Frustrating news emerged yesterday on the light-rail project, with Transport Minister Phil Twyford confirming a rather weird next step for the project. The government are pitting the NZTA and the NZ Super Fund (with their Canadian partners) against each other, with both ‘bidding’ for the rights to progress the project. More importantly, and disappointingly, it means that there will be no visible signs of progress before the next election.

The two preferred delivery partners for Auckland light rail have been chosen and a final decision on who will build this transformational infrastructure will be made early next year, Minister of Transport Phil Twyford announced.

NZ Infra, a joint venture between the New Zealand Super Fund and Canada’s CDPQ Infra group, and the NZ Transport Agency, will further develop their proposals for Government to consider early next year.

Phil Twyford said light rail will be a game-changer for Auckland.

“It will be a magnet for private investment in urban renewal and will be able to carry 11,000 commuters per hour – the equivalent of four lanes of motorway.

“We have to make sure that it will be fit for purpose for generations to come, that’s why we’re taking the time to examine the different proposals in detail and get it right.

“What NZ Infra is proposing has never been considered before in New Zealand, based on a public-public investment model. This includes co-designing the asset with the Government and its partners, with the majority of financing and risk transferred to NZ Infra.

“There are significant differences in how the two options would be financed and delivered. The NZTA is exploring a range of procurement, financing and delivery models, including alliances and public-private partnerships, and will continue to develop these.

“Both of these options for delivering light rail are credible, but neither are fully developed, and we need to understand the long-term implications.  That step is critical for the Government if we are to make the right decision on how best to deliver light rail for Auckland.

“This process will take up to six months and will mean we won’t have spades in the ground in 2020. But it will provide us with the certainty we need to progress a multi-billion dollar project which will transform Auckland.

“I have asked the Ministry of Transport to manage this process, and to ensure that our Auckland Transport Alignment Project partners including Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, are closely involved in this work over the coming months,” Phil Twyford said.

Back in May last year when it was revealed the NZ Super Fund had submitted an unsolicited proposal to build the project I was pretty excited by the idea, especially as it provided an opportunity to really get on with quickly delivering the project rather than having it get stuck in limbo forever like has happened to other projects like AMETI.

However since then everything we’ve heard about the proposal has had us more and more worried and indicated the Super Fund proposal would be a poor outcome for Auckland and for New Zealand. That the government have let it continue is now a major concern.

By February this year alarm bells were beginning to go off when it emerged that the Super Fund were looking at quite a different design, something that seems to be confirmed by the the comment that the NZTA and Super Fund will each be developing different proposals. The February information suggested the Super Fund proposal included tunnelling under Queen Street. As I said at the time, you wouldn’t go and build another CRL to then run light rail on the street outside the city so the plan would likely have also involved even more tunnelling or building an elevated line the entire length of Dominion Rd to SH20. This would be incredibly expensive, likely adding billions to the cost, especially for a tunnel. The alternative of an elevated structure would be horrifically ugly and likely be a consenting nightmare. As I discussed last week, these options wouldn’t address the issues of too many buses in the city centre and wouldn’t even save that much time.

On top of the added cost, the Super Fund have made it clear they’re looking for investments with good, long-term returns. Like with other PPPs, this would be achieved by charging the government a commercial interest rate. Given the obvious problems with a radically different design, combined with very low interest rates at the moment, government 10-year bonds hovering around 1% right now, it’s hard to see why the government has pursued this approach. It seems the government has decided to give the Super Fund very a privileged role.

It is also not clear that the Ministry of Transport have the expertise to properly assess this process and appears to be a significant step outside of their usual role.

But the main thing that’s frustrating about all of this is that it’s just adding lengthy delays to ever seeing this project actually happen. Since NZTA took the project over from Auckland Transport progress has been painfully slow and public communications have varied between terrible and non-existent. For example there hasn’t even been any public engagement on route options. By way of comparison, City Rail Link route options were worked through in 2009 before a decision was made in 2010 – nearly a decade ago and major construction on the bulk of CRL is only now finally commencing. Delays on the City Centre to Mangere light-rail project also seems to mean that any work on the desperately needed Northwest Rapid Transit corridor has also stalled.

Given light-rail was the Labour Party’s flagship transport announcement ahead of the last election and became the centrepiece of ATAP, I definitely expected better progress than what has played out over the last 18 months.

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  1. You couldn’t invent a better conspiracy theory than this one… two groups “super keen” to progress light rail, so in the end, everything stalls… what idiots we are.

