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23rd February 2018

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Hamilton to Auckland transport corridor ‘near top of list’

Waikato's transport corridor to Auckland is a priority for the Labour-led government.

NZTA
Waikato’s transport corridor to Auckland is a priority for the Labour-led government.
 Transport Minister Phil Twyford has called mayors from Waikato and Auckland to the Beehive to discuss the commuter rail plan, in the most concrete sign yet of central government support for an Auckland Hamilton link.

Hamilton City, Waikato District and Waikato Regional councils will meet with New Zealand Transport Agency bosses, Waikato-Tainui, Auckland Council and KiwiRail for a 2-hour hui at Twyford’s Beehive office on February 26, said Hamilton-based Labour List MP Jamie Strange.

“It will be with Minister Phil Twyford particularly, as minister for housing and transport, and Nanaia Mahuta,” Strange said.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford is meeting with key players in the Hamilton to Auckland transport equation.

BRADEN FASTIER/STUFF
Transport Minister Phil Twyford is meeting with key players in the Hamilton to Auckland transport equation.
“The Minister is keen for investment in our region around transport particularly rail but roading and housing as well.”

Waikato Regional Council included commuter rail in its draft long term plan in January. Hamilton City Council has already made investment in a park and ride site and want 75 per cent of funding, for the proposed interim service, to come from central government.

Hamilton City Mayor Andrew King is confident the commuter rail initiative will go through.

TOM LEE/STUFF
Hamilton City Mayor Andrew King is confident the commuter rail initiative will go through.
The meeting will look at integrating light and heavy rail with roads and housing to capitalise on Hamilton and Waikato’s growth.

The transport corridor between the cities offers huge untapped potential, Strange said, and will be an important location for the government’s KiwiBuild programme which aims to roll out 100,000 new homes in 10-years with half of them in Auckland.

Collective work done with Waikato councils – the Waikato Plan and the Future Proof document – have mapped a path for central government to follow.

Waikato Regional Council chairman Alan Livingston says work around transport in Waikato is dovetailing nicely.

STUFF
Waikato Regional Council chairman Alan Livingston says work around transport in Waikato is dovetailing nicely.

“There is a strong sense of unity in our region among councils. This certainly building on what’s been done there.”

The Labour-led government is prioritising rail between Hamilton and Auckland. In a list of rail projects government is looking at, the Hamilton to Auckland corridor is “near the top of the list”, he said.

Hamilton Mayor Andrew King said things are moving in the right direction.

The Rail Opportunity Network spokeswoman Susan Trodden is surprised by the speed the government is moving.

KELLY HODEL/STUFF
The Rail Opportunity Network spokeswoman Susan Trodden is surprised by the speed the government is moving.
“I’m confident we will get there,” King said. “It’s something central government wants and Hamilton City Council is working very closely with neighbouring Waikato District and Waikato Regional councils and between us all, I think we are all aligned.”

Waikato Regional Council chairman Alan Livingston said the transport corridor is a strategic look at opportunities that could open up for the region.

“Everything is dove tailing nicely, Livingston said. “Central government is looking for support and direction and it’s working, from a timing perspective, ideally.”

Spokeswoman for rail advocate group The Rail Opportunity Network Susan Trodden is not surprised by the meeting but is moving faster than anticipated.

“Government are really wanting to make it happen this year, as promised, and now it’s been built into the 10-year plan for the regional council, and Hamilton City Council are committing time and money and space, there is the opportunity to step forward,” Trodden said.

Congestion charges on table in fight against Auckland gridlock

Commuters have been warned Auckland’s gridlock nightmare is set to dramatically escalate, and the thorny issues of congestion charges is back on the agenda as Auckland Council grapples with solutions.

Aucklanders already spend the equivalent of four working weeks, or 160 hours, in traffic, but a new council report prepared for Tuesday’s planning committee meeting reveals motorists should brace for even longer trips to work.

The report said severe congestion is expected to increase by 30 per cent at peak hours, and 50 per cent between the morning and evening peaks.

And while the Waterview Tunnel has successfully reduced congestion, the report warns that could be short-lived.

“This means that Aucklanders’ access to jobs, education and other opportunities will become more difficult,” the report says.

Thousands of Aucklanders have already packed up and left town in the face of the traffic chaos and expensive house prices.

But one of the options mooted to reduce congestion – congestion tolls – could be up to a decade away.

The report is the first in a three-step project which could lead to motorists being charged at different times of the day and in different locations across the city.

The report is the first phase of investigating ways of easing congestion by charging motorists to encourage them to change the time, route or way in which they travel.

The first phase updates the growing congestion problem facing the city, looks at models overseas and recommends moving to the next phase of developing options by August this year. The third phase is expected to recommend a final option. No date has been given for the final report.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson, Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff have approved the project to proceed to the second phase.

A spokeswoman said Goff had not read the report and could not comment at this stage.

While the first phase found congestion pricing would have a greater potential impact on transport than any transport project, the report said Auckland was heading into “uncharted territory” when it comes to introducing congestion pricing.

If Auckland does proceed with congestion-busting tolls, the report recommends a “bespoke” approach reflecting the city’s geographic, social and transport characteristics and introducing any system in steps.

The report said a number of international cities have successfully introduced congestion pricing but “no ‘New World’ cities with dispersed trips patterns and relatively low density of housing has yet introduced congestion pricing”.

The latest plan for tolls in Auckland comes after the former National Government and Auckland Council decided last June to look at the “taboo” subject of charging motorists at different times of the day and different locations across the city.

