Auckland Electric Train Purchase Held Up: Budget Gloom


Why can’t we just get on with it?

MORE MOTORWAYS: Yes Auckland so needs more cars!

MORE MOTORWAYS: Yes Aucland so needs more cars!

The budget confirmed earlier government support for money towards road transport development but a cloud is gathering over the funding for rail electrification that quite frankly we thought had all been decided somehow.heavy

Why is this still being debated?
The 2009 budget appears to have confirmed funding for existing rail projects but has anyone discovered the money for the actual electric trains, tenders for which were to have been called soon?

It’s because Transport Minister Steven Joyce confirms he is now considering a public private partnership (PPP) to fund the purchase of the trains as has happened in Australia with the pending arrival of 78 new rail cars for Sydney.

The Minister says:

The use of public private partnerships can be a sensible way to procure this kind of expensive, long-life asset. I have asked Ministry of Transport officials to look into how this might work in the New Zealand context and expect their initial report in a few weeks. Public private partnerships are one way to provide value for money for taxpayers by reducing the upfront cost to the public purse and shifting a reasonable element of financial risk away from the public sector.
There are a number of options for funding the purchase of electric trains, including:

* The Crown increases investment in KiwiRail, enabling it to purchase the trains.
* KiwiRail borrows the money and the Crown provides an additional direct passenger subsidy until patronage increases.
* Some form of PPP, most likely on an ‘availability’ basis.
The government is committed to electrification. We must ensure it goes ahead in a way that both meets the needs of Aucklanders and ensures the most efficient use of government funds.

So there’s the crunch.
Yes we have to complete this stupid plan to electrify Auckland trains even though it means one less new roading project. But we’re not going to waste any more government funds on it than we need to.
We went through this PPP argument earlier over Australia’s disastrous toll road toll experiment using a private partnership. Read Wellington journalist blogger Gordon Campbell’s piece on the Australian disasters.
Some privatisation supporters think PPPs are the answer to everything and find any evidence to “justify” it.
Read this 2008 report from the NZ Transport Intelligence industry newsletter

Supporters of a plan to use a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to build the $1.89bn Waterview motorway tunnels project in Auckland have seized on a new study into benefits from Sydney’s orbital network of toll roads to justify the move. Accountants Ernst & Young, a lead adviser to the New South Wales and Queensland Govts on PPPs for big transport projects, calculate $27.6bn in direct economic benefits from Sydney’s 110km orbital motorway system. built with tolls. The figure does not extend to “network” benefits from the system as a whole. Ernst and Young Australian partner, David Cochrane, predicts these will reach an annual $1.095bn by 2020 up from $730m last year, representing about 30% of the orbital’s overall economic worth.

Fair enough that this is not about toll roads but trains. But this is starting to turn into the Auckland rail plan proposal disasters of old - the many plans that never actually happened.

We thought that this time for once electrification was decided, approved and work begun.
Let’s stop trying to cause even further delays - it’s already now beyond hope for the Rugby World Cup. It’s extraordinary that we are now having doubts and further debate on how when and where it will happen.
Auckland trains are creaking with age and the huge increase in passenger numbers is making life onboard them increasingly uncomfortable.
Can anyone persuade Mr Joyce to get out of his BMW ministerial car for just one trip and take a train ride and see what we are putting up with?!

Related Posts

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  2. Auckland In the Future: Rail Links Everywhere – But What Happens To This Plan Now?
  3. Thanks Steven, at last some clarity
  4. We will get electric rail: NZ Herald article was a beat-up
  5. Proof Auckland’s trains are totally broke




  1. Greg says:

    Simple answer is for rail passengers to pay the full price rather than being subsidized. Then the current subsidy could go to increasing the quality of services. I get to work in Auckland on unsubsidized public transport that has a cafe and toilets.


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