Rail Page News - The New Zealand government will invest a record $54 billion (AUD$53.5) in land transport.
Part of the government’s Draft Government Policy Statement (GPS) 2021, over the next decade billions of dollars will be committed to improve transport infrastructure.
The GPS is how the government guides Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to invest more than $4.5 billion a year raised through the National Land Transport Fund. It guides the agency to allocate funding towards rail and public transport.
The Ministry of Transport also has work underway to investigate options for rapid rail between Hamilton and Auckland.
The federal budget 2019 provided a $1 billion funding boost to support a long overdue revitalisation of rail and work has already started on the $196 million Wellington commuter rail upgrades.
The Government is now seeking feedback from local government, the transport sector, community groups and the wider public on the draft GPS 2021.
Engagement on the draft GPS closes 27 April 2020.
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KiwiRail Tourist / Passenger services
It has been my joy over many years to be part of the New Zealand rail tourism experience.
South to North 1990
1990 for the Auckland Commonwealth Games where I served as a chaplain, I flew into Christchurch, caught the famous coastal train to Picton, ferried it across to Wellington, then trained it from Wellington to Auckland.
On this trip, I took one of many railway books to the locomotive crew and they invited me into the cabin and I spent a good part of that trip on the footplate and over those huge gorges where the track winds its way through the mountains.
2006 Picton to Christchurch
That year our family took a New Zealand holiday. We flew from Sydney to Auckland, then again from Auckland to Napier and stayed in Napier for three nights including the family reunion day and a ministry radio interview. We then drove from Napier to Wellington for 2 nights followed by the ferry to Picton in the south Island and then the train to Christchurch.
In my view this was best part of the journey as we had assigned seats and frequented the open air carriage which is designed to capture on film the magnificent New Zealand scenery.
2008 Taieri Gorge Railway
My son and I joined my good friend the late Ian Carlson who was keen to experience New Zealand before his health deteriorated. We landed in Christchurch, got the hire car and drove to Dunedin where his Australian university days mate was lecturing at the university.
There was remarkable scenery and on the way back down the mountain I was able to once again ride in the cabin and chat as the Footplate Padre to the KiwiRail crew. Not surprisingly all the same concerns they expressed were paralleled to Australian locomotive crews.
2013 and 2018 Christchurch to Greymouth
My wife Delma and I travelled to Auckland and then Christchurch for young writer ministry meetings – Saturday in Auckland morning and Sunday afternoon in Christchurch. On the Monday we took the tourist train to Greymouth and back.
This is a phenomenal tourist experiences. Several stops along the way including Mt Arthur and fabulous scenery and many a visit to the open air carriage photographs. We went in March and we were told it was even more magnificent in winter with the snow abounding.
We witnessed huge river flows, mountain waterfalls, remarkable scenery – and met people from all over the world likewise enjoying this tourist experience. With Delma and me was fellow rail buff John Grocott the young writer program 'awards' statistician. We spent well over two and half hours in Greymouth, saw the memorial to the mine disasters of well over a century.
We did this trip again with our family members after the 2018 young writer’s conference in Christchurch.
The New Zealand Government recognises that rail and its infrastructure is more than dollars and cents. KiwiRail represents everything New Zealand. Moreover it has provided much Christian mission travel and will no doubt continue to do so.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. The above photo is the upper part from this portrait.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html