Talks begin to secure land on city rail route

By Rowena Orejana

Despite a lack of commitment for funding from central Government, Auckland Transport announced today it has identified a route for the proposed $2.4 billion City Rail Link (CRL) and is beginning talks with directly affected landowners for the possible purchase of their property.

The link will require the future purchase of surface property from 210 owners as well as underground portions of land from 70 interests including 12 unit title developments - at an estimated cost of $231 million.

The rail route will cut through Britomart, under Albert, Vincent and Pitt Sts, then beneath Karangahape Rd and the Central Motorway Junction to Symonds Street, before rising to join the western line near Eden Terrace. There will be three additional city centre stations in the vicinity of the Aotea Centre, Karangahape Road and Newton and an interchange adjacent to New North Road.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says this is the next big step towards the completion of one of the most important public transport projects in the recent history of Auckland.

"The CRL won't just provide a convenient train line below the city centre. It will unleash the potential of the entire suburban rail network, increasing frequency, reliability, and speed of trains across all of Auckland."

Auckland councillor Christine Fletcher says the project has the blessings of all sides of the political fence.

"Everybody agrees this project will take place at some stage. And I have no doubt in my mind that when the Government works through the crisis that has been Canterbury, they will then apply their mind to what is the best way yot see this rolled out," she says.

"We are just starting on that first careful tranche of work that will enable us to proceed to the second stage which is the construction stage. And we don't know whether we want to do it in partnership with a private company or solely as an Auckland Transport project. These are unknowns," she says.

David Warburton, Auckland Transport chief executive, explains what they are doing is to strategically secure the land, a move that both the Government and Auckland Council agree is the prudent thing to do.

"At this stage, the council has made a clear resolution to move in line with the Government's guidelines to protect the route and there is no construction to be done until council then reviews its position in conjuction with where the government is at and what funding options may be available," he says.

"We first want to work with landowners to help ensure they are well informed and to help us understand their issues."

Mr Warburton says property owners adjacent to the rail link will want to know more about future construction impacts such as noise, vibration and access.

"We will explain these over the next few months and address them at a greater level of detail in future design and resource consent processes," he says.

Property purchase is the next step.

"It is normal for the local authority to purchase the land at the front end. There is no recompense from Crown money generally until the construction starts and then it becomes retrospective," Mr Warburton adds.

About half of the purchase cost will be recovered through the resale of properties that are not required after the construction.

"The key thing is it is not a CBD loop per se. It's not just going around the centre city. It is about the city being linked to the rest of Auckland and increasing the functionality for the south and west to get into city in a more user friendly way," he says.

He says the CRL will have efficiencies of 55 to 60 per cent in terms of travel time.

"Improved accessibility is a key to Auckland's economic growth and that of New Zealand. The CRL will future-proof transport demands for an Auckland that will be home to two thirds of New Zealand's growth over the next three decades," he says.


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- The Aucklander

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