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Picton pegged for NZ’s largest dry dock

Shakespeare Bay, pictured, is being mooted as the most likely location for a new floating dry dock.

Shakespeare Bay, pictured, is being mooted as the most likely location for a new floating dry dock.

A proposal to build New Zealand’s largest dry dock in Picton could create hundreds of jobs and provide a “massive benefit” for shipping in the country.

Port Marlborough is investigating the feasibility of establishing a floating dry dock in Shakespeare Bay, a deepwater port beside Picton Harbour.

The need for a new facility has been highlighted by the NZ Shipping Federation, whose director says “my guys would like it today, it couldn’t happen soon enough”.

The largest current dry dock, part of the Devonport Naval Base, in Auckland, was the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere when it was built in 1888 but is now too small to service many ships operating in New Zealand waters.

All five Cook Strait ferries, other large commercial boats and the HMNZS Canterbury have to go to navy dry docks in Sydney, or further afield to Singapore, for regular maintenance and repairs.

Shakespeare Bay is already used by the logging industry.

Shakespeare Bay is already used by the logging industry.

However, because the Australian dry dock was a navy operation New Zealand operators could struggle to secure a booking as preference was given to navy ships.

Shipping federation executive director Annabel Young said the fuel cost for the month-long return journey to Singapore was about $500,000.

“Every time you put a vessel into a dry dock you’re looking at millions of dollars of expenditure,” she said.

Installing a floating dry dock in Shakespeare Bay could potentially create hundreds of jobs in Picton.

Installing a floating dry dock in Shakespeare Bay could potentially create hundreds of jobs in Picton.

A Defence Force spokesman said the annual cost of using overseas dry docks was commercially sensitive, but noted transit time was a significant additional cost.

Future ships including the recently-commissioned HMNZS Aotearoa would be too large to be serviced at Devonport, so the Defence Force agreed a new dry dock was needed.

The spokesman said it had partnered with Port Marlborough and the shipping federation to determine the feasibility of a facility at Shakespeare Bay capable of docking ships heavier than 10,000 tonnes and longer than 200 metres.

The Devonport dry dock, built in 1888, can take ships up to 170m in length and 22.5m wide.

The Devonport dry dock, built in 1888, can take ships up to 170m in length and 22.5m wide.

“I think it’s got to the point of critical mass where people can see there’s a really good business case for a dry dock to be set up,” Young said.

The creation of a floating dry dock near Picton would be “absolutely huge” for the local economy but “how many hundreds of jobs it would create, I don’t know”, she said.

“The biggest benefit is you’d become a centre of engineering, all the trades you need to fix a ship, and in addition to that there would be accommodation needs for people that come off the ship.”

What will happen to the boat moorings in Shakespeare Bay?

What will happen to the boat moorings in Shakespeare Bay?

A large floating dry dock in New Zealand would save operators money, reduce carbon emissions, allow for urgent repairs and minimise the time ships, such as the ferries, were out of action, she said.

Young said it would also be used for in-water inspections and cleaning, and stop the need for the Ministry for Primary Industries to turn large ships away if their hulls required cleaning.

She said, ideally, the dry dock would cater for ships up to 240 metres long, adding it would be possible to secure a secondhand floating dry dock for between $60 to $80 million.

The Ovation of the Seas in Shakespeare Bay in January.

The Ovation of the Seas in Shakespeare Bay in January.

Kaikōura MP Stuart Smith said he had been working with the port, the federation and the current and former Minister of Defence over the past two years to advocate for the project.

“The earthquake has highlighted the value of coastal shipping and the blue highway, and a vital part of that is making sure our ships are serviced here,” he said.

Smith said a floating dry dock in Shakespeare Bay made strategic sense, as it was located in the middle of the country and at one end of the Cook Strait ferry route.

A decommissioned navy ship gets water-blasted at the Calliope Dry Dock, part of the Devonport Naval Base, in Auckland. ...

A decommissioned navy ship gets water-blasted at the Calliope Dry Dock, part of the Devonport Naval Base, in Auckland. (File photo)

“Are we there yet? No. But I think it’s got to the point where the business case is so strong and the strategic case is so strong that it will happen,” Smith said.

The Kaikōura MP also pointed to the economic opportunities a dry dock would create for Marlborough, estimating it would create more than 100 jobs, with more in associated service industries.

“It would have a massive benefit for New Zealand, from a strategic and an economic point of view, and at a provincial or local level the economic benefits would be massive,” he said.

A KiwiRail spokesman said the most recent dry docking of an Interislander ferry was in April, when the Kaitaki was sent to Sydney for two-yearly maintenance.

