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Derailed: Budget 2020 & Airport Light Rail Parked Up

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) and NZ Transport 2050 Inc are pleased to see common sense has prevailed with news yesterday that the Auckland airport slow tram has been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. It is also please to see the continued investment in rail systems announced in the budget this afternoon.

This proves there is a silver lining to the pandemic, nonsense infrastructure like the airport light rail “slow tram” have been parked. Both groups say the focus should be on designing and building a modern, fit for purpose investments into our existing heavy rail network, to compliment the CRL Project.

Jon Reeves, National Coordinator of the PTUA said, “Given the airport slow tram costs shot up from $1.6 billion to over $10 billion the project was doomed to fail from the start. While other transport public transport advocates promoted the Green/Labour slow tram plan both the PTUA and NZ Transport 2050 presented to key stakeholders, businesses and held public meetings to prove airport trams would be a disaster for Auckland and taxpayers.”

Paul Miller, Chair of NZ Transport 2050 said “While we are happy to see investment into rail and ferries in the budget details of actual urban transport sending seems missing. It is hard to imagine how the budget announced but undetailed ‘shovel ready’ $3B allocation will do much to deliver much improvement when spent across the whole country. What also concerns us is that tens of millions of dollars and the significant amount of time have been wasted on the doomed Auckland airport light rail project." 

"Now, with the COVID-19 impact, we need the government to lose the ideology based transport strategy and to focus on investing smartly into the transport systems we already have. CRL has already committed us to a heavy rail future now we need to complement its investment by building an affordable roadmap to expand fast heavy rail. This includes doing the following”:

  • Safeguarding transport corridors for connections such as a heavy rail link to Auckland airport and consider a future North Port freight/passenger connection via Southdown to Avondale
  • Immediately extending the Auckland passenger rail network to Kumeu in the west, utilising the existing investment in the line to Whangerei/Marsden Point
  • Start on Auckland’s 3rd or 4th rail line expansion of the southern line and look to expand that further towards the city centre
  • Complete electrification to Pukekohe to finally allow direct services to Britomart and the CRL
  • Upgrade the regional lines to Hamilton and Tauranga to allow for faster higher volume freight and passenger services that deliver a service that truly competes with a cars journey time.
  • Construct the Christchurch commuter train service Labour campaigned on at the last general election
  • Funding for more electric buses across New Zealand. Preferably with New Zealand built buses.
  • Funding for inter-regional passenger trains not exclusively aimed at high end tourists.

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