The Eye of the Fish

February 12, 2019

Let’s Get Wellington Funded

A recent article in Wellington SCOOP refers to LGWM as if it is a done deal. “Hold on” I exclaimed inside my head, as I sat gripping my laptop in my wet sandy hands “when did this happen?” – followed swiftly afterwards by a thought “Have I slept for a hundred years? Has something happened while I’ve been snoozing at the beach?”

Well, dear Reader, not quite. It was a comment from GreenWelly, who comments here quite often. (I often wonder – is Green Welly a Green MP for Wellington? – Nandor Tankzos perhaps? Gareth Hughes? Sarah Free? I have no idea). Anyway, thanks Greenwelly, you gave me a link to the NZTA minutes from October last year, where they noted:

6. Significant planning, investment and operational matters
6.1 Let’s Get Wellington Moving: Recommended Programme of Investment, Funding and Financing Implications

Board paper 2018/10/1286

“Board Members agree with the Recommended Programme of Investment (RPI) as a programme business case, but note that the Transport Agency is not in a position to commit to the RPI progressing to the next stage, or the implementation of early improvement, without further work being undertaken around funding and financing arrangements. Further, greater certainty is required in terms of the cost and funding arrangements for the Auckland Light Rail projects; firm commitments from Councils for Let’s Get Wellington Moving;”

So – Resolution 8 : The NZ Transport Agency Board:
a) Endorsed the Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) Recommended Programme of Investment (RPI) as a programme business case.

b) Noted ‘endorsement’ indicates a commitment to develop the LGWM RPI to a stage where it can be implemented, but does not commit the NZ Transport Agency to fund that implementation, in whole or in part.

c) Noted the LGWM RPI has an estimated capital cost (P50) of $4 billion and an indicative Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) in the range 0.6 – 1.7.

d) Notes the need for significant further work on the feasibility of funding and financing arrangement for LGWM, in conjunction with similar and coincident requirements for the Auckland Rail Project.

e) Agrees there is a need to understand the entire commitment required for LGWM before embarking on the next stage, which includes detailed business case preparation, and implementation of early improvements.

Now – while I’m not quite sure what all that means, Greenwelly thinks he has got the gist of it, namely:
“NZTA have decided what they want, it’s simply that they can’t find the $4 billion they think it will cost..
Resolution 8: The NZTA Board endorsed the LGWM Recommended program of Investment, but then basically said we don’t have the money to do what we want to do…. and until funding is found we cannot proceed to a detailed business case. (Page 13-14) So I’m guessing it’s now sitting on the Minister’s desk as he attempts to get the MP for Wellington Central to let him have some more money.”

I think that is probably right. NZTA have evidently seen a report from LGWM, which has had a QS run a number past it (in the order of $4 billion, i.e. two to four more projects the size of Transmission Gully). The BCR stacks up, just, depending where you get the numbers from.

Then it gets interesting: “in conjunction with similar and coincident” Auckland Rail, i.e. so they actually ARE looking seriously at some form of Light Rail for Wellington, and importantly are discussing it in the same breath as Auckland. The obvious, sensible thing to do would be to purchase the same type of system and cars, so that there are common materials, parts, drives, bogies, signalling and even drivers. That would be forward thinking and could bring costs down. On the other hand, it would lock us into one supplier – great if you pick a good supplier, bad if you do what NZ normally does (i.e. pick the cheapest deal and get a lemon).

Four BILLION is a lot of money to be discussing. My thoughts are that instead of NZTA keeping that report to itself while LGWM spend the next year implementing a “detailed business case preparation”, and seeing as they are waiting for the Councils of the region to decide to help fund it, the LGWM plans should be released to the Public now. Either LGWM could release them, or NZTA, or WCC, or GWRC. I don’t really care where they come from – but the public need the opportunity to see what is being proposed.



Isabella Cawthorn
13 - 02 - 19

Yes. A thousand times, yes.

I’m aware of an OIA to NZTA for many of these rather elementary documents which was declined (JULY last year) “your request is being refused under section 18(d) of the OIA and section 17(d) of the LGOIMA as the information requested will soon be publicly available”.

