The Government has confirmed its investment in construction of the Auckland Light Rail from the City Centre to Māngere, and construction could start by 2024/2025.
The $14.6B project is a partnership amongst Waka Kotahi, Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and Kāinga Ora. There will be a tunnel from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill, and then the route will run overground through Onehunga and Māngere and on to the airport.
The light rail group estimates that construction could start in two to three years following the completion of a detailed business case and consenting phase.
The Government endorsement was further bolstered by a call to accelerate planning work on a second harbour-crossing. Together, these will be two of the largest infrastructure projects in the history of New Zealand, with the potential to provide a pipeline of work for the next 10 – 20 years.
The line will feature up to 18 stations with services every five minutes and could create tens of thousands of new jobs. The project has a significant urban development focus to maximise the opportunities better transport provides. The group has signalled a transit-oriented development approach that can result in 66,000 new homes along the corridor by 2051.
The initial procurement process for light rail and the harbour crossing is underway in a coordinated approach. Both projects are enlisting separate engineering, planning and urban development teams for planning, design and business case work. These are expected to be in place later this year.
The Infrastructure Commission – Te Waihanga Infrastructure Strategy 2022 – 2050 highlights how the industry overall needs more certainty of work and a pipeline of priority projects. The coordinated procurement for these projects allows the industry to prepare and plan accordingly for this pipeline of work. Importantly, the joined-up process also signals the Government’s recognition of the need for close collaboration on two projects that intersect in the heart of Auckland.
The light rail team will undertake a new round of community engagement later this year to discuss issues like station locations and overall alignment. Engagement on the indicative business case for the Harbour Connections project is also expected this year.
The Auckland Light Rail Board is also in the process of a reshape. Former Wellington Mayor Dame Fran Wilde has been named Chair, with former chair Leigh Auton staying on as a member. Lucy Tukea has also been appointed. Further announcements are expected in the next few months.