KiwiRail applauds recognition in the Northland Rail Business Case, released today, of the strategic value of a viable rail network for the region.
“We are pleased that this business case recognises rail’s critical role supporting regional economic development and potential to grow Northland’s export GDP,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.
You only need look to the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty where the development of key export industries in the 1950s to 70s – dairy, forestry and horticulture - were matched by Government investment in rail with the Te Rapa yard, Kinleith and Murupara branch lines and the Kaimai tunnel.
“Those projects ensured strong connections to Tauranga’s port and the rest is history.
“With those same industries now developing in Northland, the region will need a modern rail network to make sure supply chains are in place.
“Northport is, other than Nelson, the only key port that does not have a rail connection and as a result Northland’s railway lines are underused.
“The newest parts of the North Auckland rail line are almost 100 years old, and the oldest parts up to 140 years old. Without investment, the line will likely need to close within the next three to five years, because of the state of its infrastructure. That would mean even more heavy vehicles on the region’s roads.
“Rail is a driver of economic development and jobs through our freight network, tourism services and the passenger services we enable.
“We also deliver 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.
“We have supported the business case with work to better understand what is needed to bring the existing lines up to a modern standard and advancing design of a rail connection to Northport.”