However, the Aratere was sent to Singapore last year, causing the ferry to be out of action for two months due to travel time and time spent in the dry dock.

“Naturally we would like to see a dry dock in New Zealand,” the spokesman said.

“There would be a significant benefit for Interislander and therefore its customers in having a large dry dock capable of accommodating its ships here.”

Port Marlborough chief executive Ian McNabb said the port had been looking at the option of establishing a floating dry dock in Shakespeare Bay for “quite some time”.

“We’ve looked at it for all sorts of reasons, and we’re currently working with a couple of companies in relation to looking at the feasibility of the project,” he said.

Shakespeare Bay was the best option for a floating dry dock because of its central location, and natural depth which meant less, or no dredging would be required, he said.

McNabb said it would have enormous benefits for New Zealand and for Marlborough, in terms of job creation and the ability to conduct more frequent maintenance.

“From a regional point of view there’s all the flow-on effects of having a major industrial facility based in New Zealand and not overseas,” he said.

“If the demand is there, it will happen.”

 – The Marlborough Express

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.


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.


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 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.

More needs to be done for transport infrastructure say CEOs

By James Penn

No doubt many CEOs were cheering on the opening of Auckland’s Waterview tunnel in June, but they say there is more to be done: Auckland’s congestion woes were ranked as the most impactful domestic factor for business confidence in New Zealand.

The adequacy of transport infrastructure was also chief among the concerns of business leaders.

Over half of Mood of the Boardroom survey respondents rated the issue an eight or above on a 10-point scale, ranging from no concern to extreme concern. An overall average concern rating of 7.4 tells the story.

The third and fourth ranked factors were “growth pressures in Auckland” and “housing unaffordability” respectively – both coming in at above 7 on the scale – speaking to concerns about a city that many consider to be bulging at its seams.

For Anthony Healy, CEO of BNZ, housing affordability was the top issue facing the nation. Healy had a wide variety of policy prescriptions for the issue: “Increase supply, RMA reform, more thoughtful immigration policy, overhaul local government funding model, incentivise regional migration and development, and increase infrastructure investment.”

As one leader sitting on the boards of a number of organisations headquartered outside Auckland explained, “Although Auckland issues are not so concerning, we are all interlinked and there are impacts and consequences direct or indirect.”

Craig Stobo, chair of the Local Government Funding Agency, said “the shortage of labour skills and pressures on growth city infrastructure” were constraints to further growth.

“Central government needs to rethink immigration policy and to share revenues with local government to incentivise them to invest in infrastructure,” he suggested.

The latter of those suggestions, in the form of a policy sharing GST on construction costs, has been proposed by Act this election, and rated highly among CEOs – 3.47/5, on average.

“ACT is right on the button,” said Stobo. “Sharing central government tax revenues with local government will incentivise local infrastructure investment currently constrained by Council’s debt to revenue ceilings.”

Stephen Selwood, chief executive of Infrastructure New Zealand, wants even broader reform: “We need to rethink how local government is structured and funded, in parallel with RMA and planning law reform.”

“This requires some powers being aggregated at a regional level – economic development and infrastructure planning and delivery – and others powers devolved to communities – social issues and local amenities in particular.”

Ross Buckley, Executive Chairman at KPMG, says much of the work is finally being done, but it’s the timing that matters: “Recent investment in Auckland infrastructure (such as Waterveiw) is making a positive difference and paying dividends – it just always arrives 10 years late.”

Other leaders point out the funds for these investments requires economic growth, and New Zealand’s productivity has been flagging.

This reality was reflected in a rating of 6.3 on the concern scale for the labour productivity factor.

Indeed, after housing affordability Healy’s next top issue facing the nation was productivity. “Incentivise investment in R&D, develop and grow ICT sector, encourage more VC and start up capital funds,” suggested Healy.

Michele Embling’s Top Three Issues

Infrastructure pressures in Auckland including housing and transport: the Government needs to step in.

 The future of work has the ability to increase inequity in our society: Direct intervention from Government in partnership with the private sector is needed to equip the next generation to be resilient. We can’t leave this to the teaching profession alone.

 Clean and Green. We need to lead the world on environmental issues but must address our own shortcomings.

The Herald’s Mood of the Boardroom 2017 Election Survey attracted participation from 118 respondents. The results were debated this morning by shadow finance spokesman Grant Robertson and National’s Finance Minister Steven Joyce.

Speed limit around Waterview Tunnel restored to 100km/h


The weight of public opinion forces bureaucrats to rethink their speed limit strategy.  The speed limit around Auckland’s Waterview Tunnel is going up to 100km/h again.

