City Rail Link asks Government, Auckland Council for another $1 billion after budget blowout

The Auckland City Rail Link's (CRL) budget has blown out by another $1 billion and is asking the Government and council to front up with the cash.

CRL revealed on Wednesday the transport project would now cost $5.49b, up from the last $4.42b estimate made in 2019. 

Sean Sweeney, the chief executive of CRL, said the revised cost and request for extra funding "will not delay continuing work on the project, which is progressing well".

"People need to remember that in Auckland, we endured two level four lockdowns, a further 280 days of restricted working conditions (COVID traffic light system) and we lost 3.2 million hours through illness among staff, with 800-plus workers infected," Dr Sweeney said in a statement.

"Together with our contractors Link Alliance, we have got through COVID and surmounted its impacts and are now well advanced in our work to build New Zealand's first underground metro rail network."

Auckland Council said the inflated cost would "require it to make further tough choices" in its 10-year budget.

"The council's governing body will consider its share of the formal funding request and discuss the budget implications of the increased cost and project delay when it meets on March 23, 2023," the council said in a statement.

Originally set to finish in 2024, the multi-billion dollar project was now expected to be completed by November 2025. 

"KiwiRail and Auckland Transport will then carry out the additional work required to open the CRL to its first passengers," the council said.

A spokesperson for Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown said the blowout comes "as no surprise".

"It just illustrates why I am proposing to cut excess spending and get our debt under control. Only then will we have the financial ability to fix the city's infrastructure and make Auckland a resilient and prosperous city."