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Old February 27th, 2012, 07:03 PM   #6241
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Auckland transport plans hit new funding bump
By Adam Bennett
5:30 AM Tuesday Feb 28, 2012



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Auckland's inner-city rail loop is at risk of being completely shunted off track by a lack of funding as the Government moves to curb council rates increases and borrowing, Local Government New Zealand says.

The prospect has been raised in a war of words between Local Government NZ and Local Government Minister Nick Smith, who says councils' rates and borrowing have increased too quickly over the past decade and are reaching unsustainable levels.

In recent weeks Dr Smith has publicly voiced concerns about sharply rising council rates and debt ahead of a major reform package for the sector he expects to launch in the next month.

Though Dr Smith indicated the package was likely to restrict the range of activities councils could undertake, he told the Herald he would not rule out legislated restrictions on rate increases and council debt, and was "exploring all options".

But Local Government NZ president Laurence Yule said most of Dr Smith's criticism, including his claim that a blowout in staff costs has been the biggest driver of rates and debt, was unfounded.

"My concern is actually most of the costs of local government rates and what we charge for is actually going on providing core infrastructure," he said.

Any constraints on councils' ability to raise rates and debt would affect the plan for Auckland's inner city rail loop and other big ticket transport projects in the city. "It could also constrain other projects in New Zealand."

Prime Minister John Key and his Government have already indicated that they are unlikely to support a number of measures, such as a regional fuel or income tax, suggested by Auckland Mayor Len Brown in a recent discussion document as the means to fund the rail project.

Yesterday, Mr Key said debt was a legitimate avenue for any council in New Zealand, "and obviously the size of Auckland's balance sheet and their ratepayer base dictates they can carry a lot more debt than anyone else around the country.

"But equally because they can only raise revenue theoretically through rates, we don't think it's sensible for them to get excessive amounts of debt on their balance sheet."

Mr Brown yesterday said it was crucial that Auckland Council had the ability to complement work by central government to get transport infrastructure in place.

"I would like the Government to reflect on the fact that it is critical for local government to support central government in particular in building infrastructure and one of the few tools that we have is the prudent use of our balance sheet through borrowing."

He pointed out that credit rating agency Standard & Poor's recently took Auckland Council off "credit watch negative" and affirmed its AA credit rating.

"I'm very comfortable with where our council is at the moment in terms of its prudent financial management.

" I would just be concerned that the minister not throw out the baby with the bath water and that we just reflect well on generally how well local governments manage their economic status."

He was looking forward to speaking to Dr Smith to find out exactly what he was proposing.
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Old February 27th, 2012, 10:56 PM   #6242
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In other words regardless of what Auckland council's spacial plan comes up with the government will push their will on the city by firstly withholding any funding for PT projects and secondly by strangling the council's ability to do it for themselves. Sorry for those who support these guys but this really is an unscrupulous government.

The mayor needs to make a stand and not try being everybodys mate. He's already wimped out of the original intensification targets by a fair way, he's put in large roading projects ahead of public transport projects he campaigned on. It's looking like Auckland's future will be just more of the same. Just as the current government wants it to be.

Last edited by cambennett; February 27th, 2012 at 11:11 PM.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 01:24 AM   #6243
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One of the reasons Len Brown has lowered the priority for the Airport rail connection is that as it stands AT prefer the connection to be an extension of the Manukau spur whereas he wants it over the Mangere bridge to connect with the Onehunga line.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 01:39 AM   #6244
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Interesting. Thanks for that, I spoke too soon then. Surely Onehunga through the airport industrial area is the best option, it can be linked to Manukau as a loop after that. I am surprised AT favours the Manukau spur option.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 02:08 AM   #6245
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cambennett View Post
Interesting. Thanks for that, I spoke too soon then. Surely Onehunga through the airport industrial area is the best option, it can be linked to Manukau as a loop after that. I am surprised AT favours the Manukau spur option.
I guess it is the cheaper if not the best option. I'd prefer the full loop but I think either option could be good. If you go with the spur from the southern line it could open up Puhunui to development as an expansion of Airport Oaks (stupid name for a mainly industrial area). If you continued the spur round to meet the Oaks then you could hook up the entire employment area to the rest of the network for not much money while you slowly modify the overbridges between Mangare Bridge and the airport for rail.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 02:09 AM   #6246
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Originally Posted by cambennett View Post
I am surprised AT favours the Manukau spur option.
Its the cheapest and quickets to get done.

