29 May 2014

Government rubbishes rail link report

12:13 pm on 29 May 2014

The Transport Minister has rubbished a report that says the Government should drop targets for Auckland rail patronage and employment and back an earlier start on the city's downtown rail tunnel.

Gerry Brownlee says the report makes it clear that the rail link isn't viable any earlier.

 Auckland Transport says the challenge to boost passenger numbers remains alive.

A report says an Auckland rail link should start earlier than 2020. Photo: RNZ

The Government has said a start earlier than 2020 could happen only if rail patronage and city centre employment hit pre-determined targets.

But a report commissioned by Auckland council questions the soundness of those targets and says the $2.8 billion project should start earlier if growth trends are on track.

Appearing in front of Parliament's transport committee on Thursday Mr Brownlee said the report does not support a case for an earlier start date.

"What it really says is Auckland Transport and Auckland City Council were wildly inaccurate in their initial assessments of what might be achieved for the city."

But Labour MP Phil Twyford questioned whether the Government was genuine in its offer to start the project earlier.

"It's pretty clear from this, and the minister's response today that they had no intention whatsoever of starting work earlier than 2020."

Mr Brownlee said it is not unreasonable for the Government to set targets for any funding commitments.