Wairoa District Council will continue to fight for the Napier-Gisborne railway despite KiwiRail’s intentions to close the line.
The Mayor and Councillors met with the company’s chief executive Jim Quinn yesterday to discuss the ramifications of the railway’s closure, making it clear that council believe that the line is deserving of more time to prove itself economically viable.
Director of Wairoa’s Clyde Lumber, John Ebbett, said his business was currently using the railway line to transport 22,000 tonnes of timber per annum from Wairoa to Huntly which was an example of how valuable the network is to the local economy.
One of the key discussion points was that KiwiRail is charged with taking care of the national rail network and should be looking at the bigger picture by keeping that network together, rather than eliminating large stretches of it.
Of particular concern was the fact that there was still plenty of untapped economic potential in the area, such as oil and gas exploration, and taking away a significant transport link could reduce the appeal of taking these opportunities further.
Council argue that State Highway 2 will suffer from the increase in freight traffic, which will eventually hit the pockets of tax payers.
Support was also expressed for northern neighbours, Gisborne, and the heart they have shown in their opposition to the rail closure, noting a shared concern about the effects on local employment.