Video transcript: Governance of the City Rail Link project

Transcript for a video about our report Governance of the City Rail Link project.

Leanne Arker (Principal Performance Auditor)

In the past, we’ve identified that problems with projects have often stemmed from poor governance, so we looked at the City Rail Link project to make sure that its governance is effective. This includes looking at how the delivery partners' boards – these are the boards of City Rail Link Limited, Auckland Transport, and Kiwi Rail – are governing the dependencies between their works.

We found that the governance arrangements for the project have changed over time as the need for different kinds of decision-making became apparent. Despite the governance arrangements' complexity, we think they’re working well. The City Rail Link Limited Board is governing well under quite difficult circumstances. It’s a capable board and focused on delivering the project that the sponsors want.

However, there is a claim coming from the Link Alliance for increased costs related to Covid-19. That is creating some uncertainty about when the project will be completed, and how much it will cost at the end.

Towards the end of 2022, City Rail Link Limited intends to make an announcement about when the City Rail Link will open and what the likely cost might be.

The biggest challenges to the City Rail Link project are likely yet to come. This is when the project enters the very complex and challenging testing and commissioning phase. This is when all of the new assets need to work with all the existing assets and all the software and rail systems that are needed to run a modern metropolitan railway have to work together. So, the project is not without risk.  

We have made four recommendations to strengthen the governance of the project and the dependencies with the works that Auckland Transport and Kiwi Rail have to do.

In particular, we have made a recommendation that the boards’ work together to govern the dependencies between the project and the wider network improvements that Auckland Transport and Kiwi Rail are responsible for.

We also want to see in place a comprehensive benefits realisation plan that will help all of the agencies involved to ensure that benefits expected from the City Rail Link can be achieved by 2036.

The agencies have agreed to these recommendations. In May this year, they completed part one of a benefits realisation plan. They will complete the plan in early 2023. The agencies are working out how they will get the boards together to effectively govern the dependencies between their various works.

We’ve also made two recommendations about documentation, and the agencies agree that this is important and that improvements that have been already made will be sustained, and they will put in place other improvements.

When our recommendations are implemented, we believe that the governance arrangements will help the agencies face whatever challenges are ahead as the project advances.

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