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On track toward a better rail system for Auckland

20 December 2005

On track toward a better rail system for Auckland

Auckland rail passengers will benefit from a multi-million dollar package announced today by Finance Minister Michael Cullen and Transport Minister David Parker to upgrade the Auckland rail network.

Currently the Crown, through Land Transport New Zealand, and the region through the Auckland Regional Transport Authority [ARTA] fund the system 60/40. Under the deal, operating costs will continue to be funded on this basis but the Crown will pick up all the costs of developing the ‘below track’ infrastructure – the tracks, signals and platforms.

Mr Parker said the projects covered included; double tracking of the Western Line, signalling and minor capacity upgrades, linking the southern rail corridor and Manukau City and reconfiguration of the Newmarket junction.

Dr Cullen said the estimated cost to the government was between $450 million and $600 million.

“This government sees rail as an important key to reducing traffic congestion, particularly in south and west Auckland,” the Ministers said.

The money will be paid to ONTRACK directly from Vote Finance rather than routed through Land Transport New Zealand to give Ministers greater control over decision-making and to speed progress.

The arrangement does not cover electrification or the Central Business District loop tunnel.

“We do not see these as priorities for the short term but have advised the Auckland Regional Council and ARTA by letter that we would expect them to submit funding proposals to us later,” the Ministers said.

ARTA will pay the full costs of ‘above track’ development – rolling stock, stations and train stabling facilities. To ensure that the two work programmes are well integrated and complement each other, an Auckland Passenger Rail Reference Group comprising the Chairs or ONTRACK and ARTA, will be set up.

ENDS

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