Following the surprise resignation of Jacinda Ardern last week, her replacement, Chis Hipkins, has said:

Over the coming week, Cabinet will be making decisions on reining in some programs and projects that aren’t essential right now

That messaging is similar to what Jacinda Ardern said late last year and as with then, it’s unclear yet what projects will be reined in. But surely one of the potential candidates is light rail – though interestingly light rail had the highest net-positive rating in a poll taken following Ardern’s resignation.

Two policies that were more popular than unpopular were KiwiBuild and the plan to build Auckland light rail. Forty-three per cent of voters want KiwiBuild kept, compared to just 28 per cent who want it gone. The margin for Auckland light rail was similar: 45 per cent want it kept and 27 per cent want it scrapped.

I wonder how many people still think light rail is a a surface solution given most of the images from the Light Rail team, and media show it on the surface?

A render of surface Light Rail on Bader Dr in Mangere

The change in government leadership hopefully now gives the government an even greater chance to break out of the tunnel they’re digging themselves into and rethink light rail.

As I wrote last month, the experience from the CRL with COVID disruption and global inflation issues show there’s a good chance the project is now even more expensive than the $15 billion suggested in the business case just a few years ago. I still think the best way for them to rethink the project is to shift back to a cheaper and faster to deliver surface option on Dominion Rd. This doesn’t mean we should never build tunnels but that they be part of future stages in the development of our rapid transit network.

But if the government are still committed to tunnels, or if they’re wanting to think about what one of those future stages could be, then perhaps one option for them to consider is Manukau Rd as an alternative.

This is an option I’ve covered before but to recap.

For trips from the city to Onehunga, Mangere or the airport, Manukau Rd is a far more direct route than the current light rail plan to go via Sandringham Rd, or even via Dominion Rd. At potentially just over 9km to get from Aotea to Onehunga, it is over 4km shorter than going via Sandringham Rd.

A shorter route means a faster route plus it also hopefully means it is cheaper (though there are other factors at play here). Auckland Light Rail currently estimate their plan will take 21 minutes to get from Aotea to Onehunga going via Sandringham Rd. By comparison, by using the shorter Manukau Rd route it would only be around 13-14 minutes. While the airport shouldn’t be the primary focus, it could make for a city to airport trip of only around 25 minutes.

It’s a route that, with a future extension to the North Shore, would see it link up three hospitals (North Shore, Auckland, Greenlane) and six university campuses (Albany,Akoranga, AUT & UoA in the City, Grafton & Newmarket).

At least pre-COVID, Manukau Rd is a busier PT route than Sandringham Rd but key for either option will be future development capacity and on this metric Maunkau Rd looks to be a good option too.

Pre-COVID levels of daily bus use on the four central isthmus corridors

While we don’t yet know for sure what the council have planned for zoning changes in the currently planned light rail corridor, the indications from the draft plans in April last year suggested there would still be some large areas where special character protection still existed – based on the council dodgy process for determining special character – especially around Kingsland. We don’t have that issue for Manukau Rd though and the notified plan shows only a few streets where the special character zoning applies. Even before the recent government mandated changes to increase zoning, this corridor already had a lot of mixed use and apartment zoning.

There are a couple of main challenges for this idea though:

  1. There isn’t much in the way of government owned property along the route. The main driver for choosing Sandringham Rd as the preferred option is that there is a large number of Kāinga Ora properties around Wesley that are due to be redeveloped and the government are keen to tie light rail into that development. This, and that there are not a lot of large sites for easy redevelopment appears to be the main reasons it was excluded from consideration by the Light Rail team.

    And old map showing Kainga Ora properties and the surface light rail route – the Sandringham route is to pick up more of that red blob around Wesley. That blob would also be very well served by our Crosstown Light Rail option
  2. The Manukau Rd route is likely to have a lot more hard basalt rock to deal with and that may make tunnelling much harder and more expensive.

Ultimately, we should probably be aiming for both surface light rail (initially) with a Manukau Rd route at some point in the future. This would provide great coverage across the central isthmus.