The Onehunga link surely provides more bang for their (albeit more) buck, given the quality transport options it would provide to the vast population of SW Auckland, given the 3-4 new stations proposed under that option.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 02:56 AM   #6247
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmeat View Post
One of the reasons Len Brown has lowered the priority for the Airport rail connection is that as it stands AT prefer the connection to be an extension of the Manukau spur whereas he wants it over the Mangere bridge to connect with the Onehunga line.
The preference has always been for a loop from Manukau through to Onehunga, I have never seen anything to the contrary to suggest AT only wanted half of the proposed loop. A connection from Onehunga acknowledges the fact that this connection is about more than a link to the airport it is about providing transport choice for areas such as Mangere and the airport precinct which is a major employment region in Auckland now.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 04:21 AM   #6248
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Old February 28th, 2012, 08:56 AM   #6249
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Originally Posted by KLK View Post
Its the cheapest and quickets to get done.
It would also enable Papakura-Airport, and Manukau-Airport trains in addition to Britomart-Airport trains via both Southern and Eastern. Four airport routes for maximizing the catchment, whereas the Mangere option is just one route that won't make rail very convenient for airport travellers from east or south.

The Mangere option is better off left until they can put it right through to Avondale, so you can pick up Western airport trains at the same time.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 09:17 AM   #6250
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Personally I don't support a link from Manukau unless it was done as a much much later. By doing it from there it only becomes useful for people who need to go to the airport as there simply isn't anything in between and my big fear is that if it happens from there then there is no chance of it ever being done from Onehunga as there would simply be the argument "we already have a line to the airport, why do we need another one".

There are also logistical issues with it as it puts a lot of pressure on the Wiri to Westfield section of track where as if it went via Onehunga it could be treated as an extension of those services.

I do think the big thing blocking it is getting it over the harbour. If we can get that part done it would make it quite easy to break the project down and do a bit at a time e.g. once it was to Mangere Bridge you could stop until the funds were available to push it on to the next station where you could pause again until ready for the next part.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 12:13 AM   #6251
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drosophila View Post
The preference has always been for a loop from Manukau through to Onehunga, I have never seen anything to the contrary to suggest AT only wanted half of the proposed loop. A connection from Onehunga acknowledges the fact that this connection is about more than a link to the airport it is about providing transport choice for areas such as Mangere and the airport precinct which is a major employment region in Auckland now.
Heard it direct from the man himself. AT were in the room and didn't nay say him.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 01:23 AM   #6252
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Well deferring this and spending $1 on yet another motorway is hardly a desirable outcome for anyone. Except kiwirob.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 01:32 PM   #6253
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt L View Post
Personally I don't support a link from Manukau unless it was done as a much much later. By doing it from there it only becomes useful for people who need to go to the airport as there simply isn't anything in between...
Four airport routes via Wiri (Britomart via NM, Britomart via GI, Manukau and Papakura) will generate more new traffic than a few new stations around Mangere. The project is about linking the airport to the regional rail network, and only the Wiri options can do that.
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 12:15 PM   #6254
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I really don't understand why the airport link gets so much attention.
To me the airport link is a low priority link for now.
Pax numbers at AKL are only around 13 million at the moment, incl. transfer pax.
I cant imagine there being enough pax to make a regular train service viable.
Shame the corridor from westfield to SH20A was sold off by Transit. That would have been an excellent corridor for a train connection.

To me the priorities should be as follows:

1. Eastern line to Botany
2. Nth Western line via Nth West mwy corridor via Te Atatu to West Harbour
3. North shore line to Albany with Takapuna spur
4. Airport line from Onehunga via Airport to Wiri
5. Isthmus loop from Onehunga via SH20 alignment link with the western line
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 02:21 PM   #6255
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KIWIKAAS View Post
I really don't understand why the airport link gets so much attention.
To me the airport link is a low priority link for now.
Pax numbers at AKL are only around 13 million at the moment, incl. transfer pax.
I cant imagine there being enough pax to make a regular train service viable.
I think the mistake you are making is assuming it's an airport link and that alone. A connection via Onehunga to the airport would be an extension of an already popular (and increasingly so) Onehinga service. It would provide access to Mangere and the growing business district around the airport. What's more there are large numbers of workers at Auckland Airport, so simplifying it down to just the 13 million passengers passing through is a huge understatement.

