Mayor Names Rail Auckland Plan’s Top Priority


Auckland’s Mayor thinks some form of roading network or congestion charging could be a key to  funding the CBD Rail Link of National Significance.

At a meeting of the Auckland Council’s strategy committee this afternoon he announced that the Rail Link will be the top priority in the forthcoming Auckland Plan.

And he warned that the Britomart transport centre’s capacity for trains will be reached early next year.

“Network or congestion charging needs to be added to our funding toolbox during the term of this Long Term Plan (LTP).  A wide ranging debate with the community on the options available needs to be initiated in the near future. In the meantime some assessment of the potential revenue from this form of charging will be built into the later years of the LTP.”

The use of Public Private Partnerships to accelerate critical infrastructure development is advocated and the Mayor also believes council land and buildings without strategic significance should be considered for sale to release capital for priority projects.

Len Brown has also confirmed the principle of development contributions to fund new infrastructure, a review of regulatory fees and Local Board funding in the wake of transition and involvement in funding and pricing of Watercare services.

He says implementation for the Rail Link will come through the 2012-22 Long Term Plan.

He told the Committee: “The one project that stands out above all others in supporting the goals of the Auckland Plan is the City Rail Link. It is central to creating the world class transport system Aucklanders deserve and will open up public transport across the region, spurring economic growth and urban regeneration”.

The Mayor warned that the Britomart transport centre’s capacity for trains will be reached early next year.   Bringing longer trains into operation will only extend this capacity for another 12 years.  Meanwhile critical parts of the City Centre bus network, in particular Symonds, Fanshawe and Albert Streets, will all reach peak capacity between 2014 and 2020.  On Albert Street alone, this will mean 8 buses per minute at peak.

He said the City Centre rail link provided another exit point from Britomart.  This initially doubles its capacity for rail passengers from 12,000 to 24,000 people per hour and provides options to double this again to 48,000 per hour.  The City Centre Rail Link also removed the need to flood the CBD with diesel buses, allowing a pedestrian and business friendly CBD.

“This “future proofs” the City Centre’s transport needs for the next 60 years. In addition, it will allow faster trips on the western, eastern and southern lines and helps support the development of the world-class transport system that Aucklanders deserve. It will help foster economic regeneration and development along the network. 

 “Without the City Centre rail link Auckland cannot become the world’s most liveable city. Our objectives for a compact urban form, for reduced air emissions, improving our carbon footprint,  protecting our natural environment are all reliant on an effective public transport system – which in turn needs this project.  As our population grows, roads will become more congested unless we have a viable alternative.  Congested roads create an enormous cost to business. If we wish to make Auckland the economic powerhouse of the country, confronting our transport challenge is essential.

“In addition to public transport, the other area that I wish to see given high priority for children and young people is school travel plans.  Finding ways that children can make their way safely to school, without relying on their parents driving them, again supports many of our outcomes.  All of us have noticed the significant difference in traffic volumes during school holidays.  Achieving, even partially, those reductions on an ongoing basis assists in easing congestion, and contributes to the environmental benefits outlined above from public transport.  As many of the alternative transport methods involve children walking and cycling there are also the health benefits of a more active lifestyle.  Auckland Transport is investing in these plans, but I believe that we can do much more, and in so doing deliver significant benefit to Aucklanders.”

He said the Council and other agencies, already have commitments and, in most cases budgets to a number of projects in the next 10 years that will deliver a better transport system for Auckland.  In conjunction with NZTA, he wanted to see those projects continue and the existing budgets prioritised to ensure that they are delivered.  These include:

  • Seamless, integrated ticketing and fares
  • Electrification of the rail network and increased frequency of services
  • Completion of the Western Ring Route, the Newmarket viaduct and the Victoria Park tunnel
  • Construction of the Panmure elements of AMETI
  • Improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure
  • Protection of routes (including rail) - rapid transit route between the Airport and City Centre; additional harbour crossing
  • Establishing and maintaining appropriate levels of service on rural roads.

Britomart tunnel Number 1 for Mayor Brown

In addition there are other projects not currently funded that he considered important to the delivery of the Auckland Plan.

“Prioritising these projects as we work though our capital budgets will be an important consideration.”

They include:

  • Extension of the ferry network
  • City centre transport improvements in the City Centre masterplan
  • Strategic road connection between East Tamaki and SH 20
  • Options for tram extensions that emerge from the Auckland Plan

“The 2011/12 Annual Plan provided funding for designation and route protection for the City  Centre rail link and I have announced previously that the draft LTP will include funding for the required property acquisitions. But the Plan needs to go further, it needs to include a clear programme through which Auckland’s contribution to this transformational project will be funded.

