Construction of light rail in Auckland, proposed 50 years ago by former Mayor Dove Myer Robinson, is now a step close with the release of working group recommendations for options of a light rail line running between the city centre and the Airport.
From Anneke Smith at RNZ:
Transport Minister Michael Wood sent light rail back to the drawing board in March, tasking a group of experts to develop a business case to revive the project.
That group has come back with three options, ranging from a Melbourne-style tram to a London-style underground metro, that each pack a larger cost and timeframe.
The first option ‘Light Rail’ would be a modern tram that runs on the surface of the city’s streets, separate from traffic but following the motorway.
This is the cheapest of the three, coming in at an estimated $9 billion.
The second option ‘Light Metro’ would travel through an underground a tunnel under densely populated areas and on the ground’s surface through non-urban areas.
This option has the greatest transport capacity but also comes with the highest price tag, sitting at an estimated $16.3b.
The third option ‘Tunnelled Light Rail’ would see a modern tram running through an underground tunnel from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill before coming up to street level in the direction of the airport.
This option is essentially a hybrid of the first two options, priced at $14.6b, and came out as the working group’s preferred option.
The group found Tunnelled Light Rail provided the greatest level of transport and urban development benefits, the least disruption and the best opportunities for future network integration.
Although the economic analysis favours the Light Metro option, the group found it delivered fewer benefits than the other options and might restrict long-term transport options.
The cost is significant but so are the benefits. The current bus system is reaching capacity. The intensification that the project will provoke will allow Tamaki Makaurau Auckland to become a much more compact and sustainable city.
The working party’s key rapid transport and urban findings are as follows:
I suspect that the surface light rail will still get serious consideration when the options are considered by Cabinet. As pointed out by GreaterAuckland the time savings are minimal and also it takes a lot longer for tunnelled rail to reach carbon neutrality because of the need to use much more carbon. This option is also cheaper.
Whatever option is finally chosen I hope the Government gets on with it. National will be ready to gum the works up as much as possible on this project.