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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.

Peter Wooding

  1. Steve Watts says:

    I agree with Peter, KiwiRail shouldn’t need to make a paper profit – this money should come from the Provincial Growth Fund. I recall back when the line was washed out, the cost was to be $5M to repair and now that has escalated way beyond this. As has been pointed out, an important role of the line should be to make it more viable for exports to go to other ports.

    As far as subsidies go – the amount of money poured into Air New Zealand makes the repair of this line look like milk money!

    Also, I must point out that if the East Coast is to attract more tourists, it will need to lift the standard of accommodation – I’m sorry to tell you that currently Napier and Gisborne are way behind other areas. Investment in rail will encourage the building of 4 star hotels, which are badly needed. There are opportunities for cruise ship passenger to disembark their ship in Gisborne and get back on in Wellington.