An article last week in Stuff once again raised the issue of light rail and suggested the bid by NZ Infra, the collaboration between the NZ Superfund and their Canadian partners, was still on the table.

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund is still in the picture for Auckland’s light rail scheme, with a decision expected on what the new plan will look like scheduled for after the general election.

The Ministry of Transport is currently in talks with the NZ Super Fund about buying the intellectual property associated with their light rail designs.

…..

Suzanne Cookson, who looks after communications and stakeholder engagement at the Ministry of Transport, said it was working on advice for a “public service delivery model” for Auckland light rail, but that doesn’t mean the plans submitted by NZ Infra and NZTA are dead.

Instead, the ministry is looking to buy the intellectual property from those proposals to potentially use for a future plan.

Cookson said the Crown “has the option of negotiating rights to intellectual property in the proposals – which were developed at the respondents’ own cost and risk.

“The ministry has initiated IP [intellectual property] discussions with both respondents.”

She said the model eventually proposed by the ministry might not look like either the NZ Infra plan or the NZTA plan, but “depending on the outcome of IP discussions, may draw on technical evidence from the proposals”.

This potentially opens the door to the Government using some of NZ Infra’s proposals should it wish to.

Buying the IP from NZ Infra is not quite the same as having them “still in the picture” as the headline and opening line suggests. It’s also not a surprise as back in June when the light rail decision was announced, the government said:

“The Ministry of Transport and the Treasury will report back after the general election on the best option for this project to be delivered by the public sector. The Ministry of Transport and the Treasury will also engage with NZ Infra and Waka Kotahi about how work done on this project can support the next phase.

Overall I think buying the IP is probably worthwhile. There is likely a lot of technical and planning information that is worthwhile for whatever scheme is developed post-election. Though I’m not quite sure why they would need to buy the IP from Waka Kotahi NZTA.

As to what scheme is eventually developed.

The Labour Party backs an NZ Infra-style light metro system, with the track completely separated from pedestrian and car traffic. This would make the system faster, but also much more expensive.

Twyford said he backed light metro. “Our policy is that light metro is the form of rapid transit that Auckland needs,” he said.

“A light metro system just like you see in places like London or Tokyo is faster and more efficient, giving workers and communities quicker commutes.

“This means more people will use it, which will help free up the roads and reduce Auckland’s emissions more than a street car model would.

“It’s also safer as it doesn’t compete with pedestrians and other cars on the road. On top of that, the urban development potential around the stations is improved with more people using it, which gives businesses better opportunities as well.”

We’ve discussed the differences between light rail and light metro many times but putting that aside, one of the issues I’ve had with the process is that the government weren’t upfront about the change to focus on light metro.  This meant there was no real opportunity for the public to have a debate about the benefits and disadvantages of that approach. Going for such a system can sound good on paper but as we’ve discussed costs a lot more for not that much more benefit over light rail, which is not a street car model as Twyford suggests.

Running on dedicated lanes with signal priority is not the ‘street car’ model

As always it’s about tradeoffs, as Green Party transport spokeswomen and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter highlights.

“The Green Party has always supported the original plan developed by AT and NZTA for street-level light rail with a dedicated right-of-way,” Genter said.

“That plan still can benefit from some refinement and optimisation to achieve faster travel times to the airport, but its main purpose is to connect communities.”

She said the lower cost of street-level light rail would allow the Government to build other light rail lines.

“Surface light rail on the Dominion Rd route will be more accessible, and quicker and cheaper to put in place. That means more money to invest in more rapid transit lines around Auckland, like rail to the North Shore and northwest,” Genter said.

That last sentence from Genter hits the nail on the head. What if for the price of one light metro line we could get three or four surface light rail lines. Which option would provide the most overall benefits?


Does NPS-UD change things?

Whenever the Ministry start to work on whatever the new plan is, it will be interesting to see what role the new National Policy Statement on Urban Development has on it. The requirement that councils must allow buildings up to 6-storeys within at least a walkable catchment of existing and planned rapid transit stops means the designers and planners can be more confident on the land use response and that it will enable a lot more nearby housing.


OIAing the bids

Back in June, following the announcement of the end of the process I sent Official Information Act requests to the Ministry of Transport, Waka Kotahi NZTA and the NZ Superfund asking for bid documents. These were declined but the Superfund response was interesting nonetheless.

