Keeping options open for rail line that has potential

LETTER

As a State-Owned-Enterprise (SOE), KiwiRail operates in accordance with the wishes of the Government of the day. It is tasked with making a profit and therefore had little interest in repairing or operating on the Gisborne-Napier line until recently. However, I believe it does acknowledge that the line has potential to become profitable. Many would agree with this.

Accordingly, it has a vested interest in preserving its asset and obtaining the maximum benefit from it without incurring any significant costs. This is the thinking behind its recent invitation of Expressions of Interest in putting the unused parts of the line to good use in the meantime.

The section from Gisborne to Muriwai is already being used by Gisborne City Vintage Railway for public and charter trips on Wa165, under a “right-to-occupy” agreement, and KiwiRail itself will soon recommence freight operations south of Wairoa. That leaves the section from Muriwai to Wairoa, which is the section worst-affected by washouts.

The recently-formed Gisborne Rail Co-operative (GRC) believes in repairing, using and maintaining this section of line on an economic basis and, in so doing, once again restoring the connection between Gisborne and the rest of the New Zealand railway system for through traffic. They are working hand-in-hand with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council who have offered to contribute towards the cost of preparing a comprehensive business plan for making this happen, and are looking to Gisborne District Council (GDC) for a similar contribution.

GDC’s Regional Transport Committee has been asked to take this matter on board. They are not being asked to fund the cost of repairs; they are not being asked to subsidise operations; they are being asked to help to facilitate the efforts of others to get the line restored and operational.

This is already GDC’s established policy, in principle; now is the time for them to make this “in practice” too.

Peter Wooding

As a State-Owned-Enterprise (SOE), KiwiRail operates in accordance with the wishes of the Government of the day. It is tasked with making a profit and therefore had little interest in repairing or operating on the Gisborne-Napier line until recently. However, I believe it does acknowledge that the line has potential to become profitable. Many would agree with this.

Accordingly, it has a vested interest in preserving its asset and obtaining the maximum benefit from it without incurring any significant costs. This is the thinking behind its recent invitation of Expressions of Interest in putting the unused parts of the line to good use in the meantime.

The section from Gisborne to Muriwai is already being used by Gisborne City Vintage Railway for public and charter trips on Wa165, under a “right-to-occupy” agreement, and KiwiRail itself will soon recommence freight operations south of Wairoa. That leaves the section from Muriwai to Wairoa, which is the section worst-affected by washouts.

The recently-formed Gisborne Rail Co-operative (GRC) believes in repairing, using and maintaining this section of line on an economic basis and, in so doing, once again restoring the connection between Gisborne and the rest of the New Zealand railway system for through traffic. They are working hand-in-hand with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council who have offered to contribute towards the cost of preparing a comprehensive business plan for making this happen, and are looking to Gisborne District Council (GDC) for a similar contribution.

GDC’s Regional Transport Committee has been asked to take this matter on board. They are not being asked to fund the cost of repairs; they are not being asked to subsidise operations; they are being asked to help to facilitate the efforts of others to get the line restored and operational.

This is already GDC’s established policy, in principle; now is the time for them to make this “in practice” too.

Peter Wooding

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