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Huge Nat u-turn on City Rail Link

Written By: - Date published: 12:44 pm, June 26th, 2013 - 64 comments
Categories: transport - Tags:

It’s a massive win for the Greens, for Labour, and Auckland. National has caved to the pressure from local government, from business, and from its political opponents. With the polls so close (recent outlier notwithstanding) National couldn’t afford to go into 2014 opposing the CRL when Aucklanders want it and the opposition is mobilising it as an issue, including the Greens’ ‘re:connect’ campaign.

There’s plenty of outstanding issues. How much funding will the government put up? When will the CRL be built?  Will it be a PPP? Will National try to slip in a Puhoi to Wellsford PPP at the same time? Are they going to stuff around with the alignment of the tunnel? (I suspect they’re going to drop the Warkworth to Wellsford part of that RoNS as part of the trade-off, which would be great)

But this is a win for the Left, no doubt. It’s a huge backdown from a government that has spent years and years saying that rail is dead and we don’t need the City Rail Link. As recently as a few months ago, Gerry Brownlee was dismissing yet another report that said the CRL was the only way to keep Auckland moving.

Key has clearly had to override his numbskull transport minister in the interests of politics – he couldn’t go into the next election arguing that a four lane highway in the middle of nowhere was more important than the CRL that all the Auckland establishment and the opposition is calling for, not if he didn’t want to risk a couple of percent of the party vote by pushing Aucklanders away.

Great work by everyone who has forced National into this u-turn.


64 comments on “Huge Nat u-turn on City Rail Link”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    Poor John Roughan.

    • Rhinocrates 1.2

      Ah, schadenfreude. Love it!

    • xtasy 1.3

      John Roughan will be busy organising protests now. He may perhaps use his dear NZ Herald to whip up emotions amongst rate payers and those Aucklanders who want to drive their individual cars from cradle to grave.

      We live in a society where you must count yourself lucky to organise a few dozen to protest against draconian, unfair and partly illegal welfare reforms, but where hundreds or thousands march against liquor stores, dairies selling legal highs, against certain substancesbeing put into baked bread or tap water, and to take a stand against crime.

      So get some rate payers and car lovers enraged by telling them they will pay for all this, and you are likely to get a few thousand march up Queen Street, I am afraid.

      Welcome to the “dark side” of NZ.

  2. National only brings dessert to the table when they’re about to serve liver for the main course. Does this mean they bullied Brown into trading CRL funding for housing policy?

  3. gobsmacked 3

    Beware the details. It’ll be funded by pokies?

    Still, a good win in round one. Many more to go.

  4. Pete 4

    Good. They have made the right decision. The Nats do have a stiffy for PPPs, though, but I guess the perfect is the enemy of the good.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      The good is the enemy of the passable…I think what we are going to get from the NATs is going to fall into the “passable” category.

  5. BM 5


    Mr Key also suggested the $2.86 billion project could be paid for with proceeds from asset sales.


    • framu 5.1

      i know – its cracks me up watching key and english suggest that they can spend the same money multiple times over 🙂

      how many things have the suggested for asset sales profits now – 4? 5?

      remember that it was already counted before it even sold in the nats very first budget

      (yes i know the that they suggested the future investment fund here – but i think you get my point)

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1

        It’s BM, a seeming National supporter, so there’s pretty much no chance he gets your point. He’s probably buying what Key said and thinking that those asset sales are such great things.

      • Winston Smith 5.1.2

        Oh please Labour and Shearer spent the money for the “holiday highway” numerous times, its what politicians do

        • Colonial Viper

          How did they do that from Opposition?

        • framu

          Yeah WS – just how did labour and shearer spend money from a project that was created by the current govt?

          time travel perhaps?

        • Draco T Bastard

          The holiday highway is part of National’s RoNS. It didn’t even exist as random thought prior to the election of this government. This being true how could Labour and Shearer, who aren’t in government, have spent the money that National have allocated to the delusional RoNS multiple times over?

      • James N 5.1.3

        Mighty River Power down 10% on issue price already… Who mentioned schadenfreude?

    • Chris 5.2

      Key would be referring to Auckland Council assets?

      • insider 5.2.1

        Watercare, airport, Wynyard wharf, vector, POA. there’s lots of cash tied up there

        • QoT

          lots of cash tied up there

          Yes, we call them public assets. I presume you haven’t been so foolhardy as to “tie up cash” in a mortgage, a car, appliances? Rent your work shoes from Hannahs, do you?

    • the pigman 5.3

      But I thought the proceeds of asset sales were going towards hospitals, the children, ensuring the welfare of fluffy animals and the rainbow unicorn protection league?

  6. Tim 6

    Now for the Gisborne resurrection, and a heap of other possibilities – Christchurch included
    It’s taken a while for them (gNats) to see the bleeding obvious though.


    Nats won’t build it before 2020 though. Knew there would be a catch.

  8. Ad 8

    2021 is a bit of a way off.

    Be interesting to see what links the PM makes between it and the second harbour crossing tunnel option.

    Bringing CRL forward will depend quite substantially on whether Auckland’s construction, finance, and local government sectors can come to arrangements that enable acceleration within procurement.

