Did the trainspotters lie?

Sneaky and Furtive Mayor of Auckland, Len Brown, may have been sneaky and furtive once again. This time over his pet project the Rail Loop.

A Government-ordered review of Auckland’s proposed CBD rail link has found that the benefits fall between $1- and $3-billion short of those claimed.

» Read the report here

In a blow to new Auckland Mayor Len Brown, Transport Minister Stephen Joyce said the case for funding and building the rail link had not yet been made and the mix of options for meeting transport needs in the Auckland CBD had not been sufficiently explored.

He released a review conducted by the Ministry of Transport and Treasury in conjunction with the NZ Transport Agency.

The review found that more work needed to be done to determine the full transport needs of central Auckland before proceeding with a project like the CBD rail link.

Ok to be fair to Len Brown, Treasury was involved in this report so the figures are likely to be a bit wonky, but the reality is it looks like the report that trainspotters and proponents for spending other peoples money touted as Aucklands great solution was in itself wonky, or perhaps wilfully dishonest.

The review found:

– That the estimated construction costs for the CBD Rail Link are largely sound – at a total of $2.4 billion;

– That the transport benefits of the project are estimated at $387 million rather than the $1.319 billion assessed in the business case;

– That the project would have only a modest impact on traffic volumes and likely remove up to 1400 cars (2000 people) of the estimated 29,000 cars (41,000 people) travelling into the CBD during the morning peak in 2041;

– That the wider economic benefits of the project as estimated in the business case ($3.3 billion) were very significantly over-stated and were in fact more like $305 million – which was still high relative to the transport benefits when compared with similar large international transport projects;

– That the re-calculated BCR consistent with the NZTA Economic Evaluation Manual used for roading projects was 0.3; with the additional wider economic benefits taking it to 0.4;

That is actually quite damning. The sneaky and furtive supporters of rail basically made a four fold error in transport benefits, a factor 200 mistake in the impact on traffic, (Surely that constitutes a lie), and a factor of 10 error in the economic benefits.

I hope none of the people who wrote and calculated this report are helping len with his rates calculations. The Associate Minister of Pie Eating and Minister of Porn even dared to suggest that a 19th century technology is modern. No wonder Labour are performing so poorly in the polls.

Labour’s transport spokesman Shane Jones the review was a blow for Auckland and a blow for the city’s vision of a modern public transport system.

At least he didn’t conflate high petrol prices with the populace embracing trains because they love them like the dopey Green spokes-clown did:

“Aucklanders have been flocking to trains with growth well over 10 per cent a year, and as oil prices have hit record highs, traffic volumes on state highways are down.”

Gareth Hughes is so insulated form ordinary Auckland that he probably hasn’t noticed that petrol is over $2.00l. That means that cars are off the road, in a far more effective manner than spending billions on a silly rail project. With petrol being so high it acts essentially as a congestion tax.

Fans of rail should stop trying to pull the wool and just clean out their basement build their own little trainset instead of expecting the public to build a great big one for them.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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