Budget has just been announced, and I’ve still to go through it, but a couple of things sprung out to me.
Public Housing – $3 billion
“Robertson said the Government would build 3000 new state homes by June 2025. The new public houses were expected to cost $3.1 billion in capital investment, on top of $465 million operational costs.”
By my basic arithmetic, that means the cost of each house is $1.03 million each. That obviously must also include the land cost, but still – that’s outrageously over the top. I guess that is not including the massive cost of running Kainga Ora as well (as that should be taken care of by the 0.465 billion cost of that!), but this really should be either half the price, or twice as many houses. Maybe even a third the price or three times the number of houses.
Infrastructure resilience – $6 billion
“Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced a $6 billion spend, to fund a National Resilience Plan in response to Cyclone Gabrielle and other extreme weather events.
“It was unacceptable that basic lifeline services like telecommunications, power and transport links were knocked out for so long,” he said.
That is fantastic – great news. To my mind, that means new bridges, new construction. New, better towers for telecoms? Bridges for rail as well as bridges for road. Let’s build them better this time.
Railways – $959 million
KiwiRail is in line to receive an extra $370 million, to repair its railways and consider how it could expand the national rail network. As part of the “Future of Rail” programme, KiwiRail was asked to prepare “a detailed business case for electrification of the North Island Main Trunk line”.
The bulk of this funding, $383 million worth, would arrive in 2025. The Government also committed to paying its 50% share of the increased cost to finish Auckland’s City Rail Link. It would provide $197 million in capital investment to finish Auckland’s underground rail network, with Auckland Council expected to match this investment.
I’m celebrating wildly already – finally, looking seriously at completing the Electrification of the Main Trunk Line. There is only about 60km at the Auckland end, and another similar sort of amount at the Wellington end. Even at an outrageous $1million per km, that should be doable with about $120 million to get the job done. And even more exciting, money to repair the existing railways and also look to expand – that might be more like Repair the Long-Lost and forgotten dregs. Will they even reopen the line back up to Wairoa, at last?
Judging by what Greater Auckland have found out, the price that KiwiRail are planning to electrify railway lines is based on an approx $5m per km, as can be seen by this graphic below, borrowed from Greater Auckland and added to by the Eye of the Fish.
85 km @ $5 million per km = $430 million
68 km @ $5 million per km = $339 million
The Bring Back Rail campaign is seemingly gaining some purchase in the provinces. The Capital Connection is about to be upgraded to something resembling a proper inter-city service.
I can’t get my head around why it should cost the kinds of money talked about to bring the CC on through Marton to Whanganui when the tracks are still there and being used by container trains every day. It’s true the passenger platforms at Whanganui were Prebbled some years ago, but how much could they cost to reinstate?
Even allowing for the dogleg through P North, it would mean a two-and-a-half hour trip to the Smoke and spare the Corolla the Transmission Gulley grind.
Agreed! I’d love to take a weekend trip up to Whanganui, and am eternally frustrated that the only way I can get there is in the Fishmobile, or a bus. Buses and windy roads really don’t mix.
Papakura to pukekohe electrification was closer to 20 million a km, so not sure how kiwirail would go on 1 million per km.
See post-script above – looks like they are aiming at a cost around $5m per km. So, 5 times more than I reckon, but only a quarter of the cost that you mention for P-to-P
I just think that a bit of realism and practicality needs to be factored in to the costings for electrification of the railway system. Paying $20 million per kilometer is just plain stupid. I watched them replace the line along Porirua Harbour a few years ago. They had a machine go along and drilling piles along the track side and filling the tubes with concrete. Over the next couple of months they replaced all the existing timber supports with shiny new galvanized posts and brackets, and the replaced the wires. There’s no way they spent $20million per kilometer doing that. If the posts are say 50m apart, then that is 20 posts per kilometer. The steel isn’t that big or that complex – say $20k per post. That only comes to $400k per kilometer. I reckon $1million per km is plenty.
Nemo, the electrification renewal along a short section of plain-line railway that you saw along Porirua Harbour was just a fraction of what is needed for new electrification – it’s sort of analagous to assuming that all that’s needed for a new building to become operational is for its shell to be completed.
As an extreme example, in the case of London’s Elizabeth line (admittedly much more complex than anything in NZ), it was four years after the completion of the sort of visible things that you saw before the line could open.
So it may well be the case that they didn’t spend $20m/km doing just “that”, because there’s a lot more to be done than just “that”.
Thanks BB – yes, I realized that after I wrote that – there is all the wiring, counterweights, mechanisms, and of course electrical substations, as well as a hefty wages bill for 20 guys in orange overalls stuck up on a scissor lift on wheels. Totally understand that. But still: $20 million per kilometer? Someone has to be rorting the system somewhere. Need to employ people from overseas who do this all the time, for a whole lot less! We are being robbed!
Stuff today reports “Housing was the biggest climate winner in the “bread and butter” Budget, with more than $400 million allocated to the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme over the next four years. The spending, which will retrofit 100,000 draughty homes with insulation and heat pumps to shrink energy bills, could also give the coal-burning Huntly power station a rest.“
““Robertson said the Government would build 3000 new state homes by June 2025.”
NO he didn’t say that,;;.. watch his lips….. he said
“deliver an additional 3,000 new public homes by 30 June 2025”
And premised it by saying
So far we have delivered 11,830 more public homes,
From the link below, of the near 12,000 “delivered” public homes, 7300 are leases, buy ins or redirects.. i.e existing houses that have been bought into the public housing stock, they are not new stock…
KO have built 7600 new homes, but they also removed 5200… so over the last 6 years KO have only actually added 2600 net new homes…
I don’t doubt your figures, because, well, you have the figures and I do not – but I might just point out that developing houses is not a one-year task. KO have been buying up lots of properties for the pipeline of work that stretches out 10-20 years from now. So, over time, those figures will improve.
You would hope they would improve, because they are pretty rubbish now…
KOs problem is that basically its on a huge upgrade programme, Ripping down 50s era stock on huge sections and building higher density homes to a much higher standard…
However politicians are out selling it as a huge stock expansion, but its clear that once you factor in the demolitions that stock increases are much more modest., but the stock is of a much higher quality….
Its other problem will be that timelines and costs (like every other project) will heve blown all the original dates and future budgets out the window…..
Greater Auckland today has a table which estimated electrification from Waikanae to Palmy alone at 339 million in 2021 https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2023/05/22/budget-2023-highlights/
I’m not saying this is good, or we should accept it, but still.
That is around 110 Googlemeters, so approximately $3 million per km. Not too scary surely? What does the semi-annual tarmac replacement on the Kapiti Expressway cost?
I’ve just added that table in as a Post Script above – was doing that while you were writing your comment! Starve – I make that $5million per km, so either your maths is wrong, or mine is !
The source is Kiwirail’s 2021 “North Island Electrification Study”
Someone OIA’d it a while back and its on FYI
There is lots of interesting stuff in it
Current best practice in the UK is the equivalent of about $4m per single track kilometre (the standard international industry way of expressing these things), so assuming “per km” means that, those figures look to be in the ballpark.
I see that Upper Hutt to Masterton has provision and pricing for two flavours of electricity. What’s the betting that the chosen flavor will be the one incompatible with the current Wellington network?
Maybe it doesn’t matter if the new stock can switch voltage (see also Waikanae to Palmy) – also enabling it to work up at the Triangle… AC is demonstratively better.
Pretty low, I would think, since my reading is that the incompatible option of full AC electrification costs much more than the compatible option of partial DC electrification, charging onboard batteries, for which the necessary units were approved in the budget (and there’s little freight, so that’s not in the equation).