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  1. I think they have spent too much money to be able to pivot. It is all a sunk cost but that doesn’t stop a sense of shame, and fear of public backlash, from being the main motivator. The only hope I see is to close down the whole project and wait 20 years.

    1. I think general public just think it is ‘light rail’.

      And they want it, so backing down from LR would be embarrassing, as opposition will not doubt gleefully show how much money has been burnt doing nothing (again).
      (but if elected, will also reappoint people like Tommy into next big roading project)

      All the pictures seem to show cool surface running LR – though running through grass tracks looks even better, so as Matt pointed out this is what people may imagine when they think of LR. I think many kiwis have at least seen LR in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

      So switching from tunneled to surface and downsizing it; saving billions would be the better option politically and I don’t think would generate public backlash.

      I noticed as well, some posts on Reddit (r/Auckland) that feedback on Queen st has been really positive. To be fair unlikely for car drivers to be posting against the changes, but with the better weather people are liking hanging out there; and comments that it would be even better making it EV only zone and/or just having LR trams running down the middle.

      1. If they want any chance of being reelected they are going to have to slash and burn the things that annoy people. Essentially they have to be National without Uncle Fester in charge.
        Light rail should go to pander to the provinces, RNZ/TVNZ should go because it was always a stupid idea and Three Waters governance will need to change to pander to the racists. Otherwise we face the worst National Government since 1990. National is trying to get elected without saying what they will actually do. They are odds on to achieve that.

        1. So, because I’m a National voter, who wants this country to be a
          democracy, I am a racist ?

        2. That makes no sense Miffy. Three Waters governance, and co-governance on race lines is itself the racism. Equality is the opposite of racism. By your thinking, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were racists.

        3. If the racist hat fits then wear it.
          For my part I don’t give a rat’s arse who sits on a committee overseeing a bunch of water bureaucrats. But if 50% of those positions can be allocated in a way that redresses the wrongs our great grandparents committed they why the hell not?
          Why does water management require ‘democracy’? It doesn’t in Auckland.

        4. Perhaps I should have been politer so I could actually learn something here. Can you explain why we need any democracy in the provision of water or wastewater services yet we don’t need any for telecommunications or electricity? That isn’t a smart Alec question, I genuinely don’t understand National supporter on this.

  2. Just get on with an elevated driverless light metro. That’s the future if you want time competitive PT without constant “staff shortage” problems.

    1. Everyone has their perfect solution, but seems to ignore the shortcomings. Elevated? Has lots of the same issues with elevated (haha) cost and access issues as tunneling, Still requires massive impact on local streets (elevated doesn’t mean without support pillars). And if you think our litigious public will not oppose (sometimes even with justification) an elevated line above their homes and in their views, then I don’t know whether you paid any attention to Auckland in recent years? Our locals – and even key politicians – are willing to go to bat opposing anything that even slightly changes the local character. That’s why the fearful light rail planners in government went with tunneling in the first place – it promised (at an enormous cost) a way of pleasing (almost) everyone. Elevated will just add a few more types of haters.

      Street level or bust. Sadly, for now it’s going to be bust.

    2. Competitive PT with what? Driving time?

      Surface light rail IS the better option. Auckland could afford to build a network of light rail for the cost of a tunnel or elevated single line. That is a massive opportunity for so many policies.
      Modeshift – surface light rail reduces general traffic capacity on whatever route(s) chosen – tick
      Safety – using public transport is statistically shown to be safer than driving, both for occupants of vehicles, and for peds / cyclists.
      Reducing C02 emissions – goes hand in hand with mode shift and general traffic capacity reduction.
      Urban uplift / Density – Light rail can support higher residential and commercial densities along the route.

      1. Yes, driving time, that’s the one metric that is always mentioned when PT is discussed in Auckland. The gaping time difference between driving a car and using public transport, until that is dramatically reduced, no real mode shift will happen. You just know surface LR will be as slow as a wet week, everytime in Auckland they manage to do that. The latest example being the Eastern busway where the traffic on Lagoon drive overtakes the bus on the busway.

