Back on track – First log train from Wairoa to Napier in eight years

Gisborne Herald January 28, 2020 12:04PM

Wairoa to Napier


For the first time in eight years logs are being railed out of Wairoa, with Kiwi Rail expecting immediate benefits for the town and potential future benefits for the East Cape logging industry.

A loaded log train left Wairoa for Napier Port on Sunday after the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund invested $6.2 million to reopen the mothballed rail line which was closed after significant storm damage in 2012.

“If we are to avoid more logging trucks on the region’s roads, keep congestion under control and lower our transport emissions, rail is a necessity,” Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said.

Trains will run from Wairoa on Saturdays and Sundays, carrying 1400 tonnes of logs each weekend. More train services are expected as harvests increase.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little is thrilled to see the rail line back in use.

“This is a positive for Wairoa,” he said. “It will get logging trucks off the road, supports a Wairoa log yard and creates additional employment opportunities.”

Mr Little praised “the vision” of Mr Jones and the Government “for its investment in getting the rail line back up and running”.

“This Government has given areas like Wairoa the ability to believe in themselves again and has recognised the importance of rural new Zealand.

“Before this government, we were led to believe that living in rural areas was all doom and gloom. Now the regions are beginning to prosper and grow in confidence.

“It is not expected the rail will have a big impact on the roads initially but the rail option will hopefully reduce any additional logging trucks on the road and in the future my hope is that trucks will be carting from the Wairoa log yard and be based in Wairoa.”

Napier Port commercial general manager David Kriel said he was happy to see the first train pull into Napier port.

“KiwiRail has put in a lot of work behind the scenes to get the line running commercially, and it’s fantastic to see that work coming to fruition.

“It’s great to be able to assist in offering our Wairoa customers a safe, direct and sustainable alternative to trucking logs via State Highway 2. It will really help to unlock the economic potential of the Wairoa region.”

KiwiRail chief operating officer Todd Moyle said the public needed to be aware trains were once again operating on the line.

“Now our logging yard consents are in place, we will usually run two trains a week — on Saturdays and Sundays.

“With the track back in regular use, people travelling in the area will need to take special care around level crossings. Those crossing the tracks should expect trains at any time and from either direction.”

Initially, one of the main sources of freight on the line will be logs from local forests, bound for export through the Port of Napier.

Log export forecasts show a wall of wood will be ready for export within 18 months, and the volume of logs harvested will continue to grow over the coming years.

“So there is plenty of room for the services to grow,” Mr Moyle said.

“Growing thi s business will assist local businesses to harvest and transport large volumes of logs, help bring profitability to KiwiRail, benefit the East Cape region with less congestion and road wear and tear, and bring added benefits from lower emissions,” he said.

Last year a report from business and economic research agency BERL recommended the line be reinstated all the way to Gisborne at a cost of between $20 million and $23 million.

Gisborne Herald 18/12/2019 ‘REINSTATE RAIL LINE’

by Andrew Ashton

Published December 18, 2019 1:29PM Gisborne Herald.


The mothballed Gisborne to Wairoa rail line could and should be reopened at a cost of at least $20 million, a long-awaited feasibility study says.

Part of the Palmerston North to Gisborne line, the rail service between Napier and Gisborne was stopped in 2012 following storm damage. The section between Napier and Wairoa was reopened earlier this year following investment from the Provincial Growth Fund.

A new study from business and economic research agency BERL recommends the line be reinstated.

‘Reinstatement of the Turanga ki Wairoa rail line is feasible from an engineering perspective and there is sufficient freight for five trains per week.’ BERL research director Dr Ganesh Nana said.

The report found a one-off cost of between $20 million and $23 million would be required to make the line operational in the first instance.

Additional works to improve the resilience of the line to adverse weather events would cost an additional $5m to $6m.

Over the following 10 years, a further $5 million to $7 million would be required in additional bridge, tunnel and track works.

The report said to achieve opening for the 2021/22 summer horticulture and log harvest peaks, reinstatement work would have to begin by April.

The study did not focus on a direct cost-benefit analysis, favouring an approach that factored in ‘wellbeing’ impacts.

It found those wellbeing impacts would involve reducing isolation of communities and a reduction in fatal road crashes.

