9 May 2018

Super Fund seeks to help build light rail in Auckland

6:31 pm on 9 May 2018

The NZ Superannuation Fund wants to help build and run Auckland's light rail network, with the government taking another step towards construction.

An artists' visualisation for Auckland Transport of light rail in the city.

An artists' visualisation for Auckland Transport of light rail on Queen Street. Photo: Supplied / Auckland Transport

Transport Minister Phil Twyford has today called for expressions of interest in building the $6 billion network, and says the fund has already put up its hand.

The government last month earmarked $1. 8 billion to seed-fund two light rail lines, which it wants to start in the coming decade.

It hopes there will be interest from private sector investors in helping fund one of the country's biggest public transport investments.

Both the city-to-Mangere and city-to-North West lines are included in the new process.

Finance minister Grant Robertson said the NZTA would set up a process to explore a range of possible procurement, financing and project delivery options.

"This process will invite and assess all potential proposals and report back to the Ministers of Finance and Transport. The Transport Agency will work with the Treasury and the Ministry of Transport in this process."

Super Fund acting chief executive Matt Whineray says the light rail project was of sufficient scale and significance to be an attractive prospect for investment.

"We wish to explore whether a NZ Super Fund-led consortium leveraging our international relationships can fund and deliver the project, on a fully commercial basis."

He said the Fund had identified a potential partner: Canadian fund manager CDPQ Infra, which developed, built and operates Montreal's light rail network, while other funders could also be added to the consortium.

The bulk of the Super Fund's $38 billion is invested in overseas assets such as shares, and it has been looking for substantial local investments.

Its local investments include Kaingaroa Timberlands in the central North Island, rest home operator Metlifecare, Kiwibank and the housing development at Hobsonville.

Mr Twyford said the Super Fund's proposal will be assessed alongside any others.

He said the project will be a "game-changer for Auckland commuters".

Nats undecided if they will scrap light rail plan if elected

The National Party said the jury was still out as to whether it would scrap a government plan for light rail, should it win the 2020 election.

National's transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross said he would not guarantee his party's support.

The light rail the government was proposing was one of the most expensive forms of public transport in that corridor, Mr Ross said.

The rest of the country would be taxed more to pay for it and there were more cost-effective options.

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