The GPS supports an increased focus on public transport, reducing transport emissions, and reducing people’s reliance on private vehicles to move around. Rail has an important role to play across all of these outcomes.
A total of $376 million is being invested through this NLTP over the next three years to maintain and improve heavy rail infrastructure in areas where demand is outstripping capacity, reliability needs to be improved, or where there is a need to reduce conflict between freight and passenger trains. This is an interim measure while the Government considers how investment in rail is best managed through wider investment in the land transport system.
Initial investment will be focused in Auckland and Wellington, where large-scale and reliable public transport is essential to support forecast growth and minimise any increase to the number of vehicles on our roads.
Rail passenger volumes in Auckland have grown substantially since the opening of Britomart Station in 2003, leading to increasing network congestion between Wiri and Quay Park, and delays for some freight movements. The efficiency of the network is also affected by a lack of electrification to Pukekohe, which requires passengers to change trains in Papakura.
The Transport Agency is looking to invest in new electric trains, a third main line to Wiri and electrification to Pukekohe. These investments will help accommodate growth, improve efficiency and provide better separation of passenger and freight services. Improvements will also be made to safety at pedestrian crossings and carrying out other progressive improvements across the network.
The resilience of the network is of increasing importance as more and more people get on board public transport. The Transport Agency is looking to invest in an additional power supply together with a train control centre in Auckland to complement the existing facility in Wellington. This will ensure the network can cope with increased train movements and any future demands when the City Rail Link is completed in 2024.
In Wellington, the number of rail passengers commuting during peak periods is expected to exceed network capacity within the next five years. This NLTP responds by looking at investment in additional rolling stock to increase the number and length of trains operating during peak periods. At the same time, here is investent in a programme of track renewals to replace large sections of the Wellington network that is nearing the end of their economic life.
This will improve the safety and resilience of the network, maintain and improve service levels, and provide sufficient capacity to ensure passengers have reliable access to the employment, education, healthcare, and recreation opportunities that allow the region to thrive.
To support access to economic and social opportunities within our two largest cities and provide a viable alternative for commuters, the Transport Agency is planning to invest in refurbishing or replacing rolling stock to support the continuation of the existing Capital Connection service between Wellington and Palmerston North, and the possible establishment of a passenger service between Hamilton and Auckland.