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300 Queen St: The Perfect Future Transit Station

This post is about the other critical break at the heart of Auckland’s RTN network: the Waitemata Harbour. The one that needs to be addressed after the City Rail Link mends the first one. Some may think that I’m getting ahead of myself here but I think it is important to look ahead so that near term projects are future-proofed and so that our thinking is kept open to all sorts of possibilities.

The power of the CRL is also in some ways its limitation, well certainly in the minds of its detractors, because much of what it achieves occurs on the already existing rail network. It is after all primarily just what it is called: A Link; outside of the Centre City it doesn’t expand the reach of the network directly but rather joins the currently separated ends of two long systems together to allow the true capacity and frequency of the whole network to be realised. This is what is so powerful about the project but is also so easily overlooked.

Don’t get me wrong, the CRL is clearly the urgent transformative move for Auckland; the ‘killer app’ if you like, because it will provide the necessary core to the Rapid Transit Network that will, with the new bus network it supports, transform Auckland into being a viable Transit City as well as a driving one. A transformation, already underway, that will enable more people in more of Auckland to function effectively without having to always drive. At once improving their efficiency and that of the whole city. It is a step change; the key to Auckland’s new urban future, enabling high quality growth and is the best way take pressure off the existing sunk investment in the road network so it keeps working well as the city grows.

But also let’s not forget that by solving the constraints of the current rail network it also invites its expansion to whole new areas, and that there is still another ‘Link’ that the system needs.

Clearly the relatively simple and obvious extension of the Onehunga line through Mangere to the Airport should follow swiftly after the CRL. But it is the next opportunity that I want to discuss here and one that the representatives for the North Shore really ought to have their sights set on too: A North Shore Line; converting some or all of the Northern Busway to rail and crossing the harbour with rail tunnels to connect this part of the RTN via a new station at Wynyard Quarter to the existing network.

We have shown that the growth in demand across the harbour is not in traffic but in Transit. But also any addition to traffic volumes entering the city would contradict everything the Council is working towards to improve the quality of life and place in the city as well as its economic intensity. So the next expansion in capacity across the Harbour needs to connect the break in the RTN between the southern end of Northern Busway and the Isthmus-only rail network. And this would be as shape changing as the CRL itself as it would bring much closer together currently separated parts of Auckland. It is also the other major move to make Auckland into a true Multi-Modal City.

Discussions of cost, funding, and even the route on the Shore are outside of the scope of this post, have been addressed elsewhere on this site and will be again in the future. This is an exploration of future possibilities. I am also assuming that electric rail is clearly the technology to take in tunnels under the Harbour not the more expensive, more dangerous, and lower capacity of buses. Argue if you must but it looks like a slam dunk to me, and I’m sure that will be even more certain post-CRL.

I have in the past written about the possibility of the elegant and efficient Cross patterned two line network [below]:  The Southern Line heading to town would after the new Parnell Station cross Grafton Gully above the traffic on a viaduct then enter a tunnel into Constitution Hill and head under Albert Park to connect with the CRL at Aotea Station before heading to a new station at Wynyard Quarter and across the harbour to the Shore. Albany to the Airport, with Wynyard Quarter, the heart of the city, and Newmarket in between.

‘The Cross’ possible North-South and West-East network model

Here’s a full city wide Rapid Transit Network adding future Busways to a pretty complete rail system, by Matt:

Matt’s Future RTN Network

There are a number of options for staging this line, especially at the Shore end, and even at the city side where the connection to the line at Parnell could be put off and the line run as a self contained Shore/City route at very high frequencies. And there is even a fairly lively debate among the editorial team here at the blog about the competing merits of a cheaper Light Metro system or continuing with the same kit we are about to get in order to integrate the Shore Line with the existing network. What I’m about to look at doesn’t depend on either system although the connection to the line at Parnell would require compatibility one way or the other. That’s a debate for another time. But here is another version based on Matt’s plan above:

Version of Matt's future map

Version of Matt’s future map

What I want to look at here is the future City connection for a Shore Line because the opportunities and the constraints are considerable. In this post I outlined how the midtown CRL station Aotea will replace Britomart as the most popular on the whole network and how the station design in a constrained footprint will have to be able to handle much much higher numbers of people than we see at our busiest station today.

Here is a detail of the CRL alignment map showing the Aotea Station footprint:

AOTEA STATION

In recent discussions with the Council’s head of Urban Design Ludo Campbell-Reid he mentioned that the new owner of the empty site between Elliot and Albert St is keen to integrate the station exits into the retail floors his proposed tower which will bring people onto the new shared space of Elliot and Darby Streets and level with Queen St at the Station’s northern end. There will of course be exits further west for those heading up hill [maybe even up to the coming Federal St shared space and Sky City] and at the southern end on Wellesley Street where the Council owns property on two sides of that intersection.

Here is a rough schematic of ‘The Cross’ that I did for that earlier post:

CITY CENTRE ‘The Cross’

A closer look at this idea and it is pretty clear that inserting a station somewhere under the University or Albert Park would not only be almost impossible and very expensive but also unnecessary [it is the stations that are really expensive on underground lines rather than the tunnelling]. Not least of which because the distances between the stations are too short but also because the balance of the demand is really further south than the point indicated above. There is no doubt that the Universities are a huge generator of Transit traffic and it is important for the city that we meet that demand as efficiently as possible, but the key word in that sentence is Universities, plural; the growing AUT campus is much closer to Aotea Station than it is to the northern end of the University of Auckland. And if we can inch some Aotea Station exits across Queen St we can not only help serve this market well but also help deal better with the likely pedestrian flows at the peak hours. And not only will it have to cater for transfers between the lines but as it is also clear that Wellesley St will continue to be the main crosstown bus route so this placement is well placed for connections between modes too.

Here’s my suggestion for alignment of the North Shore Line platforms at Aotea:

Wellesley Station

As you can see I have biased the overlap between the two lines by bringing the Shore Line platforms east under Queen St. They are offset enough that you could give it its own identity; say Wellesley St or Queen St Station. Or Horotiu, after the Taniwha and his stream the Waihorotiu that runs under Queen St. Or just call them platforms 3 + 4 at Aotea. No matter, the point is that there are some really good reasons to orient the station like this. Because to add another busy line to this station some serious people management is going to have to take place.

Happily here the Council has also already done a great job with another of its shared spaces:

Lorne St Shared Space

Not only is there already a big pedestrian plaza here that can absorb those Transit riders but it is really close to a lot of attractors. The tower at the end of the street is an AUT building with the rest of the campus up behind, the always busy Library is on the left, and of course the surely-to-be-restored St James on the right. Also there’s the wonderful new Art Gallery, the Civic back across Queen, and of of course the other University also just a little up the hill. Add the Town Hall, Q-Theatre, and the Aotea Centre and at last we really have the cultural amenity for a true and vibrant Civic Centre. Just not yet the transport amenity.

But not only that impressive list of destinations but also there are some underperforming sites ripe for revitalising. Chief among those being the St James. But there’s also the building you can see a corner of in the shot above just behind the guy taking a photo with his phone:

300 Queen St_ northeast

The 1965 head office of the ASB by the wonderfully named Beatson Rix-Trott Carter & Co architects. The Queen St frontage still houses a branch of the ASB and a kebab shop, but the other sides are lifeless and unused except as access to some 58 car parks [10 more than the limit- a variation granted in 1996] that have been rammed into 3 ex-office floors above the shops and accessed through those rollers doors opening onto Lorne St. I can only assume that the basement is currently unused.

Here’s the thing: The back end of this building is the perfect location for the eastern entrance to a busy cross town underground Rail Station. The removal of that parking inside this building would greatly enhance the shared space as they are the only traffic generator on this street outside of deliveries. The building itself could do with an upgrade and I’m sure the owner would make the calculation that having tens of thousands of people everyday right in their building is much more valuable than the return on 58 car parks.

 

300 Queen St_east elevation

It’s actually a pretty nicely detailed building if you look past the abuses, bronze windows and they took the granite all the way round to the back. Well except where those nasty rollers are now. This could scrub up well at street level, and then would certainly be able to accommodate development above too, a cafe on that podium and all sorts of retail opportunities on the currently car violated mezzanine and 1st and 2nd floors and either upgraded offices or apartments above. Just no parking. This is a good solid example of midcentury boxy corporate modernism awaiting rediscovery and a new life.

300 Queen St_Plaza

Its unactivated Lorne St side already faces a lively plaza especially since the upgrade and traffic de-privileging. There is in fact lots of unusually wide pedestrian amenity on both sides of Wellesley St at this point:

Wellesley St heritage loos

So not only is there also space for a station exit on the northern side of Wellesley but arguably it’s already there! I’m reliably informed that the now unused underground women’s loos are pretty flash inside. Surely there’s a way they could be incorporated into another exit?

The building on the left in the shot above, the ex-Contemporary Art Gallery, is about to be developed into highend retail and an article discussing its prospects bragged about a one day pedestrian count around here of 16,526 people [Wednesday Oct 17]. I think we can send that number a great deal higher in ways that can only be good for the commercial and cultural vitality of this end of town. And make the old ASB building more useful as well as more valuable, and wouldn’t it be great to see this whole block including the wonderful St James sparked back into life?

300 Queen St

And interestingly in that Library on the shared space I found this plan for an inner city underground rail system. It’s from the 1965 De Leuw Cather Report, the famous one that proposed both a Rapid Transit system and expanded motorways for Auckland but that has suffered from half of it being ignored ever since. And look where that station is, close:

De Leuw Cather Report 1965, detail.

