A significant design change to the City Rail Link (CRL), will save over $150 million, improve the reliability and journey time of train services, minimise construction disruption in Symonds Street and reduce property purchase requirements.
Auckland Transport (AT) has decided to redevelop the existing Mt Eden Station and connect it to the City Rail Link rather than build a new underground station at Newton.
AT chairman Lester Levy says that since the City Rail Link’s concept design was developed two years ago, there has been concerted effort to optimise the design and drive value for money.
“The change that has resulted from this focus will reduce cost by removing the very deep Newton station, which will also reduce construction disruption in upper Symonds St by 12 to 18 months.
“The improved design will connect passengers at Mt Eden Station to the CRL which previously bypassed them and improve operation reliability through the provision of a separated east-west junction so train lines won’t need to cross over each other.”
Dr Levy says the changes also will result in an improved customer experience with the CRL platform at Mt Eden now to be built in a trench similar to the New Lynn station, and be open to the sky, rather than deep underground as was the case for the proposed Newton station location. This open air location and the separated train junction will also lower operating costs.
“This is all good news, at a time when patronage is increasing and people are really seeing rail as a travel choice*. We are definitely moving in the right direction to meet government targets for CRL funding,” he says.
In addition, fewer surface properties will be required. Owners affected by the new design have been contacted directly by Auckland Transport about the change.
As well as these significant community, cost and service benefits, the development potential associated with Mt Eden Station will not be limited by volcanic cone view shafts and heritage buildings which constrained the Newton location.
Changes in the rail track alignment will also reduce vibration and noise effects on surrounding properties and improve travel times.
Dr Levy says AT’s on-going design improvement focus included a comprehensive review of all project elements by an international “challenge team” of experts.
He says information on the design changes and upcoming milestones for the CRL will be explained to the community at open days in the project area in late August/early September.
*The year to June 30 saw a 13.9% increase in rail patronage in Auckland, to 11.4 million trips.