Auckland Mayor Len Brown says the Government’s agreement to help fund the NZ$2.86 billion City Rail Link (CRL) represents a major step forward for Auckland and is the biggest advance for the city's transport since the Harbour Bridge.
“I am delighted the government has agreed to support this project,” Len Brown said.
The Auckland Council has been seeking half of the cost of the rail link from the Government. But while confirming today that it would help support the link, the Government did not indicate whether it would contribute half of the cost. Also, it wants the project delayed till 2020, while the Auckland Council had planned to start it in 2015/16. Previously the Government had been less than tepid on the project. The deal will be formally announced by the Prime Minister John Key on Friday.
Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said the Government's change of mind on the rail link project was a "major win for Aucklanders".
"John Key and National have spent the last five years actively blocking the city rail link. This is a massive, but welcomed, u-turn from them,” she said
“The Government has thrown the kitchen sink at stopping the rail link. They concocted bogus reports to undermine the economic case for the rail link and withheld funding for it despite strong support from Aucklanders for the project."
Brown said that the Government had now "given us a huge challenge to respond to".
"Along with the electrification of rail, the CRL will be the biggest advance in Auckland transport since the Harbour Bridge.
“Building the CRL is my number one priority as Mayor. It will be a vital piece of infrastructure for Auckland’s economy, and will enable us to better meet the challenges of a growing city.
“The CRL will double the capacity of the existing rail network and slash travel times.
“Much of the preparatory work is already underway, including protecting and preparing the route, electrification of the rail network and the purchase of new electric trains.
“We now need to focus on working closely with the government to agree the exact timing and to keep the project moving forward at pace.
“Removing the cul-de-sac at Britomart will enable our city’s rail network to move at least twice as many passengers as we do now. Travel times from the West and the South will be slashed by up to half an hour.
“The economic benefits should not be understated. We expect the working population of Auckland’s city centre to double by 2041. This will lead to gains in productivity that will more than double the city centre’s economy.
“In this context, being able to move people into and around the city more easily is critical to recognising our economic potential. And it’s critical to our ability to remain internationally competitive for jobs and investment.
“I want to acknowledge Aucklanders for being very clear in their support for this project,” Brown said.
The City Rail Link will allow trains to pass through Britomart without having to reverse out as they currently do now. The route will pass through three downtown stations – Aotea, Karangahape and Newton , making its way through Albert Street, across Karangahape Rd to upper Symonds Street linking to the Western line and the Southern line.
In addition to the CRL, Auckland has largely completed the electrification of the rail network and will begin the introduction of 57 new Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trains later this year.