Interesting that they named that station ‘Civic-Centre’ because despite all the millions spent by various Councils on driving amenity in this area to try to make a Civic Centre around the Town Hall [Mayoral Drive, the twice built underground car park] it has really only had any kind of success since Auckland’s recent Transit and pedestrian revolution started to take off this century. People, on the streets, and in quantity, are key to vibrant and successful urban places.

And here’s the whole region in that same report, look at that North Shore Line, not bad:

De Leuw Cather Report 1965: Rapid Transit plan for Auckland

And since we will soon have finished building all the motorways we’ll ever need it’s clearly time to get on with fixing the missing complementary Rapid Transit network.

 

 

 

141 comments to 300 Queen St: The Perfect Future Transit Station

  • Ben

    Thank you Patrick. You have described the potential and possibilities here better than I could and that is appreciated.

    Now cue the anti everything but asphalt while taking dodgy treasurary reports like gospel division to either make your blood boil or just cry…

  • Mr Anderson

    Genius! An absolute no brainer this is the obvious way to do the North Shore rail half of Aotea Station.

    Wonder what George Wood would think? Not so anti-rail at this idea I wonder….

  • lostinsuburbia

    I always had an understanding that the ASB building had been future proofed for a basement rail station. Does anyone know anymore about that?

    • I heard that too, after all that De Leuw Cather plan was current when the building was being designed. So I went hunting, which led to the rather entertaining scene of me standing at the Council asking for the plans of the basement of a bank branch….. Of course you’ll all be aware that I don’t look at all dodgy…. Anyway it turns out that I should have know that such information is classified. There is very little on the property file except for hideous mid 90s plans for a hotel conversion, complete with Wellesley St footpath reduction! And the application for the insertion of the caparks. Which interestingly relies heavily on the fact that Lorne St is a ‘Type 2 road’ which it isn’t anymore.

      Anyway, there is a basement level below the bank trading floor, and whether it was made especially high or something to suit connection to the Civic Centre station or i don’t know.

      Either way there are no technical barriers to connecting to a building like this from below. Merely political and financial ones. It would certainly be a lot easier than working under much older and timber piled stack of stones like the Old Chief Post Office.

      • My understanding, coming second hand from someone who worked on the project decades ago, is that the future proofing consisted of the basement level having especially tall ceilings and allowances for staircases and a street entrance to be added. Apparently the idea is that the basement of that building would be the concourse level of the station (ticket offices and information boths and the like) giving access to the actual station platforms which would be built much deeper under Queen St itself.

        • We’ve seriously got to get in there Nick: Urban archeology!

          • Bryce P

            Group tour anyone?

          • Nick R

            Sorry, did you just say “sneak into the basement of a bank”?! :)

            In all seriousness it probably looks like any other basement/blank canvas.

          • Rob Mayo

            I can see Pat and Nick starring in the next National Treasure sequel – with the tagline “They said it was just a bank but underneath, its no ordinary bank!”

            Well done anyway Mr P for putting up one mother of a post! They should definitely be employing you to design the Queen Street station!

        • obi

          “actual station platforms which would be built much deeper under Queen St itself”

          So the actual tunnels would be under the street, so there is no absolute need to buy the rights to tunnel under the building itself? However there is an economic incentive for the building owner to lease or sell their basement for the station concourse. That would be a good outcome. Are the Shore Line tunnels likely to be above or below the Link tunnels… how deep are people going to have to go, and how much are we going to have to spend on escalators?

          This is a clever plan, and I’m imagining the ugly roller doors being converted in to a funky new station entrance. The only concern I have is with building a new station under an old-ish building. Presumably the building will be obsolete a long time before the station requires major refurbishment. Will a future generation be faced with the disruption of having a major station closed so that the building above it can be demolished and rebuilt? What is the future for largish mid-20th century buildings? We’ve obviously seen older and smaller buildings bowled and replaced, but I have a hard time imagining some of the really big ones ever being knocked down. Will buildings like this just keep on being refurbished, or at some stage will they be completely knackered (or completely uneconomic) and have to be replaced? Do NZ’s ever changing seismic standards have any bearing on this?

          • My gut feeling is while there is room for a Shore tunnel to go over the CRL, the grades and topography might preclude that.

            In any case the tunnels and platforms would be under the road corridor, but naturally the entrances can’t be in the road corridor unless we repurpose the street as a public space and remove it’s (non-pedestrian) transport functions. Turning a unused basement into a retail concourse for a rapid transit station would be a massive windfall for the building owner. I can’t see them having a problem with magically adding an extra floor of high rent retail to their portfolio.

          • Yes the cross town, or Shore, or ‘blue’ Line will be lower than the CRL. It will need to pass under Queen St anyway, and the CRL is not that deep at this point, straining as it is to gain as much altitude as it can along its whole length. Aotea Station will be the end of the ‘Cut and Cover’ stage of the line.

            My understanding is that 300 Queen is a good solid and conservative piece of work. Certainly there is nothing tricky about its form that suggests trouble. Good old post and beam reinforced in situ concrete (pretty sure it predates pre-stressed technology, any engineers out there that can confirm this?). Does it conform to new standards, dunno, it may have been overbuilt at the time which is standard practice for risk averse institutional clients like banks. Anyone know?

            In the memorable phrase of Nick R describing the likelihood of property owners wanting metro stations in their buildings: ‘They would have to have rocks in their head’ not to want to be part of this plan. However, as I note elsewhere on this comment stream acquiring buildings then vastly improving their value with Transit amenity should not be considered only as a cost but as a huge opportunity for the city to directly capture some of the land value increase that result from these investments. But no; there is no need for AT or AC to own the building to do this; but it may be better.

          • Unless you build the North Shore line as, ahem, light metro. Then it could achieve the grade and vertical curvature required to pass over the CRL but under Queen St.

          • I would suggest that what that building eventually needs is the same sort of treatment as what happened to what is now known as Zurich House on the corner of Customs St and Queen St. Gut the internals and strip off the cladding then redo it, of course leaving the granite base as is.

          • obi

            “Then it could achieve the grade and vertical curvature required to pass over the CRL but under Queen St.”

            The third dimension hurts my head. However, Victoria Park is pretty much at sea level so the Shore Line can’t start climbing towards Aotea until after Victoria Park. Therefore the climb to Aotea will be steeper for the Shore Line than the climb from Britomart to Aotea for the Link, which suggests the Shore Line being below the Link Line.

          • For me it’s the allure of that one seat ride to and from the Shore to the Airport [especially, but not only] and Newmarket, Parnell, Remuera… and its role in being able to sell the idea to the public that is really compelling. That is, I’m certain, the big seller for what will be an expensive project. Though better value than anyway of adding more traffic lanes across the Harbour.

            Of course we may also hit the ‘Mellisa Lee’ [and John Banks] argument that such a system would mean unwanted south Aucklanders being able to get to Takapuna too easily! Oh dear.

          • Indeed Obi, my point being that a passenger metro technology (as opposed to a heavy rail EMU) can climb grades about twice as steep as the CRL will be, so it may be able to go over.

          • Britomart is also below sealevel. But the NS line staying under is surely best even if it can handle the grades; smooth curves whether up and down or left and right are always best with rail for both ride quality and gear life. Not to mention ease of construction.

          • Rob Mayo

            Nick…light metro??…wash your mouth out with creasote and lash yourself with a spoon! Having seen all the integration problems in KL between KTM’s heavy rail and RapidKL’s LRT / Monorail networks, Auckland definitely should stick to heavy rail….gradients be damned!

          • What problems Rob? When I was there last year I caught the Light Metro to KL Sentral and had a simple escalator transfer to the lower platforms for my sleeper up to Penang.

            The monorail thing is a complete balls up, I didn’t appreaciate walking a few blocks to make a connection, but I believe that is more about private developer turf wars than anything else (owner of KL Sentral mall hating the operator of the monorail line).

            Anyway, that’s all completely moot. With proposed new platforms coming in at a right angle at Aotea station it doesn’t matter if we use the old system or a new one, everyone will have to transfer at that point anyway.

          • Rob Mayo

            Nick, KL Sentral is fine…all the links bar the Monorail are in there now (they’re building a new mall adjacent to KL Sentral currently which will hopefully within 3 years, link straight into the monorail station) but integration further up each line is not great. I think it would be a better use of rolling stock for Auckland to stick to heavy rail for all lines old and new and not put in light metro to the shore or anywhere else for that matter. If Auckland is, as you indicated in another post comment, to keep within the anglophone new world in terms of rail network planning, then we will more than likely copy exactly Sydney’s CBD / Shore rail connection setup (yes, I know they put rail over a bridge there whereas AKL will be under the wai). An all-heavy rail Sydney-style underground CRL and North Shore link setup for Auckland is the way to go I believe – simple is best.

            When living in Singapore 2003-2007, I found the driveless LRT was far less used than the main MRT lines and I note that SMRT has shelved expanding light metro any further in SG in favour of more underground heavy rail lines – many of which are driverless. I’m not a fan of driverless trains I must admit. Travelling the North East line every other day, I never liked not seeing a driver at the controls. It was because I’d often experienced faults (sudden stop / starts) and breakdowns in between stations on the LRT. I’ve also been on the KL Kelana Jaya line at times when the train suddenly came to a dead stop for no reason in between stations or suddenly sped up for no reason…perhaps the guys in KLRapid’s control room treat the network like a slot car set…who knows. I prefer the setup in Japan – when trains enter the subway sections of the rail network, control is passed to a centralized computer system principally to ensure the trains stop exactly in line with platform screen doors / chest-height barriers but the driver is able to override the system at any time if necessary.

