In announcing that the government was finally going to come to the party and support the CRL, John Key has also made it clear that the project is going to be just one part of an overall package of transport projects in the city. We will have to wait till tomorrow to find out exactly what they are but I thought I would look at some of the most likely candidates.

The Good: 

The best outcome from my perspective would be a package of PT projects perhaps including rail to the airport, rail to the shore and some busways. Perhaps something like below. It might be unlikely but one can dream can’t they?

Possible System

The Bad:

Perhaps the most likely announcement is something to do with the East-West Link. John Key is announcing the transport package at the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and this project has been one of their key ones. The project would see new roads built and existing ones upgraded to create new links between either Onehunga or Mangere and Highbrook.  The option that has been talked about the most in the past has tended to be option 3 which is a brand new road (new roads in black, upgraded roads in red)

East-West Option 3

Personally I think that there is definitely a need to improve transport in this area but most of what is suggested seems like a solution in search of a problem.

The Ugly:

There are two potential projects that would fall into this category.

The Eastern Highway – Gerry Brownlee breathed new life into this project back at the end of April with the way he answered a question from John Campbell. Back then I made this observation:

At first I thought it was really odd the way that Brownlee talked about AMETI and whether that would happen as it is well under way and he has even visited the construction site. Re-watching the video, it then becomes clear that he is talking about a reviving of the eastern motorway. Did Brownlee just let slip that the government is now considering building it? It would certainly fit in with some whispers I have heard.

Bringing back the Eastern Highway would be a massive change in transport policy as it doesn’t exist on any of our current planning documents, although there is still a designation for it.


Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing (AWHC) – After the East-West Link this is probably the next most likely transport project to get a nod from the government. It would definitely be popular with many people on the North Shore but the reality is it is a really really stupid project. For starters it adds a huge amount of capacity across the harbour making it easier to drive and potentially putting a lot more cars onto our city streets, right at a time when we are trying to reduce the number in the city.


The most recent business case found that a road tunnel under the harbour would cost around $5 billion and have a benefit to cost ratio of 0.2, in other words for every $1 invested we would only get 20c back. What’s more that was on the back of some very dodgy traffic growth figures. The business case assumed growth would continue at the same rate it historically has but didn’t take into account the fact that traffic volumes had fallen substantially in recent years. Even if growth returned to the level it was previously, which is unlikely given the trends we are seeing elsewhere, the need for a new crossing has been pushed back almost indefinitely.


Are there any other projects that you think will be tacked on to the CRL?

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  1. I think your Eastern Busway would stop at Panmure?

    I also think the mayor, most Councillors, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport are likely to agree with and support almost ANYTHING the government wants to do, since they have just agreed to pay half of the CRL.

    I don’t think we will see any more rail projects for Auckland for a while, other then hopefully electrifying to Pukekohe which I think AC/AT may pay for.

    Hopefully with the momentum the CRL generates, Airport rails happens after it, followed by Avondale – Onehunga line.

    I don’t think we will see another Harbour crossing being announced just yet. I think the Eastern motorway will generate way to much flak in certain National party strong hold for it to happen.

    Maybe the East / West link or Holiday highway funding. Maybe fixing up the motorway between Upper Harbour Hwy and Greville Rd; and between Manukau and Papakura / Drury/

    1. > I also think the mayor, most Councillors, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport are likely to agree with and support almost ANYTHING the government wants to do..

      Unlikely – CRL is a highly popular project in the Auckland region. National wants it off the agenda before the upcoming local body elections and next year’s general election.

      > …since they have just agreed to pay half of the CRL.

      Except they didn’t. Len Brown doing an excellent job of controlling to conversation there, but until the dollars are in writing from the government, I doubt the council will be committing to any firm concessions of their own.

      1. My point was in reference to the govt wanting to push any other transport projects, such as Holiday Highway, I believe none of the above would say stop, no don’t build that. You don’t bite the hand the feeds you.

        I don’t disagree with your point of wanting it off the agenda, however I could see the CRL doing some damage the Len’s campaign if the govt had not come out in support. It was already starting to create problems with a number of other councilors, mayoral candidates and public asking how it was going to be paid for and wanting a referendum (and most of these people were right wing people). I believe this has pretty much handed him the next election (unless something major happens) I consider it a good thing if he gets back in.

