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The Government's $6 billion light rail programme for Auckland is making slow progress as bureaucrats grapple with one of the biggest projects in New Zealand's history.
Light rail, or modern-day trams, are promised by Labour to run from the CBD to the airport and from the CBD to the West Auckland within 10 years. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised to build light rail to Mt Roskill within four years.
Official papers and a statement from the NZ Transport Agency show the task is more difficult than the Labour politicians envisage with a business case for the CBD to airport line still being worked on months after it was due in December last year.
Investigations for the CBD to West Auckland line "are at a very early stage", NZTA told the Herald.
This will be frustrating the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, which is chomping at the bit to open its $40 billion wallet to fund, build and operate light rail in Auckland with the help of a Canadian pension fund.
Last month, the Herald reported the Super Fund is working with international and local experts on its own plan for light rail with a focus on "fresh thinking".
A political source said the country's pension fund was looking at tunnelling below Queen St to provide a faster and safer route through the city centre.
Light rail is on the radar at Treasury with the head of the national infrastructure unit, David Taylor, calling for careful planning.
Light rail is not only one of the biggest projects ever undertaken in New Zealand, Taylor told Twyford and Finance Minister Grant Robertson in June last year, "but it is particularly complex, given it requires extensive works along some of the city's main traffic arteries".
This article first appeared on www.nzherald.co.nz
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