With the government’s books looking healthy, about two weeks ago they announced they’d “significantly increase spending on infrastructure”. Yesterday they gave a bit more detail about that:

The Government is lifting capital investment to the highest level in more than 20 years as it takes the next step to future-proof New Zealand.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has announced $12 billion of new investment, with $8 billion for specific capital projects and $4 billion to be added to the multi-year capital allowance.

The $8 billion includes:

  • $6.8 billion for new transport projects, with a significant portion for roads and rail.
  • $400 million one-off increase to schools’ capital funding
  • $300 million for regional investment opportunities
  • $300 million for District Health Board asset renewal
  • $200 million for public estate decarbonisation

The specific projects will be announced in early 2020.

“The new investment is forecast to increase the size of the economy by a further $10 billion over five years, with further positive impacts on GDP beyond that period,” Grant Robertson says.

With debt low and borrowing costs at record lows, the conditions are right for the Government to invest to future-proof New Zealand.

$6.8 billion towards new transport projects is a huge sum of money. To put it into perspective, the government are currently spending about $3.5 billion annually on new infrastructure and maintenance so this investment is nearly twice that. (Note: this includes both state highways and their share of local projects but doesn’t include the City Rail Link.)

The is no indication yet just which projects will get funding, with the government only saying it will be ‘shovel ready’ projects, although other comments have suggested they will be short to medium term projects. Just as important are what the mix of projects are and there are already rumours flying about of a number of motorway scale projects in the mix, which hasn’t been ruled out.

Robertson could not rule out funding some of National’s “Roads of National Significance” within the package.

“What we inherited is a wish-list of projects. These were not funded, and in many cases they were not consented,” Robertson said of the roads.

He was unable to perfectly define “shovel-ready” for the $8b of spending, saying some of the projects were already consented while others were not.

The highway building industrial complex has been pushing for a lot of major roading projects and I suspect some in the NZTA have been quick to reopen the motorway plans drawer. This means I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a bunch of projects like Penlink, Mill Rd,, Cambridge to Piarere (back to 4-lanes), Tauranga Northern Link in the mix.

Yet at the same time as the announcement above, the government also released their priorities for the 2020 budget and the first priority on the list is:

  • Just Transition – Supporting New Zealanders in the transition to a climate-resilient, sustainable, and low-emissions economy

If they do opt to bring forward the building of a bunch of low value and traffic (and therefore emissions) inducing motorways it will be interesting to see how they reconcile them with the priority above.

All of this ties into something I’ve been thinking a bit about recently in the event the government did significantly increase investment like they’re now planning – the need for a ‘Transition Fund‘. The idea was that we should invest in more infrastructure but only in projects that will help us achieve the budget priority to support a just transition to low emissions, which would also tie in with the Government Policy Statement on land transport’s four key priorities: Safety, Access, Environment and Value. With all of that stated, here are some of the projects we that should be included:


Third and fourth main south of Otahuhu

This project should surely go ahead as quickly as possible without saying and it’s absurd it still hasn’t been approved yet. In the short term we need the third main between Otahuhu and Wiri but over the medium term we’re going to need a fourth main and extended to Papakura and longer term to Pukekohe.

Only parts of the much needed third main have been completed.

This should be brought forward to enable it to tie in with ….

Rail improvements between Auckland to Hamilton

A very basic service between Hamilton and Auckland is due to start next year but the government have previously talked up a more permanent and higher quality service. Among other things this would require investment such as improved alignments and double tracking through the Whangamarino Swamp to enable trains to run much faster than is currently possible. Perhaps aiming for something similar to what is achieved on the Gold Coast line in Queensland where trains reach 140km/h.


Like the third main, it almost goes without saying that we need electrification to Pukekohe. However instead of just a one off project this should be the start of an ongoing programme to electrify lines. Overseas, countries that have rolling electrification programmes, such as in Germany, tend to have much lower costs per kilometre because the ongoing nature creates a stable stream of work that companies can invest in both people and machinery to be more efficient – exactly what the construction industry here say they want with investment.



Since the NZTA have taken over Skypath Auckland Harbour Bridge Pathway they have opted for a higher quality but obviously much more expensive design. The problem with this is that to build it likely sucks funding away from a lot of other walking and cycling projects around the country. As such it would make sense to pull the project out of normal funding streams to get it built.

Urban Cycleways fund 2.0

The urban cycleways fund idea was one of the better ones from the previous government and this government have continued it on through a higher funding allowance in the GPS. But even with this boost, more and more councils are looking to deliver cycling improvements and so more is needed. Another cycleway fund would help enable more bike projects to get off the ground.

Public Transport

NW Bus improvements 

As we talked about recently, there is a renewed push to get a busway on the Northwestern, least an interim solution in for the Northwest. Funding it from a transition fund would help to bring it forward so we can start to see improvements.

Other Busways

On top of the rail improvements mentioned earlier we could do with a speed up to the rollout of the Eastern Busway and of the Airport to Botany busway would be great to get underway.

