New Zealand Government to invest in new, greener trains

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The New Zealand Government has announced that it will co-fund a fleet of 18 new tri-mode trains for the Wairarapa and Kapiti Coast regions to make rail travel safer, greener, and more efficient.

The fleet of 18 new trains will increase capacity by approximately 1.5 million trips, provide time savings of up to 15 minutes on the Manawatū line, reduce more than half a million tons of emissions, and build resilience into the network, the government said in a statement.

“We said that infrastructure will be a key focus in this year’s budget and this announcement is a critical example of that. It builds on previous budgets where this government has made a long-term commitment to improving rail services for New Zealanders,” Minister of Finance Grant Robertson said.

The new trains will operate using a combination of electricity wires, batteries, and fuel, lowering carbon emissions, and making New Zealand less reliant on volatile international energy markets.

“This initiative to co-fund a fleet of 18 four-car trains and upgrade rail tracks will strengthen public transport links for those traveling or working in and out of Wellington from Manawatu or the Wairarapa. It will also support growth along these rail corridors as well as boost productivity for the regions and the country as a whole,” Robertson explained.

Minister of Transport Michael Wood added: “The government is upgrading New Zealand’s transport system to make it safer, greener, and more efficient for now and future generations to come. Rail is a key component of the system and is well suited for efficiently moving large volumes of commuters over long distances.”

The new trains will replace the current fleet, which is from the 1970s and at the end of its useful life. The new fleet will also support the introduction of express services which will attract additional commuters.

“The regional Wairarapa and Kapiti Coast rail services are a critical part of the broader regional transport network,” Wood continued. “The new trains will improve the overall resilience of the network and support economic development along the corridors by catering for future growth and will provide a more viable alternative to the susceptible road network.

“Despite challenges with the current service frequency, reliability, and punctuality, which are a result of the aging fleet; both lines will have exceeded capacity by 2030. This indicates a significant untapped demand for these services. In the interim, the Government has invested in refurbishing carriages for the Capital Connection and improvements to the rail lines.

“Associated network improvements will improve corridor capacity and resilience for both passenger and freight services, and stations will be revitalized to meet modern accessibility and amenity standards.

“Since 2017, the Government has invested NZ$8.6bn to build a resilient and reliable network after decades of neglect and decline. This investment has gone into the bread-and-butter work of replacing tracks, installing new culverts and bridges, and upgrading turnouts, all of which are needed for a safe and effective network,” Wood concluded.