The Auckland light rail saga has taken another twist, with the government saying both of the planned lines may be scrapped due to a funding shortfall.
New Zealand’s Transport Minister, Phil Twyford, has indicated that funding issues may get in the way of building both lines of the Auckland light rail, indicating the line from the city to the airport (City to Māngere) would get priority over the promised second line from the city to Auckland’s northwest.
Minister Twyford made the comments about the line at a Labour Party meeting with a transport future theme in Henderson, in his electorate of Te Atatū.
“It’s only a contingency,” Twyford said, according to local media, referring to the possibility of abandoning the second line, which the Coalition government promised to deliver between 2018-2028.
“If we weren’t able to fund and finance it, there are many, many calls on the transport purse, then with that corridor (to west Auckland) we would need to look at some other options. It could be bus rapid transit or other things.”
“Obviously money does not grow on trees,” he added. The comments come in the wake of Minister Twyford being recently handed advice on alternative funding, delivery and operating models for the country’s largest-ever transport project.
But he said he had not seen any official advice that suggested it was not feasible to build both lines consecutively, although the Labour-led government has made the City to Māngere line the priority.
However, the transport minister did confirm some sort of PPP arrangement would be the likely solution to the procurement dilemma. CQPD and New Zealand Super lodged an equity-led PPP unsolicited bid for the project last year, and that is among the options on the table.
The minister is also awaiting the business case from New Zealand Transport Authority and Ministry of Transport to be completed, as reported.
The decision on the procurement options were due to be released by the end of last month but stalled after months of delays on how the Coalition government will fund the light rail line.
There is no timetable on when the project will be progressed, a NZTA spokesperson told Inframation.
Twyford also confirmed that a decision on whether to pursue building one or both of the lines will be decided after the procurement options are weighed up.