Airport Rail Meeting 30th August

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Recently Auckland Transport announced their preferred rapid transit mode to Auckland Airport is light rail. AT have ruled out heavy rail as an option and say they will now focus on protecting the route for light rail only.

The Campaign for Better Transport has been campaigning for more than a decade to get a rail connection to the airport. Does AT’s light rail proposal stack up, or has the evidence been stacked against heavy rail from the outset? When will a rail connection finally be built? Would a light rail solution perform as well as a heavy rail solution? How will the $1.8bn East West Connection project impact on getting rail across the Manukau Harbour?

To try and answer these questions, the we are hosting a public meeting in Onehunga:

Haskell Room, Pearce Street Hall, Onehunga
Tuesday 30th August, 7:15pm for a 7:30 start (Onehunga train departs Britomart 6:49pm)

Speakers include:

  • Auckland City Councillor and AT Director Mike Lee, a long time advocate for rail in Auckland
  • Graham Matthews, General Manager Airport Development & Delivery at Auckland Airport
  • Jim Jackson, The Onehunga Enhancement Society
  • Graeme Easte from CBT
  • Stu Johnson from the RMTU

We are also hoping that an AT representative can also attend.

This is a free event – donations or CBT membership gratefully received to cover costs.

Annual General Meeting 14 July

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Annual General Meeting

Our AGM this year will be held on Thursday 14th July 2016, 7:30pm at the Garden Room, Richmond Road Community Centre, 510 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn.

Our special guest this year is transport economist and Green MP Julie Anne Genter.  We will confirm further details closer to the date, but in the meantime pencil this in your diary.

Membership Subscriptions

As we are well into the new financial year it is time to renew your existing membership or support us by joining or donating.  As advocates for better transport in Auckland, the more members we have the stronger our voice is to local and central Government.

Annual membership fees are only $20, or $10 unwaged – although additional donations are always appreciated! We are a completely voluntary incorporated society and we have no salaried positions, so any money we receive is simply to cover costs.

You can sign up on line , or simply make a payment using the following details:

  • Bank – Kiwibank
  • Account Number – 38-9009-0281735-00
  • Reference – Your Name

Current Campaigns

Our focus is on North Shore Rail.  This might seem a long way off into the future, but central Government’s Transport Agency is already starting the notice of requirement process for a $4bn – $6bn road only crossing. To put it bluntly, this must be stopped.  With a benefit cost ratio of 0.4, it is inexplicable that $27m has been budgeted by the NZTA to continue with designation work for a tolled crossing.  If you haven’t already, please find out more and support the campaign at

Easing of Heavy Truck Rules Prompts Safety Concerns

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Media Release From the Campaign for Better Transport

Government moves to relax rules for heavy trucks have prompted road safety concerns from The Campaign for Better Transport.

The Ministry of Transport is proposing to allow standard truck maximum weights to increase from 44 tonnes to 45 tonnes, remove the need for permits for maximum load trucks, and allow wider and taller trucks on New Zealand roads, as part of its review of the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass (VDAM) Rule.

Changes to the VDAM Rule were made in 2010 to allow the maximum weight of trucks to increase from 44 tonnes to 53 tonnes on selected roads.

Cameron Pitches, spokesperson for the Campaign for Better Transport, says further relaxing of the rules around maximum weights will put other road users at risk.

According to Ministry of Transport figures, in 2010 trucks were involved in 15% of all fatal accidents. In 2014, trucks were involved in 23% of all fatal accidents, accounting for 67 deaths and 772 injuries.

“The Government expectation that safety would improve by introducing heavy trucks to our roads is clearly wrong. The trend is worrying and more work needs to be done before we relax the rules further,” said Mr Pitches.

“This proposal is specifically designed to increase the trucking industry’s market share of heavy freight, but the public generally want more heavy freight on rail and off the roads.”

In recent years the Government has spent tens of millions of dollars strengthening bridges and roads to support heavy trucks.

