7 Sep 2012

Council to keep fighting to keep rail connection open

10:33 pm on 7 September 2012

KiwiRail says it expects a government decision soon on the fate of the railway line connecting Napier and Gisborne.

Gisborne mayor Meng Foon says the council has not yet given up on the freight rail route and held a meeting on Friday to discuss its future.

The northern section of the rail route has been closed for nearly six months after being badly damaged in a storm.

A business case published on KiwiRail's website says the line will not be viable for the foreseeable future and should be mothballed, but the mayor says his council disagrees.

Mr Foon says local businesses would use the freight route, and KiwiRail is looking at a gold-plated maintenance standard for it - which is unnecessary for the sort of weight it would have to carry.

KiwiRail says the line was losing $2.4 million a year - even with the patronage of Gisborne businesses - and would need significant upgrades if freight was to be increased to make it viable.

The mayor says the council wants to ensure that KiwiRail has passed all the information it has on the matter to the Government, so it will send requests to both under the Official Information Act.

Mr Foon says that will allow the council to check the figures and make sure it has covered every argument possible.