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Auckland rail business plan supported

Auckland City Council supports Auckland rail business plan

Auckland City Council has announced its endorsement of the Auckland rail upgrade business plan, which has been developed jointly between Auckland Regional Transport Network Limited (ARTNL), Auckland Regional Council (ARC) and Infrastructure Auckland (IA) over the past four months.

Based on the region’s existing rail corridors, the plan proposes an implementation path for improving Auckland’s rail network by: targeting a patronage of 25 million passengers on the Auckland rail network by 2015 and 30 million by 2021 proposing electric heavy rail as the preferred rolling stock staging core track and station upgrades over 2004-2008.

“Auckland City is very supportive of this plan,” says Councillor Greg McKeown, Transport Committee chairperson. “Faster more frequent electric trains, running on time, with better stations, will attract more Aucklanders to rail.”

The new plan was developed pooling resources and input from ARTNL, ARC and IA and is currently being presented to the councils of the region for endorsement.

“With Britomart nearing completion and the official opening on July 25, we are keen to see progress on the rest of the network. We congratulate ARTNL, ARC and IA for preparing this plan. It provides a sound basis for moving forward.”

The implementation of the rail business plan will help improve the region’s transport network and improve the passenger transport system.

Councillor McKeown is satisfied with the new and more aggressive patronage targets for rail, saying to strive for less would bring into question the sense of making the investments in the first place.

“With Britomart and this plan in hand, we can afford to be more optimistic about the development of a better rail system for Aucklanders.

“The proposed electrification of the rail network is a good recommendation. Electrification provides environmental benefits, and the trains will be faster and quieter,” adds Councillor McKeown.

The report also notes that electrification accommodates an option to extend the rail network with an underground tunnel in the CBD. “We are also looking at options of developing rail in the Avondale-Southdown corridor, as has been planned for years, improving rail along the proposed Eastern transport corridor, and in the longer term looking at links to the airport.”

Co-ordination of the upgrade and development of the new rail network is necessary and core infrastructure upgrades will occur between March 2004 and 2008/2009, including: western line double tracking, electrification and signalling and station upgrades North Island main trunk and isthmus signalling and station upgrades followed by electrification development of the Manukau link and Westfield-Otahuhu and Penrose works 25 Electric Multiple Units procured for delivery in 2006/2007 traffic demand management planning, design and testing.

The plan allows for flexibility in the future, and outlines how additional infrastructure work can be programmed after 2009. These works will provide increased capacity to meet demand and include western line grade separation, further station and corridor upgrades and additional trains to cater for patronage growth.

The total capital requirement for the rail upgrade is estimated at $1.5 billion by 2018. Successful implementation of the business plan will rely on a collaborative approach between ARTNL and the ARC under existing governance arrangements.

The next stage of work will be to confirm the implementation network. It will be developed by September 2003 for formal sign off by the ARTNL Board and the ARC.

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