'Disaster for Auckland': Transport groups' urgent plea to derail airport to CBD train plan

Transport advocates are calling for the Government to urgently reconsider its plans to build a light rail link from Auckland airport to the CBD.

They say the plan is short-sighted and could face large cost blowout, and want rapid rail built through grasslands to be considered.

A train to the plane appears to be a fast, frequent and affordable option tipped to help solve Auckland's heavy congestion - but public transport advocates want to derail the Government's plan, and are calling for an urgent debate.

"We think it's a disaster," says NZ Transport 2050 chair Paul Miller. "It's a disaster for Auckland and a disaster for the airport."

They want the Government to scrap the planned modern trams between the airport and the CBD, proposing to replace it with a 6km heavy rail line to Puhinui to join up with the existing lines into the city centre.

With airport passenger numbers expected to double in the next 10 years, they want a fast, heavy duty train to overpower the proposed light weight and slow airport tram.

A proposed heavy rail plan from transport groups.
A proposed heavy rail plan from transport groups. Photo credit: Newshub.

"There's no large airports of that scale in the world that have light rail as its main connection," Mr Miller says.

Melbourne is now building heavy rail from the CBD to the airport despite boasting one of the largest light rail networks in the world, while Sydney's latest light rail project has been plagued with delays and cost blowouts.

But the New Zealand Government is still confident it's doing the right thing.

"Heavy rail just won't do the job," says Transport Minister Phil Twyford.

"This is not primarily about giving tourists an express train to the airport to catch a plane, it's about connecting the two biggest concentrations - the CBD and airport precinct."

The Minister is ignoring the criticism, and pressing on to make his light rail dream a reality.