Wow what a day (why do these days always happen when I’m busy with other stuff)
If you haven’t heard already, the government has announced that it will pay for half of the City Rail Link although it appears with a delay of 5 years. Here what some of the media outlets are saying.
Prime Minister John Key has confirmed that Government will back a city rail loop in Auckland, but will delay the start of construction by five years.
Mr Key also suggested the $2.86 billion project could be paid for with proceeds from asset sales.
He told media this afternoon: “The Government is prepared to back the building of the central business rail loop in Auckland.
“We want to do that on a slower scale than the one preferred by the council. That is we’re likely to start the project in 2020.”
Auckland Council wants the construction to begin in 2015/16.
A spokesman for Mayor Len Brown said the Government had agreed to pay half of the project’s estimated $2 billion price. The rest would be funded by Auckland ratepayers.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee hinted this morning that a major transport announcement, related to the rail link project, would be made in the city this Friday.
“The Government is going to make, through the Prime Minister, announcements around a number of issues on Friday in Auckland.”
Asked if this signalled a change of heart by Government, he said: “It’s not a U-turn, it’s a loop.”
The Prime Minister has confirmed the Government will support the Auckland rail loop.
John Key’s confirmation follows hints from Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee earlier today.
The project won’t start until 2020 and the Government isn’t ruling out funding coming from the future investment fund, which uses the proceeds from the partial sale of state-owned assets.
ONE News deputy political editor Jessica Mutch said earlier the Government is “signalling that they will back a rail loop for Auckland central city”.
Mutch said it was a change in position for the Government, but ONE News understands that Auckland Council will not be getting exactly what it wants out of the deal.
3 News has learned the Government has decided to put taxpayer funding towards an underground rail tunnel linking Britomart and the central suburbs.
Prime Minister John Key is set to make the announcement on Friday, but multiple sources – including a very senior source in the Beehive – have confirmed the Government’s support.
The $2.86 billion project will be the most expensive transport project in New Zealand. Auckland ratepayers will pay some and the Government will now put in a huge chunk.
It is understood Mr Key will make the announcement at a speech to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, which is a supporter of the rail link. Today Mr Key’s office would only confirm the speech will be on “Auckland issues”.
Sources say the “billions of dollars” in Government investment will not only be for the rail link, but for a transport plan billed as a “massive” step-change for the city’s transport.
It is an about-face for the Government, which has never outright refused to support the project but has been lukewarm about it until now.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has repeatedly said he remains unconvinced about the necessity of the link, which would run underground from Britomart to Mt Eden.
What is interesting is the suggestion that there will be more than just the CRL announced. I had always suspected that if National supported it that they would delay the construction date so the news that it has happened hasn’t surprised me. Really the devil is in the details and so we will have to wait till then to find out exactly what is being proposed. To me it still wouldn’t surprise me if we were to see an alternate route/s or the CRL tied in to some other projects.
Interestingly the Young Nats have posted this on their twitter feed (although for it to be geographically correct the uni station would need to be on the other side of Queen St).
There will be plenty more to discuss over the coming days and while I think we still need to be starting construction in 2015, this is at least a significant improvement from the previous stances and the government should at least be given some credit for finally coming to their senses and supporting the project. Even if it has only taken 80 odd years.
Edit: a bit of fun in parliament about this today
Edit 2: Some worthwhile interviews on the topic from Duncan Garner
Some very interesting comments from Key. Very clear that this was a political decision.