Bus Electrification

Buying electric buses is not likely to be on the list of projects as they will be coming from offshore but perhaps building the charging infrastructure could be.


There will likely still need to be some roads on the funding list but these should focus on expanded safety upgrades as well as more localised projects with changes such as 2+1 upgrades.

What do you think should, and shouldn’t, be on the government’s list?

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  1. Not only were the RoNS 2.0 not funded or consented, they were also not even evaluated. These were a series of politician picked low volume duplicate country routes. The first round of RoNS struggled to approach break even in economic evaluation, especially as they all turned out to cost much more than projected, but they were the higher value additions to the network.

    The next round look much like road building for road building sake. Corporate welfare. There are other more urgent and more valuable uses for public funds, like improving the condition, resilience, and safety of much more of our country road stock instead of expensively duplicating a smaller length of them.

    1. The East-West link was granted consent in November 2017 so the NZTA has “legal approval to start construction” = “shovel ready”.
      There may be others from the re-evaluated projects list that are ready to go, e.g. documents for Tauranga northern link consents were completed 2 years ago
      A roading project missing from the post above and certainly politically needed is Ōtaki to Levin.
      For the Auckland -Hamilton rail work, I’d hope we could be designing for more than 140km/h. The 20 year old Queensland tilt trains operate at up to 160km/hr and have been tested to 210km/hr.

      1. I doubt they’d be able to get any trains to 140km/h between Hamilton and Auckland, at least not for any valid stretch of distance. They might be able to sustain ~120km/h for some stretches (which would be more than enough, to be honest). And /I’m not sure if they’d need to splash out on tilt trains for that trip.
        Remember: It’s about ~140km’s in track length between the Strand and Frankton Junction anyway.

        Tilt trains might be a future prospect for more distant services from Auckland. Like to Whangarei, Tauranga, Wellington, etc.

  2. All this money is going to spent on moving the Port and we should not pretend we’re surprising when it’s announced.

    1. well money should be spent on connecting North Port to the rail network and fixing up the NAL so it can function properly. And on extending electrification, first to Puke then to close the gap to Hamilton. Not to mention at least adding one more track to the increasingly busy main trunk line through AKL, the core section of the nations rail networks. But don’t let me stop you from moaning. There are other high value low cost fixes all over the nation’s rail network.

      1. I guess as an Aucklander, I’d like to see projects in Auckland actually get treated with the same urgency the government campaigned on when they were trying to get elected. But you’re right, Aucklanders should totally contribute 1/3rd to the cost of being stripped of their own, publicly-owned asset while things like rapid transit to the West, the North Shore busway upgrade and Skypath all go nowhere. But sure, apparently that’s moaning.

        1. Aucklander’s are not being stripped of their own publicly owned asset. The valuable part of the asset, the land it sits on, will remain owned by Auckland Council.

          There has been no mention of how the operations will be transitioned yet but I would expect the capital tied up in Ports of Auckland will be vital in significantly expanding Northport. There is every chance Auckland Council will become a major shareholder in Northport.

    2. Except nobody is spending anything on moving the port. NZ First are trying to buy a political lifeline, Labour will make sure very little happens and the next lot will quietly forget about the whole thing. They might even ask Ernst and Young to write a report explaining why it is a stupid idea – again.

      1. I could be wrong. But I think that if the Nat’s are in government after the next election; they will continue the program to move the port from Auckland’s CBD and most likely to Marsden point.
        And I don’t think that Labour are opposed to it either. They might merely be in favour of stalling it to please some of their voting base, but not to stop it outright.

  3. Light rail in Auckland. The government should 100% fund Auckland Transport to build the light rail along existing roads (Queen St, Dominion Rd etc) and then fund NZTA to build light rail along their corridors (SH20, SH16, then rail tunnel to Northern Busway) . AT should build along existing roads as they are used to building where other users exist, where as NZTA are strong at building the higher speed sections that ignore/bypass communities.

    1. Twyford had funding for this but has since killed light rail dead, so forget about it. He’s going to waste the next few years fiddling around trying to give Canada ten billion bucks for a PPP metro line before finally getting the arse and leaving Auckland with nothing to show for it.

      1. Thinking even slightly long term about Grant Robertson’s dream (pipe dream?), individuals like Twyford simply MUST be removed from the mix if this country is to progress. Robertson’s vision is fantastic but his governments track record on delivery is so poor it means their credibility is severely hanging in the balance. Do they even realise this? I doubt it!

        This government is on a knife-edge to be one term only and let us not mince words, it’s in no small part because of people like Phil Twyford. Having Ministers who simply fail to deliver on things let alone as many as he has is NOT an option that can be entertained. If he and his ilk remain, forget this government and its vision, they are history.