  2. Seems like the Minister is being taken for a ride (excuse the pun) by officials desperate to develop the slowest possible process so that the project can be canceled if the govt changes.

    1. Unfortunately it seems the mains issue is that the Minister appears to be incompetent.

      I treally liked what I saw when he was Opposition Spokesperson. He seemed to have a vision for transport (and housing) and to be forward thinking.

      Sadly it seems he is all of that but totally ineffective when it comes to delivery. We need someone who can drive through these transformational projects in the face of entrenched bureaucracy. Not a wooly headed big picture guy who is seduced by the last thing he read and can’t make a decision. It’s not a case of over-promising and failing to deliver. It’s over-promising and then just dithering.

        1. As Im sure you know there are limits to how much any minister can “drive [things] through in the face of an entrenched bureaucracy”. The power of an independent public service is pretty significant often (for good and ill), and when an organisation and its structires are as borked as large tracts of NZTA seem to be, ministers have a long crappy road ahead.

      1. To be fair if they do go down the PPP route it is going to take a long time for the partner to create a complete proposal. This is not something you design and cost on the back of a serviette. And you can’t expect multiple partners to spend many millions on a full design and cost so you need a two step process to first choose a small group of partners based on rough designs and costings and then get the detailed designs and costings.
        So the question is whether the PPP route is a good one. I think the reason for PPP is to make it impossible for the next government to cancel the project via a water tight contract with the partner.
        They may have been better off giving the funds to AT (who already had designs etc) and getting them to start work ASAP. But how much would AT really have got done in 3 years – probably not much…

        1. AT’s a mixture of good and bad. Removing this project may have stymied its cultural transformation. This was the project that could’ve appealed to both the engineering boffins and the progressives. I suspect ripping it out tipped the balance in the organisation towards analysis paralysis, fear of change and backlash-determined decision-making.

        2. agree with Heidi here: It was a mistake for NZTA to take over the LRT project so early.

          Would have been better to leave the project with AT until design and consenting details were worked through, like what happened with CRL (noting delays on latter project were due to an obstructive central government, rather than prevaricating by AT).

          I feel like super fund should have been told “thanks but no thanks for now”. And then run a more open process later, once more of the scheme details had been worked through. Kind of like G:link on the Gold Coast, which is performing well from what I can tell.

        1. The problem with Kiwibuild, is it’s location, location, location. Kiwibuild doesn’t immediate make a location better.

          340 Onehunga is an example of where it does help. Bought a development forward 12 months.

        2. I think kiwi-build so far was just selling the left over stocks from existing development. Some of the development isn’t very attractive (very remote and south facing). That why it is hard to sell.

          The real kiwi build projects like Unitec, Paerata are has trouble getting resource consent and it will take a long time before any thing will happen.

          The major problem is the new government lacked the competency to fast track that process and they blamed the lack of UDA.

        1. Don’t blame it all on Phil have a go at all those invisible underlings that were installed by the tories before they were evicted from power , they tried to put of the H2A service but finally today thet gave the green light and now have released the funds to get it running at long last . So the biggest problem is NZTA whose top brass have at least 2-3 years running on their contracts before any sackings can happen and their strings are still being pulled by the Nats in secret .

    2. I’m wondering if he’s desperate to make it a PPP because he thinks it’s a financing arrangement that will look better on the books – even though it won’t. And each incremental delay seems worth it to him because that outcome is still “worth it” for the personal political gain he thinks it’ll bring.

      I wish Ardern or Robertson would realise the damage he’s doing and override this.

      If they’d simply gone ahead with a single stage business case way back, we’d have shovels in the ground now, I reckon.

      1. An alternative hypothesis for a potential pro-PPP bias would be that it’s less likely to come under fire from the opposition or be cancelled if the government lose the next election.

        1. I think that is exactly the reason; make sure the PPP contract is almost impossible for the next government to cancel. Quite clever really – but it could backfire badly if they wait 6 months and then find the PPP proposal isn’t any good.

        2. It worries me that a government would be making decisions based on only being around for three years, they should be working on the basis that they will be around for six to nine years. It is very hard to get much done in three years.

        3. It worries me that a left wing government would delay key transport infrastructure implementation in order to secure the opposition’s approval, ie that the private sector will make enough from the financing arrangement.

