Light rail scrapped in a Nation incapable of building infrastructure

Can they build it? No they can't!

Government pulls the pin on multi-billion dollar Auckland light rail project

Auckland’s light rail has officially been tossed on the scrap heap by the National-led coalition government.

Transport minister Simeon Brown put the final nail in the coffin of the multi-billion dollar project on Sunday after a stop work notice was issued to the project last year after the government came to power.

“Scrapping the expensive project is part of the coalition agreements and we have taken swift action,” Brown said.

The project, which was expected to take up to 14,500 vehicles off the road, was intended to link a light rail system between the city centre and Māngere and Auckland Airport.

It was first floated nearly a decade ago by Auckland Council and it was initially believed work could start by 2016.


The latest plan to get more Aucklanders out of their cars and onto public transport has been killed off by the new hard right Government as we once again a Nation incapable of building infrastructure.

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Once again fucking Wellington screws over Auckland.

There is a glorious pocket of time in Auckland City when I love it here.

After Christmas and until February, Auckland City empties and you got to wander through the lonely streets Quiet Earth styles like Bruno Lawrence.

This glorious pocket of solitude makes living in Auckland reasonable and fun and interesting over Summer.

For a moment each year we see what a City not groaning at the seams of over population and under investment in infrastructure feels like living in.

And then comes March Madness and a broken public transport system left begging people not to travel as a solution…

…don’t travel, that’s their solution?


Just wow.

I want to punch the next commentator in the face who comes forward and glibly claims, ‘We can’t afford light rail down Dominion Rd’!

We are so underinvested for the vast growth generated by the mass immigration policies of Labour and National with no clear plan who is going to fund the infrastructure all that immigration requires.

We need underground and overground light rail all the way down Dominion Rd, all the way down Mt Eden Rd, all the way to South Auckland, all the way to West Auckland and all the way to the North Shore!

We need a new motorway connecting to Wellsford now plus passenger rail!

We need a vast upgrade of all Northland Roads, Coromonadal, the East Coast, the South Island!

We need a new Harbour Tunnel and we need a tunnel beneath the North and South Island!

We need our own pharmuctical industry.

We need a vast upgrade of our Military!

We not only need new drs, nurses and teachers, but we need new hospitals and schools.

We need solar panels on every roof.

We need Marae, Schools, Libraries, RSA, Churches and Community Halls to be directly resourced and built as resilience points inside a community.

We need state subsidised emergency survival kits to every community.

We need a new plan for food security.

We need degrowth sponge cities that pay the Artist wage.

We need 4 days working weeks, 11 weeks holidays and accomodation for Nurses, Drs, Teachers, Army and Police.

We need free public transport.

Free dental.

We need new regulation around Forestry, Telecommunications, Trucking industry and drainage industry.

We need a Ministry of Green Works and we need to pay for all this increased State capacity by taxing the rich more!

Sugar Tax

Financial Transaction Tax

Capital Gains Tax

Inheritance Tax

Land Tax

New top tax rate over $300 000

Wealth Tax on those over $30m

We have the tools to fund an increased State WHILE borrowing more at the same time.

This could be a chance to reset a broken Capitalism by removing the yoke of taxation from workers and putting it squarely on the speculators, the wealthy and the polluters.

Make the rich pay for hungry children to be fed.

The anger at the never ending cycle of climate carnage coming our way coupled with geopolitical shocks will force our hand if we continue to be in denial for the urgency of radical adaptation.

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Increasingly having independent opinion in a mainstream media environment which mostly echo one another has become more important than ever, so if you value having an independent voice  – please donate here.

If you can’t contribute but want to help, please always feel free to share our blogs on social media.




  1. C’mon Martyn…$228million and not a meter of track laid, 95% to consultants.
    All you in the left bemoan $26mil ‘wasted’ on a flag referendum!
    When it comes to govt wasteful spending the right are amateurs compared to the left.
    ‘the railway will be started by 2021….’ Ardern in 2017.

    • A Saudi Sheep farm perhaps? A circular impractical office building in Wellington? Hiring a Mercedes to drive across the road? At least there will be something to show for the claimed $226m expenditure in terms of planning for the light rail project.
      So far all you right wingers have achieved is to elect a bunch of no hopers who excel in backtracking.

