Rail plans full steam ahead
The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway is rapt the resource consent for a new railway station and cycleway complex to be constructed in the Far North has been granted.
The project involves restoring and extending the railway line from Kawakawa to Opua, and creating a cycleway alongside it, and building a large multi-purpose railway station complex at Beaufort St, Opua in the area known as the Colenso Triangle.
Trains would run eight times a day, the nearby wetland would be restored and developed, and at least 25 jobs would be created.
Now the hunt is on to find funders for the $5.2million project, with private investors, large grants and loans all welcomed. Project chairman Frank Leadley says it’s a ‘‘huge plus’’ for the whole region.
‘‘We can now proceed with confidence with gaining funding for the restoration of the North Island’s historic first railway line and in developing a tourist com- plex which will be huge for the region in terms of employment and in its intrinsic interest.
‘‘We have a massive job ahead of us as we are looking at raising around $5.2million for the project, but we have great community support and are confident we will reach our targets.’’
The process started in October 2016 and submissions closed in November.
There were 121 submissions received by Northland Regional Council and 113 by Far North District Council, which were over- whelmingly in support of the railway proposal.
However, there were a few submissions which expressed concerns over effects of the development on a small area of swamp and any bird life, and cultural and historic effects.
Submitters had their say at a two-day hearing in April conducted by Dr Rob Lieffering. Lieffering’s subsequent report approved the project with conditions relating to storm water, sediment control, weed control, archaeology.
Leadley says the repiling of Longbridge should be finished in three weeks. Then, depending on funding, they’ll start work restoring the railway line and building the cycleway.
The station complex will include toilets, a cycle repair and hire shop, a cafe, event centre and parking for 60 cars plus buses and motorhomes.
‘‘It’s one of the biggest tourism projects in the North, if not the biggest,’’ Leadley says.
If you ‘‘can spare a few bob’’ contact Frank 09 402 7650.
An artist’s impression of the planned Bay of Islands Vintage Railway station complex in Opua.