    If they can accelerate Clifford Bay (good grief), they can certainly accelerate CRL.

  9. valid point 9

    A disappointing result. The CRL will be NZ’s most expensive ever vanity piece. The real irony though is that the rates to pay for it will be so expensive, the Auckland CBD will be inaccessible for the working class to go near there.

    • Rob 9.1

      But its a huge boost to Auckland Manufacturing …..

    • framu 9.2

      i wouldnt call a near halving of travel time and an increase of trains per day vanity

    • Draco T Bastard 9.3

      The CRL will be NZ’s most expensive ever vanity piece.

      Actually, that would be the RoNS ($10b+) that don’t even break even on a cost/benefit ratio which the CRL (~$3b) does do.

    • Lloyd 9.4

      Is it vain to produce an efficient transport system that will not produce carbon dioxide to move people, when even the United States president has said that we have to do things about global warming, NOW?

      Anything that makes Auckland a more efficient city, gets people out of their cars AND out of buses cannot be called a ‘vanity piece’.

      If you want to look for a vanity piece take a look at tax cuts for the rich, selling off assets that make more in dividends than costs of paying interest on borrowings of the same value or a lack of capital gains tax.

  10. scotty 10

    Duncan Garner is flat out on Radio Live ,spinning this as a win for John Key and National , ‘so pragmatic and sensible’, can hardly contain his glee that his JK has trumped Labour again.

    • Ad 10.1

      Which is true. National have pulled the transport centrepiece off both Labour and Greens, and simultaneously made it their own and dumped into the lap of Mayor Brown, two weeks out from nominations for Auckland’s elections.

      It will now be the central contest of the election: if Auckland wants it so bad, how are they going to pay for their share? It’s not yet obvious.

      • Lloyd 10.1.1

        Since any construction starting 2020 will almost certainly not be under a Gnats government, the gnats have done the trick of eating their cake and having it too.

        Gnat politicians will now be able to stand up and say “aren’t we wonderful, we are giving you a wonderful rail link”, whilst at the same time it will cost them nothing.

        If they were really in favour of the link they would fund works starting next week.

    • Hayden 10.2

      The transition from “the CRL is a loony-left pipe-dream” to “the CRL is an inspired National initiative, all praise to John Key!” (without even a hint of cognitive dissonance) is going to be beautiful.

    • Paul 10.3

      Duncan Garner…further evidence of our ‘fair and balanced’ media.

  11. xtasy 11

    “There’s plenty of outstanding issues. How much funding will the government put up? When will the CRL be built? Will it be a PPP? Will National try to slip in a Puhoi to Wellsford PPP at the same time? Are they going to stuff around with the alignment of the tunnel?”

    It may seem to be welcome news for those supporting the inner city rail loop, but I would be extremely cautious on this one. Wait and see what the details will look like. I suspect that the Nats and the government have not just by accident chosen a Friday to announce details.

    In car mad Auckland and New Zealand most will be busy with their weekend activities and planning of those, while and after the announcement will be made. Also will politicians be off home for the weekend.

    Fear perhaps that with some offered funding there will be some very unsavoury parts coming with it, for all to swallow.

    NEVER trust John Key and the Nats!

    • AmaKiwi 11.1

      The devil is in the detail and the detail we’ve seen sucks.

      Auckland wants to start construction 2015 / 2016.

      Nats want to start 2020 . . . . . until they develop their excuse to delay it longer.

      My fantasy: Auckland deteriorates into (further) gridlock and a top Nat politician dies of a heart attack or stroke because St. Johns couldn’t get through the traffic jam.

      Am I too cynical?

    • Mary 11.2

      I like how Key and Joyce say it won’t fix traffic congestion, almost as if they’ve decided to fund a dead duck. Makes the political expediency blatant.

      • Lloyd 11.2.1

        You never hear from the gnats that all their roads of national significance won’t reduce road congestion. Anyone who looks at new roads knows ‘build it and they will come’ – the new roads will also cause congestion. That doesn’t happen with trains (unless they stop across a railway crossing…..

  12. Chooky 12

    They are sure to have shares in it somewhere along the line.

  13. Dv 13

    who will now pay for chch hospital
    the modern schools
    the irrigation schemes
    pay down debt

    • AmaKiwi 13.1

      This is National, you fool. You don’t pay down debt, you increase it. That’s our legacy for future generations. Let them learn how to struggle.

  14. millsy 14

    I knew Auckland would get its rail loop. All along. It was really only a matter of time. You have to remember that this was first proposed in the 1920’s and supported by those hard core green lefties Gordon Coates and Dove-myer Robinson.

  15. Rosetinted 15

    On radionz this evening -Bryab Crump show – about transport in Sao Paolo. This is a place so jammed with cars that traffic queues of 200 kilometres have occurred. They are working on this big problem. There is a series of 6 on cities from Windows on the World from the BBC.

