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$228m for 'not a single meter of track'- Govt officially scraps Auckland Light Rail

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 14 Jan 2024, 2:12PM

$228m for 'not a single meter of track'- Govt officially scraps Auckland Light Rail

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 14 Jan 2024, 2:12PM

The government has officially cancelled Auckland’s light rail project, fulfilling a campaign 100-day plan promise to use the funds for different transportation projects.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown said the project would have cost taxpayers $15 billion, with advice showing the cost could increase to $29.2 billion.

“The previous government committed to building light rail to Mt Roskill within four years of being elected,” Brown said.

“After six years and over $228 million spent on the project, not a single metre of track has been delivered and congestion has only worsened in the city.

“Scrapping the expensive project is part of the coalition agreements and we have taken swift action. Auckland Light Rail Limited has been instructed to immediately cease work on the project, and to take the necessary steps to wind up the company.”

The proposed light rail route from the central city to the airport. Image / Lukas Clark-Memler
The proposed light rail route from the central city to the airport. Image / Lukas Clark-Memler

Figures released in April last year showed taxpayers were forking out $1.2 million a week to keep the wheels turning on the on the Auckland project.

Auckland Light Rail (ALR) was paying about $920,000 a week to two engineering companies to plan and design the central city-to-airport light rail project and a further $310,000 to its own contractors and consultants.

“The Government is committed to delivering infrastructure that will reduce congestion, boost productivity, and create a more reliable and resilient transport network that drives economic growth,” said former Transport Minister Michael Wood.

Brown said the government’s focus is now about building a rapid transit network in Auckland.

“The completion of the City Rail Link, which was started by the last National Government, and starting work on a Northwest Rapid Transit corridor, alongside other projects to deliver reduced congestion for Aucklanders,” he said.

“Work is under way on rewriting the Government Policy Statement on land transport which will reflect these priorities. We can stop work on a project which has not delivered and get on with delivering the critical transport infrastructure that Auckland needs.”

In the lead-up to the 2017 election, then Labour leader Jacinda Ardern promised to build a 20km light rail line from the city to the airport as a priority.

She said the light rail from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill within four years, followed by light rail from Mt Roskill to the airport and light rail to West Auckland within 10 years.

During last year’s election, National promised a $13.5 billion package for the Super City, including extending State Highway 1 from Warkworth to Wellsford and building rapid transit from Botany to the airport.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown said the government’s focus is now about building a rapid transit network in Auckland. Photo / Bevan Conley
Transport Minister Simeon Brown said the government’s focus is now about building a rapid transit network in Auckland. Photo / Bevan Conley

Brown said the $2.1 billion Botany-to-airport link could be used by buses or trackless trams, which are a version of light rail and require heavy foundations.

Outside Auckland, National promised to reinstate a four-lane highway on SH1 from Whangārei to Point Marsden costing $1.3b that Labour promised in 2020 before scrapping it 18 months later for safety improvements only.

The party further promised a 16km four-lane extension of SH1 from Cambridge to Paiarere and to upgrade SH19 in the western corridor of Tauranga with grade-separated intersections to new housing opportunities. The Hawke’s Bay Expressway between Napier and Hastings will also be promised to four lanes.

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