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Where is the ‘Kiwi can do’?


When BERL produced its report on the viability of restoring Gisborne’s rail connection I was (and still am) prepared to give them credit for exercising their professional ability to consult with engineers, surveyors, construction companies and KiwiRail to come up with a realistic cost for the job.

No sooner had they done that, than we had the recently-appointed, ex-Mainfreight CEO of KiwiRail rubbishing the report and quoting a figure around five times higher.

Although it would have been reasonable for Mr Miller to consult with his staff — the people who contributed to the BERL report — it seems he preferred to wave a wet finger in the air, like a certain other correspondent to this newspaper who, also, seems to be convinced that the line is irreparable.

I have just watched a television doco about Machu Picchu, built in the 15th century on a mountainous terrain 8000 feet above sea level, surrounded by slopes of up to 70 percent subject to intense rainfall and landslides. It is still there, 500 years later, due to the ingenuity of the civil engineers of that era.

Surely it is not beyond the capability of today’s civil engineers, with today’s technology and equipment, to effect an economic and durable repair of the destruction allowed to happen to the work of the pioneers who built the line 80 years ago with the resources available at that time.

Why should the cost of repairing a small fraction of the line (call it rebuilding if you like) be prohibitive now when the cost of building the whole line originally was not?

This rail link to the otherwise isolated outpost of Gisborne was the most economic way of carrying goods then. It still is today.

Peter Wooding

  1. Richard says:

    Peter it may be pertinent to ask also:
    Where’s the KiwiRail can do?

    The Te Huia Project initially was costed at an incredible $80m for second hand vehicles but ends up costing $91.37m hauled by old heavy oil locos in refurbished SA+SD AUK Transport carriages. Furthermore, does not stop at the intermediated stations as promised and requires a change of trains to get to the Britomart. Total journey time in 2021 a staggering 148minutes. And for the time being forget about using the service at weekends and public holidays – but KiwiRail freight can move along those very same tracks on those days!

    Is that really the best benchmark Kiwi Rail can achieve for “Can Do”. It’s an absolute disgrace and really should prove that the Board of KR should pack their bags and depart. How can the CEO be trusted with the Gisborne line reinstatement or even run passenger trains along the route.

    Watch this: