23 May 2023

CRL completion due November 2025, but when will it actually open?

From Checkpoint, 5:40 pm on 23 May 2023

It could be another three years before trains are rolling through Auckland's City Rail Link.

Construction on the City Rail Link is expected to finish by November 2025, but it will then have to undergo major testing before it can open to the public.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said the testing time was crucial, since the CRL was the first railway of its kind in New Zealand.

"And that's why there's a bit of a gap between finishing the physical works and the services running - which we estimate for 2026."

Wood said the construction hoardings around the Victoria Street businesses would be taken down as soon as they could be, but he could not say when.

"It won't be that we get to a single date, in say 2024 or 2025, and we go from all of them being up to all of them being down, there will be a progressive removal of the hoardings when we're able to."

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown was not surprised to hear the trains would not be running until at least 2026.

"I knew it was always going to be later than what the completion date was, but I didn't know the actual date until today. It does seem as though it's taking longer all the time.   

Meanwhile, several businesses have shut up shop because the noisy road works, tall mesh fences and road cones at their doors had become too much.

Jugdish Naran is the manager at Roma Blooms florist in the CBD and said he was not surprised to hear the CRL likely would not be opening until 2026.

"We were told originally 2021, now it's you know 2024, 2025, we're just not surprised anymore, I think we're over it."

The noise from the construction was a huge problem for business, he said.

"They try their best to mitigate, but how can you mitigate that? You can't stop it."

The construction has made the area a dead zone for foot traffic, he said.  

"Are you gonna go to that restaurant? With all this noise and digging going up, are you really going to come and get flowers from me?"

Some businesses have closed due to the disruption.

Some businesses have closed due to the disruption. Photo: RNZ / Luka Forman

Bruce Glover has owned the Mexican Cafe on Victoria Street for 40 years.

His restaurant has a deck with a view over the construction below and he said it had been a nuisance for his staff and customers.

"They ask to come inside because the noise, the dust, the fumes from the machinery and so on and so forth. It just makes it very difficult to run a restaurant basically.

Glover had seen several restaurants around him close due to the disruption.

"The Italian restaurant just around the corner, also he had to close down, he was just not getting the customers. In fact it was just about impossible to get into his front door so people didn't come in... on his last night, the poor guy, he was crying."  

Though once the project was finished it would be a big boost for city, he said.  

"I think it's a great project, fabulous, it's very good for the city, very good for the whole flow of people through the city."

The construction has made the area a dead zone for foot traffic, Roma Blooms manager Jugdish Naran said.

Mexican cafe owner Bruce Glover said the disruption was difficult but the project will be a big boost for Auckland once it was finished. Photo: RNZ / Luka Forman