Traffic crisis predicted in rail report

02:19, Dec 13 2012

Central Auckland commuters are in for crisis-level traffic delays without the City Rail Link, according to a report released by Auckland Council.

The City Centre Future Access Study warns of significant delays and congestion in Auckland within 10 years.

The study showed private vehicle speeds in the city centre at peak times will more than halve, reducing to 7 kilometres per hour by 2021 and down to 5km/h - walking pace - by 2041. 

It was completed in consultation with central government officials but despite that Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee released a report minutes after saying the tunnel was not viable.

The council report depicts an access crisis for the city centre if public transport is not reshaped and strengthened.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said two thirds of New Zealand's population growth over the next 30 years will be in Auckland and meeting that growth would require significant investment to complete the public transport networks.

"We must complete the City Rail Link without delay. It is an essential investment for the whole of Auckland because it doubles the capacity of the rail network and improves access to our town centres adjacent to rail," he said.

"The city centre will increasingly be the focus for high productivity jobs and the City Rail Link enables this growth."

The study follows a request 18 months ago from former Transport Minister Steven Joyce for Brown to develop a robust and achievable transport programme.

The minister requested Auckland Council specifically investigate alternatives to the City Rail Link.

However, the study identified the City Rail Link as essential and stated that bus-only investment will provide short-term benefits, although in some cases it would be 'worse than doing nothing' for private vehicle travel times.

Of the 46 potential alternatives, two options, a surface bus priority option or an underground bus tunnel, were taken forward for further investigation.

Neither option performed as well as the City Rail Link across the access indicators.In less than a decade bus volumes would need to increase by 70 per cent on key routes.

The study showed no options for increasing peak train services to Britomart post-electrification.

Auckland Transport chairman Lester Levy said the best solution was one that integrates the use of the entire transport network.

"The study underlines the importance of the City Rail Link to improving the entire transport network," he said.

"It provides a logical and factual basis on which the work already underway can continue."

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