By Pattrick Smellie
May 30 (BusinessDesk) - The national rail carrier, KiwiRail, and Auckland’s Central Rail Loop projects receive capital boosts totalling $1.58 billion in this year’s Budget and there will be more to come.
Of that, $405.5 million is to meet rocketing costs for the CRL project, with another $134 million to build longer platforms after initial projections of demand for urban passenger rail services was judged to be under-estimated.
KiwiRail scores the remainder, with $741 million coming from a new capital allocation from central government and a further $300 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to fund regional rail improvements.
The $741 million will be divided into $375 million for new locomotives and rolling stock, $331 million for track and other infrastructure, and $35 million to start replacing the Cook Strait ferries.
“Funding in this year’s Budget is just the first step to rebuilding rail as the backbone of a sustainable 21st century transport network, with a long term national rail plan to be developed this year,” Transport Minister Phil Twyford says in the Well-Being Budget narrative.
The New Zealand Rail Plan “will outline the government’s strategic vision and give a 10-year programme of indicative investments and benefits,” he said, with further rail funding expected in the 2020 Budget.