Cash support for review of rail report

By Gisborne Herald staff

Opposition to the Government's decision to shut the Gisborne to Napier rail line is gathering momentum.

Nearly $8000 has been raised in two days towards the target sum to pay for an independent review of the KiwiRail report used to justify the closure.

KiwiRail confirmed last week the line would close, saying it was not economic to fix after it was severely damaged at Beach Loop in March.

KiwiRail said there were major infrastructure issues and $6 million a year would be needed to keep it open.

However, railway supporters say the decision was based on inaccurate economic data. They have raised close to the $10,000 needed for an independent economic analysis.

Campaign leader and Gisborne district councillor Manu Caddie said the figures used to justify the closure did not ``stack up''.

He is confident an independent report will show the line is viable and there is a good economic case to keep it open.

The line was an economic lifeline for the district, he said.

Gisborne resident Bob Hughes said it would be heartbreaking to see the rail line close.

``I saw the first train come into Gisborne and I don't want to see the last,'' the 80-year-old said.

Labour East Coast list MP Moana Mackey said it was hoped the report would force the Government to intervene in KiwiRail's planned closure.

``If KiwiRail's figures are shown to be wrong, then the Government needs to step in and keep the line open.''

Mr Caddie said the response to the call for support had been overwhelming.

``This is not just a Gisborne issue, we have had some huge donations from all over the country - many New Zealanders are as angry about this decision as us.''

The group has released its initial assessment of the KiwiRail report and says that even if conservative freight figures are used, the future for the line looks secure.

``Based on this initial analysis, we are keen to get independent experts to have a close look at the KiwiRail figures and also an engineering second opinion on some of the claims made in the report.

``Of course, there are also wider economic impacts that KiwiRail should consider as a State Owned Enterprise, such as the loss of tourism and potentially much higher costs of freight, should the rail not be available. It would have been good to see some of those included as well,'' said Mr Caddie.


- Hawkes Bay Today

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