          • Well I’ll have to disagree, I think Sydney’s network is a dog. Big, lumbering, inefficient, expensive to operate yet always crowded as hell. Crappy service frequencies despite trains seemingly all over the place. Sydney is the last thing I think Auckland should take a lead from (barring perhaps Melbourne).

            And while I’ve only used automated systems a limited number of times (and never stayed in city with one for more than a few days), I’ve never experience a problem on them myself. I have however relied on driver operated suburban systems in Australia for my daily travel, and there indeed I did experience daily, breakdowns, skipped and overrun stations, trains stopped seemingly for no reason and lurching rollercoaster rides through curves and hills.

  • Great post! 300 Queen is a lovely building, and being the (former) HQ of a bank, has lovely materials used, thankfully, on the outside of the building. If the building owner worked hard it would absolutely be *the* building to be seen in…

  • Kent Lundberg

    The base of the building does indeed already look like station. Amazing what you can see when you think about things from a different perspective.

  • This is still my favourite plan for North Shore rapid transit – http://transportblog.co.nz/2012/01/27/light-metro-for-the-north-shore-a-superior-alternative-to-a-harbour-motorway-tunnel/ – any lack of connectivity to the rest of the network is (imo) offset by the fact that you can run trains at massively high frequencies at virtually no cost at all.

    • Bryce P

      With the introduction of the new signalling (based on ETCS I think), running heavy rail such as the EMU’s at high frequencies will not be a problem. In fact, from what I have read, I believe you would even be able to run metro and freight along a new North line if it was deemed necessary. Whether the engineering to build in heavy rail or not is worthwhile is another, on going, discussion of course :-). With Patrick’s post here, and with what I know about the ETCS system now, I think heavy rail is a good option with long term population growth and keeping commonality between rolling stock in mind. I think Nick will disagree but it’s just my opinion.

      • Actually the revelation that the EMUs will have partially automated operation and could concievably be fully automated quite easily does change things for me somewhat. Automated operation is the “killer app” for rapid transit and if we can get that with our new fleet then that’s all good…. but as you note, it doesn’t account for the other two factors that make passenger metro a good idea for the shore, the fact that they have much smaller cross sections (for much smaller tunnels), and the fact they can handle grades and curves of a busway standard.

        • Bryce P

          I don’t know the answer to this question but how much more do you think, as a percentage, would it cost to bore a tunnel to accommodate heavy rail as opposed to our other options like the Skytrain? I would expect the only real increase in tunnelling costs would come if someone, foolishly, decided to allow buses (or cars) into the tunnels as well. Also, as the EMU’s have been specc’ed to haul up Queen St I wouldn’t think any of the expected grades on the shore would be too difficult to overcome.

          • My gut feeling is “a lot”. Yes the EMUs are high spec to handle the CRL grades, but Skytrain can handle grades twice as steep as that. Also Skytrain is only 3.3m from roof to rail and 2.65m wide. Meanwhile the CRL bores need to be almost 6m in diameter to fit the EMUs through. So tunnel diameters almost twice the size (and therefore four times the cross section area and volume). There are plenty of other factors too, for example the minimum width corridor needed for our EMUs at ground level is around 12m, in Vancouver the skytrain runs on a 7m wide corridor (including an emergency egress path between the two tracks!). A six car EMU will weigh 310 tonnes and require 5,440kw peak power output to move it. Meanwhile a six car Skytrain set weighs a mere 66 tonnes and requires only 1,440kw peak power output. So one fifth the weight and one quarter the power consumption to move the same amount of people. There are simply massive capital and operations cost savings to be had with a light metro system on any new lines.

          • Third rail power source right Nick? So not easily compatible with the rest of the current network….

          • Bryce P

            Interesting….Thanks Nick.

          • Bryce P

            Skytrain with catenary on std NZ gauge. I realise the bore would have to be bigger but it wouldn’t preclude freight in the future – perhaps?

          • Not compatible at all with the rest of the current network for a whole variety of technical reasons. Well not compatible in terms of running a new line through to an old one. Perfectly compatible for passenger connection between lines, which is what will always happen for most connections anyway. If we had say six lines on the network, you might through route to one but you’ll still need to connect to the other five. No big deal.

          • I guess the situation in AK now is that we have two lines on one side [South and East] and one on the other [West]. The CRL will enable the Western line to pair up and become a through route and the obvious thing to do is when adding the missing quadrant [North] is also to pair it with one of its opposites and; bingo: We have a balanced and through routed system with no City Terminii. Ergo: The Cross.

            BTW it is very unfortunate that we have such constrained existing corridors so the option of adding LM tracks next to the existing ones looks pretty much out of the question, even though that would mean LM then loosing its cost advantage….

          • Nick, the height above the rails might only be 3.3m but once you get round to it I think you would find the bore of a TBM would be in the vicinity of 5m, perhaps maybe even more. That is also what I found with some quick googling of different projects using Skytrain tech around the world. So if the difference in TBM size probably wouldn’t end up being that much different it is unlikely to cost much more to build. You also compare a ground level corridor for EMUs with an elevated corridor for Skytrain where the emphasis will be on making it as small as possible for cost reasons. I would bet that with an elevated line and the rails attached directly to concrete rather than using sleepers and ballast like at ground level you could probably narrow down things a bit, after all I remember reading that Grafton was widened to 13m to accommodate both tracks and the station platform.

          • Bryce P

            Channel tunnel = 7.6m (dual tunnels)
            Canada Line (skytrain) = 5.3m

            A quote I read had the skytrain tunnel saving 20% on a standard diameter metro tunnel.

          • Bryce it’s only 1.5 km across the Waitemata we’re not heading to Paris! And sadly no EuroStar or TGV trainsets either.

          • Bryce P

            Sorry Patrick I should have been more descriptive. The numbers were comparative diameters to show the difference required from light metro and heavy :-). No Eurostar? What! C’mon, GB and SJ will never notice :-D

          • The CRL will use 7m wide TBMs

          • Patrick, the CRL will (probably) have a link between Newton and Grafton heading back to either Onehunga or the Southern, so you’ll have two lines on one end of the tunnel and two lines on the other. The CRL completes the exsiting rail network in that regard, if you want to through-route a fifth line from the North Shore you’d need to un-through-route something out of the CRL. We don’t really need to add LM to any existing corridors, we already have heavy rail on those corridors. The massive cost advantage of LM come on building new lines.

            Matt, the ground level section of the Skytrain in Vancouver are 7m wide also, as are the box tunnel sections. There are no line side signals, no overhead gantries, the trains don’t even need wing mirrors on them. Substations are built into the passenger stations. The corridor need only be a few mm wider than the trains themselves. Grafton station can pinch down to 13m width briefly, but that isn’t the case for normal track sections that need all the signalling an power supply structures either side of the tracks.
            As for the tunnel sections, 20% smaller diameter sounds about right is right. At the end of the day our EMUs will require 5.2m vertical clearance, compared to a Bombardier skytrain at 3.3m. That has some big implications outside of tunnelling, for example rail underpasses need only be 3.5m deep instead of 5.5m. Let’s take something like underpassing a cross street on Ti Irirrangi Dr. The EMUs would need a ramp structure 165m long each side to get under a road and back up again. LM would need 50m each side.
            It also means you can simply cut a 4m deep slot into a road corridor to build a tunnel, because the trains can follow the grade and curvature of city streets. With EMU’s you need much shallower grades and curves and a bigger slot, that basically necessitates deep bored tube for any significant tunnel section (or serious cut and cover like we will see on Albert St).
            OK so the CRL tunnels will have a 7m diameter, the tender for the Skytrain evergreen line specifies 5.6 external diameter. That’s 25% greater diameter with EMU, which translates into 25% more tunnel surface to line a 55% bigger volume of hole in the ground.

          • Well yes exactly Nick. By redirecting one way into the City on Southern Line [via Parnell] on to the Shore via this new route we clearly take pressure off the two junctions at the CRL portals. There could then be absolutely no conflicts at the Northern [Quay Park] portal if all trains were running on an east/west pattern. Or many fewer if we still wanted to run some services on the terrible dribble around behind the Vector Arena between Britomart and Parnell [not my preference]. I’d run one Southern service via Parnell to the Shore [probably the Airport line] and another [from Puke/Papakura] via Grafton and the CRL to return from either Quay Park [ie after Britomart] or further down the eastern depending on the need.

            Because if we build the CRL properly with over/unders linking both ways [we must] at the southern portal it will be able to handle more traffic than the existing northern at grade portal. Although that junction could be improved it could also just be liberated from complicated movements.

            And remember the distance [time] between the heart of the city and Parnell, Newmarket, Remuera…. and so on to the airport with The Cross would be absolutely amazing. Who would drive? What a brilliant way to arrive in Auckland that would be! And 300 Queen St would make a great a Hotel. in fact i think there may have been a hotel on that site: The Civic, or is that the other corner?

          • Bryce P

            Here is another question to ponder on. Scenario – heavy rail is extended across the harbour and follows the current busway. We know heavy transport journeys over the Harbour Bridge are increasing so if this freight / metro line were built would the freight carried, and reduced trips over the bridge, allow the bridge to be kept as the only vehicle crossing for a lot longer thus saving several billions of dollars? I would presume that any additional construction costs of the rail crossing and line to Albany would be more than offset by not having to build another motor vehicle crossing. There must be a shed load of freight going to Albany. Why not build an inland port there?