Economic wellbeing would be improved by transporting significant volumes of freight and developing tourism opportunities, which could also include cultural tourism.

The report said tourism and other associated activities could be developed around sites of significance only accessible through the rail corridor.

A full closure of the line would jeopardise access to those sites ‘which would degrade the level of cultural wellbeing of whanau, hapu, iwi and other communities of the Turanga and Wairoa districts’.

In addition, a repaired line could enable Gisborne City Vintage Rail to extend the distance of its trips onboard the historic Wa165 steam train.

It was also pointed out that a survey of Gisborne Chamber of Commerce members revealed 78 percent of businesses responding supported reinstatement. However, just 53 percent of respondents said they would use a rail service.

Forty-seven percent of businesses also wanted to see a passenger service.

The study concluded while commercial feasibility of the suggested service would need to be done in greater detail there was a ‘prima facie’ case established of the commercial feasibility of a reinstated rail service.

‘Consequently, our recommended option is for the community and associated stakeholders to pursue the reinstatement of the Turanga ki Wairoa rail line; to a resilient standard; to deliver regular containerised and log freight services; and to support tourism opportunities to be developed utilising the rail corridor.’

An appendix report prepared by Nikki Searancke focusing on the Tairawhiti community perspective (inclusive of hapu and iwi) said whanau, hapu and iwi supported the reinstatement of the Turanga-Gisborne ki Wairoa rail line and how to gain future ownership if the government and KiwiRail failed.

Tairawhiti Rail Ltd was also represented on the study steering group and representative Rick Thorpe said he was ‘very pleased’ with the recommendations.

‘The renaissance of rail as an integral component of a modern integrated transport system has been supported recently by the significant investment in new transport hubs and container terminals like Ruakura, Rolleston, Palmerston North and even Kawerau. Surely the exporters of Tairawhiti equally deserve a modern transport network that will reduce the cost of getting our products to market.’

‘We still have some number crunching to do but the preliminary costs suggest that rail will be the most cost-effective option to get containers to Port Napier and coastal shipping the most competitive to Port Tauranga. A win-win for our region.’

Mr Thorpe said it was now up to stakeholders to come together to push a ‘best for region’ approach.

‘Given the timing of the report’s release we will start lobbying for ministerial funding approval in the new year.

‘The ‘best-for-region’ approach is to ensure all of our region’s stakeholders are united in their support for this project and we are presenting a united front to ministers. Clearly we would like to avoid the ‘mixed message’ issue now that the study has been completed and its recommendations are clear.

‘This government has signalled a significant infrastructural spend next year and we believe this project deserves to be included in the regional rail funding allocation.’

Trust Tairawhiti chief executive Gavin Murphy said the trust, which also incorporates the region’s economic development agency, would work with interested parties where appropriate on the rail as part of best-for-region transport solutions.

‘As a member of the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan steering group, we will discuss best solutions for our local businesses. We are, however, mindful that this is government infrastructure, so we will want to engage with them and understand their views on the business case and the potential of reinstatement.’

Mayor Rehette Stoltz welcomed the report.

‘This is a valuable report which has clearly determined the feasibility of reinstating the rail line. It provides a strong case that doing so would help build resilience, address isolation, result in fewer truck movements on our roads and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

‘The estimated cost to reinstate to a resilient level could be up to $29 million, so this project would require significant investment from the Government and other key stakeholders.

‘However, given the many wide-ranging benefits for our region I am supportive of the findings and hope that central government and KiwiRail will look positively towards reinstating the line.’

KiwiRail capital projects chief operating officer David Gordon said KiwiRail was aware the report had been released and would study it carefully.

‘Until we have done that it would be premature for us to comment further.’

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said he would consider the report.

News Release – PGF BERL Tūranga ki Wairoa Rail Feasibility Study Recommends Rail Restatement for Freight and associated Rail Tourism

16 December 2019

The BERL Tūranga ki Wairoa Rail Feasibility Study Final Report that has just been released to the public recommends the best option is for the community and associated stakeholders to pursue the reinstatement of the Tūranga ki Wairoa rail line; to a resilient standard; to deliver regular containerised and log freight services; and to support tourism opportunities to be delivered utilising the rail corridor.”

In the summary the Feasibility Study has concluded that there are numerous environmental, social, and cultural wellbeing advantages in favour of the reinstatement option, over either the closure or the status quo options.

