No CBD Loop Before 2027
The first summary report from the team investigating an Auckland inner-city rail loop estimated construction of the link would take 7 to ten years.
That means the very earliest we could see a loop open would be 2027.
Joyce is quoted as saying neither would construction of another Waitemata harbour crossing start for a decade- something he has made clear before.
The timeline is buried in the middle of an article in a supplement in the printed edition only of the Herald about Auckland projects.
The minister is still not ruling out the loop happening. One day. Probably.
He says the rail tunnel and harbour crossing are probably the “next cabs off the ranks” in terms of major new Auckland projects and adds that “commuter rail is an increasingly important way for Aucklanders to get to work each day,” – the same words reported from him on AKT last week.
Joyce says the Vic Park tunnel, Western link road and rail electrification are the government’s key priorities and there will be some intensification around railway lines that needs to be funded.
Last month, the minister told an infrastructure conference in Auckland he is not adverse to the idea of a CBD rail loop – although he would expect Auckland ratepayers would have to find around half the estimated $1.6 billion cost.
KiwiiRail CEO Jim Quinn is quoted elsewhere in the supplement saying the loop will be done “eventually and at the right time. It’s an enabler for Auckland but it will come down to affordability.”
He adds other plans would have to come into play to ensure Britomart did not choke.
As he indicated recently in public comments about Auckland mayoral candidates making flash promises for which funding hasn’t been specified and is unlikely for now, Joyce is less convinced about airport rail saying the need will be less pressing when the new western roading corridors are available.
The business case for the loop is due to be finished within the next fortnight.
It argues the cost benefits and future transport option benefits and, critically how to fund it including considering whether that involved Government, private partnerships or private land values.
Between now and December, there will be the preparation of the formal Notice of Requirement, and then it goes to the transport minister and Government.
The preferred option has as its three station locations: Symonds Street / Khyber Pass Road (Newton); at Karangahape Road / Pitt Street (Karangahape Road ); and at Albert Street / Wellesley Street (Aotea).
The consultants chose that option saying it hasthe three station locations under public roads with the locations “optimising redevelopment and growth opportunities for economic productivity and patronage; the least number of curves which means lower costs for the tunnel boring machine and better operational speed for trains thus reducing operational costs.”
KiwiRail’s procurement document for the bidders of the tender to build Auckland’s electric trains say they should be suitable for a CBD tunnel.
The relevant passage in the document prescribes that “the trains will need to be designed to allow future operation through a proposed CBD tunnel, involving significant underground running and operation through underground stations.”
The electric trains arrive from 2013.
That would be at least 14 years before they would ever be used for a CBD loop.