          • Max

            Hi Bryce – NZTA have confirmed that if they keep trucks on the centre span, the bridge will last pretty much indefinitely anyway. And heck, even the clip-ons could be replaced with brand spanking new ones for a fraction of the cost of building a new bridge. It’s people capacity that’s the worry – and whether we spend billions on an unsustainable way of getting more.

  • Good stuff Patrick. I wonder if we couldn’t do this before any North Shore line was built? I’m thinking a concourse stretching from an entrance on Lorne St (or at least the east side of Queen St) along to the Aotea platforms, perhaps with travellators? It would still be the ‘university entrance’ to Aotea. A godsend in the rain. Wouldn’t need to be an especially fancy structure underground, really just a 200m long concrete tube with good lighting and surface treatments, you could save the money for the entrance pod at Lorne St.

    • Well I have heard it suggested that due to AMP buying the downtown mall, AT has saved itself tens of millions in property purchase costs. Perhaps some of that could be used to not only do a concourse to Queen St. One thing I am not sure on is if we need to have the platforms extend all the way to Queen St or if we just had the platforms further back between say Federal St and Elliot St with just a concourse linking that building. Hell make it the width of the entire road and have the sides line lined with shops.

      • Underground malls are horrible, we don’t have Canada’s winters in AK, and anyway there are still plenty of poorly used street level buildings like this one crying out to be activated first. Ever been to that vile mall under the big black BNZ in Wellington? There’s a world of difference between that dreary cave and busy subway entrances.

        But I like the idea of working with the building’s owner to future proof and re-activate this opportunity early. Wouldn’t it be great if the Council Property CCO was as visionary as the Hong Kong property arm of the MTA there? Buying and upgrading through linking to Transit developments should be a money earner for the City, not a cost.

        • Rob Mayo

          Patrick, don’t agree with you about underground malls being horrible. You need to see the ones in Japan – they’re very good…way better than what I experienced in Canada. I think its the property arm of MTR Corporation in Hong Kong you’re referring to. The property divisions of the Japan Railways Group, Tokyu Corp, Seibu Corp and Tobu Rail Co Ltd are highly savvy, successful entities. Auckland Council Property Ltd and AT would learn much from those companies.

      • Indeed, the platforms don’t necessarily have to extend to Lorne St to put an entrance there. One interesting factor would be this new bus network that has a lot of services on Wellesley St. I wonder where the bus stops will go (presumably not right up by Albert St), and if it would be worth integrating them with a station entrance.

        The other big win in this sort of thing would be a concourse back the other way, extending westward under the crown of the Hobson St ridge line. That would put a station entrance next to the old Rhubarb Lane site and within spitting distance of Victoria Park. Walking along Wellesley is a climb of 15m up from Albert and then 15m back down to Nelson. A pedestrian subway would cut right through that (although arguably you could just catch one of the many buses using your integrated ticket).

        • Presumably the main Wellesley St entrance to Aotea Station will be in a new building where Glengarry currently occupies a crumbling brick shack on the Aotea Square end of the intersection, and that this will have some bus stop space on its two road frontages.

          Now that AC also owns the old ASB tower [not the old old one referred to above but its replacement] on the opposite corner of Albert and Wellesley from the Glengarry there will probably also be connections there. Of course it has an already deep basement but one full of carparking [and a squash court!] so it’ll be interesting to see what is planned for there.

    • Bryce P

      Another good idea.

  • Bryce P

    This is a fantastic post Patrick. Top stuff.

  • Indeed, a great post. The concourse linking the two lines is key – to allow easy transfers between lines and for multiple entry/exit points to the streets above.
    It seems likely the North Shore line will be lower than the CRL, so the relative depth below ground at the Lorne St end of the platforms will be quite great – would be useful to see a cross section through here. In any event, there should be direct access to the concourse from both sides of Queen St.

  • bbc

    Aren’t the planned reforms to local government also going to restrict what the council can do in terms of property development?

  • Luke C

    I also hope the CBDRL will give the opportunity to start the rebuild of the truely appalling Mayoral Drive. I assume the first part of Mayoral Drive just south of Aotea will be cut and cover, or at least disrupted for the start of tunnelling.
    Mayoral Drives motorway style camber, 6 lanes and large radius turns at intersections are totally unsuited to the urban environment, and because off this separates Aotea from the surrounding areas to the south, east and west. Hence Mayoral Drive is very pedestrian unfriendly and as soon as you turn off Queen St the traffic count collapses. The Aotea station will bring a large amount of pedestrians to this area and could be really revitalised with the help of a better urban landscape.
    As an aside would love to read more about Mayoral Drives construction, must have been truely dreadful cutting a swathe through the urban fabric, right up there with the destruction of the Motorway network through CBD, and the Dominion New North interchange.

  • This pic shows the whole horror of Mayoral Drive, and checkout the at grade parking everywhere… shouldn’t have ripped out those trams without replacing them with something better:

    Civic Centre 1968 source AK Libraries george Grey special collections NZ Map 7334

    • Ugh, Mayoral Drive is an absolute atrocity. What on earth were they thinking? :\

    • erentz

      I would freakin’ love to see Mayoral Drive removed. It doesn’t even serve much practical use. Removal would require demolishing Aotea Centre though, but I personally don’t find a lot of love for Aotea Centre. The result would (probably) be to revert largely to the original street plan above, but connect Cook St to Queen St at an intersection with Wakefield St. Rutland St can provide the connectivity to Wellesley St that Mayoral Dr currently does.

      This could be combined with a new connection from Wakefield St onto the Grafton Gully motorway and transforming Wakefield/Wellesley into a one way couplet for traffic to/from Grafton Gully motorway. Or perhaps both into two way streets just shifting motorway connectivity from Grafton Gully onto Wakefield St if it proves better (something for the planners to work out).

      • bbc

        At the end of the day it would simply be easier to leave Mayoral Drive but narrow it down and sell the land off on the sides. Alternatively how about simply narrowing it with some concrete planters and thereby providing some decent cycle infrastructure in the city for once.

        • Luke C

          Yes Mayoral Drive could become a really lovely pedestrian boulevard with really wide pathways and cyclelanes. Haven’t heard much about in the CBD Masterplan, can anyone recall if much is planned?

          • Thing is now that we’ve got it let’s use it to be able to de-car Queen St and make Wellesley the Transit corridor. And yes improve its nasty swooping features….

          • Luke C

            I was thinking it was sooo wide that could easily get rid of a traffic lane or 2, using it to widen the footpath, still keeping 2 lanes each way for traffic.
            Its difficult to see what its function actually is apart from encouraging people to drive across the CBD rather than going onto motorway at closest exit, not a great idea.

          • Bbc

            It also has parking along much of its length right next door to the civic carpark, and yet there’s no amenity for any other road users.

    • Kent Lundberg

      Imagine how sweet this era would have been. Free parking, massively subsidised roading infrastructure, no congestion, and nearly free land for houses in Pakuranga, Cue the Mamas and the Papas record.

  • BD

    Why does Auckland have to suffer everytime the government wants to spend money on Motorways, like the 8.2million dollar tram from Wynard Quater to Britomart extention, this seems like bugger all money, but its been delayed to 2014/2015 if we are lucky!.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10850665

    Aucklanders are paying for Wellingtons transport problems as the government hasn’t got enough of its own cash to fund its stupid motorway projects. I hope an article about this is published soon.

  • Josh

    Great post Matt. Your analysis is thorough and very extensive.. Look, I think it would be great for Auckland and most comments above surely agree, I’m just not sold on the cost, who is going to fund 50km of rail? Is it nz or just Auckland? And what type of debt levels are you expecting with a project like this? I know interest rates maybe on the move upward soon and no finance deal is even in sight for this, so I’m just not sure aucklanders, when the time comes, will vote to stomach millions charged in interest that is hiked into their rates. Possibly more talk on this subject. Whos going to the the young super hero that will sell the plan over to the people?, Len i don’t think his any chance whatsoever.

    • This was Patricks post however on the cost I would note that the report we saw earlier this year costed the harbour crossing and conversion of the busway at 2.5b. Add in probably $1.5b for the connection between Wynyard and Parnell, $1b for the airport connection and 500m for more trains and your looking at probably 5-6b all up not including the CRL. The current budgeted CAPEX expenditure on transport in Auckland for the next 10 years is $9.9b (of which $5.3b is for roads). If you consider this over a 20 year timeframe then it should easily be possible to re prioritise spending to enable it. It just means cutting back on road spending.

  • Josh

    Sorry Patrick. Great post.. I think your talking about the CRL Matt, I was talking about the entire network throughout Auckland, if it were to be built. And I take it all of nz will be paying from your comments.. Too say cut back on roading for 50 years to get the whole thing built would be a mistake. Can’t imagine what effects on employment it would have.

    • Josh for sixty years we have been only building motorways. Great. After Waterview, in Auckland, we’re done. We can now spenD the next 40 or so building the complimentary transit network. This will, among other things, keep the widespread road network working well by relieving the pressure that it now suffers from being the only complete system, and the new pressures it will get from a growing city. Why this transfer of investment would lead to unemployment i can’t imagine….

