Updating our assets

Recent years have seen an unprecedented Government investment in rail designed  to reinvigorate our national rail system after decades of under-investment.  

Rail delivers up to $2.14 billion in often unseen benefits to New Zealand every year – including reducing congestion and road maintenance costs and improving road safety by taking heavy and light vehicles off our roads.

With moving freight by rail producing 70 percent fewer emissions than moving freight by road, it is also an important means of reducing our transport emissions.

Currently, only 12 percent of total freight and 25 percent of exports in New Zealand are moved by rail and our aim is to increase those numbers.

The Government investment, in time, will enable KiwiRail to translate customer demands into improved services, get the equipment we need to be able to grow capacity, and put in place the technology that will enable us to track freight, and make it easier for our customers to do business with us.

Around $1.9 billion, funded through Budgets 2019 – 2022, is being used to replace aging locomotives and wagons and upgrade rail facilities around the country.

For example, this investment sees KiwiRail:

  • Replacing our North Island main line diesel locomotive fleet, fully replacing our South Island fleet with low-emissions locomotives, as well as new locomotives and electric shunt engines;
  • Refurbishing our North Island electric locomotives;
  • Purchasing 1,300 wagons to replace-end of life assets; and
  • Preparing to assemble an additional 1,500 wagons at Dunedin’s iconic Hillside Workshops – creating jobs and raising skills.

The Government’s New Zealand Rail Plan is another crucial development which supports KiwiRail’s commercial sustainability by introducing a new model for ongoing network investment and maintenance. It sees tracks, bridges and other infrastructure paid for from the National Land Transport Fund, so rail is considered alongside roading investment.

In 2021 KiwiRail launched its first Rail Network Investment Programme (RNIP), which outlines more than $1.3 billion in spending on renewals and maintenance over the first three years. The programme enables infrastructure investment certainty, confidence about jobs and assurance to our customers.

The combination of modern assets and a sustainable mechanism for funding network maintenance and renewals, is a cornerstone of improving the reliability of KiwiRail’s freight operations and shifting more of New Zealand’s freight task to rail.