National Auckland Transport on the Never Never
Rt Hon Winston Peters
Leader of New Zealand First
New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters says the National Party’s Auckland Transport announcement today is a breath-taking plan on the never never.
While it is promising to see that National all of a sudden has rediscovered railways in Auckland, including trains to the airport and extending commuter trains to Huapai, the proof is in National’s past. They closed many railway lines, and ran railways into the ground last time they were in government.
So what’s changed now, and can they be trusted?
They closed the:
• Kauri to Otiria line
• Stratford to Okahukura line - connecting to the North Island Main Trunk
• Napier to Gisborne line
• Hillside Railway Workshops in Dunedin
On airport trains, why does National’s airport train line have construction starting at 2030 – a decade from now? This project needs to start now, as it will take five to six years to build.
By then airport passenger volumes are expected to be higher than pre-COVID. If we follow National's new found "sudden" inspiration for heavy rail to the airport, it would be 2036 before the first trains roll on the line.
Auckland cannot be held back like this.
As for costs, these seem to be pie-in-the-sky. $5 billion for the Waitemata Tunnel Crossing. The CRL is currently $5 billion. So by the time that National gets to the tunnel, it could cost over $10 billion.
National’s plan for a road tunnel through the Kaimais would be a massive cost. Why not electrify the East Coast Main Trunk, so we can meet our carbon emissions and allow for higher speed trains for freight and passengers?
Again, National’s view on trains to Huapai is interesting. New Zealand First has already got the railway line upgrade funded via the Provincial Growth Fund - Swanson to Whangarei - so this should happen fast. Stations and diesel rolling stock are already available.
But the most breath-taking commitment that National is making is to the East-West Link, the highest cost infrastructure in the world, at $327,000 per metre.
In opposition, they have apparently learnt very little.