Tag: CRL

Be Right Back

Coming Soon


Apologies for the lack of posts recently – things have been a bit more flat put than I like at the moment, diverting my attention away from BR:AKL commentary.


In saying that, things going on behind the scenes and across Social Media have still being happening with myself engaged in a constructive conversation with Ports of Auckland over the port review and future plans for our port. As of today I am also now reviewing the release of the City Centre Future Access Study which has just been released by Mayor Len Brown, and already spun for their own agendas by Councillor Brewer and the NZ National Party (which is currently in government). While Auckland Council has released the report (the pdf files are at the bottom of the webpage), my initial reaction until I have personally reviewed the files are the following:

Yes I am seeing the spin from all sides on the CRL debate after the CCFAS report was released by the Mayor. Conclusion, time to get someone else to bring the project through on a much better delivery plan that includes timetable and costs...


So not to worry folks, as soon as things calm down and normality is restored I shall be back running the commentary again – especially around Port of Auckland and the CCFAS Study.


Be seeing you soon – oh and love this hot summer weather here too 😀


And the current position I am taking on the CRL can be found currently HERE!


Advancement in Rail

Pukekohe Electrification Builds Steam,




City Rail Link is Safe



Okay the subtitle for this post – Pukekohe Electrification Builds Steam is a nice play on words seeming the trains will be electrics, not steam engines.

Puns aside I managed to attend the back-end of the Transport Committee today after attending the first part of the Papakura Local Board meeting this morning. As I walked into the Transport Committee meeting this morning I must have just come into a pile of excitement and some Auckland Transport “moments” as there was quite a pitched debate going on. Now with the AT moment – I shall cover that in another post but for the moment let’s talk Pukekohe.


It has been mentioned since I reported on the November Transport Committee that steam is building (all hail the English language) to get the rail line from Papakura (where the current electrification will end) to Pukekohe electrified, as well as building two new stations at Drury and Paerata – both complete with bus bays and Park and Ride facilities. Now the cost of this project stands at $102m and has a Benefit Cost Ratio of 2.1. So for every dollar put in, you get $2.10 in investment return. Now for more on the actual project, please read the agenda below AND the case for Pukekohe Electrification also below.


Now apart from Councillor Casey’s sidetrack into the V8s in which depending on class of train, you can move between 284-700 passengers per train between Papakura to Pukekohe (answering that question of hers) the Transport Committee has thrown their full weight behind the Electrification and Station building project which (as Councillor Fletcher put it) an exciting moment for those in Counties (and in part South) Auckland. Now of course at $102m, Auckland Transport and the Council Strategy and Finance Committee (who oversee all things money within Council) are going to have to err rearrange budgets and finances to get the project within the current (oh I hate this saying – thanks Ruth Richardson) 2012-2022 Long Term Plan Fiscal Envelope. That is unless a special request is done to lug the project in there and seek extra money from the ratepayers – a move not wise as it creates precedent and makes the LTP a redundant exercise.

So Council and AT are going to have to have a long conversation on all things money as something from the budget is going to have to be dropped or put back. Nasty I know but hey, even Rebekka and I have to do it to our budget and finances at home when a capital project comes up outside the standard project – something else in that budget is just going to have to be put back.


However the wheels of progress are turning and fail the Governing Body doing a total back-flip, we should see the electrification extended to Pukekohe by 2018. Exciting times ahead

Oh any chance of squeezing in the $4m Manukau South (Rail) Link to be included with this project – just asking.


As for the City Rail Link


Ladies and gentlemen, I can safely say and be personally reassured that the City Rail Link is safe on the Council side of things (Central Government is something else) and that the project will advance from the Council side – although what exact time frame won’t actually be known until around 2014 when the new Council is installed and up and running. Now this is of course we do not get a total flip-out on Council and have every single new Councillor anti-rail.

However conversations I have had has given me this personal reassurance that the CRL will advance – subject to Central Government funding of course and that this project is supported by the majority of the Centre Left and Centre Right despite rumblings in the media and social media.

I am pleased ideology is being put behind in a particular case and that pragmatism and forward vision is rather in play instead. And whoever did release that draft report which curtailed the CRL has probably done more harm than good out of the exercise, so I am not particularly impressed and neither are others.


