That’s the message from KiwiRail concerning the Napier-Gisborne line, with the railroad currently losing money on every train. In addition to these operating losses, which cannot continue much longer, about $15M will need to be spent on infrastructure maintenance and improvements over a 10 year period.
That’s the bad news.
The good news, as reported by HB Regional Council chair Alan Dick, is that KiwiRail and the region’s political and business leaders seem to be on the same page regarding the economic potential for the line if a full-court press is made to develop additional freight and scenic travel business. For its part, KiwiRail is undertaking an intensive survey of past, present and potential future customers.
Out of a recent meeting of the region’s political, business and transport poobahs in Gisborne, organised by Chairman Dick, came agreement to set up a working party including the Hawke’s Bay Regional Transport Committee, its Gisborne counterpart, Napier and Gisborne Port representatives, the two Chambers of Commerce, and other targeted participants to work with KiwiRail over the next three months on strategy and feasibility.
In his article in the current BayBuzz Digest, Bay Transport Choices Under Threat, Alan Dick makes the case for revitalising the rail link. His conclusions:
- We must maintain choice in land transport modes;
- We need rail to keep competitive pricing pressure on road operators and vice versa;
- Economic development opportunities will be compromised without rail;
- Safety on the Napier/Gisborne road will be more and more compromised with more and more trucks.