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National is committing up to $267 million of investment over the next three years in the Auckland and Wellington commuter rail networks to support future passenger growth, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says.

The package includes the electrification of the Papakura to Pukekohe rail line, adding a Third Main Line from Wiri to Westfield and double-tracking the Wellington commuter network between Trentham and Upper Hutt.

“Commuter rail has experienced strong growth in Auckland and Wellington. The National-led Government is continuing its already considerable investment in public transport with a further $267 million investment in commuter rail,” Mr Bridges says.

“In Auckland we will invest $130 million to electrifythe track between Papakura and Pukekohe to support these important growth areas in the south and provide a more reliable and efficient services for commuters.

“Electrification is a key element of the National led government’s focus on supporting a cohesive, efficient transport system for Auckland.

“Auckland’s population growth has meant more commuter trains using the rail network around Auckland and competing with the growing number of freight trains using this important corridor.

“We’re committing to invest $100 million for a Third Main Line from Wiri to Westfield providing a dedicated freight line. This will increase the efficiency of this important corridor, allow for greater frequency, improve travel times and provide more reliability for commuters.

“We’ve worked closed with Council to come up with a long-term, fully costed plan to deliver the transport system Auckland needs over the next 30 years.

“This means we’re investing in the right projects, at the right times. Projects like the City Rail Link which will deliver a step change in Auckland’s commuter rail network.

“We are also announcing a $37 million Wellington Commuter Package. This will further enhance the reliability of Wellington’s commuter rail network and builds on Budget 2017’s $98.4 million investment in Wellington’s commuter rail network.

Wellington’s commuter rail package includes:

  • A full double track on the Hutt Valley Line between Upper Hutt and Trentham - $22 million
  • A third platform for Porirua Station - $3.5 million
  • A turn-back facility at Plimmerton - $2.5 million
  • Upgrade of bridges and slopes - $9 million
  • Upgrade of ‘Park and Ride’ facilities for the Kapiti and Hutt Valley Lines
  • A programme to integrate and optimise rail and bus services.

“The Wellington commuter rail package will enable a more reliable, efficient and frequent commuter service in Wellington. These improvements will support the growing the patronage of these services, Mr Bridges says.

“Together these projects represent a $267 million investment in commuter rail in our biggest cities commuter rail networks.

Questions and Answers

Why invest in this package of commuter rail improvements?

The Auckland and Wellington’s commuter rail networks are seeing strong growth and we want to ensure that the required investment is done to support this.

The area of South Auckland in particular is providing a significant part of Auckland’s growth with 21,000 more new houses planned in Drury, Pukekohe and Paerata. The two Auckland rail projects will help cater for that growth.

They will also help ensure the full benefits of the City Rail Link are realised when it opens.

How will these projects be funded?

They will be fully funded over the next four years through the Government’s overall capital budget we committed to in Budget 2017.

Is funding from the new kiwirail capital budget announced in budget 2017?

No, it’s in addition to the $450 million KiwiRail capital budget announced in Budget 2017.

Are you expecting the auckland council and the greater wellington regional council to make a contribution to these projects?

No. The Councils are contributing to other transport investments in their respective regions. The costs of electrification and the track network have been historically met by the Government.

Can you provide more detail on what the third main line project is?

The Third Main Line is a proposed third rail line that would be built in South Auckland (alongside the two current rail lines) between Wiri and Westfield.

Currently, these two lines carry a mix of commuter rail services, inter-regional freight trains and freight shunts between the Ports of Auckland and Wiri. 

The current configuration, with two lines, is reaching its maximum operational capacity during peak periods as a result of the mixture of freight and passenger rail traffic.

When will work on the third main line start and finish?

Design work for the Third Main Line is reasonably well advanced.

Concept designs for all track, signalling and electrification have been finalised. Completion of the detailed design will take approximately 6 months.

We will seek to start work as soon as possible, ideally before the end of next year (2018) but that will be dependent on resource consent and possible property acquisitions.

We intend to complete it before the City Rail Link is finished – to help ensure the Southern Line can utilise the extra capacity for trains provided by the City Rail Link.

Does electrifying the line to Pukekohe mean that those commuting between Pukekohe and the City will no longer need to the change trains at Papakura?

That’s exactly right. The electrification will result in an 11 minute travel time saving for people from south of Papakura.

Does this mean that the recent announcement from Auckland Transport that they are spending $200 million on new electric units is no longer necessary?

No, not at all.

In fact the electrification of the Southern Line to Pukekohe means that Auckland Council’s proposed purchase of electric battery-powered trains could extend single services as far south as Pokeno.

The proposed new electric battery-powered trains will also be used on other parts of the City’s network, particularly out West, and could support increased growth across the city’s network.

Why is this Wellington Package so important?

The Wellington package is needed to optimise the train network in the region, reduce timetable delays and improve journey time reliability.

The double tracking between Trentham and Upper Hutt will remove a major bottleneck for trains travelling to Upper Hutt and to the Wairarapa. This will greatly improve reliability of those services.

The improvements on the Kapiti line will allow for more services to be introduced that terminate at Plimmerton and Pukerua Bay.

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