The Government in New Zealand may have to scale back its USD 6 billion light rail programme for Auckland by scrapping a line from the city centre to west Auckland, says Transport Minister Phil Twyford. He said it was his strong preference to see light rail built from the city centre to the west and to the airport, but if it is not possible to fund and finance both lines, then light rail to the airport will get priority.
If that happens, a rapid bus network – along the lines of the Northern Busway – would be considered along State Highway 16 to the north-west.
We remind that the light rail project was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in August 2017 where she called it a “game-changer” and a solution to the city’s congestion. Ardern promised to build light rail to Mt Roskill within four years, followed by light rail from Mt Roskill to the airport and to Westgate in west Auckland within 10 years. The Treasury, Ministry of Transport and NZ Transport Agency are working on business cases for the two lines and a procurement process.
Cabinet is due to make decisions on the way forward with light rail in the next couple of months, but the call on proceeding with one or both lines will come later.
The light rail network is expected to comprise two major lines within the next decadeThe first line will link the CBD to Auckland Airport. This comprises first constructing a line from the City Centre to Mt Roskill down Dominion Road within four years, with the line then to be extended to the Airport from Mt Roskill within the next ten years.
The second line is a North-Western line which will run between the City Centre and Waimauku. The NZ Government has committed to constructing the line within the next 10 years. A further extension of the network to the North shore after the first two lines are completed has been flagged for after 2027.