The New Zealand Government has allocated NZ$466m ($284m) for rail investments in its 2024 Budget, continuing the downward trend of funding for the sector over the last five years. 

Funding allocated in the budget is split between Auckland’s Rail Network Rebuild project (NZ$159m), track renewal work in Auckland and Wellington (NZ$107m), and the Rail Network Investment Programme (RNIP). 

State rail operator KiwiRail recognised the government’s “need to manage spending” but welcomed investments for the areas “where it is most needed.” 

CEO Peter Reidy said: “Over the last three years we have been focussed on raising the standard of our national rail network, and the Government commitment in Budget 2024 will help us continue that work. 

“Rail carries 25% of exports, and upgrading our rail lines will contribute to the government’s goal of growing New Zealand’s export economy.” 

While the government’s rail funding is only slightly down on 2023’s budget, which allocated NZ$569m, it marks a significant drop from only a few years ago when more than NZ$1bn was committed to the country’s rail network each year between 2019 and 2021. 

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Despite this, the investments in Auckland will continue to support the work on major rail projects in the city, with the Rail Network Rebuild project designed to allow more frequent trains to run on the city’s network following the launch of the City Rail Link in 2026. 

Meanwhile, other funding in Auckland and Wellington will attempt to address the “historically” underfunded metro networks by supporting the completion of the backlog of renewal works built up in both cities. 

Reidy said: “There is a lot of maintenance required each year on both the Auckland and Wellington metro networks, which are mostly used by commuter trains. The networks include complex track structures, overhead power, signals and complicated telecommunications systems.” 

The investments continue projects to improve passenger and freight services which included the opening of a new rail operations centre in Auckland to bring all rail control services in the city under one roof.