The Feasibility Study has included extensive consultation with the wider business and local community, including iwi and local government.  This consultation has shown significant business and community support for the reopening of the railway as part of providing improved transport services, particularly for containerised freight, for the Gisborne region.

The Report states that the current available transport options constrains the ability of the economy to develop and increase prosperity. There is significant growth underway with containerised export market products from horticulture and wood processing in particular. There is increasing concern about compliance with the increasing biosecurity requirements of export markets and the need to control container security by packing and sealing containers on site rather than in intermediary warehouses and similar facilities, often located in the Hawkes Bay.

The wider community is very concerned about the safety of road users and the higher level of road maintenance due to the increasing number of trucks on Gisborne roads, particular south to Napier.

It is feasible from an engineering perspective to reinstate the rail line.


There is sufficient demand for rail freight services to support a daily service of a 24 wagon train carrying containerised freight, supplemented by logs, 5 days a week.  With rail related tourism as an ancillary activity.


The Feasibility Study Report proposes an opening for the 2021/22 summer peak horticultural and log harvest peak season subject to work needing to begin by April 2020.

The cost of reinstatement is estimated at $20 to $27 million (one-off expenditure of $19.9 million to $23.3 million to reinstate to an operational level, plus additional works to improve resilience estimated at $4.9 million to $5.8 million).


With a further $5 to 7 million (range of $5.1 million to $7.2 million) to be spent over the following 10 years to ensure resilience of both the track and the track corridor so as to provide a higher level of resilience and longevity to the rail line.


This is very much a regional work project with the local employment and other benefits that flow to the local regional community from a project of this nature. With the work being able to be largely undertaken by local and regional contractors. The report states that these parties are capable of undertaking the reinstatement. There is no need for international consultants or contractors. 

Reinstatement of a rail freight service is expected to reduce the number of truck movements between Gisborne and Napier by 48 per day or 12,480 per annum with further reductions as freight increases over time.


The study demonstrates that the savings that accrue from the reduced number of truck movements (reduced road maintenance, vehicle accidents, CO2 emissions and lower freight charges for business) will offset the investment required within seven to eight years.


Tairawhiti Rail Limited, a Gisborne based non profit organisation entity, and Activate Tairawhiti, received funding from the Provincial Development Unit (PDU) to undertake a Feasibility Study concerning the possible reinstatement of the rail line between Gisborne and Wairoa.  The line from Wairoa to Napier was officially opened by Hon Shane Jones in June 2019.

The Wairoa – Gisborne Rail Feasibility Study was undertaken by Business and Economic Research Ltd (BERL) and a number of specialist subcontractors.  The completed Feasibility Study was delivered to the PDU on Friday, 29 November 2019.

This PGF BERL Feasibility Study Project was overseen by a Steering Group with representatives from regional business and tourism economic development organisations, local and regional government, and central government (PDU, MoT, KiwiRail and NZTA).

The Feasibility Study has focused on container based freight currently leaving Gisborne by road where either the freight generator (producer) or the freight forwarder has expressed a willingness to use a rail service.  There is sufficient containerised freight from these parties, supplemented with log wagons as required, to provide a sound basis to start with a 5 day a week train service.


Over the next five years significant projected growth in freight, particularly processed wood products and apples, is expected and may support a 7 day a week rail service.


Other producers of containerised freight wish to see a reliable and cost effective service in operation before providing freight for a reinstated rail service.


Inbound freight will be mainly empty containers but there is potential for other inbound rail freight such as roading material, fertiliser, and logs from Wairoa for processing in Gisborne.


There are also opportunities for Gisborne sourced freight to be transported across the rail network to other parts of New Zealand. We understand from trucking freight companies that there are shortages in both trucks and drivers to shift the freight by road.


KiwiRail has confirmed to the Study Team that this level of freight is able to be transported by rail at a competitive rate compared with current freight rates charged by local freight businesses, including the costs of road transport between the site of production and the rail yard.


The full Report is to be made available on the BERL website:

KiwiRail celebrates re-opening of Napier to Wairoa line

Original Article by Andre Chumko and Bethany Reitsma for on the 14th June 2019

Mervyn Smiley, an Eskdale resident of 25 years, has longed for the day when trains returned to the mothballed Napier to Wairoa line.

