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." 


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Growing up in Gisborne, I frequently used the railcar service to go South and the railcars were more often than not well patronised.

That aside, with Poverty Bay being a region of orchards, wineries, vegetable production and forestry why would the government not keep such infrastructure?

The road south is not a road heavy haulage vehicles should be using. The Whareratas are a huge challenge to upgrade because of the nature of the terrain. Gisborne is 'ringed' by sea and mountainous terrain.

The region has a high unemployment rate and as such has a great pool of labour resource. Put receivers of the dole into work parties to get out there and reconstruct the damaged sections of that line. In fact, have them maintain the line also.

Let's as a country begin to get a return on this enormous social welfare cost. After all, if I don't get out of bed and go to work in my factory, I don't get paid or, worse still, don't have a business to pay my loyal workers.

Wake up, Gerry Brownlee, this is not 'rocket science'. Make some hard decisions and put that dormant 'workforce' to work. I am over paying for the increasing number of bludgers to sit on their a*se while the rest of the country pays for them. Here is a brilliant opportunity to be proactive in getting a return for our money. The dole people may even gain some self worth along with some skills.

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It is imperative the govt looks at the long term and the now of maintaining this vital link. Why are not avenues being explored for the huge tourist potential the line provides? The vista along this line is among the finest in the world. A daily tourist train between Napier and Gisborne certainly during the summer months, should be on the agenda, not to mention the wall of wood soon to require transportation.

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