Fat Tony on Wellington’s building crisis


Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams discusses the Wellington CBD issue after the earthquake, amongst other things.

With just a year to go before the next General Election in New Zealand, yet another disaster in the shape of large earthquakes has struck in the South Island and reverberated badly as far as Wellington.

The locations of these shakes, mainly thinly populated rural areas, has meant that the cost in human life has not been near the scale of the Christchurch earthquakes or the Pike River mine explosion, but it will still be expensive.

The roads, particularly the one on the coast north of Kaikoura and rail line in the same region will be very expensive to restore and the infrastructure in the small towns that dot the region will not be cheap to set right.

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Tell ’em they’re dreamin’

A plan to connect Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney through high-speed rail has been released and its backers say it won’t cost taxpayers a cent.

The ambitious proposal calls for the construction of eight new inland cities between the capital cities, in a bid to reduce the pressure of growing population in Melbourne and Sydney.

Land has already been secured in a number of regional hubs.
The long-awaited plan was released on Wednesday by private company Consolidated Land and Rail Australia Pty Ltd (CLARA), which has partnered with international companies including GE, Aecom, RMIT and the CSIRO.

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Rodney Hide on Auckland’s rail fixation

Rodney Hide talks about Auckland’s rail fixation at NBR:

What bedevils Auckland are planners and their decades-old besottedness with trains.

Their single-minded commitment causes high property prices, densification, congested roads, a transport system that struggles to cope and renders Auckland stressful and difficult to do business in.

The train decision drives all others.?Because trains are the answer, the motorway system remains incomplete. To make trains less of a dog, Aucklanders must live ?compact[ly].? That drives up property prices.

We now have a modern city relying on 19th century technology. Trains are useful but only for shifting freight long distances on flat, easy landscapes. They are the worst of ways for moving people around a city like Auckland.

The basic problem is obvious to a child: Trains only go where the tracks go. And can?t pass on the same track.

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Auckland?s Rail loop projected to lose money, yet Wellington policy wonks are getting behind it

Even though government officials have given a tentative thumbs up to?the?rail loop there are still questions over its value.

Government officials have had a change of heart on the Auckland Council’s $2.5 billion City Rail Link, dropping their previous lack of enthusiasm only after the politicians decided to support it.

Papers obtained by RNZ News show officials who once saw little merit for the project starting before 2030 now support it getting underway 12 years sooner.

In July 2013, when Prime Minister John Key announced for the first time that the government backed the project, but with conditions, the Ministry of Transport was advising against an early start.

“We conclude that the evidence does not support a case for construction of the CRL by the council’s desired timeframe of 2021, but that the case becomes stronger closer to 2030,” said a Minister of Transport briefing dated April 2013.

Last month Mr Key went a step further, removing the previous funding conditions, and promising a half share from 2020, in a way that would give the council certainty to start building the main tunnels in 2018. ? Read more »

Another reason rail is on the way out

The lunatics, mostly of the left, want us to all use trains.

Trains for passenger transport and trains for bulk transport.

Well,?one of the links in that transport debate is about to be severed,?which will further reduce the amount of freight sent by rail.

Kiwirail says its ship, the Aratere, may be the last such rail-compatible ferry it runs.

The sight of a train rolling onto a ferry has long been a dramatic sight for onlookers, as the train’s heavy weight can cause the ship to move substantially in the water.

But Kiwirail chief executive Peter Reidy said acquiring rail-enabled ferry technology was very expensive. ? Read more »

Unions’ Annual Wage Bill


The union movement seem to think they are morally superior to everyone else in the country, even though UMR?s mood of the Nation report shows unions inspire the least public confidence.


We have exposed the vast wealth accumulated by unions, with equity of $119,702,072 across 14 unions.

These same unions have massive wage bills. The Labour Affiliated unions spend nearly $15 million between five unions, with the Maritime Union of New Zealand failing to report on wages. ? Read more »

Despite warnings from Auditor General Auckland Council commits millions in loans for Len’s train set

Despite?warnings from the Auditor General about staying works before having the means to pay for the rest of the Rail Tunnel – Auckland Council is about to start works down the bottom of town.

