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Northland rail investment massive boost for region

A vital investment in the Northland rail line will finally bring the track out of managed decline and preserve future investment opportunities, State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones say.

The Government, through the Provincial Growth Fund, has announced a $94.8 million investment to maintain and improve the North Auckland Line between Swanson and Whangarei, which will have significant benefits for Northland’s economy.

"Without our investment, this rail line to Whangarei will become unsafe and have to close within five years – leaving Northland cut off from rail services most other regions have," Winston says.

"That’s unacceptable and unfair to the people of Northland. That’s why the Government is addressing decades of under-investment and neglect in the rail line, to support the future growth of rail in 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; ageing bridges replaced; overdue maintenance work on tunnels carried out; ditches cleared and embankments stabilised.

"We are investing more than a billion dollars to get New Zealand’s rail system back on track, so rail can play its proper role in reducing road congestion and emissions across our transport system," Winston says.

Shane Jones says the $94.8m Provincial Growth Fund investment will also help improve freight services on the line and have direct benefits for Northland’s economy.

"The maintenance work will make the line more resilient to weather events and 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. I’m proud that PGF funding has been able to make this happen," Shane says.

Further information on the announcement of the Government’s $1 billion funding boost to KiwiRail can be found at: www.beehive.govt.nz/release/transforming-economy

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