14 Jun 2019

Napier to Wairoa rail line opens seven years after storm damage closed it

6:07 pm on 14 June 2019

The Napier-Wairoa rail line has reopened today, seven years after major storm damage closed the tracks.

The reinstated line is the first significant rail project funded through the Provincial Growth Fund to be completed - at a cost of $6.2 million.

The new line will reconnect Wairoa's thriving forestry industry with the Port of Napier.

KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller said: "It's a special day ... We are excited about it, and it's very important to the region. The wall of wood is growing. We are looking to see upwards of 600,000 tonnes of log growth in this region in the future and we are looking to see more of that back on rail," Mr Miller said.

There wouldn't be any subsidy from the government for the line and it was expected to be profitable.

"We can take up to six trains a week once the services get up and running in the future.

"It's important for people to remember that trains do work on the tracks. It's been closed for a while so safety is critical thing and that's a message we want everybody to take on. There will be several trains on the weekend ... vigilance is required."

The first train services will begin running from the end of September, starting with two services a week but building up to services running six days a week, which KiwiRail says will avoid more than 15,000 truck journeys from Wairoa to Napier each year.

A study into the benefit of the line being reopened through to Gisborne was underway. However, there was a lot of work to do yet and it was a "serious piece of the track that needs to be looked at", he said.

KiwiRail wouldn't be paying for it though.

"It's all about the nationwide values of what our network provides - less trucks on the road, emissions savings. It's in the national interest that the government pay for that."

A 15 kilometre section of the line reopened last year, from Napier to Eskdale.

Transport advocacy groups say the re-opening of the railway line between Wairoa and Napier will help to get logging trucks off the road.