Napier-Gisborne rail line closure taskforce
A joint taskforce between the central government and the local governments of the North Island east coast's Tairawhiti region will look at future transport infrastructure needs.
The decision was announced today by Transport and Economic Development Ministers Gerry Brownlee and Steven Joyce.
The government has come under political pressure to require the loss-making state rail operator, KiwiRail, to keep open the rail link open between Napier and Gisborne instead of closing the little-used line down.
Among arguments for maintaining the line is the so-called "wall of wood" which will require transport and processing when large-scale 1990s era plantation forests start to be felled.
The taskforce will involve the Gisborne, Wairoa, Napier and Hastings local authorities to create "a broad and deep study of the region's economic potential over the next 30 years and appropriate transport infrastructure that would service that", Mr Brownlee says in a statement.
"This is about planning for the decades ahead rather than confronting issues on an ad hoc basis as they arrive in a region everyone agrees has great economic potential."