rail loop

Len Brown makes lame promise to repair image

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Auckland mayor Len Brown says the council will not put any ratepayer cash into building or running an international convention centre.

He told the Weekend Herald yesterday that there would be no money for the SkyCity convention centre in a new 10-year budget.

The council and Mr Brown were blindsided by suggestions from the Government and SkyCity before Christmas that ratepayers’ money be used to fund the shortfall in costs for the controversial project.

SkyCity said the original $402 million cost had been “revised” to $470 million and to $530 million.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce floated the idea of ratepayers helping cover operating costs, but has since talked down the idea and suggested the council look at its regulatory fees for the consent and construction process.

Mr Brown said he had never been formally approached by the Government on the issue.

One, Auckland Council have been told that if they spend any more money they’ll have their credit rating downgraded.  Bottom line:  there is no money for the train set, so Brown would never have given any to Sky City.  (Of course, there is enough for the arts, but not the rescue helicopter). Read more »

Wheels falling off the rail link trolley

Spain-train-crash

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.

Read more »

Labour still drinking Len’s Koolaid

Oh goodie...I'm going to get my train set is Labour wins!

Oh goodie…I’m going to get my train set is Labour wins!

Phil Twyford has been drinking the mayor’s Koolaid and if elected is essentially promising to turn up the day after the election with his shovel.

Mayor Brown, who has still to finalise funding for the council’s half-share of the rail project, insists a 2016 start is vital to Auckland’s economic development and to prevent crippling peak-hour road congestion.

The chances of Auckland reaching the Government’s 20 million rail trips by 2020 took a knock this month when Mr Brown and councillors voted to reduce the patronage targets over the next three years. Instead of 17.75 million rail trips by 2017, the council cut the target to 15 million because of lower-than-expected patronage and revenue.

The PwC report said the Government’s rail targets were “technically achievable” and not inconsistent with growth rates since the opening of Britomart in 2003, but the timing of growth from full rail electrification by 2016 would come too late to have an impact on an early start for the City Rail Link.

The report said the Government’s employment target was unachievable because falling office vacancy rates and new office space in the pipeline could not accommodate a 25 per cent increase in city centre employment by 2017.

Labour transport spokesman Phil Twyford said the Government’s targets were always going to be unachievable. If Labour won the election it “would start tunnelling immediately” and pay for it out of the national land transport fund.

Read more »

It’s not compulsory…yet

 The NZ Herald has an article and Auckland Council buying up properties in the path of Len Brown’s rail track.

They focus on some whiners who don’t think they got enough.

Properties worth $35 million have been bought to secure the route for Auckland’s proposed $2.86 billion City Rail Link.

Although it would not list them, Auckland Transport told the Herald it had bought 27 of 73 above-ground properties it needs to create entranceways to proposed underground stations and train lines along the 3.4km route from Britomart to Mt Eden. It also needs land for its major construction yard at Eden Terrace.

The Auckland Council-owned authority said the most expensive property it had bought was an empty site near Mt Eden Prison for just over $6 million.

It was bought “as an advance agreement with the final amount to be determined by the Land Valuation Tribunal”.

What is interesting is that the process is stated in the last paragraph – it’s not a compulsory acquisition.  Read more »

What to do with Len’s rail loop afterwards?

In Paris they  have come up with some cool creative ideas to re-use some of abandoned Metro railway stations.  Instead of ignoring them and letting it all go to waste, there is a chance to give then a brand new life.

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Could be a long lap down that pool.  Phew! Read more »