Prime Minister to announce funding package to Chamber of Commerce at the end of the month(?)
I had announced it late last year but the story has finally made it into the Main Stream Media on the Government finally coming to the party in announcing their funding date for the City Rail Link.
Government to fund central Auckland rail link two years early
Prime Minister John Key is expected to announce the Government will help fund Auckland’s $2.5 billion inner city rail link two years earlier than originally promised.
It’s understood the PM will make the commitment in a speech to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce on January 27.
The City Rail Link will join up Auckland’s train network, allowing for double the number of trains and passengers and making rail a more attractive alternative to driving on the city’s congested roads.In 2013 the government agreed it would jointly fund the CRL with Auckland Council, but said it would provide its share in 2020.
However, Auckland Council has long lobbied for a 2018 start date.
It passed its new Long Term Plan last year based on the premise that construction of the CRL would begin in 2018 and be finished by 2022. Enabling works for the project are already underway.
If Key confirms funding in 2018 it means the council can meet that target.
The government has always said it would consider an earlier start if rail patronage and employment growth in the Auckland CBD hit certain targets.
Patronage of Auckland’s rail network grew by 22 per cent in 2015.The CRL will link Britomart station in downtown Auckland with the existing western line at Mt Eden station, allowing trains to run both ways through Britomart.
At the moment the station is a dead end, severely constraining future growth on the rail network.
“Any statement providing certainty over government funding of the City Rail Link and an early start to that funding would be welcomed by Aucklanders,” said Mayor Len Brown.
He has been working closely with Prime Minister John Key, Finance Minister Bill English and Transport Minister Simon Bridges with regard to the urgent need for the CRL.
“At current growth rates, the patronage target set by the government for funding the CRL will be achieved by the end of the year, three years ahead of schedule.”
The government’s target is 20 million rail trips a year. There are already more than 15 million trips a year.
Preliminary work on the CRL started last month.
Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett confirmed Key would address its membership on the issue of infrastructure funding for the city.
It would be similar to his announcement in 2013 in that he would outline the government’s future commitment to the city “and I think give some clarity and certainty to some of the investment in infrastructure that needs to be made”.
Asked if that would include a statement on the timing of the CRL funding, Barnett replied: “If they put a stake in the ground and then there’s clarity, then everyone can work around that.”
The Chamber of Commerce supported a 2018 start for the rail project, he said.
A spokesperson for John Key said his office could not disclose the content of the PM’s speech this far out as it was still being confirmed.
This is excellent news indeed and finally gives that final certainty for Auckland around its biggest infrastructure project to be undertaken.
I have always held the thought that the Government despite comments from others would commit to a 2017-2018 start for the project and it seems to have come true (in regards to the main tunnelling and construction of the stations anyhow). Also given even if the funding was made right now for the City Rail Link it would still take until 2018 to have everything set up before the tunnel boring machine could get going anyhow.
While there will be heavy disruption to the City Centre for the next wee while the proof will be in the pudding once the CRL is complete and operational. For starters we can get train running up to Metro levels of 6-trains per hour all day (every 10mins) across the three main lines so no need to worry about a timetable. Furthermore the CRL allows the expansion of the transit network whether it be heavy rail to the Airport or light rail to the North Shore.
Finally Mayor Len Brown can hold his head high when his term runs out later this year. Given the flack he has received for the last six years and making it a campaign issue twice Len has managed to steer the CRL from never-never land to physical works now under way (with completion most likely 2023) and Government going from dead opposition to support. So like Transport Blog I wonder how the PM’s announcement will change the dynamics of the Local Elections this year given the CRL like the Unitary Plan are out of the mix.