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Auckland Transport

Benefits of the City Rail LinkBenefits

The City Rail Link (CRL) will provide significant transport and economic benefits for the whole Auckland region.


Benefits to Auckland's transport system

The CRL has transport benefits for large parts of Auckland, including road users, as making public transport a better travel choice will ease pressure on roads for those who need to use them.

During the past decade, rail patronage has increased from 2.2 million trips a year to 15 million. But further growth of the rail system, including increases to train frequency, is constrained by its dead end at Britomart, which limits the entire network’s capacity.

The CRL will join up the rail network, allowing trains to run both ways through Britomart. This will double the number of trains that can run with trains a lot more often at all Auckland stations.

If the Britomart dead end isn’t removed, the rail network stays limited to 15,000 an hour. By removing the dead end the CRL will allow 30,000 people an hour in peak. In comparison, a single motorway lane can carry only 2,400 people an hour.

Background To The City Rail Link

The CRL will:

  • Allow a train at least every 10 minutes at peak (on average) for most Auckland stations.
  • Allow 30,000 people an hour in peak.
  • Allow for potential future expansion of the rail network to the North Shore, via Wynyard Quarter, and the airport.
  • Get more people on trains, which will free up roads for those who need them.
  • Create more road space for buses for those parts of Auckland not served by rail, such as the North Shore.
  • Give quicker travel and better access to more parts of the city centre with two new stations near Aotea Square and Karangahape Road.

Travel time to CRL station

From To Travel by train/bus (minutes) -current Travel by train/bus (minutes) -future Travel by train/bus (minutes) - difference % Improvement in travel time
Papakura Aotea Station 66 54 12 18%
Manurewa Aotea Station 57 47 10 18%
Papatoetoe Karangahape Station 52 32 20 38%
Swanson Karangahape Station 74 40 34 46%
Henderson Aotea Station 59 35 24 41%
New Lynn Britomart Station 35 27 8 23%
Kingsland Karangahape Station 38 6 32 84%
Manukau Karangahape Station 55 43 12 22%
Panmure Karangahape Station 35 21 14 40%
Glen Innes Aotea Station 25 15 10 40%
Onehunga Aotea Station 40 31 9 23%
Ellerslie Karangahape Station 36 17 19 53%
Newmarket Aotea Station 20 11 9 45%
Karangahape Station Britomart 18 6 12 67%

An independent study of the demand for access to the city centre (the City Centre Future Access Study 2012), produced in collaboration with central government shows that the CRL is the best way to meet transport demand to the city centre over the next 30 years, but improvements in surface transport will also be required. 

Benefits of the CRL for all Auckland areas


Without the CRL

  • Bus network over capacity creating major traffic impacts, eg 250+ buses an hour needed on Symonds Street.
  • Traffic speeds drop to 7km/h by 2021, 5km/h by 2041.

CRL Bus Congestion In 2041


Benefits to the Auckland economy

A successful Auckland is pivotal to New Zealand’s future economic development, with GDP per capita 30-50% higher than other parts of the country. Auckland provides about a third of New Zealand’s GDP.

Improved accessibility, particularly to the city centre is the key to Auckland’s economic growth. By 2041, the city centre will account for 30% of the region’s GDP.

Transport is critical to shape urban form and lead economic development. Cities with efficient transport systems are more productive than dispersed places. Significant economic gains can be made from transport investment that improves access for people into areas of high employment density.

Cities form and people choose to work in them because they are more productive due to scale and proximity. The availability of a skilled and educated workforce attracts high value-added businesses.

There are a number of economic benefits from businesses and a skilled workforce being close together in city centres. These agglomeration benefits drive higher productivity and wages, making successful city centres increasingly important to a country’s economy.

  • A successful Auckland is pivotal to New Zealand’s future economic development, with GDP per capita 30-50% higher than other parts of the country. Auckland provides about a third of New Zealand’s GDP.
  • Auckland is New Zealand’s commercial capital; home to more than 60% of the top 200 companies.
  • Auckland accounts for over 34% of NZ jobs, most in the urban areas, while Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga combined, account for 13% of jobs.
  • The city centre is the hub of Auckland’s economy with 1 in 6 employees working here and up to 16,000 employees per square km.
  • City centre workers earn 27% more than the average for Auckland.

Major construction projects, such as the CRL, usually create increased economic benefits by employing people and spending with local businesses.


Keeping up with growth

During the next 30 years about 60% of New Zealand’s population growth is expected to occur in Auckland.

By 2041:

  • An extra 700,000 people, more than Christchurch’s total population.
  • 400,000 more dwellings.
  • City centre and city fringe residents numbers double to 140,000.
  • City centre and city fringe employee numbers doubling to more than 200,000.
  • City centre tertiary student numbers grow by 30% to 72,000.

Keeping Auckland moving in the face of this growth is a major challenge with the ability of private transport to provide for it severely limited by the capacity of city centre streets.


Urban renewal and regeneration

"The CRL is the foremost transformational project in the next decade. It creates the most significant place-shaping opportunity.” - Auckland Plan

We will get different land use patterns and economic outcomes if we decide to lead or lag on development. The major improvement to the urban area around Britomart Station, following its opening in 2003, shows how investment in transport can lead re-development nearby.

The establishment of Britomart as a transport hub, led development in a previously unattractive and under-utilised part of the city centre. Accessibility provided by Britomart drew large employers like Ernst and Young, Westpac and others to Britomart. Outdoor seating and recreation space was created, bars and restaurants sprang up and leading retailers and other small businesses moved into the area. The result is a vibrant accessible gathering place for Aucklanders and visitors.

Auckland’s economic structure is like other developed cities, with higher densities of employment in the most productive parts of the city, primarily the city centre, helping raise productivity. But if areas are developed first without transport infrastructure, then transport has to solve an access problem, rather than helping shape the city. Fitting transport in with already existing residential or business patterns can lead to transport that is neither efficient nor well linked to other services. Dispersed business activity with less accessibility is less productive.