Patience is wearing thin amongst regional leaders and rail supporters as the Minister of Transport refuses to set a date to meet with Mayors and business owners from Hawkes Bay and Gisborne.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule yesterday said he was still waiting to hear from Gerry Brownlee’s office on a date for the Minister to meet with East Coast leaders.
Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie said he had received an email from the Minister’s office saying Mr Brownlee was too busy to meet.
“I never asked to meet with the Minister, I was simply asking them to hurry up and find a day that suited Mr Brownlee as the original request was lodged back in November and they’re still fluffing around.”
Mr Caddie said while doesn’t hold out much hope that the Minister will offer a sympathetic ear, the meeting was required to discuss the findings of the BERL report and ask the Government to at least fund a regional impact study if they decided not to support reopening the rail link.
“Basing their decision on the KiwiRail business case – which BERL has shown is a lot better than KiwiRail or the Government claimed – is a bit like asking a local freight company if they want some remote roads in the district to remain open.” said Richard Burke, General Manager at Leaderbrand, a major horticultural exporter in Gisborne. “Many other local business owners have shown there has been a negative impact on local companies and local jobs as a result of this decision that the Government is responsible for” said Mr Burke. “The process and the information informing the decision is deeply flawed.”
Mr Caddie said of twelve sections of the railway network mothballed since 1991, KiwiRail has only reopened one six kilometre stretch near Whanganui.
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- Waitoa (10km) – mothballed 1991, reopened 2004 by Toll.
- Onehunga-Onehunga Wharf (1km) – mothballed 1992, closed & lifted 2007 by Ontrack.
- TePapapa-Onehunga (1.5km), mothballed 2007, reopened 2010 for Auckland Transport.
- Makaraka Branch (3km) – mothballed 1995, not reopened.
- Otiria-Moerewa (2km) – mothballed 1995, closed & lifted 2008-2010 by KiwiRail.
- Waitara Branch (7km) – mothballed 1999, leased/sold to heritage operator.
- Taneatua (26km) – mothballed 2001, not reopened.
- Rotorua (48km) – mothballed 2001, not reopened.
- Gracefield (3km) – mothballed 2002, not reopened.
- Nightcaps-Ohai (7km) – mothballed 2009, not reopened.
- SOL (143km) – mothballed 2009, leased to FWA 2012.
- NGL (210km) – mothballed 2012, not reopened.
- Castlecliff (6km) – mothballed 2001, first 3.5km reopened 2011.
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Richard Burke – 021444439
Manu Caddie – 0274202957