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Auckland rail: plans unveiled

April 23, 2002

Plans unveiled today reveal the scope of the Auckland region’s urban commuter rail developments and a timeframe for the improvements.

The Auckland Regional Council and the local-council owned company Auckland Regional Transport Network Limited (ARTNL) jointly submitted an Expression of Interest for the Auckland Region Rail Upgrade Project to funding agency Infrastructure Auckland today.

“It’s great that the Auckland Regional Council and the local councils have agreed on plans for improving rail,” said ARC Passenger Transport Committee chairwoman Catherine Harland.

“We’re ready to get on with the job.”

The plans include cost estimates of $388 million to develop Auckland region’s rail network into a rapid transit commuter service.

The ARC plans to upgrade existing rail vehicles and tender for 25 long-term replacements for a total cost of $166 million. The ARC’s Passenger Transport Committee also last week agreed to go to design stage for the refurbishment of 10 ADL units currently in service in Auckland, and approved a process for appointing a new rail operator by the end of the year.

“We want to get better service frequencies on the network as soon as we are able to, while we progressively improve Auckland’s passenger trains in an affordable and sensible manner,” said Cr Harland.

ARTNL plans to upgrade stations, tracks and safety features for a total cost of $222 million.

“Our plans are well advanced to commence all aspects of infrastructure upgrades,” said ARTNL Board Chairman Ross Keenan.

The rail project is to begin in 2002 with completion of infrastructure works by January 2006 and 10 minute service frequencies on suitable trains across the network by December 2006.

“We’re committed to progressively improve Auckland’s rail system. We are aiming for a high standard of safety, convenience and user friendliness, which includes improving rail’s links with buses and ferries,” said Mr Keenan.

“ARTNL and ARC are committed to developing services to a level where commuters will choose to switch to the rail alternative,” said Mr Keenan.

“More people using rail in peak times will help ease the load on our congested motorways,” said Cr Harland.

Before the ARC and ARTNL can action the plans, three hoops need to be jumped through:

1. The Crown and Tranz Rail need to complete the Crown’s purchase of the Auckland network (expected by early May)

2. The region through ARTNL needs to settle an access arrangement with the Crown to be able to access the rail corridors

3. Funding needs to be obtained for the developments.

“This project supports the Regional Growth Strategy and Regional Land Transport Strategy. It has the support of the region’s mayors who recently agreed that the priority for the region with respect to rail is to upgrade the suburban heavy rail network, stations and related infrastructure,” said Cr Harland.

“The plans are a sensible, affordable staging of improvements to rail. Also, while this project will significantly upgrade the region’s commuter rail services with modern heavy rail passenger trains, it enables developments such as electrification and light rail, to be decided upon and implemented in future years,” said Cr Harland.

For more information please call

Catherine Harland, Chairwoman, ARC Passenger Transport Committee, 636 8464 or 366 2111.

Ross Keenan, Chairman, Board Auckland Regional Transport Network Ltd (ARTNL), 021 685 655

Jo Mackay, ARC Communications Advisor, 366-2000 ext 8114

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