        1. Amen.
          Every thing should be staged.
          This year we will build the light rail up Queen Street next year it will be extended to Mount Eden when we are well on our way up Queen Street we will review how things are going and look at what our next move should be.
          This year we will build the third main between Wuri and Papatoetoe station next year we will extend it to just before Middlemore station. As this proceeds we will evaluate if it is absolutely necessary to extend the third main through Middlemore station or whether a fourth track between Middlemore and Papatoetoe would be sufficient.
          That is the sort off approach I would take if I was the Minister. Promising and Announcing big projects and not following through makes Tywford look like an idiot and is undermining the coalition.

        2. The original tramway system was built in stages, the motorways were built in stages. Get started on light rail between Kumeu and Westgate where it’s easier to build and you can point to actual progress.

        3. The stabling yards and repair facilities are the key, so I’d be starting from them and working towards the end of the line with the highest ridership, in order to benefit the most people as quickly as possible.

          The only proviso is the potentially building from Mt Roskill depot to Onehunga would allow for the testing/bedding in to be done on a non critical section and ensure that part is built, rather than the let’s change our mind attitude that delays most PT/Transit projects while the late majority get on board.

        4. I was thinking if just the Queen Street section or maybe Wynard quarter to K road is built as stage one then the proposed tunnel under K road could be used for storing the trams overnight. Presumably they could be trucked away for servicing maybe a loading ramp could be built and they could be winched onto a purpose built road trailer.

        5. Royce, that is the key, start the damn thing, have something to show and then like a Lego set, add to it.

          Jesus wept, they are too thick to see that even then, that would convince me and many others they as a government mean what they say and can be relied upon. Phil on the other hand wants to wait until the complete Grand Siberian railway is signed up on the dotted line.

        1. They aren’t even consented yet. Yes, you’re right we could start on service relocation now, but I’m not sure that is what is really meant by shovel ready.

        2. Pretty sure digging in the street counts as shoveling. You think these ‘shovel ready’ motorway projects are any more advanced?

          They don’t need consent for work in the road corridor FYI.

        3. Technically they do, but service relocation on it’s own doesn’t deliver any transport or economic benefits, I don’t think you could ever justify borrowing money to relocate services.

          Are you saying that we could build light rail from Wynyard to Mt Roskill without consent? That surprises me but it’s not my area of expertise so I could be wrong.

        4. Nothing delivers transport or significant economic benefits until it is finished and operational. Like all those ‘shovel ready’ motorways, starting the five year process of pushing dirt around doesn’t do much except keep Fletchers happy.

          Service relocation and earthworks are the start of every transport project, you always need to spend money to do them as stage 1 of your project. What do you think they did for the first two years of the CRL build?

          Yes, in the road corridor light rail is like painting bus lanes, installing traffic lights etc.

      1. Some form of SW Busway along SH20 from the Unitech site to Puhinui via Onehunga and Mangere Town close a gap in the RT network.

        This is hook into A2B.

        A2B could also easily be upgraded to LRT. At the moment this is going to be BRT. There is not much needed for the upgrade.

        1. El cheapo version is painted bus lanes on the motorway and a few bits of dedicated infrastructure where needed in the town centres or interchanges etc.

  4. There is at least one cycleway (Nor’West Arc) in Christchurch’s Major Cycleways program that has been designed and consented but is currently delayed through lack of funding. It would be great to bring that forward using this money.

    1. …and the final section of the Chch Coastal Pathway (the most expensive trickiest gap) is not scheduled for construction at present until 2027. With the recent opening of the fantastic new section near Sumner, this missing link is even more obvious…

  5. It almost a kick in the teeth that so many much needed rapid transit projects are being delayed put off and poorly implemented.
    The government I had high hopes in fixing this is now looking to build more highway’s.
    I do realise transport infrastructure outside of Auckland and Wellington will be just highway’s.
    The thing Auckland lacks is any vision.
    Apart from the dominIon Rd lite rail there aren’t any real key projects in the pipe line.

    1. Auckland has plenty of vision. Plenty of people who are sick of spending hours a day in commuter traffic with no alternative to driving and sick of paying running costs on cars they’d rather not be using.

      Auckland isn’t the problem.

      1. There is the new park and ride/rail station being built at Te Rapa which is a very unusual development in provincial NZ and may lead to greater awareness of rail as a commuter service around Hamilton. But the fact that such very small investments are basically unheard of in almost all of NZ shows the absolute resistance in this country to anything other than roads, despite the “climate change emergency” bandwagon.

        1. It wasn’t that long ago that it was unheard of in Auckland too. It can take some years and maybe a generation for people to think beyond the ingraining of automobile dependency. But it needs to begin somewhere.

      2. Brendon if the Nats had the foresight after the earthquakes you would now have commuter rail there , but they sucked to the transport lobby to build miles of roads . And as there where the ex Auckland DMU’S available they could have used .

