Firm rail commitment needed.

Nash Notes’ – Stuart Nash Labour MP Wairoa/Napier

from the Wairoa Star – Thurs 14th April 2016

I am an active supporter of re-establishing the Napier-Gisborne rail link, and have been ever since it washed out in 2012.

There are a number of reasons for my stance an this issue, but fundamentally I believe the East Coast needs a fully integrated transport infrastructure to maximise our region’s potential over the coming decades.

It’s not a case of road versus rail, but rather both operating together in order to meet different needs of the various users.

I envisage a significant increase in south-bound rail demand as, for example, processed timber and fruit products head south in shipping containers to the Port of Napier (the Port of Gisborne is not set-up for containerised shipments).

So the time is fast approaching when the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council either has to make a firm commitment to the Napier-Gisborne rail link and go hard to secure the rights to lease the tracks and find a credible operator with the appropriate rolling stock – or simply give it away in the knowledge the first major winter storm will probably wash out even more of the track, given that the significantly–reduced maintenance programme has failed to keep it in any sort of shape, and therefore renders the rail uneconomic to ever repair.

If the rail line is allowed to disappear into history my concern is companies that require a first-class rail network to transport goods to a port won’t even consider Gisborne, Wairoa or anywhere in close proximity to locate a value-added plant.

My other concern is there is a growing perception that the regional council has spent so much time, energy, money and resources on the Ruataniwha dam project that they have taken their eye off other key regional projects. I certainly hope this is wrong.

Let’s hope a workable solution is found that benefits everyone – but particularly our region.

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