Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of State Owned Enterprises
KiwiRail’s Northland rail upgrade steps up another gear today and will help Northland recover from the impacts of COVID-19, State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters says.
The Government is investing $204.5 million through the Provincial Growth Fund to revitalise Northland rail and re-open the rail line to Otiria, following decades of underinvestment that left the rail line connecting Auckland and Whangarei on the verge of closing.
KiwiRail has today stopped trains between Swanson and Whangarei and the line will remain closed while bridges are replaced and tracks lowered in all 13 tunnels. This will enable freight trains to carry standard hi-cube shipping containers for Northland exporters, once the line reopens.
“We’re making sure that Northland has access to the same rail services that other export regions have had for decades but this substantial Government investment will also help boost Northland’s economy right now,” Mr Peters says.
“Hundreds of tonnes of materials and at least 200 contractors and staff will be needed to undertake the upgrade work over the months ahead, and KiwiRail will be using local Northland people and businesses wherever possible.
“That will see tens of millions of dollars going into the regional economy, creating jobs and spending that will help Northland recover from the lockdown and impacts of COVID-19.”
The PGF funding for Northland rail includes $164.5 million to upgrade the section between Swanson and Kauri, just north of Whangarei, and re-open the northern section of line from Kauri to Otiria which has been closed for a number of years. A further $40 million will be used to purchase land along the rail route to Northport.
While COVID-19 has delayed work on the Northland Line, KiwiRail remains committed to have the line open and able to transport hi-cube containers by Christmas. Work will then continue on improving the track and on the mothballed sections north of Kauri, which is expected to re-open later in 2021.