The first train in six years will be chugging along the Napier to Wairoa railway line next week.

A work train will travel from Napier to Eskdale delivering ballast on Wednesday morning as part of the project to reopen the line.

KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy said having work trains running is an important part of getting the line open to shift logs by rail by the end of the year.

"This is an important project for the region, for New Zealand and for KiwiRail.


"It lifts the regional economy. It makes the roads safer by taking logging trucks off roads that were not designed to cope with growing volumes.

"It helps the environment by cutting carbon emissions."

A letter was sent to properties neighbouring the track recently to remind people to take care around the line.

"Because it has not been in use by trains, people need to be aware that trains will now be on the line, and they need to be looking out for them," Reidy said.

The letter, from KiwiRail communities engagement manager Gill Evans, asked for people's help spreading the safety message to their communities.

"The rail line has been closed for a number of years and we need to make sure people have not become complacent around the railway," it said.

A ceremony to mark the return of trains will be held at KiwiRail's operations depot in Ahuriri at 11am on Wednesday before the first train leaves for Eskdale.

People wanting to see the train pass would have good vantage points from Meeanee Quay and Domain Rd at about 11.30am.


The line, which will be used to transport logs to Napier, is being reopened by KiwiRail using $5 million of funding from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund.

The work is expected to take two years to fully complete.

KiwiRail has estimated that using the Wairoa-Napier line to move the logs could take up to 5714 trucks a year off the road and cut carbon emissions by 1292 tonnes.

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Napier Port and KiwiRail entered into a commercial agreement in 2016 to reopen the line for the first time since it closed in 2012.

The line was mothballed after a section of track at the Beach Loop area was badly damaged in a storm earlier that year.

As part of the agreement, Napier Port intended to run a dedicated log service from Wairoa to Napier Port.

That was expected to start in the last quarter of last year but the regional council last year said it had not been possible to source enough logs to make the line economically viable.