Rail potential part of NZTA research

Source : Gisborne Herald March 11, 2017 10:50AM

Rail transport will be ‘looked at’.

AN NZTA bureaucrat has told the regional transport committee that rail transport will be looked at in actions the NZ Transport Agency is taking in support of the regional economic plan launched in Gisborne last week.

NZTA acting director for regional relationships for the lower North Island, Lisa Rossiter, was reporting to the committee on actions the agency would be taking to support the economic plan, including leading the development of an integrated transport priority plan for the Gisborne region.

Asked by Meredith-Akuhata Brown whether the integrated plan would involve talking with residents including those supporting a rail link, she replied “most definitely.”

The agency would also lead the investigation into upgrading inter-regional highway connections from the Bay of Plenty through to Hawke’s Bay for horticulture and tourism.

It would also lead the investigation into upgrading State Highway 35 and its connecting routes for forestry, tourism, and economically under-used land within the region.

It would contribute to delivery of training in lifelong employability skills, including driver licence mentor training. It would keep a watching brief on work to design and upgrade the Cook landing site and contribute to work to expand mobile phone coverage, she said.

The transport committee agreed to add three items worth $1.5 million included in the package announced by the Cabinet ministers to the regional land transport plan.

Upgrading

These were the upgrading of rest area facilities on State Highway 35 and the creation of five new ones, replacement of the Horoera Bridge on East Cape Road, and improving the connections between the Rere Falls Heartland Ride and the Motu Great Ride.

Graeme Thomson said meat processing should be added to the investigation into upgrading the State Highway 2 link from the Bay of Plenty for horticulture and tourism.

The district did not have a meat processing plant and that would be a bigger transport need than tourism or horticulture. Why would that not be included?

Committee chairman Bill Burdett said quite a lot of sectors that should have been interviewed in the preparation of the economic plan were not and that was probably why meat processing was not included.

The council’s new chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said the regional economic plan was a living document and this was something that could be added into it. There were a number of other transport options that had the potential to unlock more funding through the plan.

Mr Thomson said this was one of the first things that should be added to the plan — “Let’s do something about it.”

Sam Aberahama asked why the transport committee had not been involved in preparation of the regional economic plan.

Ms Thatcher Swann said the process was that this was a business-led plan. A lot of it was embargoed until the release. Even the councillors had not seen the plan until probably a week before its release.

The committee eventually agreed to add the words livestock and other economic initiatives to horticulture and tourism in the development of a business case for the upgrading of State Highway 2.

KiwiRail expected to decide on rail next year …

(“Gisborne Herald” – Fri 23rd Dec 2016)

 A decision on what is next for the Wairoa-Gisborne section of railway line is expected to be formalised in the first three months of the new year.

KiwiRail last month announced it was looking for “innovative tourism ventures” that would make use of the mothballed line and a KiwiRail spokesperson has confirmed that the deadline for expressions of interest in the Wairoa to Gisborne section of the Napier-Gisborne line closed at 2pm on Wednesday.

“KiwiRail are in the processes of reviewing the submissions and will announce the outcome of the tender in the first quarter of 2017.”

The company had previously stated it was looking for ventures that would help grow the region and retain critical track infrastructure without requiring any capital expenditure or maintenance.

In 2012, the Napier to Gisborne line sustained severe storm damage and the line was mothballed for safety reasons.

An earlier request for EOI’s for the full line from Gisborne to Napier 18 months ago attracted considerable interest.

KiwiRail has already reached a commercial agreement with Napier Port to run a dedicated log service on the Napier-Wairoa section of the line.

It also agreed to a deal with Gisborne City Vintage Railway to operate a steam engine on the Gisborne-Muriwai section. That means the full line is no longer available.

Local consortium

At least one proposal to use a section of the mothballed Gisborne to Wairoa line was from a locally-based consortium.

