Three parties say fix rail

Source: The Gisborne Herald – November 3, 2016

NZ First, Labour, Maori Party cite growth, jobs, safer roads.

Leaders of two political parties — including the Government’s coalition partner — along with Labour’s shadow transport minister will be in Gisborne next week to speak about the benefits to East Coast Maori of reopening the Gisborne to Wairoa railway line.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox and Labour Party transport spokeswoman Sue Moroney will address a rail forum to discuss progress towards the repair and reopening of the Gisborne-Wairoa section of the line.

The forum will be on Monday at Te Tini o Porou Conference Centre, Kaiti from 9am to 5pm.

Although the Government has said it would not be economically viable to reopen the line, Ms Fox says she believes reopening the line to Gisborne to be “crucial” for the region’s economy.

“The Maori Party is an independent voice in Parliament and we do disagree with the National Party on many things. However where we can, we work alongside the Government to make gains for whanau. I am committed to supporting a stronger and healthier road and rail network on the East Coast. Since I came into Parliament in 2014, I’ve engaged with community groups and worked with the Minister of Transport to upgrade both road and rail across the East Coast.

“It’s great to see the Napier-Wairoa line reopening and, while we’ve made gains in upgrading our roads, I want to see similar commitment to our rail line north of Wairoa. There are significant volumes of goods and materials produced on the East Coast which, in turn, provide jobs for our whanau. In order to grow the local economy for our whanau, we need a strong and diverse infrastructure to get goods to market. Investment in key rail lines such as the Napier-Gisborne line north of Wairoa is crucial to ensuring viable economic growth.”

Expected increases in truck volumes over the next decade required significant funds to maintain road quality and road safety, Ms Fox said.

“I want to see safer roads and healthy communities on the East Coast, and rail provides that alternative option. Given the state of State Highway 2 and the impact continuous heavy trucking will have on this road, I am of the view that this — combined with the potential jobs growth to come out of utilising both rail and road transport for getting logs from forest to port — is crucial for the future development on the East Coast.”

The Napier-Gisborne line was mothballed at the end of 2012 after the line was badly damaged in the Beach Loop area by a storm earlier that year. KiwiRail and Napier Port intend to reopen the line between Napier and Wairoa next year. Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Peters told The Gisborne Herald that KiwiRail’s plan to re-open the Napier-Wairoa rail line showed the National Government’s desire to “run down rail” was wrong.

“KiwiRail has succumbed to pressure and with Napier Port will restore the line — but it’s a job half-done. Now KiwiRail must go to the next stage and reactivate the line between Wairoa and Eastland Port at Gisborne.”

It had been known for a long time that huge volumes of logs would have to be taken out of Wairoa and that if the rail lines were not in use, this would present major problems on East Coast roads, he said.

“Like all provincial roads, they are under strain from lack of funding. Washouts through flooding were just used as an excuse to mothball the Napier-Wairoa line and the Wairoa-Gisborne line. Work will now have to be done to upgrade the Napier-Wairoa line, which would not have been necessary had sanity prevailed and it had been kept in use.”


KiwiRail Must Also Re-Open Gisborne-Wairoa Line


Rt Hon Winston Peters


Thursday, October 6, 2016 – 14:15

KiwiRail’s plan to re-open the Napier-Wairoa rail line shows the National government’s desire to run down rail is wrong, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland Member of Parliament Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“KiwiRail has succumbed to pressure, and with Napier Port will restore the line but it’s a job half-done, now KiwiRail must go to the next stage and reactivate the line between Wairoa and Eastland Port at Gisborne.

“The government must make this achievable.

“It has been known for a long time that huge volumes of logs will have to be taken out of Wairoa and that if the rail lines were not in use, this would present major problems on East Coast roads. Like all provincial roads they are under strain from lack of funding.

“Washouts through flooding were just used as an excuse to mothball the Napier-Wairoa line and the Wairoa-Gisborne line. The closures are just more examples of the National Party perverting sound provincial economics.

“The very idea we can transport any cargo by road, in the volumes necessary, just shows how out of touch the National Government is.

“Work will now have to be done to upgrade the Napier-Wairoa line which would not have been necessary had sanity prevailed and it had been kept in use.

“The agreement to reactivate the line is still dependant on Napier Port approving KiwiRail’s predicted cost to restore the line.

“It’s the government’s blunder in allowing mothballing of the whole line and Transport Minister Simon Bridges should step in with the resources to re-open it,” says Mr Peters.

