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Reality bites the Government, as Ministry of Transport says it hasn't even started looking at Auckland light rail plans yet, and Cabinet seeks to fill gaping holes in working group report on moving the Ports of Auckland

Reality bites the Government, as Ministry of Transport says it hasn't even started looking at Auckland light rail plans yet, and Cabinet seeks to fill gaping holes in working group report on moving the Ports of Auckland

The Coalition Government risks going into the 2020 election without refined plans of action for the Ports of Auckland and Auckland light rail.

Two pieces of information were revealed on Thursday, indicating it might be some time yet before decisions are made on:

  1. Where the port’s freight operation will be shifted to and exactly how the move will be executed;
  2. What the design of Auckland’s light rail will be and who will lead the project.

The Government has stressed the importance of getting these multi-billion-dollar projects right.

But it can’t be forgotten that NZ First campaigned, ahead of the 2017 election, on shifting the port, while Labour campaigned on building light rail from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill within four years of taking office, and extending the line to the airport and West Auckland within 10 years.

The two new pieces of information that indicte much more work is required for these projects to get off the ground, include:

  1. A paper showing Cabinet isn’t completely convinced by a working group recommendation to move the port’s freight operations to Northport, so is getting Ministry of Transport officials to further investigate all options and report back so Cabinet can make a decision in May 2020;
  2. Confirmation from the Ministry of Transport it has only just started considering whether the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), or the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and its Canadian partner, should lead the light rail project, and it isn’t yet looking at proposed designs.

Auckland light rail

Ministry of Transport CEO, Peter Mersi, on Thursday told the Transport and Infrastructure select committee the Ministry a week ago received bids on the light rail from the NZTA and NZ Infra (a partnership between the Super Fund and institutional investor, CDPQ Infra).

The Ministry is considering who the “preferred delivery partner will be, not the specific solution”.

Mersi recognised that the unsolicited bid made by NZ Infra in May 2018 proposed it leads the entire project and takes on responsibilities that currently sit with the NZTA.

He said the Ministry had to form a view around NZTA and NZ Infra's capabilities.

“Once that’s been done, obviously the starting point is whatever proposals they have put forward,” he said.

“Then there will need to be a process of working in partnership to get to the final outcome and that will involve much more engagement with communities and councils.”

Mersi hadn’t personally seen the proposals, saying the Ministry was running a “strict commercial process”.

Leaked documents to Stuff indicate NZ Infra’s initial proposal (which has reportedly changed) was much more costly and radical than NZTA’s, including a tunnel under Queen Street and elevated sections over Mt Eden.

The job of considering the bids and advising Cabinet on what to do rests with the Ministry of Transport and Treasury. It had sat with NZTA, until Transport Minister Phil Twyford decided it didn't properly consider NZ Infra's bid.  

The light rail was initially an Auckland Transport project. It was passed to the NZTA when the Coalition Government was elected.

If the National Party is elected before a light rail proposal is selected, it plans to scrap the whole thing.

Ports of Auckland

Cabinet is directing the Ministry of Transport to build on the work the Upper North Island Supply Chain working group has completed, recommending the Ports of Auckland be moved to Northport.

It has directed officials to work more closely with stakeholders, recognising that if the port companies and land owners don’t agree to a plan, central government might need to take punitive measures to force their hands.

“Cabinet may wish to consider the consequences of using a legislative or regulatory approach,” the Cabinet paper said.

“These are significant levers to use given the implications for private property rights…

“We advocate early and open engagement with the owners of the current upper North Island ports comprising the three councils and land owners (Auckland Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Northland Regional Council and Marsden Maritime Holdings Ltd.) and Port companies (Ports of Auckland Ltd., Port of Tauranga Ltd. and Northport Ltd.)…

“Engagement with these parties has been limited to date, and we anticipate that aligning the partners will take some time to achieve.”

Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff, earlier in the week criticised the group for providing conflicted advice. The group reported to Infrastructure Minister and NZ First Northland MP, Shane Jones, and was chaired by a former Far North mayor, Wayne Brown.

Goff told RNZ he had only had “one brief meeting of an hour and 20 minutes” with the working group. While its final report, released on Thursday, had been leaked to the media, Goff said he never got a copy.

Cabinet also agreed that “significant Crown investment”, which wasn’t entirely captured by the working group, was likely necessary.

