$94.8 million to benefit Northland’s economy
Published: Sep 26, 2019 · Updated: Dec 1, 2020
The Provincial Growth Fund’s $94.8 million investment to maintain and improve the railway line between Swanson and Whangarei, will have significant benefits for Northland’s economy.
The track has been in “managed decline” and was looking likely to close within five years.
State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the funding, part of the $300 million PGF commitment for rail, early in September.
Winston Peters said without the track Northland would be “cut off” which would be unacceptable and unfair to the people of Northland.
The funding will see about 54 kilometres of the 181 kilometre track replaced or upgraded; tens of thousands of sleepers replaced, tens of thousands of cubic metres of ballast added; aging bridges replaced; overdue maintenance work on tunnels carried out; ditches cleared and embankments stabilised.
The work includes:
- $53.1 million for improving track resilience and reducing wear on the track and on rolling stock. Approximately 30 per cent (54km) of the network will be either upgraded or replaced, particularly worn areas where there are bends, turnouts, and steep grades. Approximately 50,000 sleepers are expected to be replaced and 50,000 cubic metres of ballast added.
- $16.2 million for replacing five bridges with which are deteriorating.
- $7.3 milliion to repair 13 tunnels, including Tunnel 2, one of the longest on the NAL. The work will also include investigating below ground conditions for all the tunnels in preparation for later work to lower their ground levels to fit larger, modern shipping containers.
- $9.5 million to clear drains and culverts along the 181km stretch of line. This includes remedial work on nearly 240 culverts which are in poor condition.
- $4.7 million to stabilise the slopes on nine embankments, including drainage improvements and widening the embankments.
- $0.8 million for control of vegetation along the track to protect it and the rolling stock, as well as improving access to worksites.
- $3.2 milliion to improve the Whangarei Rail Yard to improve safety, and make freight handling and storage more efficient.
Shane Jones said the investment will help improve freight services on the line, make it more resilient to weather events and make freight services more timely and reliable.
“Not only does it set the right conditions for KiwiRail to grow its freight business, wherever possible KiwiRail will be using Northland based contractors to carry out work. It will look to Northland first if they recruit more track staff, as well as sourcing materials in Northland. This initiative will see many millions of dollars being injected into Northland, helping stimulate the region’s economic growth,” Shane Jones said.