Editorial: Possibilities may await down track

By Doug Laing

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Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott was right when she said no one would be happy about the closure of the Napier-Gisborne railway line.

No one is, and it probably includes KiwiRail, or KiwiDerail as one commentator put it, perhaps unkindly.

After all, KiwiRail's job is running trains, although anyone tracking the issue might, like the conductor in our favourite children's radio story, be somewhat skeptical about whether the wheels are actually falling off, as opposed to the Government simply cutting the supply which keeps them turning.

It's hard to imagine nothing will happen on the railway line and strangely enough, it is not hard to imagine that something will happen, and it will have something to do with trains.

It's merely a question of who will come to the rescue, for that's what happens in the nostalgic dream worlds evoked since the first experiments with steam locomotives took place well over two centuries ago.

One possible answer came in the on-the-hoof ponderings of Ngati Kahungunu Iwi chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana yesterday, that at least iwi and hapu should be having a korero with MPs and Government ministers.

His people's communities have had an inseparable relationship with the iron horse since tracks were forged across their lands and through isolated communities which then provided the labour force to maintain them.

While freight and the quantity and frequency thereof has been the leading tool of the railway defender, there is now some opportunity to think outside the square, and come up with a few ideas of a tourism nature, for if nothing else, while the railway seems to be going nowhere, the tracks still go places. Many are so remote as to be almost unknown to mankind.

It could yet be that the railway does open up the east, if those who are usually in for a bit of a fight are prepared to go a round or two for another cause.

On one hand, the Friends of Marineland seem to have lost a battle which had significant nostalgic aspects, and common ground as we all would have loved continuing to see those beautiful dolphins, as much as we would love to see the trains, but thanks to decisions at Government level, it just wasn't going to happen.

They wouldn't even have to change the letterheads much, apart from a little anagrammatic tinkering. For "Marineland" read "Demand Rail".

More nationally, which is where the railway battleground exists, there will have been a few things learned from the recent and ongoing debate over water running under the bridge that could be used to effect in determining what shall be done with the rail running over it.

Sure as Thomas is a tank engine, there are some issues as to who actually owns the railway corridors of the nation anyway.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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