Rail is an effective mode of transport for high volume and heavy freight and carries approximately 15 percent of freight moved in New Zealand (when measured in tonne-kilometres). The rail system also reduces the pressure on New Zealand's roads and can provide safety, health and environmental benefits.
With predicted growth in freight over the next 3 decades, an efficient rail freight network will play an important and complimentary role to road freight to maintain access to our key ports.
The government, through KiwiRail, owns and controls not only the rail tracks and associated infrastructure, but also the majority of the rolling stock. The government wants rail to compete on a commercial basis with other freight and passenger transport modes, with services funded from customer revenue as far as possible and rail investments providing a rate of return.
The Ministry's focus over the short to medium term is to work to establish the appropriate governance, institutional, funding and legislative frameworks that will position rail to contribute positively to the transport system in the future.
The Ministry aims to make the New Zealand rail industry progressively safer and reduce the distress and trauma arising from death and injury in the rail sector.
There are large numbers of urban commuters in Auckland and Wellington, with more than 22 million passenger boardings in 2012/13.
Key government rail transport organisations
The Ministry is the government's principal transport adviser. We provide policy advice and support to Ministers. See About the Ministry of Transport for more information.