City Rail Link is probably Auckland’s oldest transport project. Versions of it first planned on plans in the 1920s and various iterations have appeared over the subsequent decades. But the most recent investigations, that ultimately led to the tunnels currently under construction kicked off in 2004 with a Feasibility Study following the opening of Britomart in 2003.. This study proposed an alignment that’s very similar to what is being built.

Some interesting findings from that work are:

  • An estimated cost of around $500 million
  • Construction timeframes of around 2 years
  • Enhanced capacity into Britomart would be needed by 2009, and expanded further by 2021.

However, things moved pretty slowly on the project for a number of years and it wasn’t until the skyscraper Precinct are now building at Commercial Bay was consented in 2008 did we see the next step, with route protection work finally getting under way. Meanwhile the 2010 Regional Land Transport Strategy and then the 2012 Auckland Plan both said it was essential for the Link to be completed by 2021. Len Brown championed the project during his 2010 election as the first mayor of the “Auckland Super City”, and released a business case for the project, which had been underway prior to the election, in late 2010.

This is when delays started to happen. The previous government weren’t fans of the project and called for a review of the business case. The review and it’s appendices (now only found on the wayback machine) was completed by mid-2011 but was full of obvious errors to reach a conclusion that the rail tunnel wouldn’t be needed for decades and had a poor cost-benefit ratio:

Digging into the review documents in a bit more detail eventually identified the cause of these differences. These can be broadly summarised as:

  • Transport modelling at the time did not place a limit on the number of buses that can efficiently travel down a street. 20 buses an hour worked just as well in the models as 300 buses an hour.
  • Transport modelling at the time also did not place a limit on the number of people who can travel on the bus. Therefore even if something like 500 people were trying to get on a bus, in the model no problems would show up.
  • These limitations meant that bus trips into the city centre were forecast to keep growing massively in the future, even though that was practically impossible. While a key reason for CRL (and now light-rail) has always been to shift more people into the city centre because we can’t keep adding buses, the transport models were assuming this problem didn’t exist.
  • They assumed parking prices would not rise as fast as the business case and in 2041 would be at $16 (in 2006 values – $20 today). This meant there was a lot more demand for driving than the business case had assumed.

A key implication of all of this, was that the CRL business case review assumed way lower growth in rail ridership than it should have, and therefore massively under-estimated the scale of impact (and therefore the size of the benefit) CRL would have.

For example the business case review said:

I suspect we’re already exceed these levels of crowding on the trains that the business case review didn’t think would happen for 20 or more years!

Between mid-2011 and late 2012 progress on CRL was pretty slow. The Auckland Plan confirmed CRL as Auckland’s number one priority project (no doubt annoying the government!) and the City Centre Future Access Study, a joint council/government study looking at city centre access, was completed and found the CRL was the best option . Despite this, when the study was completed Gerry Brownlee (now transport minister) didn’t believe its findings.

“In a nutshell the report says the case for building the CRL is weak now, improves somewhat if it’s built closer to 2030 – based on some extremely optimistic assumptions about employment growth in the Auckland CBD – and even then would only provide about 20 per cent of the additional transport capacity needed to deal with increased congestion.”

Mr Brownlee says the study’s modelling suggests the CRL is not viable in the next 15 years.

“With a modelled benefit cost ratio of just 44 cents in the dollar, the benefits of the CRL are nowhere near the cost of building it.

“That benefit cost ratio looks decidedly questionable when you take into account the report’s assumed employment growth of 46 per cent in the Auckland city centre over the next 10 years, compared with actual growth of only 18 per cent in the previous decade.

“Yet this assumed employment growth means the bus crowding and congestion problems forecast in the draft report for 2021 are more likely to occur around 2030.

An OIA request subsequently showed that even the Ministry were saying internally that the transport models were “probably overestimating demand for private vehicle travel and therefore congestion while underestimating demand for public transport

Nothing really progressed for another six months, before in mid-2013 former Prime Minister John Key seemingly over-ruled his transport minister and finally said the government would support CRL, but on a much slower timeframe than what the Council wanted. The government also said that it would consider a faster timeframe if rail ridership reached 20 million well before 2020 and if employment growth happened quickly.

Last year, Auckland Transport’s City Centre Future Access Study concluded that the forecast growth in demand for access to the city centre would best be met with a combination of the proposed City Rail Link and substantial access upgrades for buses.

I can tell you that the Government broadly agrees with that conclusion.

We don’t, however, agree with the timeframes proposed in the report, which concluded that the City Rail Link needs to be in place by 2021.

Given the scale of the project, this would effectively mean construction would need to start in two years’ time.

So, as I indicated earlier this week, the Government is committing to a joint business plan for the City Rail Link with Auckland Council in 2017 and providing its share of funding for a construction start in 2020.

And we will be prepared to consider an earlier start date if it becomes clear that Auckland’s CBD employment and rail patronage growth hit thresholds faster than current rates of growth suggest.

Early assessments of performance the patronage targets included this comment

we expect the rate of patronage growth to slow and at this stage do not anticipate it is likely that the threshold of 20 million trips well before 2020 will be met.

Ultimately we achieved the target 3 years early in in August 2017 but by that time the government had finally gave up the fight and agreed to forget about silly targets for bringing forward construction, in part due to the billions of construction planned for the Albert St corridor. In 2016 it reached agreement with the Council on a 50/50 share of costs for the project.

While this was going on the Council and AT had been getting on with confirming resource consents and other approvals for CRL, and committed funding for some ‘early works’ (the bits that have been built over the past couple of years) to ensure the tunnels were in place at the same time as other major developments in the downtown area. But a lot of time and energy seemed to continue to be devoted to proving the need for the project.

Since 2016 obviously there has been a lot of progress made on the early works, which should be completed within the next year or so. Design and procurement for the main project has also proceeded, with a few hiccups on the way. Completion is now expected in 2024 – basically three years later than what would have happened without all that messing around between 2010 and 2016 with repeated business cases, unnecessary targets, informed by poor transport modelling.

