$20m To Keep Line Open


KiwiRail CEO Jim Quinn says more than $20m over 10 years would have to be found to keep the Gisborne-Napier line profitable.

He says the line will be mothballed for 3 to 5 years if that can’t be found. That would “provide a breathing space for opportunities to be developed or for something on the horizon to emerge.

But after that, closure was the only viable option. “We would retain the line’s rail designation but discuss alternative uses for the land with those who have an interest in it.”

Mr Quinn yesterday met Gisborne and Napier-Hastings business leaders and local body politicians who want to work out a way to save the line.

Mr Quinn revealed that the line is earning abut $600,000 a year.

“It’s losing money on its operational costs alone without taking account the capital costs involved in getting the line up to a reasonable standard.

“The total gap to be bridged including the operational cost is more than $20m over 10 years. “ He said the gap could be found though increases business running on the line or some form of capital assistance.

“We are open to both.”

The local mayors said they were working on finding what the transport minister has termed an “anchor customer” who would use the line. They have identified a potential customer- a new forestry processing plant, Hikurangi Forest Farms that is talking of having 200 containers a week needed to be moved. But that doesn’t open until 2012.

Mr Quinn warned the community that there has to be something “concrete rather than wishful thinking” if the line is to be kept open.

Yesterday, Mr Quinn met the mayors of Napier,Hastings and Gisborne, the chair of the Hawkes Bay regional council and representatives of the chamber of commerce and businesses in the area.

He told them he hadn’t come to the meeting with a “closure agenda.” He said he would prefer to keep lines going but at the moment only one, maximum two, trains use the line a week, and it would have to become much more profitable.




  1. Rob Askew says:

    Of course $20 million sounds like a lot. However, bear in mind this is over 10 years. So the real figure than needs to be thrown about is $2 million per year. It is hard to be a clairvoyant, and a prime example is the Tranz Alpine service. In 1986-88 NZ Railways management would have cut all passengers services on that line. Instead one guy at NZ Railways had the foresight to introduce a tourist train. The rest is history.

    The line to Gisborne could easily handle daily tourist passenger services. KiwiRail should investigate this, not dismiss it without full investigation. However, I am concerned they do not have the support of Steven Joyce (Minister of Trucks).

    Come on KiwiRail - show us you actually are thinking out of the square, not just on freight but passenger services as well. Use a Silver Fern railcar to start it off with.

  2. Paul says:

    2 Million a year, is not much in the scheme of things

    @Rob – A tourist train is an interesting idea –
    Wellington-Gisborne, Manawatu Gorge and Napier to Gisborne some of the high lights

    or shorter

    Naiper-Gisborne – Cruise ship drops off in Naiper and picks up in Gisborne (do the cruise ships visit Gisborne, can they get in?)

    KiwiRail need to talk to cruise ships. The Silver Fern RM 30 was refurbished last year for just this type of trip. Look at the Taieri Gorge operation and the numbers of cruise ships putting people on that train.

    Freight – there must be something up there to put on the rails

    The line is doing 600K per year with 1-2 trains per week how many more trains do the need a week to break even?

    Keep up the good work Jon

  3. Matt says:

    So the government can throw $1m/year into an agency with no history and no community reputation, but we can be absolutely certain that $2m/year to ensure the continued viability of a heavy freight route will never be forthcoming. Awesome. Hoo-bloody-ray for Steven Joyce, Minister of Roads.

  4. rtc says:

    Great so 100 million can be blown on investigating the Holiday HIghway but 20 million over 10 years can’t be found to maintain NZ’s transport options? Great.

  5. ingolfson says:

    It really doesn’t sound like much. The problem is that nothing come from nothing - so there may need to be initial investment.

  6. E says:

    Is complaining or rambling?

  7. Mike F says:

    Lets assume that the line is closed - If this was the case I’m sure it would be turned into a John Key cycle lane - so its not all bad news is it ?
    So many abandoned railway corridors are making great tourist cycle trails around the world and in NZ.
    I’m not advocating this line to close rather pointing out a obivous outcome if it was to close.


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