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Light Rail In The West; Conventional In The South

“Light Rail In The West; Conventional Rail In The South”

6 July 2001

A workshop of councillors from across the Auckland region today established a preferred network option for future development of Auckland’s rail corridors.

The five-hour workshop established a preference for light rail in the west and conventional rail in the south, to recommend to councils for formal consideration.

Councillors received detailed information prepared over the past seven months, covering evaluation work of six options under consideration. The full set of options included low-level upgrades through to full light rail over the whole network. They reviewed the costs and the variety of benefits of the options.

The discussion at the workshop focused down on two of the initial six options: 1a, or conventional rail on the whole network, and 2a, or light rail in the west with conventional rail elsewhere.

“On balance the workshop considered that the benefits of light rail in the west, namely better patronage and better support for surrounding land use, were sufficient to outweigh the additional costs of this option,” said ARC Transport Committee chairman and convenor of the workshop, Les Paterson.

The broad overall costs of the entire project fit within estimates in the Regional Land Transport Strategy’s 1999 estimates. The costs are roughly $680m in capital costs (including the Waitemata Waterfront Interchange, or Britomart and the North Shore busway) and $400m in rail rolling stock (trains).

The difference in costs between the two shortlisted options was an extra $185 million to build and $52 million in rolling stock.

Each council in the Auckland region will now formally consider the workshop’s preference over the next six weeks, with the aim of establishing a regionally agreed position by the end of August.

“Today we are another step closer to getting a much better rail service for Aucklanders, and to realising our vision of an integrated public transport network across the region,” said Councillor Paterson. “The rail and North Shore busway components are the spine of the integrated network and this infrastructure must be built to an acceptable standard, not just for now but for the future.”

“Today’s workshop represented the culmination of some thorough analysis. We believe this significant investment in public transport - the first in decades - is necessary to support the region’s growth requirements,” said Councillor Paterson.

“It’s been a long journey to get this far and Aucklanders have been telling us that they want us to get on with the job.

“Moreover, the current rail services are nearing the end of their life. We made a significant step forward today for Auckland. However, we can’t touch the tracks until Government purchases the railway from Tranz Rail.”

All seven city and district councils of the region, the Auckland Regional Council and the Northland Regional Council were represented at the workshop.

The recommendations to be sent to each Council are:

“That (each Council) support Option 2a as the preferred option for development of the rail corridors, and that work now be forcussed on the following areas:

- Urging Government to complete acquisition of the rail corridor from Tranz Rail under terms that allow Option 2a to be implemented

- Refining the costs and benefits of Option 2a

- Developing a staging programme

- Assessing funding sources, including working with Infrastructure Auckland and Transfund

- Resolving rail freight issues, including reaching agreement with Tranz Rail and Northland Regional Council on likely future rail freight requirements

- Communicating with the public and stakeholders, including potential rail operators and suppliers.”

- END -


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