      2. The idea of one LR line creating mass mode shift to PT is laughable. There needs to be multiple LR lines, covering as much of the city as possible. Look how Sydney is going about there metro network, building 3 lines at the same time.

  3. As suggested at the top, light rail isn’t essential and will get dropped, if not by this government then by the next.

    The window of opportunity for this project has passed.

  4. We need light rail now more than ever. I hope the government can see the benefits of surface rail and that an investment in it will reap future benefits. We need these big transport projects to be delivered to give people options to get around town.

  5. This is one of the routes that is discussed often on Twitter (and I’ve been slow working on an article on). Doing if overhead at least South of Newmarket/Domain seems to be an even better option due to the reduced cost. Manakau Rd is 5 lanes wide so plenty of room for and overhead track.

    It hooks in well to a North shore line and has larger long term capacity (you could futureproof to 6-car 700 person trains, 90s headway).

    You should be able to build it and a surface Dominion Road line (to SH20) for $15 billion.

  6. Any tunnelled route that takes in the hospital and university and can be extended to the North shore would be of value. Stage one could be Wynard quarter to Newmarket Station. Then Manukau Road could run on on surface at a later date and a tunnel to the shore could follow when we are ready.

    1. Tunnels are huge cost and will take decades to build. Instead build a surface level Pt connection to the shore, save tens of billions and have something in place before 2040.

      University to Wynyard is a 15 minute walk or 5 minutes on a bus. Both will be far more accessible with Aotea opening.

    2. Royce – If you are going to do any tunneling south of Newmarket , there is this tunnel which runs under the Flyover with a spur down towards the railway line ;-

  7. The actual easy cheap easy option is cross town rail and busway spokes. The rail land is owned/mostly owned it also has freight application.

    Kill ALR build Southdown to Avondale, maybe make the Onehunga line a loop via the city and/or maybe link it to Otahuhu (go east?)

    This with a busway from the airport feeding to Onehunga/city and 24/7 bus lanes along Dominion.

    1. Build A to S as a busway, add some connecting infrastructure to panmure, make the Onehunga line a busway, and then onto the eastern busway. Thats the ideal crosstown route and mode IMO. Can get great frequencies from the get go, turn up and go service which is totally infeasible with rail on that kind of route. There is no space constraints or any reasonable long term capacity constraints like there are in the city center that rule buses out.

      And the biggest factor, the NZTA / govt is good at and likes building roads and busways.

      1. Current cross town doesn’t exist in useful form right now, for cross town to be a thing it needs vastly better connections with the rest of the network.

        Freight trains can’t use a busway and a bus can’t use the rest of the rail network. Running the Onehunga as loop, creates all sorts of extra connections and facilitates vastly more trips.

        This would be faculties with 24/7 bus lane along dominion from a train station at Mt Roskil (the mount), to Mt Eden station has plenty of room. Transfers are not a big deal.

    2. Any crosstown route needs to link up with both the Western line and the Northwestern bus improvements how would you do that. However quite like your ideas re buses and would there ever be enough frieght on the NAL to justify Avondale Southdown diversion and why not just tell Kiwirail it needs to figure out its self how to run more trains through Newmarket. I can’t believe they can’t its just lazy thinking and holding out the hand for Govt handout.

      1. It’s very obvious why they can’t run more trains through Newmarket, it’s physically impossible with the lack of space. Of course there used to be plenty of space but it was all flogged off in the 90s with zero regard for rail operations.

        1. They can make use of the direct connection from the NAL to the Strand. That gives them five options to pass trains through Newmarket.

      2. On connection to he north west, run it along Oakley creek/roads around there, but do it much later. Avondale to Pt Chev has loads of busses right now.

        Cross town getting the freight out of newmarket would be positive to the entire network. It helps both fright and allows for the Onehunga line to expand is an easy win on land already owned. Busses plugging the gaps Liz

        This will cost vastly less than these insane tunnels and could built in a year.

