New Zealand’s 2017 Budget has revealed that its railways are set for a boost of almost $1 billion.
KiwiRail will benefit from $450 million to be invested into rail infrastructure and rolling stock, Auckland’s City Rail link – which is under construction – will receive a $436 million boost and Wellington’s commuter rail network has been set aside $98.4 million for upgrades.
Transport minister Simon Bridges said that the government has invested more than $4.2 billion in rail since taking office in 2008 and wants to ensure the network can improve its reliability with the latest round of investment.
He added: “The government wants to put the rail network on a longer-term sustainable footing. In the year ahead we will be conducting a wider review of KiwiRail’s operating structure and longer-term capital requirements.
“Restoring the South Island Main Trunk Line is a key priority for the government. KiwiRail has been making excellent progress clearing slips, obstructions, and reinstating the rail track so that this essential connection can open by the end of the year.
“Budget 2017 will support KiwiRail by making funds available for this essential reinstatement work to continue while their insurance claim is finalised.”
KiwiRail Chairman Trevor Janes said: “The Budget funding announced today will predominantly be invested in KiwiRail’s rolling stock and network to ensure the reliability gains of the past two years continue, and in Zero Harm initiatives to improve the safety of our people, customers and the public at large.
“The plan to review the way rail is funded in the longer-term will offer more even surety to our customers, our people and the transformation of the business.”
This funding for the Wellington commuter rail network will allow the remaining timber poles and overhead wires that provide power for trains on the Hutt Valley, Melling and Johnsonville rail lines to be replaced.