Log trains are about to start running between Wairoa and Napier following Provincial Growth Fund investment to reopen the rail line, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says.
The Government invested $6.2 million to reopen the mothballed rail line which was closed after significant storm damage in 2012.
“With PGF support the rail line has been rebuilt and KiwiRail has established a road-rail log yard in Wairoa. On Sunday the first loaded log train will leave Wairoa for the Port of Napier,” Shane Jones said today.
“Export log volumes in the Hawke’s Bay region are predicted to reach 3.3 million tonnes per annum in the next few years and remain at high levels until the mid-2030s. The harvest growth around Wairoa is part of that picture.
“Trains will begin running from Wairoa on Saturdays and Sundays, carrying 1400 tonnes of logs each weekend, with more train services expected as harvests increase. That means 5000 fewer truck journeys between Wairoa and Napier a year, as a start.
“If we are to avoid more logging trucks on the region’s roads, keep congestion under control and lower our transport emissions, rail is a necessity,” Shane Jones said.
Forestry harvests across New Zealand have been increasing since 2008. They are currently at around 36 million tonnes per year, and are forecast to remain at high levels for the next decade.
Shane Jones said having options for transporting logs to port ensured a strong supply chain and gave confidence to the forestry industry.
“New Zealand is an export-led economy so the ability to get our goods to port efficiently and safely is crucial.
“That’s why the Coalition Government is focused on an inter-modal approach to transport that makes the best use of trucks and trains.
“It’s also why we have invested $40 million through the Provincial Growth Fund in a regional road-rail hub near Palmerston North.”
KiwiRail has employed two additional train staff and three track staff to support the new log trains and maintain the line. KiwiRail expects to employ more people as services increase. Local companies were used to develop the Wairoa log yard, which will be run by ISO Ltd.