Recently we’ve been hearing that it’s likely the cost of CRL will increase from the $3.4 billion that was estimated in 2016. There are two key reasons for this.

  1. Since then some smart decisions have been made to future-proof the tunnels for longer trains and to undo a stupid decision by Auckland Transport to remove the most important entrance to K Road station from Beresford Square. While these are obviously the right thing to do but are believed to add about $300 million to the project’s cost.
  2. The other important consideration is that construction sector costs have been increasing rapidly in recent years, due to a population boom and building boom the sector has struggled to keep up with. It is this construction sector inflation that is really hurt by the three year delay created by the previous government.

So, as a result of delays and obstruction towards the project by the previous government, it now appears Auckland ratepayers are now going to have to stump up for millions more than they would have otherwise had to. But perhaps more tragically, Auckland really needs City Rail Link now, or at worst in a couple of years time. It’s immensely frustrating to think that this project is still around five years from being completed.

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  1. The same forces of doubt, delay, and white anting are now focussed on Light Rail, both in AKL and WGTN…… so it goes

    1. And those tasked with delivery of those projects don’t seem to be capable of actually communicating with anyone, raising a question if it’s not delegated to lower management to push through due to lack of vision and leadership from the top.

    2. Unfortunately light rail won’t be happening in Wellington for a long time now thanks to a highly questionable feasibility study that favoured dedicated busways a few years ago.

  2. It comes as no revelation that the National Party did not (does not) like public transport.

    Whether it was Stephen Joyce scrapping rail electrification plans that cost us dearly in buying many more SA sets, not to least to cover the embarrassing shortfall Auckland had in PT for tourists for their cherished rugby world cup extravaganza,, that now sit rotting away with years of service left in them, or his forever debilitating PTOM that haunts us to this day and ensures gridlock for the foreseeable future. And if you think its an Auckland problem, just ask Wellington.

    Or Gerry Brownlees brief but damaging tenure as Transport Minister ensuring West Auckland has the 3rd rate crapfest bus service it does, masquerading as PT, because he blocked all attempts to build a busway or similar alternative to cars when the North Western was rebuilt. And that idiot still leaches off us now instead of resigning, decades after his use by date.

    And who could possibly forget the insidious dirty politics on Len Brown in 2013. Worse than his dumb infidelity was the slime behind the hit job on Brown, the then very very close friends of the National Party, at a time when Brown was proving a thorn in their sides. Still it was masterful wasn’t it, it allowed Key to look all choirboy innocent whilst rubbing out his irritant and costing Brown his job and no doubt the people of Auckland better PT. Yep the CRL cost dearly one way or another.

    1. Not to mention how badly shafted Christchurch was. Most of the CBD being levelled in an earthquake provided a blank canvas on which to provide better PT infrastructure. Alas Brownlee and friends wanted to put it back just the way it was while spending as little money as possible.

        1. Gerry Brownlee’s use-by date was some time back in the 1950’s, and even then his transport ideas would not have been the right ones for a healthy, sustainable future. It is sick that he (and his ilk) remain in parliament, unrepentant for the obstruction and wastage they caused through opposing much-needed change. Unfortunately the view that major public transport projects are not needed (and Moar motorways are) remains alive-and-well in certain corridors of influence. It is proving a very hard nut to crack in Aotearoada.

        2. How is that turkey still in parliament? Ask Fendalton voters! He may be an idiot but he is their idiot.

      1. Christchurch… they had the unfortunate but perfect opportunity to fix all their problems and set the city up to shine. Instead they doubled down on all the bad things about it.

        I don’t know whether to cry or spit bile.

    2. And all while keeping up welfare payments through the GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes.

      And then throw in the sabotage of the asset sales process by Labour and the Greens which cost the government $ 1 Billion +.

      I could go on but I won’t; other than to say, Labour are hardly squeaky clean.

      1. Those asset sales should have never gone through. They have cost the taxpayer billions in missed asset gains and dividends.

      2. ‘And all while keeping up welfare payments through the GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes.’

        Off topic and political alliances aside, are you really suggesting that continuing supporting the population the government was voted in to serve by up keeping minimum human rights such as the welfare system should be applauded in the 21st Century.

        This is about public transport, people may be bad talking about your favoured political party but at least they are focusing on transport aspect.

      3. I’m no fan of welfare dependency. But maintaining welfare during the GFC kept a lot of money circulating in the economy. Had those been cut; it would’ve been an economic catastrophe. I’d hardly credit Bill English with what would’ve been common sense for him.

    3. I’ve never been a fan of the National party. Despite a family member of mine being a cabinet minister of the Holyoake government I’ve never supported them nor voted for them.

      But I really don’t think they’re much if any more immoral than any other political party nor less friendly to rail transport and public transport. As much as Nick Smith’s smug face makes me want to knock him out; he was an advocate for the Capital connection and extending rail electrification to Waikanae. It was under the last National govt that Wellington’s FM/FT Matangi trains were bought, that the DL locomotives were bought, that Auckland’s rail electrification was mostly done, the New Lynn trench station and new Manukau station were finished, that the Onehunga branch was reinstated, that the Auckland AM EMU’s were bought, and that the CRL was begun.

      Do I think that the Nat’s are especially friendly towards PT and rail transport? Not by any stretch! But I really don’t think that any other party (except perhaps the Green party) is much if any better. It’s Labour MP’s in the wellington region who’re pushing for roading upgrades that I believe are totally unnecessary and will hurt rail patronage and its a Labour regional councillor Paul Swain who’s got rid of the trolley buses! NZ’s political leadership is not PT nor rail friendly and neither re the general public. This is mostly out of ignorance and narrow-mindedness.

      1. This myth continues that National somehow can be given credit for all or any of this has to be debunked.

        Matangis’ Mid 2000’s the GWRC planed rail upgrades owing to the rolling stock been beyond economic operation. You may recall numerous break downs leading up to the Matangi’s coming into service and odd ball units like the EO hauled carriage sets to fill the gap. This project was supported by the then Labour government and the project got underway.

        Waikenae -The same project by the GWRC.

