Kiwi Rail DL 9020

New Zealand’s national railway KiwiRail has issued a request for proposal for the operation of the Napier-Gisborne line.

Tender documents have been published on the Government Electronic Tenders Service (GETS) seeking tourist or freight rail operators on the line, which has been mothballed since 2012 due to storm damage.

KiwiRail Group asset management, engineering and innovation general manager David Gordon said: "The tender is an opportunity for the company to work with other interested parties to investigate alternative uses on the line.

"A number of people have expressed interest and we hope to receive some high-quality, commercially viable bids through the tender process."

"A number of people have expressed interest and we hope to receive some high-quality, commercially viable bids through the tender process."

The closing date for tenders is 10 September and a preferred bidder is due to be announced by mid-October.

In March, KiwiRail terminated negotiations with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, declining its request for more time to confirm its interest in leasing the mothballed Napier-Gisborne rail line.

KiwiRail, the council and its potential operator have been working for more than two years on options to re-establish a rail operation.

In a statement KiwiRail noted, the Napier-Gisborne rail line will remain mothballed, which leaves the opportunity for it to reopen to rail operation should sufficient freight volumes and/or additional funding be secured to enable a commercially viable operation.

The council set aside NZD5.5m ($3.6m) in its 2013 budget for the project and commissioned a study, which concluded there was sufficient demand to reopen the line for this purpose, according to railjournal.com.


Image: A new DL class locomotive (9020), purchased as part of KiwiRail’s turnaround plan. Photo: courtesy of Alex Burgess via Wikipedia.