Govt laying tracks to support economic recovery

 Govt laying tracks to support economic recovery

The Government is fulfilling its commitment to bring New Zealand’s rail network back up to scratch and support the economic recovery, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today.

KiwiRail’s inaugural Rail Network Investment Programme (RNIP) was released today which details renewals and upgrades on the rail network over the next three years.

The Programme includes:

·       Fully replacing 20 bridges around the country and improving around 25 more

·       Replacing more than 200km of rail sleepers

·       Replacing more than 130km of tracks

·       Adding active controls (barrier arms, lights/bells) to 3 level crossings and making improvements to 25 more through renewals

·       Upgrading signals on the Auckland metro network, a new Auckland train control centre and an additional power supply into the network, to support increased train frequency to come with the City Rail Link

·       Investing in a business case for further network improvements across Wellington, including looking at potentially extending electrification north of Waikanae to Levin and beyond.

Michael Wood said rail is key to keeping New Zealand moving and is supporting our economic recovery.

“The disruptions to the supply chain due to COVID have shown how important it is to have a reliable rail network to keep freight flowing, which keeps our economy moving. This $1.3 billion investment is about lifting our national rail network to a resilient and reliable standard.

“It is enabling KiwiRail to take on around 150 new track staff, including a pipeline of trainees, and will also support numerous civil contracting firms and material suppliers. There will be work happening across every region, supporting jobs and the economic recovery across the country. 

“It’s a no brainer to rescue rail from the state of managed decline the previous government left it in. It’s worth up to $2.1 billion to our economy and every year it prevents 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and 26 million car trips in Auckland and Wellington,” Michael Wood said.

Media contacts:

Minister Wood – Tom James 027 308 6010

Editors notes:

  • Under the NZ Rail Plan and the Land Transport (Rail) Legislation Act 2020, from 1 July KiwiRail receives rail network infrastructure funding through the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF).
  • The Government has contributed Crown funding of $834.4m to the NLTF through Budgets 2020 and 2021, which has increased the Rail Network activity class spending range in the GPS. Later this year, the Government will also be implementing track user charges to ensure rail users contribute to the NLTF.

This work builds on the Government’s revitalisation of rail, which includes:

  • re-opening the Wairoa to Napier line
  • building a third main line in Auckland (Wiri to Quay Park)
  • extending electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe
  • future rail stations at Drury to support housing development
  • future-proofing Auckland’s City Rail Link
  • bringing the rail line north of Auckland back up to scratch to help move freight
  • getting 15 new electric trains onto Auckland’s growing network
  • starting Te Huia – the Waikato to Auckland commuter service
  • starting work towards a Palmerston North Regional Economic Growth Hub
  • double tracking the rail line between Trentham and Upper Hutt
  • saving the Wairarapa line from deteriorating with critical maintenance work
  • bringing in new wagons and trains to replace aging assets
  • fully funding a South Island Mechanical Maintenance Hub which is being built at Waltham, Christchurch
  • investing to build a local wagon assembly facility at Hillside, Dunedin.

RNIP work – summary by region

Note: the information below is the indicative programme and may change as individual projects develop, additional information comes to hand or other new issues arise on the network. This is common practice within programme management and KiwiRail has a robust process in place to manage any change.


  • Fully replacing two bridges (195CA north of Kauri, 136 just south of Maungaturoto) and resilience works on one other (210 south of Otiria)
  • 1km of re-sleepering and 4km of re-railing + civil works to improve some formation and drainage
  • Significant upgrade work has already taken place on the Northland Line (PGF) to improve resilience and allow it to carry modern shipping containers, with more work planned to reopen and upgrade the mothballed line north of Kauri (PGF/NZUP) from 2022. Planning is underway to build a new spur line to Northport (NZUP)


  • Signals upgrades on the Auckland metro network, a new Auckland rail management centre (train control) and an additional traction feed (power supply) to support City Rail Link
  • Resilience works on two bridges (104 and 102, both north of Helensville)
  • 6km of re-railing, 2km of re-sleepering and 5 turnout replacements across the regional and metro lines
  • More than 2km of re-railing and re-sleepering work, and 12 turnout replacements within KiwiRail freight yards
  • Track renewals on the Mission Bush spur line (south of Paerata) – the rail line to Glenbrook steel mill
  • The Government has already made significant investment in the Auckland network with NZUP rail projects (3rd Main, P2P electrification, 3 new Southern Stations), and other major work across the network to support the City Rail Link


  • Business Case looking at extending double tracking on the NIMT between Amokura and Te Kauwhata and Ngaruawahia Bridge – which will remove a constraint on the network to support growing freight and passenger flows. This line is part of the Golden Triangle (Auckland – Hamilton – Tauranga), the busiest rail freight route in the country. The rest of the line between Auckland and Hamilton is already double tracked.
  • Re-sleepering 27km of track, re-railing 12 km of track, 24 turnout replacements + civil works to improve formation and drainage, culvert and retaining wall renewals, and slope stabilization. 
  • Resilience works on bridge 40 (between Waharoa and the Kaimai Tunnel).

