Candidates sounded out on rail
Gisborne District Council candidates replied to Gisborne Rail Action Group questions on the Wairoa to Gisborne rail line.
The questions were —
1. If elected, what will you do to expedite Gisborne’s reconnection to the rail network for freight, tourism and passenger rail?
2. Would you support a council appeal to the Government to repair and reinstate the railway line between Wairoa and Gisborne?
Courtenay Waikari said she had read the 2016 business case.
“I sincerely hope that rail can become the backbone of freight and transport.
“If the feasibility reports that are currently in progress are favourable, then I would do everything I could.
“Key concerns I have noted are community wellbeing and achieving carbon reductions, which I think rail could make an excellent case for.”
Lizz Crawford said she would ‘‘absolutely advocate’’ to central government for the reconnection of rail from Gisborne to Wairoa.
If the East Coast wanted rail, “we could look to the future”.
“ Historically, maritime infrastructure was used up the Coast which is why there are wharves in strategic locations.”
Clive Bibby said it was premature to commit to the repairing and reopening of the Gisborne to Wairoa line until the Government-commissioned feasibility study had been completed, followed by any public announcement of future maintenance funding after a commitment from Government to reopen the line for commercial operations.
“It would be foolish for aspiring councillors to commit any future council to the possibility of funding any part of the restoration and/or ongoing maintenance costs from a budget that is likely to be under huge pressure due to the anticipated negative effects from climate change,” he said.
Tony Robinson said his answer was “a resounding yes to both questions’’.
A multi-model transport system was crucial.
“The current council has failed the people and businesses of Tairawhiti in not advocating to central government for the reinstatement of the rail line.
“If elected to council I will prioritise this issue by insisting council convene a stakeholder forum out of which will be formed a strategy overseen by a rail management group comprising representatives from council, businesses, community and iwi.”
Shane Vermeulen said he was pushing for rail’s reinstatement.
“It definitely will happen at some stage so why not sooner rather than later.”
David Sly said he supported reinstatement.
“As a council we should support and rally the businesses in using this important infrastructure, transporting Tairawhiti goods etc to market, which would benefit these businesses with cheaper freight costs and fewer truck movements on our fragile road network.
“The reinstatement of this line should be done at the Government’s cost.”
Larry Foster said he had always supported the reinstatement of the rail line “so long as the government pays”.
“ I am always advocating to our parliamentarians.”
He would support another council appeal to the government.
“Rail will be of huge benefit to our region if reinstated.”
Alice Kibble said she ‘‘of course” supported reinstatement.
“I think the council could be doing more to lobby government for the funds for this.
“I think there is a great need for it, for freight, tourism and much more.
Rachel Lodewyk said she wanted to see the feasibility study.
“Once it is out, and the community understands the report, then as a council acting on behalf of our community, we can press forward with what needs to be done. “
Debbie Gregory said she was aware of community support to reinstate the rail, and “I would advocate that opinion in any way I am able’’.
“If everything pans out and central Government decide to fund the fixing of the line, I would fully support Gisborne’s re-connection to the rail network.”
Dayle Takitimu said she proposed “expediting Gisborne’s connection to the rail network by strongly advocating for an urgent strategic re-alignment of council’s investments and putting a measurable action plan in place to address major infrastructural projects that will have the biggest returns on investment for the Tairawhiti region”.
She “absolutely’’ supported stronger advocacy by the council to central government.
Malcolm MacLean said he supported reinstating the rail line.
He would support a recommendation for a council appeal to the Government to repair and reinstate the railway line.
Andy Cranston said he was waiting for the feasibility study which he would thoroughly analyse to determine the best outcome.
“It would not seem sensible or responsible to appeal to the Government to repair and reinstate if the feasibility study gave a clear indication that the case was not at all feasible.
“However, I am pleased to hear (nothing official) that early indicators are leaning toward feasibility and if that is the case, then I am happy to support and advocate for reinstatement.“
Ross Chatterton said he would like to see the railway line restored.
“If the feasibility study shows that this is indeed a viable option, I will definitely support an appeal to central government for this to be done.”
Tina Karaitiana said any information to progress rail needed rigour and due diligence.
She had no objection to any council appeal to the Government but, “in my opinion, is subject to meeting financial, environmental and sustainable benchmarks’’.
Mary Liza Manuel said the region’s isolation relied too heavily on state highway networks and local roads, which could be affected by weather events.
“I support the opportunity to see the line reopened, provided the support shows the demand is evident.
“At present I am eagerly waiting for next month’s report and findings on the business case study.
“As for making an individual stance on any appeal, I will first be consulting with our public, iwi and business community.”
Nick Tupara said council needed to take direct action, lobby with civil action if needed, and draw higher attention to the region’s needs, and not sit back waiting for Wellington to act.
Tui Warmenhoven said she supported council lobbying central government to reinstate and repair the rail link.
“The feasibility study and council actively advocating to reinstate the Gisborne to Wairoa line go hand in hand.
“The council has to do everything necessary to ensure that this work programme is one of the infrastructural priorities of the region.’’
Athena Emmerson said connecting rail and community was essential.
She would expedite that through school excursions, with iwi participation. Linked with other national services, it could increase tourism numbers in and out of Tairawhiti.
Council needed to support and push central government to find funds with other agencies to ‘‘get this up and running’’.
Joelene Andrew said she wanted to see the rail feasibility study to make an informed decision.
“In 2014 the council pledged to support the reinstatement of the line.
“If this is a decision reached through careful analysing of all reports presented, then yes, I would certainly support a council appeal to the government.”
Kerry Worsnop said just-in-time delivery and the prohibitive cost of double handling logs tended to weigh against rail freight, and this was exacerbated by the fact that much of the region’s heavy transport flowed west or came from the north, neither of which had a rail option.
“Tourism does represent an appealing option and I would support the line extending as far as practical (and as far as funds allow) to further build on the success of the current tourism activities.
“I think this represents a more achievable option.
“I am aware that a feasibility study will provide more clarity.”
Frank Murphy said Gisborne would not have cruise ship visits ‘‘if my original contract with council did not contain rail via the vintage steam train planning put to cruise lines”.
He would assist in any approach to the Government.
Charlie Reynolds said expediting repairs to the rail network was up to the current Government who had previously stated they would open the line “and yet have reneged”.
Glenis Hiria Philip-Barbara said that if elected,she would prioritise understanding what was required to reconnect the line.”
She would support a council appeal to the government to repair and reinstate the railway line.
Terry Sheldrake said the feasibility study was due soon.
“From a tourism perspective I support reinstatement, from a purely “business ” perspective if the economics stack up and it is viable and, importantly, sustainable then yes.
“We also need to consider the other freight option, being coastal shipping.”
Pat Seymour said it was up to the Government to facilitate and pay for any restoration of the line if the business case currently being prepared stacked up.
She would support a council appeal to the Government if there was sufficient interest from industry to use the line.
Amber Dunn said she supported a new resolution stating council supported reopening the rail line. If local businesses wanted rail, she would support a council appeal to the Government.
“I worry that the investment in reopening the railway line is too dependent on the findings of the feasibility study.
“We must be aware that there is nowhere in New Zealand where rail is profitable — that was the case last time I investigated — over a year ago now.”
Shannon Dowsing said he had always been a supporter of rail, which had been damaged by poor KiwiRail management.
“If re-elected I will propose the reinstatement is assessed, based not on the business case, but on the need to protect our region, infrastructure and economy from the adverse effects of climate change. “