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What you need to know

Rail is a major contributor to national and regional economic growth. It reduces emissions, congestion, road deaths and injuries, delivers wider social benefits, and provides resilience and connection between communities. Previous investment in New Zealand’s rail network has only looked at how much was needed to maintain it on an annual basis, which is unsuitable for a long-lived strategic asset like rail.

The Future of Rail is a cross-agency project to identify the purpose rail serves, and how it can contribute to New Zealand’s transport system. We led a review to define the role of rail, consider the challenges it has faced, and recommend significant changes so rail can play its part in the transport system. A key outcome of the review was the development of a new planning and funding framework for rail, to better integrate rail into the land transport system.

A further outcome has been the development of the New Zealand’s first Rail Plan. The Rail Plan sets out Government’s vision and priorities for rail over the next decade and beyond. The Rail Plan will play a key role in guiding investment decisions taken via the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) as well as future Crown investment decisions.

The work to date

Mar 2023

Proactive release: Official information regarding the entity form review of KiwiRail and New Zealand Railways Corporation

This proactive release contains official information relating to an entity form review

More information and related documents
Jul 2022

Proactive release: Review on Auckland Metro Rail System Issues

Aug 2019

A new planning and funding framework for rail agreed

Following agreement to a resilient and reliable rail system, Government approved the new long-term planning and funding framework for rail, and authorised the Minister of Transport to issue instructions to begin drafting the Land Transport (Rail) Legislation Bill.  

More information and related documents
Dec 2021

Proactive release: Entity form review

May 2019

In-principle agreement to a resilient and reliable rail system

In May 2019, based on the Future of Rail review, the Government agreed in principle to a resilient and reliable rail system that would deliver on the transport outcomes and wider benefits it sought.

More information and related documents
Nov 2021

Proactive release: Gisborne Line Business Case Advice to Ministers

Dec 2017–Present

Future of Rail review underway

We are leading this review to define and develop the Future of Rail in New Zealand, so that rail can be integrated into the transport system. This will mean rail can be planned, funded and looked after alongside other transport modes.

More information
Nov 2021

Proactive release: Railway Track User Charges

Dec 2017

Project set up

The Future of Rail was initially led by Treasury to review KiwiRail’s operations. The project was transferred to the Ministry of Transport in December and the scope changed to identify the purpose rail serves and how it can contribute to New Zealand’s transport system, and to provide the Government with certainty on what investment is needed for rail to play a successful role in the system.

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Oct 2021

Proactive release: KiwiRail’s purchase of new interisland ferries

On 30 June 2021, KiwiRail signed a contract with the Korean shipyard Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD) for the delivery of two new ferries to service Cook Strait. This is part of a wider project (Project iReX) to procure new ferries and develop the landside infrastructure in Picton and Wellington to accommodate the new ferries.

More information and related documents
May 2021

Value of Rail Report released

The Ministry of Transport commissioned Ernst and Young to deliver the Value of Rail Report 2021 to estimates the benefits that rail produces ever year.

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Sep 2017–Present

Metro rail review underway

We are working with Auckland Transport and Greater Wellington Regional Council to review the metropolitan rail operating model. This work is taking place alongside the Future of Rail.


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Jul 2020

Land Transport (Rail) Legislation Act comes into effect

The Land Transport (Rail) Legislation Act 2020 (the Rail Act) came into force on 1 July 2020.   The Rail Act amends the Land Transport Management Act 2003 (the LTMA) and the Land Transport Act 1998 (LTA) to implement a new long-term planning and funding system for the heavy rail track network owned by KiwiRail

More information and related documents
Dec 2019

Draft New Zealand Rail Plan released

We released a draft version of the first New Zealand Rail Plan for public feedback. The consultation process on the draft Rail Plan ran to May 2020.

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