The governments dismissal of the City Rail Link the other day isn’t the first time and it may not be the last time yet either. But looking back in history it seems like the tactics employed by the government today seem not that different from those previous attempts. Take a look at this page which came from the Auckland Star on 18 January 1930. This is when it was reported that the Morningside Deviation, as the project was then known, was being abandoned. Here are some of the things that sound eerily familiar.

  • The government had asked for a report on the feasibility of the project but it was widely seen as having had a predetermined outcome and was a delaying tactic to help the government get elected.
  • They included additional costs in the project such as the need to electrify all the way to Helensville.
  • There was a general resentment in government of Auckland, led largely at the time by the prime minister who was from the South Island
  • They only really considered its merits based on its impact to freight as they didn’t believe in the patronage projections.
  • They hinted at other projects that may be considered in the future but that they had no intention of investigating let along funding.
  • While in Auckland local leaders were worried about the impact the decision would have, especially on the roads.
  • Its also noted that part of the reason locals initially accepted the decision to move the railway station away from the CBD (from Britomart to where the now old station is) was because of the proposed tunnel which would have given stations in the middle of town.

Click to see the full paper as all up about half of the page is dedicated to it. Perhaps also worth noting that the liberal party was in power at the time and remnants of that party went on to form National

Auckland Star 18 Jan 1930
Auckland Star 18 Jan 1930
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  1. Interesting. £2,174,570 in 1930 would be around $200 million in 2012 dollars according to the Reserve Bank. And that’s to construct a railway tunnel under the city centre AND electrify from the entire Auckland rail network from Helensville to Papakura.
    I wonder if someone will be doing a similar calculation in 2094…

  2. Yes interesting,
    And if you read the sidebar stories, the announcement of the decision was delayed, deferred and generally obfuscated for some time (years it seems) – having been decided by fiat ahead of time by the then Prime Minister Ward as a non starter.

    When all was said and done it was impacted/shafted by RONS too – only these were “Railways of National Significance”.

    The main one being the Christchurch-Picton line “RONS” – which wouldn’t open for a decade or so, with massive construction cost overruns and delays.

    Interesting enough the 1 million pounds tunnelling cost estimate (about $100m in todays money)was given all the same caveats and buts as we get now for the CRL.

    And the original figure had itself been subject to massive cost inflation from 0.4 million pounds to 1 million pounds in the 6 years from 1924 when the scheme was announced.

    1. Yeah that was kind of my first bullet point, the study was a sop to justify a pre agreed position. Inflating the costs was part of that to make it unjustifiable.

      Also worth pointing out that the scheme used a much shallower grade of 1:80 than what the CRL will be with some points as steep as 1:26. That is because they planed to use the gully that eventually became the CMJ and SH16

  3. So it was way back in the 1930s that this ridiculous anti-commuter rail stance at political party-level began…and here was me thinking that it only had a 45-year history. Unbelievable. With the exception of the USA of recent times, all the other countries in the world that NZ purportedly looks up to, have never been partisan about commuter rail systems. No wonder we are never ‘really’ taken seriously at governmenal level on the international stage (despite what NZ politicians and the NZ media would have us believe) – we cant even build a proper rail network in Auckland without concerted political interference. Just shows how out of step with the rest of the world NZ continues to be. New Tui billboard: Auckland – the world’s 3rd most liveable city. Yeah, right.

  4. Is that really the proposed route way back in 1930? So similar to what we are talking about now, eighty years on. Makes me feel like crying. No wonder people move away from New Zealand to countries with the infrastructure in place, and more opportunity.

    1. Yep, very similar. Out of interest I have roughly mapped the current proposed CRL onto that map. The two major differences are at the northern end where we have Britomart and at the southern end where the route follows what would eventually become SH16 (the Arch Hill Station is right where SH16 is now).
      Interesting to note that the Civic and K Rd stations are exactly the same

  5. Another great thing about this would be that as it is on the current motorway corridor would of created havoc when they tried to build the CMJ and inner part of North-Western. Might have shied away from it all together, or only built less destructive highway standard. The North-Western might never have joined up with the CMJ, as it would of ceased at Kingsland. Of course they would of been much less demand to build the motorways, and there would have been rail on the harbor bridge if it had been successful too.

  6. I know its been discussed before but look at all that residential around Arch Hill that would’ve been so well served by the rail. Our city would look so much different today. Have I got that right, would the rail have gone through the gully?

  7. According to author David Leitch, a start was made on the tunnel in the form of an eastern portal opposite the station. The abandoned works were supposedly still to be seen until the early seventies although I was never able to discern them. Another rail casualty of cutbacks at this time was the railway south of Glenhope.

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