3 Apr 2012

Food sector backs moves to keep Gisborne rail line

6:38 am on 3 April 2012

Produce companies and food processors are backing a campaign to keep the Napier to Gisborne railway line operating.

The Government and KiwiRail are considering whether to repair the line or close it permanently after wash-outs put it out of action last month.

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon is leading lobbying efforts to re-open the line because of its economic importance to the Gisborne and Hawke's Bay regions.

Leaderbrand owner Murray McPhail says the closure could derail a pilot programme that's been running this year to send export products including squash, corn and processed foods by direct to the Port of Napier.

He says they have been able to use larger sized containers that make freighting by rail more economic than sending the goods by road.

Mr McPhail says the pilot programme was attracting greater use of the railway for freighting goods from Gisborne.

He says now it's back to using the road, while the Government and KiwiRail decide the future of the line.