Auckland Airport Rail Link Now Many Decades Away


oneWe’ll be waiting a long long time to see a start to construction of some of the major rail projects in our dreams.

Auckland’s much-awaited rail link to the airport has definitely fallen off the draft priority list.

There is now no plan to even start construction before 2031 and it’s likely construction may be up to a decade later than that – 2041.

That’s 20 to 30 years away and would be the same time period as for the building of an Avondale-Southdown link.

Construction of the CBD rail loop, if funding is confirmed, would be slightly earlier – between 2021 and  2031.

The Auckland Regional Council’s regional transport committee were given these figures this afternoon in its consideration of a draft 2010 Regional Land Transport Strategy policy which will need full council signoff and thankfully it seems there will be further debate.

Members were told that as far as an airport link was concerned, only limited investigations have been carried out to date on the detailed route of the rail connections, how the introduction of rail would be staged, and what bus services should be established in the interim so “it is expected that the Airport rail loop will be constructed in the period 2031 – 2041.”

The Airport rail loop would consist of connections to the airport from the north via Onehunga and from the east via Puhinui Station. As well as serving air passengers, the line would provide accessibility to the fast growing employment area around the Airport and will increase services to the growing centre of Onehunga.

The report had slightly better news in its summary of the state of other rail projects:

  • Rail electrification with 10 minute  services and connection of the rail system to Manukau City Centre and Onehunga are projects which have been agreed for some time and are in the process of being delivered. The Onehunga Line and Manukau Link are expected to open in mid 2010, and the first electric trains are targeted to commence service in 2013. These improvements are critical to continuing the growth of rail patronage in Auckland and allowing passenger rail to fill its role (along with the Northern Busway) as the Rapid Transit Network which forms the backbone of the public transport system. These activities need to be implemented as soon as possible.
  • Integrated ticketing and fares are critical in making public transport easier to use and more convenient for users. As the Rapid Transit Network develops, integrated ticketing and fares will become increasing important to enable passengers to transfer with minimal inconvenience between feeder services and the RTN. It is expected that integrated ticketing and fares will be implemented as soon as possible, certainly within the first 10 years of this strategy.
  • The CBD rail link will play a critical role in providing capacity for the rail system to continue to grow beyond the 10 minute services currently planned, will produce faster journeys from the west of Auckland to the CBD, and will provide greater coverage of the CBD. The capacity of the rail system is currently limited by the constraints on the tunnel leading to the Britomart terminal. Construction of the CBD rail tunnel will allow Britomart to operate as a through station rather than as a terminal. The consequent increase in system capacity will enable trains to be operated at higher frequencies and will provide the ability to operate new services to the CBD, including rail services connecting with the airport and using the Avondale-Southdown Line. The CBD rail tunnel will also provide improved rail coverage to the CBD. Without the accessibility provided by the CBD rail tunnel the growth of the CBD will be constrained as roads become increasingly congested and the number of buses in the CBD becomes harder to manage. It is expected that the CBD rail tunnel will be constructed within the period 2021 – 2031.

On the issue of a second harbour crossing, some attention seems to have shifted to the need to strengthen or replace the clip ons on the present bridge.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge has long been recognised as a critical link in the transportsystem of the region for which there is no realistic alternate in the event of disruption to the bridge (although the Western Ring Route will provide an option for some trips), and a link which is a bottleneck in both the road and public transport networks. A study undertaken in 2008 identified the most appropriate route for an additional crossing of the Waitemata Harbour. The study concluded that the preferred option for an additional road crossing consists of a driven tunnel from Esmonde Road to SH1 / SH16 at Central Motorway Junction for general traffic. This particular option is known as Option 2C (which also includes the rail component).
The purpose of the 2008 study was to identify a preferred route rather than to justify an additional crossing. Further investigations are underway to clearly identify the benefits of an additional crossing. The future replacement of the clip on structures on the existing Harbour Bridge, and the potential co-ordination with the provision of an additional crossing is also under consideration. Those investigations have not yet been completed. The ability to construct an additional road crossing of the Waitemata Harbour Crossing needs to be protected in the short term while investigations continue into the justification and likely timing of an additional crossing.

