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Following an unsolicited proposal, New Zealand's Cabinet has agreed to tender the Auckland Light Rail Project.
This involves the development of two light rail lines that will connect the central business district of Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, located on the country's North Island, to the airport and the north-west region. It is estimated to cost NZD6 billion (US$4.18 billion).
The light rail system will be accessible to over 50,000 households and be able to carry 11,000 commuters per hour. The recently announced 10-year transport plan for Auckland earmarked NZD1.8 billion (US$1.25 billion) in seed funding for the project with the option of securing private investment.
The unsolicited proposal was submitted by New Zealand Super Fund last month. The NZD38 billion (US$26.5 billion) pension fund is proposing to design, build, finance and operate the project with CDPQ Infra, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ). Other members may be added to the consortium in the future.
The tender will cover both the city to Mangere (the nearest suburb to the airport) and the city to North West lines. It will explore a range of possible procurement, financing and project delivery options and be conducted by the New Zealand Transport Agency. The agency has not yet disclosed a schedule.
CDPQ is one of Canada’s leading institutional fund managers with USD238.2 billion in net assets, and has extensive experience in infrastructure development and investment globally. CDPQ Infra is responsible for developing, building and operating Montreal’s 67-km light rail network.
NZ Super Fund has around NZD5 billion (US$3.48 billion) invested in New Zealand, and around NZD760 million (US$ 529.6 million) invested in infrastructure globally.