Month: June 2012

In Wellington

Rebekka and I are in Wellington on the first leg of our Winter Trip. We had come down to The Capital via The Northern Explorer Train yesterday and head out on the Ferry tomorrow for the South Island leg.

I already have lots of pics, will upload those for your viewing pleasue on Sunday.

I am also aware Auckland Council adopted the Long Term Plan on Thursday while I was on the Train heading to Wellington. I shall run commentary on Sunday with my reaction.

In the mean time I have a dinner to attend to 🙂


Auckland Backs the CRL?

City rail link backed by Aucklanders |


Part of The City Rail Link Series

Debate on the City Rail Link continues with figures and all sorts coming out from both sides coin.

VOAKL will cut right down the middle and rely an article from Stuff on 63% of Aucklanders apparently supporting the CRL

It is time for a discussion and VOAKL will provide one – for everyone with a VIEW


So how many Aucklanders do support the City Rail Link? Well apparently some 63% of Aucklanders support the CRL – which would include me (in principle as my CRL Debate Series shows) and 29% opposing the mega project.

From Stuff:

According to Research New Zealand, 63 per cent of Aucklanders surveyed are in favour of the link, while 29 per cent were against it and eight percent didn’t care.

That is good to know 🙂


As for the National Government, oh they will still sign the cheque (if they are in power at the time) just not when some expect it 😉

However I would support the government here:

Again from Stuff:

Brown is relying on the government to fund half of the project but the National government has been shying away from an agreement and rejected a business case in 2010.

Then again I did ask the question about our CRL business case after the disasters in the UK and The Netherlands with their dodgy rail business cases leading to some spectacular Rail Fallacies.


Our resident Prude – the Mayor did say thing right though:

One more time from Stuff:

“Common misconceptions that the benefits won’t be felt beyond the central city are finally being dispelled and we can now move to an educated debate on how we pay for this and a number of other major infrastructure projects necessary to get our city moving.”

Well HELLO – MISS THE TRAIN ON THAT ONE LEN? Sheesh VOAKL has been busy since its inception writing up (independent) commentary, analysis, and information pitches on the CRL as Auckland Council and Auckland Transport were doing a useless job at it – and still are. The VOAL City Rail Link Series will continue until the last station is open on the staged CRL project and our trains and passengers moving through it.


Ah well: moving along


Questions to Auckland Council and its Bureaucrats


Some questions to ask and think about while I am away in the South Island on leave for the next two weeks (from Thursday)


  1. Has Auckland Transport got a back up system for Thales if Snapper misses the boat entirely and we need to dump them for the sake of the city 
  2. Why is money and resources being sucked out of the suburbs for a grandiose Central Business District fantasy 
  3. Will I get a chance at full, proper, formal and frank feedback on the Port of Auckland Review
  4. With Spain’s banks near tits up if this Herald Article is anything to go by; does Auckland Council have back up provisions if CAF has difficulty securing credit to build our EMUs
  5. Does Auckland Council realise its: “POWERING AUCKLAND’S LOW CARBON TRANSFORMATION” discussion document is contradictory to even its own prescribed goals – let alone actual common sense and realism
  6. And why is my Local Board so powerless and strapped for cash when someone decided it was wise to build a gold plated cruise ship terminal and Waterfront Theatre



So some questions to think about while I am away – and yes I will bring back heaps of happy snaps 🙂

In Brief

Brief Commentary on News and Views around Auckland


Snapper goes Fish?

Seems One News ran a piece last night on NZ Bus which owns Snapper is going to miss the November deadline for Auckland’s Integrated Ticketing roll out. Must be serious if our resident Prude – The Mayor has called the lawyers in. Ouch central here we come.


Big and Blue

Integrated Ticketing Machine

I like, simple and hopefully easy to use. Okay something from the 1960’s but style does not trump practicality by any means. Coming on stream to a rail station near you 🙂 as they get rolled out across the rail network.



I am on winter leave with Rebekka from Thursday for 12 days. We will be heading on the new Northern Explorer to Wellington before catching a ferry and another train to Christchurch. In any case VOAKL will be back in full on Wednesday 11 July will commentary on our usual plus more. Will get lots of happy snaps up while away and when I come back including of the new Northern Explorer.