The proposal estimates economic benefits to be $634m over 30 years in present value terms, largely resulting from a theoretical reduction in the number of trucks for the same freight task, but Mr Pitches is skeptical.

“Most of the potential benefits seem to be for truck operators themselves, but for the wider community this could easily be offset by the increasing number of accidents involving trucks.”

“Similarly, claims of positive environmental benefits aren’t substantiated if freight is moved from trains,” said Mr Pitches.

In allowing wider trucks and buses on the road, the proposal will also place pressure on New Zealand’s bus and coach manufacturers, as larger buses could be imported directly from the USA and Australia. New Zealand’s manufacturers employ over 250 skilled staff and over 500 specialist subcontractors and suppliers with an estimated turnover of over $50 million this year alone.

Public submissions on the proposed changes close on Wednesday 17th February.  A pro-forma submission is available here.


Truck accident statistics:

From their latest newsletter “Express”,  Kiwirail forecast during the first half of 2016 they will operate 36,711 rail services which is equivalent to reducing 545,311 truck trips, saving 39.4 million litres of fuel and 106,011 tons of CO2 emissions if the same freight task had of been moved by road.

Vehicle Mass and Dimension Rule Submission

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The Ministry of Transport is proposing changes to the Vehicle Mass and Dimension (VDAM) Rule, which controls maximum allowable weights and sizes of trucks on New Zealand roads.  You can read our submission here, and make your own submission online here.  A pro-forma submission which you can edit is here. Our general comments are:

This discussion document appears in some cases not to be written objectively and is limited in scope. Not taking rail and sea modes into consideration at the same-time highlights weaknesses in the benefits and risks evaluations provided by the Ministry of Transport.

While road transport is important to the economy, rail and coastal shipping are both currently under utilised and offer potential productivity benefits which MoT need to take into consideration.

Many of the changes proposed in this document offer extremely low economic benefits while at the same time it fails to quantify the costs involved in the required infrastructure upgrades. Therefore, submitters are not in a position to make correct decisions as they lack all the information they require.

It would appear safety, environmental factors, direct and indirect costs of truck accidents are not fully taken into account by this document, when it is obvious they must be. According to MoT figures in 2014 trucks accounted for 67 road deaths (23% of all road deaths). Since 1990 truck related road deaths have increased from 14% to 23% of all road deaths. During 2010-14 35% of all fatal truck crashes and 58% of minor injury truck crashes were caused by truck operators. These shocking statistics imply that the trucking industry urgently needs to improve its standards. MoT data shows that when a car collides with a truck, car occupants represent 96% of deaths, 89% of all serious injuries and 83% of minor injuries. The proposals in this document to increase width, heights and mass loadings in this document do nothing to mitigate these worrying statistics.

“The NZ Injury Prevention Outcomes Report – June 2015” released by the Accident Compensation Corporation states that the total costs of all road crashes in 2010 was $2.23 billion dollars and 18% of that figure was directly attributable to the trucking industry. When the insignificant 30 year economic benefits, as mentioned in this document, are taken into account it is clear that most of the proposals are not worth pursuing when measured against the costs trucking related crashes have alone on other road users and society as a whole.

Trucks cause over 99% of damage to the road network, yet only cover 58% of road maintenance costs through Road User Charges. Other motorists, taxpayers and ratepayers are effectively subsidising this industry to the tune of billions of dollars every year. When compared to rail which covers 84% of its operating costs and must pay 100% of the its maintenance costs it would be sensible for the MoT to be putting more resources into promoting freight to be moved by rail instead of by road where possible.

The Campaign for Better Transport recommends that many of the proposals are put on hold until the MoT is in a position to provide the detail we have highlighted as being necessary. Basing decisions on the information contained (and omitted) within this discussion document makes little sense and brings the credibility into question of both the MoT and the Minister.

It is suggested that a comprehensive economic evaluation of all the benefits and costs of the changes proposed here be undertaken by a reputable and independent (preferably overseas based) economic research consultants. It is only in this way that a credible evaluation can be made of the benefits or otherwise to New Zealand of these proposals.



