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Auckland’s Rail Map in 2030?

Perhaps this post is aimed at laying down a challenge to our future transport planners. It’s clear that rail needs to play a significant part in Auckland’s transportation future, with peak oil either just around the corner or having already happened, ongoing population growth that will lead to further traffic congestiong and (hopefully) growing concern about the effects of an automobile dependent city on climate change. Last year saw an 8% increase in the number of people using public transport – with more than a million additional rail trips being made in 2008 compared with 2007.

Some good steps have been made to bring Auckland’s rail system into the 20th century in the last few years, and in the next few years we should see some further steps that might at least partially bring it into the 21st century – with electrification being a critical step in the future of our rail network. However, it’s crucial that we do not rest on what improvements have been made, but rather strive to do better. Auckland’s rail system remains incredibly poor by international standards, the city in general remains incredibly car dependent while those who do catch trains (or buses for that matter) generally have to put up with poor conditions, frequently cancelled services and (believe it or not) over-crowding due to poor frequencies.

I have put together a map of what the rail network should look like in about 2030. That gives us 20 years to do these projects. Beyond 2030 there are probably further lines that could be built (such as an Albany to Henderson line or an extension of the North Shore Line to Wellsford). However, if we can have this system by 2030 (with enough tracks and trains to operate it effectively, I do think Auckland will be well on the way to having at least a half-decent rail system – if not something truly world class.

For a start, let’s look at a diagram of the current system:


OK, pretty pathetic. Right moving on here’s what I suggest for our system in 2030:


There are still three lines, although effectively there are actually six different lines, I’ve just coupled them all together to make it possible for routes to travel across the city rather than just into Britomart and out of it again. Obviously, a number of projects are necessary to make this a reality – beyond ones already underway such as the Onehunga Branch and the Manukau Link. By my reckoning there are four really big rail projects that would be necessary to undertake in order for this to be a reality.

  1. The CBD loop. Clearly nothing can happen in terms of adding new lines until we fix up the capacity issues faced by Britomart. As I have three lines approaching Britomart from the east it would probably be necessary to duplicate the existing access tunnel as well as building the CBD loop. Midtown and K Road are two new underground stations that would be built.
  2. Airport link. I would do this project second as it’s pretty embarrassing Auckland doesn’t have a rail link to the airport. The air bus is pretty popular, but can get stuck in traffic and in any case is not the same as having a proper rail link. New stations at Mangere and Mangere Bridge would significantly improve the access to the city from these two suburbs.
  3. North Shore Line. This would require a rail tunnel under the harbour, and conversion of the existing busway into a railway line. Initially I would have the rail line terminate at Albany, but there is potential for it to eventually continue to Orewa. This would provide a much better public transport link to those in Silverdale, Orewa and on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.
  4. East Tamaki Line. This would potentially be the most difficult, as it’s a very long line that has never really been planned for. Supposedly Te Irirangi Drive was built so that future light-rail could go down the middle of it, but I think heavy rail is the ultimate answer. Perhaps some serious tunnelling would be required, but I think in the long run this line is worth it. The communities it would serve are among Auckland’s most car dependent and have to put up with probably the worst public transport provision in the city.

Now I just have to find $10 billion to fund this all.

12 comments to Auckland’s Rail Map in 2030?

  • Jourdan Harvey

    Hey great plan,
    What about an upper harbour loop that links the western line to albany, and maybe a hillsborough line that goes from maybe new lynn around hillsboroughand down to onehunga. Then most of auckland would be covered.


  • Jeremy Harris

    We’ve thought about that and it is probably better served by a busway…

  • Nick R

    The Hillsborough line is a possibility, given the rail reserve between Onehunga and Avondale.
    Upper Harbour would be great one day but it’s certainly not a priority for 2030!

  • that map is exactly how i thought about the auckland trains future growth. de ja vu. but i agree about the hillsborough line. mt roskill and three kings could really benifit with a line between onehunga and new lynn perhaps..

  • Yeah? Fantastic.
    My 11 year old son could create this with a piece of paper and a packet of crayons.
    It’s about the money stupid. That small thing plus the fact that the Northern busway cannot be re-configured to use for rail thereby necessitating the use of underground tunneling.(Or resuming vast tracts of residential housing above ground @North Shore prices) So that’s about $10 bill for the Shore alone, then of course there’s the whole through Britomart thing- perhaps $2-3 bill if we’re lucky.It’s never going to fly. Back to the drawing board old son…..

  • Err Mike: There is no reason that the busway cannot be adapted for rail, it is way over the 12m width needed and while it will require some work on gradients and some clever phasing to do this with minimum disruption it is all doable. And this very kind of repurposing has happened already overseas. Existing bus stations become transfer stations, like in Perth, affordable, efficient, fast, and running on electricity. What’s not to like?

    And it will ‘fly’. Lots of doomers said no one would use Britomart, or the Northern Busway, or catch a train to Eden Park… I could go on…

    Oh and there is money, it’s just that it is currently earmarked for failing motorways.

    Perhaps we would be better off talking to your 11 year old? Sounds like the future is in good hands.

  • Geoff Sanders

    Am I correct in assuming that all trains using the Waitakere Line and those from the south travelling via New Market all use a single track tunnel near the Auckland Museum in order to get to the Britomart terminus. If this is the case then the so called Eden Park failure of the trains for the opening of the RWC was an outstanding performance from an antique network starved for so long of sensible transport planning and public money.

  • Daniel Bowen

    Instead of having colours and be as complex as London and Sydney, how about looking at the Melbourne train maps that is devided into two zones. Zone 1 which is the CBD city loop/circle tunnel and city surroundings and Zone 2 which is outside the city.

    In Melbourne, Metcards (transport tickets) and Myki cards (Touch on and touch off) can be used on both busses and trains. IE – you can purchase a Metcard at a train station, take a morning train and take an afternoon bus.

    If only Auckland is like Melbourne but the problem is, where is the money to build it?

  • Robert Wellington

    So, the plan is to extend the network – except you haven’t. Pukekohe is now relegated to a Hamilton connection. I believe that the idea behind the Super City was integration, there is no point in Franklin residents paying Auckland city rates if we have no public transport. In fact, there is a rail line all the way to Waiuku, why not go all the way out there?

  • Very good Only a few tweets
    1.Line from Onehunga to Blockhouse Bay to New Lynn
    2.Line from either Henderson via Westgate, Massey to Albany
    or take Western Line to Helensville then from there to Albany/Orewa via Coatesville

  • Sorry the 3rd Tweet should be
    from Sylvia Park to Pakaranga to Botany ( its takes ages to travel – three stages from SP to Botany, which is ridiculous as its only a motorway bridge away to Pakaranga via the SE Highway, the line could go via the motorway bridge and Panmure could still connect to Pakaranga and Botany via Sylvia Park in about the same time, you also save a bit on climbing down to cross Tamaki River to Pakaranga by using the SE Bridge)

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