Things have been fairly quiet lately, with regards to transport news. Usually at times like this I dig into my imagination about possible future railway lines for Auckland – but I haven’t had much chance recently to develop the ideas that I have. I’m still trying to work out a viable route for some future Henderson to Albany link, although I have to admit that I was pretty amazed at how great the distance is between the two places and how much further north Albany is than Henderson.
But anyway, it seems like the most important news in the last few days is the announcement that the resignalling required for electrification is starting to happen. The $90 million contract for resignalling is a pretty big part of electrification, as the overhead wires would interfere with the current signalling system. In my opinion, it is a great excuse to work on the signalling system and finally drag it (kicking and screaming I bet) into the 21st century. As there is fairly little being done to expand Auckland’s rail system any time in the next few decades, in the future we are going to need to squeeze every last little bit out of the existing system, and having a state-of-the-art signalling system is going to be a key aspect of that.
Interestingly, the article gives us some indication as to how electrification is going to roll out across Auckland. Clearly the whole city can’t be wired up at the same time, and it would be advantageous to try to get rail out to Morningside on the Western Line in time for the Rugby World Cup (although it’s another matter entirely as to whether we’ll have any electric trains by that point). This is what’s stated:
*Train-control signals between Otahuhu-Britomart and Newmarket-Morningside – to be completed by end of 2010.
* Otahuhu-Papakura and Westfield to Britomart via eastern line – by end of 2011 at latest, but possibly in time for Rugby World Cup.
I think the main power supply will be around Otahuhu, and in any case that’s where the trains are to be stored, so the first place to be electrified will have to be from Otahuhu to Britomart. That’s consistent with the proposal to resignal that line first (assumedly the Southern Line). Also, by the end of 2010 we will have the Newmarket-Morningside line resignalled – which means that electric trains would be able to get from Britomart to Kingsland/Morningside once the wires have been put up. So the resignalling will be done well in time for the Rugby World Cup.
Oddly, the next stage proposed is the Eastern Line, rather than the rest of the Western Line. I can’t quite understand why this would happen, as the end result could end up being that half the Western Line is electrified but the other half isn’t – for perhaps a year or two. It would certainly be annoying for Western Line passengers to have to change trains at Morningside between a diesel and an electric.
So, overall this is a positive step that we’re seeing. I’m not going to be fully convinced that National hasn’t canned electification until I see wires going up and see an order for electric trains (and decent ones at that) having taken place. However, it would be VERY strange for $90 million to be sunk into resignalling that is only really necessary because of electrification. Therefore, it is a good sign.