Funding our network

Recent years have seen unprecedented Government investment in rail, a move 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.

Rail is an important way for reducing New Zealand’s transport emissions. Commuter rail in Auckland and Wellington means around 26 million fewer car trips a year, and each tonne of freight carried by rail has 70 per cent fewer emissions than the equivalent amount carried by road.

Raising the standard of the national rail network – the tracks, bridges and other rail infrastructure across the country - is crucial for ensuring freight and passenger services can operate reliably.

This is why the Government has recently introduced a more sustainable model for funding ongoing network maintenance and renewals, with an initial focus on raising the network to a ‘resilient and reliable’ level. The changes saw the introduction of the first NZ Rail Plan, KiwiRail’s Rail Network Investment Programme (RNIP), and rail infrastructure funded from the National Land Transport Fund, which also pays for roads. More than $1.3 billion is being invested in network renewals and maintenance nationwide over the first three years of the RNIP.

This approach gives greater funding certainty and allows better forward planning to raise the standard of the national rail network and ensure it stays that way. More information about the new approach is on our RNIP page.

Government funded rail projects

The Government has also made a number of investments to improve and extend the national rail network.

More than $1 billion provided through the NZ Upgrade Programme is being used to:

  • Build a third main line (Wiri to Quay Park) that will ease congestion and support growth on the busiest part of Auckland metro rail network
  • Extend electrification to Pukekohe to provide a faster ride into Auckland
  • Build three new train stations around Drury to support housing growth
  • Improve the rail approach to the Wellington Railway Station and provide new platforms and improvements to the Wairarapa Line to support more frequent commuter services across the Wellington region.
  • Develop a business case to construct a rail spur from the Northland Line, near Whangārei, to Northport – one of the few New Zealand ports that is not rail connected.  

This spending came on top of a $327 million investment in the Wellington metro network, which includes improvements at Plimmerton, double tracking between Trentham and Upper Hutt and raising the standard of the aging Wairarapa Line and in the Remutaka Tunnel.

KiwiRail has also received funding for a range of regional projects through the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund. These include:

  • $218 million to save and upgrade the Northland Line, and to start purchasing land along the designated spur route to Northport. The Northland Line now has five new bridges and the tracks in 13 tunnels have been lowered, so that freight trains carrying hi-cube shipping containers can run through them. In 2022 we began work on upgrading the line north of Whangārei to Otiria, which is currently mothballed. Overall, these improvements will support getting more of Northland’s growing freight task onto rail.
  • $40 million seed funding to design, designate and purchase land for a new Regional Freight Hub near Palmerston North. This will be major step forward in New Zealand’s approach to freight logistics. A purpose-designed facility to link rail and road together like this hasn’t been seen before in New Zealand.
  • $6.2 million to reopen the Napier to Wairoa train line to run logging trains to Napier Port, which are helping take heavy logging trucks off regional roads which were never designed for them.