        New Lynn trench – 2006, December: Actually part of the project DART double tracking of the NAL that had been underway since Labour got the track network back off private ownership in 2003. Double-tracking between New Lynn and Avondale is approved by the central government; the $120 million package includes a 1 km long, 8m deep trench to carry the tracks, and a new station with below-ground platforms.

        Onehunga Branch – On 13 March 2007 the Government announced that it had given approval to spend $10 million on reopening the branch line for passengers and freight.

        Same with Manukau.

        Auckland’s electrification 17 May 2007, Approval given by the government in the budget to fund the electrification with the fuel levy of 5 cents per litre added in July 2008 to fund it. To be completed by 2013 (completed in late 2015 thanks to Stephen Joyce). Cancelled by National in 2009, then nothing, then a shotgun loan made available of a half billion dollars to fund it to be repaid by ratepayers or defer other projects to do so. Our sewer system is years behind upgrade and I cannot help but think our sewer contaminated harbours are a result of this kind of idiocy.

        DL loco’s, plans were underway to replace the loco fleet or a good chunk of it after private ownership had run the current lot into the ground, when Labour bought the railway off Toll and created Kiwirail. The DL’s were brought in under National but were the cheap option and to this day are not performing as planned. Not all the makers fault either.

        In short the projects you name, with the exception of the choice of the DL’s were already planned, funded and or underway well before National could do a thing about them. The only thing they could have done is scrap them 3/4 finished but that was not going to be a vote winner and all National can claim is that they were in power when they were finally completed. And quite frankly Joyce holding up Auckland’s electrification was a stuff up extraordinaire but it at least embarrassed his government when there was no dependable rail alternative for tourists at the time of the 2011 RWC.

        1. Oh dear someone’s got their political biases.

          So why didn’t Labour begin all of these projects you credit them for when they were first elected back in in 1999? Hmm? And who sold Trans Rail to Toll Holdings (so they could paint al those locomotives yellow and green) again? Hmm?

          And exactly why is it bad to make Auckland pay for some its own public transport costs again? That’s what happens in most cities in most nations in the world, in fact cities and local government usually pay for everything in their urban rail entirely including rolling stock, signals, etc.

          And what’s your source that the DL’s are currently underperforming? They had predicted teething issues but those are now long overcome.

          The fact is that all of these things you credit Labour for despite them being voted out in 2008 were not halted under National and National even initiated many PT and rail improvements.
          To repeat: I’m not saying that national were especially wonderful (they were average at best), I’m pointing out how they were no worse than Labour governments have been.

          You know; all I’m seeing is the exact type of small-minded tribalistic political partisanship that’s been a contributor to holding NZ back. It’s as though it’s a substitute for religious dogmatism.

          And what are you talking about with this “it at least embarrassed his government when there was no dependable rail alternative for tourists at the time of the 2011 RWC”? Are you talking about ow the rail system failed on the opening night of that? Oh dear you must have a very small view of the world if that’s the case; that was barely reported beyond Auckland. Like the America’s cup; the Rugby world cup is NOT the big sports event that the NZ media talks it up as.

        2. What did National initiate?

          The DL’s had a ton of unpredicted problems. Fake branded low quality wheel bearings that failed were one such unforeseen issue, asbestos another that saw the entire fleet suspended and old loco’s taken off skid row and revived to cover the shortfall. But probably the worst and most long term thing is they were meant to run at 100 km/hr for express freight, that sort of crazy modern thing in the 21st century Their inherent design flaws hold them at 80 km/hr, less than the 40 to 55 + year old locos they were supposed to be replacing. That is a big problem.

          Auckland was to pay for its electrification by way of a Auckland fuel tax, instead it got a half billion dollar loan up front.

          Tranzrail sold out to Toll both private companies, strangely enough at the time there was rumours in parliament circulating that the government were looking at buying Tranzrail, and they were, that caused the share price to spike. Hmm, cant recall who that shareholding ex PM was who was infamous for that.

          And how does correcting your mistaken views on Nationals contributions hold NZ back exactly? That is little OTT isn’t it?. I am pointing out they had very little to do with the major or even minor PT projects you named except to be there at the end. And its worth taking note of that because we will go back to year zero and pour billions into roading projects and ignore PT and that is a proven formula to fail!

        3. Look at their policy. They’ve announced they’ll cut light rail and regional rail, and presumably any such similar transit improvements, and borrow big funds for another round of RoNS isntead.

        4. “You know; all I’m seeing is the exact type of small-minded tribalistic political partisanship that’s been a contributor to holding NZ back.”

          NZ will be a much healthier place when National finally wakes up to transport’s heavy contribution to climate change, and the problems of car dependency. We need all political parties to be on the same page that they are problems which need solutions. We need choice in political parties about how to respond in an effective way to solve the problems. While National continues to ignore the problems in favour of their road construction, automotive and oil industry buddies, we will probably continue to have a limited political conversation.

        5. When you read actual statements like the below, it kinda forces people into political biases I’m afraid. Policy is policy…if its the wrong policy then people will go with what they feel is the right

          ‘Mr Bridges also defended the previous Government’s plan to invest in bigger highways, saying they’d help fight climate change by making routes more efficient.

          “We would double-down on infrastructure. Mine would be an infrastructure Government,” said Mr Bridges, calling a scrapped four-lane highway north of Auckland “pretty green”.

          “These guys say to us, ‘You do that, it’s terrible for climate change.’ Actually, no – you reduce, through the efficiency, the vehicle kilometres travelled. It makes a lot of sense from any perspective.”

          As mentioned, if they plan to scrap Light Rail and Regional Rail then you do the maths..

        6. “who sold Trans Rail to Toll Holdings”
          The then owners of TranzRail (obviously). Certainly not the government of the day (as they didn’t own it).

          ” in fact cities and local government usually pay for everything in their urban rail ”
          Do these cities get a share of petrol taxes, sales taxes, etc or just land taxes (rates)? NZ is pretty centralized compared to elsewhere…

          National do deserve some credit for not flogging off rail cheap to their mates for another round of asset stripping and putting in some minimal funding. It could’ve been worse …

          National needs a decent spell in opposition and should spend the time learn about cities and how they work and how NZ ones could be more efficient etc etc. Their current “MOAR ROADS!!!!!!!!” approach doesn’t encourage me to vote for them (to put it mildly). Maybe National should split back into a rural conservative party and an urban liberal party.

