It seems that the NZ Herald is determined to undermine support for the City Rail Link, although Auckland Transport also seem to be doing a good job of that too. How so? Well let’s explain.
Here’s the story on the front page of today’s Herald:
Their new dream home – right in the path of rail project
Excited homeowners moving into a new $10.5 million apartment block have been told it may be demolished for Auckland’s rail-loop project.
Residents are still moving into the Tawari Mews in Mt Eden. The property – where apartments sell for between $388,000-$480,000 – are still being marketed online as “a haven amid the hectic pace of the burgeoning metropolis”.
But the 24-apartment block is among 210 buildings in the way of the $2.8 billion project and the new residents are furious Auckland Council approved it, only for its transport arm to put their homes in the firing line of a scheme yet to win Government funding approval.
Oh please, oh please, oh please can we stop calling it a loop. It’s a fair enough story I suppose, but it would be nice to see some of these bad news stories about the CRL balanced by other ones. We submitted an op-ed last week explaining the project and its need, which still hasn’t been published, rather frustratingly given how topical the issue is at the moment and all the mud being slung at the project.
But Auckland Transport aren’t doing much better at the moment. In short, the whole hooplah around whether this new apartment building goes or stays is actually extremely unnecessary, as the details of the article explain:
The apartments are about 600 metres west of where trains will enter or emerge from tunnels starting 3.5km away at Britomart, but more surface tracks are needed for splitting rail movements at a new interchange station behind New North Rd.
Mr Foster said Auckland Council should have warned property developer Hughes Construction in time, leaving the site vacant and avoiding hefty extra financial cost and disruption to people’s lives.
An earlier post I put together on the CRL route announcement outlined the one real piece of new information – that an “Inner West Interchange Station” was being considered in the location shown in the picture below:
That post also outlined, informed by some Twitter conversation with Auckland Transport, that this station is only really necessary if the Eastern Link (the direct rail connection between Newton Station and Grafton Station) is not constructed. The Tawari Mews complex is just to the west of the station, perhaps slightly off-screen in the above image, showing that it’s really only affected by broader trackworks necessary for the station rather than anything to do with the tracks needed to get trains into the CRL tunnel. Here’s its location:
A lot of questioning in the article surrounds why the Council let the complex be constructed when it should have known it would end up needing to be demolished. The thing is that nobody expected land use impacts this far away from the tunnel portal until Auckland Transport came up with this daft idea of dropping the Eastern link. Auckland Transport can easily make this problem go away. Just go with the Eastern Link option (assuming that it’s feasible to build from an engineering point of view), then the Inner West Interchange becomes unnecessary, the building is saved and everyone’s happy again – plus we get a far better and more connected rail network.
There will be many more battles to get the CRL built which have to occur. This is one battle that’s really quite unnecessary.