There has been a lot of noise recently about concerns there’s no ‘pipeline’ of future transport projects coming online within the next few years, especially after the government moved away from a few very large roading projects while still struggling to get light-rail up and running. For example:

Infometrics economist Brad Olsen said the transport spending was a “brake on the economy”.

And Treasury agrees lower spending is concerning.

It said industry was concerned about the 12 to 18-month stall in construction projects while the new Government was revising its transport priorities.

There are 12 large roading projects which Treasury says are “market-ready”, but these have been effectively scrapped under the new Government’s pivot away from highway investment, although only two of the ten Roads of National Significance were fully funded before the election.

Treasury is concerned that when the last of National’s projects wrap-up, there won’t be any new projects ready to replace them.

It said around $4.8 billion worth of “major projects” are due to be completed in the next two years, but there are only $1 billion worth of new projects getting ready to start.

That means there’s $3.8 billion worth of construction projects that aren’t ready to go when the current round finish.

This means the workforce on those projects may leave the construction industry, or move offshore, possibly to Australia where the Government has announced a $100 billion transport infrastructure package.

Olsen said this was particularly concerning, because when the new Government’s projects were finally at the stage they could be built, there might not be the workforce ready to build them.

“Noone will be ready for it,” he said.

If the government wasn’t stupidly delaying light-rail by entertaining a laughable proposal from the NZ Super Fund, much of this issue would likely go away. But nevertheless, there’s another gigantic project that is just about to ramp up into construction that should tide things over until big rapid transit projects like light-rail, Pukekohe electrification and the main part of the AMETI Eastern Busway are ready to go. That project is, of course, City Rail Link.

Perhaps because City Rail Link isn’t being funded from normal transport budgets it gets missed in some of these typical calculations. Bizarrely it doesn’t seem to show up at all in Treasury’s infrastructure pipeline. But City Rail Link is a huge project – with a total investment of over $4 billion and some truly massive yearly spends over the next five years as it’s being built. This was highlighted a few months back when Auckland Council gave the project its final funding approval:

Just eyeballing these totals, it seems like the total spend for the four years starting in FY20 will be $400 million, $800 million, $1.55 billion and $850 million. That’s around $3.6 billion of investment over the next four years.

In fact, CRL alone will require larger investment for the three years from 2021 to 2023 than Auckland Transport’s typical annual capital budget across everything. Investment in the peak year of FY22 will in fact be higher than the total investment into new state highways across the entire country in most recent years.

Furthermore, it’s not like the spend from the normal transport budget has just disappeared. While NZTA have been completely hopeless in recent times when it comes to progressing anything and seem to be tied up in knots by their business case processes, major initiatives like their Safe Network Programme – which involve investing $1.3-1.5 billion over the next three years – are starting to ramp up. So it’s not like the money isn’t being invested – it’s just going into different kinds of projects.

All this said, it seems like the next few years are likely to be a golden opportunity to make transformational investments to New Zealand’s transport infrastructure through taking advantage of very low interest rates for borrowing. There are a lot of amazing and desperately needed investments out there, especially the huge work required to make our transport network safe and the up front investment in high quality public and active transport networks across New Zealand’s large and fast-growing cities that will be essential if we are to decarbonise the transport system and avoid future gridlock.

So we can and should do more, but it’s disingenuous to say that there isn’t a future pipeline of transport work. It might be different to what we’ve built before and it might not be enough, but transport investment is still higher than it’s ever been (especially once you add in money from the Provincial Growth Fund that’s going into transport projects like the North Auckland Line upgrade). And the biggest transport project the country has ever seen, in the form of City Rail Link, is just starting to ramp up.

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  1. The impending ramp up in CRL building activity is clearly insufficient to occupy the available transit construction workforce when the current projects reach completion in the next year or so.
    The good news there is one project just ready to proceed, the already designed and consented East-West motorway link at Onehunga. That would just be perfect to retain the workforce until some decisions emerge concerning light rail

    1. What makes you say CRL is “clearly insufficient”?

      It’s much larger than any previous project and it’s only starting to ramp up.

      1. TBM tunnelling is not very labour-intensive and the labour it does use is specialised. Likewise, it does not use much of the general civil construction fleet of plant/machinery already available in New Zealand and instead uses specialised plant/machinery that has to be brought in from overseas (and probably returned overseas afterwards).