Three years earlier the council worked up a tolling scheme that would have seen motorists pay $2 each time they used the motorway, which the Government rejected.

Alarming figures released last year by Auckland Transport show a quarter of the city’s busiest roads, including Lake Rd, Lincoln Rd and routes to the airport are already clogged during the morning and evening peaks and one in three main roads will be congested by 2020.

The morning crawl from Westgate to Nelson St also doubled from 15 minutes to 30 minutes between 2012 and 2016 and the evening peak journey from Hobson St to Te Irirangi Drive has gone from 18 minutes to 24 minutes.

The report to be tabled to the council committee again highlighted congestion levels had appeared to have stabilised since the opening of the Waterview tunnel last July, but the authors revealed they expect that continued growth in demand for travel will see congestion levels increase again.

Journeys from the airport to the CBD via the tunnel in the afternoon peak now take 25 minutes, compared to between 35 and 44 minutes via Manukau Rd and Gillies Ave, according to the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Automobile Association's principal infrastructure adviser Barney Irvine. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Automobile Association’s principal infrastructure adviser Barney Irvine. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Barney Irvine, the Automobile Association’s principal infrastructure adviser, said congestion charging had potential to help get Auckland moving, but warned it was a “complex and controversial business”.

Some of those concerns had come through via survey work of the AA’s Auckland members.

“There’s a lot of impact on the people who can least afford to pay,” he said. “There are also a lot of folk out there who don’t like the idea of paying to drive on roads they have already paid for.

“Congestion charging is a complex and controversial business – that’s why plenty of cities around the world talk about it, but very few have actually implemented it, and none in car-oriented, low-density cities like Auckland.”

He added if politicians could make a strong case for the introduction of congestion charges, then the programme shouldn’t take 10 years to implement.

National Road Carriers boss David Aitken said the industry would be in favour of road pricing on the proviso it made a difference and freed up journey times.

Something had to be done, said Aitken, who was concerned at the prospect of many roading projects in Auckland being canned by the new Government.

Building public understanding and acceptance will be critical to successfully introduce congestion pricing, the report said.

The project was originally called the ‘Auckland Smarter Transport Pricing Project’, but has been renamed ‘The Congestion Question’.

Is it time for a Cook Strait bridge or tunnel?

The Cook Strait is a violent body of water. It’s an exception. Unlike other straits around the world, it has opposite tidal flows at either end. When it’s high-tide on the Tasman side, it’s roughly low-tide on the Pacific side and vice versa

Before the end of the last Ice Age, you might have been able to walk between the two islands – if there had been anyone around to do it. But for the last 20,000 years this strait has divided New Zealand in a way most countries have never known.

What if the country could become physically connected again? Is a Cook Strait bridge or tunnel pure fantasy?

What if the country could become physically connected again? Is a Cook Strait bridge or tunnel pure fantasy? Julian Lee ...

ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF
There would be far more to gain than just the novelty of being able to take a 27 hour 2,000 kilometre drive from Cape Reinga to Bluff: an immense increase in traffic between the two islands, the untold billions saved in shipping and flying costs, the Marlborough and Wellington areas thriving and booming from increased commerce, the tourist dollars, the sheer convenience of replacing a three-hour ferry ride (and its associated on- and off-loading times) with a short drive.

It’s an idea that’s so outrageous even some of our more seasoned politicians have never heard it being raised before.

But Stuff pitched the idea to Transport Minister Phil Twyford.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford suggested a tunnel would be ruled out by the Alpine Fault and a bridge by the strait's ...

BRADEN FASTIER/STUFF
Transport Minister Phil Twyford suggested a tunnel would be ruled out by the Alpine Fault and a bridge by the strait’s rough waters.
 “This is the first time I’ve heard the idea. I know there is a successful tunnel between the United Kingdom and France, but I would have thought our faultline would rule out a tunnel. It is also a very rough stretch of water, and I’m no engineer, but I suspect that would rule out a bridge,” he said.

Judith Collins, who has National’s transport portfolio, was impressed by the idea, but pointed out an obvious flaw.

“Wow, this is a hugely ambitious and audacious idea. Where would be the fun of a Cook Strait pie in the middle of a howling gale though?” she said.

The idea of having a bridge or a tunnel between Wellington, pictured, and the South Island was raised seriously just ...

ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF
The idea of having a bridge or a tunnel between Wellington, pictured, and the South Island was raised seriously just once by Premier Richard Seddon in 1904.

It seems to have been seriously raised only once by a New Zealand politician. A long time ago.

Hawke’s Bay Herald article from 1904 said that Premier Richard “King Dick” Seddon had been travelling all over the country bragging about how much money the Government had for grandiose projects, including a tunnel through the Cook Strait .

The unnamed reporter at the time felt it was inappropriate given the large loans New Zealand had taken from London. With a tongue-in-cheek, the reporter said that if Seddon told the public about the reality of the Government’s financial position, they might agree to his tunnel plan some time in the future.

One of the possible routes for a Cook Strait bridge or tunnel: Cape Terawhiti to the peninsula east of Picton, the ...

JULIAN LEE/GOOGLE MAPS
One of the possible routes for a Cook Strait bridge or tunnel: Cape Terawhiti to the peninsula east of Picton, the shortest route between the mainland and the North Island, 27km.
 These days something like 1.1 million people and 350,000 vehicles cross the strait every year with the two ferry companies, Interislander and Bluebridge. Should there be a drive option, many more would be guaranteed to use it – those who would normally fly or not take the trip at all.

