Saturday, April 13, 2024

$569m Kiwirail investment to future proof network

KiwiRail Chief Executive, Peter Reidy says Budget 2023 will further enable work to upgrade the national railway, improve rail resilience in weather damaged regions, and progress investigation into more rail line electrification. 

 The $569.2 million Budget investment announced today includes:   

  • $359.2 million for the fifth year (FY 2025/26) of the Rail Network Investment Programme (RNIP);
  • Up to $200 million to ensure KiwiRail can get on with rebuilding North Island rail lines damaged in extreme weather events and make those lines more resilient;
  • $10 million to take further rail electrification in the North Island 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.

“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,” Mr Reidy said.

He said the shift from an annual funding regime to a long-term funding programme meant KiwiRail was better able to plan, manage costs and recruit staff.

Mr Reidy also welcomed the Government’s investment of up to $200 million to rebuild and strengthen rail lines damaged in severe weather events; along with funding to help the network resist the impacts of climate change and reduce emissions.

“Rail already produces 70% fewer emissions per tonne carried, compared to road freight, and Government support is enabling us to extend the Auckland electrified network from Papakura to Pukekohe. But we need to go further to reduce our transport emissions.”

“The Government’s $10 million funding will allow us to look in detail at how best to electrify more North Island rail lines – such as the Golden Triangle (Tauranga – Hamilton – Auckland), which carries around half of all rail freight in New Zealand. We’ll also look at how best to complete electrification along the main North Island rail line, between Palmerston North and Wellington.”

“Electrification is costly and doing the planning and design work now, rather than years away, will allow us to fully understand options and costs so that the Government can then make informed investment decisions.”

 “We will be regularly reporting progress to the Minister of Transport, as it is a key strategic opportunity for decarbonising the transport system – lifting the already strong emissions credentials of rail freight and broadening options for electric passenger rail services as well,” he said.

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