To explain, the bid was submitted by NZ Infra Limited which is a New Zealand limited liability company established on a commercial basis by the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF) and Canadian infrastructure investor CDPQ Infra, a subsidiary of Canadian institutional investor Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. NZSF and CDPQ Infra are (through subsidiary entities) 50:50 shareholders in NZ Infra.

As part of a competitive and confidential delivery partner selection process run by the Ministry of Transport, NZ Infra developed a comprehensive and detailed proposal for the City Centre to Māngere Light Rail project, utilising the expertise of a range of global and local experts.

The bid documents that were presented to the Government in November 2019, including reports prepared on behalf of NZ Infra by external partners and consultants, are highly commercially sensitive and confidential, and remain the valuable intellectual property of NZ Infra.

In responding to Official Information Act requests we typically provide of a list of the documents that have been requested and the withholding grounds applicable to each. In this case, while we have reviewed these documents and considered whether to do this, we have concluded that their names and nature, including the details of the parties that authored or contributed to these reports, are confidential and commercially sensitive. Disclosing the number, names or nature of these reports in any shape or manner would both breach our confidentiality undertakings and provide readers with an insight into the scope of nature of the due diligence undertaken by NZ Infra. Given NZSF and CDPQ Infra wish to pursue further infrastructure investment opportunities, disclosing this information would be unreasonably prejudicial to our commercial position, by undermining our ability to negotiate with potential advisers and our positioning in future competitive bid processes.

We have considered whether the public interest in favour of disclosing the information outweighs our reasons for withholding it, and have concluded that it does not. We note that the Guardians of NZ Superannuation, the Crown entity that manages, the NZSF has identified domestic infrastructure investment as a key and ideal investment category through which it can advance the Ministerial directive it has received from the NZ Government to explore ways of increasing the allocation to New Zealand assets in the NZSF, in a manner consistent with the NZSF’s commercial mandate. This consideration further reinforces the public interest consideration in withholding the information. We also note that the public interest in the relevant information you have requested is significantly reduced given that:

  • NZ Infra’s involvement in the City Centre to Māngere Light Rail Project has ceased; and
  • Significant amounts of information concerning the City Centre to Māngere Light Rail Project are already available to the public.

You don’t normally get that much of a response when saying no.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport said:

the Ministry are working to prepare a comprehensive package of materials relating to the Auckland Light Rail project for proactive release. The information that you have requested will be within the scope of this package.

I anticipate that this proactive release material will be available on the Ministry of Transport website by mid August 2020, recognising that sufficient time for consultations will be required.

We’re a bit past mid August now.

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80 comments

  1. Thanks for pursuing this, Matt. It’s clear we need an affordable option that can work within the existing corridors we have if we are going to realise the development potential of the new NPS. Additional land taken to develop an elevated corridor is land that can’t be developed under the NPS – it could well end up being a step backwards.

    Having said that, there could well be parts of the city that would benefit from a light rail connection but will require elevation in some places to connect otherwise viable-half routes into a loop to give a proper rapid transit effect. Perhaps this would be useful, but that’s an entirely different proposition to an entire network of light metro.

    Two things concerned me most about the debate: Firstly, that the North West went into a holding pattern for future planning while the airport sucked up everyone’s time and energy as the process gradually spun out of control. The traffic out west didn’t go away, the new houses didn’t stop being built and the issues out there didn’t go on hiatus. That’s not acceptable. If the government is going to tie one part of the city’s fate to another and then dither, then it has a moral obligation to produce and articulate a proper interim solution – yes, we now know about the bus shoulders and handful of stations, but we still don’t have a clear picture of what it looks like or what sort of upgrade path we are looking at. Given the Shore is also approaching capacity and requires a plan for the Nothern Busway, they’ve also likely been disrupted too. It’s time to consider the North West and North Shore as the same interested party.

    Finally, the sudden decision to change spec without thinking about the opportunity cost. Like you say, the decision could well have been one branch to the airport of elevated rail that costs the same as Light Rail that could serve massive portions of the Auckland region. How did the proposal for Light Metro just to the airport stack up with, say, rolling out the old Auckland tram network in terms of cost? Was there really no one who was prepared to tell Twyford that it was getting hugely out of hand? If there was, why didn’t he listen?