          For healthy politics and economy we need National to depoliticise tackling climate change and to shed its dirty politics. And we need Labour to offer a social democratic option, not this Douglas-infused hodge-podge. Skimming through their party policy, the use of the words “in partnership” was noticeable. Do they think this should apply to key transport infrastructure:

          “Labour’s economic development strategy will be a bottom-up partnership model, rather than a top-down, state-to-client model. In this model, business, industry, regional, workplace, trade union, and community organisations will be first to identify opportunities for initiatives to drive improved economic performance and improved outcomes for people. These initiatives will be developed and taken to government for evaluation and support. Labour will respond to these initiatives actively, constructively, and in partnership with communities and industry while protecting and promoting the overall national interest.”

          Because if Labour voters thought they meant this to apply to key transport infrastructure, to the detriment of the country, would they still be Labour voters?

        4. Jezza if Labour had got in with a decent majority I would agree with you. But when you get in on the back of a 3 way coalition, and one of your support parties is dependent on a 74 year old, I think they need to make as much impact as possible while they can.

        5. Heidi at their very core both National and Labour have a common ideology- stay in power. National will never shed any policies that are important to the old grumpies and the petite bourgeoisie that make up their membership. Labour on the other hand prefer the image of ‘doing the right thing’ rather than the messiness of actually doing it. Twyford is a model Labour Minister in that regard.

        6. I wonder if a PPP would be that much safer following a change of government though. I mean NZTA would use private contractors to build it if they were selected wouldn’t they? They are contrats that would also occur significant costs and/or legal costs if they were cancelled.

        7. Tim, although you’re right that there isn’t anything inherently more secure about a PPP but:

          A) It plays into National’s ideological biases
          B) Because certain parties like to portray PPPs as ‘free’ they can’t attack it on ‘X billion white elephant’
          C) PPPs tend to be signed of as entire packages of work with decades long promises for payment whereas more traditional contracts are closer to ‘pay as you go’

        8. Jimbo – there hasn’t been a single poll since the last election that shows National ahead of the combined Labour/Green vote. While it can’t be ruled out, the chances of a National government in 2020 are pretty slim.

          I don’t actually buy the argument that this government are building it as a PPP to increase the chances of it surviving. I think they are using a PPP because current transport funds are tight and borrowing is a dirty political word at the moment. The latter is unfortunate as it is a much better outcome than a PPP.

        9. jezza I’m not sure about the borrowing part of it. Lets say it takes 10 years to design and build both LRs and costs $6 billion, that is only borrowing $600m more per year or about 1% more debt per year. Didn’t they give the teachers a bigger pay rise than that?

        10. Jimbo – I agree, borrowing for a project like this makes complete sense. The problem is optics, this government wants to be seen as fiscally conservative and paying down debt, borrowing more doesn’t look good, even if it is relatively small amount as you say.

      2. Override as in get rid of Tywford.

        There is not one grain of political nouse or strategising about this guy, full stop.

        1. I’d prefer not to be so harsh. We can criticise his decisions – although we don’t always know what was forced on him – and some of his positions on particular issues (like bloody sprawl!), but I don’t think he’d be where he is without political nouse and strategy skills. He’s also a person who is trying to do good things; he’s probably made a lot of good decisions. The bad ones just stick out sorely, as they always do.

          If our political system could be more humane and understanding, less harsh and combative, we’d probably see better outcomes.

        2. What was needed to cover this off this off the hoof campaign promise was a modest plan using the fastest means of implementing that plan was what was in order. Tracks being laid by the next election, a sure sign they meant what they said, a reason to give them 3 more years to finish the job.

          Phil the announcer told us the funding was there. But for reasons only known to Twyford a huge spanner was thrown into the works involving some fantasy underground project with the NZ Super fund. Like where the hell did that come from? Now the entire project slowly but surely has worked it’s way into a dead end.

          And this is what gets me. After the spectacular Kiwibuild failure of non delivery where Twyford was telling all and sundry everything was fine we have the MK2 version, the failed LR project.

          He can’t afford another melt down like that because their credibility is really taking a hit, but Phil just can’t see it.

          Make no bones about it, this project is now practically dead and if National get in its definitely history.

          Twyford is a classic candidate of the Peter’s Principle, a guy who was effective in opposition as a critic at his natural level but when it came time to promote to the next rung on the ladder as a doer and a minister its become obvious he reached his “level of incompetence”!

  3. Other global cities: “We’re holding major events, let’s use this as a chance to develop our city and infrastructure so we reap the benefits for decades to come!”

    NZ when it comes to Auckland: “We’re holding major events, let’s use this as an excuse to not build anything, even though we already badly need that infrastructure now!”


  4. With the government’s borrowing costs as low as they are at the moment I cant imagine how they think the Superfund options are going to be better on the public purse in the long run.

