Brown: CBD Link In 7 Years


Auckland Mayor Len Brown this afternoon promised the CBD rail link will be operational in 7 years - if he has his way.

And he told a news conference that he was determined it would happen as “the rail link is possibly the most critical element in Auckland’s transformation into a globally competitive urban centre.”

The business case for the link , released by the Mayor this afternoon, recommends the link be constructed and operational by mid-2020.

Launching the CBD business case study, he called the case compelling and added that he had campaigned on it and been given the mandate to act.

He said the project was comfortably over a BCR of 1 which was better than the Puhoi highway(0.8)  (At 8% discount rate it’s 3.5, 6% 4.7 and 4% 6.6.)

“It very clearly sets out a cost benefit ratio of 1:1 which I think is salutory and directional in terms of what we are trying to achieve here. For example, the cost benefit ratio for the Puhoi motorway was .08 so it has a very good cost benefit ratio.”

He said the funding issue would lead to “interesting discussions” and he wasn’t going to detail his full thoughts on the specifics of how it would happen as it was complex.

But the public could be assured that it will be “funded from sources and done.”

He expected the government would be supportive as he as mayor had been given the mandate to provide the vision for making Auckland a world class city and this was an important part of achieving that.

Former mayor Chris Fletcher, now a C&R Councillor said that on this project Len Brown had full centre-right support.  She would not be drawn as to whether she supported the other rail projects  - airport rail and North Shore rail.

The case study, which involved also KiwiRail and Auckland Transport, and its predecessors, looked at other choices including improving bus capacity, an expanded Britomart rail station and a central city bus tunnel with three stations but concluded this was the way to go.

“The report ranks the rail link highest for cost effectiveness and impact because of the way it would unlock unusued capacity across the whole rail network, “Len Brown said.

“This loop will double the number of trains that can go through Britomart from 30 to 21 an hour, let Aucklanders get around the region more easily and reduce congestion on our roads.”

“This report can not be ignored,” he said.

He was flanked by transport committee chair and former ARC chair Mike Lee who said there had been enough debate for years and it was now time to move forward on it.


Watch Len Brown’s news conference
What’s in Case study

Cost and what’s involved
Chinese interest in CBD loop

Loop funding row




  1. joust says:

    If anything deserved the constant fast-tracking we’ve seen under this government, this is it.

    Its about jobs and growth.

    Well done Mayor Brown and lets hope the funding complexity gets sorted soon.

    Lets build it.

  2. Decanker says:

    Possible partial funding could be from property developers who will profit handsomely from the business/retail hubs each station will create. Also Kiwi Rail could get in the property development game a la JR in Japan.

  3. Decanker says:

    Why can’t the govt make the connection between crude welfare reform and massive public/private infrastructure works such as this?

  4. Andrew says:

    Love the stations in Tokyo, if our train stations became mini malls it would be awesome. Getting off the train and being able to buy bakery food right at the station was awesome in Japan.

  5. Jon Reeves says:

    This MUST happen. If there was ever more proof needed that finances should come from the poorly thought out PUFORD highwayt extension - this is it.

  6. Nick R says:

    The alternatives to this are basically impossible: it’s either spend even more on a bus tunnel for lesser gains, convert every lane leading to the CBD into bus lanes, or have the CBD not grow and further slip in economic output and international competitiveness.

  7. Matthew says:

    This is great news. I dont think the case for CBD rail could have been put better!!!

    It would sicken me though if we are made to wait years for funding all the while the Puhoi-Welsford motorway gets the go ahead for merely being an ill-considered election promise…

    Key is a populist though, hopefully Len can exploit the fact, muster some charisma and get Aucklanders excited about PT and rail, and fingers crossed this report will be acted upon with haste!

  8. BD says:

    Though this is excellent news this story will leave a sour taste in your mouth, like it has done to me

    This is how easily a roading project gets funded, just like that. With all the road projects that are underway by national we could afford to build like 10 CBD loops, Waikato Expressway what a load of rubbish

  9. DanC says:

    What a great day it will be (and I say “will” as look at the momentous gain received compared to the capital outlay when comparing to roading projects) when this opens. Being able to get to work more quickly, getting home faster and spending more time with family while another car has been removed from congested roads and your carbon footprint has reduced.

  10. Kurt says:

    I agree with everyone, this is not a wish or dream or even a maybe, it simply must happen and if it takes the mortgaging of council assets to do it then so be it.

    Its a vote winner Steven,cant you see it and for a change a worthwhile vote winner!

    Full marks to the new Auckland council for nailing its colours to the mast!