        7. Apologies, I worded it slightly wrongly. What I meant to ask was who it was who let Tranzrail get sold to Toll holdings (so they could paint all those locomotives yellow and green).
          Because the Labour government in 2003-4 had an opportunity to buy Tranzrail for a bargain but instead let Toll holdings get their hands on it. That’s what really happened, the labour government weren’t interested.

          They did however buy the track network and much of the infrastructure as ONTRACK. And they then did not much with it. The Rotorua line branch was abandoned. Funding for project DART to improve the Auckland network kept getting delayedrom 2003 until 2006 (hmm could have lagging polling had anything to do with that?).
          I think I should note that the Waikato connection, Geyserland Express, Kaimai express, the Northerner, the Southerner and the Bay Express were all canned while Labour were in government with not a finger lifted to save them. And the Overlander was almost canned, I’m pretty sure that Dr. Michael Cullen even said that coaches could replace it. And furthermore there was no effort whatsoever to find any other private operators to run passenger rail in NZ.

          I think I should also point-out that most of the big roading projects over the last 20 years were funded by the Labour government of 1999-2008:
          * The finishing of the central motorway junction in three phases.
          * The upper harbour motorway complete with Upper harbour bridge
          * Extending the Motorway from Hugh Watt rive into Mt Roskill. And i’m pretty sure that Labour had more grandiose plans for the Waterview tunnel!
          * The Auckland airport motorway
          * The Victoria park tunnel.
          * Improvements to state highway 1 north of Wellington
          * The beginning of the Waikato Expressway
          The list could continue with money spent in Christchurch and Hawkes bay.

          And even when Labour bought what was left of NZ’s railways from Toll holdings; its appointed board of directors had no plans. The “turnaround plan” was what this board cobbled-up when the incoming National government asked them questions.

          Yeah Labour announced that Auckland’s network would be electrified but it was the National government that pretty much made it all happen. And I seem to recall the Labour party in opposition offering Len Brown a deal where Auckland would pay for had of the CRL.

          These idea that Labour is somehow pro-PT and not pro-automobile are not grounded in fact and seem more grounded in fanciful bias.

          I’d like sources for anything Waspman claims about the DL locomotives.

          You’re too funny Waspman; no you’re not “correcting” anything, you’re giving me typical partisan political spin. You’re one of these people who decides to support one party and backs whatever they do and rubbish whatever their opposition do as though this is a substitute for religion for you and yes that’s something that’s far too common amongst Kiwis and is holding back NZ. You obviously support this one party (in your case Labour) and will support and make excuses for whatever they do and come out with the most absurd biased nonsense to justify it.

          As for National cutting the light rail and regional rail: I’d hardly think that those alone make then anti rail/PT by any stretch. The regional rail is IMO not a well-conceived scheme; it will require heavy subsidies, has a low chance of success and IMO is far from the best way to go about it. And National are only anti LR to Auckland airport, instead they prefer the heavy rail option and are not anti light rail to the north shore.

        8. If the DL’s are so awful why has KiwiRail ordered 5 batches of them? If they really are as crap as you say they are KR wouldn’t be ending up with a fleet 71 strong once the last orders from 2016 are delivered.

        9. @MasterChief:
          Someone might now come out with some nonsense about Kiwirail being forced to buy DL locomotives or that Kiwirail secretly wants to commit suicide.

        10. It has taken the DLs to be in service for some time for their awfulness to become evident. The railway press oft reports the DL woes and their lower than expected availability figures.
          Apparently the prime mover, a 2.7MW German-built MTU 20V 4000 has also had issues. Interesting that the navy’s being constructed HMNZS Aotearoa uses four of these MTU engines to provide power. At least there should be plenty of spares for the navy.

        11. NZ Railfan mag regularly reports on KiwiRail locomotives and the DL loco’s history of issues is well reported in Railscene News.
          Apart from the popular press reports and opinions on KiwiRail DLs, which is usually over critical and seems anti Chinese more than factual, it is difficult to ignore KRs own admission of poor DL performance. See OIA request ‘MDBF figures KiwiRail for both the DL and DX class‘ from KR’s Louise Jago
          As at May 2016, the MDBF numbers are:
          DL – 49,646km
          DX – 59,797km
          So 40+ year old DX locos are more reliable then 4 year old DL locos. Of course this is only for operational locos. I’m still trying to ascertain how many of those DL long term parked at Westfield are now either written off or relegated to spares sources

        12. Daniel,

          DL issues: As a starting point, suggest you Google ‘KiwiRail DL asbestos’ and have a read …

          Asbestos was still being found last year in locomotives that specified to have no asbestos whatsoever. And that was after supposedly having all the asbestos that wasn’t supposed to be there removed and being certified asbestos free. Farcical nonsense that’s been going on far too long.

          As for why KR kept buying them? Level of funding provided by previous government, more than likely. (But at least Nats did something with rail other than flogging it off for another round of asset stripping & line closures – which was their initial instinct).

        13. Bogle: Thanks for putting some figures on it – quantifying is good.

          Apparently KR is planning DX rebuilds with new engines, cabs, etc. (But not finally signed off yet.) Wonder if this (+ keeping EF’s) means future batches of DL’s are less likely?

        14. gk perhaps they want to rebuild the DX’s for when the Marsden link is up and running ? and also use them for the passenger services on the RRR and Antipodean explorer when they are also running

        15. Sorry should have said upgrade the DX’s so that they can put the DFT/DFB’s on the passenger services as they have been placed all around the country

        16. Looks like the misinformation machine is kicking in.

          The asbestos issue with the DL locomotives was discovered 5 years ago. A mere units were found to have all traces of asbestos from a soundproofing. Mountain out of a molehill.

