The southern half of the line has been reopened to facilitate the movement of logs from plantation forests in the Wairoa region to the Port of Napier for export, which have had to be moved entirely by truck since the line’s closure seven years ago.

The $NZ 6.2m ($US 4m) cost of reinstating the line is being met by the Provincial Growth Fund.

KiwiRail CEO Mr Greg Miller says to support the log traffic, a log transfer hub will be built at the railhead at Wairoa which is expected to be completed in August.

Miller says log traffic in the region could quadruple to 600,000 tonnes per annum in the next four years.

Up to six return log trains could initially operate on the line per week, reducing the annual number of truck journeys along the parallel highway by 5000, with that figure rising to 15,000 trips as the volume of logs carried by rail increased.

Regional Economic Development minister, Mr Shane Jones, said the reopening of the railway had the potential to substantially reduce the road maintenance bill in the region.