Auckland Council agrees up to $207 million for purchase of 17 new electric trains

Auckland Council’s Finance and Performance Committee today agreed in principle to the purchase of 17 new electric trains for a combined total of up to $207 million, with an initial payment of up to $25 million to be made in 2017/18.

It comes as a result of increased patronage on the rail network and the requirement to increase its peak capacity, which will be reached by 2019 when the new trains would come into operation.

The trains have modern batteries which allow them to operate off-grid and recharge when in an electrified section, and will replace existing diesel trains between Papakura and Pukekohe.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the decision.

“Investing in our public transport system is paying off,” he says.

“Aucklanders have taken to public transport with demand increasing by 17 per cent in the last year and we’re about to achieve a record 20 million passenger trips a year in Auckland.

“Delivering a reliable and efficient public transport network in Auckland is a priority. It will help relieve congestion which is costing our city billions of dollars in lost productivity, lower our city’s emissions profile and make Auckland a great place to live.

“This brings electric trains to Pukekohe over five years earlier than was planned. It will help cater for the 17,800 extra dwellings that the SPV will bring forward.

“It avoids the rail service reaching capacity and not being able to meet demand by making the extra units available in time, and will continue to encourage commuters to make the mode shift to public transport, easing the increasing congestion on the motorway.”

Finance and Performance Committee deputy chair, Councillor Desley Simpson, says that the decision to purchase the trains would have a significant impact on Auckland’s rail network.

“This decision will have a lasting impact on Auckland’s transport issues,” she says.

“Auckland’s growth has been outstripping projections for some time. Today’s decision recognises that by acting to increase the capacity of the rail network as soon as possible, while also ensuring that we continue to operate within our financial limits.

“However I am disappointed that this was not raised during our recently completed Annual Budget with the funding incorporated into that process. I appreciate the apology and commitment from Auckland Transport that we will be fully appraised of similar scenarios in the future ahead of time.”

There are several conditions to the agreement of the purchase, including a commitment by NZTA to fund at least 50 per cent of the capital and operational expenditure and the timing of the funding aligning to the cash flow requirement of the procurement and operation.

Auckland Transport will also be required to reprioritise its existing capital budget, providing $50 million towards the purchase, and will make an initial payment of at least five per cent or $10m, but no more than $25m for the order in September 2017.

Other agenda items

Items 1-8 were administrative items.

Item 9: Disposals recommendation report

The committee agreed to the disposal of 12 council-owned properties, and for two council owned-properties to be transferred to Watercare.

Item 10: Panuku Development Auckland Limited debt to equity conversion

The committee approved the conversion of $3.1m capital budget in the 2018/19 financial year into annualised operational budget for the new multi-purpose community facility in Takanini, on the basis of no impact on the general rates for future years.

Item 11: Proposed change of ownership of Auckland Film Studios Ltd

The committee approved the restructure of Auckland Film Studios Limited (AFSL) to Auckland Council, allowing Panuku Development Auckland to incorporate the property into their plans for the future development of Henderson, and for Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) to manage the land and buildings as a film studio in an agreement with Panuku until the site is required for the future development of Henderson.

Item 12: Establishment of a trust to manage a proposed stormwater reserve in Drury

The committee approved an 85-hectare stormwater reserve in Drury to be managed by a trust, and agreed the membership of the trust, comprised of at least three members including two members appointed by Drury South Limited, and one appointed by Auckland Council in consultation with the Franklin Local Board subject to further advice from Auckland Council governance.

Item 13: Te Motu a Hiaroa (Puketutu Island) Governance Trust - council-controlled organisation exemption

The committee agreed to exempt Te Motu a Hiaroa (Puketutu Island) Governance Trust as a council-controlled organisation.

Item 14: NewCore: completion of project

The committee received the report detailing the completion of the NewCore project, noting it has been successfully deployed across all of Auckland Council on time, within the agreed scope and at $2.8 million less than the 2014 approved budget. The project closure report will be provided to the Audit and Risk committee.

The agenda for this meeting is available on Auckland Council’s website and minutes will be added once confirmed. This meeting was also webcast on the council’s website and items are available on demand.