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Answers needed over Rail Link costs: Goff

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/09/2016

Auckland mayoral candidate Phil Goff says tax and ratepayers deserve a better explanation of why the estimated cost for the City Rail Link has jumped by hundreds of millions of dollars.

But the government says there's nothing odd about project costs changing over time and the bill may be revised again.

Mayor Len Brown and Transport Minister Simon Bridges this week revealed the estimated cost of the joint council-government rail project had jumped to between $2.8 billion and $3.4b - despite earlier being pitched at $2b to $3b.

Labour MP and prospective mayor Mr Goff said answers were needed about why agencies may have underestimated the cost when the project was being voted on.

"People understand that the City Rail Link is a necessary part of stopping congestion on Auckland roads ... however, if the price continues to escalate it puts more pressure on Auckland ratepayers," he said.

"We need assurances that the project will be delivered on time and within budget," he said.

In a statement, the government said the costs had been refined due to more detailed planning and design work as the project went along and could still be changed again.

"These still reflect a best-informed estimate using the information currently available and are subject to further changes following formal engagement with the market," it said.

"As is common with large infrastructure projects, early estimates of the costs represent a best-informed estimate at the time, and are subject to change."

Mr Brown said both the government and council would be working to keep the bill closer to the lower end of the range.

The project will see two 3.4-kilometre rail tunnels installed under Auckland's CBD by 2023 and will create a new line from the Viaduct to Mount Eden, forming a loop around the central city.

About $280 million has already been spent since work began at the city's central station, Britomart, and Albert Street in June.

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