Inaugural rail programme creates certainty and jobs

8 July, 2021

The inaugural three-year plan for investing in New Zealand’s rail network creates certainty and jobs and marks the start of a new era for KiwiRail, the company’s Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says. 

Today Transport Minister Michael Wood released the first Rail Network Investment Programme (RNIP), which details the $1.3 billion investment to maintain and improve rail lines across the country over the next three years.

“This plan has major benefits for KiwiRail, will create and sustain jobs, and will help ensure New Zealand’s exports and domestic freight get where they need to go,” Mr Miller says.

“It covers the important work of replacing aging bridges, worn-out tracks and the civil works necessary to ensure that our national rail network is up to standard so that the thousands of train services we run are reliable.

“With 70 per cent fewer emissions than road transport, getting more freight onto rail offers a real opportunity to reduce New Zealand’s transport emissions. But we’re only going to see that mode-shift if we have a resilient and reliable network. This first RNIP is about getting the basics right, which will allow us to really grow rail.”

Mr Miller says having a funded three-year plan also creates the certainty needed for KiwiRail and its customers to make effective business decisions.

“Instead of having to go to the Government every 12 months for funding to maintain the network without knowing if we will get more money the next year, we now have certainty of funding and a three-year plan.

“That’s essential for any infrastructure business and it means we can confidently take on the staff we need, knowing there is a pipeline of work ahead of us. KiwiRail is among New Zealand’s largest infrastructure construction companies, with about 1,200 track staff already, working 24/7 across the country. We need to increase our staff by 15 per cent to carry out this work, with a commitment taking on more trainees. In addition, this investment will support numerous civil contractors and material supply businesses.

“Having a solid plan also gives KiwiRail a massive procurement advantage. The best way to use capital is to carefully plan spending. For example, the RNIP means we can purchase some materials needed in bulk three years at a time, which helps manage costs. 

“I’m sure our customers will be delighted with the RNIP. It gives them clarity on where network investment will be happening and when, so that they can make their own investment decisions.

“KiwiRail’s freight customers are crucial to New Zealand’s GDP and they are already having to navigate the disruption Covid-19 has had on the global supply chain. With this plan we are able to assure them that the rail component of their supply chain can be relied upon.”

The RNIP details the work KiwiRail will be undertaking between mid-2021 and 2024, in line with the Government direction outlined in the NZ Rail Plan. The work is funded through the National Land Transport Fund and has to be approved by the Minister of Transport.

The Rail Network Investment Programme is available at


Summary by region of rail work to be carried out under RNIP

Please note: the programme of work is indicative and may change as individual projects develop.



  • 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