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23rd September 2017

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Kiwi Rail

Limited opportunity for lower freight emissions from coastal shipping and rail, says MoT

Coastal shipping and rail have less potential in the drive to reduce carbon emissions. Photo / 123RF

Coastal shipping and rail have less potential in the drive to reduce carbon emissions from the transport sector than the optimistic view expressed in a Productivity Commission issues paper on decarbonising the New Zealand economy, says the Ministry of Transport in a submission to the commission’s inquiry.

“We concur with your assessment that electric vehicles (EVs) are by the far greatest emissions abatement opportunity New Zealand has to lower transport emissions,” says the two-page response to the issues paper sent on September 4 by Joanna Pohau, the ministry’s acting manager, people and environment.

However, the ministry is less optimistic about the potential for coastal shipping and rail to move freight out of road-based trucking, mainly because so much of New Zealand’s freight ‘task’ involves sending goods over short distances and because customers have come to expect ‘just-in-time’ deliveries that ships and trains struggle to fulfil.

“Much of our freight moves over short distances,” the ministry says. “This is a movement that is typically only economic for road freight. As well, some cargo, for example liquid milk, best suits being moved by road” and “not all locations have access to rail and/or coastal shipping.”

The ministry expects that lower emissions from long-haul freight operations will emerge from a combination of some cargoes shifting to shipping and rail, greater collaboration among cargo owners, more fuel efficient trucks, increased use of bio-fuels and, ultimately, “adopting new fuel and vehicle technologies as they arise”.

This could include electric heavy long-haul trucks “if they become available”.

The submission coincides with the announcement of an EV car-sharing scheme in Christchurch that its backers claim is the largest in the Southern hemisphere.

From late November, some 70 of an eventual fleet of 100 EVs will be available for Canterbury businesses and residents through fleet management company Yoogo, which has been selected by Christchurch City Council to implement the services.

The company’s “electric car sharing model breaks down barriers around cost and charging infrastructure, making pure electric vehicles accessible and affordable,” Kirsten Corson, Yoogo general manager, said in a statement.

The service will be available for the CCC, Ara Institute, engineering firms Aurecon and Beca, the Canterbury District Health Board, law firm Chapman Tripp, Environment Canterbury, Meridian Energy, architects Tonkin and Taylor, and Warren and Mahoney, and, Christchurch Airport, as well as for the general public.

In its submission, MoT agrees with the Productivity Commission’s suggestion that “current policy settings may need to be revisited if we are to achieve a widespread uptake of EVs” and endorses setting fuel efficiency standards as one route to achieve that.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced late last month that the government was setting a target of one-in-three of the government’s car fleet being EVs by 2021.

Brian Gaynor: Winston Peters’ port plan fails to make grade

One of the more intriguing aspects of the general election campaign is New Zealand First’s policy “to move all container operations from Ports of Auckland to Northport by the end of 2027”.

According to NZ First leader Winston Peters, “the days of the Ports of Auckland as a container port and as a car yard are numbered”.

He went on to say that “New Zealand First will bring forward legislation to move all operations from Auckland to Northport. This will start with vehicles on Captain Cook Wharf ahead of the America’s Cup. Aucklanders want their harbour back while Northlanders want the jobs and opportunities that would come from Northport’s transformation”.

Peters added that this policy “is a cast iron commitment from New Zealand First but it needs New Zealand First to be in a pivotal position to demand it”.

Not surprisingly, Peters hasn’t released any details on the costs of moving Ports of Auckland to Northport.

There are three ports involved in this proposal, directly or indirectly: Ports of Auckland; Port of Tauranga, which is 220km from Auckland; and Northport, which is 144km north of the main Auckland port.

Auckland

Ports of Auckland (POA) listed on the NZX in October 1993. This followed the sale of 39.8 million shares, or 20 per cent of the company, by the Waikato Regional Council at $1.60 a share. This gave Ports of Auckland a total sharemarket value of $318 million, with the Auckland Regional Services Trust retaining its 80 per cent stake.

In April 2005 Auckland Regional Holdings announced a takeover offer for POA at $8 a share, valuing the company at $848m. This compared with the pre-offer price of $6.44 a share and Grant Samuel’s value of between $7.69 and $8.55 a share.

The $8 a share bid was successful, POA delisted and is now 100 per cent owned by Auckland Council Investments.

