A long-awaited announcement on the reopening of the railway line between Napier and Wairoa could be made this week, sources have told Hawke's Bay Today.
But nothing was being publicly confirmed, with Napier Port CEO Garth Cowie saying he couldn't confirm or deny that an agreement had been reached with KiwiRail or the Government, although he said he had no information on any imminent announcement.
"I couldn't comment," he said.
Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon told a Local Elections candidates forum in Gisborne on Friday night he believes the Napier-Wairoa sector of the Napier-Gisborne line will be back in use next July.
An attempt to contact Minister of Transport Simon Bridges for comment last night was unsuccessful, and KiwiRail was also unable to comment last night.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council Transport Committee chairman, former regional council chairman and former mayor of Napier Alan Dick, who has been among those pushing for the recommissioning of the line to handle the wall of timber from forestry in Northern Hawke's Bay, wasn't holding his breath, saying: "It's been imminent for the past 10 days or more. It's been four-and-a-half years now, so I'm determined to get a result."
Government-owned corporation KiwiRail officially mothballed the Napier to Wairoa sector of the Napier-Gisborne line in October 2012, five months after a series of washouts closed the line the line between Wairoa and Gisborne.
KiwiRail had placed the cost of repairs at more than $4million, determining it was prohibitive and that the Napier-Wairoa sector was no longer viable.
Local government and business leaders joined forces to press for a reopening of the line and in April Hawke's Bay Regional Council interim chief executive Liz Lambert confirmed an alternative proposal had been put to KiwiRail based only on log transportation.
KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy said at the time the council partners would need to carry the commercial risk involved in restoring and maintaining the line.
The Napier-Wairoa line features the Mohaka Viaduct, crossing the Mohaka River and State Highway 2 just south of Raupunga. It was opened in July 1938 and, at 97 metres, is the tallest structure of its kind in Australasia. There is some interest in commemorating its 80th anniversary.
The line has not been used for passenger services since severe damage in Cyclone Bola in 1988.
Friday's forum was called by the Gisborne Rail Action Group, with Hastings mayoralty candidate Guy Wellwood among the speakers.