Another broken promise

Photoshopped image credit: Technomage

In August 2017, in the middle of the election campaign, Jacinda Ardern promised a rail connection between Hamilton and Auckland to be fast tracked (pun absolutely intended) so that it would be completed within 18 months. My calculations indicate that the rail connection should therefore be operating in April 2019.

So how is it going, Hamilton commuters? I realise the disruption while the rail system was being built or upgraded must have been annoying, but the end result, which must be just about there now, is worth it… right?

Wrong. quote.

Labour has promised to fast-track a rail connection between Hamilton and Auckland.

Railways will ease congestion, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, but billions of dollars of roads will not.

Ardern pledged in front of a teeming crowd in Tauranga her party “will bring rail back within 18 months of taking office”.

The $20 million plan will use the existing rail network to run commuter trains between Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland – also known as “the golden triangle”. [August 2017].

Stuff end quote.

It seems the proposed rail link is nowhere near completion. In fact, it does not appear to have been started yet. quote.

A Hamilton to Auckland passenger rail service could soon be a reality, with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) approving a business case for the next steps towards a five-year trial.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced on Wednesday [19 December 2018] a business case had been approved, allowing for the fit-out of stock and detailed design of infrastructure.

He said it was an “exciting step” towards a five-year trial service expected to begin in March 2020.

The trial’s total cost, including the service operated by KiwiRail, is estimated to be $78.2 million, including $68.4 million from the NZTA and $9.8 from local authorities. end quote.

So… the connection is already a year behind schedule, the cost is now 4 times what was promised by Jacinda… and it is only going to be a 5 year trial. quote.

“Better, faster, more modern rail services” may also one day be on their way, with Mr Twyford saying the rail line could end up with rapid 160km/h tilt trains allowing for 1 hour trips.

NZTA will work with councils and KiwiRail to develop a pre-implementation plan early next year.

Newshub end quote.

Dear me. It sounds as if Twyford is still in campaign mode, complete with stardust and unicorns. Commuters need more than vague promises about modern rail services being ‘one day on their way’. It is a bit like promising to build 100,000 houses in 10 years, with all of them being built in year 10, which is the ridiculous situation we seem to have at present.

Also, with the ‘pre-implementation plan’ being developed in early 2019 (which is now), knowing how long these things generally take, any expectation for the rail connection to be operating at any time in 2020 seems a bit optimistic, don’t you think?

Let us not, however, fall into the trap of thinking that this is another broken election promise though, comrades. As the Minister for Transport (and Housing and Urban Development) pointed out recently, promises made by Jacinda before she became prime minister do not count for anything. They were just lies, designed to get her and her bunch of inept fools into government. It is only those promises she has made SINCE becoming prime minister that can be taken as genuine.

If Kiwibuild is anything to go by, let us say her record there is not crash hot either.

Anyway, I just hope the commuters of Hamilton, as they sit in gridlocked traffic, understand that promises made by someone trying to get elected are meant to be ignored. I do hope no one voted for her on the basis of those false promises.

But don’t worry. The rail connection she promised will be here ‘one day’. Don’t ask when ‘one day’ is, though, because no one knows.