On Friday, that dream became reality as a brass band and haka welcomed Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones to KiwiRail’s depot in Ahuriri, near Napier Port.

After a short series of speeches, the minister and various other politicians including Napier MP Stuart Nash, Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri and National’s Lawrence Yule, joined the region’s mayors in boarding the carriages of the first train to make the first full trip between Napier and Wairoa since 2012.

Mervyn Smiley has lived in Eskdale for 25 years and has been waiting for this day for years.

Mervyn Smiley has lived in Eskdale for 25 years and has been waiting for this day for years.

There was plenty of fanfare, with locals waving up to passengers from their properties bordering the train line, excited to see the rail’s return.

The line was mothballed in 2012 following serious storm damage. Work to restore it to transport logs between Wairoa, where forestry is a major industry, and Napier Port was funded by the Provincial Growth Fund.

Among the politicians present were Napier MP Stuart Nash and Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.

Among the politicians present were Napier MP Stuart Nash and Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.

On the train, Jones held a press conference, where he described the day as a great one for Hawke’s Bay.

Jones said KiwiRail had had “so little for so long”, and the $6.2 million investment so far was a big deal, especially in relation to moving trucks off the roads.

It would also allow businesses to grow their logistics capacity, and boost exports.

The train stationed at Ahuriri before departing for Wairoa.

The train stationed at Ahuriri before departing for Wairoa.

“If we’re in for the KiwiRail journey, it’s a long-term journey. It’s about a nation building infrastructure at a time when there’s a lot of uncertainty about weather.”

And the “fiscal love” would continue to flow post 2020’s election, he said, forecasting “substantial amounts” being injected into KiwiRail.

On whether there was a possibility of extending the line to Gisborne, Jones said any business case would be pushing on an open door.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said it was a significant day.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said it was a significant day.

KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller said with work on the line finished, its next focus was on establishing a log-hub in Wairoa so it could begin running trains as soon as August.

“The amount of timber flowing from forests in the region is expected to quadruple in the next four years and to get all those logs to market will require all transport networks working efficiently together.”

He forecast up to six trains travelling the line per week, meaning about 5000 fewer truck journeys initially, and more than 15,000 as services increased.

The Deco Bay Brass group performed for Shane Jones upon his arrival.

The Deco Bay Brass group performed for Shane Jones upon his arrival.

Jones said local civic leaders – mayors, council chairs and MPs – who had lobbied him were to credit for the re-opening.

“This will substantially reduce their roading bill if they can move more heavy freight onto rail.”

Transport advocacy groups NZ Transport 2050 and the Public Transport Users Association said in a statement the previous Government underfunded the line.

Locals were waving at the train the whole trip, happy to see the line back in action.

Locals were waving at the train the whole trip, happy to see the line back in action.

“The loss of 20 fulltime jobs in Wairoa was a big hit for a small community. With the railway re-opening today it opens up opportunities for wood processors to again re-establish in the town,” Paul Miller, chair of NZ Transport 2050 said.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes said regional rail should be the backbone of the transport system for people and freight, and his party would like to see the line extended from Wairoa to Gisborne.

Hukarere Girls' College students performed a waiata for ministers and MPs upon their arrival to Eskdale, north of Napier. The train then departed for Wairoa.

Hukarere Girls’ College students performed a waiata for ministers and MPs upon their arrival to Eskdale, north of Napier. The train then departed for Wairoa.

This time . . . factoring in wellbeing

Original article by Andrew Ashton published in the Gisborne Herald 16 june 2019.

Dr Ganesh Nana leads feasibility study into reopening Gisborne’s railway.

Earlier this week the first ‘very preliminary’ work started to assess the viability of fixing and reopening the Wairoa to Gisborne rail line. Andrew Ashton speaks to main man heading up the feasibility study into reopening Gisborne’s railway . . .

Just a day after the first train from Napier stopped in Wairoa, it has been revealed work also started on a feasibility study to reopen the Napier line all the way to Gisborne.

Although previous desktop studies failed to put forward a case for reopening the Gisborne end of the line BERL chief economist Dr Ganesh Nana, who is leading the new feasibility study, said this time wellbeing factors would be included in the assessment, rather than just a cold cost-benefit monetary analysis.

