You are on page 1of 3

EssayTitle

Date

Media Release
The idea of a rail link from Britomart to the Airport was a Turkey in 2003 and
still is.
Note:NothinghaschangedsincetheCentrewrotethefollowinganalysisin2003,
(publishedintheNZHeraldDialoguepage)exceptthatthelossesontheSydney
Airportlinkhaveincreasedto$900million.

Friday, 20th June 2003


ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER VISION, ANOTHER TURKEY
Itssoeasytospendmoneyonrail.Abilliondollarshere,halfabilliondollarsthere;and
soonyourespendingrealmoney.Eventheratepayersmightnotice.
ThelatestproposaltospendhalfabillionorsocomesfromTheCampaignforBetter
Transport.TheirvisionisaraillinkbetweenBritomartandtheAucklandAirport.These
Campaignersestimatethatthelinkwillcost$460milliontoconstruct.Letsbegenerous
andassumetheyarerighteventhoughrailprojectsnormallycomeinatdoubletheoriginal
budget.
TheARCtransportcommitteeseemstobetakingthisvisionseriouslyandhasaskedstaffto
investigatethefeasibilityoftheoperation.Afewsecondsdoodlingonthebackofan
envelopesuggeststhattheARCstaffcansavetheirtime,andhopefullysavetheAuckland
ratepayershalfabilliondollars.
First,Aucklandairportiswellservedbybuses,shuttlebusesandtaxis,andofcourse,most
passengersarriveandleaveintheirowncars.Oncepeopleareinacartheyarereluctantto
drivetoastation,parkthecar,lugtheirluggagetoaplatform,waitforthetrain,hoisttheir
luggageupintothecarriageandfinallymoveofftotheairport.
ThecampaignersclaimthatthetripfromBritomarttotheAirportwouldbenomorethan30
minutes,whichwouldmakethetrainattractive.Butthisisonlystationtostationtime.When

EssayTitle
Date

thewaitingtimebetweenarrivalsanddeparturesisaddedtothetriptimethissocalledrapid
transitserviceendsuptakinglongerthanaatripbycar,taxiorshuttle.
Theexistingshuttlesprovideacheap,flexibleandfrequentserviceandpickupanddropoff
theirpassengersatthedoorofthehotel.TheBritomartisinwalkingdistanceofonlyfour
hotelsandwhowantstowalkwithluggageanyhow?
Yes,thetrainfromHeathrowtoLondonworks.ButAucklandisnotLondonandourairport
isnotHeathrow.ChangiAirportatSingaporehasnoraillinktodowntown.Andthe
Singaporeansknowwhattheyaredoing.
OurfriendsinSydneyhadasimilarvisionandbuiltaraillinkbetweenSydneyandthe
AirporttohelpmanagetheOlympicload.
In1990NSWGovernmentMinisterBairdassuredthegoodcitizensofSydneythatthe
proposedpublicprivatepartnershipmeantthattheairportlinkwillnotrequireacentof
governmentmoney.Hewasrightactualgovernmentcostsweremeasuredindollars;
hundredsofmillionsofthem.By1994thegovernmenthadpaid$470milliontowardsthe
costof$600million.By1996thishadincreasedto$570million.Anewstationraisedthe
totalto$700million.Finallytheoperatorwentintoreceivershipandthegovernmenthadto
bailouttheoperationfor$700million.1
Theproblemwasthatoptimisticvisionaryplannershadprojectedthelinkwouldcarry48,000
passengersadayfromopeningday,risingto68,000passengersadayovertenyears.Asusual
therealnumberswereaboutaquarteroftheprojectionandneverreachedmorethan12,000
passengersaday.Criticsblamedexpensivetickets,problemshandlingluggage,andlong
waitingtimesbetweentrains.Also,largeplanesdeliverpeopleinlargelumpynumbersso
trainswereeithernearemptyorovercrowded.
Letscheckthenumbersonthebackofanenvelope.
Sydneysairporthandles23,000,000passengersayearor63,000passengersaday.
Aucklandsairporthandles8,800,000passengersayearor24,000passengersaday.Wedont
needtoworryaboutwhothesepeopleareandwhattheyaredoing.Wecanjuststickwiththe
ratios.
InSydneyaboutoneairportuserinfiveusedtheraillink.(63,000dividedby12,000).Sowe
couldexpectoneinfiveAucklandAirportusersmightridetheraillinkconnectingtheairport
Seenotefollowingtitle.

EssayTitle
Date

toBritomart.Thisamountstoonlyabout4,800passengersaday,oronly2,400ineach
direction.Whichisnotenoughloadingtoprovidefrequentarrivalsatthestation.
At150peoplepertrain,withtrainsoperatingoverfifteenhoursaday,atrainwouldarrive
anddepartonlyonceanhour.Thatmakesamockeryofthe30minutetraveltime.Ifyoujust
missthetrainyouhaveanotherhourtowait.Youwouldreturntoyourcaranddrive.
Thataloneshouldkillthisfoolishvisiondead.
Butincaseyouarestillabeliever,lookattherevenueagainstthecosts.
Ifallthose4,800passengersadayarewillingtopay$20arideeach,thatsonly$35milliona
yearwhichisonly7.6%ofthe$460millioncostofconstruction.Thecurrentcostofcapitalis
atleast8%andcouldbe12%.Sotherevenuedoesnotevencoverthecostofcapital.Addon
staff,maintenance,fuel,overheadsandyouarelookingatagenuineturkeywithtotallosses
inthebillions.Butifyourpetprojectcannotevenmeetthecostofcapitalthereisnopointin
peckingawayatyourcalculatorhopingforsalvation.
Wecanusethemoneybettersomewhereelse.Likeupgradingthebusfleet,puttingticket
machinesinthebusstops,givingtaxivoucherstotheoldanddisabledorwhatevertakesyour
fancy.Soplease,letsputthevisionouttograss.Pleasedontwastemoneyonaccountants
andotheranalysts.Justcheckoutthesenumbersonthebackofanenvelope.
Itwontcostmuchandwillsaveusallbillions.