13 - 02 - 19

Also, it is *not* a done deal.
Despite what “Tommo” described as local media “writing the future by accident”: talking about things in language that implies they’re a dead cert, thereby cultivating (albeit by accident) an expectation that they’ll be included.

Like expanding road capacity and doubling tunnels.

13 - 02 - 19

First, Nope, sorry not connected to the Green party at all-

Second, Its becoming crystal clear that NZTA have a money shortage for Wellington,

ex. the cancelling of the Peka-Peka interchange, plus the serious delays in deciding on the Melling interchange/bridge plus Petone-Grenada….

The linking of Auckland LRT to the project is very interesting, But I worry it will end up causing more trouble than its worth,

When Wellington had trams, they were narrow gauge (4ft) ,due to the tight curves and narrow streets.
Auckland had standard Gauge (4′ 8,5″)

Now while its highly likely Wellington will use modern Standard Gauge trams (narrow gauge is bespoke= expensive) Wellington’s tighter curves and narrow streets will likely need narrower/shorter tram cars….

Auckland on the other hand would be able to run much wider and longer cars (which makes them cheaper) as they don’t have those constrictions…..

This is pretty much the same as Auckland’s Electric Trains, each carriage is 3 metres longer than the Wellington Matangis (which need to be short to get through the Johnsonville tunnels)

Granted there might be some savings on the back of shop stuff (electricity supply and physical track), but I would be very surprised if they ended up with common rolling stock….

Isabella Cawthorn
13 - 02 - 19

‘NZTA has a money shortage for Wgtn” with evidence being cancellation of M2PP? ITYF that’s a shortage of money for projects with abysmal BCRs ;-)

Also if every time someone tries to start a conversation about how much of this is a done deal vs still influenceable, and funded / not funded and how, and publicly transparent vs secret, we progressives start debating track gauge, well…

I’m sure you have views on the conversation Levi was opening, Greenwelly – would love to hear them!

13 - 02 - 19

Thanks Isabella and Greenwelly (sorry that you’re not Nandoor in a disguise – mind you, maybe the beard and dreads ARE a disguise and he’s actually clean shaven underneath?)

Greater Auckland has been having a cracking good conversation over their Light Rail :
(now at over 200 comments! Crikey!! – just on the one single post!)

I think you protest too much over the difference on Track Width – 4 foot vs 4 foot eight inches? What’s a good eight inches between friends? I think we can cope with that. More to the point, methinks, is whether the LR units are planned to go at ground level, or under ground, or even, as they now seem to be talking about, above ground on stalks as per Vancouver. Those are big issues. Covered by Guy Marriage in a post on TalkWellington :
(worth reading. Only 3 comments, but still worth it!).

The length off the units is an issue, yes, but only if you assume they will be going up/down the same old routes as before. Personally, I think not. New routes, new tunnels, new rail units – no issues on width or length. Indeed, as my old Yiddish tailor used to say in London “Never mind the width, feel the quality!”

Seamonkey Madness
13 - 02 - 19

“What’s a good eight inches between friends?”

Oh, Captain Peacock! Well I never!

13 - 02 - 19

Greenwelly, interesting theory about Wellington’s trams being 4ft gauge because of tight curves and narrow streets. I recall reading a WCC report about the introduction of electric trams and the proposed gauge, and I don’t recall either factor being mentioned – and if they were the reason, the 3’6″ NZ railway gauge would have been a much more obvious and logical choice.

Whatever, a new system will be designed to avoid such things, and I suspect that our new trams will be as standard as possible. Whether that means they’ll bear any similarity with Auckland’s is another matter: our Matangi units are about as different as possible from their equivalents, the gauge being about the only technical feature that they have in common. And while length may be an issue, there’s no real reason as far as I can see why Auckland and Wellington trams shouldn’t be the same width, whatever the gauge.

But it’s a bit of a myth that tight curves require narrow gauges – take a ride on Manchester’s airport line and you’ll see what I mean. It’s also a bit mythical that narrow gauge = bespoke, since the standard light rail gauge in Japan is 3’6″, and a metre in Switzerland and places in Germany.