        1. “less than a year”
          How long is the third main project taking?
          Still, as Kiwirail gets more experience and builds up the resource/base they may be able to move faster on these projects. And more use of contractors like Martinus would help a lot too.

        2. ZIPPO going by a press release lat last year from KR the 3rd main is ahead of Schedule , which is a good thing . And the times I use that section of line the progress is increasing but there seems to be nothing happening at Middlemore as yet .

        3. This wouldn’t have to deal with being on an active powered rail line and could close a couple car crossing to speed things up. About a year hardly sounds that wrong. If this was to start today, it could be finished before ALR, starts construction.

  8. Sadly politics,has got in the way of this project ,yet again.Any conjecture, as to the rights and wrongs of surface or tunneled options,is irrelevant at present,as the government works out how this will look, politically.
    Probably can’t proceed with current option,as it is to costly, (finanancially),can’t change it ,as it is to costly,(politically).
    I’m with Miffy, it will disappear,until desperation forces action,or canals and boats are all that’s left.

    1. “Probably can’t proceed with current option,as it is to costly”

      Maybe I am getting getting old and cynical, but it feels like there be a Sir Humphrey Appleby type, gleeful celebrating with cronies once Waka Kotahi kills light rail for another 10+ years.

      Well played; the politicians thought they had given the go ahead for light rail over 6 years ago, but they managed to be stalled, redirected, bamboozled and finally given a gold plated turkey to sell to the public by WK, until it got killed.

      Exactly the same as Sky Path

      Meanwhile, you know that Penlink will be open before LR team even decide on a mission statement (echos of Utopia here), and Mills Road will be a full blow motorway with massive interchanges.

      Yes, I am disappointed in this government, as they had a mandate and let it be squandered

  9. Certainly makes a lot more sense than the current plan. Potentially it could even mean you could have both this AND a Dom Rd only surface LR for the same cost as the current plan.

    I still think if they’re going to go for tunneled then they might as well build light metro (aka Vancouver like Skytrain). Can build some or most as elevated sections to reduce the cost and construction time considerably while getting higher capacity and a better experience out of it.

  10. I like to hark back to pre-Covid times too but we live and work in a different world now and public transport patronage reflects that. In the 12 months to June 2022 there were just 41 million trips on public transport in Auckland – down from 101 million in 2019.

    Fewer bus and train services for the next few years means patronage will not approach 100 million trips in the foreseeable future. When was public transport last at such a low ebb?

    Given about 80 per cent of public transport trips are taken by bus the driver shortage, along with working from home, is a big reason why patronage is down.

    Light rail was a missed opportunity but at least the City Rail Link should open in 2025. Really, it’s something of a miracle that the CRL is under construction. Oh, and another positive, we can enjoy half-price fares for 10 more weeks!

    1. Eh, those 12 months (July 2021 – June 2022) featured the longest Covid lockdown in Auckland. No wonder that the passenger numbers are down. They won’t be back to prepandemic levels with the rail network closures, either. It would be good to compare total car trips to pre-Covid levels, I don’t think they have significantly decreased as most people only work from home a few days a month.

  11. Surface options (busways and light rail) require reallocation of space and Labour and AT have been reluctant to do this. Hence an outcome disliked by those supporting light rail (who want a surface option) and those against light rail (who want the money spent on roads). Perhaps Labour should have started by saying that the government would help pay for light rail, if the people in the area were willing to give up road space currently allocated to carparking and traffic lanes. Upzoning now (or better still 5 years ago) would increase the number of people living on the isthmus and increase demand for light rail by increasing already high bus passenger numbers.
    It is hard to see what Labour can achieve on this in the next 9 months. Maybe some more surface bus lanes and upzoning would move things in the right direction.
    In the part of Wellington (Northland) where I live some threes-storey flats have been built over the last year near the historic fire station. The local residents assn supported the project, and the flats look very nice. So perhaps forging ahead and hoping any opposition will have disappear over time might have been a better option than delaying.