Wairoa to Napier rail on track after deal with Napier Port

(“Wairoa Star” – Thurs 6th Oct 2016)

Cost dependent, plus new log hub for Wairoa


The Wairoa to Napier rail line is back on track following a commercial agreement between KiwiRail and Napier Port.

A dedicated log service will run from Wairoa to Napier Port from the end of next year and subject to Napier Port approving KiwiRail’s updated forecast cost for restoring the line to service.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson understood the agreement between the two organisations was to be signed this morning.

Part of the operational arrangements is a log hub in Wairoa to store logs as they await transport to the port.

Mr Wilson said operational arrangements and details around the hub, including employment opportunities, are still to be confirmed.

“This is huge for our town, log volumes coming out of local forests plus anything off the roads has got to be a good thing.

The result is the end of a long series of discussions and I am thrilled we have got there in the end. I’ve been pushing to re-open the rail since the washout. We didn’t believe mothballing was the right course of action with the forestry that was about to come on stream.”

“While the regional council has championed this outcome for many years the final series of negotiations is a commercial arrangement between KiwiRail and Napier Port,” Mr Wilson said.

The Napier-Gisborne line was closed in March 2012 following a series of dropouts in the Wharerata’s after a heavy rain event.

The line was mothballed in December 2012.

KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy is pleased to see the return of commercial rail services in the region.

He said the re-opening is a boost to business growth in the region and KiwRail is delighted to be able to support date.

“We had always signalled the line could re-open in the future, as long as there was sufficient freight volume available to support rail operations and the necessary investment in infrastructure was made.”

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council interim chief executive Liz Lambert is delighted to see a rail freight option return to northern Hawke’s Bay.

“The community regularly gave us feedback supporting this line being reinstated. It makes perfect sense to see this arrangement sit commercially between Napier Port and KiwiRail.”

Napier Port CEO Garth Cowie is pleased to see the line return to operation. “Napier Port is a critical gateway for the central North Island and ensuring we have the right transport links in place is a crucial factor in moving East Coast export products to world markets.”

“The East Coast region is expecting a considerable increase in log exports from late next year, with significant volumes forecast to come through Eastland and Napier Port,” Mr Cowie said. “The increasing long term log volumes from Wairoa will stretch the capability within the wider region to transport logs in a reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly manner, and the reopening of the rail link will enhance transport options for our log exporters.”

The Wairoa log service will initially run over the weekend, with two services eachSaturday and Sunday. The service will complement the utilisation of the rail capacity which Napier Port has already committed to in the central North Island with its dedicated weekday log service from the Whanganui, Palmerston North and Woodville areas.

Forest Management NZ Ltd manage the Roger Dickie forest syndicates, which collectively have more than 11,000 hectares within the greater Wairoa area.

Forest Management and joint chief executive Steve Bell says his company has been in support of the Napier-Wairoa rail link reopening since its closure in 2012.

“With harvest volumes coming on stream, the rail link will provide Forest Management New Zealand with greater options while strengthening links direct to the port.”

-ends –


*Forest Management NZ told Radio NZ this morning, they plan to use Napier-Wairoa rail link indefinitely because of increasing large volume logs that will be ready for harvest in coming years commencing later next year.


Footnote:  The heavy rain event in Wharerata’s which caused slips and washouts occurred on 25th March 2012 resulting in mothballing of Wairoa-Gisborne rail link initially, while the Napier-Wairoa rail link was mothballed from February 2013 onwards after last freight train ran from Napier to Wairoa return on 4th December 2012.

Wharerata railway being secured

Gisborne Herald – Wed 29th June 2016

by David Stokes

Gisbornites who have been dismayed at the ongoing neglect and preventable deterioration of our iconic Wharerata rail section.

On Friday I spent the day in the company of two middle management KiwiRail staff as they inspected the line. With the help of this uncanny dry weather, they have completed the reopening of a dangerous blockage at Wharekakaho (the stream at the northern end of Beach Loop).  A lake had formed and posed a real risk of carrying away 80 metres of rail embankment.

More than this, they are in the process of removing a large volume of timber and silt that has accumulated while the water tunnel was blocked, and would otherwise form a new blockage. They have exposed the remnants of the protective cage at the water tunnel entrance and intend to repair it and reform another log trap up-stream. (This work is hugely significant as it has been a real worry in terms of getting our historic train back up to Beach Loop).

