New Zealand commits investment for rail projects

New Zealand rail infrastructureKiwi Rail has announced that the 2023 budget will provide an investment of NZD 569.2 million (USD 345.8 million) to be used to upgrade, modernise and improve resilience of New Zealand rail infrastructure, while plans investigating the electrification of more lines continue.

NZD 359.2 million (USD 218.2 million) will be used to deliver the rail network investment programme.  “The Government’s changes to funding rail infrastructure, using the same mechanism that pays for roads through the National Land Transport Fund, is creating certainty that allows KiwiRail to properly carry out network upgrades and improvements across the national rail network,” KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy said.

Initially, the funding plans were designed as an annual funding mechanism and shifting to a “long-term funding programme as we now have, means KiwiRail is better able to plan, manage costs and recruit the staff to carry out the crucial work that will lift our national railway to a reliable and resilient standard,” Peter Reidy underlined.

Up to NZD 200 million (USD 121.5 million) will ensure KiwiRail can get on with rebuilding North Island rail lines, damaged in extreme weather events and make those lines more resilient. This investment will strengthen New Zealand rail infrastructure damaged in January, when Cyclone Gabrielle hit the country. The lines in Hawke’s Bay region, on the eastern coast, and Northland and Auckland metro network were badly damaged. Through the government’s funding “we will be able to do some targeted investment in the affected regions to build back better, making damaged areas stronger, but also replacing some old assets so that the rail lines are more resilient to future weather events,” Peter Reidy said.

In April, KiwiRail reopened the railway line to Hastings and by the end of this year the line to Napier is planned to be reopened. Works are also implemented on the Napier – Wairoa line and on the Swanson – Whangārei section in Northland. We are trying to get the lines open is quickly as possible, but the sheer scale of the damage and issues with slope stability means it will take time,” company’s Chief Executive explained.

The financing also provides NZD 10 million (USD 6 million) for further rail electrification in the North Island used to a detailed business case stage, with initial design and engineering to scope the work, enabling funding on major decisions to be considered within this decade. Works to extend the electrification of Auckland network from Papakura to Pukekohe are proceeding and the latest funding will be used for planning the electrification of North Island rail lines such as the Golden Triangle (the Tauranga – Hamilton – Auckland route) which ensures half of all rail freight transport in New Zealand. Electrification plans also include the main North Island rail line, between Palmerston North and Wellington. Recently, the government announced it will provide funding for the procurement of diesel-battery trains to be put into operation on Wellington rail network.


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