    While I’m glad this government ended some of the silly road projects and improved the CRL design I think they have shown they are either incredibly incompetent managers (I mean wheres light rail that was promised by 2021, wheres Pukekohe electrification) or knew they were just saying what they needed to say in 2017.

    1. No one seriously believed this project would be delivered by 2021, did they? That was an outright lie. Even if this project had the green light today, the design wouldn’t be completed by 2021, let alone consenting and NOR processes covered off. People need to realise this is a massive project – at $4B+ this is a 10-15 year project at best. Unlikely to be delivered before 2030 at best. CRL from prelim planning to opening approx 13 years (depending on when you start the clock). Right now the government are deferring this as they don’t have the funds to start on this plus complete other important roading projects, especially with the election coming up and ‘fiscal holes’ being pointed out by the opposition.

      1. Prelim design was finished four years ago. The business case for implementation was procured last year, but not actual signed because of the super fund. If they’d stuck to that schedule the design would be finished already and the spades could go in.

      2. Agree, this was never going to be built by 2021, it’s more important that it is done properly as it will be with us for many years.

      3. Yeah I certainly didn’t think this project would be completed by 2021 but I think people even more sceptical then me would have expected a little more progress then what we’ve seen (a.k.a any progress) given this was their flagship transport policy in 2017.

        You are right though that given the cost of light rail is quickly creeping towards 6 billion dollars they are likely concerned they can’t afford it within their current self imposed debt targets. Obviously they are considering whether its worth using the PPP model to hide the costs in the short term despite the fact that they can borrow at close to 1% at the moment.

    2. It has nothing to do with the public purse, in the long or short run, it is all about signalling… Labour have committed themselves to a 20% debt target to prove they are responsible managers of the economy so a PPP helps with that, it also signals that they are “business friendly”

      In the long run the cost differences between PPPs and self run projects are often marginal, and the choice is often about offsetting potential risks ( to either the construction or operation)

      Also come to think of it,The Superfund would probably debt fund a PPP allowing it an expense item to help lower its tax bill ( the largest in the country) – I’m not sure how happy Treasury would be about that. – (but its all a money go round anyway)

      An example is the Transmission gully project in Wellington where it was estimated a PP approach saved $25 million off an $850 million project,

      1. Bingo. This is exactly what I think is Twyford’s long game, as others have said above. The strategy is to hope that the PPP case stacks up, give them the project, and then they can debt-fund to their heart’s content but so that it meets Grant Robertson’s debt targets at the same time.

        I don’t think Twyford trusts NZTA with this project. NZTA are full of Nat-voting road idealogues who really should be purged but are currently untouchable.

      2. The PPP availability payment on Transmission Gully is $125m a year for 25 years.

        It may be an $850m project, but including operations and financing it is costing $3.125b.

      3. We’ve had it from reliable sources that it was cheaper to procure Transmission Gully (and Puhoi to Warkworth) by traditional methods but the PPPs were forced on NZTA by the previous govt who wanted to be seen to be using them. So the $25m saving mostly BS as is likely achieved by tweaking the forecasts rather than an actual saving.

        As for the current situation, I think the issue is Phil Twyford is trying to be too clever and is captured by the idea of using the project to funnel money to Super Fund in a way a future government can’t stop.

    1. Good question. Is Twyford regretting taking the LR out of AT’s hands and giving it to NZTA? Neither agency was showing particular competency at the time, but at least AT had already been through a learning curve. How much time did this set the project back?

      1. Giving it to the NZTA was dumb. AT had an entire team up and running, who knew the project and presumably had a road map to implementation, NZTA had nothing going on and no expertise on hand. Sure, they may be a slightly better organisation to deliver the scheme, but let AT continue while NZTA gets ready.

        It was the equivalent of a lock running full tilt being told to pass the ball to the flat footed wing.

    2. Yes. I believe Twyford does not trust NZTA with this project – the jewel in Labour’s transport policy. This is called a massive and risky tactical loop to try and outflank and then neutralise NZTA’s threat to this project.

      Quite hilarious we have to talk this in relation to bureaucrats but this is New Zealand and those bureaucrats are secret operatives of the last government.

      1. I think a bigger issue here is not so much that he’s lost trust with the NZTA (he seems to have too much trust in them in other areas) but that he’s trying to be too clever and is captured by the idea of using the project to funnel money to Super Fund in a way a future government can’t stop.