With a bridge or tunnel, the prohibitively expensive and time-consuming trip from somewhere like Palmerston North to somewhere like Nelson becomes a drive that could be done in less than five hours.

Ask someone in the know and they will quickly explain that it is a pipe dream.

University of Canterbury structural engineering and materials professor Alessandro Palermo suggests that a "submerged ...

DUNCAN SHAW-BROWN
University of Canterbury structural engineering and materials professor Alessandro Palermo suggests that a “submerged floating tunnel” could be a better option for the strait.
 “I think given the geometry and the morphologies of the strait, a conventional bridge is not possible. The water is extremely deep and the cost will be prohibitive. Tunnelling will also be very expensive.”

That’s from University of Canterbury structural engineering and materials professor Alessandro Palermo – one of New Zealand’s top bridge specialists.

Palermo does have a proposal, but before that, what are we dealing with here? And most importantly, how much would these projects cost?

The Bluebridge and Interislander ferries, seen here in Picton, both take about three hours to cross the often violent ...

STUFF
The Bluebridge and Interislander ferries, seen here in Picton, both take about three hours to cross the often violent stretch of water.
 It is tempting to look at the strait’s narrowest point of just 22km for a potential crossing from Cape Terawhiti to Arapaoa Island in the Marlborough Sounds. That, however, means building a state-highway tier road through the extremely hilly country behind Karori all the way to the coast, another such road across undeveloped Arapaoa Island in the sounds, a bridge across the Tory Channel and another road to get back to State Highway 1.

A 27km bridge or tunnel from the cape directly to the mainland and bypassing Arapaoa, landing on the peninsula east of Picton, would still involve significant roadworks.

If, on the other hand, you wanted to build a link between the two closest developed points (Wellington city and either Picton or Blenheim), the distance is 64km to Picton and 65km to the shoreline just east of Blenheim.

The 2.4km Waterview Tunnel in Auckland, pictured, cost $1.4b, which equates to about $583m per kilometre. For a 27km ...

CALLUM MCGILLIVRAY/STUFF
The 2.4km Waterview Tunnel in Auckland, pictured, cost $1.4b, which equates to about $583m per kilometre. For a 27km tunnel, that’s $15.7b. For a 65km tunnel, that’s $37.9b.
 BRIDGE OR TUNNEL?

Bridges are much cheaper than tunnels. The catch? A bridge would have to withstand a highly turbulent Cook Strait, probable earthquakes and be high enough for ships to get through (or at least able to open up).

A 65km-odd bridge would be New Zealand’s biggest bridge by far. The current longest bridge is Canterbury’s Rakaia Bridge at just 1.8km.

One of the possible routes for a Cook Strait bridge or tunnel: Cape Terawhiti to Arapaoa Island, the shortest point ...

JULIAN LEE/GOOGLE MAPS
One of the possible routes for a Cook Strait bridge or tunnel: Cape Terawhiti to Arapaoa Island, the shortest point between the two islands, 22km.
 It’s so long, in fact, that if it existed it would be the sixth-longest bridge in the world.

But the cost of a bridge is not impossible for New Zealand.

The 38km Lake Pontchartrain Bridge in Louisiana, United States is the longest in the Western world. It cost roughly NZ$561m in today’s dollars. For a 60km-odd long bridge, that would be more than $1 billion.

Looking towards Wellington city - the starting point for a tunnel or bridge?

ROBERT KITCHIN/STUFF
Looking towards Wellington city – the starting point for a tunnel or bridge?
 The 55km Bang Na Expressway in Thailand, which would be closest in size to a Cook Strait Bridge, cost about NZ$1.9b in today’s dollars when it was completed in 2000. Both are a steal compared to the estimated $3.4b cost of Auckland’s City Rail Link.

Tunnels, on the other hand, are much more expensive.

The 2.4km Waterview Tunnel in Auckland cost $1.4b, which equates to about $583m per kilometre. For a 27km tunnel, that’s $15.7b. For a 65km tunnel, that’s $37.9b.

One of the possible routes for a Cook Strait bridge or tunnel: Wellington to Picton, the shortest route between two ...

JULIAN LEE/GOOGLE MAPS
One of the possible routes for a Cook Strait bridge or tunnel: Wellington to Picton, the shortest route between two developed centres, 64km.
 Stuff pitched the strait drive options to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA). A spokesman pointed out that using the Waterview’s costing was probably not worth while.

“Waterview Tunnel went through rigorous business case and cost/benefit analysis. It’s hard to imagine a serious case for a Cook Strait tunnel that would be more than 10 times longer and three times deeper than Waterview and considerably more expensive.

Nonetheless the NZTA was open-minded.

“To the best of our knowledge there’s never been a serious feasibility study of a Cook Strait tunnel, nor has there been a need for it,” the spokesman said.

“The costs to build and operate such a tunnel would be huge, but anything is possible with unlimited time, money and expertise.”

There does not appear to be a simple way to work out how much tunnels cost.

The Channel Tunnel, or “Chunnel” connecting Britain and Europe has the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world – its total length is 50.45km, just shy of what would be required under the Cook Strait. The Chunnel’s lowest point is 75 metres below sea level – the strait averages almost twice that depth at 128m.

The Chunnel cost £9b at the time of completion in 1994 – something like $30b in today’s New Zealand dollars.

