Rail Plan sets rail network up for future growth

2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineDecember 17, 2019

The draft New Zealand Rail Plan lays out a pathway for sustainable planning and funding that will allow rail to play the role it should in the country‘s transport system, says KiwiRail Group chief executive Greg Miller.

Announced by Transport Minster Phil Twyford, the draft Rail Plan outlines the Government‘s strong commitment to rail and to restoring a resilient and reliable national rail network to support growing freight and passenger volumes over the next decade.

“This is an historic change in the way rail is treated in New Zealand. It reflects the growing role rail is playing in all markets it serves, including supporting big road freight operators nationally, which is consistent with trends overseas,” Miller says.

“At the moment KiwiRail has to seek Crown funding on an annual basis to support required investment in the national rail network. This short-term funding approach is not suitable for long-life infrastructure assets.” 

The new planning and funding model will address this by establishing a long-term programme of network investment through the National Land Transport Fund. Miller says not only does this approach treat road and rail equally, having a long-term strategy for planning and funding rail investment also gives KiwiRail the certainty it needs to make effective business decisions.

“With increasing freight volumes, growing road congestion and maintenance costs and the need to meet emission reduction targets, rail is a critical part of our transport system.  

“The draft Rail Plan is about making sure that rail – whether it‘s freight or passenger services – is funded fairly and sustainably over the decades ahead. It‘s about making sure our network is up to standard, which for our customers means schedule integrity and reliability, and provides them the confidence to make greater use of rail. Overall, the draft New Zealand Rail Plan sets the right conditions that will allow rail to grow, for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”

KiwiRail will work with stakeholders to bring together a rail network investment plan that will set out proposed investments in detail.