consultation had been a reflection of their findings to date about the rail.

It would have been wonderful if the council had collaborated with them on the issues they had found in the document, she said.

She asked that the document be reviewed as far as the rail corridor was concerned before the council considered ratification of a plan. Economic development occurred over a long period of time and the market went up and down.

It would be very hard to say that rail was not going to be sustainable or that roading was going to be sustainable.

“We really need to start looking smartly and say to ourselves are we going to incorporate and support rail with our plan.”

The staff report said there were no identified feasible freight options apart from the section from Matawhero to the port. However, there were several options for development of tourism activities and interest from a range of parties.

The committee has instructed the chief executive to review council policy instruments with the aim of reducing the costs of doing business in Tairawhiti without compromising community values.

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John Vandermeer - 3 years ago
Re use of the Napier-Gisborne rail line.
Is it time to get serious and honest??
Surely a spur into the Whirinaki mill would allow some of the 10M tonnes of timber to be harvested over the next decade to be shipped into the mill. There is also a fleet of overweight trucks permanently shipping product from the mill to the Port of Napier.
There is also a truck fleet continually carting wood chip or pulp from Masterton to the mill - this could be railed to the mill if a line was put into the mill. At Gisborne surely logs could be railed to the ship side - the line is still there.
In Australia demountable fuel tankers are railed and craned onto trucks for local delivery. Is 50000 tonnes of fuel per annum still being trucked into Gisborne? Is rail-road an option?
10,000 tonnes of meat product p.a. was being trucked Wairoa to Napier.
Some time ago I read that $130M has to be spent on the Napier-Gisborne road to cope with increased freight. Subsidised heavy transport? Mark Gosche, a former minister of transport, told me in writing that a 40T truck costs 13 thousand times as much as a 1 tonne car in "road rehabilitation and reconstruction costs" and proportionally the car was paying nearly 800 times as much road tax as the truck in terms of these costs.
It was only $4M to initially repair the Gisborne line - peanuts if some of these freight options can be initiated.
Surley the future is not in rail carts for tourists - it's in getting some heavy freight moving and using the line for some passenger/tourists traffic - it is one of the most picturesque sections of line in NZ behind the Chch-Greymouth line.

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