NEW ZEALAND: The government's 2012-13 budget unveiled on May 24 has allocated NZ$250m of capital funding to KiwiRail, the final instalment in a three-year NZ$750m package to support the national railway's Turnaround Plan announced in 2010.

The funding will be used to remove capacity constraints and improve the reliability of freight services. 'The plan is designed to help the rail freight business become sustainable by 2020 so it can fund its business solely from customer revenue', said Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee. 'While the lion's share of the investment is coming from the business itself, government funding over three years demonstates our commitment to improving the rail freight network by providing capital investment to kick-start the growth process.'

Over the last two years KiwiRail has acquired new locomotives and wagons and refurbished the existing locomotive fleet, while infrastructure has been renewed to improve speeds and reliability and remove capacity constraints. The train ferry Aratere connecting KiwiRail's North and South Island networks has been lengthened by 30 m, providing 30% more capacity.

  • KiwiRail has ordered a batch of Ecotrax composite sleepers from Axion for use on turnouts and bridges. 'We're looking for durability and sustainability', said Mark Gullery, Manager, Track Engineering. 'We look forward to testing these new recycled plastic and sustainable replacements for wooden ties and to hopefully solving one of the challenges we face in the decline of readily available and reliable wooden ties.'