        Hence the need for other projects which do utilise the already available general civil construction labour and plant/machinery. My preference would be to:

        1) double-track the remaining single-track sections of the North Island Main Trunk railway between Mercer and Te Rapa, and between Otaki and Wellington;
        2) double-track significant sections of the East Coast Main Trunk railway between Frankton and Tauranga/Mt Maunganui (perhaps with a more direct connection to Auckland via a new line from Ohinewai to Morrinsville, and a more direct harbour crossing between Tauranga and Mt Maunganui), and full reinstatement of the Taneatua Branch railway;
        3) full upgrade (including some tunnel elimination and curve/gradient easing deviations/realignments) of the North Auckland Line railway from Southdown to Moerewa (or Kawakawa), construction of the Marsden Point railway (perhaps with a more direct connection to Auckland via Ruakaka, Waipu and through the Bryderwyns to Kaiwaka or Te Hana, and the “flat trajectory” (tunnel) route from Glen Eden to Southdown [Patrick’s idea]), full rehabilitation of the Dargaville Branch railway and full reinstatement of the Okaihau Branch railway;
        4) fully electrify all of the above, and any remaining un-electrified sections of the North Island Main Trunk railway (Papakura (or Pukekohe)-Te Rapa and Palmerston North-Waikanae (or Otaki)) and East Coast Main Trunk railway (Tauranga/Mt Maunganui-Kawerau).

        This would utilise the already existing general civil construction labour and plant/machinery around the North Island, and promote modal shift to significantly reduce NZ’s carbon footprint.

        1. There is a hell of a lot more to the CRL than just tunneling. Excavating and building the stations is a significant chunk of the costs.

        2. Won’t get many graders or dump trucks in those station boxes.

          Anyway, CRL is already happening (even if it’s not in the Treasury’s pipeline, it’s in contractors’).

          Was really talking about what’s next for transitioning already built-up capacity to transformational projects to reduce carbon footprint, and not just in Auckland (not all contractors and workers are based in Auckland).

          A forward-looking rolling program is needed to avoid the uneconomic costly competing-for-resources booms (not enough workers, cranes, etc.) and devastating family-uprooting busts (not enough work) – and it needs to roll (all my adult life I read and heard about AMETI; I’m not that young anymore and it’s still not done).

        3. The purpose of public infrastructure investment is not to keep construction companies who can only build one kind of thing in business. The ones that will thrive are those that adapt to build what’s needed.

          Perhaps you are thinking of the welfare budget?

        4. Yes, I’m suggesting the construction companies adapt to build what’s needed (which is projects to promote modal shift to reduce carbon footprint, reduce road carnage and stress, while retaining/developing skills, abilities and real choices for people to live satisfying lives, etc.; it’s all inter-linked, i.m.o.).

          It’s really for the overall betterment of the triple bottom line budget of NZ Inc., e.g., utilising the sunk costs (energy, materials, etc.) and full life-cycle value of already existing plant/machinery (graders, cranes, etc.) and training/skills, as well as retention and transference of skills, providing good stable career opportunities for young people coming through (rather than life- and soul-destroying zero-hours contracts, or endless self-funding internships), keeping families together, reducing crime, suicides, road deaths/injuries/property damage/loss and pollution from imported fossil fuels, etc.

          When all the cost-savings are added-up, even in a narrow $-sense, the $-cost of doing so would seem to become a bargain in comparison to the costs of not doing so.

          Splitting things up into transport budget, welfare budget, police budget, courts budget, prison budget, education budget, health budget, businesses budgets, households budgets, energy budget, water budget, carbon budget, oxygen budget, nitrogen budget, etc., in isolation hides the overall picture, i.m.o.

          NZ Inc. totally abandoned using joined-up thinking in the 1980s* and the damage and costs have been enormous (and are still multiplying inter-generationally). The sooner we start undoing the damage the sooner we can turn things around toward a sustainable path, i.m.o.

          * Due to flashy gloss/relentless propaganda promoting the creative destruction of atomisation (always bent on privatising profits and socialising losses in the process, no alternatives allowed).

    2. I trust that NZTA will be talking to itself enough to design a route through Onehunga for the light rail when it is designing the revamped version of the east west link. Going on previous form however its probably unlikely.