Japan’s Seikan Tunnel is 54km connecting the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido across the Tsugaru Strait, which is much deeper than Cook with a maximum depth of 200m. Japan, like New Zealand, is a shaky country. It cost around NZ$10b in today’s money.

Stuff pitched the idea of crossing the strait to Treasury. A Treasury spokesman said: “In a hypothetical situation such as what you suggest, the Treasury would provide analysis and free and frank advice to the responsible ministers.

“We would factor in a number of aspects, such as cost-benefit analysis, alternative options and solutions for whatever issue the project is intended to address, impact on the Crown accounts, the government’s capital spending allowances, project funding alternatives (eg government-funded, privately funded, a public-private partnership etc), broader considerations such as environmental and social impacts, and other matters.”:

The spokesman also said how much money was in the kitty for transport infrastructure projects: There is $3.4b available this year and another $3.4b next year, but in 2020 there will be only $3.1b and the following year just $2.7b.

In other words, even if the government were to spend 50 per cent of the country’s capital allowances for transport over the next four years, a tunnel starting from Wellington might not even get to the water.

ANOTHER SOLUTION

Having to choose between a bridge that could fall over in the next earthquake and a tunnel that could impoverish the entire country would be enough to make most Kiwis spit their tea out. But perhaps there is a third way.

Palermo, the engineering professor who wrote off the idea of a traditional tunnel or bridge, has another, more modern idea. A “submerged floating tunnel” – a tunnel that floats on or near the surface of the sea and is anchored to the ground.

One has never been built, but the idea is being developed and explored in places like Japan and the USA.

Palermo said sea currents, earthquakes and tsunamis are the main challenges, but: “I think the concept could be feasible. Construction will not be easy, but not far different than building an off-shore petrol platform. The bridge could be manufactured with innovative ultra-high performance concrete and segments of the tunnel prefabricated in a specialised precast yard.

“The great challenge will be the anchors, but it will not be more challenging than an off-shore platform.

“Given the flexibility of the tunnel, its response to earthquakes may not be so problematic and the anchors could be designed to accommodate big ground displacement generated by fault rupture.”

Palermo said the ultra-high performance concrete will reduce the amount of concrete required and guarantee long-lasting durability – perhaps more than a century.

“I also like the possibility to create within the tunnel an outlook with structural glass windows and turning it into an iconic tourist attraction.

“Moreover, it could have a negative carbon footprint (this means that it doesn’t have embedded energy costs) if the impact of currents could be turned into energy to be used for the tunnel or possibly sold out to Wellington and Marlborough.

“It will not have a strong environmental impact and I think it could be seen in the future, especially if there will be a take over with electric cars.”

Palermo said the concept is still being developed and costs are unknown.

The closest New Zealand has ever come to physically uniting the country seems to be a bit of political banter loosely attributed a politician more than a century ago. Seasoned politicians from our own time have not even heard the idea raised once in the halls of Parliament – not even in the back halls.

If New Zealand were to really bridge a 20,000-year-old gap over one of the more problematic stretches of water the world has to offer, it may be time, rather than money, that might be the best bet.

 – Stuff

Auckland Transport throws out its own plan

2 Feb, 2018

Auckland Transport produced this image of how light rail would look but ranked it so low it would not get funding. Photo / Artist Impression
Auckland Transport produced this image of how light rail would look but ranked it so low it would not get funding. Photo / Artist Impression

Comment by Simon Wilson

How embarrassing. The board of Auckland Transport (AT) has rejected the draft of its most important planning document, prepared for it by AT staff. The reason? The recommendations in the draft ignored AT’s own policies. They also ignored the policies of Auckland Council, which AT is supposed to answer to. And they ignored the clearly stated wishes of the new government, which has a say because it co-funds so much of the city’s transport programme.

Will heads roll? Unlikely, but possible.

It started last week, when AT published, under the signature of Shane Ellison, its brand-new CEO, the draft of its new 10-year plan. Nearly half the funding for commuter rail was gone, light rail was ranked so low it would not get any funding at all, and the cycling and walking budget was slashed by 90 per cent.

Cue immediate scrambling for cover. The chair of the AT board, Lester Levy, even rang the Minister of Transport, Phil Twyford, to apologise. Twyford tweeted: “I’ve had sincere apology from AT chair Lester Levy for internal ‘budget’ document mistakenly made public. The doc certainly doesn’t reflect my conversations with @phil_goff and @AklTransport board and our shared commitment to building a modern transport system for Auckland.”

Well, good. But this was not some simple “mistake”.

The document was a new draft Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP), which is written anew every six years and refreshed every three. This is a refresh year, although with Labour and the Greens determined to keelhaul National’s transport planning, the right time for a full rethink by AT is now. The document even says as much, although without doing it.

What did it get so wrong?

One, it ignored Auckland Council’s guidelines, which are also AT’s own priorities. Through a “Statement of Intent” agreed with council, AT has prioritised public transport, active transport (cycling and walking), road safety and carbon reduction. The draft RLTP just set all that aside.

Two, it ignored the government’s own signals. Twyford and associate minister Julie-Anne Genter, who looks after active transport and safety, have both been clear. In particular, they’ve told us light rail will be a priority and some of National’s expensive new roads (including the East-West Link from Penrose to Onehunga) will not happen. The draft RLTP, however, effectively pretended Twyford and Genter don’t exist.

Three, the draft wasn’t leaked or released casually. It was an official public document prepared for the AT board and posted online in what is usually a carefully managed process. Damningly, it was signed off by CEO Shane Ellison and two of his senior executives.