POA has been a disappointment under 100 per cent Auckland Council ownership. In the 13 years since 2003-04, its revenue has increased by only 35 per cent, to $222.4m, and net profit after tax by 36 per cent to $60.3m.

Tauranga

Port of Tauranga (POT) was listed in 1992 after issuing 20 million new shares at $1.05 each and the Waikato Regional Council selling all its 12.6 million shares at the same price. After the initial public offering, the company had a sharemarket value of just $80m, based on its $1.05 issue price. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council had a 55.3 per cent holding.

POT, which now has a sharemarket value of $2,960m, has been one of the most successful listed companies over the past 25 years.

For example, since 2003-04 POT’s revenue has increased by 69 per cent to $255.9m, compared with POA’s 35 per cent rise, and POT’s net profit after tax has swelled 148 per cent to $83.4m, compared with POA’s more modest 36 per cent profit increase.

Northland

Northland Port also listed on the sharemarket in 1992, shortly after Port of Tauranga. This followed the sale of 10 million shares, representing 24.1 per cent of the company, for $1.25 a share. This gave Northland Port a sharemarket value of $52m at the $1.25 IPO price, just slightly below POT’s listing value.

The Northland company provided ship handling services to the NZ Refining jetty at Marsden Point and at Port Whangarei.

In 2002 the port activities at Marsden Point and Port Whangarei were transferred to Northport, a 50/50 joint venture between Northland Port and Port of Tauranga. NZX-listed Northland Port subsequently changed its name to Marsden Marine Holdings.

Marsden Marine is now an investment company with a 50 per cent stake in Northport, valued at $46.1m, and investment properties valued at $66.4m. These include freehold land, a marina and a commercial complex adjacent to Northport.

Its largest shareholders are Northland Regional Council, with a 53.6 per cent holding, and Ports of Auckland, with 19.9 per cent stake.

Marsden Marine has been a disappointing listed company, with a sharemarket value of only $215m. The company’s directors received $198,000 for the June 2016 year, a large figure for an investment company with few employees.

Chairman Sir John Goulter, who is also chair of the hugely disappointing Metro Performance Glass, received director’s fees of $54,000 for the June 2016 year and an additional $40,000 as chairman of Northport.

The opportunity to rationalise the port sector, and reduce commercial shipping activity at the Auckland port, was missed when Ports of Auckland withdrew from merger talks with Port of Tauranga in March 2007.

The Mount Manganui based port was clearly disappointed and chief executive Mark Cairns had this to say: “The economic and financial modelling demonstrates that the merger would generate significant financial benefits to be shared with customers and shareholders alike.

“The merger would also generate substantial public benefits: reducing CO2 emissions; facilitating better opportunities for coastal shipping; and making a start on the inevitable port rationalisation that needs to occur in New Zealand in the future with the advent of larger, faster container vessels.”

He went on to say: “In a country with a population of approximately 4 million people (similar to Sydney) New Zealand’s tax base simply cannot sustain the funding of high quality road and rail infrastructure connections to all 13 ports.”

The proposed merger between Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga made far more sense than the Ports of Auckland/Northport scheme. There are several reasons for this, including:

• The cost of building an extensive road and rail network from Marsden Point to Auckland would be prohibitive and take decades to complete. Coastal shipping could be an alternative, but these ships would continue to use Ports of Auckland

• Northport is small and would need substantial expenditure on its facilities, particularly container handling facilities

• The move from Ports of Auckland to Northport would put huge pressure on the Marsden Point facility. For example, 673 container ships visited Auckland in the June 2017 year compared with only 36 berthing at Northport. In addition, Auckland had 181 vehicle carrier visits while Marsden Point had none in the same 12-month period. Thus, if Ports of Auckland moved its container ship and vehicle carrier operations to Northland, the Marsden Point facility would have to facilitate 854 of these vessel arrivals every year instead of 36 at present

• There is a mismatch between Northport and Ports of Auckland because the former is a bulk port and the latter is predominantly a container port. Northport had export log volumes of 2,808,000 tonnes for the June 2017 year, representing 77 per cent of its total bulk exports, while Ports of Auckland container volumes were 952,331 TEU (one TEU equals one standard 20-foot container).

The obvious solution to the Ports of Auckland issue is the partial privatisation of the company and a listing on the NZX. There are two main reasons for this.

