The Gisborne to Napier rail line is to be mothballed.
East Coast MP Anne Tolley said the decision on the line’s future had taken so long because the figures produced by KiwiRail and Gisborne transporters had to be thoroughly “crawled over”.
As well as a $3 to $4 million repair, other work needed on the line would be too costly.
“We have all known for the last 10-15 years there has been a lack of maintenance. There are a large number of bridges that need maintenance and that is costed at $6m a year.”
Mrs Tolley said that even with the projected freight increase, each train would need to be subsidised by $37,000.
“KiwiRail has not got the money and I could not convince Cabinet to subsidise that.”
In reality there was no real “anchor” customer to build a rail-freight business around.
“In the future if someone like Hikurangi (which is looking to build a mill here in the future) came along then we can have another look at it.”
To soften the blow, the Government has announced it will instead spend $4million in the next three years on roading, to create passing opportunities between Gisborne and Napier.
Mrs Tolley says this is over and above the $9-$10m realignment and resurfacing programme already announced for this section of road.
KiwiRail is working with Gisborne City Vintage Railway to explore possible options for continued heritage operations.
The decision to mothball the line was announced at midday today.
Full report and reaction in tomorrow’s Gisborne Herald.