“We had our first steering group meeting on Wednesday, so we are in our very preliminary stages of seeing what we have to do. It’s a Provincial Development Unit (PDU)-funded project, and BERL are the lead contractor and responsible for this work.

“A big component undoubtedly is the engineering element, in terms of the costings of various options to reinstate the line to a resilient standard. That engineering element is going ahead and what BERL is also focussed on is the economic and financial and social scenarios of the reinstatement.

“So very much looking at the community outcomes and looking at it from a wellbeing perspective, rather than a benefit-cost rationale. So we are not just looking at the core financials, it’s very much from that wellbeing perspective. We will be looking in terms of how the community might develop and the impacts on the social side. We are looking very much at the next generation, rather than immediate impacts, and does it open up opportunities for the development of the economy and the community and beyond, for the next generation.

“It’s much broader than previous studies which have been narrowly focussed on the transport costs and benefits.
“Wellbeing is very much part of the central government view of the world and that of local government, with the return of the ‘four wellbeings’ in the legislation of local government.

Building a vibrant community

“I would claim we have been doing wellbeing for a long time but it is now very much in the vocabulary and we very much have the mandate from our funders to go down that route as well.

“If we are talking about wellbeing, we are talking about years — the next generation if not more. That’s the different mindset, we should always have been looking at that but now we have been given the mandate. We have to be serious about how we define economic development and wellbeing, the way we are looking at it, is in opportunities for the next generation and contributing to communities.”

That could include direct opportunities for new jobs and indirect social benefits, he said.

It was about building a “vibrant community” that had both economic and social outcomes.
“Some of these things we can’t measure but we have to go there if we are serious about building the future, rather than continuing to put a sticking plaster over the issues of the past — which is where many of those previous reports come from.”

The Gisborne to Napier line closed in 2012, after the line was mothballed after a section of track at the Beach Loop area was badly damaged in a storm earlier that year.

In September the government’s Provincial Growth Fund committed to $600,000 for a two-pronged rail feasibility study to assess the viability of a rail tourism venture, including an extended Gisborne-Napier rail cycleway, and use of the Wairoa to Gisborne line for freight purposes.

Dr Nana said the study would assess all aspects of rail use.
“How we are interpreting a feasibility study and the PDU have signed off on this, is we are looking at the range of options that are available.

“We are not so much focussed on a yes-no decision. We are looking at the options ranging from the ‘do nothing’ to the various spectrums to reinstate the line and what those uses will be — freight only, tourism, a combination of the two — and we will come out with the ‘likely outcomes’ for the Tairawhiti community, broadly speaking.”
That will include social, economic outcomes for each scenario.

“The next step would be to suggest the scenarios that are worth delving into, in terms of developing a full business case.
“We will come at it from an economic development perspective which is broadly defined. We’ve been doing this sort of work over the last two decades for quite a while.”

The study would also focus on Maori development at the same time.
“The two go together in my mind, especially in this part of Aotearoa.”

Dr Nana said the BERL team was also keen to talk to as many elements of the community as it could about their perspectives of where rail and or road fit in that future scenario for Tairawhiti and Wairoa.

“The opening of Napier to Wairoa does change that equation a bit. The appetite from Kiwirail and its owners, central Government, changes that a little bit. There’s also a young population here, and primary sector economic base — and throw in there climate change. With all those things we have to look to the future and build them into the jigsaw puzzle.”

The feasibility study should be completed by September or October.

To get involved email

‘Strong case’ for reopening Gisborne to Napier line

Source: Gisborne Herald 15 May 2018.

New not-for-profit organisation Tairawhiti Rail will try to reopen the Gisborne to Napier railway line, which it sees as financially viable.

The existence of Tairawhiti Rail (TRL), — formed by a group of local directors — was revealed yesterday by Rick Thorpe in a submission to Gisborne District Council’s 2018/28 long-term plan.

TRL planned to bring together the contractors necessary to initiate a regional short-line railway service, if KiwiRail was not prepared to manage the line, he said.

TRL believed there was a strong commercial case for restoring the rail link, based primarily on shipping containers and supported by the recent growth in horticulture and timber processing.

With restoration of the line from Napier to Wairoa under way, possibly all the way to Mahia, it was logical to complete restoration of the whole line.

