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

communities.

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.

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