Due to budget constraint from above, this new work programme is restricted to the prevention of new damage – not the repair of older damage that has stabilised and appears unlikely to deteriorate further. They assessed other dangerous blockage situations in the region of the Kopuawhara monument which were immediately added to this current work programme, along with the appropriate repair of their inlet cage structures.

A good clearance of the watertables along Beach Loop has been done and similar work is intended south down the Kopuawhara Valley.

A commitment to more intensive regular monitoring appears to have surfaced from this but I got the impression that more intensive oversight of the activities of forestry companies and farmers by the two regional councils involved was thought to be solely lacking, and was a major concern for those staff in KiwiRail tasked with maintaining rail structures.

~David Stokes

KiwiRail works on slips and culverts that threaten line near Beach Loop

Gisborne Herald   Wed 29th June 2016

by Andrew Anton

A combination of slips, blocked culverts, heavy rain and forestry slash resulted in a lake forming at the Wharekakaho Stream at the northern end of Beach Loop on the Gisborne-Napier rail line last week. It threatened another blowout on the mothballed line but KiwiRail staff have now rectified the situation.

“We anticipate being there for another two to three weeks,” a KiwiRail statement said. “At present we are clearing a blocked culvert and have also undertaken drainage maintenance at points through this section.” “There are some slips which we will work our way through over the next two to three weeks, as well as clearing and cleaning of culverts. The causes of slips and culvert blockages range from rain events to slash and scrub run-off into the culverts.”

Gisborne resident David Stokes, who observed the work, said it was good news that the iconic Wharerata section had been savedfrom what was becoming a “dangerous” situation.  “A lake had formed and posed a real risk of carrying away 80 metres of rail embankment.”

The Napier-Gisborne line was mothballed in 2012 after the line was badly damaged in the Beach Loop area by a storm.  In 2014, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council set aside $5.46 million to potentially part-fund the resurrection of a freight service between Napier and Wairoa on the line.

KiwiRail is still working through matters surrounding a potential sale or lease agreement with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.



HBRC and KiwiRail negotiating Napier-Wairoa rail

HBRC Media Release 29 April 2016

HBRC and KiwiRail negotiating Napier-Wairoa rail


Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is entering into contractual negotiations with KiwiRail to re-establish a Napier- Wairoa rail link.

HBRC has completed a feasibility study on a proposed log freight rail service.

Following a public excluded meeting on 20 April, the regional council decided to enter negotiations with KiwiRail for the rail company to operate a log freight service between Wairoa and Napier on behalf of HBRC.

HBRC will also be negotiating with customers who could benefit from a rail service through to Napier and the port. The funding of track maintenance would be the responsibility of the regional council.

“The Council has taken into consideration the large quantities of timber coming from forest harvesting in the Wairoa District over the next two decades,” said Chairman Fenton Wilson.

“We will be expecting a return on our investment over the life of the resumed service.”

The rail connection was mothballed in December 2012 following major washouts on the line, and the subsequent cost of repairs.  Following this, in 2014, HBRC allocated $5.46 million to potentially underwrite a freight service.

Firm rail commitment needed.

Nash Notes’ – Stuart Nash Labour MP Wairoa/Napier

from the Wairoa Star – Thurs 14th April 2016

I am an active supporter of re-establishing the Napier-Gisborne rail link, and have been ever since it washed out in 2012.

There are a number of reasons for my stance an this issue, but fundamentally I believe the East Coast needs a fully integrated transport infrastructure to maximise our region’s potential over the coming decades.

It’s not a case of road versus rail, but rather both operating together in order to meet different needs of the various users.

I envisage a significant increase in south-bound rail demand as, for example, processed timber and fruit products head south in shipping containers to the Port of Napier (the Port of Gisborne is not set-up for containerised shipments).

So the time is fast approaching when the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council either has to make a firm commitment to the Napier-Gisborne rail link and go hard to secure the rights to lease the tracks and find a credible operator with the appropriate rolling stock – or simply give it away in the knowledge the first major winter storm will probably wash out even more of the track, given that the significantly–reduced maintenance programme has failed to keep it in any sort of shape, and therefore renders the rail uneconomic to ever repair.

If the rail line is allowed to disappear into history my concern is companies that require a first-class rail network to transport goods to a port won’t even consider Gisborne, Wairoa or anywhere in close proximity to locate a value-added plant.

My other concern is there is a growing perception that the regional council has spent so much time, energy, money and resources on the Ruataniwha dam project that they have taken their eye off other key regional projects. I certainly hope this is wrong.

Let’s hope a workable solution is found that benefits everyone – but particularly our region.

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.



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.



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.”