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$25 Million Interest-Free Loan To ARC For Trains

11 December 2003

Government Provides $25 Million Interest-Free Loan To ARC For More Trains

The Government announced today it was providing a $25 million interest-free loan to the Auckland Regional Council to enable it to complete the purchase of additional rolling stock and the refurbishment of existing trains.

Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen said the assistance showed the strength of the Government’s commitment to improving the city’s commuter rail network.

“Everyone knows that Auckland’s rail services urgently need further investment and this loan will enable real improvements to be made quickly,” he said.

The loan represents 40% of a $61.2 million package which will see up to 10 trains purchased and the mechanical upgrade of nine existing units. The remaining 60% ($36.7 million) will be funded by Transfund, as previously announced.

ARC Chair, Councillor Gwen Bull, said the council was delighted with the Government’s announcement.

“This is a significant investment in Auckland’s transport system and, combined with Transfund’s support, means minimal ratepayer funding will be required for this vital project.”

She said “we are very grateful for Dr Cullen’s support in getting additional trains for Auckland.”

Dr Cullen said that, under the terms of the loan, repayments would be made quarterly, with full repayment required by 30 June 2005 unless extended by agreement.

Cr Bull said the first of the extra trains would be “on line” by May next year with the remainder up and running by early 2006.

“These trains are desperately needed as more and more people are using rail. Patronage was up by 30%, or 275,000 passengers, in the past four months compared to the same time last year.

“This purchase will enable us to improve service reliability and increase capacity,” said Cr Bull.

ARC Passenger Transport Committee Chair, Councillor Catherine Harland said the additional trains would be able to be used anywhere on the network and the side doors included made them suitable for fast loading and unloading.

“Passengers will be very pleased with the extra trains which will make for much smoother journeys for thousands of passengers every day.”

The agreement to buy the additional trains follows the government's decision to give Tranz Rail and ARC the go-ahead for the first stage of double tracking on the western line between Mt Eden and Avondale.

Work on that project will begin early next year and take about 12 months.

- ends -

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