Port of Tauranga and Auckland International Airport have been great performers as listed companies and are paying large dividends to their council shareholders. By contrast, Ports of Auckland has been a disappointment since the Auckland Council acquired its 100 per cent holding.

Under a sharemarket listing, there is a far better chance of a merger, or a joint venture agreement, between Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga. This is because local body politicians, who are usually opposed to these commercial agreements, would have a limited influence.

An Auckland/Tauranga agreement could lead to a sharp reduction in commercial ship visits to Auckland and enable Auckland importers and exporters to switch their business to a well governed and well managed port facility at Mount Manganui.

A merger between Ports of Auckland and Northport doesn’t make sense from a commercial or cost point of view.

• Brian Gaynor is an executive director of Milford Asset Management.

Transport system for a growing New Zealand

National Party media release

 

Transport system for a growing New Zealand

National is committed to building the infrastructure and transport system New Zealand needs to ensure our ongoing economic prosperity is secured, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says.

“In Auckland, the commercial capital of New Zealand, we are bringing a number of transport projects online. The latest project, the Waterview Tunnel, has transformed the way people and freight move around our biggest city,” Mr Bridges says.

“We know more needs to be done. That’s why National is committed to ensuring Auckland’s transport needs are met.”

National will:

· Declare the $955 million Mill Road project as a State Highway, removing the responsibility from Auckland Council. This will provide funding certainty for this important project through the National Land Transport Fund and free up capital for Auckland Council to reinvest in other high priority transport projects.

· Work with Auckland Council to accelerate the AMETI Eastern Busway and associated Reeves Road flyover.

· Work with Auckland Council on a mass transit solution between the CBD and Auckland Airport and complete route protection.

· Continue construction of the $3.4 billion City Rail Link project on the fastest possible timeline.

· Start construction on the new East-West Link State Highway.

· Accelerate construction on the: Northwestern Busway; State Highway 16 and 18 interchange; Penlink; Southern Motorway widening between Papakura and Drury; widen State Highway 20B to improve eastern access to Auckland Airport; and add Airport-Manukau bus priority lanes on State Highway 20, including Puhinui interchange.

· Build the Third Main Rail Line and extend electrification to Pukekohe.

· Continue investigations for the introduction of road pricing.

“National’s transport policy will continue to see record levels of investment in Auckland to support the city’s growing transport needs. We have a track record of delivering world-class projects on time and on budget,” Mr Bridges says.

“We are today releasing our transport policy that delivers for all New Zealanders and will provide the country with the transport system it needs.

“Our plan demonstrates that we are committed to building the world-class infrastructure the country needs. We will keep people and freight moving, while supporting our strong economic and population growth,” Mr Bridges says.

National’s transport policy will:

· Deliver the $10.5 billion next generation of Roads of National Significance. These are nation-building, lead infrastructure projects which will encourage future economic growth, rather than waiting until the strain on the network becomes a handbrake on progress.

· Accelerate Regional Roading projects that are important for regional development and growth faster than otherwise planned.

· Complete our $600 million investment in fixing the worst 90 black spots around the country, reducing deaths and serious injuries by 900 over 10 years.

· Continue to invest at record levels in public transport including an additional $267 million investment in commuter rail in Auckland and Wellington.

· Grow our air links with other countries to bring on more flights and cheaper airfares.

· Continue with the $333 million Urban Cycleways Programme that will see 54 cycleway projects built in 15 centres across the country, marking the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history.

· Accelerate the uptake of Electric Vehicles, with the Government to lead by example with 1 in 3 vehicles in the Government fleet being electric by 2021.

“National is committed to building the infrastructure and transport system New Zealand needs to ensure our ongoing economic prosperity is secured,” Mr Bridges says.

“We also know that strong transport connections are critical for our growing regions and that’s why we are investing strongly to support their growth.

“National’s plan integrates roads, railways, ports, industrial hubs and air services, ensuring that we have a coherent and balanced approach to New Zealand’s transport needs.”

The Big Read: Roads v Rail – political parties at the crossroads on transport

The Big Read: Roads v Rail – political parties at the crossroads on transport – NZ Herald

The wheels are turning in voters’ minds as they consider which party offers the best deal on transport. Photo / Nick Reed

National has returned to a familiar theme with a $10 billion plan to build 10 major highways around the country, while Labour and the Greens have latched onto modern trams in Auckland and long distance trains between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

Also in the mix is NZ First, with a strong emphasis on upgrading heavy rail, including improved access to Northland and its port at Marsden Pt, trains to Auckland Airport and re-opening the Napier to Gisborne line.

