New Zealand government will provide a NZD 94.8 million (USD 59.6 million) investment to maintain and improve the North Auckland line, which will have significant benefits for Northland’s economy.
The funding will be used for the modernisation 30% (54 km) of the 181-km line between Swanson and Whangarei. The planned work will include replacing or upgrading almost a third of the line, maintenance work on 13 tunnels, replacing five aging bridges, improving drains and culverts, strengthening embankments and making safety and efficiency improvements at the Whangarei rail yard.
NZD 53.1 million (USD 33.4 million) will be invested for track upgrades, NZD 16.2 million (USD 10.2 million) to replace five of the 88 bridges on the line, NZD 7.3 million (USD 4.6 million) for tunnels’ repairs, NZD 9.5 million (USD 6 million) for clearing drains and culverts. The work stabilising the slopes on nine embankments will see a NZD 4.7 million (USD 2.95 million) investment, while NZD 3.2 million (USD 2 million) will be used to review and make improvements at Whangarei Rail Yard.
“Without our investment, this rail line to Whangarei will become unsafe and have to close within five years – leaving Northland cut off from rail services most other regions have,” State Owned Enterprises Minister, Winston Peters, said.
The improvement of Northland line (North Auckland Line) will have impact on shifting road to rail transport, as currently 95% of the freight transport in Northland is moved by road.
“This work will make our freight train services faster, more reliable and much less prone to disruption. It gives more certainty for our customers and will make rail an option for Northland businesses and exporters to get their goods to market,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller said.
KiwiRail currently runs a freight service to and from Kauri, north of Whangarei each weekday. The company aims to complete the majority of the upgrade work in the next year.