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Portfolio of inter-regional business cases (North Island)


NZ Transport Agency

Date of decision

10 October 2016


The NZ Transport Agency Board:

  • supports the following eight programme business cases, all of which are of high strategic fit, high effectiveness, with cost-benefit ratio ranges shown in the table below:
Programme Benefit & cost appraisal
(Cost-benefit ratio range)
Rough estimate implentation cost ($m)
SH1 Auckland–Whangarei 0.6–1.0 880–1,400
SH29 Piarere–Tauriko 0.8–1.4 330–530
Tauriko (Tauranga) Network Plan 1.4–2.2 330–650
SH1 Piarere–Taupo 0.5–1.5 730–1,050
SH1 Taupo–Waioru 0.5–0.8 700–900
SH2 Te Marua–Masterton 1.6–2.5 180–220
SH2 Te Marua–Ngauranga 0.9–2.0 1,400–2,100
Wellington's port access 1.0–3.0 27–33
  • noted that ‘support’ indicates a commitment to develop the programmes to a stage where they can be implemented but does not commit the NZ Transport Agency to fund that implementation.
  • approved the allocation of $18 million to fund next stages of the following business cases (including undertaking public engagement on route selection):
    • SH1 Auckland to Whangarei – SH1 Northport to Te Hana and SH1 Whangarei to Northport, indicative and detailed business cases
    • SH29 Piarere to Tauriko – SH29 Piarere to Te Poi, SH29 Te Poi to Summit and SH29 – Summit to Tauriko, indicative and detailed business cases
    • Tauriko (Tauranga) network – SH29 Tauriko Network Plan, indicative and detailed business case
    • Wellington’s port access programme business case.
  • agreed to include those next stages in the 2015-18 National Land Transport Programme, subject to their inclusion in the relevant regional land transport plans.
  • delegated to the Transport Agency Chief Executive the ability to approve funding for individual activities in those next stages through the normal Transport Agency approvals processes.

Reason for the decision

The specific reasons for the Transport Agency’s decisions to support each of the programme business cases are set out below.

The decisions are consistent with the Transport Agency’s emerging strategy for land transport investment

The Transport Agency is currently preparing a long term strategic view of the land transport system, to help shape planning, programming and investment for the next 10-30 years.  The view sets out the Transport Agency’s perspective on the future demands that are likely to shape the issues and opportunities facing the land transport system; identifies the material impacts they will create; and sets out the priorities for responding, and how the Transport Agency will need to respond, to those impacts over the immediate and longer term. It will help frame discussions over approximately the next eighteen months between the Transport Agency and its partners to prepare regional and national land transport plans and investment programmes for 2018-21.

The Transport Agency’s current investment portfolio priorities were set in 2012. The 2012 investment plan signalled:

  • delivery of the Roads of National Significance programme as the key focus in the first decade
  • a shift in focus onto major improvements in Auckland’s transport system in the second decade
  • inter-regional issues in the third decade.

Since then, the land transport environment has changed. Rapid growth in Auckland has required a collaborative national and local government approach.  The Government has also broadened its approach from a focus on economic growth and productivity to a wider set of transport-related strategies to support regional economic development, housing infrastructure supply, inter-regional connections, and increased cycling in urban areas. 

These changes suggest that the emerging investment strategy for the next decade will need to focus on:

  • completion of the Roads of National Significance programme
  • major improvements in Auckland’s transport system in line with recent decisions under the Auckland Transport Alignment Project and Transport for Future Urban Growth
  • significant investments in other urban growth areas to accommodate projected growth (Queenstown, Hamilton and Tauranga) 
  • completing enhancements to key inter-regional journeys linking Tauranga, Hamilton, Auckland and Whangarei.

Investment in strategic inter-regional routes is a key component of the Transport Agency’s overall 10-30 year investment portfolio

As part of its response to these changes, the Transport Agency considered the key gaps in the existing portfolio of investment in inter-regional routes.  It assessed and prioritised investments that are crucial to the efficient and effective movement of goods and people between main urban areas, key centres of production, freight hubs (ports, airports, inland ports, distribution centres), employment and education centres, and key tourist attractions.

This has led the Transport Agency to develop, with its partners, the eight programme business cases.

Those programme business cases are aimed at:

  • completing key enhancements to key inter-regional journeys linking Tauranga, Hamilton, Auckland and Whangarei
  • enhancing key inter-regional journeys linking Hamilton to Levin
  • improving access to Wellington.

Based on the available evidence presented in the programme business cases, the Board has concluded that the preferred high level options for each route are likely to be the most effective at resolving the identified problems on those routes.

By supporting the eight programme business cases, the Transport Agency has committed to continuing to work alongside its partners to further develop the activities within the eight business cases – but has not committed itself to fund implementation of those programmes. 

Funding has also been approved for some priority activities in the first decade

Alongside work to develop the business cases, the Transport Agency has approved $18 million of funding to enable more detailed investigations and analysis to develop preferred options for seven large inter-regional activities across four of the business cases in the next decade.  These activities are considered to be urgent, necessary, and cost-effective next steps to deliver required levels of service on four of the key inter-regional routes. This work will focus on the upper North Island, which is experiencing significant growth with the linkages between Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga being of particular importance for the economic well-being of New Zealand. It will also include work to explore improved access to Wellington’s port. 

Questions and answers

What investment will the Transport Agency make in other inter-regional routes?

It’s important to recognise that these 8 PBCs represent only a subset of the wider – and still evolving – inter-regional routes programme. The long term strategic view will help frame the conversation across this wider picture – including in relation to the new priority for reinstatement of State Highway 1 from Christchurch to Picton.

The Transport Agency will continue to invest in safety and resilience activities across the wider inter-regional network as part of its core business.  This includes delivery of its on-going commitments to inter-regional journeys made through the Roads of National Significance programme and the Accelerated Regional Roading package.

Emergency responses – including in response to the Kaikoura earthquake – are an enduring priority for investment under the National Land Transport Programme. As always, the wider investment programme will need to change in response to this and other emerging priorities over time. 

How will the 10 October decisions be reflected in the Transport Agency’s emerging long term strategic view?

The Transport Agency’s decisions on the eight programme business cases are reflected in the Transport Agency’s draft long term strategic view.  The draft view will be released for engagement with key partners and stakeholders from January 2017, and will help frame the development of regional and national land transport plans and investment programmes for 2018-21. 

Where the Transport Agency has approved funding for next stages of four of the business cases, these activities will be included in the 2015-18 National Land Transport Programme, subject to their inclusion in relevant regional land transport plans.