At the end of the day there's plenty of money to build links such as this, it's merely a beligerant government stuck in the past who'll unquestioningly fund a $1 billion motorway through Onehunga but won't even consider a rail link of any sort.
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Old March 3rd, 2012, 09:20 PM   #6256
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KIWIKAAS View Post
I really don't understand why the airport link gets so much attention.
To me the airport link is a low priority link for now.
Pax numbers at AKL are only around 13 million at the moment, incl. transfer pax.
I cant imagine there being enough pax to make a regular train service viable.
Shame the corridor from westfield to SH20A was sold off by Transit. That would have been an excellent corridor for a train connection.

To me the priorities should be as follows:

1. Eastern line to Botany
2. Nth Western line via Nth West mwy corridor via Te Atatu to West Harbour
3. North shore line to Albany with Takapuna spur
4. Airport line from Onehunga via Airport to Wiri
5. Isthmus loop from Onehunga via SH20 alignment link with the western line
I'll give an example I know - Arlanda in Stockholm gets ~19,000,000 a year (~14,300,000 international and ~4.7 million domestic). It has a dedicated air train service (Arlanda Express), a National Railway station (SJ) and a link to local lines (Upptåget). The Arlanda express alone is a completely dedicated one-stop service travelling at 250kmph only between Stockholm Central and Arlanda every 15 minutes. Based on this alone it would surprise me immensely if Auckland could not sustain a rail link to the airport if it were part of the regular public transport network as Drosophila points out. The link to the airport would be incidental to the connection that the train would then have through various neighbourhoods currently not served by the rail service now.

That said, I agree with you that a Botany rail link should be an absolute priority along with the central tunnel.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 05:59 AM   #6257
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Akl Airport also already sustains the largest rideshare programme in the country so there is a demonstrable need for an alternative to the traditional private transport solution.

I always fail to see why a rail link to the North Shore is considered a high priority. Sure rail moves more passengers faster but doesn't the Busway mean the NS can sit lower down the priority list?
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Old March 5th, 2012, 03:27 PM   #6258
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Svartmetall View Post
I'll give an example I know - Arlanda in Stockholm gets ~19,000,000 a year (~14,300,000 international and ~4.7 million domestic). It has a dedicated air train service (Arlanda Express), a National Railway station (SJ) and a link to local lines (Upptåget). The Arlanda express alone is a completely dedicated one-stop service travelling at 250kmph only between Stockholm Central and Arlanda every 15 minutes. Based on this alone it would surprise me immensely if Auckland could not sustain a rail link to the airport if it were part of the regular public transport network as Drosophila points out. The link to the airport would be incidental to the connection that the train would then have through various neighbourhoods currently not served by the rail service now.

That said, I agree with you that a Botany rail link should be an absolute priority along with the central tunnel.
You can add Helsinki as a similar example soon too (after they finish their rail link).
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Old March 5th, 2012, 07:25 PM   #6259
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmeat View Post
Akl Airport also already sustains the largest rideshare programme in the country so there is a demonstrable need for an alternative to the traditional private transport solution.

I always fail to see why a rail link to the North Shore is considered a high priority. Sure rail moves more passengers faster but doesn't the Busway mean the NS can sit lower down the priority list?
Yep North Shore should be well down the list. The busway provides rapid transit to the North Shore and still has heaps of capacity left. Areas with no access to rapid transit like East Auckland should be hight in the list in my opinion.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 07:46 PM   #6260
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The airport is expected to have about 40m passengers year by 2041, if a rail link could get just 1/4 of that we would be looking at 10mil rail trips per year from that source alone. That is just under our entire rail network today (10.8mill) and is before workers as well as the potential patronage other stations along the line is taken into account
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