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Auckland rail growth shows CRL needs to start now

5 May 2014

Auckland rail growth shows CRL needs to start now

An 11.7 percent surge in Auckland rail patronage in the year to April shows the government needs to start on the Auckland City Rail Link immediately, the Green Party said today.

“The government has set arbitrary and unachievable targets as its excuse not to get cracking right away. It has already back-flipped on finally agreeing the need for the CRL. Now it needs to understand that waiting until 2020 to start is too late,” Green Party transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said.

An independent report by Price Waterhouse Coopers, commissioned by the Auckland mayoral office, said patronage targets for the $2.8 billion project to get approval were “unrealistic”, while the downtown employment target was “unachievable”.

“This comes straight out of Catch 22 – set impossible targets so you can justify inaction,” said Ms Genter. “PwC noted that the highest rates of patronage growth ‘are likely to be achieved after full introduction of electric trains in 2016’, so waiting until 2020 to start the project will be too late.”

“The government’s own advisory report, City Centre Future Access Study, clearly spells out that delaying CRL carries economic costs including displacement of employment, restriction of growth and foregoing the benefits of agglomeration.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says a 2016 start is vital to Auckland's economic development and to prevent crippling peak-hour road congestion.

The Green Party will kick start construction of the CRL next year.

“The City Rail Link is the next essential step in creating a smarter, greener transport network for all Aucklanders. It is vital to unblock the bottleneck at Britomart and get the full benefits of electrification.

"It will double capacity on the network, allowing trains to run every five minutes at peak times. It will reduce travel times from West Auckland to the CBD by up to 28 minutes.

“After CRL we can extend lines to the airport and the North Shore. Creation of a congestion-free network will de-clog roads, speed-up journeys and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Compared to National's multi-billion dollar duplicate motorways, investing in Auckland rail is cheap and cost-effective,” Ms Genter said.

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