This page relates to the 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme.


This page describes the rail network activity class and provides links and context for the rail maintenance and renewal programme requirements, work category definitions and guidance. It also provides guidance on how activities proposed to be delivered by KiwiRail under this activity class relate to and are linked to KiwiRail’s Rail Network Investment Programme (RNIP).

Investment in rail

The rail network activity class supports investment in KiwiRail’s national rail network to restore rail freight and provide a platform for future investments for growth in rail freight. Its primary focus is to provide funding to KiwiRail to maintain, operate, renew and improve the national rail freight and tourism network. Only KiwiRail can access the rail network activity class.

Government expectations

We (Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency as investor) expect that investments from the rail network activity class will contribute to the results sought by the government.

Government expectations by activity class

New long-term planning and funding framework for rail under the LTMA

The Land Transport Management Act 2003 (LTMA) was amended in 2020 to provide funding from the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) to KiwiRail for the rail network. This effectively moves KiwiRail and the rail network into the planning and funding framework for the wider land transport system.

Land Transport Management Act 2003(external link)

The LTMA requires KiwiRail to develop a RNIP every three years setting out what activities it intends to deliver, and the amount of funding requested from the NLTF in order to implement the New Zealand Rail Plan. The RNIP will be delivered over a three-year period, alongside the 2021–24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP).

Investment in rail

The first RNIP was developed to align with the Government Policy Statement on land transport (GPS 2021) and the New Zealand Rail Plan; it identifies KiwiRail’s requested funding from both the rail network and the public transport activity classes in GPS 2021.

Government Policy Statement on land transport 2021

The RNIP and its associated NLTF contribution have been approved by the Minister of Transport (LTMA s22B). The LTMA requires us to assist KiwiRail to prepare the RNIP, to advise the Minister on the RNIP and the requested NLTF contribution (LTMA s22C), and to monitor the outcomes of the investment. The NLTP must include a list of rail activities and combinations of rail activities as set out in the current RNIP.

The Minister of Transport may approve funding for a rail activity or combination of activities. This would be either from the rail network activity class or from the public transport infrastructure activity class (LTMA s22F). Activities approved for funding under LTMA s22F must be included in the NLTP.

Qualifying for NLTP consideration

To qualify for consideration for inclusion in the NLTP, and subsequent approval of funding from the rail network activity class, activities and combinations of activities must be included in the RNIP approved by the Minister of Transport. 

Work categories

Rail network activities described in the following work categories are eligible for inclusion:

Developing activities

KiwiRail is responsible for developing the RNIP for approval by the Minister of Transport in accordance with the requirements of the LTMA s22A.

Profiling and prioritising activities

In preparing our advice to the Minister of Transport on rail network activities proposed for funding from the NLTF, we must take account of the matters set out in the LTMA s22G. We will also apply the Investment Prioritisation Method to the activities to be presented to the Minister for funding approval, to ensure these activities are considered on a basis consistent with that used for prioritising investments for the balance of the NLTP.

2021-24 NLTP Investment Prioritisation Method

Investments from the rail network activity class are not prioritised against other activities in the NLTP. In our advice to the Minister on whether to approve the RNIP and its funding we will comment on the effect of these decisions on the wider NLTP programme and its contribution to achieving priority outcomes of the GPS.