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Sunday, September 27, 2009

...if possible, or - you know - whatever...

Q+A transcript from this morning with the Transport Minister, Steven Joyce:And it might not be possible. "If possible" means it may not be possible too. It's all promises involving confidence and possibility. It sounds (how would the PM put this?) aspirational.

The history of electrification of the Auckland rail system is there isn't any. It's never happened. It's never been started. Each government says it is 3 to 5 years away - and it remains 3-5 years away when that government leaves office and a new one comes in with promises of it being 3-5 years away... And it's been like that since the war. So when Joyce says it's 4 years away I just don't believe it.

The convoluted divisions of responsibilities amongst the players - the lack of any unitary authority for Auckland rail - means they cannot get their act together and it won't happen.

How can a project so important as electrification go ahead when they don't even have any clocks at the stations? Their priorities are as muddled as their projections. The only clocks I've ever seen at an Auckland station are at Britomart itself - and I saw the main ones over the big boards recently and they were about 2 or so hours off. I didn't have a camera with me or I would have taken a picture. I began looking at the train times underneath and then I realised - if the main clocks are so far out then why on Earth would the actual schedule be any more accurate? I walked out and caught a bus instead.



At 27/9/09 8:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trains are about 80% reliable. When they fuck up, they fuck up so damn good that everyone knows about it.

Buses however, over the last two years, I have noticed how drivers lack the skill in actually driving a bus safely. They seem to speed up at orange lights, accelerate away at speed from the bus-stop and heavens help you if you haven't sit down in time. Often enough if I wanted to get somewhere, it is cheaper AND faster if I took my car having waited for ages for a bus to arrive.
In calculations, this includes my petrol, tyres, rego and warrant!
But what seems to be a common sight is the fact that they don't enjoy their job as they don't smile and appear to be grumpy as hell.

Bitch and moan as you like, what other option have you got if you cannot afford a car in this monopoly world that New Zealand has. Feet? Bike?


At 28/9/09 2:06 am, Blogger libertyscott said...

To be fair, no government was committed to electrification in Auckland, ever, before the last one. There was talk in the 1950s but it went nowhere, as it was linked to whether replacing steam was going to mean electric or diesel on the main trunk, and it became diesel.

Muldoon once committed to new carriages for a diesel push-pull system in the late 1970s, along with the (then) new electric units for Wellington. Only the electric units were ordered.

I actually suspect that with the creation of Kiwirail, there will really only be 3 agencies responsible now - Kiwirail, NZTA and the new Auckland transport CCO, which will make it easier.

The Nats are willing to give electrification a chance, but wary of big cost blowouts because Auckland councils have shown poor ability to contain it.

At 28/9/09 11:08 pm, Blogger Tim Selwyn said...

Scott: Well, the government has always sounded as though it was not more than 5 years away in my memory. There are maps from the 1930s with rail tunnels going from Morningside to the central train station etc. Every plan I've seen connected with rail seems to assume that in at least 5 years it would have happened - with an underlying assumption each time that central government is prepared to pay up - which they never do. They can blame bad leadership in Auckland but they are the ones that create the structure - a fragmented one that cannot raise a dedicated fund.

At 29/9/09 10:03 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The electrification project is keeping my baby in nappies and as I'm hoping to have her toilet trained within the next 5 years I too am hoping that it will be completed by then. But yes, unless a government (the last one, this one, hopefully not the next one) grasps the nettle and actually commits enough money to buy the rolling stock there will be no point in spending the money on the lines. "If possible..." sounds far too much like a wriggle to me.


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