Focus on the Land
Open up rail operations
Monday, October 29, 2012
There has arisen an incongruous situation with two major land slips that have affected Hawke’s Bay.
Clearing the Manawatu George collapse of August of 2010 has been a major engineering exercise costing millions of dollars. The repair of the road was never in doubt and the full effort of Government was immediate.
In a similar situation, the rail link between Gisborne and Napier was severed with a smaller but equally disastrous land slip. However, the only action was to complete the political process to close the rail link. Instead of repairing the line for $4 million, the road link is to be given this funding.
In both situations, the transport link severed left a large region with low-quality alternatives that could equally be severed with one major weather event.
If the Government made the decision that only one freight operator could use the roads, the outcry would be huge and rightly so. So why do they decree that only one freight operator can utilise the rails? That one operator has thrown in the towel and wants to concentrate on easier alternatives.
The maintenance of road and rail links is a government responsibility and to walk away from part of that responsibility is an admission of an inability to protect the “level playing field” that is so often harped on about.
The use of these links is the responsibility of private enterprise. If KiwiRail does not have the wit to make a profit out of the exclusive use of the full rail network, then it is time to permit other operators to use the rails.
Perhaps owner drivers of locomotives and local freight operators can make a dollar where the Auckland-based KiwiRail executives cannot.
GRANT ANCELL Taradale
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