Some of the numbers surrounding Northland rail:
■ Marsden Pt rail spur - 20km long
■ 30,000 sleepers needed
■ 4 causeways along Oakleigh stretch
■ Realignment of SH1 at Mata
■ North Auckland rail line - 130 years old in places
■ Has to close for safety reasons if not fixed
■ 85,000 extra sleepers needed on the track
■ 13 tunnel floors and approaches to be lowered
■ 7 bridges rebuilt
■ At least $1.4 billion to do both rail lines.
■ Decision due in September or October.
KiwiRail's chief executive Greg Miller has spelled out the work needed to get trains running from Auckland to Marsden Pt.
Miller said geotechnical and quantity surveying were almost complete and a case is being planned for work on the North Auckland line - as the link to Northland is called.
All pre-build survey and engineering plans have been completed for the spur line from Oakleigh to Marsden Pt, he said.
''The 130-year-old, in places, Northland line is only a few years away from closing. The choice is to close it or upgrade it.''
Miller said phase one of the work would upgrade 13 tunnels and lower the tracks to fit containerised freight. Seven bridges needed rebuilding, 85,000 sleepers had to be laid and strengthening work carried out in places, including between Kauri and Otiria, to handle heavy weights.
The 20km Marsden Pt spur would need 30,000 sleepers, four causeways at Oakleigh, a deviation of State Highway 1 at Mata and some land purchases for a deviation around unsuitable ground in the previously planned corridor.
In Whangārei on Friday night, Miller and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters spoke to a lively crowd hoping to hear the Government had made what some predicted would be a ''game changing'' decision to fund the revitalisation of the Northland railway.
''Northland rail is on track, folks,'' Peters told the gathering organised by Grow Northland Rail group.
The crowd heard that KiwiRail intended putting in a strong case for Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) money allocated for rail projects in Budget 2019. Business cases are being developed or have already been presented for the available $300m PGF funding.
Priorities have yet to be worked out but the North Auckland line will be among them, Miller indicated.
KiwiRail saw a commercial case for the Northland project and the potential to get PGF money to help getting the trains running again was a strong incentive, he said.
As well as carrying freight, a lot of people also talked up rail's potential to add to provincial growth through passenger and tourism services.
Two government-commissioned reports released last month by Regional Economic Development Minister and Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones identified rail as key to economic freight flows, getting trucks off the road and relieving traffic congestion in the Northland-Auckland-Waikato-Bay of Plenty triangle.
The Northland rail plan was tipped to cost more than $1 billion, and the case was described as marginal in the Ministry of Transport report.
An initial Upper North Island Supply Chain Study found an expansion Northport's freight role could only happen with an upgraded rail link, and visa versa.
The upgrade between Auckland and Northland would cost $1.3 billion and there was no demand at this stage for the freight capacity it would bring, according to the report. With a Northport expansion, the project would deliver $1.19 of benefits for every $1 spent on it.
However, the study found although the economic benefit was low, an upgraded rail line would have strategic value in boosting activity in Northland.
The visit by Peters and Miller followed the Budget 2019 announcement that the Government would put $1.4 billion into reviving rail. That allocation was $741m for KiwiRail through Vote Transport over the next two years and a further $300m for regional and rail projects through the Provincial Growth Fund.
A 10-year strategy would be announced by the Government for discussion after September.