    1. By “near” I mean a few metres from. I’ve previously lived in a part of Hamilton near the university where the number of shops and their range of goods has massively increased as density has increased. Indeed, local shops that have been closed for decades have re-opened.

  12. Ditch it, do elevated light metro along SH16, build the AWHC and connect the two. Come back in a decade or so, but the isthmus should only get more buses rather than anything else. NACT aren’t going to do LR, so no vote loss there, as PT interested voters will be left with only the labour coalition.

    Re LR/trams, let AT do it if they want to replace buses, but as a government, step out, and let the cards fall as they do. If it makes sense to AT, AT will sort it, if it doesn’t make sense to AT, then there wasn’t much point of doing it.

    Labour needs stuff they can point to that is tangible (ideally physical) that they’ve done or doing, plans (pre construction) of stuff is not that. That’s why National put so much effort into their RONS, no matter the BCR, people drive on them, see them, see tangible progress. Labour did great with the Manawatu gorge one, but in general they’ve been lacking on the ‘big infra projects people can see and like’ front.

    Tunnelled LR has the costs of a metro for the benefits of a tram – even their business cases said ‘spend the money and go light metro’. Trams make sense for replacing buses for local trips within an area when buses can’t keep up with capacity, but for strategic PT networks, you want something that is faster/stops less often.

      1. Yep. Safer, lower OPEX (so easier and cheaper to run more services late night or increase frequency on demand), better to cope with labour shortages/industrial action, frees up drivers for more trains/buses. Doesn’t even need to be that much higher CAPEX as the extra costs are absorbed by the reduction in other costs associated with having to mitigate human error – e.g. visible signals.

  13. I’m not sure why they want to tunnel under Symonds Street when an at grade and trenched route up Grafton valley alongside sh16 roughly where the cycle lane is, the Wellesley st on off ramp lanes could be moved over.
    A station could be built here with pedestrian bridge over sh16 to the hospital and university.
    Roughly under the Grafton bridge the line can enter a tunnel as the hill gets very steep.

  14. Good post. Yes I think they are overly obsessed with the linking to Kāinga Ora properties but a crosstown route is shown on that map to cover it even better. We could probably do all three of these routes for the price of the tunnelled option.

  15. I know hindsight is easy, but I wonder if we had not built the CRL, could we not have had a light rail solution that ran between Albany and the Onehunga, with spurs to Takapuna and the airport. Part of which would cover the CRL route? Money saved on The Northern Pathway and the CRL could have gone into this with everything except the harbour being above ground. This would move a lot of people on fast PT.

    1. Seems like a bad deal for the West, if you’re going to say no CRL and just fund yet another North/South service, notably to the benefit of the Shore, who have already had a busway for a decade while other bits of Auckland don’t even have that.

      Given the relative levels of development, improving PT services in the West should be a higher priority than giving the Shore even more.

      1. Good point BW.

        Ill change my hindsight to a second line that runs East/West from Howick to Albany, via the western suburbs and Hobsonville.

  16. First, it seems Ardern’s resignation was only a “surprise” to her fangirls/boys. Looking at the polls it is clear that there will be a change in government and the Curia Poll (release the day after her resignation announcement) showed that Ardern’s net favorability had gone negative for the first time.
    I think it would be no surprise to anyone to learn that I am not a fan of the current government for a lot of reasons. However, focusing on the nature of this blog the one thing I still cannot understand was not building the original light rail (i.e. Britomart to Mt. Roskil along Queen and Dominion). As the poll above shows it was popular, it was affordable, it was a good idea and AT had done a fair bit of planning already. To this day I am still befuddled why this didn’t happen. Given the other options explored, such as tunneling the same route, we will get so much more for our buck if we go back to the original plan. If we are going to spend $30b, as Treasury indicates, then let’s build the original as well as lines west and east and north.

  17. A “win” would be going ahead, but for 1/3rd the cost, which would mean any one of the surface rail options.

    However as an “Auckland only” issue, I am expecting this to get the chop, with a refocus on bus priority measures.

