Wheels falling off the rail link trolley


Auckland Transport have for some time beavered away at land acquisitions for the proposed Rail tunnel.

Word abounds that they have deliberately picked off the small land owners and those who don’t really understand the process first.

Most land owners in the path of the designated tunnel probably don’t know that the designation can be opposed and that strategically the best way to ensure Council doesn’t stiff them on price is to be aggressive about the process.

Not so the big corporates who have come out wielding big sticks covered in broken glass and nails.

Noise, vibration, trouble sleeping, turning a popular part of Auckland’s waterfront and the busy Albert St into a construction site for years, pedestrian and vehicle disruption, negative economic impacts – big-time office block and apartment owners are headed to the Environment Court to fight the $2.86 billion city rail link.

NZX listed Precinct Properties, the Stamford Residences’ Owners Corporation and Tram Lease have lodged appeals against Auckland Transport, planning the underground tunnels between Britomart and Mt Eden and using the Public Works Act to try to force property owners to either sell their surface and subterranean properties, or in Precinct’s case, open it up for the tunnels to be created under a new 30-level-plus tower and mall.

Dates are yet to be set for the court to hear those appeals.

Whilst the tunnel doesn’t look in jeopardy – the process can drive a big wedge into time and will undoubtedly push up costs.

It is reasonable for these building owners to seek more stringent rules from the court on construction and disruption which ultimately should form part of any settlement package in terms of costs paid by Council/AT under the PWA.

The problem for Len Brown and his cronies is that this is the first serious signal that costs are going to skyrocket.

And ballooning costs on such an expensive project could be poisonous.

Time will tell but all bets are on the tunnel costs being vastly more expensive than forecast.

Nobody is going to roll over for Len and his train set.


– NZ Herald