        • How many working groups Squeaky has National formed?
          I think Labour was up to about 20-30 by this time at the start of their woeful tenure.
          Ended up with well over 100!

          • Best money Labour ever spend. It saved us billions…….

            A stitch in time…. and all that.

            We are fortunate that labour spend money on developing business cases rather than starting the projects without decent business cases.

          • Lart me take advice on that tighty righty.

            As for Auckland’s transport issues, with this government and it’s supporters like righty, it’ll be slow.

    • Yes, the right did a bloody good job of Transmission gully of course we know they didn’t the PPP fell apart, and the costs blew out and us the taxpayer coughed up again, the right also did a shit job of Christchurch earthquakes under Brownlee, Nova pay, selling power companies at a loss and they sold our shares to mums and dads but didn’t say the mums and dads lived in America.

    • ” Light rail scrapped in a Nation incapable of building infrastructure”
      But not incapable of sabotaging it in favour of the road transport ‘industry’. The Natzo’s publicly funded truffle pig, muldoon himself, pulled up rail throughout the southern regions to sate the greed of the big road transport operators and that’s why, for example, there are pot holes in roads the public are taxed to fix.
      C’mon im right? Admit it. The right wing, aka money fetishists deliberately sabotaged rail to profit last centuries arm chair sociopathic fascists, no doubt like yourself, a self inflating brain-fart device if ever there was one.
      I’ve just driven from Milton on SH1 in Otago to Alexandra following a disused railway embankment all the way and now only used by a handful of edible cycling tourists. But remember? Pulling up our taxes paid for railway infrastructure wasn’t a fuck up that seemed like a good idea, it was a deliberate attack on an essential infrastructure to roll good coin into the pockets of the Natzo boyz now rolling in billions.
      There should be north and southbound double tracks at the wider gauge found in the U$A servicing everything between Kaitaia and Bluff with branch lines across each main island from coast to coast. Aucklanders can stay at home while surviving on a living wage being pretty and intellecshull an’ artistic an’ that.
      On a slightly different track, pun intended, watch this. I mean, you really must. Do you have mind-blown insurance?
      The Social Dilemma. I promise you, it will blow the fuck out of your mind.
      ” This documentary-drama hybrid explores the dangerous impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm in their own creations.”
      Chilling notion. Im Right could be AI code.

      • “Aucklanders can stay at home …. being pretty and intellecshull an’ artistic an’ that.”

        I think that is more characteristic of inhabitants Wellington and Dunedin and to a lesser extent, but not for want of pretence, Christchurch.

        In my experience anyway.

        • There’s two phenomenon that we are dealing with. One is that China’s economy is double that of the U.S. and the U.S. economy is contracting. During WW1 and WW2 the U.S economy was double that of Europe which was enough to give us the win in both cases that’s no longer there.

          You wouldn’t think it but the largest port in the world by volume is Port Headland Western Australia. There’s an argument for New Zealand’s spy agencies doing vetting that says to New Zealand’s businesses that is you can’t house and feed New Zealanders then you’re not doing it for New Zealand so we’ve got an economy going backwards and a rising China.

          The thing about political warfare is that it shapes and constrains political options many often many years before the outbreak of a shooting war long before New Zealanders ever arrive at making those decisions. It’s not to say that we are going to get into a war with China but the battle space is certainly being prepared.

          A whole of nation response to foreign interference would question those who fail to house and feed kiwis because that’s there job and that means higher taxes. Cutting taxes is the wrong thing to do. There are reforms that need to be done that disinfects foreign interference and espionage with sun light.

          That’s an opportunity for New Zealand businesses to raise wages and raise results. These are the kinds of immediate black Swan events we need to get ahead of. We all know that Labour and National party caucuses are bought and paid for by Chinese interference and we need to talk about it and shine a light on it. That goes double for U.S interference.

          New Zealand’s defence has nothing to do with the new cold war and everything to do with the defence of New Zealand and its realms. At a defence budget of 1% of GDP headed towards replacement value of 2% that means we are totally dependent on the U.S. and all that money being spent on bases and personal mean that the U.S. is going to use them and statements made by the foreign minister confirms that.

