Auckland will get a partially tunnelled light rail

The New Zealand government has chosen a partially tunnelled 24 km line between Auckland CBD and Auckland International Airport as the preferred route for the Auckland Light Rail.

The tunnel light rail segment will run underground from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill, while the surface light rail segment will run along Highway SH20 from Mt Roskill to Auckland Airport.

The Auckland Light Rail option, which was recommended to the government by the Auckland Light Rail Establishment Unit, is part of a 30-year plan to create a connected rapid transit network across the city.

The light rail line will include 18 stops from the city center to Māngere and the airport and will be able to carry up to 15,000 passengers per hour during peak hours.

It will also integrate with existing train and bus hubs and City Rail Link stations and connections.

The New Zealand government is also moving forward with plans for a second transport crossing through Waitematā Harbor in Auckland.

The crossing would reduce pressure on the Auckland Harbor Bridge which is almost at capacity and provide more transport links between Auckland city center and the north coast.

Public consultation on options for the additional Waitematā Harbor crossing will begin this year. A preferred option will be selected in 2023.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said: “Auckland’s population is expected to reach two million by the start of the next decade. In order to move two million people in our largest city safely and efficiently, we need well-planned and connected infrastructure.

“We have deliberately chosen this option for the Auckland Light Rail which will integrate with other major infrastructure projects across Auckland, such as the additional Waitematā Harbor Crossing, the Auckland Rapid Transit Plan and Kāinga Ora’s large-scale projects.”

Transport Minister Michael Wood added: “Alongside the City Rail Link, the underground network will bring Auckland’s transport infrastructure into the 21st century, enabling faster journeys and lower emissions. City Rail Link is the heart of Auckland’s transport network, and Light Rail will now form the backbone of what will be a fully integrated rapid transit network.

The NZ$4.4bn (£2.3bn) City Rail Link scheme, a 3.45km two-tunnel underground rail link under central Auckland, is also the biggest project of transport infrastructure undertaken in New Zealand.

In January, City Rail Link’s tunnel boring machine burst into Aotea station in central Auckland, marking a milestone for the project.

Jose P. Rogers