Group raising cash for Gisborne rail study
Sun, 07 Oct 2012 8:11p.m.
A group trying to convince KiwiRail to rebuild the Napier-Gisborne rail line is halfway towards raising $10,000 for an independent economic study of the line.
State-owned KiwiRail last Tuesday announced it would not try to reopen the 212-kilometre line – closed after a storm in March washed out several bridges – because it would cost $4.3 million to repair and then lose up to $8 million a year.
But a number of Gisborne residents say it is closing an economic lifeline to the isolated East Coast city, and that upgrading the state highway as the Government has promised is not the solution.
Gisborne councillor Manu Caddie is trying to raise $10,000 for an independent economic analysis of the rail line by Business and Economic Research Ltd (BERL).
On a Facebook page dedicated to saving the rail link, Mr Caddie says they have raised more than $5000 in 24 hours, but they need to raise the remaining money by Tuesday.
"The line is a community asset and is of strategic importance to the future of horticulture, forestry and other industry in the Gisborne, Wairoa and Hawkes Bay regions," he said.
Mr Caddie said he was confident an independent report would show the line was viable.
Gisborne resident Bob Hughes, now 80, says closing the line would be disastrous.
"I saw the first train come into Gisborne and I don't want to see the last," he told media.
The proposed closure is the latest blow for New Zealand's rail network, which peaked at more than 5500km in 1953 but has shrunk to less than 3900km.
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