    I worry that my as-yet-non-existent children will grow up in a city that is fundamentally the same as it is now, only with the additional social costs of trying to make more people work around the same infrastructure issues we have today. If I were looking for an easy win, I’d be picking up AT’s original design, cutting a cheque for $5bn and telling them to make a start on the central bits they first looked at building, while NZTA worked out how to get those services along to the North, South and North West. We’ve wasted three years, but it doesn’t mean we have to keep stagnating while we wait for….. what, exactly?

      1. An order of magnitude less than the metro option. Notice they haven’t released any pretty renders of the rail viaducts built over where peoples villas used to be…

      2. There really wasn’t that much land take on the City to Mt Roskill section. A sliver here and there along Dominion Road but a lot of properties on Dom Rd have their fences and retaining walls in public land so that would have had to change.
        I walked the entire length of Dominion Road one afternoon with the plans so we could identify where land take was required, long walk!

        1. +1, pretty much all of the proposed land take was to build car parks. These should obviously be removed from any future proposal.

  2. Further proof (not that any is needed) that Twyford is an incompetent.

    What made him a good opposition spokesman is his downfall as a Minister. He loves big sky stuff and headline grabbing shiny new stuff but is totally unable to deliver.

    Did AT get paid for their IP when NZTA took over and stalled the process?

      1. Is there anyone in the Labour Party who could replace him? I assume he’ll be gone by lunchtime if the Greens are the new coalition partner, but I’m not optimistic if it’s a Labour majority or, God help us, another NZF coalition

        1. Labour do have quite a few ministers who have proven competent in their current portfolios: Hipkins, Woods (both currently busy with the Covid-19 response), Little, Faafoi, Parker etc. If they wanted to be unconventional then Robertson or Ardern could take the Transport portfolio but it’d be a lot of work.

          What’s not clear is how much of the underperformance is Twyford’s fault and how much is systemic problems within the bureaucracy under him. He has definitely made some poor decisions over the last 3 years but we also know that NZTA is completely dysfunctional. Can a high performing minister get better outcomes from a quasi-independent agency that sees its role as only to build roads?

        2. And do any of those possible ministers understand that
          – change to urban form is possible within 10 years,
          – transport decarbonisation needs to start with transport system transformation, not with pricing and EV’s – which are simply v useful tools to assist,
          – the political economy of car dependence needs an overhaul
          – consultation as currently practised is favouring the status quo?

        3. Bear- it’s both his fault and the bureaucracy’s. I have seen it in action first hand, the bureaucracy do what they think they need to do to please him, even if it’s not robust. There is very little ‘free and frank advice’. And many in the bureaucracy are generalists who don’t actually understand how loony some of his thinking is. It’s a debacle.

    1. Twyford is a big thinker and actually has good ideas that should be implemented (except for LM). However he lacks a “doer” who can get the right people moving in the right direction all the while telling him what he needs to do. The opposite of a Sir Humphrey, if you will.

      1. But he doesn’t understand that we have sprawled too much and must not sprawl further, and that the costs imposed on us by continuing to sprawl pushes housing costs, living costs, health costs, and future costs faced by our children up well beyond any theoretical reduction in housing costs that arises from ensuring there’s always land supply on the edges of the city.

        If he could be brought to understand this, and to reflect properly on what he could have done better in relation to rapid transit in Auckland 🙂 , he could still be the best option from Labour.

        1. It seems to me that the word “sprawl” needs to become a word that generates distaste whenever it is used before it can become a politically useful tool

          Not sure how sprawl can be equated with negativity in a useful manner.

        2. It simply means using land that is farmland, or bush, or otherwise not urban, and incorporates this land into the urban area. It’s useful as a noun and verb.

          It’s negative because that land needs to be left as farmland or bush. It’s negative because long distances make public transport and active transport harder, thus they make people dependent on cars, which in turn ruins the city for everyone else who have to suffer from the high traffic volumes. It’s negative because it is a model in which we’re constantly building new infrastructure instead of repairing and updating our existing infrastructure. So our children will face an awful backlog of unmaintained infrastructure.

        3. Sprawl is caused by the intersecting effects of poor urban planning, underprovision of public transport, overprovision of roads, perverse construction sector regulation, lack of long term planning and a host of other problems. That’s why it’ll be so hard to halt.

          Arguably the people who lose the most to the effects of sprawl are the people who live there. However the status quo is long standing, the factors that cause it are insidious and there isn’t yet a good alternative. So the people living in sprawl communities may consider that living there is their preference and/or they can’t imagine an alternative.