The CRL and Rail Efficiency Program

I have asked myself is the City Rail Link the end-game piece for Auckland rail, or just another piece in the puzzle. I have also asked will we still get the same issues post CRL as we do currently due to lack of proper redundancy capacity in the network when something goes wrong (like a train breaking down). While away I will draw up The Rail Efficiency Program and how it can be implemented pre CRL, and how it would boost the existing rail network pre and post CRL.


Well this Sucks

Sucks as in money for our suburbs being sucked out and dumped for grandiose Pro-CBD schemes. As our resident Prude – The Mayor and his officers got it right in their intense focus on the CBD while the suburbs get hit and sucked dry. Why are play grounds, and local events being sacrificed for Cruise Ship Terminals and Wynyard Theatres? VOAKL will investigate when I get back.


And that was the news and views in brief

Brief as I never have enough time to do the things I need to or really want to do – including a holiday 😀

Council Releases Carbon Policy

40% less Carbon Emissions by 2040?




Auckland Council has today released its Energy and Climate Change Mitigation Strategy and accompanying PDF document (see below).

I am busy reading it at the moment but on first glance something came to mind:



Here is some home truths:

  1. Fossil fuels – well at least hydrocarbons (whether from oil, coal or gas) will be powering our transportation fleet for a wee while yet (despite technology advances I do not quite think we are ready for atomic airlines or cargo ships yet 😛 )
  2. Cars (regardless of fuel source) will be here through until the end of the century as the ultimate expression of freedom and choice
  3. We can reduce our carbon emissions over night through the following:
    1. Get better diesel quality – because it is full of sulphur and absolute shit
    2. Upgrade and properly maintain our bus fleet. I am sure those buses (the very thing meant to be reducing car use) are killing us in the CBD with their fumes
    3. Strict emissions on all diesel vehicles (diesel fumes hurt more than petrol fumes)
    4. Burn the trash at 1200c – it actually releases less (by quantity and toxicity (carbon dioxide is less worrisome than methane)) emissions than land filling it
  4. Do not build right next to a stream or the coast – it will and shall get flooded no matter what defences you put in place

Oh well better have a read and submit some feed back


The Strategy

Needs before the Wants

Rio-20: Eradicating Poverty Takes Precedence Over “Green Economy”.


Professor Wendell Cox posted a short piece on the Rio+20 summit in South America. He basically said:

The world’s largest English language newspaper, The Times of India reports that the Rio 20 Summit has agreed with India that “eradicating poverty should be given the highest priority, overriding all other concerns to achieve sustainable development.”

The Times continued: “After a bitter fight with the developed countries, who wanted the objective of poverty eradication be made subservient to creating a ‘green economy’, India’s demand to put the goal of removing poverty above all other objectives in the final Rio+20 declaration — called “The Future We Want” — was agreed to…”

The “G77” group of developing nations sought to ensure that economic and social sustainable developed goals were not secondary to “more green themes — such as renewable energy targets.” The United States is reported to have supported the G77 position.

Let me spell it out in a more simple and basic manner:

We are of the animal kingdom albeit the Higher Order Species – however we have three core functions along with other animals that take absolute priority above all else (in other words everything else but the three core functions is secondary if not tertiary):

  1. Survive through until the next day (and repeat)
  2. Pass on our genetics (go forth and multiply)
  3. Make sure our genetic offspring survive (a trait in most but not all animals) to continue the survival of the species
If we can not as humans achieve those three things due to extreme poverty (when there should be technically none) then these airy-fairy goals and ambitions of the Rio+20 are more useless then rubbish rotting in a tip (and rubbish rotting in a tip actually has a use – power generation 😛 )
Rio+20 – What a Load of Rubbish

Brewer as a Moment

Actually Brewer has Two Moments


I thought I said the idea was not go say something in the Main Stream Media on a topic that I either have; run commentary on, or keep a close eye on that would prompt me posting up yet another “Moment” post. Well Councillor Brewer did that alright, in fact he even went one step further and had a double moment within 48 hours of each other on topics that I have run both commentary and keep a very close eye one. Cameron Brewer decided to reply to a piece about Queen Street and the tiny 12 metre square shops that are located there, after which he decided to write a piece to the NBR after the said media outlet did a piece on moving the Port of Auckland. To really catch my attention; another blogger wrote and called out Brewer’s Queen Street piece and feeds came across my Facebook and Twitter lines on Port of Auckland. So lets take a look mainly at Brewer’s moment with Port of Auckland and the National Business Review.


Cameron Brewer and Port of Auckland

It seems that the NBR decided to write a piece on relocating Port of Auckland out of the CBD Waterfront location and move it to the location on this map graphic below. I have also added my relocation location, and the current location of Port of Auckland.

