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NZ$94.8 million will be spent to maintain and improve the North Auckland Line between Swanson and Whangarei in New Zealand.
The government on September 6 announced the money, from the Provincial Growth Fund, would be used to bring the Northland rail track out of managed decline, preserving future investment opportunities.
Deputy prime minister Winston Peters said without the investment, the line would become unsafe and would have to be closed within five years, cutting Northland off from rail services.
“That’s unacceptable and unfair to the people of Northland,” Peters said. “That’s why the government is addressing decades of underinvestment and neglect in the rail line, to support the future growth of rail in Northland.”
The money will go towards 54 kilometres of the 181-kilometre track replaced or upgraded. Tens of thousands of sleepers will be replaced, and tens of thousands of cubic metres of ballast will be added. Five ageing bridges will be replaced, overdue maintenance will take place in 13 tunnels, ditches will be cleared and embankments will be stabilised.
“The maintenance work will make the line more resilient to weather events and freight services more timely and reliable,” infrastructure minister Shane Jones said.
“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.”
KiwiRail boss Greg Miller said the planned improvements would cut down train travel times and make the line more resilient to weather events.
This article first appeared on www.railexpress.com.au
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