          Public political discourse is often not very nuanced. The mass media generally distill messaging down to soundbites with no context. In saying that sprawl is a problem you risk the large number of people who live in sprawl communities hearing that you think they are a problem.

          This is analogous to obesity being a public health problem. There are a whole lot of systemic factors that contribute to obesity (including sprawl). Obese people suffer the most but somehow they’re the ones that get blamed. That’s not helping solve the problem at all.

          Drawing a line around the city and saying it can’t sprawl beyond there isn’t solving the underlying factors that cause sprawl. The policy interventions required to solve sprawl will require broad community buy in. Alienating the people currently living in sprawl communities will be counterproductive. Turning ‘sprawl’ into a pejorative risks making fixing the problem harder.

        4. Exactly! @LogarithmicBear

          > Public political discourse is often not very nuanced.

          Sort of why discourse has to be simplified, like “sprawl=bad”.

          If I had suggestions for how to make it so, I would suggest.

        5. @Heidi why should a farmer have to hold onto land which is far move valuable to him as housing than it is to him as farmland? Are you expecting the govt or council to step in and purchase this land?

        6. Torsten – there is farmland all across the country that is zoned for rural activities and can’t have housing built on it already.

          If what you are describing is actually a problem for farmers then it would have bubbled to the surface a long time ago.

        7. @jezza we’re talking about Auckland not the rest of the country, plenty of farmers in Auckland are just itching for urban sprawl to reach them so that they can cash out.

        8. Torsten – if someone has purchased rural land on the hope it one day gets zoned urban and it doesn’t that is no one else’s problem but theirs.

          They can always sell it to another farmer if they’re getting sick of farming.

  3. I still have serious reservations about cost differentials between LR and LM. Yes LM will always cost more upfront but claims that it will cost 4x the price of LR are disingenuous at best and utter BS at worst. Especially when talking about NW and NS lines (need to build similar infrastructure for both). Now when this was a PPP then sure that makes a difference as we don’t want to be paying for it 3x over!

    But as a public project it makes more sense to build it right the first time with the much greater capacity and speed that LM offers with the added benefits of being driverless (no driver strikes and able to operate 24/7) while also not being affected by street level accidents (be they vehicles blocking tracks or pedestrian interference).
    On top of all that the ride is much nicer on LM (even compared to LR on a dedicated RoW).

    What might however be a short term solution is to forget Dominion Road for now and get on with NW and NS lines. That would take a lot of the CBD bus pressure away. Then you could evaluate and see if you want LM or LR along Dom Rd. In the meantime the airport will be served via Puhinui with BRT.

    1. The costs involved in building a rapid transit line are mostly dependent on whether it runs at grade or is grade separated, not what type of vehicle is used. Building a fully grade separated line will be tremendously expensive as we can see with CRL. On what basis would you claim that (fully grade separated) LM won’t cost multiples of what (street running) LR would?

      1. @LB…. LM to the Shore would be able to run on the existing Busway same as LR so little cost difference. Both need to go in a tunnel under the harbour.
        NW both would need to be built on a dedicated RoW (most likely elevated along the motorway) little cost difference there. The only places where LR will be much cheaper is in the CBD itself (Surface running vs elevated/tunnel) or the Dom Rd route (which is where LR would be severely limited in speed and run into disruption from people and vehicles just like Melbourne and Sydney). Once you get to the end of Dom Rd and run beside the motorway, the costs difference with LM falls away again.

        @JD, you are comparing full metro not LM (which requires different gradients/curves and is a very very big tunnel and under the harbour) to LR which is using existing streets and corridors (many of which have been closed off to vehicles).

        1. You’re right that the CBD is the only real difference for NW and Northern light metro, this is not an insignificant difference in costs.

          A logical option to stage costs is to build light rail initially on these routes and when the CBD becomes a capacity constraint build the tunnels and switch to running light metro.

        2. “LR which is using existing streets and corridors (many of which have been closed off to vehicles)”

          Exactly the point. Far easier and cheaper to deliver rapid transit through existing streets and corridors that build tunnels and multistorey underground stations.

          If it costs the same as Sydney’s George St LRT, the same sort of LRT transit mall on Queen Street would cost $410m for the full city centre section.

          If you do it with a metro tunnel and underground stations it will cost about the same as the CRL, $4 to $5b. For the amount you save being on the surface in the city centre you could build the entire NW line. For the amount you save being on the surface on Dominion road you can convert the busway. Yes you still need a bridge or a tunnel if you want to cross the harbour, but you get to pay for those necessary bits by not spending three or four times as much where it isn’t necessary.