    3. It’s laughable that there is still anybody that even thinks that the proposed East West link is worth the money that it will cost.
      This link would be better build as a rail link. It could even be considered for a future passenger spur given the employment growth in the area.

    4. Heh
      East West Link Option F is going nowhere
      IF EWL was to do so it most likely be Option A or B which is what it should have been in the first place

      For the rest
      CRL is more than enough to tie up labour resources for a while especially when combined with Third Main works, Eastern Bus Way and A2B Stage 2.

      So please
      Sit down.

        1. AMETI is a big project that is taking up some of Fulton Hugon Resources as well. That contract was signed in January this year and was worth about a $100 million (see https://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/articles/news/2019/01/ameti-busway-construction-contract-signed/).
          Hasn’t Puhihnui upgrade been signed as well which is $60 Million projects (see https://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/articles/news/2019/01/ameti-busway-construction-contract-signed/).
          A number of the roads of national significant projects have 2 years life left in them….so I am not sure that it is an emergency yet. The government has announced plans for a number of projects…I am hoping some will be announced this year. I think AMETI stage 2 is consented…or will be soon. The airport busway should kick off soon (I hope), sky path/sea path, etc.
          Maybe it is a shift from billion projects to $50 to $100 million projects.
          Maybe they could kick off more investment with Marsden point rail line and electrification/renewal of main truck between Te Rapa and Pukekohe. Maybe more money for safety improvement projects to bring down the road toll and getting east-west link sorted out and perhaps more grade separation (especially southern line). I feel these will add more bang for our buck than another couple of RoNS

  2. I agree that there is a pipeline but the challenge is the significantly different types of work involved which require very different skill sets. Having been encouraged to build up large teams for highways, its a real problem to turn them into tunnel builders and utility relocaters. That’s a real problem that can’t be wished away just by saying we’re changing direction now, get used to it.

    1. Yes good point.
      They could probably get started on widening the motorway from Papakura to Drury (seeing how the Takinini widening has taken years!) it wouldn’t be a huge project and certainly not an expensive one (relatively) but will be needed soon and would be a natural continuation of existing work and by doing it now would minimise disruption later.
      Similarly they could get started on widening the shoulders on the Northern to make them bus lanes until the actual busway is built in a decade or so.
      The most ready to go significant enough project however would be Penlink. That’s a $400m project involving road and bridge building.

      1. Papakura-Drury allegedly starts when Takanini is finished.

        In the meantime the relatively small project of Papakura-Pukekohe electrification could be started now

        1. Actually, this project has already started. Aurecon is the lead consultants. I know my company is doing some works over summer on it. But that is ahead of construction.

          I think NZTA lists over 50 projects on its website. There are still lots of projects going on in the Waikato that no-one ever seems to talk about.

        2. +1, there are still two years at least left on the waikato expressway. Hamilton at almost $1b will be the last section finished. Then there is a massive investment in infrastructure for new Greenfield in Rotokauri and to the south of the city.

    2. Brent, what’s the alternative?

      Continue to build destructive projects just for the ‘jobs’? Damage more harbours, like Porirua? Kiss sweet goodbye to our carbon emissions targets? Saddle our children with huge maintenance bills? No thanks.

      The workforce is pretty flexible. The equipment isn’t, so much. But the heads of these companies could see the writing on the wall if they bothered to watch what was happening internationally.

      Lesson to all, I guess: We’re going to have a greener future – if you invest in equipment and plant that’s not part of that green future, you’re taking a risk. Own it.

      1. It’s notable that the main contractors (Fletchers, Downers, Fulton Hogan etc) didn’t invest heavily in specialised plant for the RONS projects. They could see that the road bonanza wouldn’t last forever.

        1. And if you look at most of the plant use on these jobs it all seems to have the name Porter on the sides not the name of the contractor doing the job . And the only plant that has their name on it is equipment they can’t hire i.e cranes .

    3. Nonsense. The skills involved at a crew level are either the same or highly transferable. CRL still needs heaps of labourers, truck drivers, excavator operators, crane operators etc. The supervisory, management and technical staff are all the same. I myself have worked on several RONS projects and am now on CRL.

      From motorway construction there are only a few specialised roles that won’t easily find a home at CRL. Those are limited to operators of pavement construction machinery like graders and paving machines. There are only a few of those on any given project. There’s plenty of work available for those people in road maintenance or the construction of local roads for subdivisions etc.

