Please remove doubt over rail restoration

LETTER

To the Ministers for Transport and Regional Development

When the city of Gisborne was deprived of its rail connection to the rest of the system by the weather event of 2012 there was hope that the damage would be repaired so both commercial and tourism operations could be resumed.

We were to be sadly disappointed when neither KiwiRail nor the National government showed any intention of restoring this valuable strategic resource to operational order. The excuse for inaction seemed to be the assertion that no valid case could be made for operating the line profitably.

Protagonists for restoration argued that the value of this resource extended beyond the simple revenue v. costs calculation; that significant benefits accrued from:

• Transfer of freight from road to rail in terms of emissions, congestion, safety, road maintenance etc.

• Availability of an alternative and complementary mode of transport to existing and prospective businesses both within the Gisborne district and outside it.

• Potential for enhanced tourism opportunities (eg “Great NZ Steam Journeys”, vintage excursions etc).

I presume you are familiar with the BERL report of December 2012 which deals with the economic issues in some detail.

There was a commonly-held view among many Gisborne residents that there would be no change of attitude towards this situation until the National government was replaced by one more sympathetic to the cause for restoration.

I believe we now have such a government.

Prior to the general election, both Green Party and NZ First candidates made unconditional assertions that the line would be reopened, but Labour still seems to be ambivalent on the matter.

Please, will you tell us where you stand on this issue? Will you, as Government Ministers, give an undertaking that the line will be restored, or do you require further justification? If so, what will you regard as “sufficient evidence” for doing so?

I feel we have been “jerked around” for far too long on this issue. There have been nearly six years of missed opportunities; some clarity is needed, and you are in a position to provide it.

Peter Wooding (A.M.I.Mech.E.)

To the Ministers for Transport and Regional Development

When the city of Gisborne was deprived of its rail connection to the rest of the system by the weather event of 2012 there was hope that the damage would be repaired so both commercial and tourism operations could be resumed.

We were to be sadly disappointed when neither KiwiRail nor the National government showed any intention of restoring this valuable strategic resource to operational order. The excuse for inaction seemed to be the assertion that no valid case could be made for operating the line profitably.

Protagonists for restoration argued that the value of this resource extended beyond the simple revenue v. costs calculation; that significant benefits accrued from:

• Transfer of freight from road to rail in terms of emissions, congestion, safety, road maintenance etc.

• Availability of an alternative and complementary mode of transport to existing and prospective businesses both within the Gisborne district and outside it.

• Potential for enhanced tourism opportunities (eg “Great NZ Steam Journeys”, vintage excursions etc).

I presume you are familiar with the BERL report of December 2012 which deals with the economic issues in some detail.

There was a commonly-held view among many Gisborne residents that there would be no change of attitude towards this situation until the National government was replaced by one more sympathetic to the cause for restoration.

I believe we now have such a government.

Prior to the general election, both Green Party and NZ First candidates made unconditional assertions that the line would be reopened, but Labour still seems to be ambivalent on the matter.

Please, will you tell us where you stand on this issue? Will you, as Government Ministers, give an undertaking that the line will be restored, or do you require further justification? If so, what will you regard as “sufficient evidence” for doing so?

I feel we have been “jerked around” for far too long on this issue. There have been nearly six years of missed opportunities; some clarity is needed, and you are in a position to provide it.

Peter Wooding (A.M.I.Mech.E.)

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Peter Wooding - 5 months ago
"Great NZ Journeys" don't have to be steam-hauled. I did not include the word 'steam' in my original text (the editor added that) - neither the Northern Explorer or the Transalpine are steam-hauled. Steam or diesel is fine by me. Watch this space for the 'Eastern Experience'.

Footnote from Ed: My mistake, the writer just had "e.g. 'Great Journeys', Vintage excursions etc.)"
Searching for full, correct names he was referring to I came across Great NZ Steam Journeys . . . but no Vintage Excursions or similar.

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