    2. You only need to look at Sydney to see this claim backed up in the flesh: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/4-3-billion-cost-blowout-in-sydney-s-metro-rail-project-20200203-p53x7n.html

      It’s clear: the new Sydney metro is costing $16.8b (and rising presumably) for 30km, that’s $580m per kilometre. And it gets worse, over half of the length is an existing heavy rail line they are converting, only 7 of the 15 stations are actually new. The entirely new metro tunnel section will be over a billion per km.

      Compare that to the Sydney light rail, which after its ‘scandalous blowout’ cost $2.9b for 13km, $223m per km for a route that is all the most difficult urban environment possible.

      So overall the Sydney metro including converting an existing line is 2.6 times more expensive than the Sydney light rail per km. If you compare just the new sections of track and stations, it will be at least five times more expensive.

      The difference in cost isn’t in the ‘easy’ bits of running alongside a motorway or similar, there the cost is quite similar. It’s in the hard bits of stations, junctions city centres etc, there the costs can easily be ten or twenty times higher. A light rail platform in Queen Street will cost no more than $10m million for quite a flash piece of kit, an underground light metro station on a tunnel under Queen Street could easily cost $1,000m like the central Sydney station at Martin Place. Two blocks of light rail track through Onehunga town centre and a platorm at street level would cost about $50m, the same in a tunnel under the town centre could be over a billion again.

      1. I think you’ll find Sydney Metro would have at least 2.6 times the capacity and 2.6 times the speed of the notoriously slow Sydney Light Rail.

        1. That raises the question of why you want 2.6 times the capacity in a single line… when you could have it in 2.6 times as many train lines with 2.6 times as many stations serving 2.6 times the people for the same money?

        2. And doesn’t have the ongoing cost of hundreds of drivers. And doesn’t get involved in collisions with trucks which stops the light rail service for hours.

        3. It’s the old story, you get what you pay for. If you’re OK plodding along at bus speeds after spending billions, that’s fine but don’t expect it will be in anyway competitive with the private car for the vast majority of journeys.

        4. Exactly, you get what you pay for don’t get what you can’t pay for.

          I’d like us to get something and be able to pay for it.

  4. I am in two minds about this. It really depends on whether it is heavy light metro or light heavy metro. One I would strongly support and the other I would be totally opposed to. Now heavy light rail on the other hand, that could be interesting.

    But what voltage should the lines be?

      1. Heidi on a far more interesting subject than transport, my broccoli has bolted. I have 1 m high plants with big leaves and tiny florets that have given yellow flowers. Is there any way to stop that? Is my garden too warm maybe? The zucchini did extremely well beside them. I built a raised bed on a dark grey wooden retaining wall about 900mm high that faces north. Could that be warming the dirt too much? any suggestions? (but it is amusing that people like to debate tiny details of any rail scheme that comes up)

        1. I wouldn’t say the difference between dropping a $4b scheme in order to spend $12b to do practically the same thing is a tiny detail. It the sort of large detail that should get a cabinet minister fired.

        2. Did you get one good head first? If not, it probably just needed more organic matter (or it could be a missing mineral). I doubt the soil’s too warm – broccoli grows well at many times of year. Treat all the little florets like broccolini, trimming them before they flower, and you’ll have to cut the flowers off that got past you. Some varieties are developed to make more of these many smaller heads; others to produce a good big one, but they all follow up with lots of little ones.

          At some point it’s better to let it flower, though. For the insects. I try to have brassicas flowering all year around. It keeps the predators of any brassica flower pests happy, and so I don’t have any pest problems.

        3. Don’t fertilise brassicas or beans; it is counterproductive.

          I am still getting to grips with raised beds and their effects; Chillis producing all winter, spinach turning into trees and celery going berserk.

          My challenge this spring is to gauge when to plant my okra.

        4. I find my chicken compost makes for good brassicas and when I just rely on a nitrogen crop beforehand they’re not so good. Hmmm… I’ve been unlucky with okra – think I’ve chosen a nice hot spot but a season with cold wind from an unlikely direction undoes it… Are you putting it in your greenhouse?

