Auckland airport rail project put on hold

Aucklanders will be waiting a while longer for a light rail link to the airport after the New Zealand government shelved plans to build a route from the CBD.

The flagship project was the first policy announced by Jacinda Ardern as Labour leader in 2017 prior to her ascension to prime minister.

However, the multi-billion dollar proposal has fallen victim to politics between government parties Labour, NZ First and the Greens.

While the Greens and Labour want the rail link and put it into their confidence and supply agreement, the party of deputy prime minister Winston Peters did not.

“We’ve always been for heavy rail in this country,” Mr Peters told Stuff.

“Light rail is a plan that the costs have blown out massively for … (the light rail project) is not going to happen in the immediate term.”

The result is embarrassing for Labour, which has presented the project as one of the answers to Auckland’s notoriously terrible congestion.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, a former Labour leader, lashed out at the outcome.

“I am disappointed … as I am sure many Aucklanders are too. It is frustrating that after three years, disagreement within the coalition has held this process up,” he said.

“We expect the incoming government to act quickly and decisively to outline its proposal to get light rail built.”

Labour Transport Minister Phil Twyford said he had two “credible and deliverable” proposals to fund and build the link but “government parties were unable to reach agreement on a preferred proposal”.

“The future of the project will now be decided by the government following September’s general election,” Mr Twyford said, setting the stage for Labour to campaign for a mandate to build the route at the September 10 poll.

Ms Ardern’s Labour is streets ahead in public polling, while NZ First is on track to miss the five per cent threshold and be without representation in the next parliament.

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