        1. The Minister knows the NZTA is in turmoil. It has become a law unto itself along time ago.

          The Super Fund has been successful with its investments. They wouldn’t want to invest in Auckland Light Rail if there wasn’t decent return. That return will be from fares. In terms of a PPP it may stack up?

          NZTA funding comes from fuel taxes. Why would the highly politicised boffins in the NZTA be keen to risk certain fuel tax funding for less certain tram fares and furthermore risk their competence being tested in building a light rail system which they haven’t done before? The NZTA has never been tested on their efficiency to build roads or regulate the transport industry.

          It seems the government wants to investigate an alternative to the NZTA – at least in the light rail sector.

          I’m sure the Minister will have the full backing of his government on this alternative.

        2. No, the return will be a guaranteed payment from the government, to be paid regardless of fares. It’ll still have to be paid even if not one person rides it. Nobody does PPP with patronage risk on the private sector.

  5. What an absolute mockery. I’ve said it before, the oppositions most potent MP is none other than Phil Twyford. A National Party asset!

    Game-changer? Seriously Phil? A game changer would be you joining the idiot Chris Laidlaw on the political scrap heap. A game-changer would be having competent minister.

    A game-changer would be these turkeys not voting for an early Christmas. They can’t see major broken promises like this make them untrustworthy and not worth voting for! Blind to it in fact.

    Cindy, if you’re out there Phil’s just done another Kiwibuild!

    Wynyard to Mt Roskill in 4 years. Yeah nah, that was just a lie to get elected. As for Westgate, don’t make me laugh.

    100,000 homes in 10 years. Not so much. Actually 1000 in 10 years is looking just do-able.

    I now hope for karma, Phil Twyford wins the seat of Te Atatu in 2020 by a landslide, uncontested, translating into the fool coming 4th!

  6. I agree with your article here, especially the point that the public sector in New Zealand is unlikely to be able to offer worthwhile analysis of the PPP proposal (from my time at the Treasury where you would expect some more informed analysis of these arrangements they were seen instead for the most part as ‘free money’ which they are anything but). I wonder if Phil is being captured by his officials here, who on rail matters will take a ‘small-c’ conservative view where delays and pushing things out are good, making decisions and spending money is bad. This is where politicians need to make decisions and just do it – nobody cares what transformation projects cost long enough after the fact for the most part, and nobody will look back and say ‘well, I wish they never built the London Underground etc, imagine what it cost’ – normal people will just be using the thing and getting on with life.

  7. Lordy, this is painful. Why did they give it to NZTA to begin with? Is it technically possible for the Govt to just fund AC/AT to get on with what they were already planning?

    1. Because of the shambles AT made of the CRL procurement and the resulting year+ delay.
      Because after cancelling a dozen major roading projects NZTA have the money and staff experienced in billion dollar projects available to get this job done.
      But a ship directed by committee and lacking a rudder will flounder about all over the place.
      Airport LRT built in 4 years and NW LRT in 10 years is perfectly achieveable in places like Singapore. But they have a govenment who know how to plan, finance and get stuff done.

  8. ‘Desperately needed NW rapid transit’
    That 10-20 million to get the rail from Swanson to Huapai is looking very reasonable now. Let’s do this.

    1. It’s now infinitely more realistic and achievable and its THE only possible alternative to cars for the residents of Kumeu north.

      But sadly the buck for that potential stops with the same lost, hopeless, incompetent Transport Minister. And based on precedent, exactly nothing will happen.

    2. Christine R this the HR Line there but because of pike river the health and safety act won’t allow the DMU’s through the tunnel until the fire suppression and egress from the carriages is better . So get that running to start with because they way NZTA works we will all be 6ft under before it’s built .

  9. There’s no reason a single light rail line needs to be delivered all by the same client, consultants or contractors. So long as they all work to the same project specification the trams will be able to run along the whole line uninterrupted. The same way our roads are delivered by different agencies and companies.

    Both the City Centre to Mangere and Northwestern light rail lines could be delivered in parallel by different agencies (whether AT, NZTA, some PPP whatever). Each line should be split into multiple sections and tendered out as separate works packages to be delivered in parallel rather than sequentially.

    This is a faster way of delivering it and spreads the risk so there’s reduced impact if a single agency or company underperforms. Both lines are so long that impacts from construction in multiple areas won’t compound, ie simultaneous traffic impacts on Dominion Rd and Onehunga won’t be a problem.

    1. History tells us the answer will be to have at least two systems and maybe even three. They could change gauge at New North road and then Change from AC to DC at Mt Roskill.

