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The City Rail Link is going to be bigger, and cost more, because the original projections for use now look inadequate.
As planned, the CRL's underground rail lines will have a capacity of 36,000 passengers per hour. That figure was expected to be reached in 2045.
Now, however, City Rail Link Ltd (CRLL), the Government/council joint-venture company managing the project, has provided Auckland Council with new projections. They show the 36,000 capacity will be reached by 2035 – just 10 years after it opens.
The CRL looks set to join other major public transport projects, like the electric trains and Northern Busway, whose popularity has outstripped the planners' expectations. Last year, Auckland Transport's HOP card system was used more than 20 million times – that target wasn't expected until 2021.
The council will discuss the new CRLL projections today, along with a proposal for the station platforms to be made larger, so they can take longer trains, and for a second entry to be built at Karangahape Station.
The extra cost could run to the "low hundreds of millions". The proposed new capacity is 54,000 passengers per hour.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford is expected to take the same proposal to cabinet next week.
Speaking to the Herald yesterday, Mayor Phil Goff said the choice was to press on as planned, and retrofit the system later, or do the extra work now and save money in the longer term.
"I think it's a no brainer to expand rather than retrofit," he said. "We have to learn the lesson of the harbour bridge, which was full soon after opening and needed to be upgraded with extra lanes very quickly. We've got to future proof, and it's a hell of a lot cheaper and less disruptive to do it now than to wait."
The problem is that while the CRL will allow for more trains, on all lines, the existing plan is for those trains to remain as three-car and six-car units.
This article first appeared on www.nzherald.co.nz
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