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CRL critical for Auckland’s future

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has said that tighter financial management will help fund an additional $500 million requested by City Rail Link Limited (CRLL) for construction of the transformational underground rail project.

The Mayor’s comments are in response to CRLL requesting from Council and Government additional funding of $1 billion (split 50/50) after announcing that the Link Alliance is the preferred bidder to deliver the new stations, tunnels and rail systems.

Mayor Phil Goff said, “The City Rail Link (CRL) is a critical part of the changes we are making to reduce congestion and ensure we can move around our city.

“The CRL doubles the capacity of rail through Britomart and in peak hour will have the capacity to carry up to 54,000 passengers.

“The CRL will significantly reduce travel time from the West and the South,” Phil Goff said.

“The cost of the tunnels and underground stations, two of the biggest parts of the project, was determined by a competitive tender process. The increased cost estimate reflects the increase in demand and costs for major construction projects across Australasia.

“A significant part of the cost increase, some $250 million, reflects the need to future proof the tunnels and stations. We won’t repeat the mistake of the Harbour Bridge which was built at half of the size it needed to be, and had to have major additions made to it within eight years.

“The additional cost to Council will not involve higher rates for Aucklanders and it will be met without breaching the debt to revenue limit on Council borrowing.

Funding of the CRL is met jointly by Council and Government on a 50/50 basis.

Mayor Phil Goff says, “It is unfair for Aucklanders to meet half the cost of the CRL when no other part of the country has to do so and I’ve argued that case to Government. The Government has refused to revisit the deal saying that was what was agreed between the previous Auckland Council and National Government.

“However, Government has agreed to phase the timing of Council’s contribution to enable it to work within the constraints of its budget.

“Council will make changes in financial management that will enable it to keep under its debt to revenue ratio. It will benefit from current lower market interest rates. Council will also dispose of some non-strategic assets including some parking buildings.

“The Governing Body of Council has been advised of options to meet the increased costs and will consider those options before making a decision in May,” Phil Goff said.

“The CRL project is the biggest investment Council is making in transport infrastructure in the next few years.

“Providing additional funding to CRLL will require careful management of Council spending. Council will continue to pursue efficiency and value for money initiatives, and take a conservative approach to new spending,” Phil Goff said.

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