Innovative legal model used to unlock train travel for Aucklanders

New Zealand Government and Auckland Council’s decision to establish a new legal entity – City Rail Link Ltd – is key to completing Auckland’s top transport priority, and sets a new precedent for local and central government partnerships.

 Leading law firm MinterEllisonRuddWatts advises New Zealand Government on the City Rail Link project including establishing a new model for infrastructure funding and delivery through a special purpose entity.

City Rail Link Ltd is a company jointly owned by central and local government and is responsible for delivering the country’s first underground rail system estimated to cost between $2.8 billion and $3.4 billion.

“With joint funding by the Crown and Auckland Council, this structure creates appropriate transparency to protect the ‘public purse’, while allowing the new entity to get on and deliver the project,” says Sarah Sinclair, the firm’s lead Partner on the matter.

“The combined knowledge of our team has helped the Crown navigate stakeholder complexity and apply lessons from market best practice, both internationally and in New Zealand.”

MinterEllisonRuddWatts lead the drafting and negotiating of the major project agreements for the Crown including:

a bespoke Project Delivery Agreement between sponsors and the project company

  • a bespoke Sponsors Agreement between the Crown and Auckland Council
  • legal review of the major construction contracts prior to sponsor approval
  • legal review of strategies and processes within the project company to address critical risks such as interface risks (in a multi contract delivery of project)
  • assisting with the development of the output based Sponsors’ Requirements
  • advising on relevant legislative requirements including the commercial operation of this part of the rail network once the rail link is complete.

Due to the breadth and scope of the firm’s role, it has drawn on specialist lawyers from across its practice. The team is led by Construction and Infrastructure Partner Sarah Sinclair and leverages the collective experience of Corporate Partner Mark Forman and senior lawyers Vimal Nair, Travis Tomlinson, Thomas Kelly and Jo Carrick-Anderson – all who possess experience gained from the Christchurch rebuild and engagement with Auckland Council.

When complete, the City Rail Link will be a 3.4km double-track underground rail line running from Britomart station through the CBD, connecting with the existing western line at Mt Eden station. It will serve an estimated 700,000 Aucklanders.

For more information contact:

Janine Brennan-Lynch, Marketing Communications Manager
Email:, Tel: +64 (0)9 353 9856