  18. Because the Minister of the time was swayed by visitors from the Canadian Pension fund who pointed out the many benefits of automated light metro and offered to fund such a line in Auckland. The Minister then took the project out of AT’s hands and gave it to the Wellington bureaucracy where it has gone around in circles ever since. Just like the national ticketing project.

    1. Wrong order. The minister took it from AT and gave it to NZTA, who intentionally did nothing for 18 months because they hated the idea that they might have to do LRT instead of motorways.

      Then the Canadian metro crowd swooped i to that vacuum and offered the minister a promise of actually doing something.

      Then NZTA decided they had to beat the foreigners by doing the same metro but bigger. And that’s how we ended up with a tunnel to Wesley.

  19. – It doesn’t fill the isthmus void
    – It isn’t that far from existing HR rail including Newmarket.
    – I doubt the bus patronage is anything like the combination of Dominion / Sandringham / New North all of which would be fairly walkable to the current proposal.
    – Cornwall Park takes up most of one side of the route, the other side is single house zone Epsom.
    – It doesn’t add many new stations so won’t add much new patronage

  20. Pretty sure labour will do a tax change like a tax free threshold to help families with inflation. This will be paid for by the non bread and butter projects that Hipkins alluded to like light rail. Classic short sighted NZ. Hopefully they don’t cancel it and instead go back to the original plan but I doubt it.

  21. It gets crazier every time I look at that map of the options. Dom Rd is the obvious place for this – it’s literally the spine of the Isthmus.

    However, Manukau Rd could be a “proof of concept” for this part of the city; it would probably be needed eventually anyway. But my vote for proof of concept goes to Airport to Botany (and better, get it through to Panmure and Ellerslie). It would be so easy to put surface LR there and it would have a huge uptake given the lack of options there now. Get it in, show the benefits and much of the opposition will drop away when they see what they are missing out on.

    1. Airport to Botany would be pointless. A bit like the UK building a line from Heathrow to some random outer suburb instead of Crossrail because it was cheaper.

      1. This is hardly some random suburbs tho. Manukau is the second hub of Auckland and light rail would cross the southern, eastern train lines and fill the missing gap to eastern bus thing.

        1. True. Eventually it’ll be needed, but for now (like NW to Constellation, or various crosstown routes) it can be served by buses and bus lanes – most of the benefits for almost none of the price. Once trip numbers improve, or once more pressing projects happen, sure it should happen, but in the short term it doesn’t feel like something that should be put ahead of things like the AWHC/NW Light Metro/4th Main/even LR (trams) on busy CBD routes.

  22. The simple answer and best for future proofing the system is too build both routes. Start off the first route via Manukau Road then once tunneling is complete start tunneling the second, or if money is available start both routes as Sydney has done starting all it’s tunnels at the same time. I believe there are 8 TBM’s working on the Sydney metro at the moment.

    1. How are you going to deal with level crossings at every perpendicular street? Or angry NIMBY residents? Or cramming yet another operating pattern into the CRL ensuring we get trains only every 15-20 minutes along each line?

      If you want a surface option, street-running light rail is the way to go. A second separate rail system offers resilience and higher frequencies on all RTN corridors; plus light rail is, like bus rapid transit, designed to integrate into existing streets in its own lanes. No demolishing of houses should be required if the powers-that-be weren’t too afraid to infringe on the religion that is on-street parking.

    2. I was also in the extend the heavy rail camp, but after doing my own research it has become clear that our existing main line rail wouldn’t be a good bet for future rapid transit lines.
      Most city’s utilise there main line rail for suburban lines but have built dedicated transit lines often using different track and loading gauge, rubber tyres, platform height, and traction to the
      Main line network.
      As noted above even after CRL there wouldn’t be enough capacity for extra lines or branch lines.
      A whole new line will need to be built through the city, if you are going to do that you might as well do away with the narrow gauge tracks and odd ball platform height.
      And start off fresh.
      I’m not in the LRT camp ether I think something driverless with platform screen doors would be better.
      I believe the trams would not suit Auckland’s distant unserved suburbs, and that the flexibility of trams will be an excuse to cut corners for future transit lines.