  11. damian says:

    I love the idea of rail, but the new motorways proposed provide the economic stimulous we currently need, in so far as giving work to local contractors and designers and the like.
    I dont think rail construction can do this at the moment

  12. Doloras says:

    What a ridiculous comment, damian. Building pyramids, or digging up holes and filling them in again, would provide even more “local work” than road construction, so maybe we should do that instead.

  13. Nick R says:

    So Banks lost his mayoralty by a landslide by not supporting this, how game are National to lose Auckland seats next year?

  14. Doloras says:

    Steady on - Banksie actually supported the CBD link, just not the other rail projects. Banksie lost the election because he’s Banksie, as opposed to that Nice Mr Key who just sold our labour conditions cheap to Warner Brothers and got a BOOST in the polls for it.

    I honestly don’t think “middle Auckland” is sold on the CBD tunnel yet. A few newspaper opinion columns from John Roughan, Jim Hopkins et al. talking about how rail is primitive, backwards, low-class, socialist technology, and congestion should be solved by electric cars on more motorways will turn their heads quite effectively, and I think we can see that coming quite soon.

  15. damian says:

    You are correct in what you say Doloars, likewise am I.
    However I dont think what you propose will give any benefit at all, whereas a new motorway will.

    I do see the benefit in rail, but road construction provides a government injection into local economies now whereas rail construction does not.

    Lineside and other related rail equipment is expensive and will most be procured offshore, whereas we can build our roads with locally sourced materials and expertise.

    So before you spout off again, try and take a balanced view

  16. Matt L says:

    Damian - how would building a building a road or railway be any different, they both need designers, engineers, construction workers, equipment and materials. In both projects you can’t just pick up a shovel and build something so they have huge lead in times and there isn’t any ‘local’ work for some time. The big cost in both projects is the basic civil engineering type work e.g. out of the $500mil for electrification, only about $80 mil is for the new signalling and a similar amount is the actual masts and wires, the rest is things like raising bridges, lengthening platforms etc, skills that aren’t any different to road building.

    Putting more money into local roads is the same but the scale is smaller so they can move faster. The problem is the government has cut funding for local roads to pay for its motorways.

    Lastly motorways don’t always provide a benefit, they can be so costly to build that the benefit they provide isn’t worth the cost. That;s what the BCR is for and in the case of the motorway from Puhoi to Warkworth and out of Wellington the cost is higher than the benefit.

  17. damian says:

    Matt L

    Agreed you can not just pick up a shovel and go for it, but alot of the proposed new motorways have had a lot of planning work already done and therefore would be quicker to implement than a rail project.

    The capital expenditure of roading projects will have a far reaching ability to spread its money through the entire region, whereas a rail project is fairly specialist and can only be done by certain qualified contractors.

    With your example $80million dollars is leaving the country through line side equipment, whereas a roading contract would not see that.

    While I dont doubt the BCR is low, as far as I am aware the BCR does not account or take into consideration the money injected into local community, it just looks at the benefit to the end user.

  18. Matt says:

    Damian, the wider economic benefits, if I recall correctly, includes the construction.

    What the whole point of contention is, really, is that Joyce is saying there’s no shortage of money available for a project that will return 40 cents on the dollar, but little or no money available for a project that will return $1.13 for every $1 that goes into it.
    WEBs are notional, at best, and hard to quantify. So if we stick the quantifiable, non-contentious ones, Puford doesn’t stack up for the money. It would have to inject a huge amount of cash into the local economy to justify such a negative return, and it simply doesn’t. In the case of Puhoi and other small towns the current design will cause them serious economic harm by diverting traffic and reducing business profitability. Have you factored that into your considerations?

  19. Matt L says:

    “With your example $80million dollars is leaving the country through line side equipment, whereas a roading contract would not see that.”

    This would be no different to a motorway project where specialist equipment is also needed for non rail projects, i.e. special bridge joints and seals etc. Its just you don’t see it as it is all in the road building contract. For the rail examples I gave, a large part of that $80 mil will stay in the country,
    For signalling they are still using local labour to lay cables, make equipment cabinets etc, locals are even employed to install and test the signals, all of which seems to be a similar to work done by say telecom.
    For the masts and wires, most of that is done over here as well, the mast can be built here, the bases are basic civil works (dig a hole and fill it with concrete). There is even a specialist rail vehicle designed to carry and put up the masts and wires, that was designed and built in Auckland with the company now looking to export the technology overseas. Both these contracts will see much of the money stay in the country

    “While I dont doubt the BCR is low, as far as I am aware the BCR does not account or take into consideration the money injected into local community, it just looks at the benefit to the end user.”
    But because the BCR was so low the government included wider economic benefits into the calculation, that is intended to look at things like the benefit to the community from more jobs created etc. Even with that it only just scrapes over the mark of 1 whereas with the CBD tunnel it is at around 3.5

  20. damian says:

    You are correct in the point of contention seems not to be about the money available, but where it is spent.
    Perhaps from a tax payers point of view, the tax payer wants to see their money spent on project they can physically use and while everyone can use the rail, they won’t

    Diverting traffic from the small towns might do harm them locally but on a macro level perhaps the justification is there. I dont know I have not seen the numbers, nor do I really care.

