Joyce: CBD Loop Maybe


Transport Minister Steven Joyce says forget about rail links to the North Shore or an airport rail link.

But 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.

He told an infrastructure conference today that Auckland local body candidates, especially certainly mayoral candidates, are promising the moon if they get elected but the minister questioned how such pet projects would be funded.

He singled out the plan for North Shore rail - and airport rail as examples. On the latter, he said motorways would suffice for now and that there were other priorities such as the third Auckland harbour crossing that needed to get finished before more rail projects were begun.

“When I hear of lines to the airport or rail to the North Shore, I have to confess I shake my head and think these are the musings of people who are full of wonderful visions and perhaps less verbose on ideas about how to pay for those visions.”

Yesterday Infrastructure minister Bill English was yesterday quoted as saying that the CBD loop was “horrendously expensive.”

Expanding his comments when interviewed on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint programme tonight, Steven Joyce said he was pointing out that some Auckland infrastructure ideas would not happen in his lifetime.

“There’s a responsibility to talk about what Auckland is likely to need and what central Government is likely to encourage over the next period. And what I’ve said is that we have a series of roading projects underway right now and the outstanding one is the third harbour crossing which will need to be done at some point, probably in the second half of the next 20 years.

“Then, there are some rail projects which central government are committed to - and the next one along is possibly a CBD rail tunnel and that’s definitely the most likely viable one of the lot.”

He said he couldn’t see other rail projects currently being talked about getting government funding in the next 10 years “and I doubt ratepayers would have the stomach for them them once they saw the cost, either.”

But he said that was for ratepayers to judge and he had warned Christchurch City Council it would have to fund its planned light rail project itself without government funding and the council understood that.

Rejecting the idea of a North Shore rail link, the minister said last year he visited Brisbane which “has arguably the best system in the world” with around 3 or 4 times the number of passenger numbers that the North Shore busway has. It was a similar busway but the Brisbane was not at capacity yet.

He had asked the authorities in Brisbane if they would put heavy rail on it (which it had been designed for) and they said they wouldn’t until it was full because heavy rail was inflexible.

“The great thing about a busway is you can take buses on and off at different lengths and they can travel on the local roads as well and people don’t have to change. So they had all these good reasons which suggest to me we have to think very carefully  before you would throw that away and the cost would be just phenomenal and there would be a very big question as to whether central government would choose to pay part of it or all of it and therefore that has to be factored in to what is being proposed by various candidates.”

He considered North shore rail may never be necessary.

Both Auckland’s present mayor John Banks and Manukau mayor and supermayoral candidate Len Brown have supported the idea of a CBD rail loop and in recent weeks North Shore mayor Andrew Williams, who is also standing for supermayor, has talked up a rail link to the North Shore.

Greens MP and the party’s transport spokesperson, Gareth Hughes said in a statement today that the government had a clear choice between a Puhoi to Wellsford expressway and a CBD rail loop which would cost around the same.

“The CBD rail loop will transform the city and move many more people at lower overall cost, while the road of significance to National will carry fewer people in 2026 than Dominion Road does in one day now,  Mr Hughes said.

ARC Chair Mike Lee, discussing the preparation of the business case for the loop which is presently being completed, said yesterday that he believes it will be a compelling case but warned the problem would be getting funding.

He said the “back of an envelope estimate” for the loop is $1.6 billion and said the transport minister was someone focused on ensuring that such rail projects stack up so an absolutely thorough process and watertight case would be needed to convince him.




  1. Geoff says:

    “…there were other priorities such as the third Auckland harbour crossing that needed to get finished before more rail projects were begun”

    In other words, rail is being dropped from the new harbour crossing project.

    “these are the musings of people who are full of wonderful visions and perhaps less verbose on ideas about how to pay for those visions.”

    Yet he has the same expensive visions himself, like the Northland Highway, and comes up with money for them in the blink of an eye.

    “and I doubt ratepayers would have the stomach for them them once they saw the cost, either”

    Auckland motorways are funded by central government, so ratepayers don’t need to worry, but for some reason for railways it’s all up to rates?

  2. rtc says:

    NZTA’s study of future harbour crossings actually considered a rail only crossing a close second to a combined rail+road crossing and from memory a road only crossing didn’t stack up at as feasible at all.

  3. Scott says:

    Wow, this is major progress.

    I still don’t get why funding criteria for motorways and railways are different.

    Im glad National is starting to come around to the idea.

    It would be great if there was a center right party with a smart transport and environmental policy. When we are within 2 (worst case) and 10 (best case) years of peak oil it is not a smart time to be building new motorways or getting into massive debt. (data from our engineering sustainability lecture)

  4. Matt L says:

    I think Joyce is slowly warming to the CBD tunnel as he probably knows that the business case will be good for it. As for the other stuff, Auckland council and transport will have to get some compelling business cases done so that as soon as Joyce is gone they can get some action.

    Also, building another harbour crossing without rail would be stupidity, while the busway has capacity left, it won’t forever and the cost and disruption of relocating all those buses when converting it to rail would be horrendous.

  5. DanC says:

    I still think Joyce holds back Auckland in terms of progress. He’s so pro roads. The way people get from A to B will change hugely with inter-grated ticketing as it allows you to jump across different modes of transport. A bus to the airport from Albany with a suitcase is such hard work. A train to the airport with a suit case with one change is what modern cities do.