      • Josh

        Matt said himself the CRL doesn’t create a lot of jobs. It’s specialist engineering work I would imagine. Would be fine if the tunnels were dug by 1000 men instead it’s a few diggers..
        At least you more realistic about the timeframe, I still think the beauty is in the entire system not the CRL itself. If you found some brilliant way to fund it without too much extra cost I’d say you’d have a winner. Instead the debate focuses on where and when not how.

        • It might not generate a huge number of construction jobs but enables a hell of a lot more jobs to be created in other industries due to more people being able to access the city centre. As for funding, see my comment below.

        • The real questions are ones of value, cost is a part of that, but it is also important to be clear about benefits, which is what this post concentrates on [and which i explained if you were concentrating]. As to jobs, it is very poor economics indeed to choose projects just on the basis of how many people will be leaning on a shovel to make them, if that is what really mattered then we would never bother using machinery to build anything.

          And we could just pay people to dig holes and then fill them in again and ta-da!: riches. Nope. It is a sad indictment of the value the RoNS that they are not a great deal better than just digging and filling.

          No, our argument here on the blog is that the CRL and, i would argue, the line to the Airport and, later, another across the Harbour, are transformational step change projects that will lift Auckland’s performance through their effects, not merely employ a few people to make them.

        • Max

          Sorry Josh, but you obviously have little knowledge of how many people such projects indirectly employ. There’s several thousands of people employed for many years just to make sure those diggers are in the right place doing the right things, without damaging the rest of the city. That’s surveyors, engineers, planners, environmentalists, traffic controllers, etc… all working to keep our city moving, and feeding their families at the same time. To just believe it’s about the 10 guys driving the machines is a 19th century kind of thinking.

    • The CRL will end up costing about $2b, maybe less in todays dollars, (it is down to $2.2 and the recent purchase of the downtown mall by AMP will save close to $100m as Westfield just wanted to offload the site). The rest of the rail lines may be $5-6b all up. It wouldn’t take 50 years of cut backs to roads but just reduced levels of spending for a decade or two while still proceeding with the most important projects. Further spending that $2.5b on rail to the shore would be cheaper than the $5b+ that is needed for a road crossing and would likely delay the need for it by decades.

      As for who pays, why shouldn’t the whole of NZ help to do so. A network like this would enable vastly more people to be moved across the region which in turn would help economic activity. That economic activity would generate taxes that benefit the entire country. Further Auckland continues to receive less in government spending (31% across all areas) than it provides in taxes and national wealth (36% of GDP) and less than its share of population (33%) and the difference is billions per year. Auckland has long helped to subsidise the rest of the nation, why is it such an issue that the rest of the nation help pay for something that will benefit them further?

  • OK so I’ve taken Matt’s Future System map and pimped it a little so show what we could build by say 2030. The yellow line optional, but the route out to Mt Roskill [and even Hillsborough Rd] is already formed and would be very cost effective to build as the motorway bridges and everything are all rail line ready [50-70m]. Taking it down the hill to Onehunga would cost a whole lot more so I’ve left that off as converting the Northern Busway would probably be a more valuable capital spend when the time comes.

    So it really is just the two big moves plus the smaller Airport Line: 1.The CRL [2b], 2.The Airport Line [0.7b] 3.The Takapuna Line [4b]. Plus the busways in black. Over 18 years. And there we have a pretty complete Rapid Transit Network built on the back of the rail lines already there and that we inherited from our forebears and were just clever enough not to abandon. Too ambitious?

    Matt's Future System map pimped for say 2030

    • Josh

      Patrick, it won’t be 4b for a takapuna rail loop and your costing on the CRL is wrong bearing in my it will need funding. If you believe 3.5km of underground rail will cost 3b, and let’s for argument sake it was funded by spending cuts, 10 years later your saying, a 9km look for 4b, and one that needs to go beneath an entire harbour, I can only dream of the NZD future value. Also, check out land prices in takapuna as you’d be lucky to find a route concentrated on council property..
      Auckland needs a new takapuna rail system and upgrades to its southern link before any plans of a 3.5km City loop are financed. That is over a 30 year period.

      • Wrong again my friend, the Takapuna Line’s route isn’t difficult; roads and carparks, I’d go under Como St. NZTA cost the harbour crossing at 2.5, 1 for the city side and .5 to Takapuna. Wynyard to Wellesley Street is all cut and cover, same with the Shore, except some at surface. Expensive but not unusual. NZTA are spending 4b right now on the combined Waterview and NW upgrades. We build this instead of any more motorways in AK: Motorways are done, overbuilt in many places.

        And you’ve made it plain you don’t understand the CRL; well we can lead a horse to water…..

        • Bryce P

          How did NZTA manage to get $2.5b for a harbour crossing when the study (on the AT website) back in 2008 put it at $1.2b for an, electric, rail only crossing (option 1C)?

          • Well I guess because they are road engineers only and probably have no idea. Seems too much to me unless that already includes things like Wynyard Station. But I don’t really know, not my field. Would be good to have some firmer numbers wouldn’t it? That’s one reason to map out possible plans so someone with experience in this area has something to work on…..

          • Bryce P

            Of course AT’s favoured option (2C) includes rail and road which puts the price up to $3.7 billion to $4.1 billion (in 2008 terms). Note the difference in pricing between electric rail only and including roads, a staggering $2.5b – $2.9b road. The rail is dead cheap, a bargain even :-).

      • The CRL will cost $2b, not $3b. Further a huge chunk of the costs is the digging of out the holes for the stations. A tunnel under the harbour wouldn’t need stations dug out so that would make a big difference in costs. You keep raising funding but are yet to acknowledge just how much we already spend on transport, most of which is going to into a handful of the RoNS. The government is spending ~$9.4b on transport over just the next three years alone. Further projects like the CRL are large multi year projects that don’t require all funding to be delivered at the start of the project.

    • Bryce P

      Here’s a curve ball for you. Don’t build the NW busway but use the ‘enhanced’ shoulder lanes until deemed near capacity and then take a line out of the CRL tunnel and send it along the NW. Out to Westgate there would be, say, 5 stations so it would be an express of sorts considering the distance. This could then loop around Upper Harbour and link back to the Shore line. No, I haven’t been drinking.

  • Richard D

    Great post Patrick. For myself, I would have one name for the combined station – it works well enough in London, and would help new users understand that such a station is an interchange point: which might not be so obvious if there were two station names.

    Someone mentioned freight. If this line were to carry freight it would have to be decided at the very outset – set aside the issue of tunnel diameter, the potential presence of freight will determine the maximum gradients, and that issue may well determine alignments. I know that the current CRL plan has the alignment on maximum gradients for the EMUs

    However, the more I look at your network plan, the more I wonder if Parnell station belongs on the north shore line. The need to take this new route on an alignment that gets it to join the existing railway on the Britomart side of Parnell station takes it away from where it could be more useful, and making the connection withthe existing railway looks like it could be interesting from an engineering point of view.
    It would be good to see a cross section with elevations of the route between Aotea and Parnell stations, to see how doable that routing is from the point of view of both grades and curvatures, and what has to be demolished.
    It would interesting to see it compared with an alternative route between Aotea and Newmarket. That latter more direct route might lend itself to a university station where the tunnel emerges from under Albert Park and before it crosses over Route 16 – possibly with another on the other side of the motorway to seve the hospital before re-entering tunnel to go under the Domain on route to join the existing line on the far side..

    • Yeah that is a possibility but involves much more digging, building, and demolishing and a steeper change in gradient. It looks doable, offers the possibility of a hospital station, though very close to Grafton, makes for some odd running patterns and certainly would cost more.

      The old low cliff [it was beach below] that leads from Parnell to the current bridge is at a perfect height to continue the line across Stanley St between buildings and into Constitution Hill. From then on it is all underground. So the demolition required is, in total, one old and unremarkable low rise building on the west side of Stanley currently storing cars [of course]. And would involve little change in height- it’s just going through a hill. This is one advantage with the Parnell option is that the climb to Newmarket is already sorted. All the new work is pretty close in level. Another is that you’re not doing much at all on the surface in our most crowed and historic parts of the city. Stanley is already violated, and much of the land already belongs to NZTA. Great opportunity for a ped/cyle way on top of viaduct too and connect that up the rail ROW [there's a blocked up historic tunnel between Parnell and Newmarket that would be perfect for this] with constitution Hill at a nice easy grade and above the traffic.

      The other great benefit is that no-one ever need dribble around the back of the Vector Arena again. Fast direct to the centre of town, removing the need or habit people have of driving between say Newmarket and the CBD, or Parnell and the CBD or Wynyard would do wonders to free the streets for more essential traffic.

      And the southern portal of the CRL [entrance to Britomart] has all of its conflicting movements removed. Also I have a hunch that that Parnell station will really turn that valley into a way better place including of course opening up real nice routes to the Museum on one side and improving the buildings and the offerings on the other.

      I see what you’re saying, and have looked at it, but am still pretty seduced by the elegance and boldness of this punch through the hill.

      • Richard D

        I can see your line of argument, especially about avoiding the curves at the Vector Arena, but am not completely convinced. The other option would have more cost, but conversely may attract sufficiently more patronage to a university and or hospital station as to justify that additional cost. It would be interesting to see some demand analysis on what benefits a university and or hospital station might bring, and see what additional costs they could support.

        • My plan has a University Station; at Wellesley St. The Universities [plural] cover a huge area and students can be expected to do a little walking. I’m happy that the one outlined in the post above is a really good compromise for the Unis.