 

Four, it included a fabricated “introduction” from Levy. He didn’t write it, which isn’t uncommon, but nor did he see it before publication. That’s astonishing: who releases a statement by the boss without getting it cleared by the boss?

In a lengthy conversation on Wednesday, Levy told me he was especially upset about this and “I have made that very clear to the CEO”.

I asked him if it was humiliating to have to apologise to the minister. He said, “Yes. I spend a lot of my time having to apologise for things I didn’t know about. This is the job, and yes it is embarrassing.” (Levy is also the chair of Auckland’s three health boards.)

The offending draft had two main parts. One was what Levy calls a “narrative”: it described the work of AT in language very much in line with other recent AT documents and with the thinking in council and the new government.

“Our priorities actually align very well with what we know of the Government’s,” Levy told me, and he repeated that at the board meeting. “This government has got some great aspirations,” he said.

But the second part was a list of all the transport projects, both underway and proposed. It ranked them and recommended specific levels of funding for each. It was the guts of the document. Free of rhetoric and wishful thinking, it appeared to reveal what the officials who wrote it think AT should do.

When it got to the AT board yesterday afternoon, Cynthia Gillespie, head of strategy and one of the document’s signatories, attempted an explanation. AT has 320 projects it could be working on, she said. If they did them all, over 10 years they’d cost $19 billion. So obviously they’re not doing them all.

To help choose the best they have a “calculator”, a piece of software that assesses each project against a set of objectives. The calculator reflects the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP), an agreement about transport priorities signed by the previous government and the previous council. Gillespie blamed the calculator for scoring light rail and cycling very low.

ATAP is now out of date and under review. And yet AT officials used it produce recommendations that would have suited the old government but were profoundly out of line with the new one, and with council, and with AT itself.

To the board’s credit, they threw them out.

Still, they had a problem. By law, AT must adopt a new draft RLTP, put it out for public consultation and sign it off by the end of June.

But the government will not produce its official transport policy statement until late March. If AT has to wait till after then to produce the new RLTP, the public input phase will suffer.

Board member Sir Michael Cullen saved the day.

“We are pretending we don’t know what we really do know,” he said. He listed various projects Twyford and Genter have said they want prioritised and added, “I don’t think it would be improper for staff to prepare a new draft RLTP that reflects what we can reasonably expect will happen.”

They will now write a new plan, in the expectation it will align with the government’s policy statement when it arrives. Which is what should have happened in the first place.

Meanwhile, Lester Levy still wants to know how all this happened.

I asked if he felt let down by some of the senior management. “I don’t know but I will certainly let you know when I find out.”

He also said, “We have given our new CEO a mandate to deliver culture change in the organisation.”

That’s very good to hear.

Norway is currently the world’s demonstration project for green transport solutions

January 24, 2018,  in TOI 

 

There is a technical revolution taking place today. Transport has broadly been run on liquid hydrocarbons the last 130 years. This is about to change. In the small country of Norway, every third new car sold is an electric vehicle and the world’s first electric ferry is crossing a Norwegian fjord 34 times every day. We are thus presently in the forefront of this change.

With just over 5 million inhabitants, in the big scheme of things we do not make much of a difference. But on the other hand, the biggest wave always starts with the smallest ripple. In Norway, the wave is gaining strength. Right now, India could look to Norway to see how green transportation solutions work in practice.

India is a big country. In every sense of the word. The Indian population is set to surpass China and become the largest in the world in the years to come. With a population of such a magnitude, many of India’s choices going forward will have global implications, also for Norway. It will come down to big countries like India, if this mounting wave will bring about the transformation in transportation that will save our planet and create business opportunities for all.

Illustration: Ajit Ninan

Norway is currently the world’s demonstration project for green transport solutions. We have the highest EV penetration rate in the world. Nearly 40% of new cars sold are EVs. Infrastructure, technologies and solutions are being developed, tested and assessed in Norway. Valuable lessons have been learnt from looking at customer behaviour. For example, the fear of running out of battery power, or range anxiety, has been highlighted as a barrier to EV uptake.

While many drivers experience range anxiety at first, this fear quickly subsides. In fact, only 4% of Norwegian EV drivers report having run out of battery power. Businesses and governments from all over the world are looking to Norway to gain insights into how the beginnings of a mass market for EVs functions in practice.

But how did Norway achieve this? It is the result of targeted and stable transport policies. Firstly, we have a clear goal of selling only zero-emission vehicles and buses by 2025. Secondly, we give tax exemptions to EVs and shift the tax burden to combustion engine cars instead. And thirdly, we invest in EV infrastructure, having built 8,755 charging stations – 1 per 21 electric or hybrid cars.

While the development of EVs are gaining attention, there is still little talk about transport on seas and rivers. Norway is a maritime nation with longstanding traditions of shipbuilding and offshore activities. We have been a global leader in pushing for higher environmental standards in shipping.

The Norwegian ship building industry and shipping industry is now taking steps to develop a new fleet of environmentally friendly ships. The new ships will use the same technology as an electric car but with a battery the size of a storage container, or a combination of battery power and liquid natural gas (LNG), or some other cleaner-burning fuel such as hydrogen.

Right now, we have the world’s first battery driven ferry operating a passenger ferry route crossing the Sognefjord in Norway. The power consumed by the MS Ampere for a single crossing of 6 km costs about Rs 400 – the equivalent of a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and yet it’s enough to transport 360 passengers and 120 cars.

