Bernard’s Holes

We might have a budget hole but ditching the CRL is not going to fix that particular hole



So we might be facing some budget decisions over the next 11 months as we (the Council and the City) work out what we want in the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan. Sure it seems we are facing a budget hole if we want to keep rate rises down to 2.5% per year. And yes it could be a case of chooks coming home to roost as I have mentioned here: Bit of a Budget Hole?

However, it seems dear old Bernard has created a few holes himself with one being large enough to drive an electric train through. Again it is about the City Rail Link and the Long Term Plan.


Budget riles Aucklanders


Mr Brown refused to discuss feedback on the budget and rail link yesterday, apart from issuing a statement: “The most consistent message I get from Aucklanders is that the City Rail Link needs to be our number one priority. That hasn’t changed.”

Auckland Transport has spent about $35 million buying properties along the 3.4km route from Britomart to Mt Eden.

Andrew Schollum summed up a lot of feedback to the Herald on the rail link, saying it would benefit the inner city suburbs, but the cost in slashed services will affect everyone else.


Source and full article can be read here:


It seems we have two problems here. The first being a budget one that has been four years in the making and has had four years warning so that the situation could be avoided. The second is on the City Rail Link’s benefits for ALL of Auckland including the North Shore and Howick/Botany.


The City Rail Link.

Using the information available from Auckland Transport (which they need to sell every day until the project is finished) to drum it into the City’s head:

City Rail Link

The City Rail Link (CRL) is an underground rail line linking Britomart and the city centre with the existing western line near Mt Eden….

Project purpose

The CRL is key to delivering the Auckland Plan, the City Centre Master Plan, the Long Term Plan and the Integrated Transport Programme.

  • Top transport priority for Auckland
  • Auckland will grow by more than 700,000 people in the next 30 years and the CRL coupled with bus improvements is the only way to keep Auckland moving
  • Current public transport will be unable to cater for this growth, hindering economic development
  • The CRL will provide opportunities for development, particularly around the stations

Project details

  •  The City Rail Link (CRL) will extend Auckland’s passenger rail system past Britomart to connect to the existing regional rail network at Mt Eden
  • Britomart will become a through station with new stations near Aotea Square, Karangahape and Newton Roads
  • The current phase is to confirm and protect a route to enable future construction
  • The CRL will use twin 3.4km long tunnels up to 42 metres below city centre streets
  • It’s estimated to take five and a half years to build at a cost of $2.86b when inflated to 2021

Costs and funding

(As identified in Auckland Council Long Term Plan, discussions are continuing with central government)

  • Cost of $2.86 billion (inflated to year of spend)
  • 50% central government funded
  • 30% alternative funding (being investigated by an independent group
  • 20% rate and development contribution funded, taking effect at opening (2020/21)




Benefits of the City Rail Link

The City Rail Link will provide significant transport and economic benefits for the whole Auckland region.

Benefits to Auckland’s transport system

CRL Route

The City Rail Link has transport benefits for large parts of Auckland, including road users. Making public transport a better travel choice will ease pressure on roads for those who need to use them.

Many benefits come from “joining up” the rail network, allowing trains to run both ways through Britomart, doubling the number of trains that can run. This means there will be trains a lot more often at all Auckland stations.

With the CRL, rail will be able to carry about 30,000 people an hour in peak. If the Britomart dead end isn’t removed, the limit is 15,000 an hour. In comparison, a single motorway lane can carry 2,400 people an hour.

  • A train about every 7 to 10 minutes at peak for most Auckland stations;
  • Enables future expansion of the rail network to the North Shore, via Wynyard Quarter, and the airport;
  • More people on trains will free up roads for those who need them;
  • The only transport option to keep speeds on city centre roads dropping to 7km/h by 2021;
  • More road space for buses for parts of Auckland not served by rail, such as the North Shore. Without the CRL major bus routes will be at or over capacity in 2021;
  • The number of people within 30 minutes’ train-travel of a city centre rail station will double;
  • Quicker travel and better access to more parts of the city centre with three new stations near Aotea Square, Karangahape Rd and Newton (near Symonds St/New North Rd intersection).

CRL Travel Times To Stations

During the past decade, rail patronage has increased from 2.2 million trips a year to 11 million. Further growth of the rail system, including increases to train frequency, is constrained by the dead end at Britomart, which caps the whole network’s capacity.

Read the full City Centre Future Access Study on the Auckland Council website.

An independent study of future city centre access, produced in collaboration with central government, has shown that the CRL, combined with bus improvements will be the only way to meet transport demand over the next 30 years.



While the City Rail Link is in the City Centre and immediate fringes (Newton) its effects are felt even as far out as Papakura, Pukekohe, Orewa, Albany, Howick and Botany.

For those on the outer rail network (like me living in Papakura) the frequencies can be stepped up and held at 10 minutes on the Southern and Eastern Lines (the two heaviest lines in terms of patronage). For those on the Isthmus and able to access the inner rail network it means we can get frequencies at 10 minutes and some cases even more frequent for an area that has the highest concentration of population density and traffic congestion issues. For those in Howick and Botany (and as we are seeing now) it means a seamless transfer from a bus out east to a frequent Eastern or Manukau (north) Line train at Panmure to continue your journey into Town, out west, or across the Shore. The City Rail Link also allows the Airport Line to be built from Onehunga to the Airport. This line would allow trains every 10-15 minutes from the airport to the City Centre without needing to worry about taxis or road traffic congestion. For the North Shore the CRL allows the eventual construction of the North Shore Line that would replace the Busway. For now it means buses from the South and West removed from the City Centre freeing up the road space for increased bus numbers that would come from the Shore.

And for every person on a train or bus means one less person on the road for those who need it like trucks, tradies and so on.


Budget and the City Rail Link.

For starters the City Rail Link is still an absolute go by both Council and the central Government. While the two still work out the starting date there is no inclination by either side of dropping the Link owing to budget issues in Council. Bernard Orsman trying to light a fire and a “fight” between Aucklanders over the budget, budget priorities and the City Rail Link can be safely said as dubious.

From Stuff

Auckland council seeks $2.8b cuts

Prime Minister John Key said that while Auckland’s budget issues were for the council to deal with, it showed how difficult it was for councils to live within their means and get back into surplus.

He said it raised a question around the start date for the new central business district rail loop tunnel.

“This shows why we have been cautious about the start date for the CBD rail tunnel,” he told reporters.

“It is definitely affordable and do-able, but where it doesn’t put pressure on ratepayers.”

He said the Government still favoured a 2020 start date but have not ruled out getting work underway “slightly earlier”.


And that is from the Prime Minister (and backed by the Minister of Finance).

So Government still backs the link and I still have that feeling we might be looking at a 2017-2018 start date agreed by both parties. That said it might be time for the Mayor to come off his horse and acknowledge a start date of 2017-2018 as a way to take pressure off the books (something I mentioned back in 2012 with my Long Term Plan submissions). Taking the CRL to this start date would seem the most beneficial solution to everything currently before us with NO FACE BEING LOST for the City.


In the end it seems the City has two issues:

  1. Needing to get the books back in order after four years of willy-nilly
  2. Auckland Transport still underselling the City Rail Link





One thought on “Bernard’s Holes

  1. Correct about AT underselling the benefits. There’s a widely held myth that the CRL only benefits the central city. They need to spell out the fact that it unlocks the capacity of the entire network and will allow 5m frequencies on all journeys – Papakura to Middlemore, Henderson to New Lynn, Ellerslie to Newmarket. A huge transformative change.

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