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Rail opinions published over the past few months:
* June 6 – the article from BERL (professional, highly-regarded business and economic researchers), which stands by the research behind its report, compiled using professional input from “qualified and respected engineering and track consultants”, KiwiRail engineering staff, and with senior KiwiRail representatives scrutinising.
* The informative article in the July 25 Weekender, “Repair needed . . . not a rebuild”, gave specific details of problem areas, referencing BERL recommendations and costings for each of these.
* Numerous letters from NZ and overseas, many professional, and many from the rail industry (past and present) pointing out the value of rail, the anomaly of current profit measurement, and identifying “impossible” engineering feats successfully completed in other countries.
* There have also been letters against restoration of the rail. Most seem unfortunately ill-informed. M Goodley has obviously put much time and thought into this, but the points raised are all considered in the report, by BERL staff and paid professional advisers.
The repair cost was calculated as simply that — a repair of the existing line, which would adequately serve the purpose of business case proposals. The estimated cost is $36 million, including contingencies. A further $5m to $7m is estimated to be required over the next 10 years.
KiwiRail's CEO changed the basis from repair to rebuild, say $2m would be needed for another report. Despite this, he then stated the cost would be $100m-plus.
Ken Ovenden, (July 27 letter) states $200m-plus.
These are huge and unsubstantiated jumps.
Other relevant facts:
* GDC resolved to support rail.
* Our Labour list MP gave support to rail provided there was a good business case (there is).
* NZ First leader agreed to support rail.
* A number of councillors were elected based on their stated support for rail and the environment.
* The Green Party states firm support for reinstatement of the line.
It is extremely difficult to understand why, with the available facts and the level of formal and informal support, this project hasn't been approved — along with other substantial spending for future-proofing with economic, environmental, training and employment benefits.
This article first appeared on www.gisborneherald.co.nz
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