        1. While Gerry Brownlee is partly to blame to Christchurch missing its opportunity…
          …I think you’re being highly unfair not also allocating any blame to the rail advocacy groups in Christchurch; who remained fixated on bringing a light rail system out of the box to Christchurch. Some even heard of Karlsruhe, Baden and became obsessed with some dopey, ill-researched idea of having tram-trains to Christchurch.
          If instead of pushing these unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky schemes; these people had all coordinated campaigns for Christchurch to make use of the infrastructure it’s always had, I believe Brownlee et al may have caved-in and Christchurch may instead be looking at getting funding for proper system improvements by now.

        2. And the other problem there was ECANZ the major local body which was stacked totally with national supporters who were dead against commuter rail as it might block rail crossings at a small number of stations , so instead they went for motorways everywhere .

          The DMU’s were going to be purchased through a crowd funding platform , they almost reach their target but could not make by the date they had set for themselves more the pity .

          And with a name like ECANZ [Enviroment Canterbury] what a misnomer you would have thought they would have gone for the less pollutent friendly option not the other way around .

  6. Pork barrel politics requires the Government to announce spending now and then steadily drip feed specifics through the next year. If they are clever they will be able to delay the whole lot so they can promise it again 3 years after that.

  7. I agree that there is a total inconsistency between a decarbonisation agenda and road building. How about spending some money figuring out how to reduce demand for vehicle trips.

  8. We know how to reduce demand for vehicle trips – make alternatives like public and active transport more attractive. Lets spend money doing that instead of more reports and consultations

  9. Will the be sufficient room at Mount Eden Station for a siding so the grindings out of the Tunnels can be railed out and used as fill to double track the North Island Main Trunk Railway through the Waikato swamp.

    1. CRLL considered this, and councillors requested it as well, but Mt Eden Station is too tight (hence shut down for 4 years) so not feasible

  10. Bypassing the Whangamarino swamp, preferably with an entirely new double tracked line with no speed restrictions, must have a very good bcr just considering the number of freight services let alone the benefits for commuter rail. The aim should be to get freight trains running at a consistent 90-100km/hr and commuter trains 130-140km/hr over the whole line between Hamilton and Papakura.

      1. It’s providing an attractive, low carbon alternative to driving. Basically, you are forced to drive at the moment. The sprawl is happening anyway.

      2. So long as ex-urban areas have 1. A high quality rapid transit service, 2. Well enforced green belt, and density enabled, then they can be good satellite communities and not just leap frog auto dependent sprawl (eg Pokeno)

      3. If everyone is a commuter then you are probably right, but intercity rail is a lot less about commuters than urban rail is.

        Making travel easier will inevitably result in more people commuting between two cities but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

      4. I’m yet to see any sprawl resulting from the commuter rail services from Wellington to the Wairarapa and Horowhenua/Manawatu.

        But maybe a commuter service between Hamilton and Auckland will create some level of growth in the towns it serves. That growth may not necessarily be sprawl, the growth that those towns experience may be up-ward and in close proximity to the station.
        In the end; it should be a good thing for Auckland because it would give the Auckland economy access to a greater pool of labour and labour which is not demanding as much money to cover their living costs.

    1. Was speaking to Kiwirail a while ago and they already know how they’ll do Whangamarino and from memory it’s not that difficult but it is on the existing alignment.

  11. Need to direct funding to detail design work for cycleways. 1. To fund development of people skills in this area; and, 2. make sure we have more ‘shovel ready’ projects.

  12. Urban Cycleways fund 2.0 ??

    We could just actually build the routes outstanding from the original UCP, there are enough of them still in limbo

  13. I personally think the sensible thing is to spend money on PT only in the big cities and on roads elsewhere. And that even makes sense from an environmental perspective: for example I often fly between Auckland and Napier because the drive takes too long. When the Waikato Expressway is built it will take 1/2 an hour off that journey and I will start to reconsider. If they got the expressway all the way to Taupo with a 110km limit, that would probably shave another 1/2 hour off. I’m sure my driving will result in significantly less emissions than flying, and in a few years time I will probably drive an electric car and be emission free.

    1. Maybe if there are 2-3 other people in the car. Not sure if it’s 1 person vs full plane. Yes, if it’s an EV vs FF plane.

        1. By the time you have that EV you might be powering it using renewable energy and not Huntly Coal power – at the moment though no guarantees.

        2. I bought a secondhand Nissan Leaf a year ago when my car needed replacing. It is saving me thousands of dollars a year, compared with the alternative petrol car I would have bought instead. I save much more on avoided fuel bills than the increase in my mortgage repayments. In short, I have a cheaper than free car.

          I also installed solar panels on my roof and for most of the year, that means I am driving on sunshine. The solar panels (added to my mortgage, like the car) are breaking even financially (but probably wouldn’t if I didn’t have the car to use the power when I’m generating lots). No subsidy is needed as it’s already such a winner financially, so the money can be spent on other infrastructure (trains & bikes & pedestrians & places please). It would be nice if the government didn’t reintroduce road user charges for EVs in a few years, but even then I’ll still be ahead.