          An MDBF of over 40,000km is pretty good for rolling stock. So the one year of 2016 the one DX class has better reliability? How about we show all the years between 2010 until present?
          And how about we account for teething of freshly delivered units?

          I still see nothing to back up the tall claims of how some are being cannibalised for spares.

          i guess this is to be expected from people who maintain that the National party is pro-road and anti-PT & rail and that Labour is somehow the opposite in the face of the cold hard facts…

        17. How much experience have you had handling asbestos? None I’m guessing or you wouldn’t have such a cavalier attitude.

          Asbestos was still being found last year in locos certified by the manufacturer to be completely 100% asbestos free after removing the previous asbestos that was supposed to be there. And the most recent discovery had nothing to do with soundproofing.

          Piss poor shoddy effort by the builders. Interesting that you go to such lengths to excuse it.

        18. “Interesting that you go to such lengths to excuse it.”
          Hehehehe yep conspiracy theories. The true sign of irrational and paranoid cranks.

          “How much experience have you had handling asbestos?”
          And have you had any? I don’t expect so.
          Do you know what Asbestos actually is and what it’s used for?

          And as always; no sources to back up claims….

        19. “And have you had any? I don’t expect so”

          Yep. Handled lab samples and field samples, also visited a former asbestos mine.

          “Do you know what Asbestos actually is and what it’s used for?”
          Asbestos is an amphibole or a serpentine group mineral with a long fibrous form. In NZ crysotile (white asbestos – serpentine group) was formerly mined in the NW Nelson area and occurs in more limited outcrops in the Richmond Ranges behind Nelson City (where it has caused issues in quarrying).

          Typical uses were/are where heat resistance needed, but there are alternatives (which were meant to be used instead in the case of the DL locos).

          Effects if airborne: stuffs up your lungs for a start, worse than silicosis, carcinogenic too.

          “And as always; no sources to back up claims….”

          Asbestos was most recently found in DL’s a year ago in brake components. See for example: (Since Google is obviously too difficult for you).

          Cite your sources. What is your evidence?

          “Hehehehe yep conspiracy theories”
          You show that you have no idea what you are talking about. I certainly hope you a not involved in any job that that takes H&S seriously, an attitude like that on any site/job I’m involved in would get you kicked off ^%$ quick …

        20. “You show that you have no idea what you are talking about. I certainly hope black blah blah…”
          (Interrupting) No.
          You said “Interesting that you go to such lengths to excuse it.” with the accusatory tone. Are you so all over the place that you’ve forgotten this?

          “In NZ crysotile (white asbestos – serpentine group) was formerly mined in the NW Nelson area and occurs in more limited outcrops in the Richmond Ranges behind Nelson City (where it has caused issues in quarrying).”
          Exactly why is that worth mentioning? Was that part of a copy-and-paste you missed editing out? That is relevant to nothing we’re discussing given that the components with the small amounts of asbestos discovered in the DL locomotives have no connection to asbestos formerly mined in Nelson NZ.

          “Typical uses were/are where heat resistance needed, but there are alternatives (which were meant to be used instead in the case of the DL locos).

          Effects if airborne: stuffs up your lungs for a start, worse than silicosis, carcinogenic too.”
          Asbestos was (and in much of the world still is) used mainly because of its insulation properties (heat, electrical, sound, etc). Products containing asbestos also offered good strength-to-weight properties (such as fibrolite).
          Asbestos can cause not only asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma but has also cause cause larynx heat failure and damage to the eyes.

          “Asbestos was most recently found in DL’s a year ago in brake components. See for example: (Since Google is obviously too difficult for you).”
          LOL ah no. I’m looking for something a bit better than some quick google search and vague report from radio New Zealand (which barely tells us what’s happened coherently). How about an engineers report or Kiwirail internal report?

          “Cite your sources. What is your evidence?”
          I’m not the one making any claims here. Am I? Hmm? Aw yeah…

          “Yep. Handled lab samples and field samples, also visited a former asbestos mine.”
          Yeah cool story. You’ve got the writing style and adolescent behaviour of someone they probably paid to endanger themselves removing it.

          So are we going to get back to how then DL locomotives are actually good or how it’s a myth that Labour is pro-PT and rail and not pro-road? Or are you just interested in petty pedantic point scoring and tangent dragging that only serves to show you and your mentality up?

    4. “debilitating PTOM that haunts us to this day and ensures gridlock for the foreseeable future. And if you think its an Auckland problem, just ask Wellington”

      While there are a number of issues in Wellington, its a myth that things were great before.

      Frequent cancellations, frequent full buses, too many small buses, lots of smoke belching polluting old crap, utterly absurd numbers being rammed through the Golden Mile (~120 per hour per direction)…

      New network is in my experience far better: more reliable, more frequent. Only struck a full bus 3 or 4 times since July whereas before it was 3 or 4 days a week (& often more than one in a row).

      Previously incumbent operators blocked any ticket & fare integration, with NZ Bus not offering any transfers between even their own services and Mana/Newlands having a separate card etc. Since then one card for all buses, off peak discounts, better evening & weekend services…

      Lack of bus priority is an issue, but due to the fractured nature of Wellington local/regional government that’s the responsibility of a different council (WCC rather than GWRC).

      Contrary to what the scaremongers predicted (and still claim) there has been no collapse in bus patronage.

      They do need to sort out pay & conditions, but that’ll take central government involvement (law changes probably).

  3. “…Yep the CRL cost dearly one way or another…”

    it would be nice if they named one of the new stations after Len Brown and put up a statue of him outside it. He deserves it.

    1. The only time I liked Len Brown was when he was whacking himself on the head. But he did get this done and it is more than anyone before him ever managed.

      1. Didn’t you like the singing? Or the crying? Or the shagging? They were all quite entertaining… But yes, in truth, Len’s lasting legacy is the CRL and he will be well deserved for a big prize award and massive thanks when that is complete. Arise Sir Len.

        1. +1. At very least get a nice new shiny emu with slightly different livery such as two shades of brown instead of blue and named Len Brown in place of those AT and Nzta logos on driving cabs.

