ELECTRIFICATION of the Auckland suburban network and capacity enhancements around Wellington have been sanctioned by the New Zealand government in its 2007 budget.

Unveiled on May 17, the investment package is worth more than NZ$1bn in total, with the government providing NZ$600m over six years for the Wellington and Auckland suburban upgrades, and an additional NZ$50m between 2008 and 2010 for track replacement on the rest of the network.

Auckland Regional Transport Authority expects to purchase 40 EMUs to operate services on the proposed 25 kV network, with the first electric trains running from 2011 on the routes from Britomart to Otahuhu and Henderson.

Ontrack and ARTA are expected to share the NZ$1bn cost equally, with additional funding coming via a 10 cent road fuel tax per litre of petrol or diesel. The Wellington investment programme focuses on double-tracking to Waikanae and widening tunnels on the Johnsonville line.