          The embodied energy and materials costs of these things get paid back well before their end of life, so that they are also an environmental benefit (if you don’t think so, further reading is required). In NZ the net environmental benefit of electric cars is much greater than overseas (due to the high mix of renewable energy coming from the grid) and benefit of solar panels is less (for the same reason).

        3. I think the number is between 30k-50k for carbon neutral. Maybe less in NZ with 80% renewable power.

    2. Flying is typically less carbon intensive at the moment than driving a large single occupancy vehicle the same distance. By the time you take into account the emissions associated with the expressway itself, we’d be better off not building it and having folks like you’re continuing to fly.

      1. But we also have to take into account the emissions from building a second runway at Auckland airport to keep people flying.

      2. Or using a smaller than large car, or sharing a ride?
        But yeah, let’s do something better than new expressways and new runways.

    3. Maybe shorter term. But electric rail surely the best. Smaller foot print in the corridor to start with. Look at the aerial shots of that Waikato Expressway complete with cost overruns we don’t hear much about compared to public transport ones.

      1. I agree with you Grant . Take the upgrade of the NAL $98M , and with that you get 52plus km of track , 50,000 concrete sleepers , umpteen thousands of tonnes of ballast plus all the bridges and tunnel upgrades . And that sort of money could possibly build 1 bridge across that slowway .

        Have been travelling up and down that way once a year and the only thing that seems to happen on is all those orange cones just keep muiltying and nothing else seems to happen . And NZTA and their contractors seem to think you can build something that big with a couple of diggers! and a front end loader , what they should have used was all the heavy equipment the MOW use to use .

  14. While the Minister may not have a definition of shovel ready he wants to share.

    We all know, a “shovel ready” project is that is any project that is ready to have money shovelled into it.

    Therefore I can’t think of a single infrastructure project in the country, that isn’t going to be “shovel ready” as of right now.

    1. I belive “shovel ready” is a National Party term for the next lot of RONs even though most were just vague ideas and not funded. I think the Minister can get a pass on whatever “shovel ready” really means.

  15. Roads first Consultant ready? Just means we need more sustainable transport, PT and Cycling focused consulting firms.

  16. +1 to the Transition Fund. Electric buses, trucks, and chargers could be 50% funded. The San Joaquin Valley Air Control Board (serves same population as NZ) spends $150m a year on this sort of thing, but our equivalent fund is only $6m.

    Although cycleways have moved into the NLTP the funding has hardly increased from the Urban Cycleway days (about $100m). The Eastbourne cycleway ($20m) is another one that has been put on hold for lack of funding.

    Just a reminder that the Green Investment Fund ($100m) has not made any investments yet.

    1. Plenty of small projects out in the regions money could be spent on to help create a good quality National Public Transport network. For a start good quality off-bus infrastructure along the routes of long distance buses. They could start at Taupo where there is an uncovered 300 metre round walk for bus passengers to poor quality toilets. Then there is bringing back the overnight train between Auckland and Wellington.

      1. You mean they could recreate the long distance bus station at Taupo which the local council sold off in 2013 as a “debt reduction exercise”. In my opinion the Taupo District Council should be required to provide facilities for long distance bus passengers equal to that available before 2013 out of their own funds before they get any government handouts. They made the current situation.

        1. Far enough argument but we might be waiting a long time if we rely on the council. Plus they might suggest that given that many passengers are simply passing through the burden of providing facilities should be more widely shared.

  17. What are the benefits of electrification to Pukekohe? A few people won’t have to change. Other than that it will mean slower trains and a little bit of a reduction in emissions. But are there truly any economic benefits to the project?

      1. Thanks for that it all makes sense now. There is a saving in operating costs of less than $2million a year. Electrification gives a benefit cost ratio of 0.9 (or the benefits are only 90% of the costs).
        So you fudge the whole thing and claim the benefits of two new stations as if they are due to electrification. Bada-boom.

        Oh and whatever you do don’t assess an option of two new stations being served by the existing DMU’s as that would give the game away.

        1. The existing DMUs are life expired and need replacement. So add the cost of a new fleet of DMUs into your assessment to get a more real world outcome.

        2. The two new stations result in increased patronage, which generally results in increased frequencies. Increased frequencies means increased running costs, resulting in the costs savings from electrification increasing.

        3. I also have my doubts if electrification to Pukekohe is needed at this stage. A CBR of 0.9 should remove it from the priorities pile.

          But those ADL’s are getting close to 40 years old. Not only will they need replacing in the next 5-10 years, but running and maintaining them must be increasingly expensive.
          Maybe new DMU’s/railcars can replace them. And then when electrification is extended to Pukekohe; they can be used to provide rail somewhere else in NZ (Christchurch, Waikato, Tauranga, etc)?

        4. The Do Minimum already factored in the cost of overhauling the DMU’s and includes the cost of running them for 30 years. That high cost is how they make the benefits of the EMU’s look as good as they can (a BCR of 0.9). So you can’t then claim the additional cost of replacing them as well.
          Presumably whoever did this bollocks thought of that.
          The trick they adopted was to claim the benefits of two new stations as if they are the benefits of electrification.