  10. Everyone is missing a major point here, and that’s the real purpose of the NZ Super Fund.

    Despite the fact that “the capital markets” (billionaire investors and their employees) dislike the Labour Party in general, they loved Michael Cullen because he created KiwiSaver and the Super Fund – which pumped billions into the investment market and gave the money-shufflers much more money to shuffle.

    I’ve read interviews with money-shufflers talking about how enthusiastic they are about Auckland infrastructure – not, God forbid, because they’re interested in all in Auckland transit, but because they’re salivating at the returns to be made on public-private partnerships to get them built.

    Short version: the real purpose of the NZ Super Fund is to make the NZ capital markets more profitable. That is, presumably, the real motivation of their Light Rail bid. Twyford/Ardern’s government is putting efficient transit secondary to keeping the capital markets sweet by shovelling money their way.

    And that’s why I laugh derisively when the Right call Ardern’s government “socialist”.

      1. I’m no finance guru; but as far as I understand these jokers, it’s by increasing the amount of capital going into investment markets rather than NZ’s traditional destination, property. I can only quote from the text:

        “Indeed, acknowledgement must go to the instigator of these critical initiatives, being (now Sir) Michael Cullen, Minister of Finance for the fifth Labour Government from 1999 to 2008. (He was also Deputy Prime Minister for a large portion of that period.) As mentioned above, the PIE regime and KiwiSaver were both initiated by him, while the Super Fund is colloquially known as the “Cullen Fund” due to his founding of it on 11 October 2011. Contributors of various political stripes are largely in agreement that these have had a significant and positive impact on the New Zealand capital markets. Believer or nay sayer, that impact cannot be denied.
        Even the normally low-key James Miller considers Sir Michael Cullen as a “legend” for the initiatives. They have certainly profoundly shaped the flow of capital in the last decade or more in New Zealand, a dozen or so years which have proved to be as interesting, if slightly less volatile, than the decades preceding….

        “Chiming with this is the role of the large fund managers in New Zealand, whether that capital is coming from a KiwiSaver pool, or the NZ Super Fund or ACC. These funds, as Sir John Key is quoted as saying earlier in the book, “need to find big places to invest.” His feeling is that that place is in public–private partnerships, especially in our larger cities, and he cites offshore examples as possible blueprints for what could become a reality in New Zealand….

        “‘There are some big infrastructure assets that we could list and also there are big infrastructure projects that we can do in some form of PPP and less of other market, and it would be wonderful. And I think the time is very much right to do that.’
        And were these sorts of businesses to be created, they would, by extension, strengthen NZX. Because they would need more public access to capital, according to John Key…
        “Again, the conversation is around where to spend the funds building up in KiwiSaver, the Super Fund and ACC: ‘You’ve got to find things for these to invest in. You want them to invest in quality assets so something like a Transpower would probably be ideal and would appeal to investors.’…
        “‘The NZ Super Fund and ACC are great success stories, but I’d personally like to see those big central government pools of money, those centrally pooled funds that are $50 or $60bn together now, I think they should be funding investment in new train tracks, highways and bridges and then leasing them back to the government.'”

        1. Thanks for the response Daphne. I don’t necessarily think this shows that capital markets have profited, some cottage industries like managing Kiwisaver funds certainly have but that is unrelated to the Super fund.

          If anything the Super fund and Kiwisaver have shown how small our markets are, which lead to John Key’s ideas of selling state assets and building infrastructure with PPPs.

          I don’t agree with either of these, I’d argue a better solution if our markets are too small is to invest offshore, then we all benefit from someone else’s profits, or someone else’ silly decision to use a PPP.

    1. I agree with most of your comment. I think the Super fund has become a government agency that has lost its original purpose trying and is trying to come up with a new reason to go on existing so they don’t all lose they soft jobs.
      The Superfund was never much about a superannuation gap but that gave a good excuse to address what Cullen saw as a savings problem. At the time National savings(private + public) were positive but only because Cullen was running a big surplus. The private savings component was negative. Cullen wanted to maintain national savings rather than give a tax cut to wealthy people so the Cullen fund was born. National froze new funds and now we have other problems to face.

      The Cullen Fund managers have to try and find a reason to exist and infrastructure is like motherhood for voters and politicians. So we have this current bullshit of trying to indebt NZ and give away ownership of Dominion Road to some Canadians, not because it makes any sense, but to allow them to keep their generous salaries.

      1. “The Cullen Fund managers have to try and find a reason to exist” – I doubt it, the fund has performed amazingly well, I doubt anyone’s job is at risk!

