(“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.
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.”