The CRL took another step forward yesterday following the good news the Environment court has dismissed the final appeal against the designation for the City Rail Link. That means for the first time since the 1920’s when the first variations of the project were proposed it has an actual designation.

The City Rail Link (CRL) has reached a major milestone with all appeals to its land designation now resolved by agreement or dismissed.

Auckland Transport’s chief executive David Warburton says five of the six appeals were settled and the only appeal that went to the Environment Court has been dismissed.

The designation is now confirmed subject to finalisation of conditions by the Court.

“It’s a big step forward for Auckland. A proposal to extend rail through the city centre has been around for almost a hundred years but has never got much beyond an idea. Now we have a designated route,” says Dr Warburton.

“Early works start in November this year. While there are still some other planning processes to work through in relation to regional consents and Britomart, we anticipate a start on the cut and cover in Albert Street in May next year.”

The CRL is critical to Auckland, being a major economic development catalyst as well as a significant transport investment that will help shape and grow our city” said Dr Warburton.

“Already there is something like 170,000 m2 of proposed or consented development on or adjacent to the CRL route on Albert Street.”

The Court’s decision ends a two and a half year planning process to get the designation for the project.

The now confirmed designation identifies land in the district plan for rail purposes and protects the route for the future.

Well done Auckland Transport for this achievement.

Unfortunately it appears that this news probably dragged on much longer than it should have though. In their article about the result the Herald have also included the decision from the court over the appeal and even for a non-expert like me it makes for brutal reading against the appellants. There are quite a few comments about the conduct and lack of professionalism from the lawyers and expert witnesses. It appears the judge was very much of the view that his time was being wasted by them. Seeing as the same company through its subsidiaries also owns a lot of land in the Wynyard Quarter it could be interesting to see if they take the same approach to designation for an additional harbour crossing.

In related news, yesterday Auckland Transport also released some new images of what the Aotea station will look like giving us our best view of it yet.

The first image is of the Northern end at Victoria St. A couple of things I notice is there’s a ramp from partway down Victoria St directly into the station which is good as means that walking up from Queen St you don’t have to get all the way up to Albert St then back down into the station. Combined with the escalators on the western (uphill) side I could see that becoming quite a popular shortcut to avoid waiting at the Albert St lights. There is also planned to be an entrance directly into the mall and tower development going up on the empty site.

Aotea Station Design North

Moving to the southern end and you may recall this image of the station building which will go on the south-eastern corner of the Albert/Wellesley St intersection. It’s also designed to have a building go above it.

Aotea Station Wellesley St entrance concept drawing

Here’s what it would looks like underground. I’m

Aotea Station Design South

And another view of it, this time from Wellesley St looking at the entrance.

Aotea Station Design Wellesley St

The view from the platform.

Aotea Station Design Platform

Lastly a view of all these pieces together. I like that there’s multiple escalators down to the platform level, something I’m sure will be needed to handle the massive numbers of passengers who will use it daily – remember this will become the busiest station on the network, busier than Britomart is today.

Aotea Station Design Exploded View

You may notice those small objects at the top of the image above, here’s a closer look at them.  They’re skylights built in to Albert St to let natural light in to the station.  This also means there will be some form of median along this section of the road. Given this section is already fairly constrained due to the lowered service lane that isn’t being removed I wonder what this means there won’t be space for dedicated bus lanes along here?

Aotea Station Design Skylights 2

I guess my biggest concern with the station is whether there is enough exits. There are only three for what will be the busiest on the network. Those wanting to go north of Victoria St will have to exit the station then cross the road instead of the possibility of carrying on under the intersection before emerging to the surface. On the southern side there’s only one exit. At the very least it seems like it would have been appropriate to develop an exit into the North Western corner which is owned by the council and has a largish area in front of the building. Given Wellesley St will also be a major bus corridor an exit out to the eastern side of Wellesley might have been useful too as on rainy days could see pour out of the station and straight on a bus for a quick dry trip to Uni. It wouldn’t surprise me if within 5-10 years of opening AT have to go back and add more entrances/exits out to the streets.

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  1. Love the CRL, but a direct entrance into the mall/tower development seems like public money subsidising private enterprise to me.

    1. Every road and public transport link in the city is public money subsidising private enterprise. Do it en masse and it is public money subsidising the public, or in other words the economy supporting the economy.

      Ok so maybe they chip in for the construction, but you have to ask what the alternative is. Not building a link from the station to a place where thousands of people are headed just because one side of the equation is privately owned? How is that different from me using the public station and using the public footpath to walk half a block to a privately owned shop? Any entrance is a ‘subsidy’ to the adjacent development, that’s exactly the point!

      1. The more connected a station is, the more it may be used as a source of travel. PT works best when connected well, not when segregated and ghettoized….

