Hawke’s Bay celebrated the reopening of the vital rail link connecting Hastings and Napier, which had been severely damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle seven months ago. The reopening was marked with music and the first train crossing the rebuilt Awatoto Rail bridge that was washed away by the cyclone.
The repair work was extensive and included rebuilding two-meter-high embankments, laying 3000 cubic meters of rock foundations, and replacing 140 meters of rail and 800 sleepers. KiwiRail’s Daniel Headifen mentioned that moving equipment over the water was a tricky part that required large cranes.
This rail link is essential for connecting Hastings and Napier and plays a crucial role in transporting about 350 containers each week. Its restoration is vital for the region’s economy and port connectivity.
While these repairs are temporary, there are plans for a more resilient track in a different location for long-term stability. This long-term project could take five to seven years and involve multiple sites across Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti, according to Transport Rebuild Alliance Tony Gallagher. Although the Awatoto site is expected to be fully operational, there is no set date for completing the last stretch of the line connecting Napier to Wairoa.