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National drags its feet on airport rail

Documents obtained by the Green Party show the National government has quietly delayed work to protect the route for light rail to the airport from development, having previously said it was being urgently progressed, the Green Party said today.

A briefing to Transport Minister Simon Bridges in March said a business case for route protection for the CBD to airport corridor would be completed in 2017. Official Information Act response from the NZ Transport Agency in July said that “completion of business case work for protection is now late 2018”.

"Simon Bridges is essentially saying one thing to the public and doing another. Spending almost two years on a business case just to protect the route for light rail hardly sounds like urgency to me," said Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

“Light rail to the airport is the most urgently needed transport project in Auckland, and it should be starting this year, not in 30 years’ time as National is planning.

“Auckland Transport has already completed business cases demonstrating the positive economic benefits of light rail to the airport; it shouldn’t take another 18 months to complete this final stage.

“The Green Party has committed to building light rail to the Airport by 2021. This is an ambitious goal that will require unprecedented cooperation between Government and Council, and we can make this happen.

“A new rail line will give people the freedom to by-pass congested roads and travel from the city to Dominion Rd and the airport easily and quickly.

“Light rail will mean far more consistent and shorter travel times for people traveling to and from the airport and surrounding suburbs,” said Ms Genter.