Please note: the North Auckland Line from Swanson is currently closed as the result of significant weather damage in early 2023. Repairs are underway.
KiwiRail is improving Northland’s rail and providing sustainable transport connections with Auckland and the rest of New Zealand. The Northland Rail Upgrade supports the movement of more freight by rail, helping to lower transport emissions.
Freight volumes in Northland are expected to increase to 23 million tonnes by 2042. Rail is crucial to developing an efficient, integrated transport system for the region. Each tonne of freight carried by rail has 70 per cent fewer emissions than that carried by road. It also helps reduce road congestion and road maintenance costs through fewer truck journeys.
The benefits of rail are opening up to Northland as KiwiRail delivers several stages of work, made possible by significant Government investment through the NZ Upgrade Programme.
KiwiRail is re-opening the line between Kauri-Otiria and acquiring the land needed for a rail link to Northport at Marsden Point. This follows earlier upgrades to the line between Swanson and Whangārei to allow for larger modern containers and heavier loads to be carried on the line.
The rail line between Kauri (just north of Whangārei) and Otiria (near Moerewa) will be re-opened and upgraded to carry 18 tonne axle loads, enabling larger, heavier trains to run. KiwiRail will also build a road / rail transfer site at Otiria.
Work began in 2022, and will include replacing rail and sleepers and strengthening some bridges before the line can be re-opened to regular freight services by the end of 2024.
While freight trains are not yet running, work trains and other rail vehicles are using the line so it is important people take care as they approach level crossings in the area.
Around 30,000 containers leave Northland each year and rail can now tap into this market. KiwiRail upgraded the North Auckland Line between Swanson and Whangārei, allowing hi-cube shipping containers to be carried on the line for the first time.
Highlights of the project:
The line re-opened in early 2021 after a four-month closure to allow for the tunnel and bridge upgrades.
Northport is one of the few ports in New Zealand that is not rail connected. A short spur is needed to join it to the national rail network, adding much needed resilience to the wider North Island supply chain by creating more transport options.
The route, designated for rail use in 2012, is approximately 19km and runs between Oakleigh, south of Whangārei, and Northport. The width of the designated rail corridor future proofs for double tracking and all five road crossings on the route would be grade separated if the rail link goes ahead.
Government investment has enabled KiwiRail to begin the necessary land acquisition for the route.
The next steps are to:
Once the rail link project gets underway, we expect it to take five years to deliver.