    1. Good luck getting that past the locals. Also good luck trying to cram another line into the City Rail Link, its capacity of 18-24 trains per hour on each track will be full sending trains to Swanson, Pukekohe, and Manukau every 5-7 minutes each at peak.

      If you’re that dead-set on heavy rail to the airport, an extension from Onehunga would be the best option in terms of frequency, but it would have to be accompanied by a surface light rail (modern tram) along Dominion Rd.

  23. What are the options we should have for CC2M?

    1. Surface light rail via Dominion Rd – should cost $2.4-3.6 billion at $100-150M per km. Combine with a crosstown branch from Mt Roskill to Avondale and converting the Onehunga branch to LRT.
    2. Grade-separate light metro via isthmus – should cost $6-7.5 billion at $300M per km. Combine with a crosstown branch from Mt Roskill to Avondale and converting the Onehunga branch to light metro.
    3. Heavy rail extension of the Onehunga Line – should cost $4 billion based on SMART report. Separate light rail or BRT needed for Isthmus corridors and Crosstown RTN.
    4. Heavy rail extension from Avondale – should cost $5-6 billion based on 2021 Auckland Rapid Transit Plan. Separate light rail or BRT needed for Isthmus corridors, an additional $1 billion if Onehunga line is to be connected.

    Whatever option is picked *needs* to access the Mangere suburbs not just the airport, and also needs to be able to run at 10 min all-day frequencies, better at peak, without taking away from service frequencies on other RTN routes.

      1. Yes, I assumed $3 billion for Onehunga-Airport and $1 billion for double-tracking & grade-separating Penrose-Onehunga (including possible grade separation at Penrose junction). Each about 50% greater than what the SMART report costed them to be.

        1. Although the isthmus should not be forgotten, a surface light rail line down Dominion Rd would likely be needed in the case of option 3, and that would add another $1 billion to the cost. Ditto with option 4 (heavy rail via Avondale), which would need a BRT or LRT solution further north on the Isthmus.

    1. “should cost $4 billion based on SMART report”

      Costs have escalated hugely since that report was done. Refer to the costing of the light rail option in the same paper for an example.

      1. I see no reason why the costs for rail construction in NZ – for any mode – should have shot up to 3 times that of international construction costs in the space of <5 years. It's clearly not just inflation. Something is seriously wrong with that and it should be rectified.

        1. We are like a number of countries around the world that are having the same problem , as nothing has been done in decades all the experience in doing it has either died , retired or gone somewhere else . And then you have places like China and some European Countries that are doing it all the time and have kept the workforce attached/together and have the Experience to get the job done no matter the problem they run into . So when the CRL is finished were will they go to when it finished ? , not onto a similar job which means that knowledge will disappear and say if something the same will start say in 10yrs they will have to start from scratch again , with training a whole new Workforce .

        2. Hi David L. Totally agree with your explanation of the problem. The same thing happened when Network Rail in the UK tried to electrify the Great Western main line. Costs went crazy because they were having to re-think everything from scratch without the former expertise. I suspect Crossrail may have suffered from this too.

          In answer to your question of where to re-deploy the CRL team when they have finished that project – I say send them down to Wellington because have a great need for a tunnelled rail-extension down here!

        3. There are places in the world where costs of Light Rail are high – Sydney, Edinburgh for example – and places where the costs are quite low and affordable by comparison. Projects in Spain and Holland have much better value – good work, done at a good price, for a fraction of the cost of the blowouts that have beleaguered the Scots.

          Any bidder for the contract should go off to Spain and Amsterdam and offer the best engineers on the job a decent package, and bring them home to NZ to mastermind the project. It’s what we did when NZ was building the Manapouri tunnels – we imported Italians from the Dolomites, from mining families with tunnelling experience – who got the tunnels built.

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