The group estimated moving the Ports of Auckland’s freight operation to Northport would cost $10.3 billion, with the Crown’s investment estimated to be $3 billion to $4 billion over the next 10 to 15 years for the rail and road infrastructure.

Cabinet agreed additional costs like an inland freight hub in West Auckland and the “costs of negotiating and realising a potential commercial arrangement” might also fall on the Crown.

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As an independent voter, one of the reasons I voted for labour was because of the benefits that light rail would bring to Auckland. The NZ Infra proposal is so bad (unless you are a Canadian pensioner), if it was selected I'll probably vote National just to get the whole project scrapped.

Such a cluster f#$$ from Twyford and the government on light rail. Wasn't he promising works would start by 2021? Which of course was totally, ridiculously ambitious.

It was meant to be bloody running by 2020!

... the only thing I can see running by 2020 will be more " working groups " ... more committees ... more yak-fests ...

I take everything on board that you have said and will be having a "conversation" with my team.

. . begin with a conversation about the need to set up a committee to investigate the appropriate time to bring all interested parties in to have a conversation about when and how to set up a steering committee to announce the timing , the participants , and the parameters of a transport working group ... and who's gonna do the morning tea ..

Aussies, the US and now the UK has voted for a government that's not going to ruin their respective countries, when are we going to get rid of the current corrupt incompetent bunch of commie troughers so the country can get back to moving forward again? Do all the lefties that has been saying "let these guys have a go" still think the same? :)

.. was the working group on the port project truly independent ... or was it affected by NZF ... Winnie and Shane have alotta mana to gain in Whangarei if the container port moves to North Port ...

But , was that really the best option ... or the best for political advantage to this government ?

It seems their collective experience and governance ability allows focus on "best political advantage" element only.
Other elements are out of their vision. Invisible to them.

I think we had more skilled governorship when building the southern hydro lakes.
When down at those southern hydro lakes its wonderous to hear the tourists swoon over the magic of nature's beauty...

Gummy, question.
If the present govt were a car, (make & model), what car would they be?

Presently I am undecided between:
Morris Marina &
Austin Allegro.

Trabant ? ... Lada ? .... hmmmm .... some love 'em , but there's no accounting for taste ...

Reliant Robin ! .. poorly made ... appalling design ... underpowered. .. and .... ooops , can't turn... spills on corners . .

..." oooo Gummy , why does it do that ? "

3 wheels ! ... it's a mobile triangular box .... sums up Labour / NZF / Greens for me ... 3 wheels , each one going in different directions ...

And the business dissolved when EU standardized driver licenses, removing the only partial British license needed to drive low power 3 and 4 wheelers.

Business Gone at the stroke of a pen. Change of regulation thinking they were wiped out.

Made in New Zealand after all.

Communist power plant from Skoda.

That’s right, I’d forgotten that connection.

Braked one night in one and it swerved up a bank.
Did the rest of the drive with no lights.
A long time ago.

Better than the Allegro. Almost modern, selected for style not power, many irritating features, rolls along on the flat, goes downhill smoothly but cannot surmount obstacles. If only they would just put down their maps and get it out of neutral.

Allegro has a square steering wheel.

Don't forget the Austin Maxi, we owned one of those, it was Purple and a total dog. The hydroelastic suspension collapsed so one whole side of the car fell to the ground. Kind of reminds me of the COL.

Are you going down the ozzie build Austin Kimberly route.

And the P76?
Put a 44 gal drum in the boot!
I say my first at the A&P show.

... an uncle owned a P76 , back in the day ... and was proud of his " wedge " .... that beast could hold an entire winter's supply of firewood in the boot ... or any one of his wife's sisters ...

COL meetings in the shell of a P76.
On blocks.
There some rich imagery.

Not sure about make and model but I know what colour it would be .......Lemon!

Chev Corsair: "Unsafe at any speed!"

Gummy, play this when you have your after roast snooze!

... wow ... he's a better cure than cricket is for insomnia ...

I question whether it is wise for the government to involve itself deciding what Auckland does with it's port.
I do however believe that as a matter of basic regional even handedness that the Northland port should be served by a fully functioning rail service like every other port in the country except Nelson where it simply is not practical. Similarly Northland are due a fully functioning and up to date rail service. Northland has been ignored and deprived for far too long. Economic arguments in these matters will tend to be clouded by a chicken and egg effect. Keep them deprived and nothing will ever be economically viable / build it and they will come.
Provide a level playing field and let the market decide where the port goes.

