KiwiRail announced this week that it will close the railway from Gisborne to Napier. Heavy rain in March last year washed out 3km of railway line. The line has not been repaired partly because it was difficult to reach. KiwiRail decided that it would cost $4m to repair the line and $8m to keep it open each year. There is not enough freight every year to pay for this cost. This line has run at a loss of $2.4m a year for some time.
Meanwhile a report by Business and Economic Research Ltd (BERL) said that the KiwiRail figures are wrong. It would not cost so much.
The Gisborne mayor said the railway line to Napier is very important to the economy of Gisborne. Most of the freight is from forests. Trucks instead of trains now transport logs to ports for shipping overseas. Logging trucks on the roads cause damage to roads. Trains are better for carrying heavy loads. Trucks also make it difficult for other vehicles on the road to Napier, which is steep, winding and narrow with very few places for cars to pass.
The Gisborne mayor also believes that passenger rail could be used by tourists; however, there have been no passenger trains for many years. Gisborne is a beautiful city with a warm climate but it is difficult to travel there because of the geography of the area. It is hilly with many forests. Air travel to smaller cities is quite expensive.
Listen to March 6th 2010 to hear more about the future of railways.
• washed out – land under the railway lines disappeared down the hill
• reach – get there
• freight – goods carried on trucks, trains or planes
• logs – cut tree trunks
• vehicles – e.g. trucks, cars, motorbikes
Idioms to learn
• washed out
• it is difficult to …(verb)
• run at a loss
• very few – not many