Port of Auckland Relocation Locations

Click for full view


Okay so the NBR and I are thinking on similar pages to relocating POAL although different locations. That is not the issue of this post (it is another post entirely at another time), the issue is what Cameron Brewer said and some home truths I pointed out in reply. Below is a double public Facebook conversation; I will explain how both fit in just a second:

The POAL and Urban Development Conversations


You can see me calling out Cameron Brewer in regards to Port of Auckland. Now I have brought in a piece from Councillor George Wood as he and Dick Quax were commenting on land and house prices. In a sense of irony (as the FB posts were independent to each other) what Councillor Quax had to say on land and prices is in direct contradiction to what Cameron Brewer is shrilling about if we move POAL and redevelop the Waterfront. Mathew Hooton has also said to Brewer that moving the POAL would be progressive over 20 years. Hey Hooton you reading my blog posts on The POAL Relocation Program and The Auckland Water-Frontier; because that is what I have been saying from day one in regards to both projects.


Sorry Cameron but you are wrong on every level; moving the port is not economic treason it is economic sense. Land prices might slip, but that would be temporary and I trust Quax’s call on land, land availability, and prices (so vested interest someone where Cameron as people might pay less rates if land prices fall allowing development and even redevelopment?). Moving the port also allows double opportunity for development both at the new port site and redevelopment at the “old port site,” moving to port is expensive but does pay for itself with most likely some change on the side, and we get a whole lot of questions answers such as: a new site for the port to grow without the constipation (transport included), a home for 7,500 new residents and 3,000 new offices on the Waterfront, a new cruise ship terminal in the right location, a new stadium, and a new transport corridor for residents, businesses and industry with a relocated port. One other thing, rail via the Metro Port rail movements (so Port of Tauranga to Southdown) already moves a lot of freight inter-city, so moving POAL would make bugger all difference.

One other thing Councillor, your comments would be extremely unwise while (as Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse reassured me) there is an extensive review under way that covers POAL. That review also will take into account public feedback to which I will be submitting to. Comments like yours Brewer while the review is under way can be seen as prejudice against the review and whatever the public and industry might have to say on it. Not very wise for a mayoral aspirant at all…

So please if the NBR or myself run commentary on POAL and moving it, wait until the review is out for public consultation before saying something. Otherwise we might find your mind already predetermined on the matter which is what I do not expect of a Mayor nor my representatives…


Work and Commentary on Port of Auckland and The Water-Frontier is ongoing

You can find my work to date at The Auckland Waterfront Index

A Look at the EMUs

I took a nosy at the Prototype EMU


Saturday I went down to Queen’s Wharf with my camera to take a look at the mock-up of the new EMU that will be running around on the Auckland rail network rather soon.

Here are some of the happy snaps that I took of the mock-up



I must say apart from maybe a few minor adjustments (luggage rack for those bags) I am pretty happy overall with how the prototype looks. The yellow (which is required by law) and the colour scheme to me are fine (and if I did have an issue with it I would deem it trivial). As for the EMU looking similar to the ADL class, okay that’s nice if it was to the point I could not give a monkey’s and rat’s toss if it actually did. All I want as an Auckland ratepayer and train user is a nice sound and reliable EMU that will get me from A to B to C and back again efficiently, comfortably and reliably. Everyone thing else is trivial in this stage of the game.

It is evolution folks, not revolution: if I wanted revolution we would have maglev trains running around instead of pounding the iron as current. Evolution means we move to electrics, then the Rail Efficiency Program, then the Public Transport Operating Model, the CRL and other lines and finally driver-less trains. It is all about the first steps folks: Auckland has to learn to crawl, walk, and then run; to which I am happy on where things are progressing. Yes there might be a few bug-bears at the moment but we shall work through that rather than the colour of a train.


A thought came to me with the EMU’s and Driverless Trains. I will write-up extensively on this in another post but the way I see things; these electrics will be the MK1 class, with an MK2 class coming on-stream in 25 years. MK2 being a version two of these current EMU’s but specifically designed for fully automatic running with no drivers across the HEAVY rail network. Yep driverless trains on our existing and future fully homogenous heavy rail (lines) network across Auckland. As for the MK1’s I am sure the units can be retro-fitted for driverless operations.


Any case we await the final verdict from the consultation on the EMUs before we see the first one running around late next year. I can’t wait!