Photo / Supplied
The rail line between Whangārei and Auckland has re-opened after a year-long project, with the first containers from Northport in Northland received by KiwiRail today for transport by train to Swanson in West Auckland.
The project to improve the North Auckland line began a year ago, with the track opened last week, KiwiRail said in a statement. The line had been in a poor state after years of under-investment.
Funded by the government’s provincial growth fund, the work included replacing five bridges and lowering tracks in 13 tunnels in just seven months, to allow the passage of hi-cube shipping containers (standard in international shipping) in and out of Northland by rail.
Photo / Supplied
The $94.8 million project was announced in September 2019 by then State-Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.
Peters said Northland would be cut off from rail services most other regions have without this investment. “That’s unacceptable and unfair to the people of Northland."
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Jones said the project would inject millions into Northland and create work for locals.
“Wherever possible KiwiRail will be using Northland based contractors to carry out work. It will look to Northland first if they recruit more track staff, as well as sourcing materials in Northland.
“This initiative will see many millions of dollars being injected into Northland, helping stimulate the region’s economic growth,” Jones said.
In today's statement, KiwiRail Group chief executive Greg Miller said the project created employment in Northland for "everyone from new trainees to skilled professionals."
"At its peak, more than 600 people were working on the project at one time," he said.