2 Apr 2012

Councils lobby over Gisborne-Hawke's Bay rail line

1:18 pm on 2 April 2012

Gisborne and Hawke's Bay councils are keeping pressure on KiwiRail and Government ministers to re-open the Napier-Gisborne railway line, because of the impact it's having on regional economies.

The line has been out of action since storm damage last month caused washouts along a three kilometre stretch between Gisborne and Wairoa.

KiwiRail and the Government are considering whether the line should be repaired or shut permanently.

Gisborne mayor Meng Foon is lobbying the company and government representatives to keep it going.

He says businesses have been increasing their use of rail to freight goods and produce to and from the region.

The firms include squash and corn growers freighting produce to the container terminal at Napier, a Wairoa timber company using rail for processed wood shipments and the Ravensdown Fertiliser co-operative sending increased volumes of fertiliser to the Gisborne region by rail.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson is supporting Mr Foon's campaign.

He says he's deeply concerned about the effect the current state of the Gisborne to Napier rail line is having on activities at the Port of Napier and freight movements in Northern Hawke's Bay.

In the meantime, he is supporting calls for the development of a freight hub in Wairoa to keep rail freight moving between there and Napier while the future of the line is being decided.