The Green Party has pledged to rebuild a passenger rail service from Napier to Gisborne if they are in Government after the election.

The Green's transport spokesperson Julia-Anne Genter and East Coast candidate Gareth Hughes announced the policy in Gisborne this week.

The rail line has been mothballed - essentially disused in its current state, but able to be restored - when the cost of repairs after a 2012 storm were deemed to outweigh foreseeable benefits.

At the time, KiwiRail said it had a "long and hard look at future business prospects" and decided against fixing the line.


Last October, with underwriting from Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Kiwirail and Napier Port announced a dedicated log service on the Napier to Wairoa section would reopen this year - now scheduled to be late next year - to cope with logging growth in the coming decades.

And now, the Green Party has said in Government it would restore the whole line to enable passenger services to run up the coast.

"Better connectivity to Gisborne and the East Cape is good for business and jobs - and rail is an essential part of that," said Green East Coast candidate Gareth Hughes.

"There are huge benefits to moving more freight by rail in the region - fewer heavy trucks on the roads, less pollution, and lower freight costs for businesses," said Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

The Green's Napier candidate, Damon Rusden, said the line would "open up opportunity" to people of Napier and Gisborne.

"Opening the line will allow access to the EIT campus and other educational institutes in Napier, and employment prospects. People in Napier will be able to enjoy the beautiful environment of Gisborne, and the potential for business.

"Ultimately this is about connecting our regions across New Zealand."

Both Labour's Napier and Tukituki candidates - Stuart Nash and Anna Lorck - were in favour of the announcement.


Mr Nash said it was always Labour's policy to revitalise the line. He said Labour had costed the rebuild a few years ago at $4.5 million.

He said it would "absolutely" boost the region. He said if the region was to have wood processing plants along the coast, proper infrastructure was essential.

Ms Lorck agreed.

However, National's Napier and Tukituki candidates had reservations or did not support the business case as it stands.

National's Napier candidate David Elliott said if financial viability of the line could be proven, he'd support it.

"Otherwise, they have to convince taxpayers to cover the ongoing loss. The losses faced in rail are primarily around maintenance and history shows the Napier - Gisborne line requires a lot of maintenance," Mr Elliott said.

"My understanding is that it costs logging companies more in handling charges to use the rail system so until that is overcome, they are unlikely to use it enough to make it viable."

National's Tukituki candidate Lawrence Yule broadly agreed.

"I have looked at the Wairoa to Gisborne part of the line and it has some of the most significant infrastructure and weather risk of any line in the country," Mr Yule said.

"At this stage, based on demand and cost of the infrastructure I think money could be better used for other public services such as health, education, housing and roading."

Hawke's Bay Regional Councillor Alan Dick said regardless of whether the Greens are in Government in a few weeks' time, the council, Kiwirail and the Port would plough on with progress on log rail to Wairoa.

"We're going to make it happen in any case, from Wairoa to Napier.

"The transport committee did a familiarisation trip up the line to Wairoa and back about three weeks ago. The infrastructure's in good condition, it needs foliage to be cleared, it needs some work on replacing decayed sleepers... but the major infrastructure... is in very sound condition."