GISBORNE Mayor Meng Foon is “terribly disappointed” with the decision of Government to mothball the line after much lobbying and keen support from export businesses to use rail as a viable option.
“Local businesses said rail had to be business-driven and needed a chance to prove itself.”
It was trying to be competitive in the global market as fuel costs increased.
Mr Foon has asked under the Official Information Act to see the KiwiRail business case.
The 20 working-day wait is up soon.
There was great support from all the mayors of the eastern region, from Hastings to Gisborne, as well as many exporters and national organisations like HortNZ and Federated Farmers.
“Most of the public of Gisborne, people from other regions of New Zealand and overseas sent information and pledges of support to save the rail.”
Mr Foon says all over the world, governments were building more rail. But the NZ Government was stuck on building roads.
“All is not lost — another government might fix and open the line.”
Gisborne district councillor Manu Caddie has called for an urgent independent review of the figures and conclusions in the KiwiRail report.
He has asked BERL, who have expertise in transport economics, for an estimate of costs.
“KiwiRail and/or the Government should pay for such a peer review and local businesses might want to participate in the review because their figures will need to be checked against what KiwiRail has suggested.”
‘No one should be fooled by KiwiRail’s talk of mothballing’
Labour list MP Moana Mackey says the decision to close the rail line was expected but it didn’t make it any less “gutting”.
She does not believe the economics of the line do not stack up. Putting $4 million into road passing lanes was completely illogical.
“All the passing lanes in the world are not going to make a blind bit of difference when the weather closes the road again.”
Not having rail to carry freight put the many exporters in this isolated district at a further competitive disadvantage, she
The Governement had been trying to shut the line since 2009 and the slip was the excuse they needed to do what they intended all along.
The closure was a direct result of the Government’s policy of pouring billions of dollars into motorways while setting KiwiRail up to fail.
“Gisborne has been stripped of an economic lifeline.”
No one should be fooled by KiwiRail talking about ‘‘mothballing’’ the line.
“Any rail expert will tell you that once you mothball a line, it is prohibitively expensive to open it down the track. Once it is closed, it is closed for good.”