For longer distances, ships fuelled by LNG are an important alternative. Norway has the world’s largest fleet of LNG ships. The environmental benefits are massive compared to diesel-fuelled ships – 30% lower CO2 emissions, 85% lower NOx emissions and absolutely no particulate emissions to pollute the air.

The number of vehicles on Indian roads is projected to grow from over 160 million to over 550 million in 2030. This begs the question: Will these cars run on diesel, or will they be electric? In order to service 390 million additional cars on the roads, new infrastructure must be developed. Will there be new gas stations built, or charging stations? For India and for the rest of the world, there is a big difference between these two choices.

There are certainly positive signs that India intends to go green going forward. An ambitious target has been set: 100% of new vehicles sold will be electric by 2030. We believe India should set a similar ambitious target for their shipping fleet.

In this country, you also have vast stretches of rivers and canals. The government’s focus on moving freight on ships on these inland waterways, rather than by trucks on the highways, could reap huge environmental benefits, both in terms of reducing local air pollution and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Greening the Indian transport sector will boost India’s energy security by becoming less reliant on imported oil. Currently, India spends over $235 million a day on oil imports. Increasing the share of electrical vehicles, especially in the big cities, will also help reduce the lethal smog encapsulating many Indian cities every year. According to the renowned medical journal Lancet, over 2.5 million Indians die every year because of the toxic air.

While the wave of greener transport solutions is gaining momentum in Norway, we need the weight of big countries, like India, to make it a tidal wave. Norway is eager to support India in this endeavour.

Electric campervans, freight trucks and buses coming for ‘clean, green’ NZ’

A 58-tonne electric freight truck, electric buses and developing an electric campervan for tourism are among the initiatives to receive a share of $3.74 million from the Government.

Twenty projects were announced today in the latest round of the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. The funding is being matched by $4.3m from the recipients.

A large proportion of the Government money – $1.7m – is for more charging stations nationwide, including at Foodstuffs supermarkets and golf courses nationwide, Fisher and Paykel stores, Wilson Parking buildings mainly in Auckland, and the Cloudy Bay vineyard in Blenheim.

Local authorities will also receive funding for charging stations in Taranaki, Waikato and the King Country.

“This is really about making sure we’ve got coverage around the country in terms of infrastructure,” Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods said during the announcement.

“A big part of what we need to do to up the uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand is to make sure we don’t have people stranded, running out of juice.”

Tourism Holdings will receive $402,000 to convert an electric van into a campervan, aiming to have 20 electric campervans on the road within a year.

“New Zealand sells itself to the world as a clean, green paradise,” Woods said.

“One of the things people will be attracted to is the ability to do their trip in a sustainable way. It’s got huge potential and it’s the way we want to sell ourselves to the rest of the world.”

The Motor Tourism Training Organisation will receive $95,000 to develop a qualifications framework for technicians working on electric vehicles.

There is currently no NZQA-registered qualification for this work, and Woods said the new framework will be critical in preparing the workforce for the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Electric freight vehicles also had potential to cut into domestic carbon emissions, and a $500,000 grant will go to CODA, in partnership with Zero Emission Vehicles and Bay Dairy, to design and build a 58-tonne electric freight truck for Fonterra.

The announcement was made at Zealandia eco-sanctuary in Wellington, which will receive $118,137 to replace its diesel buses with two electric mini-buses.

“It’s all about reducing emissions, sure, but it’s all about the liveability of our cities, the places where we live, and the healthiness of them,” Zealandia chief executive Paul Atkins said.

Woods said the funding was conditional until contracts are prepared and signed.

“The projects we are funding show there’s an electric vehicle for almost every job or use in New Zealand, be it delivering fruit and veg or taking a holiday.”

Labour’s coalition agreement with New Zealand First includes a promise to have the Government’s vehicle fleet, where practicable, emissions-free by 2025/26.

Woods said the progress of that work will depend on existing Government contracts.

Other funding recipients include:
• Evincible – $263,450 – to co-ordinate the rollout of a battery electric courtesy car and associated charging station for 25 automotive workshops, giving people the chance to test drive an EV while their car is being repaired or serviced.
• Tranzit Group – $397,500 – to invest in permanent drive-through charging stations for buses at the Wellington Railway Station bus interchange, capable of charging four buses simultaneously.
Ohomairangi Trust – $75,000 – to buy six EVs for its teachers, therapists and specialists to use visiting whanau.
Kerikeri Village Trust – $67,250 – to buy four EVs to establish a car share operation for use by residents and staff and install a public charging unit in Kerikeri.

The top 5 transport stories in 2017

This year saw multiple transport milestones: from the world’s first electronic freight trucks, to fully solar-powered trains, to landmark decisions to ban the sale of purely diesel and petrol-powered cars across the world.

Could this year mark the point when the transport sector truly charts a course for sustainability? Here are the top five transport stories in 2017.

1. End of the road for petrol and diesel cars

In a move that was heralded as a tipping point for the global automotive industry, China in September said it is working on a plan to end the manufacture and sale of fossil-fuel powered cars. The country, which is the world’s largest car market, did not announce a fixed timeline for this goal.

Other countries which made similar commitments this year include the United Kingdom and France, which plan to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, and India, which announced a goal to sell only electric cars by 2030. This was a plan that some saw as ambitious, and others as unviable.

Sweden-based, Chinese-owned industry giant Volvo also announced that it will make only electric and hybrid cars from 2019 onwards, becoming the world’s first major car maker to abandon pure internal combustion engine cars.