Gisborne Rail Co-operative (GRC) Steering Group interim chairwoman Nikki Searancke said the group was pleased to have submitted a proposal to KiwiRail.  The GRC proposal incorporated commercial freight and tourism.

“We support Gisborne Vintage Railway which plays a key role in taking tours to Muriwai, and we are sure that tours to Beach Loop and Beyond would be an international winner.

“On the commercial freight side of Gisborne, there are more than 20 businesses that have indicated their need for full containerisation by rail out of Gisborne.

“Further, GRC welcomes the support of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and transport committee to the GRC proposal. “We are very pleased that the submission by their committee chairman Alan Dick supports us. “They also need to carry freight from Kopuawhara to Napier.”

Qualified support for rail

source : Gisborne Herald

Published: February 18, 2017 9:58AM

Regional council says GDC needs to invest.

A Gisborne consortium working to reopen the mothballed Gisborne to Wairoa railway line would be likely to receive backing from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council — but HBRC says Gisborne District Council also needs to stump up with investment first. That is something Mayor Meng Foon says he does not favour.

In December, KiwiRail accepted three expressions of interest to operate the line, including one from the Gisborne Rail Co-operative (GRC) that would combine short-haul freight and tourism uses.

Following a presentation from the group this week, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Corporate and Strategic Committee recommended that the regional council should send a clear message that it continues to support efforts to get the Wairoa to Gisborne section of the Napier-Gisborne line reopened.

GRC interim chairwoman Nikki Searancke said a joint approach between the regional council and Gisborne District Council was vital.

“That’s really what we went down to Hawke’s Bay for. We went to seek their co-operation to do this next stage. We recognise that HBRC have been very successful in working with KiwiRail, so we’re keen to work with Hawke’s Bay.”

Gisborne Rail Co-operative (GRC) made a presentation to the Corporate and Strategic Committee meeting asking the council to make a joint approach to KiwiRail for consideration of GRC’s proposal to reopen the Gisborne end of the Napier-Gisborne line for freight, as well as for tourism services.

HBRC contribution contingent on GDC money

The committee recommended that HBRC continue to offer its support for the preservation and preferably the restoration of rail freight options for the Wairoa to Gisborne section of the Napier-Gisborne rail line. Committee chairman Neil Kirton told GRC members that a business case was urgently needed for reopening the Wairoa to Gisborne rail line and it was essential that Gisborne District Council show its support for the proposal.

If GRC could get a commitment from the District Council to put some money towards developing a business case, then HBRC would also consider contributing some money.

Councillor Alan Dick told the meeting that HBRC’s Regional Transport Committee would hold its regular meeting in Wairoa on March 10. The visit was part of a commitment through ‘Matariki – the Hawke’s Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy’ to improve road transport options north, and rail would certainly be on the agenda.

The Napier to Gisborne line has not been used since it was damaged in 2012. Last year KiwiRail reached a commercial agreement with Napier Port to repair the Napier to Wairoa section to run a dedicated log service. It had earlier agreed to a deal with Gisborne City Vintage Railway to operate a steam engine on the Gisborne-Muriwai section, ending at Beach Loop.

Ms Searancke said she was encouraged that GDC councillors had attended a rail forum last year.

“So I’m extremely pleased that they did go to the forum and I think they will support us when we go to GDC and put our presentation to them.”

A decision on the future of the line is expected by the end of March.

Government should pay: Foon

However, Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon said while the topic could be discussed again at council meetings, it had been the council’s view that the Government should be the one to pay to fix the line, since the Government owned the line.

“We have enough projects to pay for in our own district, such as roads, stormwater, Waipaoa flood control and much more. I won’t support ratepayer money for the railway line. My personal view and my lobby to the Government and KiwiRail is to fix the line — if not, then make a rail trail.”

Mr Foon said it was “frustrating” that the region had lost out on “four years of employment and investment” due to the delay in restoring the line.

Using the rail corridor to establish a rail trail between Gisborne and Napier airports could provide a project that could transform the region, he said.