City Rail Link

CRL and its Benefits

CRL and its Benefits

In a city experiencing enormous growth, this infrastructure investment is of vital importance to Auckland. It supports the ongoing economic development of the city and meets the ever-growing demand for public transport
— Sean Sweeney, CRL Chief Executive (above)

How the City Rail Link (CRL) will be a gamechanger for Auckland

The benefits in facts and figures


CRL benefits for rail users

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New rail transport growth statistics suggest that by 2035, CRL stations will need to cope with 54,000 passengers an hour at peak travel times, rather than the original estimate of 36,000.

The City Rail Link allows the rail network to at least double its capacity

Auckland's rail boardings totalled 20.2 million for the 12 months to May 2018, an increase of 4.4%, or 0.8 million boardings, on the 12 months to May 2017. 

Overall public transport boardings totalled 92.4 million  for the 12 months to May 2018, an increase of 5.5% on the previous 12 months

Between 2003 and 2017 Auckland’s population grew 28 per cent, yet public transport patronage increased by 63 per cent − more than double the population growth.

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 allow trains to run in both directions through Britomart.

It will improve travel options and journey times. From Mt Eden Station it will take only three minutes to get to the uptown Karangahape Station, six minutes to the mid-town Aotea Station and nine minutes to the downtown Britomart Station.

In this way, the CRL will provide a massive step-change in the rail system and close a significant gap in customer service levels, better matching public transport demand and supply.

A joint Auckland Council/ Government agreement announced in July 2018 to increase investment in the CRL means the tendering process can now consider work such as widening tunnel sizes, lengthening platforms at new rail stations to cater for nine carriage trains (rather than six), a second entrance for the Karangahape Road station and other associated station work.

An animated video summarising key points about the CRL project.

Te Reo version

New Zealand Sign Language


This is Auckland's present rail network - and then with CRL

Current Rail Network
Rail Network with CRL

Despite the significant growth in rail patronage and a much improved service delivered by new electric trains, Auckland's current public transport network has substantial shortcomings.

With only the two lines feeding the five platforms at Britomart, a terminal station, the maximum capacity that can be delivered is 20 trains per hour.

With six trains per hour on each of the main lines in the peak (southern, eastern and western) and two trains per hour on the Onehunga line, Britomart at peak periods is already at maximum capacity.

Auckland's travel needs are growing rapidly. They will continue to do so with projected increases in population and employment. By 2041, city centre access will be dominated by public transport. There will be more people coming to the city centre on trains and buses and by walking and cycling.

Transport models estimate that in a two-hour period in 2046, there would be 50,000 rail passengers on the network and with CRL in place, compared to 32,000 without it.

The new CRL mid-town station ("Aotea") will be the busiest on the network.

In summary:

  • Britomart will no longer be a dead end station but a through station

  • This will allow better than a train every 10 minutes at peak (on average) for most Auckland stations

  • It will allow 50,000 people an hour on Auckland trains at peak times

  • There will now be nine-car trains

  • Two new underground stations will be constructed, a mid-town Aotea Station (11m depth) and an uptown Karangahape station with entrances in Mercury Lane and Beresford Square and a redeveloped Mount Eden Station, where the CRL connects with the North Auckland (Western Line)

  • It will give you quicker travel and better access to more parts of the city centre with the new stations

  • It will be faster because trains no longer have to go all the way to Britomart and stop dead there. For example, Kingsland train travellers will have an 84% saving in travel times to the city (6 minutes compared to the present 37); Ellerslie to K Rd will be 18 minutes instead of the present 35 – a 51% times savings). We have more examples of travel time changes here.

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CRL benefits for bus users

Bus capacity is starting to be a concern to the extent light rail is also planned for Auckland's future transport needs. Without the CRL, major bus routes will be at or over capacity in 2021.

The CRL provides more public transport options enabling more people to consider train travel and so helping enable a much more efficient and effective bus network.

CRL benefits for motorists

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. A six-carriage electric train takes about 625 cars off the road.

CRL benefits for Auckland's economy

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

Keeping Auckland moving in the face of this growth is a major challenge.

By  increasing rail capacity into the city centre and providing two new stations in the heart of Auckland's commercial hub, the CRL will also expand the economic potential of the city and the drive needed to increase productivity by enhancing access to businesses and jobs.

This isn’t just a transport project; it is an economic development project that will build an artery to feed thousands of employees into New Zealand’s highest value employment precinct.
— Mayor Phil Goff

A successful Auckland is pivotal to New Zealand's future economic development with GDP per capita 30 to 50 per cent higher than other parts of the country.

Auckland provides one-third of the country's GDP and is home to more than 60 per cent of the top 200 companies. The city accounts for over 34 per cent of New Zealand jobs. 

The city centre is the hub of Auckland's economy with one in six employees working there and up to 16,000 employees per square km. City centre workers earn 27 per cent more than the average for Auckland. There are now more than 110,000 jobs in the city centre,meaning workers from across Auckland need access to transport that brings them into the city.

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

The city centre is rapidly becoming a residential location, with more than 40,000 people calling it home.  An additional 7000 housing units are in the development pipeline.  

By 2041, city centre and city fringe resident numbers will double to 140,000. City centre and city fringe employee number will double to more than 200,000. City centre tertiary student numbers will grow by 30% to 72,000.

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 to central city businesses by skilled workers throughout the region.

As a major construction project, the CRL will increase economic benefits through employment and spending.

The CRL will also help government and council objectives for the economy by making affordable housing in outer areas more viable through effective transport access.

There are 165,000 square metres of commercial real estate planned for delivery over the next five years.

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CRL benefits for urban renewal

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

The CRL project will catalyse economic development at sites adjacent to the stations in the same way that the Britomart Transport Centre has already transformed its neighbouring areas.  

This is a concept design for what high density residential and commercial development may look like around the Mt Eden station.

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The mid-town station near Aotea will generate increased activity in that area, much as Britomart Transport Centre has closer to the waterfront.

Britomart as a transport hub led development in what had been an unattractive and under-utilised part of the city centre.

BRITOMART: The Britomart downtown area in the 1940s dominated by the bus terminal (Photo: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 580-507)

BRITOMART: The Britomart downtown area in the 1940s dominated by the bus terminal (Photo: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 580-507)

TODAY: Britomart is a place of restaurants, high-end retail, a public square, quality office buildings and of course the train station

TODAY: Britomart is a place of restaurants, high-end retail, a public square, quality office buildings and of course the train station

The new uptown Karangahape station and Mount Eden station redevelopment will unlock additional high-density residential capacity and generate urban renewal within the inner-city fringe catchment. This will provide housing stock to help reduce Auckland's housing shortage over time.

Significant development is expected in all the station precincts in addition to the enhanced transport provision. Investment in well-designed quality rail infrastructure has been shown to accelerate private investment and broader regeneration projects.

There are more than 70 commercial and residential building projects underway or proposed within a short distance of the CRL route.