The NZ Transport Agency announced late this afternoon that the variable speed limits will be extended on sections of State Highway 16 and 20 around the tunnel.

Since opening in July, the limit has dropped to 80km/h in the area. Authorities have said the drop in the speed limit is in keeping with international best practice.

However, it has proven to be unpopular with many motorists.

NZTA’s transport agency system design manager Brett Gliddon said: “We want to ensure that people’s journeys on the motorway are as safe and easy as we can make them.

“Variable speeds are increasingly being used to match speed limits with the conditions and provide the right balance between safety and keeping traffic flowing smoothly.”

Speed limits inside the tunnel will remain at 80km/h to manage the higher risks associated with an enclosed tunnel environment.

Gliddon said authorities had been monitoring the operational and safety performance on the state highways around the tunnel since it opened.

They had also taken on customer and stakeholder feedback in the past few months.

Earlier this month, thousands of people signed a petition via the Change.Org website calling on transport authorities to increase the speed limit from 80km/h to 100km/h on Auckland’s Northwestern Motorway.

The petition was started by Hamilton man Bradley Scales.

“Why, when you have a brand new four-lane wide motorway, would you make the speed limit 80km/h? To improve safety? That is the most ridiculous explanation I have heard,” he wrote.

Police have yet to reveal the number of speed tickets they have issued since the tunnel opened.

There are speed cameras inside as well as areas around it.

China on verge of developing 2,500mph ‘flying’ trains to rival Elon Musk’s Hyperloop

China trains

The new trains would be the quickest in the world
The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) is developing the innovative trains, which are 10 times faster than the world’s fastest bullet trains.Scientists have said the new trains will rival the new Hyperloop system being built by the billionaire Elon Musk.

Deputy general manager at CASC, Liu Shiquan, said their scientists would be developing the very fast trains of the future that are able to “fly on the ground”.

Train in China

These ‘flying trains’ would allow passengers to travel from Beijing to Wuhan in central China in half an hour, according to the Chinese aerospace company.The journey currently takes five hours by train and is around 720 miles in distance.

China’s state-owned website The Paper said: “The corporation has built rich experience and accumulated technological know-how through major projects, and it has the capabilities in simulation, modelling and experimentation for large-scale projects, as well as the world-class design capability for supersonic aircraft, all of which lay the important ground for the super-fast train project.”China already has the most high speed trains in the world and CASC have said they will work with other researchers to create the new high speed trains.

Mao Kai, chief designer of the system, said in an interview with a state newspaper the train will ensure safety by allowing for acceleration that is slower than that of civil aircraft.


The supersonic train could be rolled out in 60 countries across the globe
If the company does succeed in developing these ‘flying trains’, they would be travelling at speeds that are four times faster than commercial flights and more than three times the speed of sound.The contractors have said they would transport the supersonic train to more than 60 countries across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

The top speed recorded by the Concorde jet before it was deemed too unsafe in 2003 was 1,354 mph.

However, critics of the project have said the human body would not be able to withstand such an intense acceleration for very long.

Professor at Beijing Transport University, Zhao Jian, said: “In that case, are the passengers going to be astronauts only?“There would be high costs involved in improving the speed in stages, I wonder if it would be economically viable to do so.”

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop could take passengers from London to Edinburgh in half an hour, a journey that currently takes more than four hours.

The developer has described the transport system as a “cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table”.

The Hyperloop would allow passengers to travel in pods inside hide tubes.

Removing all of the friction from the technology would mean that the Hyperloop could carry passengers at around 760 mph.

Container Ships Lowered Emissions by 2.4% during 2016

BSR’s Clean Cargo Working Group (CCWG) announces the release of its 2016 Global Maritime Trade Lane Emissions Factors report, based on emissions reported by more than 3,200 ships from 22 of the world’s leading ocean container carriers that represent 87 percent of the global ocean container shipping industry by volume. The data show that the industry improved performance of greenhouse gas emissions by 2.4 percent (per TEU-km) from 2015 to 2016, a lower rate of improvement than in previous years.

This highlights that performance continues to improve but demonstrates the critical importance of collaboration and collective action to enable shipping to contribute to global emissions reductions targets. This was also the first year that 100 percent of carriers included in the emissions factors were verified using the CCWG procedure and guidance for verifying CO2 and SOx data.