      2. You may not have liked him. But does that mean he doesn’t deserve credit and recognition for his efforts towards Auckland PT?

  4. Thanks for explaining all this, Matt. I see in the 2003 feasibility report “The analysis does not take into account the full congestion benefits (avoided construction, growing congestion delays), nor does it take into account the urban form benefits from the new stations”. So as usual, the benefits were understood but a value system allowed their omission.

  5. I always blamed National but it sounds like the Ministry of Transport was the real problem. If the BCR is 44c then I would expect the minister to deny funding whether it is a road or PT project. (Of course I’m sure National would have progressed one of their pet road projects with a BCR that low but that is a different story).

    1. I would suggest in that era of clever manipulation backed by total non compliance with the OIA by National, that the MOT did as it was told. The business case was so obviously flawed as spelt out by Matt that there is no way it could have been done by mistake. Quoting selected stats to suit arguments without any critical analysis being acknowledged by our corporate media was par for the course.

    2. “Of course I’m sure National would have progressed one of their pet road projects with a BCR that low but that is a different story”

      Its not a case of would have for the RoNs, but a case of they actually did.

      And no its not a different story, its a separate, but earlier chapter in the same story.
      That under National:

      Roads = GOOD, Rails = BAD
      and Gold plated RoNS Roads = Guaranteed re-election.

      Ergo, no argument, it was a corruption of the process in every way possible to do what Brownlee and Joyce before him did over the CRL funding.

      1. What was the cost of delaying electrification to Auckland’s ratepayers Vance?

        How much did we lose refurbishing and purchasing those extra SA sets, not to mention the ADK sets and running them, to cover for that delay?

        How much more did it cost us deferring the electrification work by 5 years both in terms of infrastructure and rolling stock?

        How much productivity was lost by restricting the growth of PT by rail by Joyce’s decisions?

        How much productivity is lost every day in dollar terms with gridlock in West Auckland outside the rail catchment areas because there is no alternative thanks to National?

        How much dividend and capital gain loss to the taxpayer from the partial asset sales to the privileged few?

        How much more has it cost us by delaying the inevitable CRL project?


        These masters of the universe that was the last Nat govt really didn’t know shit did they?

        1. “How much dividend and capital gain loss to the taxpayer from the partial asset sales to the privileged few”?

          Do you mean KiwiSaver members Waspman?

  6. Only good thing about the delay is that it is now being built for 9-car EMU rather than 6 (and we get the 2nd entrance) neither of those things would have happened for 20+ years (or likely never for the longer platforms) otherwise.
    Still I do wish they would stop fluffing around and get on with it. Even now the whole thing should really be built in 2 years not 3-4 years considering its nearly 1/3 built already.

    1. I’m trying to imagine what would have happened if the CRL had been put in years ago. Say, after the 2003 report, or even last century some time, and without the longer platforms. Obviously patronage would be at a far higher level now, and there would have been more public pressure for other improvements before now.

      What do you think we would now be debating? Would we be relying more on LR to add capacity? Would we be closing the system for a few years to add the longer stations? Would we be looking at completely new lines?

      1. I am trying to get my head around the feasibility of a 9 car set stopped at a 6 car station with some of the front and rear doors closed.
        Sydney Trains run some services like this telling customers to avoid certain carriages of the train wile at the larger stations. I am sure that customers would soon get used to this nuance of the service.

        1. The plan is to extend platforms before running 9-car trains, ie there is no immediate plan to run 9-cars. The first 9-cars, at some yet to be decided point in the future, may run as expresses only stopping at key stations designed specifically for them. 9-car services, after all, are likely to only run in the peaks or for special events.

        2. The dearest part of this will be all the island stations with all the track work that is involved , which will mean a lot more track closures . And with 9 car units going into a 6 car station just stop the train so the centre cars are in the middle and put an announcement over the system telling the passengers to more to the end carriages at the centre to get off , and after a couple of trips they will soon learn when they have to go back to their original stop .

        3. Most of the island platforms (excluding the likes of New Lynn and Grafton which were built long enough during reconstruction already) are actually just the raised sections of the old island platforms, where were much longer back in the day.

          Take Remuera for example, the old platform structure is over 200m long and the tracks still pass around it, even if the modern section is only 150.

      2. Yes, I think light rail would be well on the way by now in all directions. Electrification to Pukekohe & regional rail perhaps in place somewhat.

      1. That was for tunnelling, not the cut and cover, or station fit out or track construction.

        They bored the two Waterview tunnels in just over 2 years, and they we a lot bigger.
        The rest of the work around the motorway ramps and such to make the tunnels safe and driveable took a lot more time.

      2. Sorry – I’m a bit behind the times here – but have they actually started to tunnel yet? I know they are digging up Albert St, in a cut and cover – but have they actually chucked a TBM down a hole and really started digging? Or is it still all walky talky at this stage?

        1. Guy this is what still has to be done at Mt Eden

          “A large construction site needs to be established for the Mount Eden station redevelopment. This includes the building of a modern station building and the new CRL line.

          We have been consulting with property owners/occupiers adjoining the demolition area to better understand the local context, what activities are taking place and how the works might affect those living and working in the area. These meetings have helped us to develop a draft Social Impact & Business Disruption Delivery Work Plan and other construction management plans that deal with the effects of demolition – such as noise, dust, access and parking disruption.

          CRL’s Mount Eden Community Liaison Group ( CLG) has also provided valuable input and feedback on these draft plans. These are being submitted to Auckland Council for approval.

          Understanding how people could be affected enables us to develop the most robust plans to help mitigate the impacts of demolition works on the local community.

          We are expecting demolition to start sometime in mid-2019, after the main station and tunnels (C3) contract has been awarded”

          And here is the link with photo’s showing what still has to be removed ;-

        2. And you have the K’rd demolition starting also later this year

          “Future demolition works

          A number of buildings on Mercury Lane and East Street need to be demolished before CRL’s station and tunnelling work begins.

