What is the City Rail Link Project?
The City Rail Link (CRL) is a 3.5 kilometre rail tunnel under central Auckland that is projected to cost around $2 billion to construct, with a targeted opening date of 2021. Its route is shown in red in the image below.
The CRL turns Britomart into a through station by extending two tracks underneath Queen Elizabeth II Square before heading south under Albert Street, Vincent Street, Pitt Street, spaghetti junction and Upper Symonds Street before joining with the existing Western Line near Mt Eden Station. Three new underground stations are included in the City Rail Link project: Aotea Station, Karangahape Road Station and Newton Station.
There are a number of reasons why Auckland needs the City Rail Link project. These are listed below, with further detail on each point available by clicking on it (added to over time):
1) To increase the capacity of Auckland’s rail network by turning Britomart into a through station and adding another rail entrance to the city centre from Mt Eden.
2) To ease the pressure on the city centre’s roading network by reducing the level of future increases in buses and cars.
3) To significantly reduce travel times on Auckland’s rail network – especially for trips from areas along the Western Line to the city centre.
4) To allow higher train frequencies to be operated on all lines of the Auckland rail network.
5) To provide sufficient capacity in the rail system for future extensions (rail to the airport, Avondale-Southdown line etc.) to be possible.
6) To stimulate business activity in the city centre and other rail served centres and generate agglomeration benefits.
7) To stimulate higher intensity residential development around the rail network and reduce the need for Auckland to grow via urban sprawl.
8 ) To enable a much more efficient and effective bus network.
9) To improve rail access in the city centre.
10) To allow trains to be routed through the city centre and offer one-seat rides between centres on different sides of Auckland.
The City Rail Link’s route, and the location of stations, are shown in the map below:Aotea Station is predicted to become the busiest station on the Auckland rail network once it opens. The station is to be located underneath Albert Street in the block between Wellesley Street to the south and Victoria Street to the north. Aotea Station brings rail further into the heart of Auckland’s city centre, with the station a short walk from many office and apartment buildings, entertainment facilities like the Civic Theatre and Aotea Centre and both Auckland University and AUT.
Karangahape Road Station will be constructed underneath Pitt Street around its intersection with Auckland’s famous “K Road”. This is a deep station, around 30-40 metres below ground level. The station will provide rail access to a part of Auckland’s city centre that is currently beyond reasonable walking distance from any train station, supporting further growth and development in the area.Newton Station, to be built underneath the intersection of Khyber Pass Road, Newton Road and Symonds Street, will also be a very deep station at around 30-40 metres below ground level. The station will support a part of Auckland already experiencing significant redevelopment and will spur that development even further – effectively extending Auckland’s city centre to the south.
By connecting the spur line that currently ends at Britomart Station with the western line, a new access point to Auckland’s city centre is created and the dead-end of Britomart becomes a through-station. With trains no longer having to reverse back out the way they came, and with a southern entrance to the city centre from Mt Eden also created by the project, the City Rail Link will more than double the number of trains able to travel on Auckland’s rail network .
More details of the stations’ locations can be found here.
How much does the City Rail Link project cost?
The City Rail Link is a large project and because of its underground nature, expensive by comparison to transport projects previously undertaken in Auckland. The 2011 Business Case review of the project confirmed its cost at around $2.4 billion – with that figure comprised of the following elements: The $2.4 billion cost (in 2012 dollars) includes upgrades to other pieces of infrastructure around Auckland (such as duplicating the Onehunga Line) as well as the cost of additional trains to operate in the CRL. This cost-breakdown is highlighted in the table below – with more recent analysis by Auckland Transport suggesting possible savings of around $166 million: The core cost of the project itself is under $2 billion.
What progress has occurred on the City Rail Link and when will it be finished?
A business case for the City Rail Link was prepared in 2010 and reviewed in 2011. As the Auckland Council/Auckland Transport review of the business case had some differences to the Ministry of Transport review, further work is ongoing to determine the benefits of the project and to assess possible alternatives.
Documentation is being prepared to protect the route for the project and gain any necessary resource consents to allow its construction. Further detailed design of the CRL is also ongoing. A timeline for progress on the project is included below: Where can I find out more about the City Rail Link project?