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HBRC considers investment in Napier-Gisborne rail line

Media Release
26 March 2014

HBRC considers investment in Napier-Gisborne rail line

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is considering investing close to $5.5 million in re-establishing the Napier-Gisborne rail line as a viable alternative to the transport of freight by road.

Mothballed in December 2012, HBRC is considering this investment, with private sector partners, in the operation of a rail business carrying freight on the line.

The proposal has been included in HBRC’s Draft Annual Plan 2014/15, which was adopted at today’s Council meeting and will be released for public comment between 2 April – 12 May 2014.

Any investment by HBRC would be dependent on Kiwirail and the Government reopening the rail line and fully funding its return and that of associated infrastructure in a good ‘fit for purpose’ condition.

The proposal would see HBRC become a 51% shareholder in the venture, with businesses and investors in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne District holding the remaining 49% of shares in the operating company set up for this purpose.

The operating company would acquire locomotives and rolling stock from KiwiRail, or elsewhere, to operate the service. It would carry freight, predominantly logs, fruit and vegetable produce.

Councillor Alan Dick, who is also Chair of the Regional Transport Committee told today’s meeting he was was encouraged with the support from fellow councillors to the proposal.

“Northern Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne need appropriate options for rail and road. With choice comes competition and pricing tension which is good for business,” says Councillor Dick.

He says Northern Hawke’s Bay is resource rich with forestry and crops such as squash and corn, requiring reliable rail access to an export container port. Gisborne Port will not be affected by the proposal.

“Robust transport infrastructure is positive for Wairoa with service and employment opportunities, such as rail maintenance teams based in Wairoa, as well as the rail storage hub. It would offer a transport choice of rail or road and also provide better resilience when responding to civil defence or hazardous events.

“Our understanding is that the current forest harvest volume of 90,000 tonnes per year will increase to 900,000 tonnes per year, taking transport volumes up an additional 150-180 truck movements per day in a few years.”

HBRC Chairman and Wairoa Councillor Fenton Wilson says in today’s value the rail line would cost billions of dollars to replicate.

“Let’s not lose it while it is still workable,” says Councillor Wilson.

The proposal is within the Draft 2014-15 Annual Plan and the public is being asked to comment on whether or not they consider this to be a good investment for HBRC.

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