Labour pledges to re-open rail line
Labour in government will re-open the Gisborne-Napier rail line due to be closed under National, the party’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says.
An independent report by economic consultants BERL casts doubt on the analysis used by KiwiRail to justify the mothballing of the line.
“KiwiRail’s business case for the closure is utterly inadequate and falls way short of a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, something a Labour government would carry out and which I am confident would justify the line’s re-opening,” Phil Twyford said.
“National doesn’t give a damn about the affected communities, and is content to sit on its hands while Gisborne loses a vital economic lifeline.
“It is wasting billions of dollars on its ‘motorways of madness’ but cannot find $4 million to fix slip damage to this rail line.
“Shutting the line is typical of the short-termism National demonstrated with the closure and sale of the Hillside rail workshops. The BERL report shows that National is blind to the wider economic costs and benefits, just as it was at Hillside.
“The line should be reinstated now for $4 million. It will never be cheaper. The longer you leave it, the more expensive it will be to re-open it.
“This whole issue demonstrates National’s double standard when it comes to road and rail: KiwiRail’s inadequate business case justifying the line closure falls well short of the benefit cost analysis required of roading projects. On the other hand, if the Government applied the same narrow financial analysis to half the country’s roads they would be mothballed too.”
Mr Twyford said the BERL report noted annual freight volumes only needed to reach 180-200,000 tonnes per year for the line to be profitable. Current volumes of 44,000 tonnes showed that growth from local horticulture and forestry would bring the target within reach and this would justify future re-opening.