TV3’s political show “The Nation” has this week focused on the rail plans the Super City has, and the government’s response to those plans. There are a couple of videos well worth a watch.

First, a story outlining the details of the CBD Rail Tunnel – with interviews of Len Brown, Mike Lee, Christine Fletcher and others (click image to be taken through to TV3 website and watch the video). I’m glad that the media has finally done some decent background research into this project. The potential cost of $2 billion rather than $1.5 billion is concerning though – originally in 2004 it was costed at $500 million. However, I’m still confident that the benefits are significant enough to make it worthwhile.

A second video is an interview of Steven Joyce and discusses a variety of longer-term transport projects in the Auckland Region (once again, click the image to watch the video). It seems as though Joyce is warming to the tunnel – which is excellent. It’s also good that he said that central government will have to make a contribution to the cost of the CBD Rail Tunnel project – the question now is “how much”. However, I still can’t quite understand why another harbour crossing is such a high priority when vehicle counts are falling.

Overall, a couple of very interesting videos and it’s interesting to see this debate on TV.

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  1. A second (third, really) harbour crossing is required because the Harbour Bridge won’t last forever (somewhere in the region of 15-20 more years of useful life?), and I think we can agree that whilst PT is incredibly important, the option for private commuters is required.

    (Plus, if we play our cards right, a third crossing is likely to include rail, so not necessarily a bad thing)

    1. The clip-ons have a limited lifespan remaining, that’s true. The main span of the bridge is in pretty good shape as per my understanding.

      My general preference is that 15 years from now we start building the North Shore railway line, which may take 5-10 years to complete. At the end of that timeframe we will have taken a huge amount of pressure off the harbour bridge (because there probably won’t be many buses and cross the bridge and rail’s speeds will attract far more people than Joyce thinks) so we just work out a way to replace the clip-ons one at a time. The bridge would only be two lanes down while each clip-on is replaced.

      Problem solved without needing to ever build another road harbour crossing?

  2. Both videos are very interesting, the first because it is probably the first time the main stream media have actually looked closely into it and while there were a few errors (like the low density one) they were mostly correct and it was good to see the AA supporting it. I actually thought that of all the people they interviewed Len Brown was the weakest and didn’t really answer the questions that well.

    For the interview, Steven Joyce is slowly continuing to talk more positively about it, something that has been happening for a few months now. The thing from there I found most interesting was that he was talking about it being started around 2014 after the current batch of projects are done however looking at that further, the only projects in the city that will be done at that time are the VPT and SH18 through Hobsonville as Waterview and the SH16 widening will still be ongoing. Of course there will be an election in 2014 so I think he is lining it up as an election promise

  3. I guess even the AA can see the massive benefits for motorist.

    At the end of the day the city is running out of realistic options to expand the motorway network. So if there is a rail network already built with three lines used at about 30% capacity plus potential for a couple of relatively cheap new lines, why not?

  4. Joyce is still being an arrogant arse though; the point of drawing maps is to make a case for route protection AT THE VERY LEAST, this he knows. He also knows that maps and plans once drawn have a tendency to gain momentum, and this is what he is against. Except, of course, for his pet projects.

    It is vital that additional road only harbour crossings are delayed for as long as possible as the case for them will be shown to be a big disaster as the coming oil cost crisis plays out…. There’s a fair bit of life in that old bridge yet, and we are very likely to find that driving will increasingly lose its appeal: Seriously, 2012 is looking like the latest the next crunch will manifest:

    Global oil production peaked in July 2008, and has drifted sideways since then, despite increasing demand from China/India. Remember NZ is a net importer of the stuff, and very vulnerable to price increases.

    See below, already a year old, but the direction of the oil price, and the lack of new megaprojects since this was written is consistent with the conclusions:

  5. @Matt L – funny you say Len was the least convincing on the TV programme, I haven’t heard him talk much and was actually quite impressed with the way he came across. On the otherhand, despite knowing how much of an expert Mike Lee is, I actually find he’s a pretty awful public speaker. With even Joyce saying the CBD tunnel will be funded it’s now really just a matter of when Len et al can manage to get it happening – rather than letting Joyce drag it out and turn it into an election promise in 2014, which is about when Len plans to have the Airport rail link getting going.

  6. I would have to say that Christine Fletcher made the dumbest comment when she said that Brown had a mandate for the CBD rail tunnel but not for anything else. He campaigned on those projects and won, therefore he has the mandate.

  7. yeah i was a bit disappointed with Lee to but it may have all been in the edit; I agree the CBD line will make AK ‘feel’ more like a real city but that is hardly the strongest argument for it, but that is probably not all he said but rather what they decided to use.

    See the old dinosaur Bryan Leyland is at it again in the Granny this morning. Funny Idea that rail is somehow ‘last century technology’ and the car isn’t? In fact this argument is a sure sign that the writer himself hasn’t left the twentieth century as if we’re really going to date things by when they began rail is really from the century before that. Twonk.

  8. Exactly, so what’s his point? What he is telling us is that his views are stuck in the 1950s, a time when rail was seen as out of date and old fashioned and the car was the great modern idea. Interestingly that fits perfectly with all his other opinions, especially his activism as a climate change denier.

    1. Individual choice, invisible hand of the market blah blah blah. I like how he says that people are going to be forced onto trains. Makes it sound like they are being sent to a concentration camp.

  9. And what are most people forced to do now? Unless you work regular hours in the CBD, your ‘choice’ is basically drive or not travel at all.

    Having the option of being ‘forced’ into trains sounds better than no option over being forced onto the motorway.

  10. Perhaps this apparent turn around on the part of the government is actually the result of deal making ‘twixt Len Brown and Steven Joyce. Clever politics is all about cutting deals. John Banks must be seething.

  11. “Clever politics is all about cutting deals.”

    I don’t think any deals have been struck. Fencing stage still.

  12. Joyce is talking 2014. Brown is talking about turning the first spade before the end of his first term (2013).

    The two aren’t that far apart…..

    1. Depends what Joyce means, really. If he means start to fund planning in 2014 they could be many years apart. He’s a master at fudging, is the Minister of Trucks, and what little warming he’s shown toward rail is doubtless caused only by the (to him) shocking realisation that Aucklanders like rail, want rail, and will vote for someone who promises rail. I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if Key has murmured in Joyce’s ear that rail could be an election-loser for National next year, especially with Labour’s steps to the left. Steps that National cannot mirror.

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