Mixed re­ac­tion to cost-cut­ting rail link changes

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By KARINA ABADIA and JESS ETHERIDGE

A MA­JOR re­vamp of the City Rail Link de­sign has pro­voked mixed re­ac­tions from lo­cal gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

But the cost sav­ing of up­grad­ing the Mt Eden sta­tion in­stead of build­ing the New­ton one is some­thing ev­ery­one sup­ports.

The sta­tion site change will save more than $150 mil­lion, min­imise con­struc­tion dis­rup­tion and re­duce the num­ber of prop­er­ties that need to be pur­chased.

De­fer­ring the pur­chase of ad­di­tional elec­tric trains un­til the net­work ex­pands will save an ad­di­tional $330m, adding up to half a bil­lion dol­lars of sav­ings.

Auck­land Trans­port chair­man Lester Levy says the move will in­clude Mt Eden com­muters on the link and im­prove op­er­a­tion re­li­a­bil­ity.

Mayor Len Brown says the de­sign re­vamp makes the coun­cil’s 2016 con­struc­tion start date ‘‘even more re­al­is­tic’’.

But coun­cil­lor Mike Lee says the an­nounce­ment is pre­ma­ture.

‘‘What­ever works best

I’ll sup­port but I think we need to know more fully what we lose in cut­ting out the New­ton sta­tion,’’ Lee says.

‘‘There are good de­vel­op­ment, pa­tron­age and city build­ing rea­sons to hav­ing a sta­tion at New­ton. I’m a bit con­cerned that you only hear the neg­a­tive as­pects of hav­ing a sta­tion there.’’

Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board chair­man Shale Cham­bers says he is dis­ap­pointed but un­der­stands the de­ci­sion.

‘‘We as a board are ac­cept­ing of the rea­sons for it but it does change the vi­sion for that area slightly,’’ Cham­bers says.

The board has spent the past sev­eral months de­vel­op­ing the New­ton Plan and the link would have prompted greater in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion and de­vel­op­ment in the area, he says.

‘‘There’s a lot in the plan that wasn’t premised solely on the sta­tion but it clearly was one of the driv­ers for it,’’ Cham­bers says.

‘‘We will cer­tainly have to go back and re­visit some of the as­sump­tions there.’’

The New­ton sta­tion would have been the deep­est at 42 me­tres be­low ground. Mt Eden, un­like New­ton Ridge, is not sub­ject to height re­stric­tions in terms of view shafts and her­itage is­sues, Cham­bers says.

Al­bert Eden lo­cal board mem­ber Graeme Easte says the an­nounce­ment is good news.

‘‘Un­der the pre­vi­ous pro­posal the trains would have been di­verted into the Cen­tral Rail Link and would have by­passed Mt Eden

‘‘We’d an­tic­i­pate that peo­ple will be much more en­thu­si­as­tic about de­vel­op­ing that area be­cause of the sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in trans­port op­tions.’’

Coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey sup­ports get­ting the link built as soon as pos­si­ble.

The re­duc­tion in cost is good news as is the in­crease in rail pa­tron­age fig­ures, she says.

Coun­cil­lor Cameron Brewer agrees the sav­ings are en­cour­ag­ing.

‘‘How­ever my firm be­lief is that this will be a very long and painful project which will ex­pe­ri­ence bud­get blowouts and bur­den fu­ture gen­er­a­tions with bil­lions of dol­lars of debt,’’ Brewer says.

‘‘I firmly be­lieve we should be work­ing to the Gov­ern­ment’s more re­al­is­tic timetable which is a con­struc­tion start of 2020 pro­gramme, af­ter do­ing the joint busi­ness case in 2017 as has been agreed.’’

Brown says Mt Eden sta­tion will bet­ter con­nect the link to the western and the eastern lines.

‘‘This was about engi­neer­ing and trans­port best prac­tice,’’ he says.

‘‘And that’s what we’ve achieved as well as get­ting a $150m sav­ing.’’

The Mt Eden hub will be sig­nif­i­cant and the ben­e­fits will be likely to spill over into Sy­monds St, he says.

Coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey

Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board mem­ber Graeme Easte

Coun­cil­lor Cameron Brewer

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bour news.co.nz to watch a video about the Mt Eden sta­tion re­de­vel­op­ment.

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