Extra $1.4b needed for rail system
Auckland network needs upgrades on top of the $2.5b City Rail Link, says KiwiRail.
Auckland's rail network could require a further $1.4 billion in upgrades - on top of the $2.5b to be spent on the City Rail Link - for it to hit maximum potential.
State-owned enterprise KiwiRail has told Auckland Council the city's existing rail network needs costly upgrades - some described as urgent four months ago.
But while the CRL gained momentum with Prime Minister John Key announcing the Government will make provisions for work to start two years earlier than planned, councillor George Wood says he's worried about a lack of progress in KiwiRail's concerns being addressed.
Wood believes those concerns strike at the heart of the CRL's efficiency and the promise Auckland will have a state-of-the-art rail network by 2023.
Minutes from a council infrastructure committee meeting last September, which councillor Wood attended, detail a KiwiRail presentation and a diagram that showed about $400m was needed prior to the CRL opening to upgrade the wider rail network.
On top of that, between $500m and $1b would be needed "post-CRL".
"The bottom line is if the Auckland rail system is going to be credible, Government is going to have to put a hand into its pocket."
Did someone mention subsidies? Oh yes, we haven’t even got to the ongoing long-term cost of subsidising the extravagant rail network because no amount of rail passengers could ever in a million years pay for the on-going, yet alone capital, cost of maintaining this vanity project. And the project has barely begun. Expect cost blow-outs, delays, taniwhas, and strikes to double or triple the capital cost before the long.
When Len Brown was selling the City Rail Link to the ratepayers of Auckland he kept talking about it being a $2.4 billion dollar project. Anyone, anywhere who has read anything about big rail projects would have known that the cost was likely to be at least double or triple the estimated figure. It has been said many times on this blog. So it is no surprise the biggest recipient of corporate welfare (apart from tribal interests) in the country, Kiwirail, is already looking to feather its director's nest with more ratepayers and taxpayers money.
So you see Kiwirail needs Len Brown’s vanity project like a junkie needs heroine. It needs constant injections of taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ cash to keep it afloat. The company has been bailed out by the Government each year since it was re-nationalised in 2008 when Labour paid five times what it was worth. It costs around a billion a year in corporate welfare from the government. It’s a dog. Always was, always will be.
This has to stop. The reason rail lost out to road years ago was that it was inflexible and expensive. Retrofitting Auckland with a rail network is regressive and a long-term waste of money because newer more innovative technologies are already on the way that will make rail redundant.
We need a mayor who will end these wasteful vanity projects that will result in 10%pa+ rates rises ad infinitum. It won’t be Goff, he is already wanting another $1.5 billion for ‘light rail’ on top of everything else. Victoria Crone has a good grasp of the enormity of this corporate welfare and seems to sense the future of transport lies elsewhere.
This next election is a chance for Auckland to kick its addiction to corporate welfare for Kiwirail and elect a Mayor who is for the ratepayers not the corporates.
Running on empty
Brown’s train wreck