The most visible battleground is Auckland, where congestion is choking the city at a cost of $2b a year and people are flocking to trains, buses and ferries to travel to work. Transport, and the crucial role it plays in housing and growth, is on everyone’s mind – and don’t politicians know it.

National’s record in office dealing with Auckland transport is mixed, from rubbishing the City Rail Link to embracing it, the crazy decision to upgrade the Northwestern Motorway without a busway and completing the $1.4b Waterview tunnel – a huge pre-election success story.

In fact, National is using figures showing the tunnel has halved travel times from the city to the airport to stick with cars and buses to the airport in the foreseeable future, while other parties argue over trains or modern trams along the route.

Trams running on light rail along Dominion Rd to the airport. Source / Auckland Transport

Jacinda Ardern’s first public appearance as Labour leader was to announce the party would spend $3b to build tram lines from the Auckland CBD to the airport and West Auckland within 10 years, and complete the first leg of the airport route to Mt Roskill by 2021.

This would be followed by light rail to the North Shore in the second decade.

The Greens have gone one step further and promised to build the full 21km tram route from the CBD to the airport by 2021. They are also promising light rail from the Wellington railway station to Newtown by 2025 and Kilbirnie and the airport by 2027, and a wholly electric bus fleet for the capital city.

Labour and the Greens would allow Auckland Council to introduce a regional petrol tax – possibly 10 cents a litre to raise $100m a year – to hop on board a more ambitious public transport programme for the city.

The two parties have adopted the tram policy from lobby group Greater Auckland, which has also persuaded them to adopt the first stage of its ‘Regional Rapid Rail’ policy for a $20m trial train service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

If it’s a success, Labour and the Greens will invest in stages two and three of Rapid Regional Rail, delivering trains that can travel at 160km/h, new rail lines to Rotorua and Cambridge, and a tunnel through the Bombay Hills to reduce travel times from Auckland to Hamilton to 70 minutes.

Labour’s decision to adopt Greater Auckland’s agenda is blatant pitch into Green territory, but it doesn’t bother Greens transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter, who believes voters know who is more committed to implementing the policies, and will vote Green to be sure Labour follows through.

The Greens have also made a pitch for the youth and student vote by promising these groups free public transport costing $70m to $80m a year, which they say is less than 1km of new highways being built by National.

Not everyone is on board Greater Auckland’s agenda, and debate still rages within transport circles over trams versus trains to the airport.

NZ First’s plan is for a 7.5km rail line from Puhinui to provide a 30-minute journey by train from central Auckland to the airport terminal – part of its “Railways of National Importance” programme.

NZ First wants to reopen the Napier to Gisborne rail line.

NZ First wants to reopen the Napier to Gisborne rail line.

The party’s transport spokesman, Denis O’Rourke, says NZ First is not afraid to intervene and invest heavily in rail. The party has 13 immediate investment priorities, including upgrading rail in Northland to allow containers and cars to be moved from Northport to an inland port at Kumeu, and extending commuter rail to Kumeu and Huapai in West Auckland.

The Maori Party has proposed a new “IwiRail” network for freight, tourism and regional employment. The party believes the project has the capacity to add $1b into the regions and will be asking their potential coalition partner to invest $350m.

The plan involves connecting Gisborne to the East Coast Main Trunk Line in Kawerau and bringing back the mothballed Napier to Gisborne rail line to create 1250 jobs on the East Coast.

National’s focus is unashamedly on roads while recognising rail has a role to play. It is centred on extending its “Road of National Significance” – begun in 2009 and largely complete – into a new set of major roading projects.

Motorists would get a four-lane highway from Auckland to Whangarei, the $1.8b east-west link through Auckland’s industrial belt and other highway projects throughout the country.

National has also come up with a $2.6b election transport package for Auckland that includes building a new highway alongside the Southern Motorway costing $955m and $615m for the Ameti transport project in southeast Auckland.

