23% ‘Oppose’ Electric Train Funding


23% of New Zealanders oppose the Government spending money to electrify Auckland’s rail - if you are to believe an odd survey that has popped up.

The ShapeNZ 2010 survey was commissioned by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development. 2097 New Zealanders were phoned . The researchers claim the survey has a maximum margin of error of ± 2.1%.

The results: There is 41% support for the government spending $500 million to electrify Auckland rail (the survey actually says its an “extra $500m) - 23% oppose, 27% are neutral and 8% don’t know.
62% support the decision to invest $250 million for KiwiRail service improvements. 12% oppose, 20% are neutral and 7% don’t know.

Makes me wonder about the worth of such surveys, other than to promote a particular cause.




  1. ingolfson says:

    Meh. There’d probably be 23% opposition to handing out free lollies to kids. You know, because they are sugary and it would teach kids the wrong thing about earning their way through life.

    I.e. I agree. Pointless poll.

  2. Matt L says:

    Agreed, stupid poll, a little bit of publicity about it would quickly turn much of the 35% that don’t know or are neutral around to the positive

  3. Steve says:

    How much of that will be ‘bloody Auckland getting money’ from the rest of the country? Would imagine that this would be a strong feature of the negative response

  4. Sara says:

    Lets have a survey on whether Auckland should be an independent state and how much more money we would have to spend on ourselves!

  5. Simon says:

    On the positive side 62% agreed with $250m for Kiwirail despite the govt doing its best to bully Kiwirail and tell everyone how much of a waste it was to buy it back every chance they get. I would`ve expected the result to be around the other way.

    @Steve, of course many of the negative answers will be from non-Aucklander residents.

  6. Matthew says:

    I don’t think it sounds too bad actually, only 23% opposed. I wouldn’t have thought it would get much support south of the Bombays.

    I wonder what a typical response would be for any given infrastructure project, given it is a nationwide poll, and infrastructure project almost always are local/regional in their effects.

    Would most people in New Zealand have supported the CMJ project, Newmarket Viaduct replacement, ALPURT B2, Taupo bypass?

  7. Jeremy Harris says:

    Steve nailed it, 23% of the population would object to spending medicine on dying children if it was for Auckland children only…

  8. bob says:

    Matthew and Simon have understood this poll. Others should stop hurling bricks at the public, and try understand their sentiments.

    First - the group who commissioned the poll are vaguely pro-PT, so it’s unlikely to be a hatchet job on electrification (if the poll was by Stephen Selwood of the NZCID ‘build concrete lobby’, it would be different!)

    Second, despite a massive right-wing campaign against investment in Kiwirail, a 2/3 majority favour govt spending on upgrading our rail. That is very reassuring for the future of rail in NZ.

    Third, the electrification result is quite predictable - it reflects the poor business case electrification has made for itself. Don’t take my word for it - Murray Hood, the project director for the electrification, said at a recent seminar at Auckland Uni engineering school that ‘electrification makes no sense financially’. Meaning it is done for environmental and social reasons *mostly* (there are financial benefits; they just don’t outweigh the cost).

    Consider the $1bn going to electrify Auckland’s rail as going on other rail projects in Auckland. It would fund the bulk of a Western CBD rail tunnel, or better still, it would fully fund extending Onehunga rail to the Airport and back to Manukau city centre, making these stub lines viable and opening up over 60,000 more people to rail (mostly in Mangere). Or how about a bold move, like extending rail from Kumeu to Albany, linking it to the North Shore busway and ‘closing the loop’ of Auckland’s rail?

    Any of these projects is a step jump up in gathering revenue, as they open up new passenger markets for rail. By contrast, electrification is mostly just a quality improvement - quieter, smoother, cleaner, etc. The slightly faster acceleration/braking is unlikely to change peak timetables much, and lower maintenance costs are backroom savings, so don’t bring much public applause.

    Put like that, it is amazing that even 43% would support electrification! It should be a lesson to railfans though, to focus on things like coverage and frequency first, and quality tweaks later.

  9. Matt L says:

    Bob - Many of the projects you list like the CBD tunnel are not possible without electrification having happened first so while it might not add much in the way of new capacity it does allow much greater long term expansion of the system.

    i.e. we cannot put rail to the airport without the capacity restraints at Britomart being resolved, this will be resolved by the CBD tunnel through which only electric trains will be able to run.


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