Study stretches rail link fur­ther out of reach

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

The City Rail Link con­tin­ues to re­main out of reach.

A study 18 months in the writ­ing has failed to con­vince Trans­port Min­is­ter Gerry Brown­lee the rail link is an es­sen­tial com­po­nent in the race to fix Auck­land’s ex­ist­ing and im­pend­ing traf­fic woes.

The City Cen­tre Fu­ture Ac­cess Study warns of sig­nif­i­cant de­lays and con­ges­tion in Auck­land within 10 years.

The study says pri­vate ve­hi­cle speeds in the city cen­tre at peak times will more than halve to 7kmh by 2021, and be down to 5kmh – walking pace – by 2041.

The report was com­pleted in con­sul­ta­tion with cen­tral government of­fi­cials but de­spite that Mr Brown­lee says the tun­nel is not vi­able. He says the report is too nar­rowly fo­cused.

The report de­picts an ac­cess cri­sis for the city cen­tre if pub­lic trans­port is not re­shaped and strength­ened.

Mayor Len Brown says two-thirds of New Zealand’s pop­u­la­tion growth over the next 30 years will be in Auck­land.

Ac­com­mo­dat­ing that growth will re­quire sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment to com­plete the pub­lic trans­port net­works.

‘‘We must com­plete the City Rail Link with­out de­lay,’’ he says.

‘‘It is an es­sen­tial in­vest­ment for the whole of Auck­land be­cause it dou­bles the ca­pac­ity of the rail net­work and im­proves ac­cess to our town cen­tres ad­ja­cent to rail.

‘‘The city cen­tre will in­creas­ingly be the fo­cus for high pro­duc­tiv­ity jobs and the City Rail Link en­ables this growth.’’

The study iden­ti­fies the City Rail Link as ‘‘es­sen­tial’’ and says that bus-only in­vest­ment will pro­vide short-term ben­e­fits, although in some cases it will be ‘‘worse than do­ing noth­ing’’ for pri­vate ve­hi­cle travel times.

The tun­nel has the back­ing of Auck­land Trans­port chair­man Lester Levy, who says: ‘‘The study un­der­lines the im­por­tance of the City Rail Link to im­prov­ing the en­tire trans­port net­work.

‘‘It pro­vides a log­i­cal and fac­tual ba­sis on which the work al­ready un­der way can con­tinue.’’

Mr Brown­lee says that, though use­ful, the report falls some way short of con­vinc­ing the Government it should pro­vide fi­nan­cial sup­port to any fast track­ing of the pro­posed City Rail Link.

‘‘The Government is not dis­count­ing the po­ten­tial for en­hanced rail ser­vices to im­prove cen­tral Auck­land con­ges­tion in the fu­ture, be it along the pro­posed City Rail Link route or an­other ser­vice.

‘‘But this valiant at­tempt to make it stack up strug­gles to make the case.’’

Mr Brown­lee says he ex­pected a broader re­view of po­ten­tial trans­port so­lu­tions for Auck­land rather than the nar­row case stud­ies re­leased.

‘‘Com­ple­tion of the West­ern Ring Route in 2017 will also draw many thou­sands of traf­fic move­ments away from the CBD, yet none of th­ese ma­jor trans­port cor­ri­dors is ex­plored in de­tail.

‘‘Also over­looked is that evolv­ing work­place prac­tices and emerg­ing tech­nol­ogy will most likely have a con­sid­er­able im­pact on peak hour travel over the next 30 years.’’

He says the study’s mod­el­ling sug­gests the City Rail Link is not vi­able in the next 15 years.

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