Improving the Network: Napier-Gisborne Line
While our investment in freight is providing real dividends, there are some aspects of the rail network that we’re not seeing sufficient levels of demand for freight services. This is particularly true for the Napier-Gisborne line.
• The line is not commercially viable to operate today or in the foreseeable future and this is true for both the full line and the section from Napier to Wairoa. Reinstatement costs to repair the Napier - Gisborne line, currently closed from Wairoa to Gisborne is around $4 million. It costs KiwiRail approximately $2.1 million a year to maintain the track infrastructure and a further $1 million year to run one to two train services a week.
• We have spent considerable time canvassing local business about current and future business opportunities and have taken a 10 year future look at the line. We’ve also worked closely with the NZ Transport Agency to establish impacts on wider transport networks.
• Even if demand for freight services was to be generated locally, our estimate of the infrastructure costs to maintain this level of service would far exceed the potential revenue gained. For example, several of the bridges along the route are nearing the end of their expected life and would need replacing.
• It’s also important to bear in mind that mothballing does not mean closure. While rail operations would cease, KiwiRail retains ownership and infrastructure will be kept in place and minimal maintenance carried out. This preserves the option of considering reinstatement, should a major revenue generating opportunity present itself in the near future