    Auckland Waterfront development angency have issued a tender to a number of contractors to build a 1km looped tramway at the Wynyard Quarter. This tramway will cost about $4m (engineers estimate) but actually has no purpose as it is one track in a loop. Interestingly the thermit welding kit all comes from Australia, as does the rail, the tram and over head wiring. So there you have $1m leaving the country in that equipment alone. I’d love to see the BCR for this proejct.

    So while I am in favour of building rail, I can see why the government is not in favour of it (just yet)

  21. Luke says:

    I’m not sure of your point Damian. We know the CBD loop tunnel is a long term project. The economic stimulus it will give is of a different scope to the short term benefits of roading projects.
    However the only roading project around Auckland that is good for short term economic stimulus is the Vic Park Tunnel.
    Waterview construction is still a year and a half away.
    The Puhoi Wellsford construction is still 4 years plus away.

  22. damian says:

    Luke I was orginally refering to the waikato expressway

    anyway, good news here

  23. Matt says:

    Damian, do you not care if taxpayer money is thrown away? That’s certainly the attitude you present: better to spend the money now, however wastefully, than spend it later on something that’ll have long-term positive returns.

    Puford won’t start for several more years. Even on an accelerated timeframe it’s still four-plus years away from the first sod being turned. So not only does it not provide a near-future economic stimulus it also represents an enormous waste of taxpayer money on a project with a negative return. Does that not bother you at all because you just don’t want money spent on rail?

  24. damian says:


    My original comment was in reference to the waikato expressway funding, where the money will be injected to local companies who will construct the works. This is not wasted money in my opinion.

    I couldn’t give a monkeys about Puford, but I do know that money spent on the expressways down in the waikato will help the region immensly.

    Aside from that, I am sure the vested interests that are Kiwi rail and auckland transport would indeed make the BCR favourable.

  25. Matt says:

    Damian, given that the entire process and outcome were thoroughly peer-reviewed by multiple independent consultancies, including by an overseas expert and by PwC, I suggest that you be very, very careful about suggesting that there’s anything corrupt about the outcomes of the CBDRL report.

    What’re the BCRs for the Waikato projects? Positive? Or do you not give a damn so long as money gets spent in the region?

  26. damian says:

    I’m not suggesting it is corrupt at all, but there are two sides to any arguement.

    The BCR’s will vary for each project, what they are is of little relevance when considering the stimulus it will provide.

  27. Matt says:

    You don’t understand what BCRs mean, you don’t care what they represent, you just want the money spent in your area. Pretty much sum up your attitude to the whole thing?

  28. damian says:


    I live in Auckland so it is not my area.

    I am well aware of what BCR is, but what I will say that I am not sure of, and you maybe able to answer me on this, is that does the BCR include the contribution of economic stimulus to local business and the like.

  29. Nick R says:

    Not the base transport BCR, but if wider economic benefits/agglomeration is included, then yes.

  30. strings says:

    Nick, are you refering to an EIA versus a BCR?

  31. Matt L says:

    Some more on this today

    Govt urged to accept case for rail tunnel

  32. Doloras says:

    Oft-times commentor to this blog and Auckland Councillor, Cameron Brewer, discounts the CBD Link business case because “everybody knows” that the CBD is just going to shrink and vanish, no matter what so-called “experts” and their “modelling” and “overseas experience” have to say:

  33. AKT says:

    Just a reminder to please keep comments about civic officials related to the issue under debate not attacks on the specific individuals as people. Leave that sort of personal attack to other blogs or parliament.

  34. karl says:

    If someone says “we all know” he really says “you all should know that I think…”

    Cameron Brewer was Newmarket’s business association’s manager for a long time, and always played up how the mini-CBD of Newmarket needed to grow and concentrate and use its assets like the train station - rather than lose out to the greenfields “sprawl” developments like Silvia Park.

    It is disappointing that as soon as he becomes Orakei councillor, he seems to ditch all those very valid opinions for a classical self-fulfilling prophecy argument of stagnation? Well, yeah, it will stagnate without a CBD tunnel - it’s currently strangulated by motorways!

    World-wide, urbanisation is continuing strongly, and he argues that city centres are going to slow down?


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