Bay of Plenty:

  • Fully replacing bridge 83 (north of Te Puke) and resilience works on 2 other bridges in the region
  • Signal cable replacements between Te Puke – Pongakawa and Awakaponga – Kawerau
  • Re-sleepering more than 8km of track, re-railing 9 km of track, replacing 5 turnouts + civil works to improve drainage, culvert and retaining wall renewals, and coastal protection  

Hawkes Bay and Gisborne:

  • Strengthening (replacing the rail beam) bridge 156/Ormondville Viaduct (south of Takapau)
  • Re-sleepering 12km of track and some re-railing + civil works to improve formation and drainage, and culvert renewals


  • Re-sleepering 7km of track and some re-railing + civil works to improve formation and drainage, culvert renewals, retaining walls, bridge fish passages, and river protection


  • Fully replacing bridge 114 (on the NIMT north-east of Marton)
  • Upgrading level crossings at Clevely Line, Bunnythorpe, and Reserve Rd, Longburn (both around Palmerston North)
  • Re-sleepering 36km of track, re-railing 17 km of track, replacing 12 turnouts + civil works to improve formation and drainage, slope stability protection, and river protection
  • Replacing signals at Tokomaru, Shannon, Ohau and Manakau


  • Fully replacing bridges 30A and 30B (both north of Waikanae)
  • 24km of re-railing, 22km of re-sleepering and 29 turnout replacements across the regional and metro lines and rail yards + civil works to improve formation and drainage
  • A business case for further network improvements to support more commuter services across the region. This needs to be aligned with the long-distance rolling stock business case Greater Wellington Regional Council is currently developing around replacement rolling stock for Wellington, Wairarapa and Palmerston North. It will include looking at potentially extending electrification north of Waikanae to Levin and beyond.
  • A business case and design for the replacement of the existing rail signalling system, to support commuter growth
  • Significant upgrades for the Wellington network and Wairarapa Line are already underway, funded through Waka Kotahi Transitional Rail and NZUP


  • Fully replacing bridge 189 (south of Picton)
  • Removing overhead power cables/poles for signals between Picton and Spring Creek, which can be impacted by weather events.  This is the last remaining section on the Main North Line to have these removed.
  • More than 3km of re-sleepering and 1 km of re-railing + civil works to improve formation and drainage

North Canterbury (Main North Line):

  • Erosion protection and an upgrade for bridge 120 (just south of Clarence) and strengthening bridge 72 (south of Mina)
  • Coastal protection work between Claverley and Oaro
  • Re-sleepering more than 12km of track, rerailing more than 4km of track and 1 turnout replacement + civil works to improve formation and drainage, and slope treatments/stabilization

Central Canterbury (Midland Line section):

  • Fully replacing  one bridge (43, south of Arthurs Pass) and strengthening another (16, viaduct north of Springfield)
  • Ongoing track renewals work in the 8.5km long Otira Tunnel
  • Re-sleepering 6km, rerailing 3km and replacing 9 turnouts + civil works to improve formation and drainage, retaining walls, slope stability protection and river protection
  • Re-signalling work at Darfield, Jacksons, Rotomanu, Moana and Kokiri

West Coast (including Midland Line section):

  • Fully replacing bridge 23 (north of Stillwater), and strengthening two other bridges (13, south of Greymouth and 133, north of Waimangaroa)
  • Fully replacing four bridges on the Midland Line (93, 89, and 88 – south of Kokiri) and 56 (north of Otira)
  • 21km of track re-sleepered, 15km of track re-railed and 7 turnouts replaced + civil works to improve formations and drainage, slope stabilization and river protection

South Canterbury (Main South Line):

  • Fully replacing 6 bridges and resilience work on 8 other bridges between Rolleston and the Waitaki River
  • Upgrading the Heaton St level crossing in Timaru
  • Rebuilding the seawall between Scarborough and Redruth
  • Re-sleepering 13km of track, rerailing 3km of track and replacing 20 turnouts + civil works to improve formation and drainage, and slope stabilisation


  • Signals improvements between Lyttleton and Dunedin
  • Rebuilding the seawall that protects the Oamaru rail yard
  • Fully replacing bridge 194 (south of Palmerston)
  • Re-sleepering 21km of track, rerailing 6km of track and replacing 5 turnouts + civil works to improve formation and drainage, culvert renewals, slope stabilization, retaining wall renewals and coastal protection


  • Renewals (track, structures, formation) across on the Ohai Line
  • 7km of re-sleepering, 5km of re-railing and 3 turnout replacements + civil works to improve formation

Tom James |Press Secretary (he/him)

Office of Hon. Michael Wood

Minister of Transport

Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety

Deputy Leader of the HouseMobile: +64 27 308 6010


Authorised by Jacinda Ardern MP, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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