Banks: Rail To Albany Lunacy


With just days left for voting in the local body election, Auckland Mayor John Banks says airport rail would go broke and rail to Albany was a lunatic idea, neither of which will happen at least the next 20 years.

But opponent Len Brown said both would happen, along with the CBD loop, if elected mayor.

Airport rail has become a major point of difference between the two main Auckland city supermayor candidates John Banks and Len Brown.

They argued about it on TV3′s The Nation show this weekend.

Banks said that while he supports a CBD loop along with finishing motorways, rail policies have to be “affordable , reasonable and sensible -not $20b worth of rails over the next 5 years.”

His chief opponent, Len Brown said he would be doing major rail projects, if elected:“We will seriously invest at last in public transport,  in a timeframe that’s achievable- rail to the airport,  complete the inner city loop rail and rail to North Shore by way of a tunnel.”

Asked how much airport rail would cost, Banks estimated it would $6 billion to do rail from Britomart from the airport.

Brown said rail to the airport as an extension to Onehunga had costings of $1b. It was $6b for the present three projects. It was a further 700 to a billion for the loop and $4.5b rail to the Shore.

Mr Banks, turning to Brown claimed that in 1996, Sydney opened 9k of rail from downtown city to the airport. “They lost $2 million a week for 18 months and went broke. There’s not one OCED country in the world where the airport to downtown makes money. This man wants to send Auckland broke. The population is not big enough.

Brown said Banks had flip-flopped on the airport rail issue after supporting those three rail projects initially in the campaign.

Turning to Banks he said: “You have to show a backbone , this is about a vision of Auckland into the future.”

Mr Banks said the government had said rail to the airport and North Shore was “crazy man stuff.”

“It’s not going to happen in the next 20 years. A rail link to Albany is absolute lunacy. It’s more reckless spending to get votes,” said Mr Banks.

Mr Brown said as soon as transport minister Steven Joyce said it wouldn’t happen, Mr Banks had changed his mind about supporting it.

Mr Banks said in 2007 Mr Brown had promised a light rail service from Manukau to Howick but there hadn’t been any word since.

“How we are going to fund $20b of your rail spend from Albany to the airport, no-one knows, no-one believes you. It reckless, it’s buying votes.”

You can watch the spat here




  1. Anthony M says:

    Lunatic Mayors…..Only in NZ.

  2. Matt L says:

    Some of these things have already been roughly priced and Banks figure of $20 billion is way off the mark. It is was estimated just a few years back that it would cost $2 bil to do a line from Onehunga to the airport and then to Puhunui as well as the Southdown to Avondale line.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Banks is an idiot and we can’t wait to get rid of him. I’m voting Len Brown.

  4. Matt L says:

    Also Brown saying it is only $700 mil - $1 bil for the CBD Tunnel, is he just hoping or has he got some inside knowledge. I certainly hope it is in that price range as it is a lot less than the $1.6 bil that keeps getting bandied about.

    I actually think that is a bit more realistic considering that Waterview will have two similar length tunnels plus some surface motorways and over bridges costing about $1.6 bil. Of course those tunnels will 3 lanes wide each way.

  5. Michael Wood says:

    While there do need to be proper estimates of cost people need to be careful not to get sucked into Banks’ argument here.

    Firstly, compared to major roading projects currently being completed in Auckland these critical rail links do not cost extraordinarily high amounts.

    Secondly, he is running this line that the airport link will “lose money”. Sorry, since when did a major roading project have to make money?

    In getting people quibbling about the exact cost, Banks is aiming to distract Aucklanders from the real question about the strategic importance of a completed public transport network - something that he just does not believe in.

  6. LucyJH says:

    Those costings for Puhinui loop, Southdown to Avondale line etc are getting pretty old (I think they were published in 2006 so probably calculated in 2005) and aren’t really reliable. Likely to be much more these days as the price of oil, most metals, labour etc has increased quite a bit…

    Will be surprised if loop comes in at less than $1 billion. But good to see Brown taking such a strong position - hope he can deliver :)

  7. rtc says:

    Jeez Banks you’re just digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole, he really has no vision for Auckland and still doesn’t seem to get it that he’s there to do what the public want and the public wants rail. Get with the programme or get out.