The Mayor emphasised it’s time for fresh thinking. “We can bury our heads in the sand and stick with the same old, same old, or we take a proactive approach and shape the new Auckland, meeting the needs of that growth while creating the world’s most liveable city.”

The Long Term Plan is an initiative the Mayor has legislative responsibility for leading.

“It is my view that the most appropriate way to approach this responsibility is to start the process with some high level directions which can be used by officers to develop the budget and associated policies. The more detailed work, guided by those directions, will be brought forward for debate and decision making, in which we will all participate. I will then draw together those decisions and present a draft Long Term Plan for adoption by the Governing Body.  This report sets out my initial directions for your information and feedback.

“Of necessity this first round of direction setting has to be at a relatively high level.  Throughout the Council organisation and the CCOs there is still a significant amount of work going on to bring together the Asset Management Plans of the legacy Councils.

“The managers of the various activities are still coming to grips with the range of work programmes that they have inherited and with the costs of their activity in the new framework.  This work means that we do not yet have robust information that can be used to form a fully detailed budget.  However, it is important that we start this process with some “lines in the sand” which will set the framework for our subsequent discussions.

“While the legacy Council LTCCPs became a starting point for the Annual Plan 2011-12, it is important to recognise that we now have a different starting point – the Auckland Plan.  We need to recognise that there was an enormous amount of good work done by the previous Councils but all of our previous priorities now need to be revisited and aligned with the Auckland Plan.  I am sure it will already be clear to you that we will not be able to deliver all of our aspirations immediately.

“ Managing ratepayers (and fee payers) money wisely is one of my key values.  We cannot possibly hope to do this and deliver all of our aspirations so we need to focus on some key priorities – those projects and investments that will start the step change for Auckland. Other worthy projects will need to move further back in the overall timeframe and making those choices will not be easy.

“In addition to the challenge of choosing the key projects and identifying the appropriate levels of service across the region, we are also faced with bringing together eight different funding policies and eight different rating systems.  The difficulties of trying to find a unified approach that we consider to be fair, that the community will understand and arriving at an approach to transitioning to the new system cannot be underestimated.  “

Other key projects include the ATEED major events strategy which he describes as a catalyst for Auckland’s attractiveness as a destination and enhancing the quality of life for Aucklanders and council support for the protection of the St James Theatre.

The Mayor reinforced that there is scope to reprioritise existing work programmes and to work within existing fiscal envelopes to achieve many of the priorities of the Auckland Plan.

“My focus is to keep rates reasonable for Auckland families with increases at or around the rate of inflation during the next ten years. However we do face the considerable challenge of bringing together the rates systems of legacy councils. “We must recognise that keeping the status quo is not an option for Auckland - substantial growth will occur.”







  1. Carl says:

    @ Jon or Anyone who knows (because i can’t remember),

    I’m guessing there is some sort of line from Britomart to the Strand Station somewhere/some how right?

    they are worried about Britomart being too full….

    Really how much of a ball ache or an issue is to have some services actually just go to or start from the strand and have a looping bus service (timed) that is already priced into your fare if the city was your end destination on that day?

    I’m not taking about Express services or Morning Peak… I’m talking mid morning and mid afternoon evening.. and then slowly bringing in extra services there.

    I would have also thought they may start talking up running later night services on friday and saturday nights?

    Surely that idea would be a good one, giving people options to leave the car at home, have a good night out in Auckland City (or wherever) and knowing that still around 12am-1am you could catch a service home?

    every 30 mins or a 1am last service friday and a 2am last service early sunday morning?

  2. Matt L says:

    Carl - the problem is that the last time there were trains that went to both Britomart and the Strand, people avoided the Strand ones like the plague.

    Also outside peak times the access into/out of Britomart isn’t such an issue but of course that doesn’t mean that there doesn’t need to be improvements to those timetables.

    FYI Britomart is able to handle around 20 trains per hour which is planned at 6 per hour on the Eastern, Southern and Western lines and two per hour from Onehunga

  3. BoB says:

    Good stuff

  4. Miggle says:

    “Strategic road connection between East Tamaki and SH 20″

    I was wondering when agitation for this ‘missing link’ would begin. Hopefully it can just be kept as an arterial with minimal expensive grade seperation.


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