The Clean Cargo Working Group has also reached a major milestone of 50 corporate members. The group now includes 22 container carriers and 28 of this industry’s largest customers—both global brands and freight forwarders. APL Logistics, CEVA Logistics, EFL, Expeditors International, LF Logistics, Panalpina Management Ltd., Philips Lighting, and SAT Albatros all joined in 2017. The list of all group members can be found here. “Partnerships along the value chain are key to truly conducting business sustainably. In joining CCWG, we join a group of peers dedicated to accelerating sustainability in the container shipping industry,” said Nicola Kimm, Head of Sustainability, Environment, Health & Safety at Philips Lighting, one of the new shippers to join in 2017. “Furthermore, we gain access to reliable and accurate data on individual carrier performance, enabling us to make better informed procurement decisions and drive down carbon emissions of our logistics.”

The group continues to foster environmental performance innovations for the sector, such as a pilot by members Electrolux and Hamburg Sud to reduce pollution in ports. CCWG has also kicked off a materiality assessment to prioritize the most critical social, ethical, and environmental impacts industrywide that will help CCWG to set a vision for 2030 and a three-year agenda. “CCWG provides so much more than relevant, credible data; they are also the forum to work collaboratively with our supply chain and other buyers to make progress toward the Electrolux ‘For the Better’ sustainability framework,” said Tomas Dahlman, Director, Global Energy Strategies for Electrolux. “The group works on several innovative initiatives that enable us and the shipping industry to work more sustainably.”

BSR is a global nonprofit organization that works with its network of more than 250 member companies and other partners to build a just and sustainable world. From its offices in Asia, Europe, and North America, BSR develops sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration
Source: BSR

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.”

Funding questions over Labour’s $5b trams for Auckland

Labour is unclear how it will fund a $5 billion plan for modern trams in Auckland, but says Auckland Council will shoulder a “significant” share of the cost.

Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford today said he did not know how the costs will be shared between the Government and Auckland Council, except to say council will not pay the majority.

Twyford also did not know whether modern trams, also known as light rail, will sit on the Government or Auckland Council’s balance sheet.

In her first public appearance as Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern promised fast modern trams along two routes from the CBD to the airport and West Auckland within 10 years at a cost of up to $5b. This would be followed by trams to the North Shore.

Labour has promised to fund its Auckland Transport package by a combination of increased expenditure, cancelling or scaling back existing transport projects like the $1.8b east-west road through the city’s industrial belt and giving Auckland Council the ability to set a regional petrol tax.

Twyford said Labour would change the mix and priorities of projects in the city’s 10-year transport plan and spend an extra $2.1b. The overall plan would cost $15b, including the light rail projects to the airport and West Auckland, and had a $6b funding gap, he said.

Twyford said Labour was committed to funding the full $15b programme, but could not say how much Auckland Council would pay towards trams.

“Auckland Council is going to end up contributing a significant amount of that, but probably the smaller amount, not the majority,” said Twyford.

The Government and Auckland Council are sharing the cost of the $3.4b City Rail Link.

Labour Party Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford.

Labour Party Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford.

Asked whose balance sheet the trams would sit on, Twyford said: “We haven’t worked that out yet. That is something we will work out when we sit down with Auckland Transport to renegotiate ATAP (the joint government-council transport plan)”.

With Auckland Council starting work on a new 10-year budget, Twyford said Labour could have a positive impact on council’s ambitions for public transport.

“We are going to front up with some serious resources to fund it and make it happen,” said Twyford, saying the New Zealand Transport Agency would fund rail projects under Labour.

It is unclear how the council, which carries the $3.4b City Rail Link on its balance sheet, could absorb another $5b for trams when the council is right up against its debt ceiling, which, if breached could lead to a credit rating downgrade and drive up borrowing costs.

Labour has said a regional fuel tax of 10 cents a litre would raise $160m a year for Auckland Council. The Herald estimates a 10c-a-litre tax would raise $100m a year.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said Auckland recognises that we need to have skin in the game.

“We’re prepared to share in the costs of investing in transport infrastructure in our city, but we need government to help us expand the base from which we generate revenue to pay for it,” he said.

Goff, the former Labour MP who campaigned during the mayoralty for light rail, said trams to the airport is a priority and the latest ATAP update increases by $700m to $1.2b the money set aside for trams or rapid buses on the isthmus and to the airport.

“I welcome announcements from both parties that central government will contribute a significant share towards Auckland’s transport investment needs.

“I favour road pricing mechanisms rather than general rates increases. That would include options of congestion charging, tolling or a fuel tax to help generate the levels of funding required for transport infrastructure investment in Auckland. We’re also exploring the use of targeted rates and value uplift (higher rates for businesses that benefit from projects).

“I look forward to discussions with whoever forms our Government post-election to progress plans for light rail in Auckland,” Goff said.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges could not be reached for comment.

