KiwiRail is in the midst of a multi-year transformation programme that is helping to drive growth opportunities for the New Zealand economy, writes chief executive Peter Reidy

They're calling it the Rail Revolution, a reinvigoration of rail infrastructure worldwide that is seeing hundreds of new commuter services in Scotland, a dedicated freight network in India and ports and rail in Australia working together to grow exports. The opportunities here are just as exciting.

New Zealand is also focusing on new ways to grow exports, reduce supply chain costs to global marketplaces and service a booming tourism industry. Commuter support for public transport is at an all-time high and in each of these areas, rail is the infrastructure backbone of now, and the future.

KiwiRail is in the midst of a multi-year transformation project, re-orientating our culture into a commercial, customer-centric organisation focused on helping to drive New Zealand's economic growth.

Rail saw an 11 per cent rise in Import Export freight last year as new ways to support our ports and logistics partners were realised.


Over the past 18 months KiwiRail has been involved in the establishment of four inland port hubs, sending tracks into dedicated transport areas where the integration between road and rail freight movements can be of most value.

Internationally ship sizes are growing.

This month we saw the largest container ship ever in New Zealand's waters at the Port of Tauranga and without rail in the ports, these new behemoths of the sea won't work for our exporters.

KiwiRail has formed strategic partnerships with New Zealand's ports to reduce our customers' supply chain costs and create the efficiencies needed for these new super ships to work. We've introduced inter-modal wagons which allow goods to move swiftly between ships, trains and trucks.

It's all part of our standardise, simplify and invest programme where investment is targeted to where it can make the biggest difference for our customers while internally we focus on where we can create the best efficiencies.

In the Domestic freight area our customers are increasingly looking to reduce their own carbon emissions and rail's efficiencies in this area are unmatched. Our investment in an integrated transport network is taking more than a million trucks off the roads each year.

Rail is smarter and more sustainable than ever before and our focus is on forming the strategic partnerships that will really help to drive growth in New Zealand.


For every tonne of freight carried by rail, there is a 66 per cent reduction in carbon emissions. It's what our customers are calling for. Fonterra and KiwiRail have together developed a sustainable logistics partnership and over the past year dairy exports by rail have increased by 21 per cent. Fonterra says that reducing its carbon footprint is a key component of this relationship.

Tourism is another growth area for KiwiRail as it is for New Zealand. We showcase our country to the world through the Scenic Journeys network of rail and sea which is driving real economic growth in the regions. The world-class Tranz Alpine rail journey contributes up to $15 million into the West Coast each year. KiwiRail's tourism services experienced a 10 per cent growth in revenue over the past year.

Keeping Auckland running is crucial to the New Zealand economy and there is a reason why KiwiRail was internationally recognised for its role in the ground-breaking electrification of the Auckland rail network. We are responsible for maintaining Auckland and Wellington's commuter railways, making sure Kiwis get home safely each night. With growth of 20 per cent year on year in Auckland's commuter traffic, the economic benefits of keeping people moving are only growing.

Rail is smarter and more sustainable than ever before and our focus is on forming the strategic partnerships that will really help to drive growth in New Zealand.

We're overcoming the years of underinvestment in rail and transforming our role in an integrated transport network that is good for the economy, and good for people. The opportunities are creating an exciting future ahead.