Hawke's Bay Regional Council has been asked to ensure that any deal to restore the rail link between Napier and Wairoa retains the long-term goal of extending north to Gisborne.

The Napier-Gisborne line was mothballed at the end of 2012 after the line was badly damaged in the Beach Loop area by a storm.

Although the regional council has set aside $5.46 million to potentially part-fund the resurrection of a freight service between the Port of Napier and Wairoa, a submission from the Napier-Gisborne Railway Shortline Establishment Group said extending the line to Gisborne would have "important benefits" for the two cities.

Group chairman Don Selby said the group supported the Napier to Wairoa link being a first priority for train services but added commercial partners were keen to see the Gisborne section opened as well.


"The regional council deserves to be applauded for its ongoing efforts to negotiate constructively with KiwiRail over the past few years to reopen the Napier-Gisborne railway."

More funding and support from the Gisborne end of the line would allow the remaining section of the railway line, where repairs are needed to washouts between Kopuawhara and Gisborne, to be reopened, Mr Selby said.

"Re-opening the railway to Gisborne will enable fully loaded containers to be transported by rail to Napier, providing important additional logistics capacity for the benefit of the Gisborne district and Hawke's Bay region.

"It will also reduce the wear and tear and travel risks from additional trucks on the Wairoa to Gisborne section of the state highway."

The group said it was "keen and available" to help the council to ensure the success of the Napier to Wairoa service, and later the reopening of the line to Gisborne and development of new train services.

The submission was made as part of the council's consultation process for proposed amendments to its (2015-2025) long-term plan. It is hearing submissions this week.

- Gisborne Herald