North Auckland Rail Line receives $94.8m for upgrades and repairs

By Mare Haimona-Riki

$94.8 million worth of repairs and upgrades have been allocated to the North Auckland Rail Line (NAL) that are set to be completed within the next two years.

The aim of the investment is to fund the repairs for the rail line, allowing the average speed of freight trains to rise from 40 km/hr to 80 km/hr. This will, in turn, encourage companies to use trains as opposed to trucks to transfer goods.

Roads being overrun by logging trucks and other goods is something that the Minister of  Regional Economic Development Shane Jones is familiar with.

"I am no stranger to the cause, or the expectations amongst my relations in the north, having just driven from Whangarei to Ruakākā and almost being driven off the road this morning," he said at the press conference held at the Helensville Station. 

The funding received will provide for freight trains currently travelling on the North Auckland Rail Line. Source: Kiwi Rail

This is only the first phase of the $300 million allocation to the NAL.

The 181 km line that spans from Swanson to Whangarei will need much more money and time in order to make the necessary repairs to the 80-year-old rail line.

"The priority after this phase, which is 54 kms of track, seven bridges and 50,000 tonnes of ballast, is these 13 tunnels, 5.5 kms of tunnels that need to be replaced," says Chief Executive of Kiwi Rail, Greg Miller.

The final repairs and upgrades for this project are set to be completed by September 2021.