KiwiRail Wants to Boost Gisborne Branch Line

The NZ Herald reports:

KiwiRail is optimistic that a rail line it runs one train a week on can be improved at minimum cost to carry higher containers and attract new business.

The Napier-to-Gisborne line is a marginal branch line on which KiwiRail makes a loss.

Given its scenic location it is an obvious candidate for a cycleway to boost tourism at a time when the Government is investigating an idea of a national cycleway.

KiwiRail was pleasantly surprised when a Gisborne Herald online poll was 62 per cent in favour of keeping the line for freight and steam excursion trains, with 27 per cent in favour of operating a cycleway and excursion trains.

“We run one train a week because we don’t want to not run a service, but we run one train a week and lose money,” said KiwiRail’s commercial general manager Aaron Temperton.

KiwiRail will soon run a trial on the line to identify how much work is needed to be able to put high-cube containers on the line. They are 2.9m high. Work on the network in the lower North Island in the last year or so has removed blockages to such containers.

The new business KiwiRail is eyeing includes the proposed Hikurangi Forest Farms veneer and plywood mill, which has resource consents, and could be operating by late 2011 as well as other forestry industry clients…

Good to see KiwiRail taking measures to counter the threat of branch line closures.

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