DONATIONS are now beyond the $14,000 mark for the public appeal to raise funds to review a KiwiRail decision to shut the Gisborne to Napier railway line
Gisborne Rail Action Group member and Gisborne councillor Manu Caddie said this morning that $10,600 had been received already and more than $4000 pledged to come in the next couple of days.
“This is really exciting, it means we can get the independent economic review under way and pay for an engineer’s peer review of the KiwiRail conclusions on the infrastructure,” said Mr Caddie.
The line was closed in March after a storm wiped out parts of the line. Last week the Government said it would not fix the line because it was uneconomic.
Mr Caddie says there appeared to be anomalies in the KiwiRail report given to the Government.
“Even at KiwiRail’s 8.9 percent capital discount rate, which is very high compared to roading and other public infrastructure, on the freight tonnages predicted in recent reports we see a positive net present value within 10 years.
“This should have produced a recommendation to reinvest,” said Mr Caddie.
BERL (Business and Economic Research Ltd) has been engaged by the rail group to carry out this review.
Donations have come not only from Gisborne people but also all over the country and some from overseas.
Rail group spokeswoman Gillian Ward said it was awesome that the economic peer review would go ahead.
“We are very grateful for this support and the confidence that so many people have in our group and in their belief in the viability of the railway line.”
There was a widely-held view that the report was hugely flawed using old historical data and not new freight potential.
The rail group also expects to have sufficient funds to be able to engage an engineering consultancy to carry out a review of KiwiRail’s report on the state of the infrastructure of the line.
The line is the youngest in New Zealand and the bridges and viaducts, constructed of concrete or steel rather than wood, should have a life-span of well over their current 70 years.
“We are concerned KiwiRail may have assessed the standards required for our railway line on an equivalent basis to those required for the main trunk line where strength for 18-tonne axle weights is required.
“We are repair costs can be exaggerated because of lack of initial information, conservatism, amounts of risk money being built in to cost estimates and the cost of bureaucracy.”