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Waiting for GDC to embrace rail

Opinion Piece

It is pleasing to see, in the draft Regional Land Transport Plan, that “Depending on Central Government direction, Council may consider rail freight options as part of an integrated response to meeting community needs for a safe, sustainable and affordable transport system.”

Well, the current Labour-led Government has directed that local authorities should factor in rail options, so what are we waiting for?

We are waiting for Gisborne District Council to whole-heartedly embrace, and act upon, the policy that it adopted in principle, but never pursued in earnest, to seek restoration of the Gisborne to Napier rail line.

Our Mayor would claim that he has done all he can to influence the government to make this happen, so why did the Minister for Regional Development get “mixed messages” while here recently?

Can it be that there are influential people in Gisborne who do not want to see the rail line restored? If so, perhaps those people could explain to campaigners for restoration, and local businesses that wish to utilise this valuable resource, the basis for their opposition.

I am thinking specifically of: Steve Breen of Activate Tairawhiti, who should be striving to develop the local economy; Terry Sheldrake of the Chamber of Commerce, who should be assisting local businesses; Matt Todd of Eastland Group, who could significantly mitigate local nuisances by collaborating with potential rail operators to handle log deliveries by rail to the port. There may be others, who wish to keep their reasons to themselves.

So, gentlemen, let’s hear from you. If there are valid reasons for depriving Gisborne of its rail link to the rest of the system (and I don’t regard anti-competitive, monopolistic reasons as valid) then we should have the opportunity to hear and debate them. Underhanded “private” remarks to Ministers, purporting to represent the views of the majority, are not in the best interests of the region.

Peter Wooding