Big traffic and public transport challenges face downtown Auckland from construction starting in less than a year for the $2.5 billion underground railway to Mt Eden.

Auckland Transport disclosed yesterday that it hopes to start digging trenches across lower Queen St in January, meaning rerouting buses such as the Northern Express fleet.

That is expected to require the relocation of 16 bus stops.

The council body also expects to close the main entrance to Britomart Station, through the old Central Post Office, for about three years from March.

Temporary ticketing machines and gates will be installed at the eastern end of the station to cope with peak crowds of about 4000 passengers an hour.

Albert St, one of the main bus feeder routes into downtown Auckland, faces some disruption from October as a stormwater main is moved to make way for a pair of “cut and cover” rail tunnels to be dug from Britomart as far as Wyndham St in a package of early works likely to cost about $250 million. ?? Read more »

Another HBRC cock-up, when will Fenton Wilson resign?

Fenton "Jong-un" Wilson

Fenton “Jong-un” Wilson

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council, under the appalling leadership of Fenton “Jog-un” Wilson lurches from one cock-up to the next.

The Ruataniwha dam is stuffed because they couldn’t get simple commercial matters right, and completely stuffed up environmental issues.

Now they have bollocksed up their insistence on re-establishing a failed rail line.

Local body politicians are fighting to get the Napier-to-Gisborne railway line reopened after being rebuffed by state-owned KiwiRail.

The line was mothballed in 2012 because storm damage was too expensive to repair.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Transport Committee chairman Alan Dick said a decision by KiwiRail on Friday not to consider Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s request for a time extension to confirm equity investment in a Napier-to-Gisborne short-line rail operation, was a disappointment. ? Read more »

Unpacking the numbers on rail

Auckland Council is desperate to prop up the numbers for its rail tunnel and is resorting to some pretty under handed tactics in an attempt to force people onto its trains and provide the illusion to the people and the Government that the rail growth targets are being achieved, therefore the money should be spent.

Today’s announcement that they will cease all early bird car parking rates is a veiled attempt to force people to use Len’s pet railway.

The trouble with this thinking is that it is seriously flawed with greater chances of it failing to boost rail patronage.

There are good reasons for doubting the effectiveness of such a policy. Firstly the Census 2013 data tells us that the majority of people in Auckland don’t live near to the rail so don’t use it. We will know more in March 2015 when the Dept of Statistics releases the exact data on how people travel to work and from which locations. And that should be a telling picture for the scrutineers.

I?have done my?own investigation and startlingly I?have found that Auckland has in excess of 40 zoned workplace destinations around the region and most of them within the urban limits. The top 10 workplace destinations are:

1. CBD;

2. Mt Wellington, Penrose to Onehunga;

3. East Tamaki, Highbrook, Botany;

4. Albany;

5. Manukau and Wiri;

6. Greenlane – Ellerslie;

7. Newmarket and Epsom;

8. Eden Terrace and Grafton;

9. Ponsonby and Grey Lynn;

10. Takapuna.? Read more »

Contrary to popular belief, public transport doesn’t help the poor

One of the main reasons the left wing loves public transport is the belief that the poor will be assisted.

Unfortunately that is a bit of ?myth.

Access to public transit helps, but it?s not enough to connect workers with economic opportunity in the form of jobs.

Buses stop right outside LaToyia Newman-Gross’s apartment in suburban Columbia, Md. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to get around by public transit. “They run every hour,” says Newman-Gross, 32. If you miss a bus, you’re stuck. Waiting out in the sun or snow with her four children beside her usually isn’t a great option.

Americans are driving shorter distances, buying fewer cars, and are less likely to apply for a driver’s license than?just a few years ago. This might be due to the recession?owning a car is expensive?or it might be due to a cultural shift in favor of urban living.

But almost all households, regardless of socioeconomic status, own at least one vehicle. In 2009, more than three-quarters of workers commuted by driving alone. Recent research suggests that, particularly for single moms like Newman-Gross, owning a car can mean access to better jobs and safer neighborhoods.? Read more »