North Shore Rail Campaign Launched

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The Campaign for Better Transport has launched a new website – – in support of extending rail to the North Shore of Auckland.

The CBT is convinced that the next crossing of the Waitemata should be for electrified rail, but plans are already under way for two three-lane tunnels for general traffic, costing in excess of $4bn with the possibility they might be tolled.

CBT spokesperson Cameron Pitches says that road tunnels, which are currently in the designation phase, would be the most expensive transport planning mistake ever made in New Zealand.

“The resulting flood of single occupant cars crossing the Waitemata Harbour can only result in more congestion in the Auckland CBD and the surrounding motorway network,” said Mr Pitches.

Mr Pitches says an electrified rail crossing would provide more capacity, generate less carbon emissions and cost less than the vehicle tunnels being advanced by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

A study commissioned by the New Zealand Transport Agency in 2010 costed a pair of vehicle tunnels at $4.6 billion, while rail-only tunnels were estimated at $1.5 billion.

“The difference is huge – enough to establish a comprehensive rail network on the North Shore,” says Mr Pitches.

The CBT also criticised the false sense of urgency behind the push for more road capacity across the Waitemata Harbour.

“The multi-billion dollar Western Ring Route, which includes the Waterview Tunnel, is due to open in 2017 and is designed to provide a seamless motorway from Manukau to Albany. It is expressly designed to reduce congestion on the Harbour Bridge, yet the NZTA are planning more capacity before the alternative motorway is even open. We have enough capacity for cars and trucks – it is rapid transit capacity that Auckland lacks,” says Mr Pitches.

Supporters are invited to sign an online petition at which requests the Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency to work together to prioritise the construction of a rail crossing from downtown Auckland to the North Shore.

Alarm At Government Plan for Harbour Tunnels

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The Campaign for Better Transport has written to Minister of Transport Simon Bridges requesting that a tender process for a multi-lane vehicle tunnel across the Waitemata Harbour be halted.

In the letter, the Campaign for Better Transport states:

  • No cost benefit analysis has been carried out that is compliant with the NZTA’s own Economic Evaluation Manual. The full cost of connecting six additional lanes of traffic to the existing motorway network has not been assessed and the NZTA’s solution has not been proven to be either efficient or effective.
  • A rail only crossing, which would be substantially cheaper due to smaller diameter tunnels and have greater capacity than the NZTA’s single occupant car based solution, has not been evaluated by the NZTA. Neither have any other transport options and alternatives.
  • The NZTA have not consulted the public of Auckland about the transport project they wish to designate for, nor have they given any indication as to how the project will be funded or the amount of any toll that might be required.

The CBT has subsequently learnt from the NZTA that a study in 2008 did look at a rail only tunnel solution to the North Shore, which was costed at $1 – $1.2bn dollars. For reasons that remain unclear, a road tunnel costed at about $4bn was determined to be the most desirable solution.

In 2011, the NZTA produced a Preliminary Business Case for their preferred option. The Benefit Cost Ratio was 0.4, including wider economic benefits. This means that for every dollar spent, just 40c of economic benefit would flow to Auckland as a result of the project being constructed.  Neither the Preliminary Business Case or the earlier 2008 study performed a cost benefit analysis for a rail only crossing.

Regardless, the NZTA are now proceeding with tendering for route protection work, which is due to be awarded in August 2015.

Quite how six lanes of traffic will be integrated with the existing motorway network at Esmonde Road and the Central Motorway Junction is yet to be determined either.

While the NZTA’s proposed solution does potentially “future-proof” for rail, there are no plans currently to determine a route for rail from the central city to the North Shore, and no timeframe for doing so.

The NZ Herald have covered this story here.

AGM and Airport Rail

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Our AGM this year features a special guest in the form of Pete Clark from Auckland Transport, who has kindly offered to present the latest on rail to Auckland Airport.

