1 NEWS can reveal the first steps of constructing the rail corridor from Whangārei to Marsden Point is underway.
Engineers are drilling into the planned route and the minister of regional development has confirmed funding is in place and is going ahead.
Regional Development Minister Shane Jones said, "The drilling signifies we're getting ready to shove some picks and shovels into the dirt and build the spur".
Marsden Point is the country's most northerly port. The line, or rail spur, will enable its expansion and allow for a more direct route for freight.
Once completed, the line will travel east from the existing North Auckland line at Oakleigh - just out of Whangārei – and will stretch across 20 kilometres to the port at Marsden Point.
A feasability study for the revival of Northland's rail network, including the port spur, was one of the concessions won by New Zealand First in its coalition deal with the Labour Party.
"We committed to meeting the capital costs of the railway spur - $500,000 is for the broader part of the railway network. In terms of the spur, it's a done deal. Construction is beginning," Mr Jones said.
KiwiRail''s acting chief executive Todd Moyle said, "Once drilling is done and they've got the information, it gives the ability to finish off the detail design. Once that is done, they can go out to tender and start getting the works done".
KiwiRail says 30,000 sleepers will be installed and 1.6 million cubic metres of ground will need to be dug out as part of the project.
It's expected to take four to five years to complete.