The NZ Herald covers the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, which hopefully is just days away.
As the Super City’s mayoral combatants argue over timing for trains to the airport, officials are planning a major study before securing land designations for a $1.5 billion rail loop.
Six organisations including the Transport Agency, KiwiRail, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority and Auckland International Airport Ltd are preparing to sign a memorandum of understanding to begin detailed planning investigations for airport rail services through both Onehunga and Puhinui.
Hopefully this will go into more detail than the recent BECA report, which was more of an options analysis.
The proposed study will include a business case on a cost-benefit analysis for airport trains, and is likely to take about 18 months to complete, a similar time-frame to a $5 million investigation into a preferred route for a $1.5 billion central Auckland rail tunnel.
Neither will it come too soon for more than 10,000 Aucklanders who signed a Campaign for Better Transport petition in 2008 for an airport rail link.
The idea was also endorsed by 53 per cent of 300 people interviewed in a two-week Herald survey last month who said they would be willing to pay higher rates to be able to catch trains to the airport.
In 2008, consultants recommended to the transport authority an airport loop costing about $1.5 billion and a $729 million heavy rail link between Onehunga and the western line at Avondale as offering greater connectivity than light rail or busways.
They estimated that a double-tracked railway from Penrose to Onehunga with bridges or tunnels replacing the sector’s eight road level-crossings would cost $271 million, and that running a line to the airport – across Manukau Harbour and then parallel to State Highway 20 and George Bolt Drive – would cost $707 million.
The $271m figure seems high to me as it is more than the entire Manukau Harbour crossing project.