Speakers to debate future of rail line

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A high-powered panel of speakers will debate the future of rail in Northland at a public forum on Monday.

Organised by Grow Northland Rail, the public meting at Forum North was called after KiwiRail announced last month Northland's sole surviving railway line is to be mothballed north of Kauri, saying it is no longer viable.

The North Auckland rail line starts in Auckland and passes through Helensville and Whangarei to the dairy plant at Kauri, ending at a log loading yard at Otiria, near Moerewa, but leaked documents show KiwiRail plans to mothball the section north from Kauri in September. The only customer north of Kauri, the woodchip company Marusumi, was informed its contract would not be renewed after August because of poor commercial returns and "life-expired wagons".

Speakers at Monday's meeting are Northland MP and NZ First leader Winston Peters; Labour's Te tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis; National's Whangarei MP Shane Reti; Green's transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter; KiwiRail asset manager Dave Gordon; Rail and Maritime Workers Union general secretary Wayne Buston; Former Far North mayor and businessman Wayne Brown and Jon Reeves, from Better Public Transport.

Meeting organiser Alby Barr said the meeting would discuss the need for integrated management and funding of rail, road and shipping in Northland.

Mr Barr said the meeting would also discuss the need for a rail link to Marsden Pt.

-The meeting is in the Capitaine Bougainville Theatre at Forum North from 6pm.

- Northern Advocate

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