      2. As an instance, when we did Canary Wharf Station in London, there were no commercial links in at first (because the surrounding buildings were not yet built / complete). At that stage, usage was low (also tied into no buildings on site etc…). 10-20 years down the track, and there is a workforce of about 300,000 there now, and the station is reputedly taking 200,000 of them, daily. Openings into shopping malls on either side, at both ends, all underground, and direct links into the neighbouring towers as well. Works a treat.

    2. Around the world, many of the best stations have direct access into commercial property.

      The important thing is that this does not come at the cost of its use by the public.

    3. High capacity underground rail lines around the world have been integrated into private development for over a century. Someone invented a name for it a few years ago, Transit-Oriented Development, as if it were something new. The rail patronage supports development within walking distance of the station, and raises land value. It works exactly like a motorway interchange only the public sector get a better return and greater public benefits from high density development. It’s why public infrastructure is built.

  2. Given there’s going to be a linear park along Victoria st, shouldn’t help ease the congestion of people using the Victoria st entrances

  3. All visuals I’ve seen for Albert St have permanent buslanes. So long as additional exists have been planned for and can be added, these three will do for a start. But like other stations it’s been pared back… I guess this may be strategic; spend as little as possible to get it done, then deal with the scale of demand later. Probably cost more overall but maybe necessary to get it going in the current environment and perhaps speed it up.

    It’s not like it’s a mway like the Waikato expressway; about 30 years before its needed (assuming traffic grows like it did last century). Urban Transit has to have historical demand to get even half funded.

    1. The pared back in order to get built is why I’ve always thought this project was going to be built in stages and never to the true international standard that anyone who has used an international metro system would consider good enough.

      I’m thoughts are that in terms of transformation the K Rd station is probably going to be more important, especially if the entertainment businessesdon’t get pushed out, bringing people at non peak times to the city.

  4. Great news all around, and timing couldn’t be better. The Government is looking into fiscal stimulus should it be needed and are currently thinking tax cuts. Wouldn’t it be better to invest this money instead in something transformational?

  5. I wonder where the MoT CRL assessment report is. I would have thought that it would be out by now. I wonder if the lack of a report is significant.

    1. I think they’re normally released about a month after they’re dated so should be available in September – unless something is happening of course

  6. Very briefly reading the first few pages of the court case in the NZH as noted above, it sounds like Tram Lease wanted AT to buy the building at 32 Normanby Rd, rather than just mitigate works effecting them. Given the era of the building, I wonder if they know something about the integrity of it’s structure and wanted out (and tried their luck at a publicly funded buyout)?

    1. Possibly.

      Tram Lease were the same crowd that wanted to demolish the building next to the Shoe Sheriff in southern Newmarket – the wall of which was holding up the roof on the Shoe Sheriff building.

      In part they did this because they wanted to buy the land his shop stood on, which he and his father before him had owned freehold for decades.
      And they figured that was the easiest way to force him to sell to them.

      Took some protracted legal steps and as I recall several rounds of appeals and endless delays by Tram Lease before it got all the way to the appeal courts.

      In the end they got their arses well and truly kicked by the courts – but going on the recent form, doesn’t seem to matter to them – they carry on as if nothing has changed.

      And so does the Shoe Sheriff carry as if nothing changed – he’s there today still, the only real remnant of the older more down at heel (no pun intended) Newmarket that used to exist.

      So score one for the little guy here.

    2. They just sounded like a couple of whingers to me. Very petty complaints. Just weren’t being offered enough money. Glad they lost.

  7. Bit concerned about the exits lacking given Aotea will be the busiest station AND in the future house the beginning of the North Shore Line as well. Speaking of which are AT future proofing Aotea for the North Shore Line or we going to do our usual Auckland Special and bung that up resulting in some serious coin needed for retro fitting?

    Oh as for Tram Lease having their backsides handed to them in the Environment Court I notice they are due to present to the Unitary Plan Hearings next month on Wynyard Quarter. I hope their lawyer took the advice from the judge last time around.

    1. Lots of verbal assurances from the design team that future connection with a perpendicular additional station under this one at Wellesley is planned. Perhaps that’s one reason for delaying any south west exists?

        1. Clearly and every other station too, the bridges at Parnell ad Mt Albert. Presumably this is all a timing optimisation process as the interchanges at Ōtāhuhu, Manukau City, and Pukekohe, are more urgent.

          Underfunded booming network, however.

