The New Zealand Rail Plan

Transport sector: A case study of sector-level reporting

The New Zealand Rail Plan (the Rail Plan) sets out a 10-year vision of investment in New Zealand’s rail network. The Rail Plan is not intended to be an exhaustive list of future investments. The key benefit of the Rail Plan (and rail more broadly) is that it contributes to all five outcomes of the Transport Outcomes Framework.

There are two parts to the Rail Plan:

  • establishing a new long-term planning and funding framework under the Land Transport Management Act 2003; and
  • outlining investment priorities for a resilient and reliable rail network. This includes restoring rail freight in the regions and investing in urban rail networks in cities.

In June 2021, KiwiRail published the first three-year Rail Network Investment Programme (RNIP 2021). RNIP 2021 applies from 2021/22 to 2023/24, and outlines the Government’s investment priorities for rail and the changes needed to maintain, manage, renew, and improve rail. RNIP 2021 consists of $1.4 billion of investments. Funding is mainly from the NLTF (Rail Network and Public Transport Infrastructure activity classes). Auckland Transport, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and other sources provide a small amount of funding.

How performance is reported

KiwiRail reports on the performance of RNIP 2021 in its annual report. KiwiRail also reports to Waka Kotahi on the performance of RNIP 2021. Waka Kotahi is responsible for monitoring RNIP 2021. KiwiRail’s non-financial performance information is not externally audited.

As part of its monitoring and reporting responsibilities, Waka Kotahi published the 2021/22 Annual Report on the Rail Network Investment Programme, which reports KiwiRail’s performance against the delivery of funded activities and network measures in RNIP 2021.7

This report provides a rich and detailed account of progress on RNIP 2021 and KiwiRail’s performance in delivering it. The reporting is based on the monitoring framework set out in RNIP 2021, and it includes a mix of quantitative measures and qualitative commentary on why certain indicators were or were not achieved.

The outcomes of RNIP 2021 have been usefully split into short-term outcomes (three to 10 years) and long-term outcomes (10 years and more). The outcomes also link to projects, funding, and performance.

The Rail Plan identified “enabling Māori to realise aspirations in all aspects of the economy” as one benefit of the investments in rail. However, we could not identify any specific indicators that mentions how the rail investments could help realise Māori aspirations. There is a lack of indicators and reporting on the benefits of rail for Māori and how KiwiRail plans to engage with iwi and hapū. KiwiRail’s 2024-2026 Statement of Corporate Intent identifies “developing enduring relationships with mana whenua” as a strategic objective, supported by a Rautaki Māori strand of the strategy, where mana whenua are engaged in major projects.

7: Section 102A of the Land Transport Management Act 2003 requires Waka Kotahi to produce an annual report on the Rail Network Investment Programme.