Over the last week or so some of my fellow bloggers have put up their suggestions for how to develop the rail network in the future, I have taken some of their ideas and thrown in a few of my own. One thing that is common across these suggestions is that largely we aren’t trying to add a whole heap of lines to places that haven’t been discussed before but are just trying to optimise the network once the projects are built, the projects largely consist of the CRL, rail to the Airport and rail to the Shore.
You will see that there are a lot of similarities between all of the designs presented with the main one being the ‘cross’ at Aotea station which links the North/South services and the East/West services. I think that there are a few advantages to this, the key ones being that from one central station you can get almost everywhere on the rail network with a ‘one seat journey’. Of course it would mean that the station would be extremely busy but part of the reason for discussing it now is so that we can hopefully influence the design to avoid issues. The station would have some great potential access options and I suspect that many of the neighbouring business would be keen to have direct access to the station, something which could help to spread out the people using the station rather than funnelling them through a couple of entrances. These neighbouring businesses would also likely see huge financial benefit to having a direct connection to the busiest station in the city so would quite likely be prepared to pay for access, this could help to pay for the station and/or its operating costs.
So here is my plan including operating patterns that would run.
Here are the key differences.
- Unlike Patrick I don’t envisage a University station, I think that it is simply too close to the Aotea Station to work well operationally.
- There is no rail connection from Manukau to the Airport. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- There is also no catchment between these two locations that would warrant having a station so any trains between these two locations would travelling an extra 9km each way for not a lot of gain.
- Without embarking on building a rail line through to Botany it doesn’t seem to make much sense to have the planned busway terminate at Manukau, extending the busway services to the Airport provides a direct connection for those that live in the east. The line at station at the airport could be designed in a way to allow extension later on.
- There is no direct connection between the West and Newmarket. The reason for this is there are not any simple operating patterns that easily allow for this connection to work without impacting frequencies on the lines. To counter this slightly a station at Dominion Rd (to replace Mt Eden) with an extra platform or two would allow for a shuttle to run between the two stations providing a connection to Grafton and a faster journey to Newmarket vs going through Aotea. At Newmarket it would use the current platform 1 so wouldn’t impact on the services using the other two lines. It would also help to take some of the pressure off Aotea.
There are a few other issues worth pointing out:
- Ideally the yellow line would continue on to Onehunga, getting there from Mt Roskill is difficult due to the terrain and the currently designated route which was designed with freight trains winds its way through the area but bypasses the town centre. I imagine it will be extremely expensive to build that section due to this so I feel the focus should be on other areas first.
- At the moment there is still plenty of capacity left in the busway however that won’t always be the case. The blue line north of Akoranga would be the last piece of this design to be built and the rest is likely to take up a few decades worth of work anyway.
- My preference isn’t for a spur at Takapuna however the town centre is a bit like St Lukes or Manukau in that it is not easy to reach directly with the existing infrastructure patterns and doing so would add a few Km’s to every journey of anyone travelling to/from north of there.
- The network is still very CBD centric, a lot of effort will need to be made to make it easy to transfer at key locations to high frequency cross town bus services.
- There are still a lot of services that use the section between Westfield and Wiri. As frequencies increase this would become a key bottleneck which would likely require additional tracks beyond the 3rd main already proposed.
- The Green and Yellow services are quite long at close to 50km, this means that we would need a lot of trains to run the network at high frequencies. The red and blue lines are shorter at around 37km (by comparison it is 31km from Papakura to Britomart).