    4. Well said. The current roading construction I am employed with comes to completion early next year. Most of the crew I work with already realise there may be no ‘pipeline’ of suitable projects and are already looking at opportunities in Australia.

      1. What are they prepared to do, Ensor? Are cyclepaths beneath them? We keep hearing about the lack of capacity to build cycling infrastructure – working on something the country needs and that will bring health and happiness might be really fulfilling.

  3. Fixing up disused or under used rail lines seems to be the easy way to spend inferstructure money and keep the pipeline of projects going. So while the are doing the North Auckland line they should get lost and fix the Dargaville branch by mistake as well. Then get a plan to reinstate the Stratford Oharakura line to keep the pipeline flowing. I wonder if a mothballed railway requires messy time consuming things like resource consents before they are reopened. I can’t remember any problem when they were reopening the Napier Wairoa line.

    1. Good question, Royce. I imagine pure maintenance wouldn’t need resource consents, but a bit of straightening or tunnelling, or if earthworks are bigger than a certain amount, there would be a resource consent.

      And I’m sure the hoops they have to jump through will depend very much on the people involved and their mindsets. Gone are the days when I thought we had clear, predictable processes.

      1. Reopening the SOL would not require a lot of complex engineering expertise just people on the ground. You could imagine a bit of preparation work between now and Christmas and start work next year. It would give the coalition something to electioneer next year if the job was half completed come election time. Rather than having to defend the fact that they were unable to start any work on the 3 rd main, Pukekohe electrification and the light rail in this term. Also it would be a good project especially if they can use the project time to drum up some tonnage to cart over it. I would suggest they build a temporary road rail interchange at Te Kuiti and road bridge freight between there and New Plymouth to build demand for when the reinstated SOL comes on line.

        1. A lot of the problems with the SOL is the sleepers KR or the forebears bought from Sth America on the cheap that failed .

          There is a plant that makes them in Whangarei that exports them to Australia . So increase the size of the plant and replace all the old sleepers across the network and this will create more work for a lot of the un/semi skilled work force out there , and with all those old timber sleepers that will come on to the market the garden centres will be rubbing their hands in joy .

    2. Royce – The current mothball track section between Wairoa and Gisborne needs to be reopened and upgrade for rail freight and regional passenger rail services.

  4. The Road Builders should start studying Sea Wall building because that is where our next Infrastructure projects will be if Road Lobbyists and the Treasury get their way.

    1. We can’t build 1000’s km of sea wall. Big powerful swells will quickly wash them away. We must think more about reducing emissions and planting trees and mangroves

  5. The reality is that the current government are not inherently builders, at their core they are anti development and this extends to infrastructure also. Whilst they might talk a big game (light rail by 2021) they don’t have the skill set to make decisions or in deed a viable vision. They continually defer, obfuscate and engage in more report writing. When dealing with the bureaucracy which is AT and NZTA, a decisive government with vision is required in order to get anything done.

    One thing they are good at is cancelling projects (I could list at least 5 major projects they have stopped) and hence the pipe line of work is running out. Unfortunately some additional cycle paths (eye roll) and the existing projects in train will do not suffice.

  6. The reality is that the current government are not inherently builders, at their core they are anti development and this extends to infrastructure also. Whilst they might talk a big game (light rail by 2021) they don’t have the skill set to make decisions or in deed a viable vision. They continually defer, obfuscate and engage in more report writing. When dealing with the bureaucracy which is AT and NZTA, a decisive government with vision is required in order to get anything done.

    One thing they are good at is cancelling projects (I could list at least 5 major projects they have stopped) and hence the pipe line of work is running out. Unfortunately some additional cycle paths (eye roll) and the existing projects in train will not suffice.

    1. I remember when John Key’s National came in to power they halted Waterview, spent about 5 years redesigning it, and we got it about 5 years later than the original completion date. I guess they didn’t have the skill set to make decisions or in deed a viable vision?
      And how many houses did they build in 9 years?

    2. We have record numbers of building consents. Up from 4000 a month in 2010 to 12000 now and increasing. Labour, the Unitary plan and AT have made big changes in reducing congestion and having people living closer to the CBD rather than on the distant hugely expensive new suburbs

      1. Yes Jim, big increase in building consents, but basically all issued to the private sector, ie pesky developers etc and certainly not as a result of any current government policies.