        5. Miffy
          Your aspersions are ignoring the fact that the MoT EEM rules changed in the years since this was drafted/costed.

          No longer is 30 years used as the assumed benefits horizon.

          And also the discount rate was reduced to 6% as well as I recall.

          Applying both of those changes will result in the BCRs of all options even the Option A the lowest at 0.9 – now being above 1.0

          Meaning we gain more benefits than cost over the do-Minimum option in all cases.

          I don’t have to explain why that is. But given this will be a multi-generational asset once the OLE and other changes are put in place. It is totally unfair to evaluate it over 30 years.

          If it was a roading project? Yeah maybe 30 years might be meaningful [just].

          Of course those prices are out of date by now, 7 years of general and construction inflation has no doubt rendered these costs massively too low. But then the DMUs are now 7 years older than they were, so they don’t even have 30 years life left even if completely refurbished.

          And while the benefits may mainly be “travel time savings” for the users.

          That single “benefit” alone of (illusory) travel tiem savings for motorists has been used historically to justify all manor of roading projects.

          And what goes around, comes around.

          So, maybe, “travel time savings” sauce for the roading goose should be the same sauce for the rail project gander?

          Or are roads a special case in your opinion and deserve special treatment?

        6. @ Miffy:
          I highly doubt that any kind of overhaul could squeeze another 30 years of regular usage out of the ADL’s. They were very heavily used for the decade or so between Britomart’s opening and the completion of electrification. And the ADK class which they’re an evolution of were suffering a pretty poor rate of reliability towards the end of their service in Auckland.

          You might be right about the inclusion of the new Drury station in the calculated benefits of electrification (when it should be a separate project altogether) to help it increase. It frankly would not surprise me in the slightest.

        7. “If it was a roading project? Yeah maybe 30 years might be meaningful [just].”

          I think you’ve got to evaluate all projects / options on the same basis. If you’re pushing out the analysis horizon and reducing the discount rate for rail projects, you should do that for roading projects as well.

        8. Sure you can extended the evaluation timeframe for any roading project as far as you’d like.

          But induced demand will always see the supposed “travel time savings” benefits [which is usually well over 75+% of all benefits usually claimed] all gone within 5 years – at the most.

          And that is what does happen.

          Although roading engineers have always denied Induced Demand exists.

          The US DOT and many state levels DOTs in the US now accept that induced demand is real. And so now actively discourage building more roads or widening the ones you have without other measures as the benefits won’t last long. California realised you couldn’t build roads faster than traffic growth in the 70s. Just took 40 years for the roading professionals to catch up to reality.

          Some luddite engineers down this part of the planet still believe in this fantasy of no such things a induced demand however. They’ll probably still be arguing this point til the day they die.

          All of which means that the benefits (and thus the BCRs) for roading projects usually never actually get anywhere estimated up front.

          Whereas PT project almost invariably are more successful than assumed.
          The Northern Busway, Britomart Transport station, as well the whole electrification/EMU project as being massively successful beyond the passenger projections assumed.

          The most famous example of a roading project with massively induced demand in Auckland? Surely the Auckland Harbour bridge – they figured the 4 lane bridge as delivered in 1959 would cope as delivered for well over 20+ years before needing any more lanes added.

          By 1965, the bridge had already reached that point – close to the planned traffic levels assumed to be hit 12 years later in 1977.

          Waterview will be the next “congestion buster” roading project that didn’t last.

          So yeah, use the EEM and fudge your roading project benefit timeframes as much as you like.

          Won’t change the fact that its still window dressing.

        9. Yes yes induced demand bla bla. Just ignore the simple fact they included the benefits of two new stations in order to justify electrification. If a road project tried that sort of shit it would be a scandal.
          As for the Do Minimum I am absolutely sure they spent plenty of their energies loading it with as much cost as they could possibly squeeze, so the idea that you can ex-post ignore the DMU option is just nonsense.

    1. Probably not, but to electrify to Hamilton, you’ll end up doing it eventually anyway, so the benefit gets bought forward.

      Is electrification to Hamilton worthwhile and useful is a separate question and I think it is, it’ll start giving us better options for reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

      1. I’d like to see a study into electrification through Hamilton to the port of Tauranga.

        Quick back of an envelope suggest a price tag of about $400m, but that would result in a core 25kv AC freight network linking Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and all points south to Palmerston North, including the two main north island sea ports and all the inland ports. That would allow a largely standardized electric fleet and big opex savings in fuel.

        Traditionally Kiwirail has been so capital constrained they wouldn’t even think to look, but it’s something central government should consider a business case for.

        1. With a fleet of dual power locomotives electric battery or electric diesel so trains can be moved in and out of non electrified sections at Inland ports and real ports.

        2. Dual-powered locomotives are rare enough in this world.
          But battery-powered locomotives? That’s a real rarity.

