Priority is getting electric trains on schedule
Money for Auckland’s new electric trains is secure, despite a regional funding crisis.
But other projects may be delayed to ensure funding for electrification and integrated ticketing.
Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee says train station and ferry terminal upgrades may be among the projects deferred.
“It will be a challenge, but we believe we can deliver on electric trains, electrification of Auckland’s rail system, and integrated ticketing,” Mr Lee says.
“This will involve some rephasing of other infrastructure projects but that is to be expected in the worldwide downturn that we are in.”
The changes came after a crisis meeting last week between the council, its investment group Auckland Regional Holdings, and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority.
ARH provides millions of dollars to the council every year through profits from more than $1 billion in assets, including Ports of Auckland.
The company was expected to provide $548 million to the regional council over the next decade, but the global downturn has made future payouts uncertain.
Mr Lee says it’s impossible to predict what the shortfall might be.
“We can anticipate that income will be lower, but the cost of borrowing may well be lower also,” he says.
“When it comes to absolute details there’s a degree of uncertainty.
“Our priority is to ensure that there is adequate funding for these major items that we have worked on for a number of years now.”
He says the regional council is also cutting costs where possible, and has put in place a staff freeze.
The $1.25b electrification project is to be partly funded by a regional fuel tax.
The bulk of the infrastructure is expected to be in place by 2011, with the network complete by 2013.
Mr Lee says a tender proposal for integrated ticketing across ferries, buses and trains is yet to be considered, but the cost is likely to be $60m to $80m.