THE New Zealand government has signalled its intention to increase investment in rail projects and reduce highway spending in its 10-year government policy statement (GPS) on land transport released on June 28, the first published by the new Labour-led government.
While the government says the new plan is mode-neutral, it features a reduction in state highway improvements and the creation of two new funding classes covering rapid transit and transitional rail, which covers the funding of rail until the release of the second stage GPS, due next year, which will further consider the role and funding of rail and will be informed by the future of a rail study which is currently underway.
Between $NZ 310m ($US 209m) and $NZ 815m has been allotted to the transitional rail funding class over seven years, which will be used to improve current urban rail services for passengers accessing housing, major employment areas and metropolitan areas, as well as existing and new interregional commuter rail services, including the capital costs associated with the rolling stock to support housing and employment opportunities.
Between $NZ 1.7bn and $NZ 4.8bn has been budgeted for rapid transit funding over 10 years, which the government says could help deliver the modal shift to public transport, walking and cycling.
This could include busways and light rail infrastructure indicated in the Auckland Transport Alignment Project, as well as projects in other major centres.
The regional improvements class also includes funding which could be used to maintain and develop rail in the regions.
With the significant cost of rapid transit infrastructure, it says alternative funding arrangements will be required to deliver rapid transit and supplement the funding available in the national land transport fund.