Auckland is facing a $484 million funding gap for costs related to the City Rail Link and other rail upgrades, according to Government papers.
Two weeks ago, Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce revealed the cost of the 3.4-kilometre underground rail tunnel had blown out to between $2.8 billion and $3.4b.
Now, ministerial papers released to the Herald under the Official Information Act show Auckland Transport needs to find a further $304 million and KiwiRail a further $180m for a number of projects, including a third rail line between Otahuhu and Wiri, a train control centre, a third power supply for additional trains and catch-up renewals.
The works and the costs have been known since last year, but the ministers have been told recently that without the works, the benefits of the City Rail Link and wider rail and freight networks will not be fully realised.
The "package of works" provided to the ministers takes the scope of the City Rail Link and associated works up to $3.85b. The Government has agreed to a 50:50 split with council for the construction of the rail link, leaving Auckland Transport and KiwiRail to fund the other $484m of works.
Last night, an Auckland Transport spokesman said the full rail programme had been given priority in the first decade of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project( ATAP), a new transport strategy for Auckland released two weeks ago.
"The arrangements for accessing funds from Government hasn't been confirmed, however, Ministry of Transport and Treasury were parties to the ATAP report," the spokesman said.
He said the ATAP report recommended funding should be addressed between the Government and council at the time of the council's next 10-year budget.
Auckland Transport reiterated that the upper figure of $3.4b for the City Rail Link was an "estimate only at this stage as opposed to a cost" and firm figures would not be known until tenders had been received.
Meanwhile, a source said Mayor Len Brown only found out about the City Rail Link cost blowout from a minister the night before it was announced on September 14.
Brown said the information came to him "late in the play" and he was not aware of the latest estimated cost "because I didn't ask for it".
Asked why the mayor was not updated on the cost estimates, the Auckland Transport spokesman said: "It's an estimate, not the cost and is likely to change over time. The mayor is briefed regularly on the project."
The failure of Auckland Transport officials to update Brown, Bridges knew about the blowout in June, is not the first time the mayor has been kept in the dark. Officials did not tell him about wharf extensions at Ports of Auckland and a London posting by the council's economic development arm.
What is funded - $2.8b to $3.4b
Construction of City Rail link from Britomart to Mt Eden with new stations at Albert St and Karangahape Rd.
Improvements to Britomart, Henderson, Otahuhu, Newmarket and Strand rail facilities.
Still to be funded - $484m
Third main line between Otahuhu and Wiri.
Integrated train control centre.
Third traction power supply for additional trains.