Brownlee slams City Rail Link report

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2012
Gerry Brownlee
FAIRFAX NZ

STRONG STANCE: Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee.

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Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has slammed Auckland Council's study on traffic solutions for the city and the City Rail Link saying the council "struggles to make the case".

The City Centre Future Access Study, released yesterday, warned of significant delays and congestion in Auckland within 10 years if the City Rail Link was not built.

The study followed a request 18 months ago from former Transport Minister Steven Joyce for Mayor Len Brown to develop a robust and achievable transport programme.

The minister requested Auckland Council specifically investigate alternatives to the City Rail Link.

The study was completed in consultation with central government officials but despite that Brownlee said the tunnel was not viable.

He said the report, while useful, fell some way short of convincing the Government it should provide financial support to any fast tracking of the proposed City Rail Link.

"The Government is not discounting the potential for enhanced rail services to improve central Auckland congestion in the future, be it along the proposed City Rail Link route or another service. 

"But this valiant attempt to make it stack up struggles to make the case."

Brownlee said he had expected a broader review of potential transport solutions for Auckland rather than the narrow case studies released.

"Completion of the Western Ring Route in 2017 will also draw many thousands of traffic movements away from the CBD, yet none of these major transport corridors is explored in detail," he said.

"Also overlooked is that evolving workplace practises and emerging technology will most likely have a considerable impact on peak hour travel over the next 30 years."

Brownlee said the study's modelling suggested the City Rail Link was not viable in the next 15 years. 

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said two thirds of New Zealand's population growth over the next 30 years would be in Auckland and meeting that growth would require significant investment to complete the public transport networks.

"We must complete the City Rail Link without delay. It is an essential investment for the whole of Auckland because it doubles the capacity of the rail network and improves access to our town centres adjacent to rail," he said.

"The city centre will increasingly be the focus for high productivity jobs and the City Rail Link enables this growth."

Of the 46 potential alternatives, two options, a surface bus priority option or an underground bus tunnel, were taken forward for further investigation.

Neither option performed as well as the City Rail Link across the access indicators. In less than a decade bus volumes would need to increase by 70 per cent on key routes.

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