New Zealand’s rail line from Wairoa to Napier is set to re-open to trains at the end of the year, according to KiwiRail, with a track gang starting important work this week.
Over weeks, teams have worked on bridges and vegetation works on the rail, but now track staff – a five-person team from Palmserton North – will begin re-sleepering works.
The link has laid idle since severe storms damaged a section of the track north of Wairoa in 2012. Funding to get the project off the ground came in February, with the New Zealand government allocating $5 million.
More damage was inflicted to the line by severe weather in March, but KiwiRail expects trains to be running its length by the end of the year. The whole reinstatement project is expected to take a full two years to complete.
With the Wairoa-Napier road coming under increasing strain from the growing volume of logs requiring freighting, the rail line, when once again up and running, will be used to transport logs to Napier.
KiwiRail has estimated that using the line to move the logs could take up to 5,714 trucks a year off the road, and reduce carbon emissions by 1292 tonnes.
“This is an important project for the region, and for KiwiRail, and we are committed to getting it done,” KiwiRail’s general manager of network services Henare Clarke said.
Clarke also reminded the public to be cautious around the line, now that works were underway.
“Everyone needs to expect trains and other rail vehicles using the line at any time from either direction,” he said. “They should only cross the line at level crossings – to cross the line anywhere else is both dangerous and illegal.”