Work is underway in Northland that could see a new rail line open linking Northport-Marsden Point into New Zealand’s rail network – the first significant new rail line in more than 50 years.
At the same time we are looking at what would need to be done to bring the North Auckland Line up to modern standards so that freight containers could travel down the line to Auckland.
The Government has an Upper North Island Supply Chain Study underway which will focus on the respective roles, opportunities and options for Northport, Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga.
An improved and extended North Auckland Line could play a key role in that.
Drilling takes place near Marsden Point as part of spur line investigations.
Northland’s railway lines are underused at the moment because of their condition. Currently we run one week-day return service to Auckland on the line, predominantly carrying dairy and forestry freight.
The line has lower speeds than the rest of the network. It also has lower weight limits, and, because of its very old tunnels, it cannot carry the same containers carried elsewhere on the network.
There are 13 tunnels on the line – some more than 100 years old – and these are a focus of the assessment work KiwiRail is completing, along with bridges and other structures on the line.
KiwiRail has held a designation for a 20km Marsden Point rail spur for several years, and we are investigating the design and potential construction methods for the link, as well as costs and timeframes.
That work will feed into a business case for Northland rail which is currently being developed by the Ministry of Transport.
The Government has indicated its strong support for the value rail delivers in the regions and the benefits it brings for New Zealand by taking trucks off the road, improving road safety and reducing carbon emissions.
The work we are doing in Northland is one of a number of projects underway to ensure we deliver stronger connections for a better New Zealand.