    This was the info for tonight’s.
    Wednesday 26 June: A Route 66 of the Future – Sao Paulo (Part 3 of 6)
    A Route 66 of the Future is about travel and transport, real and virtual. In Part 3, Gary Duffy investigates Sao Paulo’s transport issues and its attempt to become a ‘smart city’. It is the nature of modern life that populations, especially in the developing world, move from the countryside to ever-growing urban conurbations. More and more of us are moving to megacities and megalopolises. Such is the case with Brazil’s Sao Paulo with its myriad downtowns, favelas and urban sprawls accommodating 11 million people. But how do you move such a huge population around and ensure relatively pain-free travel?

  16. BrucetheMoose 16

    In other words- Here’s a big lolly for Aucklanders – on a long stick.

    • Rosetinted 16.1

      I think there is more meat to it than that – could well be a sav on a long stick, nicely warmed up and welcome on a cold day.

  17. Yes 17

    Gaurantee there is a back room deal…why did Len give up…what assets has Len decided to sell…national control Len…Len supports sky city deal????

  18. unicus 18

    To think these bloody fools tried to wind back the clock when they scuppered the AK fuel tax for the sake of some imaginary ideology makes my flesh crawl – and to those in ”the rest” of NZ who are now paying for ‘our’ rail network thanks but we were quite willing and able to pay for it ourselves and would have been four years further on in or network development but for these deluded hicks

  19. Tom Gould 19

    Interesting that this post neglects to even mention the one person who was by far the most instrumental in getting consensus on the CRL, Len Brown, who has worked away doggedly over nearly three years putting together a powerful lobby that in the end, Key simply could no longer ignore. Even if it meant humiliating Joyce and Brownlee. By my reckoning, around 80% of the credit goes to Len Brown, about 10% to Labour and the Greens, and about 10% to the fellow travellers.

    • Yes 19.1

      Well done len I say – sky convention centre the trade off?

    • Rosetinted 19.2

      Tom Gould
      Did Mike Lee try for something like this too? He worked on transport for Auckland in a robust way for years.

    • unicus 19.3

      Just to set the record straight TG – your percentages are a bit haywire –

      Len probably referenced the Regional Land Transport strategy to access the ” powerful lobby ” in existence long before he became Mayor . Cam Pitches at Better Transport AK -the joint Councils and ancillary ‘ fellow travellers’ on the RLTC Mike Lee ( Green/ Lab ?) and his Councils who led the charge against Wellingtons intransigence over the fuel tax signed off the electrification and rolling stock contracts – and built 15 new stations – double tracking on the western line (Labour ) . So Ive got the breakdown thus – 50% Labour /Green 30% fellow travellers 15% to the people of Auckland who have grown patronage 30% a year since 08 and 5% to Len for having the nouse to jump on board – after all he wasn’t even on a council before he became Mayor

  20. Draco T Bastard 20

    And here’s why the U-Turn:

    Nearly 47 out of 100 Aucklanders rated the Government’s performance on the Central Rail Link project as poor in the fortnight before it announced it would support a 2020 start date for the project.

    46.9% rated performance on the issue has poor to very poor and 19.9% said it was good to very good. Others were neutral or not sure, according to a June 13 to 26 Horizon Research poll of 1026 Aucklanders aged 18+. Weighted to represent the Auckland adult population the poll has a maximum margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

    It seems that most of Auckland is starting to get pissed with National and their ways.

    • karol 20.1

      But don’t expect slippery National won’t add some benefits to them as part of the deal:

      Good for SkyCity because the CRL will bring more gambling addicts to their doorstep?

      Will Len and the elite, undemocratic “Committee for Auckland” sell the ports to pay for the CRL?

      And what else will Key, Brownlee & Joyce include with the CRL deal when they make the full announcement tomorrow?

      New roads across Auckland? The “East-West link”, from Onehunga or Mangere to Highbrook? The eastern highway? An extra Waitemata Harbour crossing?

      • Draco T Bastard 20.1.1

        But don’t expect slippery National won’t add some benefits to them as part of the deal:

        Oh, I’m sure that they’ll try something and I’m sure that it’ll be negative for them as people look at the corruption that’s inherent in any deal that National does.

    • lprent 20.2

      Yes. It is quite noticeable amongst the centre-right people I know (and I know a lot of them). Irritated more than “pissed” would be the best way to describe them. But you see that they are in the process of sitting in judgement and not liking what they are seeing.

  21. One Anonymous Knucklehead 21

    What happened? Did some large construction company donate a whole lot of cash to the National Party or something?

  22. The whole ideas is nuts. Just as Britomart was. All that is needed is electric buses on dedicated bus lanes feeding off the main stations on the existing rail network. Flexible, clean, with a view as you go of the cones and no need to go up and down deep escalators into the nether world. No need for a rail connection between Mt Eden and Britomart, but a light rail connection could be built in a couple of years that loops around Symonds, Anzac, Customs, Ponsonby, K Road in both directions.

    • Draco T Bastard 22.1

      All that is needed is electric buses on dedicated bus lanes feeding off the main stations on the existing rail network.

      Won’t work as the existing rail network wouldn’t be able to carry the capacity.

  23. Rosetinted 23

    red rattler
    I used to travel by tram from the burbs to Newmarket when I was a nipper. Good old rattlers, and proceeded in a stately but speedy fashion on what was a freeway most of the time down the middle of the road.

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