Here's a problem with light rail. If there is a break-down, the affected system stops until its fixed.
With buses, they can get around any problem. Light rail? Nope...

Wow, a massive piece of infrastructure had problems on day one of running. Also, the light rail system failed on a set of points. That will put two heavy rail lines out of action too. Not to mention you'll need 2x as many buses to move the same number of passengers. There are actual reasons light rail was considered the best option for Aucklanders. If you want total resilience against PT network failures, you'd drive a car.

Sounds intriguing. Tell me more of this car thing, seems it could be just the thing for getting everyone where they want to go!
Electric cars with automated following/steering in small tunnels is the way to go. 8 lane motorway equivalent in a $10million/km Ø5m tunnel $50/resident/year in capital costs ends congestion forever - most of which can be paid for by just having less public transport to subsidize. It's faster and cheaper and can be built without interfering with existing infrastructure.

This is just a Labour side show to try and boost the "Year of Delivery" results, problem is that its all just more talk and no action. Time is running out fast and the election will be here before you know it. Chances are NZF will be gone this time so the chances of another COL will be slim. Will be back to a two party race.

... as Steven " Dildo Face " Joyce has written , this government is soaking up larger $ billions from taxpayers , and frittering it away with nothing to show for it .... splurging in all directions , not targeting it ... splashing it aimlessly , hoping it returns as voter support ...

psssst, they have have been running surpluses, not deficits, But lets not let facts get in the way of a good anti-Labour rant eh?

... I had 9 years fun tearing a strip off the Jolly Kid and Wild Bill ... for their tenure of doing sweet FA as a government ...

Now its Taxcinda's turn ... for doing stupid things as a government ...surplus or deficit is not the issue , so much as the quality of the spend .. .. and this lot are wastrals of taxpayers' money ...

No, Their biggest problem is they aren't spending enough, they are achieving bugger all.

They only have themselves to blame if they lose the next election. If they were even halfway competent they would win the next election in a canter

The problem is that if we don't get them, we get national.. *shrug* shit-sammich either way, do you prefer chunky or smooth?

... yup . . If they can't thrash Soyman Bridges they have some serious issues ...

Surpluses by way of not actually following through on your campaign promises is bait and switch, not credible financial management. But don't let actual accountability get in the way of deflecting any criticism because the current mob like the same colour you do.

... frankly , I'd be happy with any government who spent up large ... ran up deficits ... all good , if the money goes into infrastructure ... into areas that increase our capacity and productiveness ..

Removing capacity constraints has way more benefits than just work-related too. Think of all the hours of lost family and social time spent sitting nowhere on congested state highways because the business cases for alternate transport networks are languishing in bureaucrat land with no accountability. Auckland should be invoicing Wellington for each day that decision is delayed.

Politics appears to be the art of never losing, and always getting what politicians know is better for the People those that elected them do!

EU leaders would take the initiative and request an extension to the transition period, keeping the UK under Brussels regulations beyond 2020, under a plan mooted for getting around Boris Johnson’s stated refusal to seek a delay.

Let's face it, we just don't these days have the great strategic planners and engineers of yesteryear: those guys who built our railroads, hydro-dams, viaducts, etc. We probably still have the talent but its mis-directed to the likes of putting satellites into already cluttered space. Despite having had Herald tributes to Asian school-duxes year after year, decade after decade, what happens to them. We never hear of them again; no more Nobel science prizes, no more Lord Rutherfords, Wilkinsons or McDiarmids ( Australia has never had anything to compare). Neither Labour or National have politicians of the right calibre; and it's not just Labour's Twyford. Who remembers National's Nick Smith appearing night after night on TV looking like a flustered Pukako as he pointed to some swampy wasteland as a site for building extra houses.

While I agree it would be bloody refreshing for a notable person in any major political party to have a solid background in engineering or one of the hard sciences, i really disagree with " but its mis-directed to the likes of putting satellites into already cluttered space". You want progress, you have to explore all avenues. Sometime the biggest discoveries and advances come from totally unexpected places. Oh, and BTW, rocketlabs is working on cleaning up that cluttered space, projects they are the working on/with include systems that can be fired up to attach to defunct satellites to de-orbit them.

