Far more advantages
Here we go again! Last week's poll on restoration of the Turanga ki Wairoa line brought out the usual opponents (28 percent) repeating, parrot-like, that “there will not be enough business” and “it will never be profitable”.
There are none so blind as those who won't see. They refuse to accept the argument that there are far more advantages to wider use of rail than simply as a means of making a profit for a State Owned Enterprise.
These advantages have been emphasised over and over again; our council recognises them, Trust Tairawhiti recognises them, the Government recognises them, but the SOE currently responsible for realising them is hog-tied by the statutory requirement to make a profit.
OK — it may be difficult for KiwiRail to operate the Gisborne line profitably, but KiwiRail is depriving the country of the opportunity to benefit in so many other ways, not least of which is the provision of a tourism route to Tairawhiti. In the present post-Covid situation, domestic tourism has assumed a prominent position in the country's economic recovery.
The benefits of more efficient transport, reduced emissions, improved road safety, reduced road maintenance etc, etc still stand as they ever did.
Opponents also argue that availability of a cheaper alternative to road transport, and a cheaper export route than Eastland Port, would adversely impact on haulage operators and the port. This fails to acknowledge the benefits to local producers and the more enlightened haulage companies that have been prevented from offering advantageous services. Which is more important now, to get Tairawhiti up and running?
The solution is clear; identify a project team and a group of contractors committed to the BERL scenario and provide them with the requisite funding to restore the line.