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Launching his $1 billion provincial growth fund (PGF), on February 23 Regional Economic Development Minister and Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones announced the “first of many regional rail initiatives” the Government is looking to support.

The 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.

Minister Jones said that “these are just the initial shovel-ready rail projects that are ready to go and have been in the pipeline for some time. 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.”

The Government is providing a total of $750,000 for three feasibility studies on KiwiRail projects in Kawerau, Southland and New Plymouth –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.

The PGF will also invest more than $6 million towards revitalisation of the Whanganui Port and upgrade of the town’s rail line. Subject to a business case, the Government will support works to the port planned by Whanganui District Council. The goal of redevelopment of the port precinct is to create a more extensive area for value-added specialist manufacturing and make Whanganui an attractive investment prospect for marine and logistics-related industries.

KiwiRail’s presentation to our recent OGM foreshadowed this announcement. Peter Reidy (CEO) and Alan Piper (Group General Manager Sales and Commercial) gave an overview of the value of rail to NZ, the focus of KiwiRail going forward, challenges (getting MNL back to capacity, high exposure to commodity exports, evolving supply chains and freight flows, excess capacity on Cook Strait, fit for purpose smart assets, future of work challenges, ageing workforce, technological disruption, and long term funding) and key strategies going forward, including significant investment in assets after years of chronic underinvestment. A copy of the KiwiRail presentation can be downloaded here. KiwiRail Presentation to NZ Shippers Council Feb 2018

 
 
 
 
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