  8. rtc says:

    @LucyJH - Brown didn’t mention the Southdown line, and the costings for the airport line are only 1-2 years old, ARTA released a study last year on the preferred options and costings. The CBD tunnel is of course not yet fully costed, but we’ll know what it is expected to be in the next few months. Either way, who wants someone like Banks as a mayor, he’s showing himself to be someone with no vision and no desire to make champion Auckland’s cause in Wellington.

  9. Matt L says:

    rtc - the CBD tunnel is costed, it is just that the cost hasn’t been released yet :-)

    Lucy - Brown may have been indicating that the cost from just Onehunga to the airport was $1 bil but that may not include the link to Puhunui and definitely wouldn’t include the SAL

  10. come get some says:

    “There’s not one OCED country in the world where the airport to downtown makes money. This man wants to send Auckland broke”

    Doesnt Brisbane make money from it’s airport line?

  11. Cam says:

    This highlights why it looks like Banks will get a trouncing. All he’s pledging to do is support projects already underway - Western ring route electrification etc. He has no vision at all for Auckland he just wants to sit in the mayor’s chair. Brown may be full of hot air, time will tell but at least he’s proposing something and at least he’s try. A vote for Banks is a vote for stagnation. I’d love to know where he gets 20 billion from.

  12. Doloras says:

    Banksie is so desperate for votes he’s trying to cannibalise the Colin Craig anti-train vote. Is Banksie now a “pod person”?

  13. Goodbye Banks says:

    Banks is just following the boring National Party line, just like the ultra boring Citizens and Ratepayers.

    If we wanted more of the same we would keep the same old city boundaries. But no, National and Act forced the supercity on us (did they mention that before the last election??), so now we want inspirational leadership. Banks cannot deliver that. Citizen and Ratepayers are stale, boring, and have little to offer for this city.

    I hope Mike Lee wins in Waitemata too!

  14. James B says:

    If Banks is elected will he move the town hall to Wellington?

  15. karl says:

    Doloras - he always was. It’s just that the alien controllers are now getting a bit desperate and yanking his strings harder. Makes the pro-PT face slip.

  16. LucyJH says:

    the only costings I am aware of for Puhinui, airport line etc are these

    - a rail link from Avondale to Onehunga = $729 million
    - rail link from Onehunga to airport = $709 million
    - a link from Puhinui to the airport = $471 million

    If there are more modern costings for any of these projects I’d love to see them?

  17. Matt L says:

    Lucy, I think they are about the right costings but the study was from 2008 not 2005/6

  18. Patrick R says:

    Why is Puhinui to airport so expensive? One bridge no stations, all at grade across open country, it’s already under SH20?

    I see Avondale to Onehunga a s nice but not so urgent piece of completion… someone want to correct me there?

  19. Nick R says:

    The Puhinui link cost is probably due to the need for a bridge (300m span) and a route over or under a SH20 interchange.

    In the report referenced above, the modelling showed the Avondale to Onehunga generating the second largest amount of patronage after the primary airport connection (be that northern or eastern access).

  20. karl says:

    Patrick - number of things I could see as potential cost factors for the Puhinui line here:

    - “no bridges” is not true - you need bridge access OVER the rail line for the properties on whatever other side of the SH20B it will lie. Unless you want to build a new line with lotsa level crossings…

    - ground conditions? Soft soil could require some significant works

    - property acquisition (especially in the pricier airport areas)

    - no station? There IS one: the airport station itself. A slap-up job like at Onehunga won’t do…

  21. Patrick R says:

    Re Puhinui: The MLT already goes under the new SH20, and surely the new line departs from the MTL south of the new motorway bridge, but yes there is Roscommon Rd and McLaughlins rd and then its pretty much farm land that’s value is completely compromised by being under the approach to the airport [does the airport own this?]. Then the biggy, the bridge to the airport itself and i guess an elevated line from here to the terminal. And a new integrated really convenient station built into the new terminal! OK fair enough a bit of heavy lifting. One thing that is really exciting though is that unlike Brisbane or indeed Heathrow here it would be a through station not just a terminus; so much much more useful. I would pick the Manukau direction to be just as advantageous…

  22. DanC says:

    Also I’m sure people living / working around this line might use it too? No mention of that Banksie? How many people work at the airport and surrounds? Mangere would benefit from a stop big time.


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