Sunday, July 13, 2014

NZ First rail policy announced: Railways of National Importance

Below is the New Zealand First rail policy, released on Sunday by Winston Peters at a press conference in Gisborne:


  • New Zealand First will ensure that none of New Zealand’s railway lines and other strategic railways infrastructure will be privatised, and will remain under state control and ownership to ensure that public service rather than commercial objectives is the paramount consideration.
  • New Zealand First’s vision includes passenger train services along all rail routes between the main centres, with connecting coach services linking outlying areas or running services between centres which don't have a railway line. These services would provide a mixture of accommodation standards and fares to make rail services more affordable for New Zealanders to use e.g. half the carriages to be high standard premium fare similar to that provided on current KiwiRail tourist focussed trains such as the Northern Explorer and Tranz Alpine services, and the other half of the carriages being basic, affordable economy fare intercity market, e.g. railcars would have one premium carriage and one economy carriage. The Silver Fern railcars, former Overlander carriages and Silver Star carriages could be appropriately refurbished and upgraded locally in railway workshops to operate daytime regional Intercity services. Fast modern railcars and new carriages, New Zealand built where possible, could later be purchased for certain routes.
  • As a state-owned enterprise, KiwiRail is currently heavily constrained because it is required to pay for the maintenance, renewal and upgrade of rail infrastructure through the revenue generated from its freight and other businesses.
  • New Zealand’s rail network is a national asset that must be developed to optimise its long term role in support of New Zealand’s economy and of an efficient and cost effective multi-modal and well integrated transport system.
  • New Zealand First will develop a programme of railways of national importance (RONI) to ensure that better use of our railway network and services are achieved, with improvements and extensions where there is opportunity to significantly reduce dependence on the roading network, especially for heavy freight and bulk freight services, but also where passenger services can be redeveloped to attract sufficient demand over time.
  • To this end New Zealand First will not require the whole cost of development of new railway tracks and services, and of electric reticulation, to be met by revenue generated by railway service charges; and these will instead be met in whole or in part by a combination of Land Transport Fund funding and crown grants.
  • The Land Transport Fund funding will be achieved by reallocating funding from the current RONS $12 billion plus programme. An initial budget of $400 million would be created by reprioritising Roads of National Significance (RONS) projects that have low or marginal benefits.
  • The rail routes listed below would form the basis of the core transport network between the main centres with daily passenger and freight services, and with the tracks being upgraded or new lines built as required, together with new transport interchanges between trains and buses, and freight hubs in all the main centres:

- Auckland-Whangarei-Opua
- Auckland-Pokeno-Paeroa-Te Aroha-Tauranga-Whakatane
- Auckland-Hamilton-Tokoroa-Rotorua-Taupo
- Auckland-Wellington
- Wellington-New Plymouth
- Wellington-Gisborne (via the Wairarapa line)
- Picton-Christchurch-Dunedin-Invercargill.

Napier-Gisborne Railway (James White photo)

  • The following are the proposed RONI projects to be considered in the long – medium term, subject to detailed cost and benefit analysis to confirm their value:

1. North Auckland  and Marsden Point Line

Northland needs good rail connections to the rest of New Zealand if it is to grow. That means upgrading the Auckland to Whangarei line. Good rail links to Northland means developing a rail link from the main line to Marsden Point port, which has great advantages as a deepwater harbour that does not require dredging. There is also plenty of land for expansion.  There is great scope for it to serve as a container port and take pressure off Auckland and Tauranga. The potential of the Port of Northland for the region, as well as for the country as a whole, is being strangled by lack of an effective rail link.

2. Rolling Electrification Programme

New Zealand First proposes an on-going rail electrification programme to use the skills and expertise built up in the current Auckland suburban rail electrification project. The first project will be to extend electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe. Other potential projects to be investigated include electrification between Auckland and Hamilton, Hamilton and Tauranga, and extending electrification north from Waikanae and from Upper Hutt to Masterton. Many other projects for electrification would follow in later years:

- Lyttelton-Christchurch-Greymouth.
- Christchurch suburban area.
- Picton-Christchurch-Dunedin-Invercargill.

3. Regional Opportunities

Funds will be made available for smaller capital investment opportunities that KiwiRail is unable to fund given its current funding constraints.

In particular, $4m will be used reinstate the Napier –Gisborne line as soon as possible.

4. Cook Strait Ferries

The Cook Strait Ferry service and vessels will be funded for upgrades to ensure a high quality fast reliable and safe service for freight and passengers.

5. Auckland-Pokeno-Paeroa-Te Aroha-Tauranga-Whakatane

A new line to be built along the rail formation between Pokeno-Paeroa-Te Aroha, a new line to be built between Te Aroha and the western portal of the Kaimai tunnel and a new line to be built between Awakeri and Whakatane, all combined creating a shorter and more direct rail route into the Bay of Plenty.

6. Auckland-Hamilton-Tokoroa-Rotorua-Taupo

A new line to be built between Kinleith-Rotorua-Taupo primarily for forestry traffic, as well as for general freight and passengers.

7. Nelson-Blenheim

A new line to be built between Blenheim and Nelson, completing this long proposed project for freight and passengers.         

8. Auckland International Airport

A new line to be built to link the Auckland International Airport with the rail system. The proposed new integrated terminal at Auckland (like that built at Christchurch International Airport) is already being designed to accommodate a rail terminal within the building.

9. Auckland City Rail Link

Build the Auckland City Rail Link tunnel project under central Auckland as soon as possible, jointly funded with the Auckland Council.

10. Northland

New lines to be built to link the rail system with ports in Northland between Oakleigh and Northport at Marsden Point, and Otiria and Opua in the Bay of Islands.

11. New suburban services

New suburban passenger train services will be investigated for Christchurch, Dunedin, Tauranga and between Hamilton and Auckland.

This includes an initial investigation into establishing suburban passenger train services in Christchurch, Dunedin, Tauranga and between Hamilton and Auckland using Auckland’s surplus diesel rolling stock immediately following the introduction of electric services in Auckland.

12. Rail siding grant scheme

New Zealand First will introduce a grant scheme to encourage greater use of rail transport by industry and by distribution centres, where the cost of installing or re-commissioning rail sidings will be met 50/50 by the businesses using the rail siding and the New Zealand Railways Corporation.

New Railways structure proposed by NZ First

KiwiRail would be restructured by splitting it into three new  organisations:

1. New Zealand Railways Corporation - owning and managing rail land, tracks and infrastructure, stations and rail-freight centres, shunting yards, workshops, train control systems, managing and maintaining the rail network, allocating access to the rail network for rail operating companies, setting rail training standards and qualifications, and acting as the rail regulator and licence agency.

2. Kiwi Rail - operating rail passenger services between all main centres, and operating the Interisland ferries.

3. Rail Freight – a new State Owned Enterprise operating a commercial rail freight business.

1 comment:

  1. i support all this and more , these are a great step forward lets hope for a large vote for NZ first in 2017