  8. If it is going to be busier than britomart, ( from a single Island Platform) then they should probably bite the bullet and install screen doors from Day 1[ the architecture certainly appears to have been built to accomodate it at a later date].
    it will improve the Heating and Cooling, and also significantly help with platform Aesthetics, + it will also allow more people to safely use the whole width of the platform as trains are coming and going…

    1. Yes good point. Nothing stuffs up a train network more than someone selfishly committing suicide by train (or someone being pushed).
      Good point about heat as well. Train brakes generate a lot of heat that can be quite stifling in an underground station.

      Certainly hope it is being future proofed for a North Shore line. The original plans had most of the platform for that line built as part of this so that it wouldn’t have to be done later.

    2. ‘Screen doors help with aesthetics’!?

      Are you mad, I hate those things. I get their utility but to claim they are an aesthetic improvement? Only if you prefer the shopping mall to the street, I guess. I love seeing my train arrive, checking the route on the train itself (and yes we will have different routes on same platforms, especially at this station) rather than just stepping into what has the tone of the average office stationary cupboard.

      1. If they do go in then they should really be a max of 1.2m high. Low enough to see over, high enough to prevent falling.

    3. I’m sure they exist in lots of places, but I’ve never come across screen doors in any railway / underground system i’ve used in the UK, Europe or US. They seem contrived and unnecessary, and would make the platform seem claustrophobic to me.

      1. Depends on the station, the huge stations of Jubilee Line certainly aren’t claustrophobic with platform doors. On those lines they have a massive peak and lots of people on the platform so the doors are helpful. You don’t want people on the tracks on lines with 30tph.

        1. Plus, if designed narrow themselves, they will add some 0.5-0.8m extra platform space that can safely be used (no keeping back from the edge). In a crowded sub-surface station, that can be gold.

      2. Platform edge doors were introduced by the Jubilee Line extension in the UK in 1994 (design phase) and 2000 (opening phase). While it was seen as a bit of OSH overkill at the time, you probably wouldn’t want to be proposing any major PT project without them nowadays. Crossrail will have them in London, the new Path station at NYC (WTC) will have them, – its good that CRL will have them too.

        1. don’t know what wind conditions would be like down in those stations, but the screen doors do certainly make a big difference comfort wise – nothing worse than being blasted with stale, warm air constantly while waiting for the tube. I’ve seen images for proposed upgrades of a few of the underground lines in London which all seem to be accomodating them moving forward.

  9. In a semi unrelated question, does anyone know if the PM/Minister has a meeting with the CAF team at the ceremony for the last EMU arrival and if they did what the topics of conversation were?

  10. So are there plans to build a tower over the station entrance on albert / wellesley as shown? I take it that’s using the current car park behind Bledisloe House?

  11. definately need more enterences on both side of the roads so people dont need to wait traffic light.

    For entrance to private buildings, if private company contributes money, why not.

    The things I am hoping is more shops inside the station.

  12. For such a major station the platforms seem rather narrow. Contrast Paris RER, Hong Kong metro – wide platforms are important to allow quick movement away from the trains, so reducing congestion at the train doors, so reducing station dwell time.

  13. I like the idea of the large open voids at top – they could be glazed, rather than just a thin strip of glazing over, or have i been misled and they are actually hidden by road over? The “skylights” as you say, seem a bit pitiful by comparison, and don’t cover the entrances. What would be really helpful here, is if the escalators had some form of cover over – its unclear to me if they have – like the Entries to the Bilbao metro.
    Good to keep the rain off those escalators too – the Underground used to have a slogan ” The Underground – Warm and Bright” or “No wet, no Cold”. Might be good for AKL to look out for a No Wind, No Rain scenario….

    1. There will be road cover over the top of that. It is just open up to the next level above the station. Above this level is all covered.

  14. Loved the notion of a direct walkway to the old subway entrance beneath ASB on Wellesley/Lorne sts to feed all the students and library-users.

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure about reaching that far, but a Queen st entrance could work well. The platform level could likely be at almost the same plane, so you could potentially have a flat walk right onto your train. The footpath is pretty narrow beside the Civic on Wellesley, but it would be awesome to pop out there, right in the middle of everything.
      Cost savings are fine, but we really need to get the important things right first time. It’ll cost so much more if(?) we fix them later…

  15. I don’t know who’s more of a bozo in the Environment Court decision – Daya-Winterbottom, the lawyer who admitted himself that most of the objections he was raising were crap, or Foster, the “infrastructure” expert who basically acted like a commenter on a STUFF article, throwing his weight around like he knew everything, and was shocked and appalled that neither the judge nor AT bent over for him like (reading between the lines) NZTA would.

  16. Any info on how long the platforms are? I think they will need nine coach trains almost as soon as the paint is dry.

    1. Well no where else can take 9-car sets so it would be fairly odd to have onl, also that does space out the platform congestion a little better too. one station that can. Frequency of up to 24 trains per hour [each way] will handle capacity for quite a while.

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