2. Dockless debates

Traditional models of bicycle-sharing in cities where users can rent a bike from one location and return it at another station have been around for a while, but 2017 was arguably the year of dockless bicycle sharing.

Chinese companies such as Mobike, Ofo, oBike and ReddyGo expanded exponentially, in China and cities worldwide. Ofo for instance placed 100 bikes on the streets of Oxford, UK, and said it plans to have 20 million bikes on the road across 200 cities by the end of this year. Competitor firm Mobike also launched 1,000 bright orange bikes in Manchester. In Australia, China-backed ReddyGo in June brought “thousands” of bikes to Sydney, while oBike debuted in Melbourne.

Many acknowledge the schemes as an effective means of reducing air pollution and traffic congestion—especially in China’s notoriously smoggy cities—but the rapid proliferation of bike-sharing has created a situation where supply vastly exceeds demand, and users have abused the dockless model to indiscriminately dump bikes in public places.

3. Electric overhaul for freight

The company widely regarded as a leader in electric car innovation unveiled the Tesla Semi Truck in November, opening up the potential to electrify the global freight vehicle market.

Available in models with a range of 300 and 500 miles, the trucks will be available for purchase in 2019. Companies such as package delivery firm UPSUS retail giant Walmart, food firm Pepisco have collectively pre-ordered more than 200 models.

4. Here comes the solar train

Australia’s Byron Bay Railroad Company unveiled the world’s first fully electric, solar-powered train in December. The 100-seater train, which plies a three-kilometre round route in the northern New South Wales district, has a 6.5 kilowatt (kW) solar panel array on the train roof, and is fitted with a 77 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery storage system. This is enough storage for between 12 and 15 trips, according to reports.

Brian Flannery, the multimillionaire businessman who funded the solar train, noted that a train plying a longer route would need recharging stations along the way, and added that the technology might be well suited for use in inner city trams.

Meanwhile India, home to Asia’s largest rail network, in July unveiled its first solar powered train. These trains still use diesel to move, but all air conditioning, lighting, and information displays on board are solar powered. Indian Railways estimates that using solar on board the 11,000 trains it operates daily could save the company US$6.31 billion over the next 10 years.

5. Plastic roads

Though not a new technology, the concept of building roads using plastic waste gained mainstream popularity this year. Indonesia, which is among the top five plastic polluting countries in the world, tested out the practice of mixing shredded, melted plastic waste with tar to make more durable, cheaper, and stronger roads this year. The initial test along a 700-metre stretch of road was carried out at a university in Bali, and officials plan to expand the solution to major cities such as Jakarta and Surabaya soon.

Analysts also urged India, where at least 15,000 deaths were caused by potholes in 2016, to make more roads using plastic. Though the Indian government made it mandatory to incorporate waste in highways in 2015, some states have been slow to adopt the practice.

The plastic road movement also caught on the United Kingdom this year, when engineer Toby McCartney and his start-up MacRebur persuaded two English councils to use waste to build their roads in April.

Oil Steadies Above $57 Amid Supply Disruptions Around the World

Oil steadied above $57 a barrel in New York as the threat of supply disruptions from the North Sea to OPEC member Nigeria and reduced U.S. drilling all suggested the global surplus may continue to fade.

Futures added 0.5 percent in New York, matching Friday’s gain. U.S. explorers trimmed the number of rigs by four to 747 last week, according to Baker Hughes data. A Nigerian oil union announced an indefinite strike while the country’s fellow OPEC members pressed on with efforts to clear a crude surplus. Ineos repeated that a crack in a North Sea pipeline will take two to four weeks to fix.

Oil is set for a second yearly gain as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies trim production to drain a global glut. While the group has extended cuts through the end of 2018, it faces a challenge from output in the U.S., which is forecast to surge next year to a record 10 million barrels a day.

“Investors remain bullish on oil as global growth looks strong, OPEC has extended cuts throughout 2018 and geopolitical risk has made its way back to the oil market,” said Jens Naervig Pedersen, an analyst at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen.

WTI for January delivery, which expires Tuesday, rose 30 cents to $57.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 1:28 p.m. in London. Total volume traded was about 30 percent below the 100-day average.

Brent for February settlement gained 29 cents to $63.52 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices fell 0.3 percent last week. The global benchmark traded at a premium of $5.92 to February WTI.

The Brent net-long position — the difference between bets on a price increase and wagers on a drop — rose 1.8 percent to a record 544,051 contracts, according to data from ICE Futures Europe. Money managers cut their WTI net-long position by 0.4 percent to 390,874 futures and options in the week ended Dec. 12, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Friday.

Source: Bloomberg

Rail has saved New Zealand $1.5 billion a year, study shows

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the report showed the benefits of investing in rail.

STUFF
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the report showed the benefits of investing in rail.

New Zealand’s rail network has save the country $1.5 billion by reducing congestion wait times, accidents and emissions, a report has found.

The total cost avoided by having passengers off the roads and on rail was $1.19b alone, according to consultancy firm EY.

Their report was produced in 2016, commissioned by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) but the former government never released it.

A year-old study, just released by the Government, shows $1.5b in savings of congestion and safety incidents, by having ...

STUFF
A year-old study, just released by the Government, shows $1.5b in savings of congestion and safety incidents, by having a rail network.

New Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the study supported further investment in rail, and reinforced the Government’s plans to do so.

EY found the net benefits provided by passenger rail amounted to $1.2b in savings from reduced congestion, $8.2m in safety benefits and $3m in reduced emissions.