        1. Doing the right thing poorly is still better than doing the wrong thing well. The question isn’t are they successful at investing. The question is why the hell is the Government in the wealth management business?

        2. “why the hell is the Government in the wealth management business?” – specifically to pep up the local capital markets by creating opportunities for private investors, as the extracts I’ve posted indicate.

          This is what the Government believes, and what the capital market big players believe. It’s affirmative action for money-shufflers. It’s very hard to oppose anything in a capitalist economy which is making more profit for the big guys.

      2. We seem to be on the same page, though it’s not just Super Fund employees who want these big-ticket investments. The extracts I’ve posted should show that other players on the capital markets are just as enthusiastic about the Super Fund, the KiwiSaver pools and ACC getting big infrastructure investments going that could create profit opportunities for private actors.

        1. But they are more like flies around a turd. The question is do we want Dominion Road to be a financial turd in the first place. Especially given the current cost of capital to the Government. They could easily issue 10 year bonds and and just pay for a light rail system while giving the grumpies somewhere safe to stash their cash. The current yield on 10 Govt bonds is 1.1% so money is almost free at the moment.

  11. The fastest option for extending the network at the moment is convert A2B to LRT and then build thru Mangere to Onehunga. Connecting to the HRT at Puhinui and Onehunga.

    This is a good first stage that adds to the existing network and will be an easy consent-build.

      1. The Old Mangere Bridge is being replaced. The New Old Mangere Bridge is for walking and cycling only. This means a third crossing will be needed for any transit options.

        I think it’s unlike this new bridge can have it’s design upgraded to a transit bridge. Sp the third crossing design/consent will need to be started.

        1. No, on the A2B side. Involving Maori consent and the existing 20B bridge being consented on the basis of it being the ‘only’ bridge required?

        2. I don’t know if you know that the duplicated Mangere Bridge is future proofed for train to go underneath the bridge. The piles has been designed to take the train load.

        3. The track should have been laid when the new bridge was built.
          We could have at least had HR to Mangere Bridge already and could have done staged extensions to the airport.
          Not going to happen by the look of it.

        4. HRT is absolute the wrong option in Airport/Mangere. The higher cost for getting HRT from Puhinui to the Airport, is better spent on other things.

          The idea of building your network so that every trip is a single seat oxymoron.

        5. HRT is absolute the right option in Airport/Mangere. The lower cost for getting HRT from Puhinui to the Airport, will save money for other things.

          The idea of building your network so that principal flows have a single seat ride is a good one.

          I can make bald statements too 😎

        6. HRT from Puhinui to the airport requires underground work at the ariport. Both for the east and north access points.

          Plus at least 100+ million in land purchases around Wiri.

          Plus lifting SH20 at some point to allow the track to go thru.

          If you think HRT is the cheaper option, then I have a double decker bridge design to sell you as well.

        7. ‘HRT is absolute the right option in Airport/Mangere. The lower cost for getting HRT from Puhinui to the Airport, will save money for other things.’

          HRT from Puhinui is definitely not the right option for Mangere as it doesn’t even go through Mangere.

  12. Just put trackless trams in easy ,much cheaper and will do the same job. If they’re good enough for Doha, Cambridge in England and more than likely sevral cities in Australia all with greater population than Auckland that system is the way to go. Just start on the job and stop wasting taxpayers and ratepayers money ,Auckland had trams they ripped the whole system out short sighted politicians again, now your chickens have come home to roost just get over it and bring a trackless tram out to trial it.

    1. I understand that Mestre and Caen ler Mer that have had trackless trams for years are now going to replace them with a tracked system.

      Have used to former and it provides a great ride, but are their issues?

    2. The trackless trams in Adelaide and Cambridge are just normal buses with added steering hardware to contact a significantly raised side kerb on especially constructed busway sections. These are completely unsuitable for general traffic, and indeed even at grade crossings of all other vehicles, and even pedestrians.
      The O bahn in Adelaide is equipped with sump smashers to severly disable errant cars, but simultaneously disabling the busway! Because it is a propriety system there are restrictions on which bus models are suitable for the modification which did cause difficulties at fleet renewal.
      Its advantage over the Northern Busway construction is limited to requiring a narrower carriageway against the very significant disadvantages . Vehicle size remains the same as other buses, approx 80 pax max, considerably less then the light rail vehicles also operating succesfully in Adelaide.
      I understand the narrower carriageway requirement was a large factor in its adoption in Cambridgeshire where the rural sections are on disused rail corridor.

