Focus on the Land
Report on railway throws up concerns
Thursday, December 13, 2012
“SERIOUS inconsistencies” have been revealed in the KiwiRail report that justified mothballing the Gisborne to Napier railway, says rail advocate and Gisborne district councillor Manu Caddie.
An independent review undertaken by BERL — experts in transport economics — has been given to the Government and KiwiRail for consideration before public release in January.
“We want to give the Minister of Transport and KiwiRail the opportunity they did not provide the affected businesses and communities, by letting them read the report before it is released publicly,” says Mr Caddie.
Mr Caddie was behind a community fundraising campaign that raised more than $14,000 to conduct the independent analysis.
The last KiwiRail freight service on the Gisborne to Napier line rolled out of Wairoa last Tuesday, carrying a load of sawn timber from Wairoa company Clyde Lumber.
The twelve wagons of timber — equal to 21 truck-and-trailer loads — left Wairoa headed south. All freight will now travel by road.
In a KiwiRail staff newsletter, Hawke’s Bay freight manager Kim Santer, who crewed the last train, said the Gisborne line always presented challenges to crews working it.
Often because of the distance to the nearest mechanical and network staff, they had to solve the problems themselves.
“Some 20 tunnels and a great many bridges and viaducts, and very tough geography over the 212 kilometres from Napier to Gisborne, meant there were always challenges for crews and other staff who maintained the line.”
A tragic event on the line was the 1938 Kopuawhara flash flood that claimed the lives of 21 people working on the line.
A memorial beside the track is one of two extraordinary sights along the line.
The other is when the train emerges from the “coast” tunnel with Poverty Bay laid out in front.
On a clear day, so much of the horizon can be seen that the curvature of the earth is apparent.
Another unique feature of the line is the crossing at the Gisborne Airport, meaning crews had to be in radio contact with the control tower at the airport — although ex-railwaymen relay plenty of stories of close calls with aircraft in days gone by.
The decision to mothball the line was announced in November after the Government refused to repair the $4 million damage caused by a severe storm earlier this year.
The future of the Gisborne Vintage Rail and Wa 165 steam locomotive remains uncertain as KiwiRail might not continue maintenance of the line to Muriwai beyond February.
Until then, there will be scenic round-trips to Muriwai.
The Gisborne to Napier line is on the agenda at a Regional Transport Committee meeting in Napier tomorrow.
No comments - be the first to comment
June 21 marks the 100-day deadline for TV to go digital. Are you digital yet?
No, not yet
Doesn't apply to me
Send in your
Explore The Gisborne Herald
Letters to the Editor
Focus on the Land
64 Gladstone Road, PO Box 1143, Gisborne, New Zealand | Ph: +64 6 869 0600 | Fax: +64 6 869 0643 (editorial) | Fax: +64 6 869 0644 (advertising) | News Hotline: 0800 NEWSLINE (639 754) | email@example.com
Copyright © The Gisborne Herald