  6. Chris S says:

    I think that the railway is funded by the rate-payers because they are the only ones using it, while motorways are used by many people from outside Auckland, so is funded by by the central government.

  7. Matthew says:

    Am I reading it correctly? A CBD rail tunnel would only happen after a road only 3rd Harbour crossing? So therefore wouldn’t happen for at least say 20 years?

    Thats not a good thing. On the other hand I think his comments on rail to the north shore are not unreasonable at the moment.

  8. DanC says:

    Wait for baby boomers to get so old they can’t use their cars. Then they wish they had a decent transport minister who wasn’t so pro roads!

  9. karl says:

    Matthew, I think you are reading this wrong. From what Jon has cited above, it seems that Joyce is not connecting the third harbour crossing with the CBD tunnel timeframes.

    And also, he is mentioning the third harbour crossing as being likely for the SECOND half of the next 20 years, which is much longer out than I would have thought he would place it.

    And to have him giving some indication that he could see the CBD tunnel, at least possibly… wow. With his past record, that is almost an epiphany.

  10. Jon C says:

    @Matthew No, not connecting it. He is just talking generally about Auckland’s big infrastructure projects ahead.
    @Karl Joyce has always said that. In December he said “It is my current expectation that construction will largely occur in the second half of the twenty year period.” -see my Dec 9 post last year

  11. karl says:

    I guess I was thinking he would push for a much earlier timeframe, because he obviously is lending his ear to the lobby group calling for a bridge over the harbour, rather than a tunnel - which notably started their campaign calling for an “Anzac Bridge” to be built within the next couple of years.

  12. Jon C says:

    @Karl He reportedly quite liked the Anzac idea but not necessarily their time line

  13. DanC says:

    Keep the Auckland harbour bridge, loose the clip ons, install the cycle walk lane. Build the tunnel under the harbour. It’s good to have options.

  14. karl says:

    “Karl He reportedly quite liked the Anzac idea but not necessarily their time line”

    Well, even he had to run out of money somewhere…

  15. Auckland Pro-PT says:

    The only thing that I agree with him on is the North Shore rail idea, while it would be nice, it’s incredibly expensive and not a huge priority at the moment when you really think about. Auckland Airport link, CBD tunnel and other improvements need to come before a line to the Shore. It infuriates me hearing him always mentioning roads, roads, roads.

  16. joust says:

    its extremely encouraging to hear the transport minister talking about the CBD tunnel in such positive terms.

  17. John Dalley says:

    Joyce is a knob who if Public Transport is to advance needs to go out on his ear at the next elections.
    Joyce is a roads man without one ounce of vision.

  18. Geoff says:

    Central Government funds motorways in Auckland under the excuse that they are part of a national network, but of course in reality they are used 92% by locals, and only 8% by national users.

    Rail is the same, being part of a national network but mostly used by locals, but for some reason this means expansion has to come from rates.

    The whole reason National excluded rail from land transport funding was so they could have this very scenario, where roads have access to funding and rail doesn’t.

  19. Joshua says:

    I think we are making progress boys, Joyce seems to be seeing some logic in the CBD Rail link which is a nice start, and generally I do agree Rate-payers should be stumping up some funds for this project to, $800mill does seem a bit steep however, when the main benefit is actually going to be to the road user, as part of the National Motorway System.

    Eitherway progress is progress, other projects will seem more viable once this is complete.

  20. Matt says:

    One question I have for Joyce, if motorways are paid for by the State because they’re corridors between urban areas, why is the State paying for the South-Western and -Eastern motorways? They’re corridors between which areas, exactly? Pretty much all the traffic on them, particularly the SE but also the SW, is from and to local residents and businesses.

  21. joust says:

    in a transport-centric forum like this one we often overlook the impact these projects have on other areas. The CBD loop and new stations will have wide-ranging benefits. Reducing burdens on state-highways out into the long term is probably the one of the main ones as Joshua said. Bringing such a large number of people into easy commuting proximity to the city’s core will also do wonders for the job-market and development there. These things are of national significance and should be seen as a way to create the right environment for a lot of economic development in Auckland and by extension New Zealand.

    Perhaps this might provide the impetus to reclaim some of the huge areas of wasted space in the CBD on parking for more productive and community focussed development.

  22. CB says:

    Joyce will not be around forever, neither with the current crop of road centric baby boomer Nats. If we can at least get the CBD loop in the next ten years a transport minister (from either party) who has a proper handle on PT can adavance the other projects.

  23. Joshua says:

    The SE, works are going to form a link which will make SE and SW other alternative corridors, so his explanation still stands in that respect, however the rail lines can also serve a similar purpose, in fact rail is more effective at moving freight and people than road, so you would assume it would be of a higher priority.

  24. dj says:

    I think in the early 2000′s the ARC paid either Transrail or Tollrail x amount of millions for the Auckland rail network because Transrail or Tollrail did not want to pay for upgrades that were needed or run the passenger services we have now.

  25. karl says:

    Well, ARC doesn’t own it anymore. They had to hand it back after Joyce canned the fuel tax - there just wasn’t the money anymore to maintain it.


Leave a Comment


XHTML: You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>