The $1.8 billion east-west link through Auckland's industrial belt. Source / New Zealand Transport Agency

The $1.8 billion east-west link through Auckland’s industrial belt. Source / New Zealand Transport Agency

That’s not to say, National is all about roads and Labour and the Greens are all about public transport and long distance trains.

National has spent $1.7b electrifying rail in Auckland, it is paying half the cost of the $3.4b city rail link, committed $267m to rail over the next three years, a third rail track on the busy southern line between Westfield and Wiri, and $835m for a Northwestern Busway.

Labour has announced it will increase regional transport roading projects from $140m to $280m a year, and will proceed with the east-west link in Auckland, albeit a scaled back version of National’s $1.8b scheme.

One area all the main parties agree on is the need to improve cycling and walking in our cities, with National keen to build on a $333m urban cycleway programme and Labour promising to pay for the $30m SkyPath cycle and walkway over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Transport policies

National

A strong focus on roads by extending its “Roads of National Significance” to 10 new projects costing $10b, including a four-lane highway from Wellsford to Whangarei and the $1.8b east-west link through Auckland’s industrial belt.

A $2.6b package for Auckland, including a new highway from Manukau to Drury, $615m for the Ameti transport project in southeast Auckland and a $835m Northwestern busway.

National favours cars and buses to the airport in the foreseeable future.

A $267m rail package includes $130m to electrify rail from Papakura to Pukekohe and $37m for Wellington, including double tracking the Hutt Valley line between Upper Hutt and Trentham.

A target of one in three electric or electric hybrid cars in the Government’s fleet of 15,500 cars by 2021.

Labour

Adopted the policy of lobby group Greater Auckland for a congestion free network in Auckland.

The main focus is $3b to light rail for trams from the Auckland CBD to the airport and West Auckland within 10 years, and complete the first leg of the airport route to Mt Roskill by 2021.

This would be followed by light rail to the North Shore in the second decade.

Allow Auckland Council to introduce a regional petrol tax – possibly 10 cents a litre to raise $100m a year.

Adopted the Greater Auckland policy for Regional Rapid Rail, starting with a $20m trial train service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

If successful, invest in stages two and three of Rapid Regional Rail with trains that can travel at 160km/h, new rail lines to Rotorua and Cambridge, and a tunnel through the Bombay Hills to reduce travel times from Auckland to Hamilton to 70 minutes.

Fund the $30m SkyPath cycle and walking path over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Auckland is the main battleground for transport at this election. Photo / Peter Meecham

Auckland is the main battleground for transport at this election. Photo / Peter Meecham

Green Party

Free public transport for students and anyone under the age of 19.

Like Labour, adopt the policy of lobby group Greater Auckland for a congestion free network in Auckland, but put it on a faster track.

Build light rail for trams from the Auckland CBD to the airport by 2021, and light rail from Wellington railway station to the airport by 2027.

Light rail towards Helensville and dedicated rapid busways to Howick and Botany.

A new track on the southern line to speed up commuter and freight trains.

Adopt the Greater Auckland policy for Regional Rapid Rail, starting with a $20m trial train service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

If successful, invest in stages two and three of Rapid Regional Rail with trains that can travel at 160km/h, new rail lines to Rotorua and Cambridge, and a tunnel through the Bombay Hills to reduce travel times from Auckland to Hamilton to 70 minutes.

Allow Auckland Council to introduce a regional petrol tax – possibly 10 cents a litre to raise $100m a year.

NZ First

Emphasis on rail on “Railways of National Importance” and potential for modern tram routes in Auckland over the long term.

Wants to upgrade Northland rail, including a line from Oakleigh to Northport; reopening the Napier to Gisborne rail line and progressive electrification of the main trunk line for improved freight and passenger trains with extensions to Dunedin and Tauranga.

Build a commuter rail link between Swanson, Kumeu and Huapai; heavy rail to Auckland Airport.

Toll state highways in Auckland. Opposed to a regional petrol tax.

Investigate Northport taking some of Ports of Auckland business at Marsden Pt from an upgraded freight rail link to an inland port at Kumeu.

Maori Party

A new “IwiRail” network for freight, tourism and regional employment with the capacity to add $1b into the regions. Ask a potential coalition partner to invest $350m.

Connect Gisborne to the East Coast Main Trunk Line in Kawerau and bring back the mothballed Napier to Gisborne rail line to create 1250 jobs on the East Coast.

IwiRail would receive $100m a year for regional line upgrades and maintenance.

