The latest City Rail Link (CRL) delay will exacerbate the frustration of Aucklanders who will now have to wait until 2026 for the grand opening.
Speaking to The Front Page podcast, NZ Herald senior writer Bernard Orsman says the impact of this ongoing construction project extends well beyond Auckland’s inner city.
“I think it’s affected the mood of Auckland,” Orsman says.
“You hear constant stories about people saying they’ll never come back to the city centre because it’s just not an attractive place.”
The worst effects of this have been felt by business owners who have been caught in the middle of all the ongoing construction.
“I once interviewed a woman owner of a tourism shop in Albert St and her hair was falling out under the stress of the business. She showed me photos of her hair and it was just terrible. It’s not just the financial impact on businesses. It’s been the mental impact as well of coming to work with these big fences outside your shop. There’s dust, there’s dirt and there are no customers.”
Inner-city residents and shop owners have faced ongoing delays, which have pushed the opening date from as early as 2024 to late 2026. Until this week, most believed the project would be completed by November 2025.
“What they didn’t tell people at the time was that that was simply the handover date. Once the project’s handed over from the Link Alliance, it’s taken over by Auckland Transport and KiwiRail, who then have to undertake a whole series of tests over several months. So that’s how you get to mid-2026.”
Even this target could end up being ambitious, with Orsman saying there’s a reasonable chance the testing process could take longer than six months.
So why has the project been pushed out so many times? Why were the original estimates so far off? And what effect will these delays have on the willingness of Government to commit to other major projects?
Listen to the full episode of The Front Page podcast for more on this issue.
The Front Page is a daily news podcast from the New Zealand Herald, available to listen to every weekday from 5am.