NEW ZEALAND: KiwiRail has announced a 12% year-on-year increase in revenue to NZ$328·8m for the six months to December 2018. This generated an operating surplus of NZ$16·3m, up 7% up on the previous year.

‘We are shaking off the impacts of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake’, said KiwiRail Chairman Greg Miller on February 20. ‘It will take some time to get back to where we were before the Main North Line was closed following the quake but we are seeing increased demand in this result.’

The full reopening of the Main North Line for freight supported a 30% year-on-year increase in domestic freight in the second half of 2018. Forestry traffic was up 15% as harvests increased in the wake of a tree planting programme in the 1990s, and strong coal and export traffic brought an 8% increase in bulk freight. There was an 8% increase in tourism revenue on the Great Journeys of New Zealand rail and ferry services.

Plans for 2019 include the reopening of the Napier to Wairoa line for forestry traffic, continued work to plan a link to Marsden Point in Northland, and work to provide additional capacity on tourist trains including KiwiRail’s first premium coaches. A second long-distance commuter service is planned, between Hamilton and Auckland, and two train ferries are to be acquired for the Cook Strait.

‘KiwiRail has overcome enormous challenges in the past two years and there are still increased cost pressures resulting from increased regulation, compliance and committing to future investments that will pay back in the long term’, said Miller. ‘What this result highlights, however, is that we are ready to embrace growth and invest in our next phase of development. We are a confident organisation that has its highest levels of staff engagement, strong relationships with our union partners and a supportive shareholder in a government which has recognised the role rail plays in a sustainable and inclusive economy.’