      2. I will start them in the greenhouse then transfer them to the raised beds. I had moderate success last summer but okra is really marginal in NZ. If you can get it in the shops it is generally from Fiji. I grew in it Virginia but the box turtles mowed it down. Climate change may make it a bit more viable here; our new season avos have been ready for the last month and normally we have to wait until October.

        I tried growing romanesco (a variety of broccoflower) this year…and, like Miffy’s, it bolted. Tasted good though.

    1. For ordinary at-grade LR, 750V DC. I have no experience with LM though, so it would either be that or 25kV AC like the main line. I suspect the former though.

  5. There is an argument building one good but expensive line verse building multiple cheaper lines that are not as good.

    Building a good but expensive line will give much higher patronage and user experience. It will be popular and people will like it and use it a lot.

    With the good experience it will be very easy and popular to build the expand it once funds become available.

    However if we choose to build the cheaper version, once the first one finishes it may have fixed review. Patronage might not be good and speed and usefulness may be subpar.

    That means when they want to build the second one, it may get resistance and politically difficult to pull it off.

    That is the risk of trying to build cheaper subpar light rail hoping to build multiple routes but ends up only one. If that is the case we would rather choose the expensive option.

    1. There’s nothing “subpar” about light rail, as evidenced by it working well in several Australian cities that have similar urban form to Auckland.

      Multiple rapid transit lines should be built in parallel, not in series, because we don’t have time to waste. The climate crisis hasn’t gone away, nor has Auckland’s other problems. Building one very expensive line that only serves part of the city will be at the expense of the others remaining underserved for a long time.

      1. “we don’t have time to waste”. You could have fooled me. Delay and procrastination is engrained in NZ especially for these type of projects.

      2. Gold Coast light rail is working exceptionally well, it’s already been extended once and a third stage is underway. Same with canberra. You know Canberra and Auckland started planning their LRT lines at the same time? Canberra’s is up and running and carrying passengers. Aucklands is now worse than when they started.

        You know what’s subpar? The train line your still talking about building ten years from now because some twit demanded it be built huge and gold plated and you could never get the thing started.

        1. Is the fabled third main actually underway yet? How many years and reports/business cases has that, very minor by world standards, project had?

        2. Of they could have just built the HR line from Onehunga to Mangere as has been planned for as long as I can remember.

          One of my relatives (now dead) was a Ministry of Works designer, he’s always said the when the international terminal was built the skywalk from the second floor to the carpark was overbuilt for eventual use connecting to an underground railway station, hence the reason why it had 6 large lifts.

        3. Torsten, the initial HR plan basically followed the route the proposed LR will use, except I assume it would have had it’s own path through the isthmus rather than down the middle of Dominion Rd.

          The idea of extending the Onehunga line is relatively new and surfaced as part of the Regional Council’s plans in the late 90s or early 2000s.

        4. Yep at ground level alongside a motorway sliced through the central isthmus. There’s a reason it never got built.

        5. Torsten – that map confirms what I said, Robbie’s proposal follows the same path as the current LR proposal, it’s not an extension of the Onehunga branch. That’s a relatively new proposition.

  6. Twyford said he backed light metro. “Our policy is that light metro is the form of rapid transit that Auckland needs,” he said.

    … hang on, what? At which point did Labour Party (or, perhaps, Labour-led government) change their policy to only looking at light metro? It certainly wasn’t what they ran on last election, it was light rail and at least a little more mode-agnostic.

      1. One Vancouver LM line carries more passengers than the whole Auckland rail network. London’s DLR-a very successful LM- carries over five times the passengers that Auckland carries.

        1. True but it pales in comparison to London’s heavy rail and tube lines.

          The trains through Buckinghamshire and south Wales are busier then Auckland and they are compatible backwaters compared to Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester etc.

        2. And one Seattle LRT line carries more people than the whole Auckland rail network. Two LRT lines in Calgary carry four times the patronage as Auckland.

          So why did the twit decide to quadruple the cost of the first line to get the same outcome? Because he bought the marketing spiel from people *who wanted to lend the money and build the thing*. Obviously they want to get paid four times as much.

  7. That concept image showing a cutaway of Lower Queen St with a light metro station under it… Last time I was under Lower Queen St I seem to remember there already being rail tunnels there at right angles to what is shown. Pretty sure they’ll be in the way.

        1. If what you’re suggesting actually happens then it is unlikely a business case for light metro would ever stack up. Like it or not people in ‘made up jobs’ are the backbone of public transport.

