What progress has been made on developing the commuter rail network in Auckland?
Another milestone was passed on Saturday when I and my good friend Mike Lee opened the Onehunga branch line, which includes the three new stations of Penrose, Te Pāpapa and Onehunga. This $13.6 million investment will provide 49 weekday services between Onehunga and Britomart, offering an easy 25-minute trip. Modern and efficient transport corridors across all modes are vital to ensuring that as Auckland grows, its productivity and its economy grow even faster.
How does the investment in Onehunga fit into the wider commuter network investment?
Thirty-seven years after commuter services to Onehunga ceased, it is once again open for business, thanks to the Government’s overall $1.6 billion investment to upgrade and electrify Auckland’s urban rail network. I thank the finance Minister. However, I must caution that there remains further work to ensure this new network is financially sustainable in terms of fair revenue and subsidies from ratepayers and the New Zealand Transport Agency. This is very important before new projects to further extend the network could be sensibly considered.
Given that he boasted with great conviction in a recent speech that “there has been plenty of progress in this area. Over the past 18 months I have attended many project sod turnings, and station and line openings and I look forward to attending a few more as projects near completion.”, how many of those projects were approved and had funding started on his watch, and if the answer is none, does he not think it is time to give just a little bit of credit to the previous Labour Government, which got these projects going?
I think it is fair to say that transport projects are proceeding much faster under the current Government. I fully expect the trains over time to arrive on time, the cars to depart on time, and other such positive improvements. I can confirm, for example, that the electrification of the Auckland railway network has been voted by the current Government, and that is heading on towards a $1 billion investment.