Act Party

Increase the use of funding options to better reflect the principle of users pay, such as tolls on new and existing roads, congestion charges, peak time charges and preferential lanes.

Revenue from tolls should be offset by cuts in petrol taxes.

Technology and entrepreneurship should be encouraged in transport, including ride-sharing, car-sharing, congestion charging and high occupancy toll lanes.

Encourage private sector investments in roads. Review regulation to ensure the viability of autonomous vehicles.

Opportunities Party

Transport is very simple, says deputy leader Jeff Simmons, “politicians should get their grubby hands off it” and leave it to New Zealand Transport Agency to decide on a cost-benefit basis taking into account carbon emissions and accidents.

Govt sceptical of passenger rail link plan

The government is sceptical of a plan for a fast passenger rail network linking Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.

A Regional Tilting train on Switzerland's rail network.

A ’tilting’ train on Switzerland’s rail network. Photo: Supplied

The transport lobby group Greater Auckland has proposed a $1.45 billion rapid rail service linking Auckland to Tauranga, Rotorua, Cambridge, Hamilton and Te Kuiti.

Initially, refurbished railcars would be used, but ultimately there would be high speed tilting trains similar to those used in Switzerland.

Greater Auckland said local and central government would have to help with the cost.

In a statement, the Minister of Transport Simon Bridges said the government was always open to ideas for improving New Zealand’s transport system.

But he said the Greater Auckland proposal seriously underestimated capital costs, and any new service would have to be backed by a sound business case, be commercially viable and be supported by key stakeholders.

The New Zealand Transport Agency said there were many operational matters that would need to be considered in detail to understand the implications of the proposal.

The agency said it was already investing in rail and road in the region to make transport easier.

Greater Auckland has said the costs were not large when compared with routinely-announced roading projects.

The plan has received backing from the mayors of Hamilton and Tauranga.

Port on Labour’s $20m rail plan: ‘I’m surprised no one talked to us about it’

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern’s $20 million promise to link passenger rail services between Tauranga and Auckland has already hit a snag, with Port of Tauranga’s boss questioning its likelihood.

The high-speed rail proposal was released last week by lobby group Greater Auckland and was immediately backed by the Green Party.

Ardern yesterday addressed a crowd of about 400 on Tauranga’s waterfront and pledged Labour’s support for the plan.

She said Tauranga was a special place for her and called up a young girl who was a family friend with a home-made “Let’s do this” T-shirt.

“The ‘Golden Triangle’ of Auckland, Hamilton, and Tauranga contains half our population and economy. In the next 25 years, it is projected to gain another 800,000 people – three-quarters of national population growth. It’s time this growing region had a modern, rapid rail service,” Ardern said.

Ardern pledged the $20m to establish the first stage of the passenger service proposal – estimated to cost $10m.

If demand is there, Labour would look to invest in stages two and three of the plan, delivering services travelling up to 160km/h throughout the wider region.

The additional $10m would be invested over five years for operating costs.

When asked by the Bay of Plenty Times if she had spoken with the Port about whether the plan was possible, she said: “Not specifically, but I don’t imagine it would have any impact on the work that they do.”

Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns disagreed.

There are 78 freight trains a week on the rail line to the Port and this was expected to rise to more than 90 per week over the next 12 months.

“I’m surprised nobody has talked to us about it,” Cairns said.

Labour’s Transport Spokesman Michael Wood said the eastern main trunk line –
“which will be the bit of track that the Port is referring to” – had capacity for four trains per hour.

Wood said Labour was looking at just two trains a day using the line, “so it’s got capacity of four per hour, there is absolutely capacity within there to deliver that”.

“And no one user … certainly, has a right to exclude others,” Wood said.

“As the policy gets developed further and implemented, we’d certainly sit down and talk with the Port, but when you’re developing a policy like this, you don’t necessarily sit down with what is effectively a private company that currently has exclusive use of that track and has interests of potentially keeping others out.”

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said he did not think the rapid rail proposal would have an impact on the Port.

“We’re only talking about a train or two a day, so I don’t think that would interfere with the Port, no.”

Kiwirail were not able to respond to requests for current line use by freight trains in and out of the port before publication last night.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges, who is also Tauranga’s MP, said Labour’s adoption of the passenger service was unrealistic.

