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Auckland's airport rail link dumped

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/06/2016
Auckland city train © SNPA Auckland city train

A heavy rail service from Auckland Airport to the city has been dumped by transport authorities.

Travellers using the city's airport have no other option to get into town other than using the increasingly congested roads and a rail option would bring Auckland up to speed with major world cities.

However, at a meeting on Monday, Auckland Transport's board recommended any further considerations of rail be dropped due to its high cost, instead preferring to further develop plans for bus-based transport system or light rail.

A report presented to the board found the capital cost of heavy rail was $2.4 billion, compared to just $1.2b for light rail, but with light rail producing slightly better benefits.

It has now recommended a full-cost analysis for a bus option. The decision is a turnaround for Auckland Transport which last year said it was "extremely committed" to rail.

The Green Party said the decision showed the government was giving up on a city-wide rail network in Auckland. "By not investing in modern rail links to the airport or to the North Shore, National is condemning Aucklanders to a life of sitting in traffic jams for many years to come," party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.

She said it was "ridiculous" for the government to spend $1.8b on a new East-West link motorway but dismiss rail as too expensive.

But Prime Minister John Key said the report just reflected heavy rail was expensive and limited in use.

"I'm firmly of the view that they should invest their money where it makes sense," he said. "Of course some large cities have a rail link, but they can often be historic and they often used rail in more significant ways than we do."

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