21st Century politics is the art of making the easy look hard, the inexpensive costing a fortune & the time to do it doubling in the process. In short western politics is in a right old state. It doesn't matter what colour they are, they are only there for themselves & the power it gives them. They have no respect for the people that voted for them & what's worse, the people don't respect them for it either. It is a broken relationship.
Somehow or another there needs to be a better version of democracy going forward otherwise it's all going to end in tears. I can already hear the wailing from Labour losers of London, but that's another story.
Personally, I would dismantle our current system, both central & regional govt. I would legislate the changes by beefing up the provincial leadership & mandating their activities to some form of commercial reality. This will give the regions the chance to create their own wealth, & with a larger say in their own affairs. This means central government is only a shadow of its former self (retaining the national interest necessities only) dispersing the other roles to the regions, where because everyone knows everyone else, the chances of better accountability are higher. Choosing regional leadership becomes a critical ingredient. I would suggest people are nominated because of their track record. There are no career politicians. And there are measurements put in place to keep the system on track. A monthly or quarterly scorecard which everyone can access & see where things are at is essential. All regional leadership meetings would be open to the wider community with their input encouraged within the time constraints given. The leadership (top) table itself would be rotated, like a board perhaps, with half up for re-nomination every couple of years.
Yes, some regions will fail, but others will succeed, with those successful models (& people) brought in to bring the laggards up to speed, creating a regional system of constant improvement, with constant upgrading across the nation. Central government's roles is redefined totally. It is represented by those chosen from their regions to meet (perhaps) monthly. Each meeting has an agenda whereby those interests are represented & are always different depending on the topics to be discussed. There are no career politicians here either. These people are the top tier ones from their regions who have earned the right to be present & to speak into the new leadership model. They are probably (hopefully) wise people & certainly experts in their field.
That's a start. I thank you for reading this far. I know there are lots of holes, which I'm sure posters would love to post on. I look forward to them.

Suddenly,working in that fish and chip shop seems to have been not bad.

Simply put. It's over promising and under delivering.

. . she promised us a big bag of crispy chips and fish .. and delivered a soggy note instead , promising that some of them will be done by 2021 ... 2024 ... or perhaps 2029 ...

Re the light rail in Auckland. I have always believed that this was a doubtful proposition. It illustrates the problems when you have political parties promising stuff that appeals to the voters but has not been based on detailed engineering and economic analysis. As a political party you can end up looking stupid or worse still force through projects that are foolish at great cost to the country. The proposed two hour rail service between Hamilton and Auckland falls into this category also. At two hours, nobody will ever use it. They have to either offer a compelling service or do nothing until they can. A failed service will kill any hope of ever offering anything similar in future, no matter how good it may be.
Getting back to the proposed Hamilton service. If I were the minister I would be demanding a very detailed time and motion breakdown of how they would take two hours for this service. If this is the best that they can do even with our fairly basic infrastructure for a 100 km service with only about three stops, right of way when encountering traffic, then there are some very major basic problems that are not immediately obvious. And may be these problems need to be highlighted before we do anything else.

Light Rail was an AT projected before it was given to NZTA post-2017 election. It was going through that process until it got handed to Government departments who are more interested in LGWM because that actually affects them and Auckland might as well be Neverland. We don't know how well it stacks up because the business case has been dragged out for years.

The 2 hour rail service from Masterton to Wellington begs to differ.

They are both ridiculously slow services then.
Masterton service 98 km, 10 intermediate stops, 104 minutes according to the timetable (not 120, or do they aim low and miss that target)
Taking say 1minute stop at each station this means the average speed is 62 km/hr
Papakura/Frankton 93 km, 2 intermediate stops, 88 minute projected.
Same analysis gives 65 km/hr average speed.
How do they manage to drive the trains so slowly given all the advantages over cars that a train system should offer? I remember going to school on a steam train and when they wanted to they could really motor. Getting into town was at least as fast by train, a lot easier and the service very well patronized with seats hard to find if you were late. On the Canterbury plains the trains speeds used to be comparable to cars i.e. 100 km/hr, it was easy to check because the road and railway ran alongside each other. What has happened? Have we forgotten how to run a fast efficient service?

The big elephant in the room is that NZ writes terrible policy regardless of which colour of govt is in the house. Nats too stingy to pay anyone so a handful get assigned the job, terrible outcomes like Bradford power sector reforms ensue... Lab can't find enough writers to cover their diverse objectives so end result is just as under nourished as enemic spending Nats. We simply do not have the public sector horsepower to do anything efficiently or effectively.