      1. Long term Adelaide is much more likely to convert it’s O’bahn into Light Rail then convert it’s Light Rail lines to O’bahn.

  13. Year of Delivery. LOL.

    What has the CoL actually delivered?

    Maybe if they had less working groups they could deliver a LR network.

  14. Even more reason to get HR services to Huapai up and running using the same units as Pukekohe has as an interim measure as it’ll be at least a decade before LRT reaches there!

  15. The delay of the light rail is disappointing but might be the right one.

    As Heidi says, to reduce carbon emissions, PT ridership might be different in 2030 by a factor of at least 5 times (I think 8). Is surface light rail on Queen St the best situation for then and beyond?

    The current network can be scaled massively just using buses, assuming that traffic is removed from those routes, and for me a delay of a year or two to do it right rather than quickly is worthwhile.

    1. Exactly.

      To be “transformative” Auckland needs more than trams. We need true MRT and that means grade separated rail lines. The involvement of the Super Fund puts the cost argument to rest. Objection to grade separated light rail now seems to be based around aesthetics e.g. “The alternative of an elevated structure would be horrifically ugly and likely be a consenting nightmare.”

      It’s so disappointing to see Auckland’s foremost PT advocates celebrate the power of NIMBYs to block transformative PT projects.

      Really interested to see what CDPQ come up with. They seem to favour fully automated grade separated light rail which would be far superior to SLOW trams.

      1. Or you can just make the entire route access-only for cars with proper design such as using modal filters in neighbouring streets and on the route itself (tho auto-bollards for the latter) to block out heavy automobile traffic. Roads are not set in function-class-stone. Will make the corridor nice as hell too for people living directly off the road. Heavy car traffic should not be near driveways and directly next to homes anyway.

        Not like there are a gazillion other arterials we have built over the past 60 years…

      2. “puts the cost argument to rest”
        You do realise the superfund isn’t throwing free money at Auckland right. You know Auckland would have to pay it back with interest?

  16. It’s deliciously ironic that in the same thread we get criticism for not getting stuff built as quickly as Singapore and criticism of NZ Super Fund when the major reason Singapore builds infrastructure so quickly (apart from the autocratic government) is they fund it from their version of Kirk’s Super Fund.
    The government should be going all out on infrastructure investment while money is at all time lows. To hell with the self imposed cap. Oh that’s right it wasn’t self-imposed. It’s (part of) the price of doing a deal with the devil.

    1. Award one line to company A and the other line to company B and give the entire $6 billion to whichever finishes the first.

    2. The issue here is that we (AT and then the NZTA) have developed a project based on a bunch of analysis and then at the last minute, the Super Fund have come in and suggested a different project, with no analysis, that would cost a lot more, and which from what we can tell, all officials said was a bad idea, but we’re going to bend over backwards to see if we can let them deliver.
      If the Super Fund were just delivering what was proposed then it would be much less of an issue.

  17. personally, my main concern about LRT is that the slow painful process of figuring out what to build distracts us from other smaller but still worthwhile projects.

    — developing a kick-ass post-CRL “New Network”
    — interchanges on SH16 that enable rapid buses between Westgate and the City to connect with local frequent services.
    — electrification to Pukekohe

    I’m sure there’s lots of good people at AT doing some good thinking on these very issues, although LRT is sucking too much oxygen at a senior / political level for them to get the attention they deserve.,

    1. By the sound of it, there doesn’t seem to have been much work on progressing light rail over the past year, so there’s little risk of it distracting from other stuff.

      1. Certainly won’t have the astronomical costs of LR to the airport and won’t cause the same amount of disruption.

        1. It certainly wouldn’t solve any of the problems we’re actually setting out to solve with Light Rail, unless you think the sole aim is to get to the airport.

        2. Butt you do understand that they came up with light rail on Dominion Road as a solution then tried to figure out some problems it might solve don’t you?

      2. Dominion Rd has locked-in low density and already has nearby rail stations. It can hardly be a priority for light rail compared with other parts of Auckland.

        1. Dominion Road and Mangere are literally the two highest population density areas of Auckland, outside of downtown. If density is your measure, why favour sprawl suburbs that might become dense in the future over neighbourhoods that are already dense?!

          Both also have no rail stations at all.

        2. Roskill thru Onehunga to Mangere are major growth areas. That is ignoring the employment centered around the Airport/Mangere/Wiri.

          Transport leads land use. If we want mode shift, when need to build those modes first.

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