Thar she blows

from the Gisborne Herald – Sat 14th Nov 2015

Wa165 is now central to attracting cruise ship visits.

The steam train carried excited young passengers and adults to Muriwai and back yesterday in a trial run

preparing for an influx of cruise ship visitors and other potential rail travellers from next week.

Another trip was made today, reserved for volunteers, sponsors and businesses that have helped to get

the train back on track. Firing up the historic locomotive again and taking her down the line was a special

moment for the skilled volunteer army who are continuing the work on Wa165 and her carriages begun by a

dedicated crew back in the 1980’s with the aim of creating something special.

Wa165 is now a central figure in our tourism profile, a key feature for attracting cruise ships visits. She is

pictured as it rumbled across the Waipaoa bridge during the tail end of the southerly weather yesterday.

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Gisborne Herald” also reported today with resumption of cruise ship visits to Gisborne this Wednesday 18th,

will see nine “Golden Princess” ship visits, along with one “Sea Princess” and one “Marina” ship visit each, and

two visits by the smaller “Coral Discoverer” this summer season. Wa165 will operate two trips on those days.

 

Footnote:   Interestingly, Tv1 “Seven Sharp” programme last evening had a good news story about Wa165 steam

train and Gisborne-Muriwai section of railway line being back in operation by Gisborne City Vintage Railway.

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Rail service viable and essential

from Hawke’s Bay Today – Tues 20th October 2015

by Alan Dick

“The immediate challenge however is how to handle the “wall of wood” from the Wairoa forest”

In your article “Nash talks up re-opening of rail link” (Monday, October 19), MP Craig Foss, as a determined opponent of rail,

is quoted: “The evidence was that the line was hardly being used before the washout.” He added: “Businesses were choosing not

to use the line and had been choosing not to for many years.”  He is wrong.

In fact, in the immediate period leading up to the washouts, three or more fully loaded trains were moving squash and other

products from Gisborne to Napier Port – and demand was such that double the number of trains could have been running except

that KiwiRail could not provide the required locos, wagons and drivers.

What had happened?  From 2010, all Hawke’s Bay and East Coast MP’s, with the exception of minister Foss, had been urging

businesses to use rail. Correctly sensing demand, KiwiRail spent $300,000 to lower the bed of three tunnels, to finally enable full

capacity 40ft high-cube containers to be carried on the line.

Then entrepreneurial Gisborne-based transport operator Steve Weatherell (running 80 trucks nationally) took the opportunity as

a freight forwarder to shift his customers’ product from road to rail.

For his customers, a smooth, damage-free ride for their sensitive product and direct movement of full containers from packhouse

to portside without repacking or double handling.

For Weatherell Transport, better service for their customers and avoiding a difficult road.  For Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, dual

transport mode choice, reduced heavy traffic congestion on a difficult route, and consequently safety and environmental benefits.

What a tragedy when the washouts struck in March, 2012.  Avoidable with proper attention to culvert and drainage maintenance,

had the line remained intact KiwiRail would have now had a fully viable rail business with all the resultant environmental and economic

benefits for our region.

That takes us to today.

The Gisborne container freight market potential remains and, in fact, will grow with a wood processing hub to be established.

Gisborne Port is a specialised log exporter but is unlikely to ever attract export container ship calls.  Napier is the logical container

destination, being closer than Tauranga.

The immediate challenge, however, is how to handle the “wall of wood” from the Wairoa forest harvests, which will ramp up

dramatically over the next few years. Not including logs, which will continue to move by road to processors like Pan Pac, Wairoa

export log harvests will move from 323,000 tonnes next year to a million tonnes and more from 2020.

Forest managers believe that conservatively half of that volume can, and should, move by rail from a log hub at Wairoa to

Napier Port.  there will still be plenty of work for truckers, moving logs on short trips from the harvest sites to the log hub and

carrying extra volumes direct to the port.

There is a viable business for a rail operator on the East Coast line, based initially just on Wairoa logs alone but with

heritage steam tourism and Gisborne container potential. KiwiRail have at least two such proposals on their desk.

And the worst case outcome?  KiwiRail rejects the rail freight proposals in favour of a lease to cycle or golf cart tourism promoters.

The then consequence of State Highway 2 having to handle quadrupled log volumes will be heavy traffic congestion from a road

transport industry with insufficient capacity to cope, the road being wrecked, tragic deaths and injuries from accidents, and game-

-changing opportunity for the economic and social development of northern Hawke’s Bay lost forever. It can’t be allowed to happen.

 

* Alan Dick is a Hawke’s Bay regional councillor, former Napier mayor and is chairman of the Hawke’s Bay regional transport committee.

 

Nash talks up reopening of rail link

Original article From Hawke’s Bay Today 

Mon 19th Oct 2015

by Sophie Price

Napier MP Stuart Nash is keeping the possibility of the Napier-Gisborne rail reopening on track, having recently had talks

with KiwiRail.  He used the time to argue why the link was important to the region, encouraging KiwiRail to explore all options.

“KiwiRail listened,” he said.  “What they will do is they will look at the facts and they will make a decision that they feel is

best for their organisation, for the country and for the region.”

The link is currently up for debate with the transport SOE still considering tenders from tourism or freight rail operators

interested in running services on the line.

A spokesman for KiwiRail said it was not considering resuming services on that part of the network.

“However, we are still working through the evaluation process in regards (to) the tender (process) and will make an

announcement in due course.”

Napier-Gisborne Railway Ltd director Ian Welch said while he could see the line opening up in the future, current Government

policy appeared not to favour reopening.

NGRL was formed some time ago to facilitate the reopening of the Napier-to-Wairoa rail line, then eventually the Wairoa-to-

-Gisborne section.

Mr Welch said the section of the line between Napier and Wairoa had suffered the least damage and could be reopened

with little capital required.

“Rail is probably the most efficient way of moving the northern forest logs to port.  Also it lessens the number of trucks

and potential road fatalities.”

Tukituki MP Craig Foss said the evidence was that the line was hardly being used before the washout.

“Businesses were choosing not to use the line, and had been choosing not to do so for many years,” he said.

“I would be very concerned if the people of Hawke’s Bay were exposed to this as both taxpayers and ratepayers.”

One body that has put a tender in to provide a service on the Napier-Gisborne line is the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC).

Last year the council set aside $5.46 million to potentially part-fund the resurrection of a freight service on the line.”

“HBRC submitted an alternative proposal, not a compliant tender, involving a potential contract between HBRIC (Hawke’s Bay

Regional Investment Company) and/or Napier Port and KiwiRail,” said Liz Lambert, HBRC interim chief executive.

“To date no response has been received from KiwiRail.”