NZ Local News

Cyclone Gabrielle: KiwiRail putting Napier-Wairoa line options to Government

Editor Written by Editor · 1 min read >


KiwiRail is moving ahead with plans which could see a reopening of the Napier-Wairoa line – if it gets Government approval.

Amid conjecture that the track could be mothballed again – with over 400 damage sites in the devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle and other weather events – a spokesperson for the state-owned railways operator said it is working on “detailed costings and options” and expects to present to the Government for its consideration in “the coming months”.

Track and sleepers from the devastated Eskdale section of the Napier-Wairoa line have been removed as part of "make safe" work while KiwiRail considered options for the future of the line to Government. Photo / Chris Geddis
Track and sleepers from the devastated Eskdale section of the Napier-Wairoa line have been removed as part of “make safe” work while KiwiRail considered options for the future of the line to Government. Photo / Chris Geddis

Community conjecture had mounted with the recent removal of track and sleepers from Eskdale where the track was ripped apart in Cyclone Gabrielle in February last year.

But KiwiRail says it’s part of “make safe” work designed to stop the damage to bridges, embankments and washouts, and other slips getting worse.

“This type of work includes culvert clearing, slopes and debris clear-out, removing suspended track and hysdroseeding embankments and slopes,” it says in a newsletter to the Eskdale community.

It says it needs to apply for funding for repairs to reopen the line, and it needs Government approval.

The line was mothballed in 2012, and reopened with the assistance of $5 million from the Provincial Growth Fund, announced in early 2018 by then by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, with the intention of opening the line to what was called a “wall of timber” from the forests of Northern Hawke’s Bay to the Port of Napier.

Another washout delayed the project, the line being reopened in June 2019, but the first logging trains move until January 2020, with just six trips before being stopped because of the Covid-19 impact on the forestry industry.



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