Wairoa rail-hub a key benefit

Source: Wairoa Star – Thurs 6th November 2014

A Wairoa-based inland hub would bring significant benefits to the district, Napier-Gisborne Railway Short-line

Establishment Group chairman Don Selby told the region’s leaders at Tuesday’s rail corridor meeting in Wairoa.

He confirmed three private forestry companies want their logs weighed, scaled, and measured in Wairoa and

transport by rail to port. Mr Selby proposed the main traffic from Wairoa would be logs from private logging

companies to the port of Napier in the short-term, and Gisborne in the medium-term.

“Scaling and measuring the logs in Wairoa gives the private forestry companies an advantage as graded logs

could go straight to the port,” Mr Selby said.

Resurrecting the rail line also favoured future tourism ventures from both the Gisborne and Napier steam train

operators and cruise ship market. Mr Selby said there was great tourism potential with passenger services alongside

the freight and links to boutique accommodation in the region, mountain biking in the Wharerata hills, hiking in the

Mahia Peninsula, fishing and historic and cultural trails and a rail cart tourism operator who was also interested in using

the line.

The company was organising private investment funding to complement the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment.

The designate chief executive was Neil Buchanan, a civil/mechanical engineer who was employed by KiwiRail for 40

years at senior levels.

Mr Selby said the line was an asset to the region and once pulled up it would never be replaced.

He speculated the railway would quickly become profitable with freight volumes quickly rising from 250,000 tonnes

to over 400,000 tonnes per annum within six years.

If the cost of repairing the washouts was excluded, it would break even in four to five years.

The consortium had gained independent specialist advice on the condition and estimated costs of work needed for

the track, bridges and other infrastructure. Once repaired the line would need catch-up work in culvert and drain clearing,

spot sleeper replacement and forward planning for risk resilience, but was otherwise in sound condition for the next 10

years. There would be a gradual increase in maintenance needs over the following 10 years to address aging infrastructure.

The group sees the Napier Gisborne Railway as a regional venture providing improved transport infrastructure for forestry

and primary produce and was part of a growing worldwide trend of regional short lines serving businesses in their local


Long standing rail supporter Steve Weatherell of Weatherell Transport, Gisborne, said when the line was damaged it was

running at half its potential and could have been running six trains a week with the coming squash season.


Bid to build support for rail venture

TRYING TO GET trains on the rail: Working hard to reopen the Gisborne to Napier rail line are, from left, Napier-Gisborne Railway Shortline Establishment Group chairman Don Selby, Gisborne City Vintage Rail chairman Geoff Joyce and other shortline group members Graeme Carroll, Steve Weatherell, Dean McQuoid and Neil Buchanan. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

The following Article appeared in the Gisborne Herald Thursday, October 23, 2014 by Debbie Gregory.

Original Article Here

Bid to build support for rail venture
Thursday, October 23, 2014
by Debbie Gregory

BACKERS of a shortline rail company are looking for support from Gisborne people as they continue to battle to get KiwiRail to allow them to use the mothballed line between Gisborne and Napier.

Last week four of the six directors and the chief executive of the Napier-Gisborne Railway Shortline Establishment Group spent a few days here talking to business leaders and Mayor Meng Foon to get more support from this end.

All directors, except for Gisborne’s Steve Weatherell, are from other parts of the country and came to Gisborne to “connect” with people here.

They are all rail enthusiasts with backgrounds in rail and business.

The Gisborne to Napier line was mothballed after storm damage two-and-a-half years ago. Since then at least three interested parties have approached KiwiRail to lease and operate the line for freight and tourism ventures.

But KiwiRail still will not commit to when a decision will be made about who, if anyone, will be granted the lease to resurrect the line.

Shortline rail group chairman Don Selby said they had been working on the concept for the past 20 months.

“It has been a long process with a lot of difficulties,” said Mr Selby.

The shortline rail company is backed by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, which has allocated establishment funding towards the railway reinstatement.

Mr Selby said he was still confident the required $10 million to $13 million to become fully operational could easily be raised from private investors.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) has earmarked $5.4m for the project in its annual plan. It would lease the line from KiwiRail, then lease it to the shortline company.

The shortline rail company plans to cart logs from Wairoa and any other freight in and out of Gisborne and Napier.

They are also considering tourism services including adding a passenger carriage to freight trains.

Initially they would get a train up and running between Wairoa and Napier and hope to have that in place by the middle of next year. Gisborne would be added to the mix before next Christmas.

The group wants to work with the Gisborne City Vintage Railway, which is staying positive that Wa165 will run excursions again.

They are waiting for bridge repairs and a decision by KiwiRail on who will be granted the lease.

Another rail user the shortline group wants to work with as complementary is an alternative form of rail cruiser tourism business, which offers motorised karts that travel on the lines.

“There are many potential users of the track and we want to dispell the impression that other options are out the window. Some are not OK because we can’t have people randomly walking on the track,” said Mr Selby.

The NZTA is supportive of the group because there would be fewer big trucks on the struggling state highway.

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon said he met with the directors of the company seeking the District Council’s support.

“They told me that HBRC is keen to see the dropouts fixed and no funding from the Government is needed. We talked about other opportunities of the rail corridor.”

Mr Foon said from his seat as Mayor, he could not commit any ratepayer money to the railway line.“I do support their enthusiasm and wish them luck though.”

The group will write to ask for support in principle from the council.

FRONZ & Taieri Gorge Railway Endorsments

The Napier to Gisborne railway holds a special importance for many of our members as a very scenic and historic railway with potential for tourism operations. Our mainline operators have in the past, run regular and successful charters and excursions on the Napier to Gisborne railway line which has the potential to increase if the line is reopened.

The Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand (FRONZ) must stress the importance of retaining railways in the regions for tourism and regional growth and this line has vast potential for both tourism and freight.

Grant Craig
Federation of Railway Organisations of NZ



We hope for the region of Hawke’s Bay that every consideration is given to reopening and operating the railway which in the future has so much potential for growth. The railway gives the region an alternative to road, tourism opportunities and the means to transport bulk amounts of the regions resources to the port and further afield.

Taieri Gorge Railway proves that a council controlled company with good management and backing can operate a successful railway for the benefit of the region, The potential of the Napier to Gisborne Railway Line in freight and tourism cannot be overstated and can have significant flow on effects to the local port, businesses and accommodation.

Murray Bond
Chief Executive Officer
Taieri Gorge Railway

Thank you KiwiRail

The Napier-Gisborne Railway Shortline Establishment Group appreciates the regular KiwiRail checking of the line and clearing of a number of slips and drains over the last several months.

Gisborne Rail Action Group Presentation

Thank you to the Gisborne Rail Action Group for this Power Point presentation on the economic opportunities that a revived rail infrastructure might have for the region.



New Zealand First Supports The Napier Gisborne Line

New Zealand First and Winston Peters Transport Policy underlines the need for Rail.

Quotes of interest include:

  • “The Napier-Gisborne line will be back in business with New Zealand First.”
  • There Will Always Be A Place For Rail”
  • “Transport is vital as it is fundamental both for a well-functioning society and a thriving economy.”
  • “Our policy will guide transport planning and investment, with the goal of building an integrated transport system.”
  • “Our transport policy will give rail a real and valued role in the total transport mix.”
  • “Among the first projects funded under RONI will be the restoration of the Gisborne-Napier line.”

You can view NZF’s transport policy here 

Support The Line!

This line is a strategic link from Port of Napier to Wairoa and Gisborne for both timber and produce for export markets as well as general goods.

This asset should not be lost to the Hawke’s Bay region, as once pulled up, it will never be replaced.