          And I use Grafton Station [plus pleasant flat leafy walk] or buses when going to the hospital, as do a number of my doctor friends.

          All Transit use involves some walking; this is, in part, why good Transit cities report much better health outcomes than auto-dependent ones.

          • Richard D

            I have crunched some numbers … I am now more convinced of your solution.
            Suppose my proposal saved 5 minutes of walking for 60,000 students, each way, 5 days a week for 40 weeks a year – +5 x 60k x 2 x 5 x 40 = 120 million minutes pa
            The value of time for a student ? let me guess at 5 cents so $6m benefit pa
            Depending on the cost benefit analysis methodology used that is only going to give me $50m to $100m to spend at a BCR of 1. I’m not going to get much additional tunneling, never mind the station infrastructure.

            Even if I am wildly wrong on value of time – say double it, and on patronage – say add 50% to it, that’s still only $150m to $300m to spend.

            So I defer to your option, unless someone identifies that I have wildly underestimated benefits or overestimated costs.

          • Not sure you’ve captured all the benefits of a short walk. Little adds up to a lot in terms of health outcomes. Given that Transit also offers flirting and chance meeting opportunities [well documented as the great advantage of campus teaching] too; how do you price them? It could be that there is no benefit at all to reducing this time?

  • Richard D

    Nick R
    “A six car EMU will weigh 310 tonnes and require 5,440kw peak power output to move it. Meanwhile a six car Skytrain set weighs a mere 66 tonnes ”

    Are you comparing apples with apples?

    The EMU weight is fully loaded. If we assume the 750 passengers weight 80kg each with their baggage – that’s 60 tonnes of passengers.
    The six car Skytrain can also carry about 750 passengers, so 60 tonnes also – which would seem to imply from your numbers that the Skytrain vehicles are 1 tonne each.

    That doesn’t seem credible.

    • That’s the empty weight of each vehicle Richard. The point I was trying to make is that heavy rail is, well, heavy, and requires powerful motors and big power consumption just to move the vehicles themselves, let alone the passengers. Apples with apples it is, because the passenger capacity of that 310 tonne EMU and the 66 tonne metro train is almost identical (albeit the metro train has a higher standing to seated ratio). So if we have sixty tonnes of meat added on, the full EMU weighs 370t versus the full skytrain weighing 126t.

      • Richard D

        Nick,
        A weight of the order of 50 tonne per vehicle is pretty heavy for an emu – I would have expected something more like 40. The UK class 185 diesel with an engine per vehicle weights in at 56 tonnes, and it was generally thought to be far too heavy.

        Here http://www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/improving-transport/auckland-rail-upgrade/electric-trains/Pages/electric-train-design-and-features.aspx it says that 3 cars fully loaded weigh 155 tonnes – so by implication, unlaiden weight will be about 125 tonnes ( so 250t for 6 vehicles). Still twice the weight of the sky train, but not three times as heavy.

        My guess is that the difference in weight comes down to crashworthiness. If Skytrain operates on a segregated network, it only needs to be robust against hitting another skytrain, whereas the EMUs, operating on a mixed railway, need to be robust against hitting or being hit by a freight train. So the difference is driven by network use rather than specifically the type of train.

        • Hi Richard, yes you are right on the EMUs. I re-checked my sources and 155t is indeed the laden weight of a three-car unit, however the Skytrain figure was for the unladen weight, i,e 22.3t per two car unit. See here for a spec sheet: http://greg-vassilakos.com/traindwg/lg-bombardier-artii-vancouver.gif.

          So a six car consist of our heavy rail (2x 3 car EMU) would weight some 250t unloaded, while a six car Skytrain consist weighs 66.9t. That makes the CAF EMU almost four times heavier than the Skytrain, despite the fact both would carry more or less the same number of passengers when full. In other words a completely empty CAF weights twice as much as a completely full Skytrain of the same capacity!

          Yes you’ve hit the nail on the head re: crashworthiness, that’s the whole point! My major problem with building new passenger lines to the heavy rail standard in Auckland is that they would be built to heavy rail standard: If you want to run trains through to those shared freight lines then you have to use the same heavy vehicles and less efficient lineside signalling standards to maintain interoperability. You end up building a new line to freight train geometric standards and ordering new trains beefy enough for freight train impact, even though freight would never operate on the new passenger-only line.

          By not demanding that new lines run through into old, the new lines can be built to suit the task at hand (i.e. moving people quickly and efficiently) as a purpose designed passenger metro line. That means passenger only network, passenger only vehicles, passenger only control system. Much lighter vehicles, much less constrained alignment much more efficient operation. Arrower corridor with much steeper grades, tighter curves, smaller tunnels and lighter structures would be possible. It would be far cheaper to build and far cheaper to run, and therefore much more likely to happen in the furst place, and much more affordable to provide high frequency service all day and night. So you get way better service levels, way higher frequency for way less cost.

          Sounds like a great outcome if the only trade off in not being able to give Shore folks a one seat ride to the airport!*

          *As an aside, air travellers will make up a tiny proportion of the users of any line to the airport. The biggest users will be people who live nearby commuting out of the area, people commuting to the airport precinct to work, and to a lesser extent people accessing the big retailing areas planned near the airport. As a rule Shore dwellers don’t work in the mangere-airport area, they won’t shop in the area and obviously they won’t live in the area. I can’t see any good reason for running the airport line through to the North Shore (as opposed to the east or west), apart from it looking pretty on a map.

          • I hear you Nick, it’s compelling. But I think you understate the advantages in connecting to the existing network. This is a good debate to have and good to see the math getting more and more solid.

            It is important to consider the value of an integrated network over a cross-harbour shuttle as well as the cost.

          • tuktuk

            Just to clarify. The lineal length of a 6 car CAF EMU = 144m minus 8m (4 cabs) = 136m equivalent space to an automated light metro. The lineal length of an 8 car Bombardier automated light metro is 139m. Thus the comparison should be between a 6 car CAF EMU and an 8 car light metro. The technical spec. for the CAF trains is quite clear at 155 tonnes loaded, therefore around 250 tonnes unladen for a 6 car set. An 8 car light metro is 90 tonnes unladen.

            The layout inside the carriages is irrelevant to the comparison – we could specify higher standing space in the CAF trains, and 3 or even 4 doors each side of a carriage if we wanted to.

            So the ratio between the heavy rail trains and light metro is 2.8 times heavier.

            This is still substantial but does need to be considered against the duplication of infrastructure support that would be the result of bringing in a second type of system. Remember that one of the big wins of going to a single EMU fleet instead of the originally specified mixed fleet was the reduction in overhead costs from supplying a second maintenance facility.

            It should also be remembered that the stainless steel construction of the CAF EMUs might not be as light as aluminium for example but the trade-off is a much longer, lower maintenance all-of-life service cost for the carriage structure.

          • Luke C

            I think the North Shore line could connect to the North Western line eventually. Due to the new spaghetti junction soon to be built at the Waterview/SH16 interchange will be very difficult to get a decent busway alignment through here thus not giving great transit times looking forward 20 years.
            Therefore I think in long term a skytrain type operation could be squished along the motorway corridor to Westgate, giving a sub 20 minute journey! Due to poor alignment a skytrain type operation is the only option here, and I would see it running on a concrete viaduct the whole way like Brisbanes Airtrain. Would interchange with CBDRL at Aotea, but with a parallel station immediately west. Major difficulty here would be getting it to curve sharply to the west to get it back heading towards Victoria park, although only major highrise around here is the Skytower. Would have to be taken into account when North Shore line is built, and would be easiest tunelling all at same time, so therefore Shore line could be taken as far as the first NW station which would be at Newton Road/Ponsonby South. Rest of line could then be built at some time over next 10 years. Of course this is probably a 2030 – 2040 plan.

          • Richard D

            The other issue is carying capacity. The skytrain has much of its capacity as standing passengers. The UK loading standards are that the route capacity should be such that no passenger has to stand for more than 20 minutes. The Skytrain has about 40 seats per car – so 240 in the 6 car set. The equivalent 6-car emu has 460 seats, so almost twice as many. If we were to take a view here similar to the UK’s that passengers should not have to stand more than 20 minutes, then a Skytrain solution might work if most patronage come from inside a 20 minute radius, whereas the EMU solution would work better if most of the patronage came from outside a 20 minute radius.

          • Well if it’s just a cross-harbour shuttle then that won’t be an issue. Connected with the rest of the network and it does become an issue.

          • Luke C

            It will only be a 20 minute journey to Albany, and potentially Westgate anyway. Anyone travelling further will be able to take a seat when many get out in CBD.

          • Richard D

            Picking up your aside Nick,
            “As an aside, air travellers will make up a tiny proportion of the users of any line to the airport. The biggest users will be people who live nearby commuting out of the area, people commuting to the airport precinct to work, and to a lesser extent people accessing the big retailing areas planned near the airport. As a rule Shore dwellers don’t work in the mangere-airport area, they won’t shop in the area and obviously they won’t live in the area. I can’t see any good reason for running the airport line through to the North Shore (as opposed to the east or west), apart from it looking pretty on a map.”

            Wouldn’t the main economic benefit of the airport line for the North Shore be that it brings it closer to other business locations in NZ and Australasia. With a direct airport link, the North Shore becomes an attractive alternative location to the CDB for the Auckland office of a company also doing business in other NZ cities, or indeed with a business that has offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane etc.

