Why is rail treated differently?

LETTER

There is no denying that long distance cycle trails are popular with those having the physical fitness to use them (not me!) and that they have potential, in terms of board and lodging expenditure, to bring income to the region through which they pass. But I can’t help but pose two questions — who pays for their construction, maintenance and management, and do they generate any direct income (i.e. through user charges)?

Put another way — are they financially viable?

I note that Gisborne District Council recently agreed to grant $10,000 to Motu Trails to help pay for an administrator. So the ratepayer foots the bill and the cyclists and Bed and Breakfasts benefit.

OK — I don’t necessarily disagree with this; we ratepayers pay for a lot of things that generally benefit the region, directly or indirectly, but why does the same approach not apply when it comes to provision (restoration) of a railway line?

A reinstated rail service will also bring to our region visitors who will spend money here; will give our producers an alternative and often better means of getting product to market, and will alleviate heavy goods vehicle problems on our roads.

I hasten to add that I am not suggesting GDC should use rate funding for this; it is a responsibility of central government and should be funded through general taxation or RBNZ loans, but the present government will only see bottom line year-on-year dollar profits and seems to be incapable of seeing the indirect and longer term benefits to communities on the railway routes.

Readers are invited to consider the question, “Who benefits?” before they cast their votes later this year.

Peter Wooding

There is no denying that long distance cycle trails are popular with those having the physical fitness to use them (not me!) and that they have potential, in terms of board and lodging expenditure, to bring income to the region through which they pass. But I can’t help but pose two questions — who pays for their construction, maintenance and management, and do they generate any direct income (i.e. through user charges)?

Put another way — are they financially viable?

I note that Gisborne District Council recently agreed to grant $10,000 to Motu Trails to help pay for an administrator. So the ratepayer foots the bill and the cyclists and Bed and Breakfasts benefit.

OK — I don’t necessarily disagree with this; we ratepayers pay for a lot of things that generally benefit the region, directly or indirectly, but why does the same approach not apply when it comes to provision (restoration) of a railway line?

A reinstated rail service will also bring to our region visitors who will spend money here; will give our producers an alternative and often better means of getting product to market, and will alleviate heavy goods vehicle problems on our roads.

I hasten to add that I am not suggesting GDC should use rate funding for this; it is a responsibility of central government and should be funded through general taxation or RBNZ loans, but the present government will only see bottom line year-on-year dollar profits and seems to be incapable of seeing the indirect and longer term benefits to communities on the railway routes.

Readers are invited to consider the question, “Who benefits?” before they cast their votes later this year.

Peter Wooding

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rail supporter - 13 days ago
John Key and National are to blame for not reinstating our rail line to benefit our region, and GDC did not push hard enough for our rail line. I still think bikes on rail lines are not going to be viable.

Richard - 13 days ago
Hieronymus Karl Friedrich von Munchhausen would have equally devised the wonderous quad cycle to replace a train and only a delusional Mayor and KiwiRail would have swallowed the fable on the basis that it, the biped-powered contraption, was capable of delivering a greater volume of visitors and revenue to the region. That's apart from the fact that "it" cannot haul tonnes of freight or carry hundreds of passengers in one end-to-end journey. I'm left wondering if Hans Christian Andersen is regular bed-time reading for Messrs. M KR.

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