Electrification Running Late

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The Herald on Sunday has run a story in its print edition, based on this post on TransportBlog   As Matt points out, it’s obviously quite clear that the project won’t be completed this year and first quarter 2014 could mean the wires aren’t finished till almost April, up to 7 months late.

Auckland train procurement begins shortly

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The Railway Gazette International reports:

KiwiRail is call tenders early in the New Year for the supply of up to 114 electric multiple-unit cars for Auckland, following the cabinet’s approval of a NZ$500m loan on November 24.

The first of the 1 067 mm gauge EMUs will enter service on the Eastern and Western suburban lines in 2013. Auckland Regional Transport Authority will also lease up to 13 electric locomotives to haul ex-British Rail SA and SD coaches on the Southern Line.

Interestingly, the article also states that “the operation of suburban trains in Auckland and Wellington will be put out to tender.” Does that mean KiwiRail is exiting public transport in Wellington as well, since Auckland’s services are already contracted out to Veolia?

Jeremy Harris On Why We Need Electric Trains

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An excellent article by CBT member Jeremy Harris.

Govt Announces $500m For Auckland’s Electric Trains

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Minister of Transport Steven Joyce has just announced $500m for new electric trains for Auckland. The trains are expected to be delivered by 2013. More details as they come to hand.

Electric rail on track this year, Joyce promises

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The New Zealand Herald reports Transport Minister Steven Joyce is vowing to get Auckland’s $1 billion rail electrification project back on track by Christmas, after yesterday announcing ownership plans for new trains.

New Metro Rail Operating Plan Released

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Minister of Transport Steven Joyce has just announced the new ownership and operating model for metro commuter rail services in Auckland and Wellington. In a nutshell:

  • KiwiRail subsidiaries will own the rolling stock (that means neither ARTA or the Greater Wellington Regional Council will own rolling stock, as currently proposed);
  • Train operators will lease the rolling stock and operate services. This differs from the status quo in that Veolia currently operates Auckland’s rail services under contract to ARTA, while Tranz Metro in Wellington is a wholly-owned subsidiary of KiwiRail.

The model looks a little bit like the current system in the United Kingdom, minus franchises. This model has had mixed success, while passenger numbers on rail transport is up in the UK, overall service quality has decreased (although some argue that the correlation is related – poorer service results from higher demand, due to underinvestment during Government ownership).

The full paper is available at the Ministry of Transport.

Rudman: Let’s Get Rail

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Rudman pretty much sums it up in today’s Herald:

Mr Joyce now seems to be deliberately taunting Aucklanders, promising all will be well, while slowly and publicly plucking the wheels off the trains, one by one.

He seemed to be deliberately mischievous last weekend when, while enthusing about roads, he told the Weekend Herald that “rail projects are [important] as well, but with the urban ones we need to know the impact on land-use planning in Auckland.”

He complained “there’s no business case or plans which says, ‘here’s where we’re going to put the two million people we’re told are going to live in Auckland in 22 years’.”

Whatever else Auckland local government can be criticised for, a failure to prepare reports is not one of them.

Read the rest of the article here.

Electric Trains Under Threat

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As Josh Arbury blogs, and the Herald reports, the order for electric trains is under threat.

A basic summary of the situation is that ARTA had an orginal budget of $512m, broken down in the table below:

ARTA Original Budget

Now, however, the Government has capped the electrification spend for rolling stock at $500m and at the same time transport planners have identified extra infrastructure spending necessary to remove bottlenecks and maintain 10 minute frequencies. Their recommended approach is shown in this table:

Revised budget

The upshot is that transport officials from ARTA, Veolia, Ontrack and the Government are proposing to reallocate $147m of a $410m budget for electric trains to projects unrelated to electrification, increased project management and project contingency. Yes that $54m (which includes lengthening platforms, signalling upgrades etc)  is probably necessary, but I would argue that it should come from the DART budget or the Kiwirail electrification budget, before the rolling stock budget is slashed.

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