Original Article : “Wairoa Star” – Thursday 26th March 2015
‘Nash Notes’ – Stuart Nash Labour MP for Wairoa/Napier writes :
Last week KiwiRail announced it would not allow the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council more time to develop its business case for the reinstatement of the Napier-Gisborne rail line. This is a shame.
I have long argued that first-world infrastructure is vital to attracting downstream processing to the East Coast as well as taking logs off the roads. In the end, however, KiwiRail’s decision apparently came down to a lack of clear revenue projections. This basically means there are not enough customers prepared to sign up to the rail service to ensure its financial viability and minimise the financial risk to the ratepayer.
So the challenge now exists for those pushing for the reinstatement of the line to go out and sell its benefits to potential customers.
I am one of these people who have pushed hard and advocated strongly for the rail line to be reinstated and so I will be talking with people like regional council councillors Alan Dick and Fenton Wilson to see if there is anything I can possibly do to help facilitate this process.
Other options put forward for the line are simply not realistic. A group that wants to turn 30km of the line into a road has underestimated the cost of such a process by a factor of ten – instead of costing around $60 million, the cost would be closer to $600m. And no government is going to stump up with that amount of money even if there was to be a by-election.
The idea of a cycle track is just barmy to the point when a parliamentary select committee (dominated by National MP’s) took about five minutes to turn down a request to investigate the feasibility of such an idea.
My view is still that we absolutely need this line in order to have an integrated transport network that incorporates road and rail (not one or the other) – however, the challenge is to sell this concept to those who will use it. I believe those who are intimately involved with getting this project off the ground will get there – because this is the right thing for our electorate and those who call Napier and Wairoa home.