Tandem railbikes planned for Gisborne-Wairoa track
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.