KiwiRail has completed the first stage of its investigations into a 20km spur line to Northport at Marsden Point and will begin the next stage of exploration this year, Acting Chief Executive Todd Moyle says.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Minister of Regional Development Shane Jones were in Northland today to speak with rail workers and witness the final day’s drilling.
“Our teams have spent the past three months drilling into hills, land and coastal areas to gain a full picture of the challenges of building what would be rail’s first new significant branch line in more than 50 years,” says Mr Moyle.
“This is not an easy job but it is a real signal of the Government’s commitment to boosting regional economies through rail.
“Our investigations have focused on areas where the most significant engineering works would be needed.
“Over coming months, we will be carrying out further work along the route to advance the design of the line and prepare for the next phases of the project.
“Concurrently we are looking at how we can upgrade the North Auckland Line between Auckland and Oakleigh. The tunnels on that line are old, low and narrow. We have had two significant derailments on the line in recent months due to a lack of funding for maintenance. It has been unable to carry passengers for the past year and freight options are restricted.
“This is the result of low freight volumes on the line and KiwiRail needing to spend its limited capital where the most freight flows,” Mr Moyle says.
KiwiRail Chairman Greg Miller says significant agricultural and horticultural investment is going into Northland and an efficient supply chain will be critical.
“What we are seeing now through the Provincial Growth Fund is a renewal of regional rail and an acceptance of the wider benefits rail brings to regions such as taking trucks off the road, reducing road maintenance costs, improving road safety and producing fewer carbon emissions.
“There is a long way to go in Northland but we are heartened by what we have found so far,” Mr Miller says.
Video of speeches made by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, Minister of Regional Development Shane Jones, KiwiRail Acting Chief Executive Todd Moyle and KiwiRail Chairman Greg Miller is available here: https://youtu.be/2R1v2fDR6kE