For freight, there was an estimated total net benefit of $354m.

“The implications of these findings for passenger rail is that the support it receives from subsidies (central and local government) is highly likely to be acceptable because passenger rail is calculated to add significant value by reducing congestion on Auckland and Wellington’s arterial roads,” the report said.

“The implications of these finding for freight rail is that the Government funding it receives is likely to be acceptable as the total benefits (both quantitative and qualitative) could be greater than the Government support it receives.”

However, the study had a number of limitations across all measures, said EY, and a more analysis was needed to confirm freight rail’s benefits outweighed the subsidies afforded it by Government.

The study also broke down the time delay costs for the two major cities; Auckland and Wellington.

In the capital, it found that even with its passenger rail system, 19.8m hours worth of congestion came in at a cost of around $303m in time delay. In Auckland, the traffic situation was more complex.

The net time delay cost was about $882m, and the report’s writers said that represented an 57m extra vehicle hours on Auckland roads.

Twyford said rail was a “great way to travel and move cargo”.

“It takes both passengers and freight off the roads, improving the travel experience of road users and reducing their costs.”

The Government would “restore balance” to transport funding and boost investment in rail infrastructure both for passengers and freight.

“This will include significant investment in regional rail via the Regional Development Fund, as set out in the Labour-New Zealand First coalition agreement.

“The establishment of a light rail network in Auckland will significantly increase the $1.3b a year of benefits that road users, including freight companies, experience from reduced congestion,” Twyford said.

STACEY KIRK – Stuff

Government addresses concerns of transport industry

Transport Minister Phil Twyford (file photo).

BRADEN FASTIER
Transport Minister Phil Twyford (file photo).

New and additional sources of funding are needed to help fix Auckland’s traffic congestion and growing pains, Transport Minister Phil Twyford says.

But Twyford believes it is not fair for the rest of New Zealand to pay for its biggest city’s woes.

Rail and coastal shipping will be a focus for both Auckland and elsewhere, he said.

The newly named minister made the comments in his first address at the Road Transport Forum’s annual conference in Hamilton on Saturday. “If we had a decent passenger rail from Auckland to Hamilton paid for out of the Land Transport Fund, then I could have been here much earlier,” he joked, referring to what RTF Chief Executive Ken Shirley had said to him after arriving late to the conference, having got stuck in traffic.

During the conference at Claudelands Event Centre, Twyford outlined the government’s direction on the future of transport throughout the country.

Creating a “resilient and multi-modal transport system, reducing carbon emissions and fixing Auckland’s congestion” were the priorities.

“We know the transport system is about networks and productivity and changes to one mode can have flow-on consequences.”

Transport in New Zealand needs to be resilient in the face of shocks, such as the recent earthquakes that shut down the major north-south highway in the South Island.

To do this, changes to funding is required.

Roading is currently funded through the Land Transport Fund, from road user charges, petrol tax and vehicle registration, which generate $4 billion a year.

“We need to tackle the problem of new and additional funding sources and the challenge of dealing with Auckland’s growth pains is one of the pressures here.”

Decades of under-investment and congestion in Auckland is costing the city $1.3b a year in lost productivity, he said.

Aucklanders want it fixed, but Twyford said it will come at a cost.

“They understand that it costs money to do this.”

The Government is committed to a $15 million, 10-year programme that includes a rapid transport system in Auckland, which will join up with the road and highway system.

“We believe rapid transport should be funded in the same way as state highways and there are benefits for at least part-funding the rapid transport through the Land Transport Fund.

“We need to find additional sources of funding as well and we cannot ask the rest of New Zealand to pay the costs of Auckland’s growth.”

If asked, the Government will pass legislation to allow Auckland Council to levy a regional fuel tax, he said.

“We’ve talked about 10 cents a litre and that would generate about $150 million a year, about 10 per cent of the investment that is needed for the Auckland Transport Plan.

“Aucklanders have to be willing to chip in a bit extra.”

Income from targetted rates on what will be “massive increases” in the value of the land around the light rail network in Auckland could be reinvested in the rapid transport system, he said.

“The Government is going to continue to fund rail above and beyond the national transport fund, but what we want is to generate new and additional sources of revenue.

“In the long term, petrol excise will not be a sustainable way to fund the transport system.”

Previous governments had disproportionately invested the fund into motorway projects, leaving regional roads starved of funds, he said.

“Our coalition partner placed a very high premium on investment in the regions, so that will be a priority.”

Reducing carbon emissions

Another priority would be reducing carbon emissions from the transport industry, which make up 18 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

Exploring coastal shipping is one way of doing this, he said.

“I believe if we level the playing field, coastal shipping can be a cost-effective way to move heavy bulk freight that is not time-dependent.”

He also addressed one of the biggest concerns from the industry – the shortage of top-class drivers.

Attendees said the driver-licensing system had become complicated and expensive.

Twyford said the government wanted to weave driver licensing into the school curriculum.

“When people don’t get their licence or never graduate to a full licence, it has downstream negative consequences for them to get jobs.”

He said stemming migrant numbers would not affect those in the transport industry.

“You’ll know the intention to change the immigration settings, as we believe the open door policy of immigration had quadrupled net migration.

“We think we can combat this by taking out the rorts and the scams in the education sector, where so-called education providers have been giving back-door visas.”

There are genuine skill shortages and regional skill lists will mean a particular regions can attract people in to live and work in that region, he said.

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