Government spent $5 million on failed Auckland light rail project, but Labour intends to resuscitate it after election

The Government has spent $5 million on the canned Auckland twin-track light rail project, the Transport Minister admits - but he's hopeful it can be resuscitated after this year's election.

Phil Twyford announced earlier on Wednesday that Cabinet has agreed to end the project for now as the three parties that make up the Government "were unable to reach agreement". Twyford said Labour was unable to get New Zealand First over the line.

The proposal to build light rail from Auckland CBD to the airport was set out in a confidence and supply agreement between Labour and the Greens established in the aftermath of the 2017 election.

The future of the project, estimated to cost upwards of $6 billion, will now be decided by whoever's in power after the general election on September 19.

And Twyford told Magic Talk he's hopeful the work - and the $5 million that's gone into investigating the project so far - won't go to waste.

"It hasn't quite reached the end of the line," he said in an interview with host Sean Plunket on Wednesday afternoon.

"The Auckland light rail project itself now gets kicked back to the Ministry of Transport, and they will continue to work on it.

"I would expect - even though I'm terribly disappointed that we haven't made the progress we wanted to in this term of government - that the next Government will pick it up and run with it."

In a Newshub-Reid Research poll carried out just before former National Party leader Simon Bridges was rolled, Labour had enough support to govern alone - but lots has and will change between then and the election.

If Labour does retain power - and is able to govern without New Zealand First - Twyford has indicated the Government would jump straight back on the project.

"We think Aucklanders deserve and need a proper, modern transport system," he continued.

"Building a modern light rail system like this, that's the way a city can grow without getting permanently choked in gridlock [traffic]. We see these public transport systems in cities around the world - there's no reason Auckland can't have the same thing."