So we go forward and work continues on this multi-billion dollar mega project. Yes there are questions and work still be needing to be answered and done – but at least come hell or high-water this critical project continues to advance.


I give a nod and thanks to a particular individual for giving me that reassurance – for that I am thankful for (and I believe the city would be as well).


Agenda for Transport Committee – December 2012


Pukekohe Electrification Case

The CRL and That Poll Ctd

Looking at the Debate that has Cropped Up Again on the City Rail Link


Yesterday in my “THE CRL AND THAT POLL” I had stated that:

Thanks to Bernard Orsman from the NZ Herald and Horizon Research (a polling company), debate has flared up again on the City Rail Link. Is there any thing new in this debate? Currently no so I wont bother going into it much unless you like to go around on a Merry-Go-Round with the emergency stop button absolutely stuffed beyond repair…


Well to prod the debate along some we would not all be stuck on the never-ending Merry-go-round I asked this question last night over Facebook and Twitter:

Ben Ross: In any case, is C & R releasing a unified policy statement on the CRL any time soon so votes can make a choice in 10 months time?


And wouldn’t you know it the debate has shifted has the spot light has been clearly shone onto Auckland’s centre-right local body political organisation “Communities and Residents” (C&R).

Let’s see what C&R members or officials have to say on the debate (for the sake of continuity I shall paste the entire thread):

Bernard forgive me if i read this wrong but since when is 1099 the majority of Aucklanders?
  • m.nzherald.co.nz

    A majority of Aucklanders want the Government to make a significant contribution to the $2.86 billion city rail link, a new poll shows.
    • Bernard Orsman A poll of 1099 people is the basis for a scientific poll…just ask Peter.
    • Donna Beattie They didn’t poll me
    • George Wood Were people told of the costs involved in the CRL project? It is interesting that depreciation and operating costs have not been revealed at this stage of the planning. Even B Ben Ross has not considered the operating costs. It certainly wouldn’t be taken up by the private sector and run like a business s happens in Hong Kong!
    • Bernard Orsman Would the private sector have built the Northern Busway George?
    • George Wood The Northern Busway is a completely different funding arrangement. It was built by Transit New Zealand who committed $200 million of funding from the Alternative to Roading (ATR) fund and funding from the Infrastructure Auckland funds ($40 Million). Around $60 million of additional ratepayers money got a state-of-the-art system of five bus stations but the operational funding required per passenger is a lot lower than rail. It currently would carry over 5 million passenger trips (Northern Express and North Star Expresses) each year which is half the rail systems current patronage at a fraction of the overall cost.
    • Ben Ross Is someone sitting on a report that I let alone the rest of Auckland has not seen George in regards to operating and depreciation costs in regards with the City Rail Link? I rather hope not this side of the Local Body Elections 2013…

      Operating Costs and Depreciation of the CRL has entered my mind and crossed my thoughts many times once the CRL opens around the 2025 mark. If I were to look at paying patronage, total patronage and trains per hour being thrown down that 3.5km tunnel, the private sector opportunities with the 3 CRL stations available (sky rights and retail/office rights anyone?); the allowing of the airport, Botany and North Shore Lines (and especially the North Shore Line which can carry 900% more passengers than the bus way ever could (as well as the fact the North Shore Line runs via the CRL system); AND account for the late Owen McShane Rail Fallacy then YES I have appreciated the operating and depreciation costs of the CRL mega project from beginning to the end.
    • George Wood Ben Ross, this is interesting commentary from Brisbane on the south east Queensland public transport. Bus is looked upon as being more favourable to passengers.



