Labour’s promise to reopen Gisborne-Napier rail line

Labour’s Phil Twyford has issued a statement on the Gisborne-Napier rail line that has been cut off by a major slip.

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.

A clear promise to reopen 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.

A promise based on inadequate information and prior to a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis.  Labour have pledged to reopen the line regardless of what costs and benefits are determined.

“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.

It won’t be reinstated now. It will take time for Labour to do a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, so even if they get back into government after the 2014 election by the time they reopen it the cost will be an unknown amount higher.

And if Labour do lead the next Government they will be in a coalition witgh Greens, plus possibly NZ First and the Maori Party. So they would need to get possibly several parties agree to reopen the line.

So this isn’t a pledge that can be taken as a genuine promise.

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.

Current volumes are about a quarter what the BERL report says would be required to make the line profitable. That means volumes would have to increase FOUR TIMES for it to be profitable.

Tywford either thinks volumes can be quadrupled (he doesn’t say how) or he doesn’t think it is necessary for the line to be profitable – that means it would be a substantially taxpayer subsidised rail link, on top of the cost of reopening the line.

I’ll ask Phil Twyford to clarify.

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