Auckland Light Rail to the Airport

This is a quick introduction to the Auckland Light Rail proposal.

What is the light rail proposal ?

In 2015 Auckland Transport surprised most people by proposing that the next major new public transport link would be a Light Rail route from The Viaduct, up Queen Street and the along Dominion Rd to Denbigh Rd. Then it would roughly follow along State highway 20 to Hillsborough, Onehunga, Mangere, The Airport Precinct and then the Airport.

The new route would replace Dominion Road (and some other) Buses and provide improved links for Mangere and the Airport.

Common Questions

What is Light Rail?

Light rail is a form of rail designed to work on surface routes within cities that are not 100% seperated from other traffic.

  • It is cheaper to construct per km
  • It can take tighter turns and steeper slopes
  • The tracks are “at grade” meaning the are similar height to the road and don’t need as much digging.
  • Stations are smaller and closer together than “heavy rail”
  • Maximum speed and length is lower than for heavy rail.

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What would the service look like?

Along Queen Street and Dominion Road the light rail system will run on two lanes in the centre of the road. These will be raised slightly and not shared with other traffic. Below Mayoral Dr in Queen Street will have no cars while on Dominion Road and Queen street south of Mayoral Drive there will be a a lane for traffic on each side of the light rail lanes. Street parking will be removed in most places.

Train stops will be further apart than the current bus stops. The trains also will not go all the way to K-road but will go under a tunnel/cutting just under it.

After it leaves Dominion Road the service stations are further apart and the service will be separated from State Highway 2

Why not run a train from Onehunga or Puhiniu?


How fast will it go and how often?

The trains will probably travel at 30km/h in the central city and then from K-road onwards up to 50km/h. After Dunbigh Ave it should be able to reach 90km/h.

Trains should be every 10 minutes in each direction with 5 minute intervals being likely during peak.

How many passengers will it carry?

The units themselves will be 33m long and hold 210 people (around the length and capacity of 3 buses) with the ability to hook two units together.

Light-Heavy rail to Aiport capacity

Will it get stuck in traffic?

No. The rails will not run down the streets themselves but will be raised slightly above and separate.

The number of places that traffic can cross the lines will also be restricted. The trains will also automatically activate traffic lights as they approach so should rarely have to stop

What will happen to Dominion Road buses?

They will not run alongside the Trains. Buses from Blockhouse Bay, Lynfield etc will start/stop neat the Denbigh Ave station where their passengers will transfer to/from the trains

What will happen to Dominion Rd traffic?

There will a a lane for cars on each side of the railway.

Roadside Parking will be eliminated except where the road is especially wide.

When will it be built?

Other Questions

How will it interconnect with other rail lines?

The Light Rail trains will not run on the same rails as the existing trains. They will be the wider Standard Gauge rather than New Zealand’s narrow Cape Gauge.

The use of standard guage means there is a much greater choice in models of trains that can be bought. The is no real circumstance when the Light Rail trains would need to use the standard rail so giving up this ability is worth it.

The electrical standard used by the Light Rail may also be different from the other trains.

Can it be used by travelers with luggage or disabled passengers?

The light rail system will be “low floor” in part of all units so wheelchairs or mobility limited passengers (including those with luggage) can easily get on or off.

What other light rail lines are proposed?

A second route along Great North Road, The North Western Motorway to Westgate and Kumeu is also proposed.

Further in the future the Airport/viaduct line could be externeded across the harbour via a tunnel and replace the north Shore Busway and also potentially go to Takepuna.

What will happen to Dominion Road cyclists?


What about putting the rail underground or on overhead pillars?

These options are very expensive. In the case of a tunnel it will require cut-and-cover (like the lower Albert street CRL tunnel) and disrupt the road for some time. The overhead option will still have pillers at ground level so it is unlikely that much space will be saved.

All stations will require lifts and stairs for people to use which will be expensive to add.

Is there still an option to build a heavy rail link?

Prossibly not? The route at the airport that is needed for heavy roail may already be built over. ????