Waiting for GDC to embrace rail

LETTER

It is pleasing to see, in the draft Regional Land Transport Plan, that “Depending on Central Government direction, Council may consider rail freight options as part of an integrated response to meeting community needs for a safe, sustainable and affordable transport system.”

Well, the current Labour-led Government has directed that local authorities should factor in rail options, so what are we waiting for?

We are waiting for Gisborne District Council to whole-heartedly embrace, and act upon, the policy that it adopted in principle, but never pursued in earnest, to seek restoration of the Gisborne to Napier rail line.

Our Mayor would claim that he has done all he can to influence the government to make this happen, so why did the Minister for Regional Development get “mixed messages” while here recently?

Can it be that there are influential people in Gisborne who do not want to see the rail line restored? If so, perhaps those people could explain to campaigners for restoration, and local businesses that wish to utilise this valuable resource, the basis for their opposition.

I am thinking specifically of: Steve Breen of Activate Tairawhiti, who should be striving to develop the local economy; Terry Sheldrake of the Chamber of Commerce, who should be assisting local businesses; Matt Todd of Eastland Group, who could significantly mitigate local nuisances by collaborating with potential rail operators to handle log deliveries by rail to the port. There may be others, who wish to keep their reasons to themselves.

So, gentlemen, let’s hear from you. If there are valid reasons for depriving Gisborne of its rail link to the rest of the system (and I don’t regard anti-competitive, monopolistic reasons as valid) then we should have the opportunity to hear and debate them. Underhanded “private” remarks to Ministers, purporting to represent the views of the majority, are not in the best interests of the region.

Peter Wooding

It is pleasing to see, in the draft Regional Land Transport Plan, that “Depending on Central Government direction, Council may consider rail freight options as part of an integrated response to meeting community needs for a safe, sustainable and affordable transport system.”

Well, the current Labour-led Government has directed that local authorities should factor in rail options, so what are we waiting for?

We are waiting for Gisborne District Council to whole-heartedly embrace, and act upon, the policy that it adopted in principle, but never pursued in earnest, to seek restoration of the Gisborne to Napier rail line.

Our Mayor would claim that he has done all he can to influence the government to make this happen, so why did the Minister for Regional Development get “mixed messages” while here recently?

Can it be that there are influential people in Gisborne who do not want to see the rail line restored? If so, perhaps those people could explain to campaigners for restoration, and local businesses that wish to utilise this valuable resource, the basis for their opposition.

I am thinking specifically of: Steve Breen of Activate Tairawhiti, who should be striving to develop the local economy; Terry Sheldrake of the Chamber of Commerce, who should be assisting local businesses; Matt Todd of Eastland Group, who could significantly mitigate local nuisances by collaborating with potential rail operators to handle log deliveries by rail to the port. There may be others, who wish to keep their reasons to themselves.

So, gentlemen, let’s hear from you. If there are valid reasons for depriving Gisborne of its rail link to the rest of the system (and I don’t regard anti-competitive, monopolistic reasons as valid) then we should have the opportunity to hear and debate them. Underhanded “private” remarks to Ministers, purporting to represent the views of the majority, are not in the best interests of the region.

Peter Wooding

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Mathew - 1 year ago
I can suggest one reason for not wanting to restore the rail line. Profits to the Eastland Group via port operations go onward to the owner Eastland Community Trust, and then flow back to us beneficiaries in the community.
Were I offered a choice of that profit stream or a rail line I would most likely pick something that benefits the entire region.
Not a popular point of view, but the rail corridor can be put to a more productive use than just moving one train.

Richard - 1 year ago
Since inoperability, the reopening of the line has rigidly divided the whole community so seeking transparent explanations from those opposed, regardless of their occupation or role, is futile.

The pro-rail community needs to take matters into its own hands to correct those "mixed messages" and substantiate visibly to "Central Government" that there is compelling support for rail - all along the line from Gisborne to Napier.

The most conspicuous method to employ to attract the attention of ministers is for the pro-rail community to start an online "Crowd Funding" appeal to communities along the line Napier to Gisborne and beyond, to finance the reopening. Such an action will generate immense media coverage locally, regionally and nationally. Its success will publicly embarrass all those opposed locally, denigrate KiwiRail and, strategically, prompt ministers to think again.

There is a downside of course to sticking your head over the parapet - if you do not get sufficient support to gain the momentum to change opinion on this subject, those opposed will secure the high moral ground (if not the eminently judicial case) forever.

It has to be recognised that no private rail company will fund the reopening, but, once reopened and given appropriate commercial terms to access the line, a private operator may well commence freight and or passenger services to Gisborne. So take action now, or the line may well be gone forever!

Richard - 1 year ago
Absolutely incorrect - the rail line would be used by more than one passenger train per day if reopened. As for the number of freight - that's for - the others to comment on.

M Jak - 1 year ago
Rail is old technology. Other than bulk freight in volumes, depot to depot in NZ it doesn't work. Get over it. Join the real world.

Richard - 1 year ago
In the real world globally rail is handling more freight and passengers than in its entire history. In the past 20 years rail lines have been built in countries that previously had no rail network. And rail lines have been relaid where previously their rails were removed in the 1960s and '70s through lack of foresight. Across continents, lines lying idle for decades are being put back into profitable service.

Today non-perishable consumer goods are increasingly exported from China direct to European markets by direct rail links. And in the land where the truck and automobile are worshipped as gods and profit comes first, new very high speed lines are being financed by private enterprise.

The rail renaissance is driven by convience and cost savings plus the environmental gains. Rail is the real world today and tomorrow. M Jak, you are ill informed. It is in New Zealand's best interests to regenerate what's left of its decapitated rail network. Rail for Gisborne will be good for jobs, good for inward investment, good for local enterprise, good for tourism and good for its environment.

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