June 07, 2021
Rail funding will unlock north
KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller says connecting Northport to the national rail network has the potential to turn Taitokerau into the North of Plenty on par with the horticulture growth seen in the Bay of Plenty since the 1950s.
The Government announced last week it would fund a new 19km rail line between Whangārei and Northport and upgrade the rail line north of Whangārei to handle heavy freight trains as part of its New Zealand Upgrade Programme.
In January KiwiRail reopened the line between Whangārei and Swanson after lowering the track in 13 tunnels to take wagons carrying hi-cube containers.
Mr Miller says rail services and the Kaimai Tunnel enabled Port of Tauranga to grow into what it is today.
In the same way, rail will be able to support Northport and bring wider economic benefits across Northland.
He says the Ministry of Transport’s 2019 Northland rail business case estimated with the planned improvements Northland rail tonnage could reach 2.2 million tonnes a year, and he believes it can go even higher.
A study will be undertaken to finalise the scope, cost and timing for the spur build and KiwiRail will be engaging with iwi and other stakeholders.
KiwiRail is committed to using local construction businesses and material suppliers wherever possible â€“ as it did for the Northland Line upgrade.
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