By Phil Twyford, Minister for Tansport, Labour Party MP for Te Atatū.
After years of neglect, our Government is getting rail back on track.
Whether it’s boosting growth in our regions, reducing carbon emissions, or getting more heavy trucks off our roads and giving people real transport options in our cities – we recognise the value that rail brings.
Previous governments took a hands-off approach and left rail in a state of managed decline.
The $1 billion for rail this year’s Budget is just the beginning of the revitalisation of rail.
Already we have been making progress.
In Auckland, the City Rail Link when finished will carry the equivalent of 16 extra lanes of traffic in and out of Auckland CBD every day during peak hours.
Our Government is investing $196 million in the Wellington regional rail network.
Without this, the line had been expected to deteriorate with more and more disruptions to services.
The regions have been getting their share, too.
Our Government has re-opened the Napier-Wairoa line.
This will be crucial for the local forestry sector as forestry harvests around Wairoa are predicted to quadruple in the coming years. Trucks won’t be able to haul all those logs alone. Trains will be needed to get this vital export to the Port of Napier.
When the train services are fully up and running, they are expected to replace 15,000 truck journeys each year on the region’s roads, making them safer and reducing wear and tear.
Next year we will start up a passenger service between Hamilton and Auckland, giving the growing number of people commuting between Hamilton and Auckland real choice.
Our Government also announced this week that Dunedin’s Hillside workshop $20m upgrade to upgrade the two main rail workshops at the site and KiwiRail expect this will create 40 new jobs.
There’s more to come and we’re determined rail will play its part as nation-building infrastructure for the 21st century.
Phil Twyford is Minister for Tansport and Labour Party MP for Te Atatū.