      Southeast Queensland bus patronage has surged by 65 per cent over the past six years, more than triple the growth in rail usage.
    • George Wood Good South East Brisbane busway report and evaluation.
    • Ben Ross Hmm yes, although I remember buses playing second fiddle to heavy rail in Brisbane while I was there in 2003-2005. Heavy rail was mode of choice if one lived on the Sunshine or Gold Coasts and did not want get stuck in metro car traffic all day
    • Ben Ross But that is beside the point as this argument is flipping over to a bus verse rail competition argument which should have been buried in the 90s but has not <_<. Rail, bus and car complement each other on a comprehensive mixed transit system rather than compete against each other. It should be a requirement for all Councillors, Mayors and Ministers of Transport to do a four-year course in Sim City 4 building before standing for office… Just saying (after I have been known to build extremely comprehensive transit systems for sprawling cities over 3 million)
    • George Wood I was around in about 1999/2000 when the ARC decided to go with the rail system. It was never really evaluated to the Nth degree with the chairman of the ARC Philip Warren being hell-bent on buying the rail rights from Tranz Rail.
    • Ben Ross Sounds like a Councillor Lee there George
    • Ben Ross In any case, is C & R releasing a unified policy statement on the CRL any time soon so votes can make a choice in 10 months time?
    • Desley Simpson Ben my understanding is that C/R support continuing to buy land as part of preserving the option, but are not committing until Govt confirms funding.
    • Ben Ross Thanks Desley, much appreciated and understandable with that answer. To do otherwise would be near financial if not political suicide. 2018 rather than the Centre-Lefts 2015 would be the preferable construction start date all things considered. Call it a gut feeling on that one
    • Bernard Orsman Let’a be perfectly frank everyone. Len is not going to start building the CRL until the funding in place. That includes council funding, Government funding and alternative funding sources. Right now, the Government are not coming to the party with funding and won’t allow him to toll roads or introduce a regional fuel tax. In the meantime, he boxes only with property purchases and designation. The National Government clearly don’t support the project and it won’t happen until there is a change of Government in 2014 or 2017? Labour and the Greens have indicated they will pay the Government’s share by using money set aside for the holiday highway. Whether they will support alternative funding sources is unclear. As the saying goes, there is a lot of water to flow under the bridge. As for C&R, its position is all over the road. It will be interesting Ben Ross to see if they develop a clear, unequivocal policy next year or do what they have done the past two years and each have a separate view.
    • Mark Thomas Across Auckland, I think support for the CRL is more mixed than this suggests. 90% of submitters from the Orakei ward didn’t support it in the Long Term Plan. Not because improved public transport including rail isn’t part of Auckland’s future: it has to be. They don’t support it because there is no plan to fund it! (And, Horizon has been one of the least reliable surveyors of public opinion).
    • Bernard Orsman What are you saying Mark. Do you, or C&R, want the CRL removed the LTP – and nothing to happen until 2022 at the earliest???
    • Mark Thomas No. I support the continued designation and associated funding for now, but a much more effective conversation needs to happen with Aucklanders and other potential funders about cost, value and timing. I appreciate Len’s “Consensus Building Group” is partly designed to do this, but when I look at its composition: Child Poverty Action Group, Combined Trade Union, Environmental Defence, AA, EMA, Cycle Action, Walk Auckland, Business Forum etc it looks more like a United Nations. Except the Security Council veto holder is missing. So, we need an Auckland transport initiative that gets agreement on both the problem and the most cost effective solution. Stay tuned!

I will continue to prod Communities and Residents over the next few months to make sure a unified policy statement does get released by them to the Auckland voter – no matter which way they swing, so long as it is a clear stance before and in time for the Local Government Elections next September.


On another front and in another thread, the validity of the Horizon Research poll in the CRL has been brought into question. You can see the arguments crop up in the second half of the thread (the first half is about cost again):

Bet the people of South Auckland were not told of the true costs of the Central Rail Link? It will be far more than we have been told up to now especially when the depreciation and operating costs have not been assessed. The point I would raise with the people who are so enthusiastic that this project proceeds is: If it is so good why isn’t the private sector clamouring to run the Auckland Metro Rail system? Maybe Ben Ross can answer this question?
    • Millie Liang Good point George. I read a research paper a while back that showed long term maintenance of infrastructure in California hadn’t been costed in and over a 50yr period up keep costs were 4-5 times the actual construction cost. As you say if it made commercial sense the Council would be turning private enterprise away from the door every day… I would simply ask the Germans/Italians or even Mr. Branson come have a look (at their cost) and tell us if you interested..
    • Hone Willis If you are looking for “commercial sense”, then public transport is probably the wrong place to look.

      Did California do a costing on roading maintanence savings in that study Millie?

      The issue (for me) is Auckland’s current “unfinished” Rail network is a waste of space.

      If we are not going to close the loop, or increase coverage in any way… we might as well focus on wharf traffic, and forget about passenger rail.

