Auckland Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore says the start of work on a third main rail line from Quay Park to Wiri is vital to the future growth of areas south of the city.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Transport Minister Phil Twyford today announced the start of the Auckland NZ Upgrade Programme, which includes the construction of a third main rail line which will run from Quay Park to Wiri and is expected to cost $315 million.
Other projects include electrification of the rail network from Papakura to Pukekohe ($371 million), the construction of new train stations, park and ride and bus connections to meet growth in Drury ($247 million), and other crucial upgrades to the city's 100km network ($183 million).
Cashmore said the third rail line would be essential to allow for increased public transport needed to support the city's growth and ongoing freight services.
"It's a critical piece of infrastructure," he said. "Without the third track it makes it hard for rail freight to work with the public transport network."
With the population in such areas set to skyrocket, the need for commuter rail in and key infrastructure is more important than ever.
The redevelopment of Drury is part of a wider plan which will see the total population of Takanini, Drury, Opāheke, Paerata and Pukekohe areas grow to 120,000 over the next 30 years.
Cashmore said all of the infrastructure projects are important for the projected growth south of the city and will work in conjunction with the other projects planned in the area, such as the widening of SH1 between Papakura and Drury ($423 million) and the Mill Road project ($1.35 billion).
When announcing the start of the NZ Upgrade Programme on Friday, Twyford claimed the projects would support 400 jobs and provide a boost to the economy.
"Not only are we creating jobs, we are also making sure that commuter rail is in place to support urban growth south of Auckland. To reduce congestion and emissions we know trains need to be reliable and easy for people to access, and that's what these upgrades will do," he said.
Last month the Auckland Council's Planning Committee voted on July 2 to accept three private plan change requests from Oyster Capital, Fulton Hogan, and Kiwi Property, which are seeking to increase the amount of residential, commercial and retail development in the Drury area.
Coupled with massive investment by the Auckland Council, the NZTA, KiwiRail and the government, the small semi-rural town looks set to be metamorphosed into part of a satellite city south of Auckland.
The three companies are collectively planning to rezone about 330 hectares of land in the Drury East area from future urban to a mix of residential, business and open space zones.