19 Feb 2015

Gisborne business hoped for rail line extension

2:01 pm on 19 February 2015

A Gisborne horticulture industry leader is disappointed that a proposal to reopen part of the Napier to Gisborne railway line would not include that region.

But he said it was still better than nothing at all.

Hawkes Bay and Gisborne interests have been lobbying for the reinstatement of the line since Kiwirail mothballed it after storm damage put it out of action in 2012. It estimates the cost of repairing the damage between Wairoa and Gisborne would be $4 million.

In the latest development, Hawke's Bay Regional Council is considering a proposal to lease part of the line from KiwiRail to move logs from Wairoa to the port at Napier.

The Gisborne produce company, LeaderBrand, had started sending squash and sweetcorn by rail to Napier for export before the line closed.

General manager Richard Burke said while it will keep pushing to have the full line re-opened, having half a line is better than none at all.

"I think that it's great that the Hawke's Bay Regional Council is willing to look at a proposal that will at least give the line some hope of running again, because whether it's to Wairoa or to Gisborne, I think it's really important that the line gets up and running."

Mr Burke said if the proposal went ahead and the line stopped at Wairoa, it was unlikely to be any use to the Gisborne region.