        I am pretty sure the govt is going to pay half and Auckland Council will pay the other half? If not what have they agreed too?

  2. Personally what I would like to see is a 20-30 year plan. Set out what projects the Government/Council think are priorities, when they are expected and what metrics are expected to confirm the demand is there.

    For example, I dont there is enough demand for a rail link to the Airport at the moment but if it had a date of (say) 2025 put on it with required metrics being X people living at A commuting to B and Y people living at B communiting to A, then that can be measured and the timeframe tweeked as required.

    1. Don’t think of it as “a rail link to the airport”, think of it as “a railway line through the second-densest concentration of employment in the region (after the CBD) and a public-transport-starved collection of dormitory suburbs.” The airport would be one stop of several, including the under-served western Mangere suburbs and the Airport Oaks employment and industry precinct. There’s plenty of demand if it’s looked at in totality rather than just with a destination of the airport.

      If the SW Line were staggered it would be much more politically palatable from a money perspective, and if National were smart (which they’re absolutely not) they’d get a few voters from some Labour strongholds on-side by promising to get the first stage across the Manukau Harbour and connected around Walmsley Rd.

      1. Agree and probably didn’t make my point clear by using A’s and B’s. My point was some research needs to be done (or maybe already has) that links where people live and work and therefore what the potential demand for the new line will be. The yellow line in the diagram above suggests that it will only be poeple living between the CBD and the airport that will benefit whereas my guess is a great proportion of workers in the Airport area come from the South.

        Having said that, it would be a great way from people from Onehunga and Mangere to get to work in the CBD (or the pokies) which is completely ignored when described as rail to the Airport.

        The tourism element of it wont be that great

        1. My partner’s cousin is a customs officer at AIAL, and he and his fiancée just bought a house in Torbay. I wouldn’t want to even try and guess where people who work at the airport and surrounds live, particularly given that the current housing market means people buy a house anywhere they can afford instead of having the luxury of being a bit choosy and buying somewhere in the vicinity of their employment (his fiancée works in the Britomart area).

    1. Let’s daylight the Ligar Canal and have Gondolas pushing their way up the middle of Queen St, yippee!

      Key has soooooo discovered how popular public amenity can be… oh dear much of the rest of cabinet must bit grinding their teeth…. they thought everyone knew that only m’ways are worth building… so confusing….

  3. Could the Young Nats little diagram thing indicating the Universities be a sign? Perhaps it will be some other project in the CBD that involves the uni’s.

    Also, what about Port access improvements (without the Eastern Highway)? That seems like something National could go for.

    I’d like to think that it’s rail to the airport, however. Key’s making the announcement ad Minister of Tourism, I thought? Yesterday he mentioned Auckland in the context of it being New Zealand’s gateway, and also the the CRL made the same sense as the Convention Centre. Seeing as SkyCity supports the CRL, maybe the convinced Key that the could really so with some rail to the airport to make the most of the Convention Centre. This may be wishful thinking, but one can dream right?

  4. I think East/West link is a good bet. They have mentioned this a few times as a significant project.

    The Eastern corridor would be a massive call and given the huge amount of funds curretntly tied up in RoNs it would be difficult to fund. Penlink could be one from left field perhaps?

  5. I too suspect the south-eastern truckway will be bundled in. However, would that count as a “step change” for transport in Auckland as Key said?

    1. Not at all, it’s just the same trundle as always, the same flushing of dollars down the toilet to maintain car dependence. A step change has a very specific meaning, and if Key is referring to the Onehunga motorway as being a step change then someone needs to walk him through what that terms actually means. It certainly doesn’t mean repeating what Auckland has been doing exclusively for the last 60 years and at the same time doing a very clever job at getting the credit for a project that will be funded and built under a subsequent government. At the end of the day that’s all this announcement is, Key stating that they won’t be in government in 7 years time and that a future Labour/Greens coalition will be building it. It’s actually extremely well planned PR spin, whoever their spin doctors are they’re worth every penny that National is paying them.

      1. Exactly – it was going to get funded as soon as the Greens and Labour got into power; National might as well claim it as theirs now for political expediency.

