27 Jun 2016

Auckland heavy rail link to airport ruled out

6:20 pm on 27 June 2016

Auckland's transport agency has ruled out a commuter rail link to the city's airport, saying a light-rail or tram system is a likelier choice.

The agency's board has today decided to focus on weighing up trams, or possibly a high-tech bus link that might not be built for more than a decade.

One of Auckland's 57 new electric trains at Henderson Station

An electric train at Henderson Station Photo: Supplied/Auckland Transport

Its chair Lester Levy said while commuter rail could carry more people, it would have cost twice as much as light rail.

"We have to look at value for money and we have to be realistic about that and when we look at heavy rail versus the other options, discounting heavy rail becomes a virtual no-brainer. We have to use the funds in the best possible way."

A dedicated public transport link is at least a decade away, leaving time to also weigh up high-tech bus options, he said.

More detail on the project may come from talks in progress between the council and the government on Auckland's transport priorities.

Auckland Transport chair Dr Lester Levy outlining today's airport link decision.

Auckland Transport chair Dr Lester Levy outlining today's airport link decision. Photo: RNZ/ Todd Niall

Councillor Mike Lee said earlier today it would be a mistake to write off a commuter rail link to Auckland airport.

Mr Lee, who is also on the board of Auckland Transport, told Morning Report conventional rail lines are already within 10 kilometres of the airport, and any decisions made should keep that option open.

"There is a preference among Auckland Transport staff, since the last two or three years, for light rail - and that may be fine - but why would you totally foreclose, discount any heavy rail option? Light rail does not exist."

Mr Lee said the council and government had not backed such a system, whereas there had been a big investment in commuter rail.