Tan­dem rail­bikes planned for Gis­borne-Wairoa track

The Dominion Post - - News - SI­MON HENDERY

Ki­wiRail has struck a deal that will see its moth­balled Gis­borne to Wairoa line trans­formed into a tourist cy­cle trail.

The rail com­pany an­nounced yes­ter­day it had reached an agree­ment with Gis­borne-based tourism com­pany Rail­bike Ad­ven­tures to run spe­cially-de­signed tan­dem bikes on the dis­used track.

The deal is a blow for rail ad­vo­cates who had cam­paigned to have the line re-opened for rail ser­vices.

The Napier to Gis­borne line has been moth­balled since 2012 when se­vere weather caused washouts on the sec­tion of track north of Wairoa.

It was es­ti­mated the track dam­age north of Wairoa would cost mil­lions of dol­lars to re­pair, but Rail­bike Ad­ven­tures said it would solve the prob­lem by re­plac­ing the washed-out rail bridges with swing bridges suit­able for its cy­cles.

Last year, Ki­wiRail and Napier Port an­nounced a com­mer­cial agree­ment that would see the port com­pany run a ded­i­cated log ser­vice from Wairoa to its base.

Rail fans had hoped this would be the first stage in get­ting the line re­opened to trains. But Ki­wiRail made it clear it was more in­ter­ested in tourism ser­vices.

The rail op­er­a­tor said its deal with Rail­bike Ad­ven­tures would ‘‘re­tain the track in­fra­struc­ture with­out re­quir­ing any cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture or main­te­nance’’.

Rail­bike Ad­ven­tures di­rec­tor Ge­off Main said his com­pany had spent years de­sign­ing spe­cial tan­dem bi­cy­cles to let users pedal sideby-side along the tracks.

‘‘This route is a more re­lax­ing way to take in the coast’s stun­ning scenery and it also gives users an op­por­tu­nity to share the ex­pe­ri­ence with a loved one.’’

It will of­fer one, two or four-day treks from late 2017.

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