        Can you please give me just one example of something that Labour have done which has led to less congestion and people living closer to the CBD?

        1. 80% of the consents have been brownfields developments. 20% in new subdivisions at distant suburbs In my area of Otahuhu ther are about 15 large 3 to 8 level apartment developments with several thousand total individual apartments

        2. An effectively Labour led Auckland Council created the unitary plan which has enabled those consents. The Labour led Government has started the epic task of reorienting transport planning and urban development to a modern way of thinking

  7. Great post, Matt. As someone who works in the transport industry, I’m surprised that this is even an issue. The industry is fine: There’s loads of work both in NZ and Australia. Profits to be made, projects to be delivered. Good firms have already adapted to the new environment, like they always do.

    Since when did being in business mean not taking responsibility for risk? Firms that manage risks prosper, and those that do not fail. Normal competitive forces are an important contributor to productivity growth and it’s frankly odd to see people like Steven Joyce et al arguing for massive corporate welfare.

    For example, if your business model relied on a National Government being re-elected and continuing with unprecedented levels of highway construction in the presence of a climate emergency, then you have probably made a killing in the last 9-years. With those high returns, however, comes the risk things may change.

    Finally, I’m wary of the cacophony of calls for New Zealand to borrow to invest more in infrastructure in the short term. It is true that interest rates and *consumer price* inflation are low. On the other hand, *construction price* inflation is actually quite high, running at around 3-5% p.a. for most of the last few years.

    Construction price inflation is high because we’ve been trying to build lots of infrastructure at the same time as we’re building lots of housing. In this context, if we try to dial-up infrastructure investment even more, then construction price inflation may squeeze out housing supply (and lead to higher prices). I’d personally hate to see infrastructure investment out-compete housing, just as Auckland’s housing market finally starts to be building some momentum.

    Of course, if there’s a major downturn that pulls the rug out from under private housing investment, then public sector investment in housing and infrastructure can step in to pick-up the spare capacity. At the moment, though, I don’t see spare capacity across the industry as a whole.

    Instead, all I see is firms that chose to adopt risky business running crying to the government when the winds change.

    1. Agreed on all counts.

      At the same time we’ve got:
      1. Kiwibuild scaled right back because the construction sector is at capacity and can’t deliver more homes as originally envisaged.
      2. Road-builders claiming that they’re all going under due to a lack of projects.

      It feels like you have to make some rather heroic assumptions about the lack of substitutability between two parts of the construction sector for both of these things to be true at the same time.

      New subdivisions need roads built within them; apartment blocks and bridges both need concrete…

      1. exactly. Inputs into road construction can be used to produce other things. Most of that machinery, materials, and labour could be used to build houses and hospitals, for example.

        And, frankly, I’m extremely sceptical of the “lack of construction” angle. If there was truly a lack of demand then someone should tell Immigration New Zealand to stop advertising for civil engineers.

        “Your skills are highly sought-after in New Zealand – there are civil engineer shortages throughout the country, and demand is growing.

        Civil engineers are in high demand in New Zealand because of:

        — increased government spending on infrastructure such as road, water collection, wastewater management and public buildings
        major roading and water infrastructure projects
        — the rebuild of the Canterbury region after its earthquakes in 2010 and 2011
        — the need to meet the growing demand for electricity with new power-generating equipment and stations.

        https://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/work-in-new-zealand/job-market-key-industries/engineering/civil-engineer-jobs-in-new-zealand

      2. So are you asserting that Bob the builder is still Bob the builder no matter if he is Bob the road builder or Bob the house builder? Same skill set? The road and motorway Bobs must be suitably skilled to move from specialised road construction machinery, graders, earth movers, bulldozers etc., Road foundation layering through to top surface material laying, grading and chambering, waterproofing and continuous surface drainage etc.., bridge, support and retaining concrete road structures installation… to become house construction Bobs who have concreting skills (laying base slabs), carpentry, plumbing, electrician, painting and decorating, fitted furniture installation, roofing and wall insulation, window and doors. Etc…
        Easy peasy for Bob, maybe his mate Postman Pat is an architect in his spare time….

