Light rail funding announcement - a big win but what about Ō2NL?

Published on April 29, 2023


A modern new train fleet with lower emissions, station improvements and an increased frequency of services with at least two morning and two afternoon services on the Manawatū rail line. This is what we can expect after public transport initiatives got a significant funding injection.

With Horowhenua growing at more than three times the rate of the rest of New Zealand, it is a welcome announcement for our community and those that have been advocating for the investment over recent years.

Central government announced today they have committed funding towards light rail in the Greater Wellington and Manawatū Regions, meaning new trains would double the number of services to Levin, Shannon and Palmerston North to at least four times a day. This comes after Horizons and Greater Wellington Regional Councils secured $5M in funding from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency in May 2020 to pursue a detailed business case and commence procurement for regional passenger trains.

Horowhenua District Council Mayor Bernie Wanden says, “We are thrilled with today’s announcement.  It is absolutely critical that our community is connected and has access to a modern and more frequent rail service.  This coupled with the urgent investment needed in the Ōtaki to North of Levin (Ō2NL) Expressway will mean that our growing population is not only well catered for, but is able to get from A to B more safely.”

Mayor Bernie continues, “While we are feeling really positive about today’s announcement, we know that the more important investment is the still unconfirmed funding on Ō2NL. We eagerly await this critical funding announcement, so that our very patient and desperate community can move with confidence knowing that the expressway will be built. Ō2NL funding confirmation, also means that as a Council we can be more deliberate with future district plan changes, ensuring zoning for both commercial and residential growth in the district is strategically placed while ensuring we play our part to protect New Zealand’s Food Security.”