      We needed the loop to be finished fifty years ago, when it would have cost so much less, now.. the cost is almost prohibitive.

      Or, perhaps we need to accept that Aucklanders are incapable of doing what every other major city in the world has done..

      An efficient means of moving your workforce around saves everyone time and money….
    • Ben Ross Correct, and heavy rail is the most efficient form of people movement in a large city (well subway is for the super dense cities but even they still have extensive heavy rail systems).

      I am finding it ironic Australia and NZ is behind the ball with heavy rail with the Republicans in the USA and the Tories in the UK having another crack at heavy rail programs again….
    • Ben Ross The law for starters does not allow private enterprise to run our metro rail system – or our freight rail system either.
    • Ben Ross And there is a difference between run and operate…
    • Millie Liang Hi Hone..I need to dig the paper out but I recall what opportunity/ cost benefits were envisaged were lost in something like 10-15yrs when traffic volumes were back to what they were previously and then an under budgeted maintenance program is causing ongoing problems.
    • Barnsley Bill George. The people of south Auckland will not be paying for it
      • Ben Ross The people of South Auckland like myself already pay well will be paying for the CRL: General Rates, Targeted Rates for those near the corridor, development levies on new houses near the corridor, general taxation and for those who use buses, trains or ferries – our fares
    • Ben Ross The ones who benefit from the CRL – pretty much every Aucklander that travels by train, bus, ferry, or car on a major arterial road or motorway no matter where their destination is inside the region
    • Scott Bovaird Grrrr you can’t compare the value of a public transport service on the basis of ’would commercial enterprise be interested’ its nearly annoys me as much as people who think John key will be a good pm cause he is a ’business man’….
    • Ben Ross Agreed Scott. I was going to trot out the Public Good speech but I just err did a major screw up at home and need to go fix it before I have hell on the home front
    • Millie Liang Hi Scott.. I doubt if there is many with a more Socialist ideology than me but it all needs to be paid for and I can’t see it being wise to kick the can down to our kids generation to pay down the debt. I definitely wouldn’t call someone who was a foreign exchange dealer a business man..The ones I know before they burnt themselves out were more like gamblers 🙂:)
    • Scott Bovaird Note I didn’t actually say I was in favour of the CRL just that I hate the above analogy. I also think john key is as far from being a proper business man as you can get.
    • Scott Bovaird Millie plenty of ways to pay for it… Regional fuel tax… Hotel bed tax( my preferred at the moment)… Just two off my head
    • Millie Liang Agree with your thoughts Scott, as long as it isn’t just property owners that have to pay for it through increased rates.
    • Dick Quax People support the cental rail loop because they just don’t know the real cost. A billion here and a billion there and soon you’re actually spending real money – even the rate payer may notice.
    • David Thornton This Hoizon survey carries no credibility in view of previous polls it has conducted being shown to be unscientific. This is one of those polls where the client [Auckland Council?] has indicated its position and hopes the survey will prove it. Use your imagination. And who is behind this AllaboutAuckland website?
    • Ben Ross Dodgy polling companies are unhelpful true. And yes who is this All About Auckland outfit?
    • George Wood All About Auckland is the former Franklin Live Ben Ross
    • David Thornton And who owns it and is there a financial arrangement between it and Auckland Council?
    • George Wood It is owned by Kane Glass who has been committed to recording the Auckland Council meetings from virtually the first day,.
    • Ben Ross 😀:-D all good then.
    • Jay Boreham I’m with David Thornton on this. This survey was done by the same company who did the sham survey against the NZ Police earlier this year. I would question the integrity of this survey and AC for using them if I was you. Also would an online poll really reflect the population in the South.http://www.police.govt.nz/news/release/33031.html


      The findings of a recent survey claiming falling public trust in Police were del…See More
      • David Thornton Jay, i see that the Police survey story refers to the owners of Horizon, do you knoqw who they are?
      • Jay Boreham According to their website their “Prncipal” is Graeme Colman who is/was also a consultant for Morrison McDougall Public Relations who say: Graeme was Auckland City’s Media Manager for three years and he managed the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, involving policy advocacy at the highest levels. According to BACS “Graeme provides some results from the many surveys he has conducted with suggestions of how charities can improve their chances of business support.”
    • David Thornton George Wood getting back to Horizon – can you confirm that Ak Cl did in fact commission this survey, and did the council approve the survey questions. Also how much did it cost?

