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Group wants rail action

Original Article : NZ Herald Monday 30th March 2015

Supporters of the Napier-Gisborne railway line’s re-opening rallied together for a “save the rail” march in Gisborne at the weekend.

Ken Crispin, manager of the Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre’s East Coast Transportation Project, said about 90 people marched to the railway station on Grey St, Gisborne, on Saturday, in a show of support for rail services to resume on the mothballed line.

“Though [the march] was only attended by 90 people it was a passionate event with placards everywhere, and solid support for our rail services to resume,” Mr Crispin said.

The line was closed in 2012 following a washout and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council approached KiwiRail last year to discuss the possibility of leasing it to set up a short-haul freight service.

An initial council study concluded there was probably a viable business case for running a log transport business between Wairoa and Napier Port. But this month KiwiRail said it would not extend a March 1 deadline it set last year to finalise a lease agreement with the council.

“Gisborne, Wairoa and Hawke’s Bay people need to send the strongest message possible to central government ministers, that the rail is a billion dollar strategic asset essential for the district to retain, with direct government assistance needed to re-open it.”

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