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Statement Supporting Gisborne City Vintage Railway

Statement Supporting Gisborne City Vintage Railway Society

The Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand says its member, Gisborne City Vintage Railway Society is being used as an unfortunate pawn in efforts by Tranz Rail to seek subsidies for track upgrading work on the Gisborne to Napier railway.

Not for the first time, the Society’s superbly restored steam locomotive Wa 165 and its train was last weekend restricted from accessing the line beyond Muriwai, a poor substitute for the renowned scenic destinations of Beach Loop or Opoutama.

According to Tranz Scenic, who arrange the special charters for the Vintage Railway Society, Tranz Rail had issued instructions that passenger trains were not to be permitted beyond Muriwai during the winter due to instability of the ground and track. The Federation noted however that the company had previously permitted such trips with the added protection of a preceding track patrol (at the expense of the charterer) and there seemed no good reason why that could not have continued on this occasion, especially since the company was running up to three freight trains a week over the same section of line with no different risk to its locomotive crews.

“Tranz Rail have been after a subsidy for repairs to this line for some time” said Trevor Burling, President of FRONZ, adding that “it seems like no coincidence that this latest slap in the face for the fortunes of the Gisborne society was timed as Transfund once more delayed a decision on paying subsidies” (this time due to the withdrawal of the application by Regional Councils due to the tussle going on for the ownership of Tranz Rail).

”The Gisborne City Vintage Railway has been denied the opportunity on a number of occasions in recent years to turn their entrepreneurial attraction into a self-sustaining long-term project by generating enough cash to maintain these superb assets”, Mr Burling said, concluding that “Tranz Rail do not appear to be following agreed procedures”.

Issued by:

Trevor Burling
Federation of Rail Organisations on NZ Inc
9 The Companionway

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