They would lodge a proposal with the Govt’s Provincial Growth Fund

They would lodge a proposal with the Provincial Growth Fund, asking the Government to restore the line. They were not asking the council for any funding, just their support to add rail to the regional land transport plan as a competitive transport option for local industry.

The commercial case was simple. There were approximately 5000 containers a year to be trucked to Napier in the next two to three years. This could grow to 10,000 over the next 10 years.

It cost $1600 to $1700 to bring in a container by road. Rail could do it for $1000 to $1100, a saving of $600 to $700 a container.

If they achieved 10,000 containers, the saving for local industries would be $6 million to $7 million a year. Produce shipped to Tauranga, kiwifruit, persimmons and wine, could also be diverted to Napier.

A 10,000-container programme would generate an additional $10 million of revenue for the line, ensuring its viability. That was without other freight products like fertiliser, grain, gravel, city waste and some logs.

Plan would take 20,000 truck movement off the road

It would take 20,000 truck movements off the road, which would reduce road maintenance and improve road safety. The maintenance per kilometre for rail was approximately half that for road.

Mr Thorpe said the Government was supporting rail.

If the council’s Provincial Growth Fund application for road funding was not successful, the Tairawhiti Rail proposal provided an opportunity to benefit the region.

“We understand that rail has divided support within the community but believe that by taking a commercial, entrepreneurial approach, support for rail can be restored,” said Mr Thorpe.

The proposal in no way threatened Eastland Port’s log trade

The proposal in no way threatened Eastland Port’s log trade but they did question the value of further mortgaging community assets to significantly expand the port, when there was this opportunity to have the rail link restored and paid for by the Government.

Tairawhiti Rail believed the proposal ticked all the boxes for the new Government policy statement on transport and asked the council to reconsider its neutral position on rail.

Later in the meeting, the Regional Land Transport Committee agreed to amend its regional land transport plan after several speakers said the council should respond to submissions calling for rail to be restored as part of the plan.

Chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said the council could investigate the feasibility of rail along with other subjects looked at in the plan.

There could not be a quick fix — it would give staff 12 months to come to the council with the information it needed.

Huge 75 percent in favour of rail study funding

Source: Gisborne herald May 26 2018.

Belief in rail was so adamant for 21 percent, they did not believe a feasibility study was required.

AN overwhelming majority of Herald webpoll respondents — 75 percent of them — believe the district should apply to the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund to financially support a feasibility study for reinstatement of the rail line to Gisborne.

Most of the 310 respondents in favour expressed their support because of a strong belief in rail.

But of the 82 respondents, or 21 percent, who said no to the PGF, many said “no” because their belief in rail was so adamant that they did not believe a feasibility study was required.

Pro-feasibility study comments included:

• “Not just needed for transport, particularly of logs, but for tourism. The rail line needs to go further than Muriwai for the scenic route so we can keep attracting cruise ships to Gisborne.”

• “We need the rail. It is only common sense.”

• “The rail option is a no- brainer. The road is getting ruined by trucks and rail is a more environmentally-friendly transport mode. Let’s make our roads safer and reduce truck journeys and carbon emissions.”

• “It is about time for Gisborne to re-join the New Zealand rail network, with the benefits of exporting the horticulture produce as well as the benefit of having tourist trains once again visit the area.”

• “The Napier to Gisborne line has absolute untapped tourist potential. Look what happened in Dunedin.”

• “Perhaps Gisborne District Council could shock the voter majority by listening to it on this issue. This asset must be saved before ‘‘mothballing’’ leaves our rail link a decaying ruin. For a fraction of the cost of highway maintenance, the government can fix what it broke and give this province another artery.”

Other comments in favour were brief and to the point:

• “Nothing to lose.”

• “No brainer.”

• “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

There were 82 respondents who said “no”, some for economic sustainability reasons.

• “This is patently obviously a dead duck and not viable when all the pro-rail arguments involve “manufacturing’’ the economics.

• “The rail line will never make any money, in fact it will lose a huge amount of money. Use rail from Dunstan Road to the port for logs. Use the track out to Whareratas for tourists on the steam train. Turn the old railway into a world-class cycle trail and bring in more tourists.”

• “Fix the roads first please.”

• “Please do not waste ratepayers’ money, we have been down this road before.”

