Well after a lot of bad news relating to public transport recently, it’s very nice to see some good news emerging for once. ARTA and KiwiRail have announced a jointly funded study into Auckland’s CBD Rail Tunnel project, to determine the best route, the best station locations and an economic justification for the project. These are critical steps in shifting this project forwards, so it is excellent to see it happening. When the announcement was first made, I have to say I was a little bit disappointed – in that I thought such work had been underway for the past year – but I guess things move pretty slowly in the world of public transport projects. So what had actually been happening in the past year was preparation for the announcement of this study. Some further details:
Investigations are underway to identify a preferred route for Auckland’s proposed CBD loop underground rail link from Britomart to Mt Eden rail stations.
The study, jointly funded by KiwiRail and ARTA, will also consider the likely costs and economic justification for the proposed tunnel and possible stations along the way, and begin the process of protecting the route for future construction.
KiwiRail and ARTA have commissioned the APB&B group of consultants, comprising AECOM, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Beca and Hassell, to undertake the study, which is expected to be completed in December 2010.
It will be interesting to see whether the study sticks to the previously prefered alignment, or whether that changes. It seems to be the case that most work so far has gone into determining the exact alignment between Britomart and a Midtown station, while what remains is the rest of the loop – between the Midtown station and Mt Eden. A map is included, which seems to indicate an unlikeliness that things will change much from previous plans:
What will also be an interesting outcome of the study is the work that goes into forming the economic justification of the project. ARTA’s Auckland Transport Plan seemed to indicate that these benefits could be very significant, by stating the following:
Overall, this project will increase the accessibility of the CBD, New Zealand’s largest concentration of economic activity, to more than half a million people within 30 minutes travel time by rail, which is completely free of road congestion. This will release the economic potential of Auckland’s CBD and growth centres, and lead to economic benefits estimated at $2.4 billion.
Not bad for a $1.5 billion project, especially once we add in other benefits like reduced CO2 emissions, safety benefits and so forth.