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The reopening of the Napier to Wairoa rail line has been welcomed by the region, with timber flowing from the region’s forests expected to quadruple over the next four years

Napier-Wairoa rail line
ready to run

KiwiRail has completed the restoration of the Napier to Wairoa rail line and is now in the final stages of preparing to run trains to get the district’s logs to market.


The 115 km stretch of rail line between Napier and Wairoa on the East Coast was mothballed in December 2012 following severe storm damage. Now seven years on, it’s back on track with the help of $6.2 million through the Provincial Growth Fund, with Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones reopening the line in mid-June.

State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters says: “The reopening of the Napier-Wairoa rail line will play a crucial role in facilitating regional forestry and bring huge benefits to Hawke’s Bay. This is the first mothballed rail line to be reopened in 15 years. It will allow forestry harvests around Wairoa to get to Port of Napier safely and efficiently, and when the train services are fully up and running they will avoid 15,000 truck journeys each year on the region’s roads.

“This is just one of the ways rail can benefit our regions and support them to grow. It’s why the government has invested more than $1 billion for rail in Budget 2019, and will continue to build the reliable and resilient rail network that New Zealanders deserve.”

A need for the services

KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller says that with work on the line now complete, KiwiRail will now focus on establishing a log hub in Wairoa so that trains will be ready to run once harvesting gets back into full swing at the end of winter.

“We know from our discussions with the forestry industry that there is a need for our services. The amount of timber flowing from forests in the region is expected to quadruple in the next four years, and to get all those logs to market will require all transport networks working efficiently together,” he says. 

“The funding we have received from the government’s Provincial Growth Fund to restore the line means we will be ready to meet the growing demand for transport. We are taking a staged approach to meet this demand, starting with two services a week from later this year. Once the harvest gets into full swing, we expect we will be running up to six trains a week. This means more than 5000 fewer truck journeys from Wairoa to Napier a year initially, rising to more than 15,000 as our services increase,” Mr Miller notes.

“Moving logs by rail takes pressure off the roads and reduces greenhouse gases. The Wairoa-Napier road was never intended to cope with the volume of logs that is coming on-stream, and rail is the ideal way to get that timber to overseas customers.

“I am proud of the work that our teams have put in to getting this line up and running, and ready to play an important role in the region.”

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