“The Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga rail line is our busiest freight route and simply doesn’t have the capacity to also be a commuter rail line.”

Tauranga Labour candidate Jan Tinetti said passenger rail was long overdue for Tauranga.

“The growth that we’ve had here has been phenomenal in the last few years and we need to actually look at public transport.”

Labour also plans to:

• Boost transport investment in regional projects across the country by doubling the funding range in the Government Policy Statement.
• This will lift funding available for regional projects from $70m-$140m a year to $140-$280m a year.
• The increased funding will be available for all regions and for all transport modes.
• Ardern also set out a promise for her first 100 Days in Government – holding a roading summit in Wellington for the county’s local bodies and transport bodies.

Billions needed as Auckland transport funding gap grows

A short-term $1 billion funding plug is needed for a widening gap in Auckland’s future transport needs, a leaked report says.

Population growth has led the Auckland Council and the government to agree to an earlier start on light rail and a fleet of electric trains, but this has left open the question of how to pay for the infrastructure.

AUCKLAND - FEB 13 2017: Traffic jam in Auckland, New Zealand.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff has conceded rates may have to rise higher than his 2.5 percent election promise, and that an interim transport levy on ratepayers – due to lapse next year – may have to be extended.

An updated version of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project, which was leaked to Labour’s Phil Twyford, showed the funding deficit for the next decade blowing out by $1.9 billion to reach $5.9bn.

Read the leaked document: (PDF, 805KB)

About $1bn of that needed to be found for a three-year period starting next year. Most of that came from accelerating – by four years – the completion of the first leg of a light rail line from downtown to Mt Roskill.

Another big ticket item will be the second expansion of Auckland’s electric commuter rail fleet, expected to be needed around the opening of the City Rail Link tunnels, earmarked for 2023-24.

The city hopes to order 17 new trains for service in 2019, costing $207 million.

The big unanswered question is how the growing funding gap will be plugged, especially for 2018-21 when the deficit rises from $380m to $1.3bn.

Mr Twyford said National had rejected all of Auckland Council’s proposals for generating extra revenue to cover the funding shortfall, but hadn’t come up with any answers of its own.

“National won’t say where the money is coming from for its plan. Either they don’t want to be honest with Aucklanders about how the funding will be raised, or they are going to force the rest of New Zealand to pay for Auckland’s growth.”

Mr Twyford said it was “completely irresponsible” of the government not to come clean on the funding.

“Last week they announced $2.6bn worth of new, mostly roading projects, and they said nothing about how they are going to fund that … So, where’s the money?”

Minister of Transport Simon Bridges, in response to a question in Parliament from Mr Twyford on Thursday, said:

“I’m very confident we can do the job required. We’ve already got strong revenue from petrol taxes and road user charges – more than we thought – and more coming in than forecast.”

Mr Goff and the Labour Party have called for a 10 cents a litre petrol tax in the city to bring in an extra $160m a year, but the government has rejected the idea.

Mr Bridges told RNZ that while the government would pick up the lion’s share of the investment, the council would not get off “scott-free”.

Mr Goff told Morning Report he would prefer not to extend the transport levy of $114 a year on households, nor to raise rates further, but that could happen.

“I’m dealing in a good faith negotiation with government, and they want me to look at all of the options, and I’ve agreed to look at all of the options,” he said.

When asked about his 2.5 percent average rate rise pledge, Mr Goff pointed to the city’s rapidly rising population.

“Nothing is ever set in stone, but we have had a really fast increase in population, and that has to be in the mix.”

Mr Twyford said Aucklanders should have to put their hands in their pockets and pay their fair share, and it was reasonable to expect they would be willing to chip in.

“That’s important because you can’t ask people in Whanganui, Invercargill and other regional centres to just write a blank cheque to fund Auckland’s growth.”

He said Labour would use a regional fuel tax, targeted rates and infrastructure bonds to cover the shortfall if it was elected.

Winston Peters agrees with Cubic – wants heavy rail to Auckland Airport

 

Aucklanders are being offered the choice of driving, catching a bus, modern trams and going by train to the city’s airport by the political parties at the elections.

New Zealand First is the latest party to comment on public transport to the airport, with leader Winston Peters saying it is committed to a conventional rail line along the Puhinui route.

A new rail line could be built from Puhinui station on mostly undeveloped countryside to connect with the airport, Peters said in the letter to the Herald today.