          We don’t just need a capable military we need a capable society so that we can say these are the capabilities surrounding our region and these are the capabilities with which to counter that and to integrate all that and be able to plan a campaign against all that in not just the military but in business aswell. This can not be achieved just by defence it has to be a national effort alm pulling in the same direction and to get the kinds of productivity to achieve that will require AUKAS PILLAR 2’s AI components. There’s a lot of great things in pillar2 but it doesn’t have the writ to enable McKiwi workers to be able to do that so we need to do that.

    • You obviously have no idea about the complexities of construction and that alot of the donkey work is done up front in the planning..
      These clueless clowns will find out…the hard way!!

  2. Let’s see if bullshit Bishop can deliver our 700 million Riverlink he promised in the Hutt Valley now he has to walk his talk.

    • Bullshitter Bishop doesn’t care about future investment in NZ infrastructure just as the Thatcherite Farmers Party, otherwise known as the National Party doesn’t care at all about investing in NZ’s future, we are are third world Nation & will be a Fourth World one under this rightwing back of assholes, National are the Toyota Corolla Govt as Nicotine Willis stated, so we’ll get broken down, clapped out Ferries & potholed roads thanks to roads filled with Trucks & gridlocked traffic is the National Party way, this Party is all about giving Rich Landlords a billion dollars a year in Tax cuts instead of investing it into Infrastructure & looking after their Rich scumbag mates while giving Austerity to the poor & proletariat class of working poor & Neoliberal privatisation & gutting the Nation of Social services! Bullshitter Bishop will just head back to Philip Morris after he’s taken a wrecking ball to NZ as a useless as fuck Politician, he’ll be back to hawking Cigarettes again like the pale, dead eyed fuckwit did before!

  3. So because a date was given and it didn’t happen for whatever reason we scrap it. What a lot of empty headed buffoons we have in government with absolutely no thought for the future. Do they seriously think that roads don’t take money and planning before they are built . There is something wrong with a government who prioritizes cars over public transport, first the ferries now light rail the ev subsidies gone. The large donors are extracting their pound of flesh and our democracy is at risk and with all these vital infrastructure plans being stopped there is no one in the media who is asking why from this coalition of clowns

      • What have you seen that would make them any more competent? In fact which “leader” are you actually talking about? Peters is just a vote slut, and Luxon has demonstrated from his statements as CEO of Air NZ, to the actions he is taking now that he has zero credibility. Seymour spent years having a seat gifted to him and is now just a donors mouthpiece.

      • Who’s that then, all I see is National ” Do nothing party” sitting on their hands again. Conservative by name and nature, there will be no progress in the next three years
        Every 1st world country has a rapid transportation system, but not NZ because of years of National backward looking Conservatism.

  4. It’s not just infrastructure they can’t build, but a nation. They are wreckers, pure and simple, and the day corrupt politicians like them face prosecution and asset stripping cannot come soon enough. Korean used to be riddled with corruption, but prosecution and asset stripping have made public officials much less enthusiastic about it.

  5. Putting my professional engineer’s hat on here:
    There’s no way a tunnelling project for light rail would ever be viable. When Labour first promoted this pipe dream in the run up to the 2016 election, we rolled around the office floor laughing at the idea. Underground being vastly too expensive and a surface rail along Dominion Road not constructable due to the massive ensuing disruption. There was one technically feasible option but that would fall foul of our absurd RMA regulations and that would be to build something along the lines of the Chicago ‘L’. An elevated railway. This could be constructed piecemeal quite easily without massive congestion: Cast the bases progressively during the day then drop the portal frames in on a nightshift. Ah, but that would affect multiple Karen’s views of Mount Eden so it’s out.

    These massive urban infrastructure projects need close examination from an economic and environmental standpoint. In essence we’re pouring billions into projects that encourage people to commute when the *correct* solution from an economic and environmental perspective is for them to work near where they live. So rather than moving thousands of people from Manukau to Queen Street every morning, we should rezone the suburbs so some of those jobs move out of the centre.