        1. I’m asserting that much like every profession, including my own, we have to adapt and upskill as role functions change. If Bob the Road Builder is strictly stuck to Road Building then he may struggle as a builder as the world changes. This is reality..

        2. No. I’m suggesting many inputs into highway / road construction are also inputs into the wider construction sector.

          Of course, certain Bobs may have less work, while other Bobs have more. That said, at a time of relatively low unemployment I’m fairly confident that Bob with less work can find some more.

        3. This is a bit of a strawman argument becasue bob the builder does not build motorways. What you are really talking about is Andrew the asphalt layer ….who works on motorways, local road maintenance or building new subdivision contracts, or Bob the bulldozer driver who works on both motorways or subdivisions, or Collin the Crane operator who puts up bridges or apartments, or Trev the traffic supervisors who is need on motorways projects but also on city developments and CRL, or Dave the drain layer who works on stormwater ponds and drainage for motorways and sub-divisions, or perhaps Steve the structural engineer who doing EQ resilience engineering, motorways designs, new rail bridges for kiwirail, or Pete the Project Manager who skills are transferable to a wide range of projects, or Quinn the quantity surveyor who is like steve, or Sally the Surveyor who works in a wide range of civil infrastructure projects. Not sure what skill sets today you are talking about as being so specialised they need only RoNS projects.
          Look at Downer group or Fulton Hogan, yes they build motorways but they have roading maintenance contracts, major civil infrastructure projects (WWTP upgrades or water treatment plants) or they are working on the central interceptor (Sewage pipelines), defence infrastructure upgrades (such as the P8 hangers) or Airport work.

        4. Ok, when you bring the whole gang into the equation then looks like some skills redirecting may be feasible.
          Still doesn’t take away from the fact that treasury and others identified a severe project pipeline narrowing with insufficient major construction ready projects to maintain momentum.
          Then, the peculiar New Zealand construction pantomime where Frank from Fletchers forgot due obeisance to a Manakau taniwha that brought a whole major housing project to a screaming halt. Penny and Pio protestor heroes magnetically pulled the occupier hoardes from all over to stymie Frank and his construction gang. Now redundant Larry the drain layer has gone back to lounge lizarding where Sparky the electrian, Chippie the carpententer and most of the gang will join him.
          Can’t help thinking its fortunate Panny and Co don’t focus on road/motorway building otherwise we’d never get any new roads built.

    2. I agree about the borrowing, Stu. I see a problem in both Jacinda’s promise not to raise taxes, and the population’s basic lack of understanding about equity and about tax. The future is quite uncertain. Interest rates could rise again quickly. We should be paying our debt off, gradually, and increasing polluter, capital gains and death taxes to pay for infrastructure. Even if we do have a low public debt to GDP ratio. There is no blueprint available to show us the best thing for the future. All we know is there are a lot of risks, and our built environment and systems are not set up for success.

      That we need to build infrastructure now to transform our transport system is clear. How to pay for that is tricky, but future generations are going to be lumped with so many costs due to climate change and all its consequences. Borrowing to fix up the legacy of bad planning is just putting more cost onto tomorrow’s victims.

      The central problem here is that turning the juggernaut is taking too long. Our investments must be wise from now on, and where people resisting change are causing delay, they need to be called out. Making our roads safe is going to take enough money. These calls to continue wasting vast sums of money on adding roading capacity, in the name of corporate welfare, is more than pathetic. It’s unethical, and will cause future impoverishment.

      1. personally, I don’t think there’s any (sustainable) alternative to reducing / removing subsidising for travel altogether. By using prices we can tackle the demand-side directly, especially for roads but PT too.

        Motorised travel needs to be used more sparingly altogether.

        In doing so we reduce the demand for expanding road capacity. And beyond the transport sector it would increase the relative attractiveness of dense, walkable communities.

        Turning off investment (supply-side) is hard and arguably inefficient when there exists high demand for travel.

        1. “motorised travel needs to be used more sparingly altogether”
          Yes you are right Stu that many forms of motorised travel will need to be used more sparingly given the need to reduce emissions. The recent proposed Clean Car legislation shows that even with the most optimistic uptake of evs the target of a 50% reduction won’t be met. And even if it is then NZ does not currently have enough renewable energy to power these extra evs.
          Surely it is sensible to turn off the supply side of road building if we never need as much capacity as we do right now?