            The other reason to send the arport line to the Shore is that it is air passengers from suburbs there that a rail link could have the greatest advantage over car or bus. Compared with passengers from the West, East or South a greater number are likely to use the train to avoid having to drive over the bridge and through the middle, potentially in the peak, issues that passengers fro mWest East and South don’t need to worry about.

          • Tuktuk, I hear what you’re saying about the actual length of the train but I don’t think it’s fair to say that the two technologies could actually be set up equivalently. For example the EMUs cannot have more than two doors per side due to geometry of carriage length and platform heights. The design team actually looked at three doors per side but discovered the resulting gaps would be unacceptable on any platform that wasn’t dead straight, of which there are plenty in Auckland. Another downside of running through to the legacy freight/interurban network, you have to still design around those same problems. While they could remove some seats and increase standing space, there are some issues that can’t be overcome. Like the fact they can’t have full flat floor and need internal steps and handrails within the units, and only have partially level boarding. Our EMUs are part of a heavy rail suburban system and designed according to the legacy constraints, Skytrain is a light passenger metro designed solely to be a metro. Personally I think the purpose built passenger metro is a better fit for the likes of a North Shore line.

            Luke C, it wouldn’t have to be ‘squished’ or necessarily be elevated, the likes of skytrain only need a corridor 7m wide (narrower than a busway) and can run at ground level just as well. As for the sharp curves they are not a problem. The Bombardier skytrain system has independently steerable axles that almost eliminate flange to rail contact, i.e. they can handle very tight curves at speed without bouncing or squeal. In Vancouver they have some mainline curves with a radius less than 50m (compare that to the curve around Vector that is about 90m radius, that’s about as tight as possible for our heavy rail).

            Richard D, I agree what you’re saying about seats… but the trip from Albany to Aotea is only 16km, by LM it would only be about 20 minutes (from Takapuna would be a mere 7 or 8). It should be a metro type operation, we don’t need suburban rail with everyone seated for those sorts of trips. We’re not talking hour long trips from Pukekohe to Britomart here. Ok so the Vancouver trains are set up at a ratio of 2 standing to 1 seated at max, but that is really only a factor at peak times with full loadings to the central city. Off peak the actual ratio would drop to the point where everyone can be seated. The great advantage of automated operation is the much lower marginal cost of operation, which means you can run much higher frequency for the same cost. In Vancouver, a city less dense than Auckland and not much more populous, they run off peak trains every four minutes or so. So it might only be 84 seats per unit, but a unit comes through fifteen times an hour. Is anyone going to miss out on a seat in the off peak? They might in the peak, but that happens anyway. Better to design for large crowds to stand efficiently at peak times than pretend it will never happen. Plus naturally it is those starting their trip at the end of the line that get the seats first inbound, and they can move to seats as they empty out outbound.

            As for linking the Shore to the Airport in general, do you really need a one seat ride for that? Would not having both of them on a connected rapid transit network achieve the same thing, particularly if the north shore metro line runs every three or four minutes all day? I just don’t think the miniscule proportion of air travellers going from the North Shore to the airport by train (and who wouldn’t still do that if they had to connect in the city) would be a significant factor.
            According to this paper: (http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/council/documents/districtplanmanukau/changes/pc14proposedapp23.pdf) 23% of regular Auckland fliers live on the North Shore, compared to 53% on the isthmus. Immediately that suggests to me that the airport line should offer better penetration to the isthmus instead of linking to the shore, if air travellers and businessmen are a concern. If we apply that 23% figure to all Auckland based air travellers we get an average figure of 1,900 trips from the Shore to the airport per day for flying. Even with a 50% mode share for air travellers you’re looking at about one train load a day. In other words about 1% of the daily capacity of such a line would be occupied by North Shore air travellers *if* rail achieved an extremely high modeshare. Linking the North Shore (or Waitakere for that matter) to the airport just shouldn’t be a priority. Linking the isthmus and South Auckland should be.

          • tuktuk

            Haha – Nick R, I hear what you’re saying. I actually do have a lot of time for your light automated metro, and is certainly worthy of an option to be considered for a north shore link. Fundamentally, the difference in weight is less an issue where the gaps between stations are more distant, and the terrain flat – obviously the opposite to that applies to Auckland, especially the North Shore. The roller coaster terrain of the North Shore may be a deal clincher for light metro.

            Main thing I want to see is arguments that are robust. 3 doors per side are an issue for legacy heavy rail stock, but I bet no-one considered articulated trains rather like most recent heavy rail now being built in Europe. Google search Bombardier Spacium Paris train to give but one example….and there are numerous others if you trawl through any of the big manufacturers’ websites. They will likely be substantially lighter due to wide-spread use of materials other than stainless steel. I think when the time comes let the options go head-to-head. In the meantime, both options are credible and an open mind is needed.

            Lastly, it will be interesting to see where the day-to-day operating costs do sit once the new EMU fleet is in service – and a portion of the maintenance for those freight tracks are able to be shared with Kiwirail.

          • Max

            Well, we could also just build to a heavy rail gauge, electric system, everything except the crash-worthieness “heavy” part of the heavy rail. You’d end up with something that runs cheaper and quicker, but is still compatible with all parts of your network that you have banned freight rail from. The way things are going, the Eastern Line will soon be the only one left with it anyway…

            So you don’t need to switch to a different system like skytrain. Just downscale your requirements on any new trains intended to only operate on freight-less routes.

  • Why the focus only on fliers?, although the longer the journey (whether for travel or work) the greater the benefit of Transit to the rider and to the road network of the replacement of that car journey. And the trip from the Shore to the Airport is a long one. Why not consider the kid in Mangere now able to easily access Takapuna beach? (Yes i know that is an image that may trouble some, regrettably). Or any number of other conceivable trips. And that especially includes Newmarket, not just the Airport.

    Why is one seat preferable here among a transfer system? Six reasons:

    1. Transfer fatigue. We are already expecting most Shore travellers to have taken a bus or perhaps park’n’ride and bus to get to the train at Akoranga or Takapuna, then we expect them to transfer again after a sort trip on what is basically a Harbour shuttle. Connections are great but too many are a disincentive to use Transit at all.

    2. Legibility. It’s about showing the Shore as integrated with the Isthmus side. Sparking the whole idea of taking such a journey. The Harbour is a mental as well as a physical barrier and just drawing that uninterrupted line is a more powerful shape changer than the

    3. Selling it. Whatever the system it’s going to take as big a drive to get political and popular support for this as we now need for the CRL. I am confident that the successes of the CRL and the whole Transit system improvements underway now will make that easier, but there will also be the problem of going back to the same pot and asking for more for Auckland. Money is always tight and without people on the Shore, especially, barracking for this no kind of system will get over the bar, and in order to appeal to Shorites I cannot think of one single bigger selling point than offering them a clear run to the Airport. Even if they mostly use it to get to work in the city or Newmarket, I can see this really appealing.

    4. Because it can. There.

    5. Network benefits: freeing up the CRL and especially the portal junctions. So many unknown factors around pressure on the network by 2030. Too many externalities we can’t pick from here: oil price and/or will there be real carbon costs also added to driving disincentives, will the current growth of the city continue (yes). There is time to see how quickly or otherwise Transit demand grows once we actually have an effective service.

    6. One set of kit, serviceable in one workshop (Wiri), and connected to it. And all the other advantages of interoperability.

    So the answer is protect the route, futureproof it and let’s keep evaluating and considering the costs and opportunities of these systems. Especially futureproof Aotea Station.

    Yes there is a cost saving with LM and that may be decisive, but it does come with a value cost too in my opinion.

    Good discussion. Interesting issue.

    • I’m focussing only on North Shore flyers because they are the only unique market that such a line would serve. Currently very few people live on the Shore and work or shop in the airport precinct, and I’m not picking that to change. People who work and shop at the airport live in south Auckland and the isthmus. The only reason to connect the north shore line to the airport is to avoid one transfer for the miniscule proportion of North Shorites who would catch rapid transit to the airport each day… and in doing so you add in an extra transfer on the lines from the western and eastern isthmus that would otherwise run through to it.

      Now I’m not discounting the value of running the north shore line past the central city to other destinations ( some or all of the university/grafton/parnell/newmarket would be a good start), however with a link to Aotea you’ll get those connections to every other rail line already. Changing platforms isn’t hard, especially not with good frequency, and it’s a simple geometric necessity in any real transit network. All that requiring heavy rail on a passenger only line to the North Sore achieves is spending potentially billions more so that passengers on one line can ride through to one other line, they’ll still have to transfer to get to the other four or five lines. I just don’t get the big focus on running through to Mangere and the Airport apart from the fact a north-south line looks ‘right’ on a map. Why that one over five or six other existing and proposed rapid transit corridors?

      I must say your first few points (and number 4!) hold true for any line and most destinations in the region. People will have to transfer from bus to train and whatnot to get around. Most users will have taken a bus to get to rapid transit before connecting around the rapid transit network, the Shore is no special case there.

      As for point three, I think there is one better selling point than a transfer free run to the airport: saving billions of dollars. Having said that, I think another selling point would the simple fact of building a metro. That alone is a huge selling point, the North Shore gets a metro, frequent operation all day and most of the night.

      Point five is very valid, but I can’t see how you would actually remove the need for the CRL junctions without abandoning Grafton station and the direct link from Newmarket to uptown. I notice in you’ve map above you’ve maintained that link through the Mt Eden junction, but removed service through Quay Park to Parnell, which is very simple to grade separate and not actually a problem. And with six, well we will need additional workshop and stabling space with all the extra vehicles of a North Shore line, preferably near the end of the line on the North Shore for operational reasons and not on the other side of the region. I suppose there would be savings of only having one class of train, but I cant see those offsetting more than a fraction of the savings that would otherwise be had with LM.