    This whole ‘commuting to the office’ thing smells very 20th century to me. So many of my friends now work ether partly or entirely from home and most of those that don’t must use a vehicle due to the nature of their business. Along those lines, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a few years, we find the CRL turns out to be a white elephant too. We’ll see.

    • London, Paris, Sydney New York and virtually every European and US capital city were lucky not to have your type around when they built their urban transport systems.

      • Have you noted the population of those places you mentioned
        It would cost as much to build a tunnel in Auckland as anywhere else but there would be a thousand per cent more passengers to travel on the train.Better buses, roads and working from home should be the way to go

      • They built them on the basis of massive populations where intensive labour was required to load & unload ships and an equal number of clerks were required to document it all.
        That era is long gone. There aren’t thousands of wharfies working at the docks today and the only major employers downtown are a couple of insurance companies, lawyers offices and of course the Council itself.

      • Sydney has a population of ………
        Not even speaking of the other cities named.

        This was a light rail that was not really a light rail……. no wonder the project got nowhere.

        • Yep, that’s the guts of it. Not small enough to be a distant Pacific atoll of no consequence and not big enough to support really expensive infrastructure projects; not rich enough to fund it alone, not poor enough to warrant World Bank handouts, and not desperate enough go cap in hand to players who expect a strategic payoff. Fixing alignment and the pot holes are one thing – even new builds like Transmission Gully and the Northern extension – but when it comes to the really big stuff it really gets problematic for a tiny country like NZ.

      • Richard + Christie
        Yours was the comment of a two-year old with no concept of how money is generated. Oh yes, it gets printed by your mate Robertson…

        • What the hell does your reply have to do with Richard Christies post? You obviously have no concept of how to form a coherent argument.

          • Jonzies financially knowledge illiterate.
            He doesn’t want government investing in NZ’s infrastructure. 9 years of the previous National government proves that.
            Given Simeon( what a weird name) is only 12 years old he’ll still be around in 30 years time when his roads of National significance are built at a cost of billions. Some of us won’t be.
            And good luck crossing the Cook Straight in a freight truck by dingy in two years time.
            Under investment in public transport will have its fallout, just look at Aucklands motorways today. But hey Auckland, you got the incompetent government you voted for, one would have thought after the Key years you would have learnt your lesson.

      • I don’t build things. I design things and manage people who build things. Well, I did. Now I just waste my time on the internet like you. LOL

        • I,I,I,I. clearly you aren’t in for anyone else.
          Clearly everyone stuck on the Auckland motorway would think you a loser.

        • First project I heard about in any detail once I arrived in Auckland in 2000 was Auckland Light Rail. The presentation was impressive but I was left skeptical, that is kind of my nature.

          I have now experienced decent public transport in Sydney. I have visited Sydney on four occasions for periods longer than a month and have never needed private transport. Two of my sons live here and do not own cars.

          We generally avoid the light rail. Lovely carriages but it is easier to walk or use alternative public transport systems.

          The usefulness of light rail is marginal.

    • Yep, there is a lot of white collar work that can be done in the comfort of ones home. The company I work for does call center stuff for a number of clients around the country and 95% of us work from homw (myself included). And no, we are not all champange and pate quaffing ‘elites’ who look down on the hoi polloi. A lot of my colleagues are average working class types and are heavily Maori and Pasifika. But chances are, if you have an issue and you need to talk to a bank, insurance company, or power supply, you will get one of us.

  6. The National Party have a very long history of sabotaging construction of essential transport infrastructure. In Auckland this decades ago resulted in an inadequate “compromise’ in the design and scope of the harbour bridge and the dismantling of rail networks.

    They are incapable of exercising foresight, always passing predictable problems and remedial costs on to future generations. To be expected since they are in the pockets of vested interests.

  7. This Auckland-based document needs to elevate its gaze to other parts of the country, even, dare I say, the southern south. The suburban service Dunedin-Mosgiel would cost a tiny fraction of the multi-billions the Auckland light rail project was projected to cost. In fact, the $228 mill already spent of consultants to ponder over the Auckland plan (but not 1 meter of rail, as many have pointed out) could have paid for the Mosgiel service reinstatement 4 or 5 times over.

