$4.2 billion for Auckland transport

SCCZEN_A_180615NZHJOTRAINS08_620x310The Government and Auckland Council have today signed off terms of reference setting out how central and local government will work together to develop the city’s transport system.

Finance Minister Bill English said more than 700,000 additional people were expected to live in Auckland by 2045.

“Long-term solutions for Auckland’s transport system are central to ensuring it remains a great place to live and do business, and it is also important for the economy as a whole.”

“This population growth means Auckland will need another 400,000 houses over this time frame – and transport infrastructure is key to delivering this.”

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said that together the Government and Council planned to invest $4.2 billion in Auckland’s transport system over the next three years.

“While that work will continue as agreed on the roads, public transport, walkways and cycle ways, we are now turning our focus to the next three decades and beyond.

“The Government and Council broadly agree on the priorities for the transport system, and we are particularly focussed on addressing congestion and increasing public transport use,” he said.

The terms of reference set out a structure under which officials from the Ministry of Transport, Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, the NZ Transport Agency, Treasury and the State Services Commission would work together to test alternative options for how the transport system could develop.

A preferred approach was expected to be presented by officials in about one year.

“The Government and Council will then consider the preferred approach and how it may be delivered, including whether changes might be needed to legislation and funding arrangements,” Mr Bridges said.

The Automobile Association, Auckland Business Forum and Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) welcomed progress on the joint transport project.

Auckland Business Forum chairman Michael Barnett said he hoped it put an end to Auckland-Wellington feuding on the city’s transport priorities.

EMA chief executive Kim Campbell said the city was struggling to cope with growth, 7000 new cars were being registered every month and there was a compelling case for further spending on transport.

“We want to see funding streams and time frames for moving these vital projects along,” Mr Campbell said.


  • The Herald
  • Photo – Jason Oxenham

Big step for City Rail Link

Britomartstationdrawing_620x310Auckland Council recently announced a big step forward in its City Rail Link project, revealing details of the deal struck with listed landlord Precinct Properties to have underground tunnels built near the waterfront, under a new $550 million glass skyscraper.

Mayor Len Brown described the deal as a milestone and an historic moment for Auckland.

Britomartstationdesign_620x310“This is the first step towards the construction of the CRL. It will lead to an exciting transformation of the public spaces around the Britomart train station area. And it’s an example of how a partnership with the private sector can deliver economic transformation and more jobs in Auckland,” he has just announced.

He also released new images of the Britomart station and a map showing where the tunnels would run.

New rail tunnels must be constructed through the site now occupied by the Downtown Shopping Centre, which Precinct owns, the statement said.

Precinct also owns two adjacent commercial office towers – HSBC Tower at 1 Queen Street and Zurich House at 21 Queen Street, it said.

The deal between the two parties enables the rail tunnels to be built as part of the Downtown Development Project. Elements involved include the sale to Precinct of part of Queen Elizabeth Square for $27.2 million; Payment to Precinct of $9 million for provision of an East-West pedestrian laneway between Queen Street and Albert Street and compensation for tunnels volume; Payment of $10.7 million for additional costs of office tower construction due to CRL tunnels; and the creation of a new downtown civic space between the project and Britomart, the statement said.

Mr Brown said the deal meant a coordinated approach could now be taken to the construction work, with Auckland Transport building the CRL tunnels either side of the Precinct downtown shopping centre site from Britomart to Wyndham Street and Precinct Properties building the tunnels below its site.


  • NZ Herald

Early start for rail link?

railchurrThe Government is looking at an early start on the $2.4 billion City Rail Link – but only for a short section of the route to go with the redevelopment of the Downtown Shopping Centre. The underground rail link starts at Britomart and goes under Lower Queen St and the shopping centre before turning up Albert St bound for Mt Eden.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee told the Herald he had met Precinct Properties about plans for a $400 million to $500 million redevelopment of the downtown site.

Once those plans were firmed up, he said, the Government would want to see how the rail link and redevelopment might gel to ensure everyone got the best results out of the time the site was under construction.

But Mr Brownlee stressed there was no commitment from Precinct at this point and no commitment from the Government, which wanted construction on the full link to start in 2020. The section of the route under the downtown site “would be lucky to be 100m”, he said.

This is the first public indication from the Government of an early start on the rail link, which Auckland Mayor Len Brown wants to start building in 2016.

He is citing the downtown redevelopment as one reason to kickstart a $250 million cut-and-cover section of the link from Britomart and up much of Albert St.