          Better to stick with Deisel-Electric locomotives methinks.

        3. Daniel – surely it would make more sense to have a small battery for operating in the port where electrification isn’t possible, than haul around a diesel engine just for this little part of the operation?

        4. Realistically: It’s not likely that Papakura to Te Rapa will be electrified anytime soon let alone Frankton Junction to Tauranga.

          Stick to Deisel-Electrics until there’s a strong enough business case for enough electrification.

    2. “What are the benefits of electrification to Pukekohe?”

      Dump the diesel units and have a common fleet. Reduces carbon emissions and spares holdings, as well as make staff savings on the maintenance side

    1. I think it is safe to say light rail to the North Shore would be the least ‘shovel ready’ project of anything mentioned today!

      1. Probably reflecting the fact the Shore already has a busway? Not to say it shouldn’t have a plan for when that hits peak capacity but given the development going on in the North West, the Shore needs to wait its turn.

        1. Also the realities of planning, consenting and designing a cross harbour tunnel.

          In my view we should be getting on with building a busway to the NW now, the converting the Northern busway to LR, then if needed converting the NW to LR.

  18. Homai to Puhinui third main has been shovel ready since Kiwirail stopped work on it when electrification was finished.

    In fact it would be a very easy job. North of Puhinui is quite major to get past those houses just north of Bridge Rd bridge.

    I would stop at Papatoetoe either. I’d keep going all the way to just south of Middlemore

    1. I always understood that the third main is to be between Homai and Otahuhu. Correct me if I’m wrong on that.
      I think it should be the #1 Auckland rail priority, ready to roll before the CRL is finished. It should take priority over all of these other ideas like extending electrification, grade separating the western line, etc.

      And I think that curve easements on the NIMT between Papakura and Te Rapa should also be a big priority.

      1. The first stage is between Wiri junction and Westfield junction the section where the Eastern and Southern lines overlap.

  19. I wonder how much pork barrel politics will play in the announcements. I wonder if some grade separation works for the rail lines will be announced?
    I am scared east west link will be given a green light because it is consented and no alternative approach has been announced. But hopefully some projects like building new electric trains for NIMT and down south should be quick wins. Hopefully cycling will get a big win.

  20. If there is infrastructure funding looking for a home, then a “Wellington CRL” would be a great candidate. It really is time to stop assuming that no-one wants to go further south by train than the present Wellington Railway Station. This may have been appropriate in 1937. It certainly isn’t now. The rail system needs extending along the city-to-airport corridor.

    1. I’d love for this to happen Dave. It would kill many birds with one stone and kill off all of these calls for the dopey Mt Victoria tunnel duplication & basin flyover.
      I’d love it even more than I’d love for the rail network to be branched off into Porirua East & Whitby and into Wainuiomata.

      But there’s plenty of other rail projects across NZ which I’d like to see funded first.

    2. Besides: Unfortunately the pushes currently in Wellington are for the stupid Mt Victoria tunnel duplication, the un-needed new Melling interchange and even some Petone-Granada link road.

      And even if Transmission /Gulley proves to be a disaster (which I expect): I doubt that will change enough people’s opinions.

  21. Kiwirails focus is quite rightly shifting freight between Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty to Palmerston North but I would advocate road rail interchanges at Kawerau, Tokeroa and Te Kuiti with the aim of moving freight to Gisborne, Taupo, Napier and New Plymouth. None of these provincial centers has rail links from the North. So if there is money to be had some of it could go there. Shane Jones announced a study for a container terminal at Kawerau there is a facility at Tokoroa owned by one of the local trucking companies. Nothing at Te Kuiti though.

    1. There is a rail link between Stratford and Okahukura which can directly link Auckland and New Plymouth by railway (which it did for most of its life).
      But it’s been mothballed for some years now and would need a few million in investment

    2. If you’re sending a container from Taranaki to Auckland or Tauranga it is probably cheaper to send it all the way by rail via Marton than by road to Te Kuiti and rail the rest of the way.

      Fonterra already do this with their milk powder from Hawera to Tauranga.

      1. Maybe however Kiwirail has no freight handling facilities open between Hamilton and Palmerston North. Something for more time sensitive freight might work and there are industries around Te Kuiti which use containers.

    3. Good ideas re freight. On the more or purely tourist thought, a Rotorua line to the heart of the centre would be good. Aka recent tourist bus tragedy on SH5 and other climate and regional benefits. Matamata along the way gives you Hobbiton though I guess that is waning now. Though new TV Series getting made & recent US Tonight Show special over here may keep that alive.

      1. There was a piece on more investment in Kiwirail on the TVNZ one news last night. The CEO was talking about more regional freight hubs so maybe he has being reading my posts.
        For some reason I am thinking Putararu might be a good place for road rail transfer of containers. Probably to do with access to Roturua without back tracking. Its a pity that damm PKE (palm kernal extract) couldn’t travel on rail every second bulk truck and trailer you see grinding their way over the Kaimais is probably carrying it. But the chances of the trucking companies giving that up is nil. Maybe a central Waikato bulk store.