The meeting also looked at what other cities had been doing with charges for motorists entering the city but basically concluded that public buy-in was impossible until there is ” a much improved public transport system providing good accessibility at affordable fares.”

And judging by today’s timeline, if adopted, that would be not until the year 3452.  LOL




  1. This seems so shortsighted and backwards as to border on insanity. Thanks for the update!

  2. William M says:

    Great. So even I, of 22 years young may die before Aucklanders and tourists take the train to the Airport. Oh, alright, I’m being dramatic. Looks like the CBT is going to have a bee in their bonnet now!

  3. Cambennett says:

    For gods sake, what is wrong with this country? Are we governed by ignorant yokels? It would seem so. This is too pathetic to put into words.

  4. Jezza says:

    Sigh, I think the next time we have a Labour led government if the Greens are around the cabinet table these types of rail projects will shoot up the priority list…

  5. Sam F says:


    “This seems so shortsighted and backwards as to border on insanity. So business as usual then.”

    Fixed that for you :-)

    I like to think of these as Super Gold Card projects - at least I’ll be able to ride them free as a senior (assuming there’s anyone left alive in NZ by then).

  6. Jon C says:

    Very funny Sam. Theres some report coming out soon that says half of Auck and Wellington will disappear in a few decades because of rising waters so maybe you’re right it wont matter by then.Jezza, Herald columnist Brian Rudman today blamed labour for not getting us electrification and integrated ticketing as they should have when they had the chance.

  7. James says:

    Mangere is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing suburbs, the housing is already dense. Much of it is zoned for further subdivision. Not to mention the large areas of green-field development already marked out around between the airport and the harbour.

    Distribution and warehousing is one of Auckland’s big industries employing large numbers of people. Much of that industry is centred around the airport.

    The council and government are failing the people of Mangere miserably by not providing them necessary infrastructure to move around the city rapidly. One can’t help but think that race is a factor in this neglect. Affluent suburbs on the North shore have a gleaming new busway. Double tracking goes east and west.

    I work at the airport and the majority of airport staff have parking provided, so there’s no incentive to use PT alternatives. Though 10-15 min queues on SH20 onramps are not much fun. If there was a convenient and fast rail service to the airport staff and passengers would surely use it in droves. It strikes me that AIAL has its interest more in charging for carparking than smoothing the way for its passengers.

  8. Johans says:

    We could have the tourists parachute off the planes right into the centre of the CBD.

  9. Jon C says:

    Wonderful idea Johans but will ACC and health and safety allow it? LOL

  10. Joshua says:

    James, I think playing the race card is a bit over the top don’t you? But if true this is nonsense. Time will only tell.

  11. Richard says:

    James, I work in the airport area too, and while you are correct that most staff have parks, the airport was very much involved with the introduction of new bus services (380 from Manukau, and increased Airbus from CBD), and has a car-pooling programme called Lift that has won awards. My understanding is that they are very keen to improve public and private transport links to the airport, and would actually quite like to have more planning certainty from transport agencies around future public transport options (bus and rail) to the airport.

  12. Jezza says:

    That’s true Labour were poor on PT and rail until the end of their term, next time the Greens will figure more in their government and their younger MPs who will probably be in Cabinet next time around get PT better I think…

    @ Sam it funny you mentioned that, I was thinking the Airport link will be brought in time for me to catch it to my retirement holiday flight…

  13. Sam F says:

    “James, I think playing the race card is a bit over the top don’t you?”

    Probably more to do with (generally) lower affluence, and thus a comparative lack of influence upon the powers that be. I’m 100% sure there are committed public transport advocates working in South Auckland, but it’s just harder to win funding for improvements down there somehow.

  14. James says:

    Yeah true, thanks Sam. Thats probably more the point.

  15. Jon C says:

    The good news is it seems the council may not rubber stamp the draft plan and allow more time for thinking about what should be done.

  16. Jezza says:

    I don’t think the politicans realise how popular this is with the public, a lot of votes in at least making noises about it…


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