The government has launched its New Zealand Rail Plan to ease congestion in the North Island by establishing a rail freight and passenger services network from Wellington to Auckland. It is a 10-year strategy for rail network investment.
“The beauty of the Rail Plan, and the related work programme, is that for the first time KiwiRail has certainty about investment in the network,” KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller says.
“For us, that means we can recruit staff and take on apprentices, knowing that a 10-year pipeline of work is in front of us.
“It also gives us certainty about procurement because we know there will be investment in the network.
Miller says customers also get certainty through this process, enabling them to invest confidently in their own businesses, knowing which rail renewals and maintenance will be prioritised, and that the rail services they depend on will be reliable.
“Together, the Rail Plan and the Rail Network Investment Programme will support infrastructure pipeline certainty, more effective investment decisions and a reliable and successful service for building freight and passengers.”
According to The Value of Rail report, another 26 million vehicle trips would happen in Auckland and Wellington every year if there were no commuter rail, including 24,000 transport trucks, and CO2 emissions would rise by 2.5million tonnes yearly.
“Rail has an essential role to play in our transport system given increasing freight volumes, road congestion and road maintenance costs and the need to reduce emissions,” Miller says.
“The Covid-19 lockdowns last year highlighted the value of rail to our supply chains and New Zealand’s economic recovery.
He says rail is playing a growing role in transport networks internationally and in New Zealand.
“We’re working for our nation’s GDP, working hard for our primary industry import and export partners as well as the larger road transporters in New Zealand, who are increasingly aligning with rail.
Miller says it will encourage a greater use of rail and make it a more attractive proposition for other New Zealand businesses, too.
"That’s good for our business, and for reducing New Zealand’s emissions.”
KiwiRail is developing its first Rail Network Investment Programme, which will be the basis of funding requests through the National Land Transport Fund.