Railway's fate to be discussed

By Corey Charlton

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Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson is speaking to KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn today after major land slips earlier this week damaged parts of the Napier-Gisborne railway line, casting doubts over its future.

Mr Wilson has supported Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon's request that KiwiRail consider all options before considering permanently closing the line, and urged Hawke's Bay's mayors and leaders to do the same.

The Napier-Gisborne railway line had previously been earmarked by Transport Minister Steven Joyce as one of four railways that could be mothballed, after losses of well over $2 million a year.

Mr Wilson said he supported the repair and reinstatement of the railway.

"Rail plays an important role in servicing Northern Hawke's Bay and Hawke's Bay Regional Council certainly supports the repair and reinstatement of the line."

In the meantime he would support calls for the development of a freight hub in Wairoa to keep freight moving.

"The freight could continue to be transported by rail from Napier to Wairoa and then by road further north while all the options are being explored and a solution is found," he said.

It was hoped a report on the damage to the railway line would be available today, KiwiRail spokeswoman Jenni Austin said.

Considerable damage had been found along the line between Wairoa and Gisborne, with a 3km section through the Wharerata ranges just south of Beach Loop, between Gisborne and Wairoa, hardest hit.

The scale of the damage meant KiwiRail had to explore various options on how the line could be repaired and the costs involved.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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