          1. I wish Matt – unfortunately my employer frowns on such things. Silly I know.

            Yes, my head says you are right, but my heart Matt, ah my heart…

    1. If the government agree to pay for the whole thing including the rail I wouldn’t complain. The rail is the important bit, that bit of motorway isn’t the bottleneck as is so won’t actually increase traffic flows.

      My guess is SH18-SH1 on the shore, connecting the motorway to the airport, and in far left field an extension of Wynyard tram, or the Northern Busway.

  6. Absolutely right goosoid and KLK. The Shore has not a single rail station at the moment and without a second harbour crossing this will only continue, leaving us with Matt’s ‘good’ scenario drawn at the top of this post.

    If the network covers all of Auckland then it will have a fighting chance to build up passenger numbers, but as drawn above we see that large areas are excluded such as Glenfield, Birkenhead, Devonport, Takapuna and other highly populated areas further north (off the map it seems). Far from being a really stupid idea, it might be that a second crossing is an essential step in reducing car dependence for North Shore and Auckland, and in enabling public transport usage to grow to the point that significant road construction and fuel savings are being made for the city.

    By the way, how much extra would it cost to put in some roading alongside a rail tunnel? I am thinking of emergency services, buses, and also a contingency against harbour bridge failure.

    1. I live on the Shore DavidB and I think rail to at least Takapuna via Wynyard Quarter and Akoranga would be amazing and really transform Auckland. Takapuna would become a major urban centre.

      People could get on in the CBD and get out at Takapuna to the beaches and new bars and restaurants that should eb built along the waterfront.

      How many cities in the world are there where that is possible? Not too many – what an opportunity! It would be a huge boon for businesses there.

    1. A PPP for the Holiday Highway. Hopefully drafted so that when the expected traffic doesnt appear the private sector investor takes the hit, not the tax payer.

      Could it be as successful as the Brisbane airport highway PPP – at least that one actually went somewhere:

      as well as the other failed PPPs referred to in this article:

      Then again if the government has started on a new tact of actually looking at evidence rather than just adhering to dogma, maybe they are adopting Operation Lifesaver instead?

      Yeah I know, what am I smoking?

      1. Maybe they have realised that it is actually impossible to ram a motorway through that terrain?

        PPP might be good as it would mean we weren’t wasting quite as much state money on a failed project, and it would probably be impossible to find an investor.

    1. But what date will the Government put on that? 2050?

      If the ChCh announcement is anything to go by, they may announce all projects and set out proposed funding and dates. Maybe I will get my 20-30 year plan???

  7. Wow.
    If there are plans for actual railways on the shore I’d be amazed.
    Can’t believe they are actually thinking about the second harbour crossing….

    1. Hopefully they will have the sense to build the tunnels at the same time as it will save a fortune.

      Even if they don’t build them, surely they will show that level of fiscal prudence.

  8. Goosold said, “I live on the Shore DavidB and I think rail to at least Takapuna via Wynyard Quarter and Akoranga would be amazing and really transform Auckland. Takapuna would become a major urban centre”.

    I believe that you are exactly right. This area could become a major centre and a significant area for tourism in its own right.

    But absolutely not a second harbour road crossing. Where conceivably would all the extra roading be placed in Takapuna if three or four times the current population wished to drive? . And as someone else on the thread has said, if cars leave a location they have to end up somewhere and already city streets can’t cope.

    Now is the time to begin a transformational change in the way Aucklander’s travel. It certainly isn’t 2020.

  9. If there is a 2nd harbour bridge who will pay for it? I think if the toll is $8 for BOTH bridges there will not be a great deal of support from the North Shore. John Key said people in Invercagill would not be keen to pay for Auckland’s CRL. They are proably much less keen to pay for Auckland to have TWO side by side harbour Bridges. There was a campaign recently of “Why use two when one will do?” to decrease unnecessary usage. This showed pictures of people wearing 2 watches on one arm, 2 toothbrushes in one hand or wearing 2 crash helmets. Could be a tactic to stopp 2 identical harbour bridges

  10. The annoucement on Friday was for even more roads, widening the southern motorway, and we’ll start on some rail projects in about five years. Purely for political reasons. And the airport rail has dropped off the page.

    Some good questioning by JAG in Parliament but we need more from Labour. How about a counter-commitment to start building the CRL as soon as you are elected.

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