Politics / Election 2020

Greens plan to connect provinces, major cities via rapid passenger rail

13:26 pm on 29 September 2020

A multi-billion dollar public transport plan is how the Green Party aims to reduce emissions and congestion if elected.

File photo. Photo: 123RF

The party announced its Future of Transport plan in Auckland CBD today - its last major policy announcement before the election.

The policy will cost $13 billion over the next decade including $5 billion on regional rapid rail with total spending on the project expected to amount to $9.2 billion by 2035.

As part of the policy, the Greens want a large scale investment in rapid, intercity passenger rail, connecting provincial centres with major cities.

Greens co-leader James Shaw said its boldest plan is to transform how the country got around ever seen from a political party.

"Right now, those commuting to our major centres have little choice but to take a car, the major routes out of our big cities are clogged in peak times, and this, in turn, is driving up emissions."

To address this, the party wants large scale investment in rapid, intercity passenger rail, connecting provincial centres with major cities.

The $9.2 billion inter-city rail investment would be done in two stages - with stage one enabling more train services running up to 110km/hr and stage two to enable services up to 160km/hr.

Shaw said once built, the intercity rail network would slash the emissions caused by only being able to commute by car, as well as create thousands of jobs during construction.

"It is exactly the kind of smart investment we should be making in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis," he said.

The party also wants to establish a $1.5b Cycle Super Highway fund, which would be used to build separated school and commuter cycling routes around the country.

The party also plans to make public transport cheaper by setting up a Go Anywhere Transport card, which could be used in every city in New Zealand.

It would provide free public transport for people over the age of 65, under the age of 18, and community service card holders.

Tertiary students and apprentices would have half-price fares.

In addition, all new imported light vehicles would be required to be zero emissions by 2030.

"We chose this date because other countries are also doing this, and we don't want New Zealand to become a dumping ground for other countries' dirty discards," Shaw said.

Plans for Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch


  • A new light rail line to Mangere and the airport
  • A new light rail line to the northwestern suburbs
  • Completed busways between Botany and Panmure and Botany and the airport
  • A new Upper Harbour busway between Henderson, Westgate and Constellation
  • Begin work on a second harbour crossing with light rail to Takapuna and Albany


  • A new commuter rail services connecting Rangiora, Kaiapoi and Belfast to the CBD
  • A new commuter rail service to Rolleston
  • Extended fast passenger rail services out to Ashburton and eventually further north and south
  • A new high-speed bus rapid transit service, linking the commuter rail lines to the city, University, and airport
  • New funding to expand the city's major cycle routes


  • Continuation of Lets Get Wellington Moving
  • Light rail from the railway station to Newtown (first), then through the hill by the Zoo, to Kilbirnie, and out to the airport
  • Bus priority routes across the region
  • A new walking and cycling tunnel through Mt Victoria

"A second car tunnel through Mt Victoria should remain the last cab of the rank as it is expected to shave just 30 to 60 seconds off the drive to the airport and cost close to a billion dollars," Shaw said.

Rail network to the provinces

Stage one would run from 2022 and stage two will run from 2027 until 2035.

Routes include:

  • Auckland to Hamilton, Tauranga, and eventually Whangārei
  • Wellington to Masterton, Palmerston North (via Ōtaki), and eventually Whanganui.
  • Christchurch north to Rangiora and south to Ashburton, and eventually Timaru and Dunedin
  • Daily train services to towns and cities like Rotorua, Whangārei, the Bay of Islands, Whakatāne, New Plymouth, Napier, Gisborne, and Picton