Foon takes rail petition to Parliament

By Amelia Romanos

Gisborne Mayor, Meng Foon has taken his rail petition to Parliament. Photo / NZ Herald
Gisborne Mayor, Meng Foon has taken his rail petition to Parliament. Photo / NZ Herald

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon has taken his city's plea to save its railway line into his own hands, travelling to Parliament today to appeal to the Government.

Mr Foon presented a petition with more than 10,000 signatures to Cabinet Minister and East Coast MP Anne Tolley, telling her that Government support for the region's transport was crucial.

The Gisborne to Napier rail line was already under review by KiwiRail when slips caused by heavy rain at the end of March forced it to close.

KiwiRail has said it will cost up to $4.3 million to fix the slip damage, but other maintenance work required on the line had to be factored into considerations about whether to do the repairs. A decision is expected this month.

Mr Foon said the city would struggle to do all freight travel with trucks if the line did not reopen,

"The roading costs will be horrendous, and we need to be competitive," he told APNZ.

"We need line security and transport support from central Government ... we hope the current Government will listen to our call, and we think we deserve transport options to be saved."

Mr Foon said Gisborne's business community had worked hard to increase the freight travel from five wagon loads a week to 60, and it was important for him to come to Wellington to represent them.

Accepting the petition, Mrs Tolley said she understood the importance of ensuring secure transport links for the region.

"You're a critical part of New Zealand's economy, and I'm happy to forward this petition to the House," she said.

Along with Mrs Tolley, Labour, Green Party and New Zealand First MPs turned out to watch the presentation today, and Mr Foon said it was pleasing to see broad support for the cause.

Labour's Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Parekura Horomia said export was huge part of Gisborne, and getting transport organised as soon as possible was essential.

- APNZ

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