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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In the loop

Auckland Trains on the cross-party appeal of the Green's CBD rail policy.

Various politicians and policy people have been promising some sort of CBD underground rail connexion, deviation or loop since the 1920s. All that Banks, Hubbard and Fletcher could do was to get the rail restored to a Britomart station like we had... in the 1920s. We are back to square one. The rail corridor isn't even zoned yet - so maybe we are at square negative one. With no funding because that is spent on motorways. Negative 2. The electrification is always 3-5 years off it has seemed since the creation of the ARC in the late 80s. Until there is an electrified system there isn't going to be any trains running in the tunnel anyway and as long as there is no tunnel to Britomart there is no need to electrify the system so it's a catch-22. Negative 3.

Len Brown isn't saying anything new. When he casually refers to infrastructure bonds he's talking about borrowing a lot of money. Thank goodness he didn't mention tolls like he did at an earlier occasion. [UPDATE: And ditto "Banksie" on infrastructure bonds:From Banks' latest newsletter. --UPDATE ENDS]

Auckland is going to have a different relationship to the government in Wellington and its spending when the Auckland Council comes into being. Rodney Hide has seen this forced marriage in Auckland as a victory and will press on.The Auckland Council's challenge is to manage the initial relationship with central government when the Local Government Minister is a bloody-minded ideological reformist. When the numbers and percentages of the Auckland Council start being circulated and people start thinking of Auckland's budget in terms of proportion to the national one, and how many magnitudes larger Auckland Council is to any other council in NZ then the power should swing back to the Mayor and Council. It will be very difficult to do anything substantial to the Auckland Council against their will once it is established. Hide may have been able to kill the smaller entities to create a bigger one through legislation with little effective opposition, but unilateral legislation being rammed through parliament against the expressed wishes of the Auckland Council is unlikely. The question that will be eventually asked is: will the Crown bulk-fund Auckland's transport and infrastructure needs directly? That's one ticket-clipping, churning, endless loop from which Wellington will never sever itself and the bureaucracy would fight hard to see as little decision-making as possible is devolved to Auckland.
A dedicated transit rail authority to only focus on urban rail with its own source of funding and operating a 30 or 50 year plan is what Auckland needs, but has never had. If we had a 50 year plan back in 1960 and a stand-alone authority with a legislated mandate and a secure and predictable source of income with democratically accountable commissioners then maybe there would be no cause for complaint. Instead we got motorways. The public transport gets spent on running buses down the motorway on their own motorway. It's all about the motorways.

The important part is how to make sure the rail system exists - and then run it properly instead of having it run by the anarchic clown factory that is Viauoliea or whatever it is called. No-one has come up with a plan for that - no one has even come up with a plan to get a single clock into a single suburban rail station. Listening to Len Brown's semi-coherent waffle he hasn't a clue - and 'CCO's sux' isn't a policy either.

Here's my contribution from 2007 on the rail loop issue: if the tunnel project on the Waterview SH20 connection was to be put into a rail tunnel of the same distance under the CBD. There's $100m about to be wasted on the Newmarket viaduct motorway in the form of rebuilding something that doesn't need to be rebuilt that could be put into the rail system. If Transit abandons the second part it would leave the viaduct with at least three more lanes than it does now - and two more than it is envisaged to be. Put the heavy vehicles on the new part. Cancel the contract. That would be near $100m and the capacity sitting there to begin the rail loop. Let's be getting on with it. No excuses.



At 3/8/10 2:43 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be a shame to take the demolition crew into Britomart to complete the loop to Uni.Merv Smith's letters to the editor are quite refreshing reading, unlike this fucking blog though.Just kidding!


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