Hawke's Bay Regional Council interim chief executive Liz Lambert is "optimistic" about the outcome of the council's proposal to KiwiRail to get the Napier to Gisborne rail link up and running again.

The line was closed in 2012 after a washout during a major storm and has been closed since.

The regional council's focus on getting the line up and reinstated is centred on the logging trade because it was seen to be the most efficient way of getting timber from the north down to Napier Port.

"We are still one of the two proposals that KiwiRail is keen to investigate before they make a final decision," Ms Lambert said.


Napier-Gisborne Railway Ltd (NGRL) had also stepped forward to push for the rail link to be reopened - also citing the transport requirements of the logging industry.

Ms Lambert said the council had engaged consultants to work on their behalf and the focus was on "fine-tuning" the price side of log transportation.

They were working on seeking a price-per-tonne per-kilometre from KiwiRail which would then allow them to contract customers.

She said KiwiRail had made it clear they wanted to make a decision and believed that decision would be made in the next couple of months.

The proposals and any response were likely to go before the council around the end of February.

In late 2014 the council set aside $5.46 million to potentially part-fund the reopening of the Napier-Gisborne rail freight service. It submitted an alternative proposal which involved a potential contract between the Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company and/or Napier Port and KiwiRail.

Ms Lambert said the response from KiwiRail so far had been good and while it was not considering resuming service on the link it was willing to work through the evaluation process in respect of the tender process.

Regional councillor and chairman of the Hawke's Bay Regional Transport Committee, Alan Dick, said the logging industry clearly showed that the rail link would become a viable business.

He said export log harvesting from the Wairoa region was estimated to surge from 323,000 tonnes this year to a million tonnes or more from 2020.

Mr Dick described a reinstatement of the line through to Gisborne as a "game-changing opportunity for the economic and social development of northern Hawke's Bay