He said cities overseas have heavy rail connections between their airports, city centres and rail networks, saying New Zealand First does not accept that the cost of heavy rail to the airport had increased from $600 million 10 years to more than $2 billion, as claimed by Auckland Transport.

Peters said Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, National, the Greens, Auckland Council, Auckland Chamber of Commerce, NZ Transport Agency and others have all jumped on the bandwagon for light rail, or modernised trams.

“In Auckland, light rail would not provide enough capacity in either the medium or long term, and would be 30 per cent or worse slower than heavy rail,” Peters said.

Labour and the Greens are promising to build light rail to the airport from Wynyard Quarter, up Queen St and down Dominion Rd – an option supported by Auckland Transport and NZTA.

National says the new Waterview Tunnel has reduced driving times to the airport and has plans for rapid buses to the airport, possibly followed by light rail by 2047.

How the parties will transport you to the airport
National: Road and rapid buses. Possibly light rail by 2047

Labour: Light rail(modern trams) by 2027

Greens: Light rail(modern trams) by 2021

NZ First: Conventional rail

Maori Party’s IwiRail plan could revive mothballed railway lines

Partnerships between iwi and government to develop a strong network of regional rail connections could generate thousands of jobs and billions of dollars, the Maori Party says.

In coalition negotiations they’ll ask for $350 million to fund their new IwiRail policy which would look to take over mothballed KiwiRail lines and develop new rail connections to open up freight and tourism opportunities across regional New Zealand.

Party president Tuku Morgan and co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox announced the plan in Wellington yesterday following informal discussions with the Government and talks with investors and iwi in Gisborne and around the country.

It will focus on freight, passenger and tourism with the first project to be reconnecting the line through to Gisborne.

“That’s only going to cost about $6.5m to fix that break in the railway line but it will open up productivity,” Ms Fox said.

“We’ve talked extensively with iwi around the Gisborne area … we’ve talked also as an introductory offer with other iwi in the country, but let’s concentrate on the Gisborne region because that will be the proof of the pudding that we can make this work.”

The policy would allow iwi to invest in rail networks, but also create opportunities for other investors, creating profit by helping producers get their products to market.

“And if we open up the top of the East Cape we open up an untapped tourism market,” she said.

Mr Morgan said it could generate thousands of indirect jobs around the country as a result.

Ms Fox said iwi in Nelson have expressed an interest in being part of an IwiRail programme down the track.

Economically, this is worse than literally lighting a bonfire of taxpayers’ money”
Jordan Williams of the Taxpayers’ Union

The Taxpayers’ Union accused the Maori Party of “populist economic sabotage”.

“Economically, this is worse than literally lighting a bonfire of taxpayers’ money,” spokesman Jordan Williams said.

“Investing this much in New Zealand’s most uneconomic rail lines is a short-term make-work scheme at an eye-watering cost to taxpayers.”

Mainfreight boss calls for national transport strategy

The country’s political leaders must up their game and deliver better long-term transport and infrastructure planning, according to the head of the country’s biggest freight company.

Train stuck between in a tunnel between slips.

A train is trapped in a tunnel between landslips after November’s Kaikōura earthquake. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Mainfreight managing director Don Braid said politicians – local and national – have failed to take the initiative to plan adequately for the future.

Mainfreight managing director Don Braid

Don Braid Photo: Supplied

“We have not reacted as a country to the increase in population growth and the tourism numbers, out infrastructure is poorly set up and government and councils are only just coming to grips to what they need to do,” he told RNZ.

Mr Braid said the transport network’s vulnerability was shown by the Kaikōura earthquake’s impact on road and rail links, and it was the revival of coastal shipping that minimised the disruption.

He said an example of the lack of investment in key services was the treatment of KiwiRail in the latest budget, with funding for new engines and other hardware limited to a two-year timeframe.

“We need to be planning 30 years out, and making investments early.

“Around the Cabinet table I think there’s an aversion to want to think about any sort of integrated transport philosophy for both freight and transport … but we need to be thinking more seriously about it.”

The comments come as a delegation of engineers in Beijing said China was the answer to Auckland’s transport problems.

Warren Hills of Babbage Consultants said New Zealand needed to tap into the expertise of the Chinese workforce, if it was to meet the demands of an unprecedented infrastructure building programme.

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