The Campaign for Better Transport has launched a new website – northshorerail.nz – 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 northshorerail.nz/petition 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.