Labour backs Auckland rail plan

Labour has announced its support for an Auckland city rail loop. File photo / Greg Bowker
Labour has announced its support for an Auckland city rail loop. File photo / Greg Bowker

Labour would scrap the so-called "holiday highway" to fund the Auckland city rail link.

Announcing the party's transport policy today, Labour leader Phil Goff said it would cancel the $1.69 billion Puhoi to Wellsford highway and dedicate $1.2b from the Land Transport Fund to the city rail link.

That funding would cover half the $2.4b cost of the rail link, with the other half to be funded by Auckland Council.

Mr Goff said the city rail link was the next step in building a modern Auckland public transport system.

"This investment will get Auckland moving," he said.

"Aucklanders are fed up with sitting in endless traffic jams. Building the rail link turns Britomart into a through-station so trains don't have to stop there and will double the number of trains coming into the city from south and west Auckland, take cars off the road and encourage investment to transform the city centre."

Mr Goff said Aucklanders were overwhelmingly and vocally in favour of the rail link proposal.

"Unlike National, Labour is listening. Today we are committing to central government's half of the bargain."

Mr Goff said the "gold-plated" Puhoi to Wellsford highway was fiscally irresponsible in tough times.

Labour favoured a $320 million alternative that included a Warkworth bypass and improvements to the existing road to fix crash black spots and traffic bottlenecks.

The combined cost of the alternative and the rail link would be less than what National had budgeted for the highway.

Labour's Auckland Central candidate, Jacinda Ardern, said it was time to "unchoke the heart of Auckland".

"It's not about spending more, it's about priorities and this Government has got it all wrong."

Labour's other transport initiatives would include:

* Funding to promote an increase in coastal shipping, with the goal of 30 per cent of inter-regional freight being carried by sea by 2040;

* A re-evaluation of the roads of national significance programme;

* Engagement with the working group on establishing a Hamilton to Auckland commuter rail link.


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