          We are consulting with property owners and occupiers adjoining the demolition area to better understand what activities are taking place in their buildings and how the demolition works might affect those living and working in the area. These meetings will help us to develop a draft Social Impact & Business Disruption Delivery Work Plan and other construction management plans that deal with the effects of demolition – such as noise, dust, access and parking disruption.

          Understanding how people could be affected enables us to develop the most robust plans to help mitigate the impacts of demolition works on the local community.

          Demolition is not expected to begin until later in 2019 once a construction alliance has been established to build CRL’s stations and tunnels.”

          And here is the link with photo’s of the works to be done;-

    2. Don’t forget that the person that stop the entrance at Beresford St is now long gone . as he had this idea that all people no matter what was wrong with them or their age were fit enough to walk up Mercury Lane . I would like to see what he would have been like in his old age after he had say a stroke ?

    3. Was looking at the CRL construction methods & machine details yesterday on the CRLL website and I think when you get into the details of it, these projects realistically can’t be sped up much at all. I’m just hoping it won’t be delayed with any unforeseen problems. Maybe once the next contracts kick in there is a possibility of some small amount of time gain, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      1. Also scanned through a “Review of Central Business District Rail Link Construction Costs by NZTA Workstream Report, 25 March 2011” pdf and that was interesting, as they looked into all sort of ways to see if money, really time could be saved & came up with pretty much nothing.
        eg: “Consider two TBM‟s to reduce construction time, could save 6-9 months (but see timing risk below)
        i. The use of two TBM‟s has been considered and dismissed for the reasons described in the Concept Design Report section 8.5.1. In particular the timing of station construction and critical path does not give sufficient benefit in overall programme, only a net 4 months not the 6-9 mths suggested above, to justify the additional cost of a second TBM and associated support.”

      2. Am hoping the successful bidder intends to use two tunnel boring machines to bore both tunnels concurrently rather than one to it successively… that should speed it up, you’d think?

        1. hell yes; to have the lower bid, and therefore to win the contract…. every incentive. it’s a competitive bid at this point, between the two consortia, hugely important how they programme the works, likely to be the difference between winning the multi-billion dollar contact or not. and they are spending many millions each to put these bids together…. a lot at stake. teams of engineers, supply chain doods, spread-sheet warriors, etc pouring over every line…liaising with CRLL over the design and detail…

        2. Since only one can win the contract it would be nice to have some fallback situation for the losing bidder. Such as a contract to rebuild Middlemore station for 3rd/4th mains, build the new stations south of Papakura, make the Westfield flyover, rebuild Sylvia park for 3rd main, do new platforms at Henderson, etc. Those are needing done and must be worth a $bn or so.

      3. I think the main opportunity to save time would have been before now. With Waterview the NZTA threw a lot of resource at it to get the consenting, design and tendering all done at the same time. The final route was decided at the end of 2009. Public submissions on the consent opened in September 2010, designation was confirmed in May 2011 and the contract was awarded in August 2011.

        Granted the CRL is a bit bigger and trickier but had the government had supported and funded it, something similar could happened and we’d be most of the way through the construction by now. From memory consent for the CRL was issued in about 2014 and because the government had agreed but not yet provided any funding, the limited resource was spent on the early works and only after they were underway did focus shift to the rest of the project. So now it’s 5 years on from getting consent and they still haven’t tendered the main works yet (next month apparently).

        As for two TBMs, that will likely depend on the contractor and how it fits in with their timing.

        1. Can pretty much guarantee note of the TBM operators will be from NZ in any case. The consortium will bring in their specialist staff from overseas.

        2. And when Downers constructed the Vector tunnel under Auckland city they bought in an oversea’s crew to operate and train locals to use them , and the same with other major tunnels in NZ they all did the same

  7. When a Government makes it abundantly clear that it does not want something, so issues a statement saying “we believe the Council’s business case is wrong so we have instructed our Government Department/Ministry to come up with an “independent ” business plan, it is quite obvious to everyone involved that to preserve their career what their actual breif is.

  8. I have a question who are these people that write these reports are they lakeys of the people in power , so that the reports go the way that these ministers want or are they people that have a box of coloured pencils that they need to use up ? .

    the way it looks they are people that would not no the difference of PT from a loaf of bread . And if they saw a person waiting for PT they most likely think they are just resting while doing excercise

    1. I thought that the project had morphed into the LR link for the Northern busway conversion that will be required as one of the next big Transit projects.

    2. The never enders at nzta are still carefully nurturing the corpse of their wrong-headed road tunnel plan. Yet everyday the Northern Busway proves further and further that the next crossing (after SkyPath) must be a high capacity direct Rapid Transit one.

      Perhaps nzta are still relying on that old model that imagines infinite city centre bus capacity…?

    3. I’m expecting the second crossing to come back on the table in the next few years. And it will have PT included.

      Maybe I’ll be proven wrong.

      1. That wouldn’t be surprising, because it’s been coming back every few years since the 1970s. It’s certainly a perennial planning project n

    4. The Alternative Harbour is still progressing. Behind closed doors though and funded by road-centric groups so I suspect it’s still very much a road option, which is super depressing.
      The PT option would likely only be recommended once the CRL is operational and overwhelmingly popular… by which time it will be well down the wrong path and more time will be wasted debating the business cases for each.

      1. Given that the second harbour crossing will only ad one extra land each way over the doomed AHB clip-on’s they’re replacing and that from the outset it’s had a provision for the tunnels to also have light rail; it makes no logical sense to me how people keep acting as though this project is “road-centric”.
        It would be far more of an improvement to PT than to automobiles!

        Are people opposed to it because they know it will take priority over this airport rail they’re so overseen for?

        1. Seven billion dollars for one lane each way? Pheeeew!

          They’re not replacing the clip ons by the way. Have a look at the plans, the clip ons stay.

  9. I was initially sceptical of whether the benefits of the CRL warranted the cost and urgenctly, given other priorities facing AKL.

    As rail patronage continued to grow into the 2010s, and AKL’s regeneration gained pace, it became increasingly obvious that it was a question of when not if.

    And my main problem with the then Government’s employment and patronage targets were that they were applied by exception to the CRL, rather than broadly to all major projects, especially the RoNS.

