New Zealand Law Society - Bill introduced for new funding framework for heavy rail track network

Bill introduced for new funding framework for heavy rail track network

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The Land Transport (Rail) Legislation Bill was introduced on 2 December 2019. The Minister for Transport Phil Twyford is in charge of the bill.

The objective of the bill is to implement a new planning and funding framework for the heavy rail network owned by KiwiRail.

Part 1 will bring planning and funding of the rail network under the land transport planning and funding regime set up in the Land Transport Management Act 2003 (the LTMA).

The current framework creates uncertainty for the rail business as a result of annual budget processes and separates road and rail network investment decisions. This has led to a short-term focus rather than long-term strategic planning for the rail network, an inability to consider road and rail investment together, and an absence of an integrated and co-ordinated land transport investment programme.

Under the proposed framework funding will be channeled through the national transport fund. A statutory rail network investment programme (RNIP) will be established, which the Minister of Transport will need to approve in consultation with KiwiRail’s shareholding Ministers (clause 11 inserting new section 22A).

To promote integration of rail network and other land transport investment, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) will be required to advise the Minister of Transport on how the RNIP fits in with the overall land transport investment programme (clause 11 inserting new section 22C).

Part 2 contains minor amendments to the Land Transport Act 1998 which will allow fees and charges established by the regulations under Part 11 of that Act to become land transport revenue. This will allow track users charges to be paid into the national land transport fund (clause 16, amending section 168).

The Act will commence on 1 July 2020.