          If these people don’t need to work in the CBD and can work from home they don’t need to live in Auckland. Might turn out NZs inability to get anything big done will actually be a master stroke.

  8. Worth pointing out that the minimum 6 storey requirements near transit stops in the NPS requires the service to be largely segregated from road traffic. What “largely” means will be subject to debate at the time any rezoning is required. It wouldn’t be inconceivable that LR running along street corridors wouldn’t fall within this definition once lawyers have argued the toss. There’s also other policies (3d) that could be relied up for upzoning but these are more subjective and more readily captured by those at Council looking to maintain something closer to the status quo in terms of height/ density.

    1. The wording is actually “rapid transit service means any existing or planned frequent, quick, reliable and high-capacity public transport service that operates on a permanent route (road or rail) that is largely
      separated from other traffic.” How tf could you argue light rail, as planned by AT down Dominion Rd, with kerb separation from general traffic would not fit this definition?

  9. The IP isn’t worth much if its not relevant to whatever scheme ends up getting built. Pretty hard to assess anything without seeing what has been produced.
    It may yet turn into a heavy rail extension from Onehunga to Puhinui via the airport, and light rail at street level down Dominion Rd if buses aren’t working. This would probably make most of the IP irrelevant and worthless.
    A light rail arrangement has always been intended for the northern busway, and could be used for NW. I’d suspect the conversion of north shore to LR is probably waiting on multipurpose harbour tunnels. Still, nothing has happened on any of this, as others have said above, 3 wasted years of non-delivery.

    1. How much would a heavy rail extension from Onehunga actually cost now they’ve gone and gotten rid of the overbridge & not properly future proofed the harbour bridge to take rail?

      1. The obvious stress the rail network is in now serving freight and the fairly small current metro network shows the value in the next lines being a whole separate system.

        CRL absolutely is the last extension of this network for passengers, in fact it’ll keep needing billions just to get up to speed and capacity to cope with that. And we need it to carry more freight and intercity services.

        Completely the right decision to add seperate networks from here.

  10. With the government this deep in a financial hole and going ever deeper through next term, a Build-Own-Operate model will look even more attractive than it did in 2019. It would work like its own SOE under NZTA.

    It’s almost as if the NZGovernment have skipped the collapse and buyout part and political damage of the original Gold Coast G PPP, and gone straight to the new version that’s so successful today.
    The G is an at-grade solution with just a few traffic intersections.

    1. Don’t bother with a PPP; the government can borrow at less than 1%. It’ll be cheaper for the government to do it itself without vulture capitalists clipping the ticket.

      1. The procurement model for this one needs to be determined by:
        – Risk allocation
        – Capital availability
        – Breadth of outcomes eg urban renewal
        – Degree of accountability eg similar to the direct accountability to Treasury and shareholding Ministers, rather than being filtered by both NZTA and MoT.
        – Degree of integration eg HOP or not HOP, PTOM or not PTOM

        Also to learn what’s worked recently eg the high performing alliances and the mixed bag of PPPs (Transmission Gully review coming up).

        That to me says special legislation.
        And with the parlous state of Auckland Council and AT, the model will need to avoid including local authority partners.

        So there’s a good 6 months of wrangling to land that in the next term.

    1. Exactly. We missed our chance and nothing is going to happen now. Labour has $1.8m allocated to light rail. Twyford gave it to NZTA who delayed and maneuvered until they spent the money on highways instead. Then he got sold up the river by Canadian money lenders trying to find a way out of his balls up.
      Maybe sometime after the CRL is open we’ll be able to have a rational conversation about rail again.

    1. Yes. This means the system can be built-up as ridership increases, in both capacity and nature. Eg build the first Queen/Dom surface line as proposed, then when expanding the system to the Shore and the NW, connect that through cross city tunnels, a 2nd CRL 2, for additional capacity and the advantages of grade separation for busier longer lines.

      The existing surface route will still always be used and have value. Every city, no matter how fancy its metro, still needs surgace transit. And none is better, nor more proven, on tight city streets than LR.

      The spread of capital cost and risk in this model for a city so behind on its RTN, like AKL, is so sensible compared with trying to fund and build a second CRL before the first one is finished. Straight to LM is too much, no wonder it has stalled.

      LR’s defining charactersitic is flexibility in type of context it can run. Meaning cheaper, quicker, lower risk deployment, that nonetheless can still grow into a much faster and higher capacity system by adding to the nature of its network. It is the great city improver.

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