The rail service between Napier and Hastings, New Zealand, will resume after being shut down due to damage from Cyclone Gabrielle seven months ago. The first train celebrated its passage over the repaired bridge 217 near Napier on Friday, marking the return of rail freight services, which had temporarily shifted to road transport.
The bridge’s repair indicates significant progress in the Hawke’s Bay area’s recovery. Kieran McAnulty, the minister responsible for cyclone recovery in the region, commented on the reopening as a sign that Hawke’s Bay is “open for business.”
The cyclone had caused substantial damage to the rail line, including washing away track supports. The newly built supports are three times deeper than before, according to KiwiRail’s CEO, Peter Reidy, ensuring enhanced stability. A permanent bridge will replace the current temporary one in the coming years.
Napier Port had to adjust its operations while the rail link was unavailable, with freight including food and machinery being transported by road. The restoration of the rail connection is crucial for the local economy, emphasising its importance to both the general public and the local iwi community.