Written By: - Date published: 7:03 am, July 28th, 2017 - 59 comments
Categories: national, transport - Tags: auckland, evidence blind, freight, obsessed with roads, redacting the truth, road vs rail, The Spinoff
As usual the Nats ignore data that doesn’t fit their prejudices. Ben Ross at The Spinoff:
Back in June, KiwiRail refused to release the full business case for building the “Third Main” – a rail track from Otahuhu to Wiri beside the existing two tracks. Instead, it released a heavily redacted version. Now the unredacted version has been released – and its contents are a shocking indictment of government policy.
The purpose of the proposed Third Main is to allow freight trains to have a dedicated track separating them from passenger services on the most congested part of the Auckland rail corridor. For a cost of $65 million, KiwiRail would be able to run six extra freight trains a day and Auckland Transport would be able to move towards getting frequencies for passenger services up to every 10-15 minutes all day. The Third Main would, in theory, also enable better express passenger services between Pukekohe and Britomart once the City Rail Link becomes operable.
The heavily redacted business case was analysed by The Spinoff, The Nation, Greater Auckland and my own site Talking Southern Auckland.
The unredacted business case was released on Tuesday in response to pressure from Harriet Gale of Greater Auckland.
Building a Third and Fourth Main together (P8 in the table), with a price tag of $200 million, came out first along all criteria lines. Building the Third Main on its own (P9), at a cost of $65 million, was second. Both were well ahead of any other options. Shifting more freight by road (P3 in the table), which would require upgrading the Southern Motorway, came out worst.
In fact, if you look back at the Multi Criteria Analysis, the gulf between the Third and Fourth Mains and all other options is enormous. The new mains have double digit positive scores. All other options have negative scores.
So, two questions.
1. Why was the business case redacted – especially for the Fourth Main?
The answer is surely politics. It seems to come down to an attempt to protect the position taken by the government.
The redacted material wasn’t commercially sensitive and nor would its publication have harmed the free and frank debate between officials and the minister. Instead, it contains a clear-cut case to build the Third and Fourth Mains as quickly as possible, and definitely before the CRL opens (2023 on current estimates).
2. Why does the government persist with the option of more roads for more road freight?
This question has been asked repeatedly by all the media organisations and many analysts following the issue, including politicians at central and local level representing nearly all non-government parties. The report discussed here was jointly prepared for the government by the NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail and Auckland Transport. It recommends – that is, they all recommend – that the extra rail line or lines be built as quickly as possible.
The government’s continued support of the road freight industry in preference to expanding the role of rail, in the face of the data in this report, makes a complete mockery of its claim to prudent economic management. It makes, instead, a pretty good case for incompetence, or cronyism, or both.
Instead of the best kind of rail, we’re currently on track to get this: the worst kind of road. And it’s going to cost around 10 times as much as the Third and Fourth Mains.
Read the full piece, with plenty more and the source documents, at The Spinoff. Excellent work.
Finally revealed: report shows rail destroys roading for Auckland freight https://t.co/dEQNR7hXSL
— Ben Ross (@BenRoss_AKL) July 27, 2017
Instead of the best kind of rail, we’re on track to get the worst kind of road & it’s going to cost arnd 10x as much as the 3rd & 4th Mains! https://t.co/r0AHiiLCDk
— Richard Hills (@richardhills777) July 27, 2017