    All said and done, I look forward to when the CRL opens and patronage pushes through 50 million trips per annum.

    And the new New Network that the CRL will require. One silver lining of delays is that we can bed in New Network now and then plan/consult thoroughly on the next iteration. Circa 5 years is about right for these cycles …

  10. This maybe an unpopular view, but the delay Joyce caused to electrification did improve the initial outcome; the all EMU over a mixed loco + old carriages and EMU fleet (though that would have hardly been a disaster, just more costly over time), and the delay to the CRL means the design is happening after the proven rail ridership growth so they are building a properly future-proofed version now (truly a disaster avoided).

    However, this is no argument for delaying the next projects, in all areas standard universal urban understanding has now been proved right here, and the stupid ideologically-led exceptionalism of ‘kiwis will only ever live in detached houses, and ‘kiwis just love cars’, has been shown to be nothing other than deceitful or self-deluding nonsense it always ever was… NZ cities fall to the same patterns as all other cities everywhere, with of course the also universal specificity of local quirks within those patterns.

    An on going problem is not trusting reason and evidence from abroad, and insisting on 1) local experience too much and 2) transport needs being met retrospectively, or extrapolatively alone: demand led, or ‘predict and provide’ from current use, there being very little room for or weight given to ‘decide and provide’ (not consciously) nor ability to anticipate capacity for change and lead that where it is desirable…. At least until this govt.

  11. The 2003 Feasibilitty Study was just that – an exercise in confirming that the underground route under Albert Street was a practical solution for converting Britomart to a through station and connecting it to the Western line. It was never intended as a business case – Council had borrowed to the max in order to build Britomart and was not in a position to invest hundreds of millions in a western extension. However, it did lay the foundations for what has become the CRL project. At the time of completion in 2002, Britomart had been designed to fit with the agreed Regional policy of converting the entire suburban network to light rail – at this time the suburban system was very run down and served just hundreds of passengers each day versus the tens of thousands today. However, John Banks came to power as Mayor of Auckland City in late 2001 with the intention of scrapping Britomart (the contract was signed but construction had yet to start) and converting the suburban rail lines to dedicated busways. Fortunately he was unsuccessful with both, but caused a major rethink of the future of the Auckland rail system resulting in a return to heavy rail. The result was that Britomart was completed in 2003 with provision for two ramps to bring the rail lines up to ground level in QEII Square where they would bend south to run up the middle of Queen Street – obviously not compatible with heavy rail. So there was a perceived need for a “Constructability” check of the alternative route under Albert Street. This project was approved (funded) in 2003 and became the 2004 Feasibility Study.

    Note also, that at that time it was thought best to directly connect Britomart to the North Shore via a pair of Y-junctions just west of Britomart and partly under the Downtown Centre which was known to be under consideration for redevelopment. However, the complexity of grade separating the Western and Southern legs of both Ys was problematic, so for this and other reasons the future North Shore lines will now run South to link with the basement of the Aotea Station

  12. It seems everything is so heavily delayed, the moneys committed but the project people aren’t getting on with it… its so frustrating… Originally they said 2020/2021 for the CRL now its 2024… so frustrating, a lot of the works haven’t even started yet… i.e. primary TBM work (excluding water pipe one)…

    Seems its not only the CRL but a number of projects. Like Victoria Park Cycleway which was meant to have started last year… Whau Path and Skypath seem to be going nowhere either. Heard nothing about ithmus light rail and the NW corridor. Waitakere Ranges buses nothing, despite Rodney buses getting announced and implemented in a matter of months… they had targeted rate I guess, so is the funding the actual issue? I thought funding was there and not being spent… so whats going on?

    We also have zero bus lanes in West Auckland i.e. west of New Lynn. Unless you want to count the token motorway ones where the buses just end up getting stuck at every on/off-ramp. Wheres the GNR bus lanes that have been proposed for over a decade??? West Coast Rd, Universal Dr, Don Buck and Te Atatu Rd also seem like prime candidates… Lincoln Rd is getting some… transit lanes at least, but again 2024? Whats with that specific year?


    1. The behemoth needs some streamlining. Any processes holding these projects up should be trimmed.

      I imagine this is what Ellison could be talking about when he uses the word ‘transformation’. Fixing this core problem of inertia. It’s directly hindering the goals of the GPS.

    2. Meh indeed.
      There are so many rail projects linked to the CRL that have just went silent.
      Apart from the obvious 3rd and 4th mains and electrification to Pukekohe there is no further mention of the new platform and siding/through lines at Henderson, the Westfield junction redesigned track layout and flyover, the third track or main from Westfield to Sylvia Park and further towards Britomart, the south junction from Managua to Southern line, the Remuera siding (whatever that is) and the removal of crossings on Western line.
      Are all these projects now not considered necessary or of advantage to CRL operations?

      1. Maybe the money isn’t there to begin them.
        Or maybe, contrary to popular perception, Paul Twyford and he Labour party are only interested in PT & rail when it looks like there’s votes in it…

  13. Funny looking up the old GA links that then link to even older posts, like this sad sounding one from 2009: shows the badly anti-PT vibe at the time. One example is to “Refurbishment of the existing Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) beyond their current “end-of-life” (2013/14) to enable them to run shuttle services from the non-electrified sections into the electrified sections of the Southern, Western and Onehunga lines until 2018.”

    Some very familiar long standing commenters like Jezza in there:

  14. Look on the bright side:
    1) At least it’s now getting built and is far advanced enough now to make any cancellation impossible.
    2) And it least it’s not being rushed & done on the cheap like far too much infrastructure in NZ.

  15. Transport modelling is responsible for 2 years delay. The 3rd year is totally down to AT and their procurement fiasco.

  16. Have you noticed that Fran O’Sullivan in her opinion piece on infrastructure in this morning’s Herald is referring to the CRL as the ‘city rail loop’. Fran, for a normally smart lady, I have to say that this unthinking nomenclature is highly disappointing

      1. SH1 is already there, the holiday highway is the parallel motorway they’re building to the ministers baches at Omaha.

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