Interesting article on the CBD Rail Tunnel in the NZ Herald today. A few excerpts:
Auckland has been told to meet a claimed $30 million annual funding gap for keeping its trains running before the Government will seriously consider a $2 billion inner-city railtunnel.
That is on top of $24 million Aucklanders now pay towards running the trains, against Government subsidies of about $43 million…
…The Super City’s Transport Auckland agency confirmed yesterday that the tunnel’s cost was likely to be “approximately $2 billion” – up from an early estimate of $1 billion to $1.5 billion.
Agency spokeswoman Sharon Hunter said the business case, part of a $5 million investigation commissioned by the former Auckland Regional Transport Authority and KiwiRail, should be ready by next month.
A couple of weird things here:
- Where on earth has this bizarre $30 million deficit emerged from?
- Why on earth is the Rail Tunnel business case taking so long? First it was meant to be ready in September, then October, then November and now December.
The article continues:
Mr Joyce said Auckland faced a rail operating shortfall of about $30 million for each of the next three years, as diesel trains tried to cope with rising patronage before the arrival of a $500 million electric fleet in 2013.
That includes an extra $11 million which the Government wants Auckland to pay KiwiRail in track access charges to meet maintenance and replacement costs now subsidised from Wellington.
The rest is the extra cost of running new and more frequent rail services introduced this year to cope with annual patronage growth to more than nine million passenger trips – up from 2.5 million since Britomart opened in 2003.
Auckland receives $3 million from the Government’s Transport Agency towards track charges of $5 million which it pays KiwiRail, which will rise to at least $16 million next year.
Yikes, so KiwiRail’s track access fees are going up from $5 million to at least $16 million in the space of a year! The sooner we bring the track part of KiwiRail under the umbrella of NZTA the better I think. Auckland commuters shouldn’t be required to help a glorified freight company make a profit.
Which makes me wonder, where’s NZTA is helping meeting this random deficit?
Despite an existing 60 per cent subsidy from the Transport Agency for Auckland’s rail operating costs, the rest of which are met by passengers and ratepayers, the minister said funds to cover the shortfall were not in that organisation’s budget.
“We can push them in that direction but we need Auckland to sit down and say we agree with these numbers, and we are going to fund them, and we want NZTA [the Transport Agency] to fund those [the balance].”
Oh that’s right, NZTA can’t find a few millions for rail because it’s spending billions on uneconomic motorways.