24 Jun 2010

KiwiRail vows to explore all freight options for line

6:13 pm on 24 June 2010

KiwiRail's chief executive has made a commitment to explore all commercial possibilities for putting more freight on the Gisborne-Napier line, before deciding on its future.

Used by about two trains a week carrying agricultural supplies, the line is running under its capacity.

Chief executive Jim Quinn told a meeting in Gisborne on Thursday that the line is not commercially viable at the moment.

But he says KiwiRail is prepared to flush out any business opportunities, with possible products being logs, milled timber and aggregate.

Last month the company announced that four regional lines could be closed or mothballed by 2012.

Mayor happy with outcome

Gisborne mayor Meng Foon, who hosted the meeting, was happy with the outcome, saying he is realistic that KiwiRail can't keeping running the line at a loss but hopeful that freight will increase in the near future.

The mayors of Wairoa, Napier and Hastings and business leaders also attended.

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council has said that the proposed development of a wood processing facility by Hikurangi Forest Farms will lead to more use of the line.

Council chairman Alan Dick, who was also at the meeting, says that Hikurangi will produce about 200 containers of product a week and that keeping the line running will be vital.

The Hawke's Bay leaders' group says economic development opportunities would be lost if the line closed; it also has safety concerns about overloading the Napier-Gisborne highway with trucks.