Pri­or­ity is get­ting elec­tric trains on sched­ule

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Heather McCracken

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.

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