  8. “This means the workforce on those projects may leave the construction industry,” What workforce are we talking about here? The workforce that sit behind a desk (which I think would be busy right now designing and costing CRL, light rail etc) or the workforce that do the manual labour? Do the workforce that do the manual labour constantly move around the country looking for the next mega project to work on?
    I get the feeling they want another mega road project and playing the employment card is the easiest way to justify it…

  9. Here is an idea – lets start planning, upgrading and future proofing NZ’s critical infrastructures likes existing national/regional road networks, national rail network, national power grid, national electricity supplies, national communications networks, housing to meet increase warmer/colder temperatures, city, district and regional water/sewerage infrastructures, etc for planet warming and its resulting erratic and destructive weather patterns, instead of the various construction/infrastructure lobby groups moaning about the lack of long term infrastructure projects.

    Yes, I know that long planning is not in our DNA but planet warming doesn’t care about that -the is message is, adapt or suffer the consequences.

    1. “upgrading and future proofing NZ’s critical infrastructures like …….the national power grid”

      Yep, this is the guts of it. Where is the plan to cover for Huntly coal when it is scheduled to close in 2022 (after being extended from 2018). Where is the infrastructure to replace the Huntly natural gas that needs to be replaced if 400,000 homes and businesses are to continue to have natural gas for at least a little time? (the just transaction).

      The C40 Cities first step to emissions reduction is decarbonising the grid. Let’s get it done. Let’s have power companies building infrastructure rather than paying special dividends; or if they don’t want to let’s have someone who does.

      I note that in Australia solar power is now being delivered for less than 5 cents per Kwh.

      1. The national power grid is still critical infrastructure and needs to be future proof as much as possible from planet warming erratic and destructive weather patterns.

        According to Genesis Energy, the Huntly Power Station would continue operation of its two remaining coal/gas burning units until December 2022 and from 2025, coal will be only used in its thermal units for abnormal market conditions, with coal being completely removed by 2030. By 2030, NZ power generation should be 100% renewable, by using hydro, wind and solar with back up batteries at domestic, local and regional level to store lost energy created by wind and solar.

  10. Ok, I understand your (both) logics, that explains why the Taxi driver, Nmgo from Sudan, i used last weekend is a cardiothorasic surgeon for apparently 30+ years in Sudan, Africa, but has now been up skilled to a licensed taxi pilot in Auckland NZ. C’est La Vie.

    1. That’s a problem which probably stems from the exclusionary practices of the medical profession. Unless things have changed recently, their use of the exams system is very protectionist. I have friends who had to move to Australia to get work after trying for a long time in NZ.

      And other professions have other ways of excluding foreigners. Engineers and architects who aren’t native English speakers had it pretty tough when I was working as an engineer. My boss used to employ them as draftspeople just so they could get some local experience onto their cv’s.

      If we have too many people trained in building roads for the number of roads we want to build, and they aren’t themselves capable of realising what their transferrable skillset is, maybe the government should set up a specific retraining scheme.

    2. This is such a meme now.

      I dont know Nmgo from Sudan and he may be an amazing surgeon, but do you know anything about the qaulity of medical educxation amnd training in Sudan? Would you go and have cardiothorasic surgery in Sudan? I wouldnt.

      Many ciuntries have issues where wealthy students basically buy degrees and are then able to say they are qualified. How do we screen for that?

      It isnlikley that many of these professionals would need major upskilling and education so DHBs could have faith in them. That is the exam system that is in place. Maybe it is too strict, again I don’t knoiw.

      But I do know that if the Medical Council lowers the standards and someone then dies in surgery as a result of negligence by Nmgo from Sudan, the same people criticising the Medicla Council for its exam system will be jumping on them for being so lax. They can’t win.

      Esay to criticise, hard to come up with an alternative system that protects clients and patients.

  11. It’s time to get an announcement on a contractor to construct the CRL tunnel. What is the hold up? Does it really take 2, 3 or 4 years.

  12. One project that was meant to have started by now was the pedestrian cycling bridge between Onehunga and Mangere Bridge no signs yet.

  13. In Canterbury the big motorway projects are finishing in the next year or so.
    A group of us at CHAT (Canterbury Housing and Transport) Club have advocated that the next big capital project for the region should be starting rapid transit for Greater Christchurch.