Northwestern Motorway ‘positively begs’ for a higher speed limit

West Auckland driver Bevan Gracie was disappointed to learn he could only drive up to 80kmh on the upgraded, four-lane ...
West Auckland driver Bevan Gracie was disappointed to learn he could only drive up to 80kmh on the upgraded, four-lane Northwestern Motorway.

Amidst calls to slash the speed limit on many New Zealand roads, fuming West Aucklanders are campaigning to go faster on one of theirs.

They’ve set up an online petition to get the four lane Northwestern Highway’s speed limit back up to 100kmh, where it was before the billion dollar roadworks for the Waterview Tunnel began.

Construction has been completed but an 80kmh speed limit, considered by many to be temporary, was made permanent — a decision drivers of the sleek new road have deemed a “ludicrous” recipe for road rage.

Much of one of Auckland's newly upgraded motorways is too slow for many motorists.

Much of one of Auckland’s newly upgraded motorways is too slow for many motorists.  Especially as motorists further south are poised to legally drive 110kmh for the first time.


In April, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) announced that 80kmh would be the permanent speed limit for the 8km stretch of highway between Rosebank Rd and Spaghetti Junction, spanning the Waterview Tunnel’s entrance.

West Auckland's Saten Sharma, 50, says the 80kmh speed limit on the northwestern motorway is "frustrating".

West Auckland’s Saten Sharma, 50, says the 80kmh speed limit on the northwestern motorway is “frustrating”.

Long time Westie Bevan Gracie said driving down the Northwestern left him fed up now, and that he was sceptical the lower limit would improve safety.

“I think the frustration you feel going so slowly on that road makes it more dangerous,” he said.

His fellow West Auckland motorist Saten Sharma, who signed the petition, said driving 80kmh on the newly-upgraded road “feels like you’re not even moving”.

The Great North Rd interchange heading west along the VSL causeway should be 100kmh, Graham Wakefield says.

The Great North Rd interchange heading west along the VSL causeway should be 100kmh, Graham Wakefield says.

“On weekends, the most frustrating thing is it’s empty, and you’re still doing 80kmh,” he said.

“Are we saying our drivers are so unqualified they can’t drive close to 100kmh on the motorway?”

The petition to raise the new speed, which had more than 10,000 signatures to date and would get submitted to NZTA if it reached 15,000, posed the question of why a “brand new four lane motorway” could not handle a higher speed limit.

Sharma says the motorway 80kmh is just 10kmh more than some residential areas and the motorway was not one.

Sharma says the motorway 80kmh is just 10kmh more than some residential areas and the motorway was not one.

NZTA’s system design manager Brett Gliddon justified it as “worldwide best practice” to have 80kmh on approaches to tunnels, to reduce the risk of crashes.

He said the agency had been “monitoring the operational and safety performance” of the network since the tunnel opened. However, he couldn’t comment on whether the petition might impact change.


Last month Associate Transport Minister Tim Macindoe​ announced that speed limits on some of the country’s motorways would be raised by the end of the year.

The Tauranga Eastern Link and parts of the Waikato Expressway would be the first roads that motorists can travel on at 110kmh.

Macindoe said higher speed limits would be “both safe and appropriate” on roads with at least two lanes in each direction, a median barrier, no significant curves, and no access to neighbouring properties.

The variable speed limit on SH16, in green, has a maximum limit of 80kmh, as does the blue.

The variable speed limit on SH16, in green, has a maximum limit of 80kmh, as does the blue.


However, calls for speed reductions on many New Zealand roads remain.

Earlier this year, police advocated for the speed limit on the Coromandel’s State Highway 25A to be lowered from 100kmh to 80kmh. Thames roading sergeant Jim Corbett said annual crash tallies of 70 or more were not uncommon on the road, and that high speeds were a contributing factor.

NZTA's system design manager Brett Gliddon says the agency takes on all customer feedback.

NZTA’s system design manager Brett Gliddon says the agency takes on all customer feedback.

Residents associations in Canterbury have also called for the same speed reduction on some rural roads in their area, citing safety concerns. Last year, Christchurch City Council cut its inner city speed limit down to 30kmh for most streets.

Cantabrian mother of two Lucinda Rees has been campaigning for speed limits outside schools to be lowered to 40kmh “nationally, across the board” for the last ten years.

She said she was against speed limits being raised on any New Zealand road — including four lane motorways — because the “education and standard of Kiwi drivers just isn’t up to it”.

“I think raising speed limit will just make the road toll even higher,” she said.

But West Auckland driver Graham Wakefield said the “ludicrous” 80kmh section of the Northwestern needed to be moved back up to 100kmh.

“The quality of construction and the number of lanes each way positively begs for it,” he said.​