  • Monday 20th July, 7:30pm
  • Richmond Road Community Centre, 510 Richmond Road Grey Lynn

Rail to the airport has been a long running project of the CBT – we did our first presentation to the ARC in 2003, urging designation of a rail route from Onehunga to the airport. In 2008 we presented a 10,000 strong petition to the ARC in support of designation. Today the recent announcements of the billion dollar East – West link, along with the fast-tracking of the Kirkbride Rd interchange pose some real challenges. Throw into the mix Auckland Transport’s recent announcement that it is considering light rail, and it is clear that Pete really has his work cut out for him!

All CBT members and newcomers welcome.

Letter to John Key

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Transportblog did a good job of fisking the recent comments Prime Minister John Key’s criticism on Auckland’s transport plans. In an interview with Paul Henry, the Prime Minister made a number of factual errors about Auckland’s transport issues that demonstrate he is either being poorly advised by officials, or is deliberately misinforming the general public.  This prompted the CBT to write a letter outlining the inaccuracies in the Prime Minister’s comments. Consistent with most communications we have with central Government, we have yet to receive a reply or an acknowledgement.

17th May 2015

Dear Prime Minister

Re: Comments Regarding Transport on the Paul Henry Show

Having just watched your interview with the Paul Henry show which took place on 11th May, I am concerned at the quality of advice you are receiving from your officials. In that interview you stated:

The most important issue has to be, in our view, provide roading solutions in the very short-term for where people live. Only 15 percent of people live in the CBD… It’s all very well having rail as your top priority out to the airport…

To start with, the resident population of the CBD is about 3 or 4 percent, not 15 percent. It is generally accepted that about 15 percent of Aucklanders are employed in the CBD, so I think you or your officials are perhaps confused by this.
Next, I need to make you aware that rail to the airport is not the top priority in Auckland’s Regional Land Transport Plan 2015 – 2025. There is currently no designation for rail to the airport in place. Rail to the airport does not feature until decades two and three of the plan – hardly a good basis for you to be claiming it is the top priority for Auckland.

It is the City Rail Link that is the top priority for Auckland, which has the support of a majority of Aucklanders and groups such as the Employers and Manufacturers Association. The CRL will create at least 50 percent more capacity across the entire rail network and enable faster, more frequent rail trips not just to the CBD, but all over the Auckland region. Patronage is likely to hit 20m passengers a year by 2017 , two years earlier than the arbitrary target of 2020 which has been set by you. (I say arbitrary, because no prerequisite traffic targets are set for RoNS projects such as the Puhoi – Warkworth toll road). Without the City Rail Link, the full benefit of Auckland’s brand new electric fleet cannot be realised, as Britomart will soon reach capacity.

In the interview, you also claimed that Auckland Council will be spending half a billion less on transport in the next three years, even if a levy is implemented.

By now, you should be aware via Radio New Zealand that this is incorrect. I have also obtained confirmation from the Auckland Council that their capital expenditure on transport over the next three years will in fact be roughly the same as the previous three years.

In summary, Prime Minister, very little of your official’s advice stands up to scrutiny.

I am left wondering why you think unfounded criticism of the Auckland Council’s transport plans and the transport levy is helpful? You don’t offer any alternative plans or funding mechanisms. It would be more constructive if your officials discussed any concerns with their more knowledgeable counterparts at the Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, instead of giving you demonstrably false information.

I’ll leave you with the following key principles that the Campaign for Better Transport included in our submission on Regional Land Transport Plan:

1. Transport is about moving people and freight efficiently.
2. Auckland has a peak time capacity constraint, which providing more lanes for single occupant cars won’t address.
3. Investment in mass rapid transit is required. This also benefits road users who don’t have a choice to use public transport.
4. It is valid for petrol excise tax revenues to be spent on any project that reduces traffic congestion on roads.
5. An evidence-based cost benefit analysis should be used with all transport projects, using a methodology that places value on reducing reliance fossil fuels.

Prime Minister, I think you would benefit from some accurate advice on Auckland’s transport issues. Accordingly, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you at your soonest convenience.

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