  8. Love the rhetoric….keep it up!
    Transmission Gully motorway was started by National, after 70yrs of ‘talk’, and completed in Labours first term, 10yrs to build.
    I will raise you $100 million on the clip on cycle lane to Harbour Bridge that didn’t get off the drawing board but consultants pocketed the money nonetheless….many other examples of Labours wasted spending over last 6yrs, happy to list but don’t wish to send you all to your safe spaces.
    Polytechnic amalgamation fiasco? (200mil in debt and still asking for more…)

  9. The Labour Government’s legacy is failure,light rail being near the top of that list.
    Thank heavens they have been removed.

  10. Wellington screws Auckland? The Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport are both from Auckland. So is the Minister for economic development who might have some say in it. So looks like you’ve screwed yourselves doesn’t it.

  11. The problem with light rail is that for some reason, it was changed to underground, and it made the project more complex than it needed to be. “They” should have just start building a section of the route (maybe airport to Mangere?) first and then complete it that way. Or even just built a dedicated bus route first.

    • It’s generally Auckland that subsidises the rest of New Zealand. The larger and more direct subsidies, when it comes to infrastructure, is urban vs suburban. As someone who’ve crunched the numbers it’s south Auckland that subsidises the infrastructure of wealthier suburbs. The primary driver of this is the density of urban areas, and lack of density in car-centric development. The more spread-out a development is, the more expensive it tends to be per capita to provide roads/pipes/wires/services.

    • Considering the English tunnel would cost about $NZ50 billion to build today and its 50km. Ours would be 22km so 20 billion. Considering another crossing for Auckland was meant to cost more not so expensive.

  12. Anyone can scrap a plan to save money this week, but to do so without an alternative is stupid. National canned Robbie’s Rapid Rail and see where that has got us. I agree with Andrew that the only way to achieve mass transport in a ‘functioning’ city is above ground.
    Airport link should be heavy rail via Puhinui through to Onehunga for passenger and freight services.
    Light system to Onehunga via Mt Roskill.

    • I’m pretty sure that was the original plan, before it got subverted by what I can only imagine, by Elon Musk simps.

  13. For tax we could bring back old fashioned Stamp Duty. It has been replaced by those in power feeling they have a need to stamp on workers as a duty. Said it in one!

  14. The population of Auckland will get to 2.5 million in the early 2030s. The number going to Mangere to work, get a plane, farewell or welcome someone will be up by hundreds of thousands a day. “Should’ve put rapid rail in back in the early 2020s” they’ll be saying,

    • Yep and that will be top of the list along with Nationals hundreds of other infrastructure failures, alongside all other policy failures.

  15. Up the Library, found this book, Comrade, Bill Anderson!s, biography, brought back memories of serious struggle. Years it had been in this library, four take outs. Amazing how comrade, its word freaks out these new home, renters exploited, not to dare be seen ,take out a book with that word.

  16. I am beginning to think is that the reason we don’t build any decent infrastructure is that we are not used to it, we don’t have the expertise to do it because no one in their right mind would come to NZ as a planner because they would be in and out of work every 3 years. This NZ first lot has stated that light rail has gone forever !!!
    All our big decisions take years with political ideology at play. Its about time that this ideology took a back seat and a lasting consensus is reached between all parties that is non negotiable so that we get can actually get things done.

    • Good points NMG. Bring back the MoW where local knowledge can be accumulated.
      Until the major parties are made by law to be in coalition we will have minor parties and their wealthy backers calling the shots. Making the major polling parties work together would mean decisions for the good of the country as a whole, not just fringe factions, would have to be made and this endless on/off chaos to oblivion would stop.

  17. Bullshitter Bishop and his government are already backtracking on our 700 MILLION Hutt Valley Riverlink, yet he said on the campaign trail he (Bishop) gets things done for the Hutt Valley. Let’s make a note of all Nationals promises and see how many they actually deliver.

  18. A relevant postscript on the topic from the Manhattan Institute:

    “New York does face real fiscal woes. The city’s office-building tax base is falling in value, as work-at-home-for-half-the-week becomes a permanent feature of office life.”

    So, for whom are we building the CRL?


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