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Ed Sheeran

Line north closes as KiwiRail upgrade kicks off

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Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones expects KiwiRail to be the locomotive that does the heavy drag in terms of creating jobs in many isolated areas.

Train services between Swanson and Whangārei have been suspended from this week to allow for a $200 million upgrade paid for out of the Provincial Growth Fund.

Five bridges will be replaced and tracks lowered in 13 tunnels to allow trains to carry hi-cube containers.

Mr Jones says KiwiRail is taking on large numbers of workers for the job.

"It’s our expectation they will draw on our young men who are either on the verge of going into Ngāwhā or coming out of Ngāwhā and we are looking at creating a distinctive raft of apprenticeships as the billion dollar project is rolled out over the next several years," he says.

Mr Jones says the rail connection, which will eventually go to Ōtiria, will future proof the north not just for industries requiring bulk freight but also for tourism.

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