NZ Nationals criticise Auckland light rail timeline

The New Zealand National Party have thrown cold water on promises by the NZ Transport Minister that a light rail line from Auckland’s CBD to the airport will be finished by 2030.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford commented on NZ radio that there will “absolutely” be a light rail line connecting Auckland CBD’s to the airport.

The National Party’s transport spokesperson, Chris Bishop, doubted that such a timeframe could be achieved.

“Auckland’s light rail has been a fail from the beginning. Labour promised during the election campaign to have it finished between the CBD and Mt Roskill by 2021, only to quickly abandon that target when it became clear Phil Twyford could not deliver on it.”

Bishop criticised the structure of the proposed delivery of the line.

“His bizarre decision to entertain a bidding war between his own Transport Agency and NZ Infra has set the project back years, and set progress on Auckland’s transport woes back even further because critical roading projects have been put on ice in the interim.”

Currently, the Auckland Transport Alignment Project, a project led by the NZ Transport Agency along with Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, and HLC, is committed to providing light rail between Auckland’s city centre, Māngere – the suburb where Auckland Airport is located – and Auckland’s north west, by 2028. A business case submitted by the NZ Transport Agency is now being evaluated against a proposal by NZ Infra, a joint venture of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and Canadian institutions investors.

At the time of its announcement, Twyford said that the proposal from NZ Infra was a first for NZ.

“There are significant differences in how the two options would be financed and delivered. The NZTA is exploring a range of procurement, financing and delivery models, including alliances and public-private partnerships, and will continue to develop these.”

Bishop critiqued the time it has taken to put a proposal together.

“After more than two years in Government, there is no exact route, no delivery model, no design work done, no costings, no consents, no designations, no business case – nothing.”

Light rail proposed for Sunshine Coast Airport development

Sunshine Coast Airport has delivered a draft master plan for the development of the Queensland-based airport to 2040 that includes details for the creation of a light rail station.

The draft of the Sunshine Coast Airport Master Plan 2040 document was developed by Sunshine Coast Airport with key stakeholders and includes Sunshine Coast Council’s infrastructure plans under the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project (SCAEP).

The airport’s document includes plans related to the provision of a possible direct rail corridor from the city to the airport. Sunshine Coast Council and the Queensland Government are investigating “numerous options for rail access” to help minimise a reliance on motor vehicle access to the airport, according to the draft master plan.

The ongoing development of the new Maroochydore central business district, a 53-hectare greenfield site development expected to cost $430 million, is also hoped to bolster the attractiveness of the region for locals, businesses and visitors, with the airport serving as a “gateway” for this development.

“[Sunshine Coast Airport] is a strong supporter of the introduction of light rail to the airport providing a fast, clean and efficient link to Maroochydore and on to broader destinations within the region,” the draft plan read.

“Both heavy and light rail infrastructure is planned for the transformation of the region, and a connection to Sunshine Coast Airport is a critical link in the effective public transportation visions for the region.”

The report went on to stat that a prospective light rail service would provide direct flights to domestic and international destinations by offering seamless connections between Maroochydore CBD and the airport.