    We recently had a big public presentation about a specific proposal called MaRTI. You can read about it in the debrief here.
    https://talkingtransport.com/2019/09/03/marti-debrief/

    1. Did Christchurch ever get the $100 million it was promised by the Labour
      Party before the last election for transport improvements ?

      If I recall it was for improvements to bus services and even the possibility
      of a limited rail service.

      1. There was a promise of $100m for rail from Rolleston to Addington. That so far has not been delivered on.
        The proposed MaRTI scheme would add another passenger rail station and 1600 residential houses on that route.
        It also recommended that Greater Christchurch needs a rapid transit spatial plan that we called the Hand. Which would be similar to Copenhagen’s five finger model.

        1. Thanks for that. If the Government hasn’t spent that $100 million in
          Christchurch, maybe they could use it to build overhead wiring from
          Papakura to Pukekohe. Problem solved .

          Just joking.

      2. The funding is still available but unlike the Waikato Councils who got on and put together a proposal for the Hamilton train service the Canterbury Regional Council have chosen to ignore it.

        1. Yes Ecan is still not a democracy. Hopefully after the local body elections when it becomes a full democratic entity again there will be more sensible policy work done in the public transport space.
          Canterbury should look at what cooperation is doing in Waikato where the various local councils and iwi have backed an integrated rail and housing plan.
          Also Let’s Get Welly Moving delivering a $2bn funding commitment for rapid transit from central government is another example of what cooperation and a clear spatial plan delivers.

        2. That’s not entirely true… The Greater Chch Partnership (CCC, SDC, WDC, ECAN and NZTA Christchurch) submitted a PBC last year recommending we invest in MRT to the north and south (might be buses, might be light rail, might be heavy rail), and that we get on and investigate the best mode and route in more detail (do a IBC then DBC). This sat with NZTA Wellington for nearly a year waiting for sign-off. It’s finally now been signed off but still not close to being commissioned. So we’re all still waiting… if you think things in Auckland happen slowly you probably don’t want to know what it’s like down here.

        3. That’s good to know Chris, at least some progress. I worked for Ecan a number of years ago so I’m definitely aware of how slowly things move!

        4. You must remember that ECAN’s was handed over to the car/truck supporters of the National party and they hated anything that wasn’t covered in tar seal and for a name of an organisation called by Enviorment Canterbury , you would think they would go rail instead of building car glogged motorway’s everywhere . And they turned down n opportunity through a private investor group to purchase Auckland’s old rolling stock to run down there , but then again board of control were nats whose best friend’s hate rail .

    2. There is no reason that Christchurch can not have regional HRrail services between Rangiora to Rolleston and Lyttleton.

      It would be better still to have a LR network using train/tram MU’s using the HR rail corridor between Rangiora, Rolleston and Lyttleton and urban street operation.

  14. If those with control of the purse strings could treat rail projects as they seem to exclusively treat carbon increasing roading projects, then there would be no problem here. Yes the CRL is a good base, plus the work needed to Northport, the Golden Triangle to Hamilton and Tauranga, third and fourth maining, the magical Southdown to Avondale rail link, rail electrification in South Auckland and beyond, the Avondale to New Lynn then Glen Eden then Sunnyvale cycleway, the cycle/pedestrian bridge crossing (whatever it is called now, Skypath?). Just the tip of the melting iceberg but a responsible climate change reactive range of activities, more than capable of occupying the road building contractors. The government has changed but did Treasury stay the same?

  15. One wonders if all the track work on Papakura-Pukekohe is because it is easier to do now than when the masts are being installed.

    They will have a much better idea of exactly where the track is so the electrification planning will also be a lot easier.

    However since the job has been approved by the Gummint sure the masts could be installed now

  16. Yes these comments above seem to confirm to me what I wasn’t too convinced by. That their will be a reasonable transference of resource to a change of direction. In saying that there will always be some disruption with a government different focus, if there wasn’t why would we bother with electing a different one?

      1. I understand the trackwork between Papakura and Pukekohe was due
        to some new track testing equipment that Kiwirail has finding a fair
        amount of cracks in the rails.
        Certainly for a couple of weeks there was 6 places on the Pukekohe to
        Papakura line that the shuttle had to slow down for, causing it to miss
        the connecting Southern service at Papakura.
        Apart from 1 or 2 places on the line going South it seems to have been
        sorted.

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