Rail supporters band together

By ALISTAIR GRAY

Railway enthusiasts will be using Napier's Art Deco Weekend to promote the tourism potential of the at-risk Gisborne to Napier rail line.
The rail line, which only carries one freight train per week, is at risk of being mothballed by 2012.
Enthusiasts say this will be a great loss to the region and they will be running a vintage train from Napier to Gisborne during Deco week to highlight the lines scenic and tourist potential.
Steam Incorporated has arranged for a vintage diesel-hauled train with a capacity of 450 passengers to travel from Napier to Gisborne and back on Friday, February 18.
Hawke's Bay Railway Action Group spokesperson Richard Sceats said he hoped as many people as possible will come and show their support for the rail line when the train departs from Napier Railway Station at 7.30am.
A band will be playing when the train arrives in Gisborne and the group hopes the public there will also come and show their support for the railway.
Opposition leader Phil Goff and other MPs, including Green MP Gareth Hughes, are expected to join the train ride to show their support for the cause.
"MPs, mayors and councillors have been invited to attend to lend their support," Mr Sceats said. "Some will be travelling to Gisborne where a similar rally will take place."
Supporters will be asked to sign a petition in support of keeping the rail line open.
Last year KiwiRail said the decision to close off the railway hinged on the building of Hikurangi Forest Farms' proposed timber plant, citing them as a potential anchor customer.
The building of the plant has been indefinitely delayed.
No final decision to retain or close the line has been made.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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