Precinct chief executive Scott Pritchard yesterday said the company notified the stock exchange through its annual results reporting last week of a downtown start date in the first quarter of 2016. The annual results show the company is in the design phase and hopes to have resource consent and be committed to the project by the middle of next year.

“It would make sense to have works around that location done at the same time,” Mr Pritchard said. “Any Aucklander and visitor doesn’t want to see the bottom of the city under [construction for years].”

Last night, Mr Brown said it was great news the Government shared the view he heard every day that the rail link should be built as soon as possible.

Mr Brown – who has yet to fund the rail link – told a New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development symposium yesterday that work was coming to the “pointy end” of finding $300 million to $400 million of new funding sources a year to plug an $8 billion to $12 billion transport funding gap.

The Government rejected tolls, a regional fuel tax and congestion charges to meet the gap, and ratepayers baulked at high debt and rates.


NZ Herald

City Rail Link designation confirmed

clr-alignment-diagramThe City Rail Link has reached a major milestone with Auckland Transport accepting a recommendation by planning commissioners to confirm the land requirements for the CRL.

Auckland Transport’s chief executive David Warburton says the commissioners noted that the project benefits were essentially uncontested and recognised it was critical for Auckland’s growth and economic future.

“It’s a big step forward for Auckland. A proposal to extend rail through the city centre has been on the books in some form or other for almost a hundred years but never got beyond an idea. At last we have a designated route,” says Dr Warburton.

Source: at.govt.nz

Government backs $2.86 billion Auckland rail loop

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed the Government will back the building of an Auckland rail loop, but is proposing it start in 2020 – later than Auckland Council’s target.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown’s pet project, the $2.86 billion city rail link forming a loop was signed off by the Auckland Council in May last year.

The project as planned would require central government to put in funding, however Key today would not say how much the Government would contribute.

He said he would spell out more details in a speech on Friday, which would cover other transport issues as well as the rail loop.

It was not realistic for Auckland to pay for it all itself, or for the Government’s share to to come from the land transport fund.

It would have to come from a separate appropriation of funds.

“It will have to be paid for by a combination of sources – it won’t just be taxpayer funds. Auckland will also have to find ways of paying for its contribution.”

The time frame starting in 2020 reflected more accurately the likely demand for the use of the rail.

Asked if it was a u-turn by the Government, Key said it had never ruled out the rail loop, but had concerns about its patronage.

“It’s always been a question of when not if.”

But it would still be “a stretch” in terms of its business case and having the numbers stack up.


The Government was looking at future-proofing Auckland’s transport needs.

The loop was part of an overall package including a mix of other projects. It comes on top of $1.6b of spending already on rail in Auckland.

The Government had rejected a business case for the project in 2010, and last year asked for a revised business case to be put forward at a cost of $1.7m.

“I am delighted the Government has agreed to support this project,” Brown said.

“The Government has now given us a huge challenge to respond to. Along with the electrification of rail, the link will be the biggest advance in Auckland transport since the HarbourBridge.”

Brown said it would be his “number-one priority as mayor”.

In April, the Green Party launched a campaign for the rail link, accusing the Government of standing in the way of Auckland’s progress.

“The business case for the rail link is overwhelming. It will create jobs, increase productivity and free up the motorways. It is a much better spend than the Government’s proposed motorway expenditure,” party transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said.

The proposed Auckland City Rail Link would extend the existing rail line underground through Britomart, under Albert, Vincent and Pitt streets, then beneath Karangahape Road and the Central Motorway Junction to Symonds Street before emerging above ground to join the western line near Eden Terrace.

It would be built in two 3.5 kilometre long twin tunnels up to 45 metres below the city.

Auckland councillor Christine Fletcher said she had been “encouraged greatly” by the Government’s responsiveness.

She said despite the “noise from the left” saying the Government did not support public transport, there had been consistent support for the council in buying property and doing the legal work required to secure the route for the rail link.

“They would not being doing that unless they were committed to this project.”

Fletcher said the question was more around whether the council could get the funding and if the business plan was robust.

She would not attend the meeting on Friday, despite being the deputy chair of the transport committee, but was convinced it would mean good news.

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said the agency had not been informed of any decision on the loop.

Hannan said Labour MP Phil Twyford was planning to ask some questions about the link this afternoon in Parliament, and that John Key was due to visit Auckland on Friday, but that was all he had heard.


  • NZ Herald
  • Vernon Small & Kirsty Johnston
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