Maori Party’s IwiRail could bring trains back

Central Leader - - SITUATIONS VACANT - HENRY COOKE

The Maori Party want to build a new ‘‘IwiRail’’ rail­way net­work for both freight and tourism in New Zealand’s re­gions - start­ing with Gis­borne.

The party’s co-lead­ers an­nounced the pol­icy at Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

It would ini­tially con­sist of a re­vi­talised rail net­work around Gis­borne, which cur­rently has no di­rect rail con­nec­tions af­ter the line to Napier was moth­balled in 2012.

The net­work would sup­port both tourism and freight.

‘‘IwiRail would take over the leases or key re­gional lines, and work with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and Iwi to build new rail in­fras­truc- ture which is able to com­pete ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently against other trans­port modes,’’ co-leader Marama Fox said.

The net­work would be de­vel­oped as a pub­lic-pri­vatepart­ner­ship, with the Gov­ern­ment con­tribut­ing an ini­tial $350m and iwis and lo­cal busi­nesses stump­ing up more cap­i­tal.

Fox said con­nect­ing Gis­borne back to Napier would only cost about $6.5 mil­lion.

The rest of the $350 mil­lion could go to­wards ex­plor­ing other re­gions and pos­si­bly new lines.

Labour trans­port spokes­woman Sue Moroney said Labour sup­ported rail de­vel­op­ment in the re­gions but doubted the Maori Party would be able to con­vince Na­tional to in­vest.

ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Marama Fox said the Maori party want to build a new IwiRail net­work across the coun­try.

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