But many, “no” respondents still strongly believe in the rail line.

• “Do not need a study. It is already in place, albeit needing minor bridge work.”

• “Just get on with it. Repair the line.”

• “It is good investment for Gisborne city.”

There were 16 other respondents, or 4 percent, who said they did not know.


Real ambition for Wairoa rail line

(“Wairoa Star” – Tues 30th January 2018)

Enthusiastic Napier Wairoa rail comments made by forestry minister Shane Jones last month were welcomed by local government.

Hawke’s Bay Wairoa regional councillor Fenton Wilson said there was real ambition for this government to reopen the Napier-Wairoa line and provide funding to keep it open.

“However, until ministers Jones and Stuart Nash can get it in front of cabinet to approve intention (and funding), we are all left waiting.“ I would expect announcement soon.

“It is the most positive feedback on the line in my time with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and I wish them well.”

Mr Wilson sits on the regional council’s land transport committee and is also interested in the work being done on the Opotiki-Napier road corridor.

 “Wairoa is in a positive space regarding transport and connectivity at the moment and I look forward to recommendations and action later this year.”

As far as repairing the damaged rail sections in the Beach Loop area north of Mahia which were damaged in 2012, Mr Wilson said nothing was definite other than it would fit with rail growing rural communities as per election promises. “It is one step at a time I suspect – get Wairoa going first.”

Gisborne Rail Co-op flies flag for Gisborne-Napier line

by Wynsley Wrigley

Published: Gisborne  Herald April 7, 2017 11:09AM

THE Gisborne Rail Co-op (GRC) has not given up the fight to retain the Gisborne-Napier line.

Interim chairwoman Nikki Searancke told yesterday’s Gisborne District Council meeting that KiwiRail’s selection of adventure-tourism operator Gisborne Railbike Adventures to use the Gisborne-Wairoa rail line “runs counter to long-standing council policy to support train operations”.

She described rail as a major commercial transport artery for the region.

“If we do not take leadership and change the course of this KiwiRail decision, the donors — hapu and iwi of Tairawhiti and Ngati Kahungunu — will take back their land and the railway will be lost permanently.”

GRC was confident of presenting a proposal to KiwiRail’s successful bidder and Gisborne City Vintage Rail (the operator of steam locomotive Wa165) for a commercial rail freight business with passengers and tourists “on the railway as it was intended”.

GRC was seeking further information from KiwiRail.

Local men had built the rail line, and 21 were killed during its construction, she said.

Gillian Ward, also of GRC, said KiwiRail’s decision was disappointing.

Because of the cost of maintenance, Gisborne Railbike Adventures and Gisborne City Vintage Rail could only operate a sustainable business with a rail freight operator.

‘Rail champion’

Mayor Meng Foon had been “Gisborne’s rail champion’’ and in 2012 delivered a petition to Parliament with 10,000 signatures calling to keep the line.

Mrs Ward said at a meeting held in 2013 attended by KiwiRail, Mr Foon, Gisborne district councillors and businesses including LeaderBrand and Weatherell Transport showed huge support for the rail line and the resumption of freight and tourism.

“These business leaders are not pro-rail, they support rail because they want good infrastructure.”

Mr Foon had summed up the meeting by saying, “our region deserves good infrastructure, good hospitals, schools, roads, rail”.

“I ask you now, why should we not expect these things for Gisborne?” Mrs Ward said.

Greater need now

She said the need for rail was greater now than in 2012.

The “big packhouses” struggled to find enough trucks and drivers to get their produce to Napier at a time of drought.
Frozen produce, fertiliser, landfill, road metal and, in particular, processed timber would provide all-year freight.

She said claims that Eastland Port would be disadvantaged by rail could not be substantiated.

Council support for rail freight would ensure rail was included in an integrated transport priority plan and encourage central government investment.

The council also considered a recommendation from Mr Foon, who was absent, to support completion of a feasibility study on an extended Gisborne to Napier cycle and rail trail.

Mr Foon’s paper said the Government had promoted the rail trail as an action in the Tairawhiti Action Plan.

It was also included in the Hawke’s Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan.

Councillors decided to let the matter lie on the table until Mr Foon could speak on the matter at the next meeting.

Brian Wilson said there was insufficient information for councillors to make a decision.

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.


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.