Rail: $8m injection to reboot regional rail

Regional Economic Development Minister and Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones has today announced the first of many regional rail initiatives the Government is looking to support.

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will provide $8.75 million to reopen the Wairoa-Napier line for logging trains, upgrade the Whanganui line for mainline locomotives carrying exports and fund feasibility studies for three further regional rail projects.

“These are just the initial shovel-ready rail projects that are ready to go and have been in the pipeline for some time,” Mr Jones says.

“The Government has signalled its strong commitment to using rail to drive regional growth and I expect more projects will be funded over time from the PGF.

“These are relatively modest investments in dollar terms, but we expect them to deliver good value and to support regional businesses.

“The Government is making safety a higher priority when it invests in transport and taking logging trucks off challenging roads contributes to that.

“KiwiRail’s financial result released this week showed an 8 per cent revenue increase in its overall forestry business in the six months to December – a result being driven by strong growth in the volume of logs.

“Rail generates 66 per cent fewer carbon emissions compared to heavy trucks – the sort of reduction we need to meet our country’s ambitious climate change targets.

 “We’re providing $250,000 for three feasibility studies on KiwiRail projects in Kawerau, Southland and New Plymouth – $750,000 in total.

“The Kawerau study will look at options for creating an inland hub to connect exports from Murapara and Kawerau to rail.

“In Southland, KiwiRail will work with local forestry interests and ports to determine the best export flows for forestry and containers and the New Plymouth study will also focus mainly on opportunities for forestry exports.

“I look forward to learning more about the three proposals and continuing to be a champion for regional rail,” Mr Jones says.