        1. This is a written item from the One news website

          “The state-owned enterprise’s funding is usually approved annually by the Crown, but the government yesterday released a draft rail plan that will prioritise new trains, tracks and bridges across the country by funding KiwiRail’s budget through the National Land Transport Fund.

          KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller said this would allow the company to plan for long-term investments – including upgrades to national freight rail and passenger rail in Wellington and Auckland – rather than relying on year-to-year funding from the Budget.

          “This is an historic change in the way rail is treated in New Zealand,” he said.

          “Each year we go cap in hand to the government for capital projects to develop our nationwide rail network of 3500 kilometres and as you can appreciate with the inclemency we’ve just seen in the South Island, our network was cut off in three parts of the South Island and it takes capital to fix that.”

          He is hopeful the plan will make the state-owned enterprise more independent.Other priorities under the draft plan include a new train control centre for Auckland, replacing the two interislander ferries and ageing rail locomotives and wagons.

          Safety at level crossings, where two people died last week after being hit by trains in Auckland, will also be improved.The plan is subject to feedback and changes and the government will need to pass the associated Land Transport Legislation Bill, which has its first reading before parliament next week. ”

          But to view the full item with video go to their on demand app and look for fri 13th news item .

          And the Nats were moaning about the mnoney coming out of the road user charges saying motorists won’t like it ,But for a change transport weren’t crying about it at all and the KR boss said it’s a good idea as at this time of the year with everyone going on holiday the roads are gloged with trucks taking primary produce to the ports for overseas shippment and it should help to get them of the roads and onto rail .

        2. And this has also made international news through the International Rail Journal ;-


          And after reading it hopefully any change of government won’t play around with it like saying rail is no good and we will put the money into tarseal . And when it’s finally enacted next year it’s tied up so it cannot be altered over the 10yr life span .

          And these are “The key priorities for investment over the next decade include:

          * network renewals and maintenance programme, with investment in tracks, bridges, tunnels and signals across the national network to improve service levels
          * level crossing safety improvements
          * a locomotive and wagon replacement programme, replacing end of life locomotives and wagons with a modern, reliable and efficient fleet
          * the installation of automatic train protection (ATP) for all trains operating in metropolitan areas, along with closer alignment between the Auckland and Wellington systems
          * depot upgrades and renewals, with improved workshop layouts, safety and productivity enhancements and strengthening of a number of maintenance facilities, including Hutt Valley, Auckland and Christchurch
          * the design and procurement of two road-rail ferries to replace the ageing Interislander fleet and associated port facilities, and
          * core asset renewals, such as mechanical overhauls and parts replacement for the existing fleet of locomotives and wagons, freight handling equipment, hoists, generators, and enabling technology.

        3. Not seeing any mention of any money for “moving the port of Auckland to Marsden” like someone was insisting. Hmm why am I not surprised 😉

          Looks like money well spent to me….

  22. Is there anyway we could get cell phone reception in the rail tunnels, like there is for the Waterview tunnels?

    It’s very frustrating having data drop – particularly when I’m trying to do work on the train. We’re in the centre of Auckland and it feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere.

    1. The must be a way given that it’s now the norm in most urban rail systems around the world.

      I’ll be very disappointed if the CRL doesn’t have at least $g wi-fi.

    2. In Auckland there are only 2 tunnels [Meadow Bank and Parnell] and unless you are streaming a movie don’t worry about it and the entrance to Britomart you should packing everything and getting ready to depart the train , and Briomaer does have cell phone reception . And there is a way the whole problem talk to the person next to you like they did in the old days .

      1. 1. Not everyone wants to work to your rules.
        2. Customers want internet connection.
        3. If public transport fails to move with the times, public transport will fail – like any other product/service.
        4. Where else can you not get internet access in central Auckland? My guess is only on public transport.

        Why does public transport always have to be left in the dark ages?

        1. While having cellphone coverage and wifi across the entire Auckland train network should attract a few more users to the trains…
          …I highly doubt that its absence would cause people to abandon using them altogether.

          Yes, I think it should happen, but it’s not an absolutely crucial thing.

          Besides: It’s illegal (and advised) to use a cellphone while driving and private automobiles can’t have free wifi.

        2. I agree Head, it would be good to have the coverage in the tunnels. It would be particularly good in a situation if a train breaks down or is held up in one for an extended period of time, which I’m sure has already happened.

          ps On the other hand, sounds like you working too hard 😉

  23. Haven’t caught up on all the comments but how about funding grade separation of all the rail crossings both for speed and safety reasons. Pick them off one by one. Another station at the new Takanini sort of town centre but they have just finally upgraded the existing ones around there.

    1. I can’t find the reference now but there were plans to reopen Tironui Station or to build a new one just north of Walters Rd

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