2 Oct 2021

Govt awaits Auckland Light Rail recommendations

8:08 pm on 2 October 2021

The government will soon receive a business case for Auckland Light Rail from the working group tasked with reviving the project.

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A model of the proposed Auckland Light Rail network. Photo: Supplied

The promise to build light rail from downtown Auckland to the airport within a decade was made by Jacinda Ardern in her first policy announcement and campaign rally as Labour leader ahead of the 2017 general election.

But work on the project came to a screeching halt last year, because coalition partner New Zealand First refused to support the plans.

Transport Minister Michael Wood announced the project was going back to the drawing board in March this year and gave a group of experts six months to develop a business case.

The establishment unit has been preparing recommendations on the preferred route, costings, funding options and which entity is best placed to deliver the project since.

The unit's business case, which includes three options for the project, will be handed to the Ministers of Transport and Finance, as well as Auckland's Mayor and Deputy Mayor next week. Ministers have, however, already recieved draft recommendations.

Cabinet is expected to make a decision on the future on the project, including costs and timeframe for construction, before Christmas.

The government is considering making some information about the future of the project public before then.

What we already know about the future of the project

The government has already indicated the Auckland Light Rail project will be delivered by either City Rail Link Limited or a new joint venture with Auckland Council.

This came after RNZ revealed last December Ministers want a public sector entity to oversee the major transport project.

Documents showed officials told Cabinet if that's the case, expertise within an existing agency will need to be bolstered or an entirely new organisation will need to be established.

This is because the project is too big and too complex for any public agency to deliver, the documents showed.

The government's National Land Transport Programme, released last month, also suggests construction on the Light Rail project won't begin until 2024.

The document, which covers the next three years, states planning and design work will be progressed over that period. There is no mention of construction.

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