And now you can see where one particular part of the CRL debate is going.


Although me getting mentioned twice? What am I here – the unofficial Transport Mayor of Auckland or Mayoral Candidate for Auckland folks? Heck I am flattered 😛


So will see how this debate continues to pan out as we approach the Local Government Elections in September next year. In the mean time there will be plenty more to be said on the City Rail Link!


The CRL and That Poll

Debate has Cropped Up Again on the City Rail Link


Thanks to Bernard Orsman from the NZ Herald and Horizon Research (a polling company), debate has flared up again on the City Rail Link. Is there any thing new in this debate? Currently no so I wont bother going into it much unless you like to go around on a Merry-Go-Round with the emergency stop button absolutely stuffed beyond repair…


Here is The NZH article from Orsman however:

Aucklanders want Govt cash for rail

By Bernard Orsman 

5:30 AM Monday Nov 19, 2012

Survey finds most want loop link built now and see direct funding as best way to pay for it.

A majority of Aucklanders want the Government to make a significant contribution to the $2.86 billion city rail link, a poll has found.

The poll, by Horizon Research, also found that 30.4 per cent of Aucklanders support tolls to help pay for the rail link and 24.9 per cent support targeted rates for those who benefit most.

They are more lukewarm about a regional fuel tax, asset sales, higher rates and a higher departure tax as funding mechanisms.

This is the first poll on funding options for the rail link since Mayor Len Brown issued a discussion paper in February on new funding sources to stop dodging what he said were the tough decisions to get Auckland moving.

Mr Brown has encountered a brick wall of resistance from the Government for the 3.5km underground route from Britomart to join the western rail line at Mt Eden. The Government refuses to back the project beyond designating the route and successive Transport Ministers have said there would be no tolls or a regional petrol tax. Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee declined to comment on the poll.

Mr Brown has established a “consensus building group” costing $1.1 million under the guidance of environmentalist and political activist Guy Salmon to try to persuade the Government to support one or more funding options.

The poll, of 1099 Aucklanders, found that among those who supported the rail link, 64 per cent wanted it built as soon as possible, 22 per cent by 2020 and just 3 per cent did not think it needed to be completed by 2020.

The poll also found that 75 per cent of Aucklanders wanted better integrated bus and rail services.

Last night, Mr Brown said it was no surprise Aucklanders overwhelmingly continued to support major transport projects, including the rail link, and wanted them built as soon as possible.

However, the left-leaning Mr Brown continued to rule out the sale of core strategic assets – “they bring in tens of millions of dollars a year, taking pressure off rates” – but would not rule out using the proceeds of non-core assets, such as surplus property, to fund transport.

The poll was taken between October 31 and November 12 and has a margin of error of 3 per cent.

The NZ Council for Infrastructure Development has proposed a regionwide toll on every on-ramp to the motorway of $3 in peak hours, $1 in the off-peak and $2 at other times.

Getting around Auckland

Main findings of survey
* 75 per cent support for improved bus-rail public transport
* 64 per cent support for city rail loop
* 14 per cent opposition to city rail loop

Of those who support the rail loop
* 64 per cent want it built as soon as possible
* 22 per cent want it built by 2020
* 3 per cent do not think it is needed by 2020

Funding options
* 56.2 per cent significant government funding
* 30.4 per cent tolls
* 24.9 per cent targeted rates
* 17.6 per cent asset sales
* 16.9 per cent regional fuel tax
* 8.3 per cent higher rates
* 7 per cent higher airport departure tax
Source: Horizon Research


If I feel like on Wednesday I will sum up the arguments on Facebook and post them here at BR:AKL.

But in the mean time, go enjoy dinner or what ever meal of the day is next when you read this folks as you are not missing any thing new – yet!


Although whoever commissioned Horizon Research for the CRL poll – I am not impressed with given Horizon’s dodgy Colin Craig polling in the past…


Oh and I have sent this to Communities and Residents Auckland via social media on the CRL:

By the way, has Communities and Residents passed a resolution or motion yet on either supporting or being FULLY against the Auckland City Rail Link?

Getting a bit of crossed wires and messages here folks and that will create confusion with the voters next year


Let’s see what I get from that department…