A study undertaken by BERL and a range of engineering and technical experts concludes that it is feasible to reinstate the mothballed rail line between Gisborne and Wairoa. Commissioned by Tairāwhiti Rail Limited and Activate Tairāwhiti (now part of Trust Tairāwhiti), this feasibility study was funded from the Provincial Growth Fund.
It is feasible to reinstate the mothballed rail line between Gisborne and Wairoa
Part of the Palmerston North to Gisborne line, the rail services between Napier and Gisborne ceased in 2012 following storm damage. The section between Napier and Wairoa was reopened earlier this year following investment from the Provincial Growth Fund.
Dr Ganesh Nana, BERL Research Director, says “reinstatement of the Tūranga ki Wairoa rail line is feasible from an engineering perspective, and there is sufficient freight for five trains per week.”
There are numerous environmental, social, cultural, and economic wellbeing advantages in favour of the reinstatement
The study covered economic and engineering assessments, as well as engagement with the local community and businesses to establish the level of support for reinstating the rail line. Reinstatement was considered along with the possibilities of permanently closing the line, or retaining the current mothballed status.
Reinstating the Tūranga ki Wairoa rail line to an operational level requires an estimated one-off expenditure of between $20 million and $23 million. Additional works to improve the resilience of the line to adverse weather events would cost an additional $5 million to $6 million. Over the following 10 years, a further $5 million to $7 million would be required in additional bridge, tunnel, and track works.
The study adopted a wellbeing framework for analysis, rather than a conventional, narrow benefit-cost approach. The study aligned the wellbeing perspective to the purpose of local government to “promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural wellbeing of communities”.
Favourable outcomes in terms of wellbeing result from the reinstatement option. This option helps to address issues of resilience, relative isolation, and the disconnection of communities through the region.
Reinstatement promotes social and cultural wellbeing
Reinstatement promotes social and cultural wellbeing, as it helps to address issues of resilience, relative isolation, and the disconnection of communities through the region.
Fewer truck movements would benefit the communities along state highway two. These include reductions in noise, dust and overall traffic volumes, along with an estimated five percent reduction in the number of severe or fatal injury road accidents.
Shifting freight from trucks to rail would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent and lower annual road maintenance costs by between $1.2 million and $1.7 million.
While a potential rail service would likely carry some logs, most logs would continue to be exported through Eastland Port. Freight which could move to rail is fruit, meat and processed timber products. Rail offers productivity and cost benefits to exporters through the convenience and security of containerisation, and connection to the national rail network.
BERL also investigated use of the line for tourism or passenger services. While this alone is not considered sufficient to justify reinstatement of the line, tourism opportunities can operate in addition to a freight service.
BERL concludes that there are numerous environmental, social, cultural, and economic wellbeing advantages in favour of the reinstatement option.
Access the full report
The full report is available for download, as are the associated appendices:
The main report which includes summary sections of each of the attached appendices.
As agreed with the Provincial Growth Unit, this document sets out the scope and plan for this feasibility study.
Prepared by Nikki Searancke, this report summarises findings from engagement with local hapū and iwi.
14.3 Engineering reports
Prepared by Fraser Geologics, this five part report details the required track formation repair works and civil construction work packages including design and costings
- 14.3a Section one
- 14.3b Section two - part one
- 14.3c Section two - part two
- 14.3d Section two - part three
- 14.3e Civil works costsings
Prepared by Armstrong Track Consultants based on an inspection conducted in July of 2019, this report identifies the issues of the track condition which need to be addressed to enable rail services.
A desktop review conducted by KiwiRail which describes the condition of the bridges and tunnels between Gisborne and Wairoa, and the work required to enable rail services.
An overview of the current status of the Gisborne and Wairoa districts from community and economic viewpoints. Covers demographics, the size and nature of the local economy, and the challenges facing the region.
Prepared by Graeme Carroll and Stephen Underwood, this report is based on extensive engagement with producers from the Gisborne and Wairoa Districts. The types of products which could move to rail freight are detailed, and estimates of future freight requirements are based on the planning of local producers.
Prepared by TRC Tourism, this report gives information on the Gisborne regional tourism current situation, current licence holders on the Gisborne to Wairoa rail line, and the future potential for tourism opportunities on the rail line.