      To be fair, I don’t care what mode or type of technology it is as long as we can get a fast, reliable and capacious rapid transit lines that connects to all the other rapid transit lines , one that runs very frequently across a long span of service every day. However, I just don’t think we could ever afford to build or run that using the same standard of heavy rail as our legacy lines. I say lets use the CRL and an airport rail extension to complete our “S Bahn”, then start on the first line of our cheaper and more effective metro. I don’t even know if my favoured Skytrain is the best technology, but I’m pretty sure that running heavy EMUs on freight railway standard alignments isn’t the way forward for new lines in Auckland!

      Geez, haven’t we fully hijacked this post… I do think the Lorne St entrance is a great idea, perhaps just for the CRL without any extra platofrms even!

      • KLK

        I guess it would be nice to have heavy rail from the shore linking with the rest of the network on the isthmus. But if it’s cost prohibitive, or if we can get more bang for our buck with different technology – go for it.

        If you look at the north shore line in Sydney, it terminates in the city rather than heading off on another long run once it crosses the harbor (albeit it stops at two extra stations on the south side). Commuters there have to make a transfer, so it shouldnt be too much of an issue in Auckland. It’s effectively just a shuttle across the harbor.

      • One thing I would be quite interested in seeing is how many people from the Shore work in that Newmarket to Penrose corridor as there are 40k jobs along there. When I worked there, heaps came from the shore and I think all drove. That would probably be a more useful comparison than the airport (which would just be a bonus).

  • Lloyd

    Just a comment on potential users of a Lorne Street station The old Government Print building on the Rutland/Lorne Streets corner is occupied now by ACG Senior College which is a private secondary school with an Auckland wide student catchment. As the pupils are equivalent of 5th, 6th and 7th form and don’t wear uniforms they tend to disappear into the AUT student crowd. The Lorne Street Station would be perfect for use by a large proportion of the Senior College pupils so they would add another few hundred potential daily trips using the station. I imagine the station would also be a positive encouragement in potential students to the school.

  • Richard D

    Nick

    I think the argument comes down to: “There is a service from the CBD to the airport – if there is to be through running from another route, where is the most benefit to be gained?”

    So if the commute is to the airport or from Mangere to some other part of the city, how do the alternatives compare?

    South – why would you go all the way to Penrose or the CBD just to come south again to reach the airport? Wouldn’t you just drive, or get a bus or train to connect with the Manukau – Airport Flier?
    West – why would you go all the way to the CBD just to come south again to reach the airport? Wouldn’t you just drive, or get a bus to Onehunga and pick up the train there?
    North Shore – the rail route is as direct as the road, and avoids the congested area.

    You could consider it from the North Shore point of view.
    If there were a rail service from the shore – what route would it be best to run through to?

    West – This is again a bit of a dog-leg. People with cars will just drive via the Northwestern motorway.
    Airport and South – from a North Shore point of view, there is probably not much to choose between them.

    I’d argue that the North Shore is the logical other route to connect to the airport – it creates a direct route to compete with other modes. Connecting with other routes would just create a dog-leg, two-sides-of-a-triangle route. Such dog-leg routes won’t do that much for abstracting people from their cars, as those people with cars will find it faster to just cut the corner.

    It could be argued that if the through routing is wrong, the cost is only an interchange penalty. But I think it could be worse than that – get it wrong and there is a risk that the number of people interchanging at Aotea is well in excess of that planned for, and you crowd people off the network with platform crowding. Get it wrong and make infrastructure or equipment decisions based on that choice and you may find that going with an alternative choice comes with an unexpected extra cost. (The UK had a dreadful legacy of inflexible layouts based on particular service patterns, that made it prohibitively expensive to alter the service patterns at a later date.)

    • Thanks Richard, I guess the key point I’m trying to make is that an airport line from the CBD to the airport and Manukau (the full ‘loop’) is going to meet most of it’s own demand pattterns just fine, and through connection to the other lines on the network give a direct and fast trip from anywhere to the airport. I just don’t think the unique demand for trips from the North Shore to the airport is anywhere near big enough to justify a billion dollar crossrail project to link the two up.

      Personally I prefer the idea of linking the eastern line to the airport line, via the CRL, Grafton and Newmarket. Thats much more about providing good access from both sides to central city stations, but if it makes it easier to go from Orakei or Glen Innes to the airport then that’s fine. I do think people will do that over a bus or driving, because it would still be faster in the first instance and cheaper in the second.Likewise with the North Shore, the Western Line and parts of the Southern. People are still going to make that trip if it requres a few minutes transfer in the city or Newmarket. It would be a very simple cross platform transfer, or in some cases same platform.

      A huge consideration however, is the fact that such a route can be run the second the CRL is open for no additional cost. It doesn’t require a second CRL, a harbour crossing and a north shore line to make it work properly.

      If you are concerned with crowding at Aotea, consider what would happen if you made it the only central city station for both the North Shore and Mangere/Airport lines, and the main transfer point between those two lines and anywhere else.

      • Richard D

        My bigger concern on platform crowding would be if the line went to Aotea and stopped. Then everyone apart from the Wynard Quarter has to board at Aotea. Run the route thorugh and some people that need to interchange can chose to make a same-platform interchange at Newmarket, say.

        You are right to be concerned about this being the only station on a North Shore – Airport line. That concern was partly why I was proposing my alternative route to Newmarket and its Wesley St East (or wherever) University station to distribute that station loading. However, if that single CBD station option is the situation planned from the start, at least there is a reasonable chance of a propper station design for that level of passenger flow than if we stumble into such a use later.

        Similarly though, if we were to build a line to the North Shore incompatible with the rest of the network, there is a real risk that we close off future expansion options that would have been the ideal sulution for circumstances that we had not forseen. Removing such flexibility from our successors is a real potential cost to a SkyTrain solution that must not be ignored.

        • Yes. For example, a traveller say leaving Britomart for somewhere south on the new Shore-Aotea line, but not served directly from Britomart anymore [could be, say, the Airport] would soon learn that it is easier to change at Newmarket or even one of the smaller two line only stations like Remuera than to bother with the busy-ness and separated platforms at Aotea. Especially if they have a lot of luggage. But that would not be possible on an ‘all-change’ terminating model. People very quickly work out easier and more convenient tricks on Transit systems, given the options.

          There is no doubt that a terminating model would be under more stress in terms of people flows than one with a greater variety of destinations on the same route, though Aotea would be sure to still be there most used station and need to be designed for a great deal of action.

  • Not quite done with this interesting question.

    I just dont see a short ‘harbour shuttle’; a Takapuna/Akoranga line that terminates in the city, being viable. It would suit too few riders and/or expect too many transfers over short distances as none of those stations really serve dormitory areas, a problem the also largely stranded busway stations meet with park’n’rides and feeder buses.

    Lines that terminate in the city centre are suboptimal as they remain more dependent on commuter in-out traffic, and offer less counter peak opportunity and flexibility. A huge point of the CRL is to convert our current terminus into a through route so why we would go and build another i dont really see. But if we do go for an incompatible system that stops at Aotea for cost reasons then it’s clear that the other end will have to have length from the start, so we aren’t expecting Shore travellers to make multiple transfers over short distances.

    Therefore it comes down to a choice between a full conversion of the busway, with or without a Takapuna branch, to Wynyard and terminating at Aotea, which could be Light Metro. Feeder buses on the Shore connecting with each converted Busway LM Station and existing PNRs if those sites haven’t been developed for better use by then.

    Or a Takapuna/Akoranga only model across to Wynyard + Aotea and conection to the southern line west of Parnell Station using conventional rail, and North Shore feeder buses still using the busway and suburban streets to connect with those two stations.

    Note that the rail running pattern doesn’t have to include the airport if it can really be shown that there is little demand for this and could go all the way to Pukekohe if that’s considered better (although I still think direct to airport fom the Shore is an absolute winner in terms of getting support from the public). Yes that tunnel through the hill would add considerable cost but also, in my view (still), considerable value.

    Interesting.

    • Bryce P

      It seems to me Patrick, from what I have read, that tunnelling itself is not overly expensive but it’s the stations that add considerable cost to the project so if you are only adding 1 or 2 stations then the cost shouldn’t be too hideous?

      • Connecting Aotea to the southern line adds no more stations than a line that terminates there. That’s the big opportunity.

        Either version involves two city side stations. The one at Wynyard; a shallow cut and cover one on what is now an empty site (so ought to be protected) on reclaimed land. Relatively cheap although like Britomart will need good waterproofing. The other the much trickier heart of the city site, needing to be woven in around existing services and an operating city, so more expensive. But of huge value, as I hope I’ve outlined in the post above. Certain to be extremely busy and, with the CRL Aotea station, be the making
        of the Civic Centre, as also outlined above.

        But both of these are required whatever the machines are that run in the tunnels.

        • Bryce P

          I think it’s a fantastic idea Patrick. So, Manukau – Airport – Onehunga Line then the cross harbour – Albany Line? After the CRL of course.

  • KLK

    I must admit, I like the idea of a station at the civic heart of the city. Something very grown up about that. In fact, let’s call the stop “Civic”.

  • Richard D

    But you have got me thinking about loading times …
    The CRL might reasonably be expecting to distribute passengers between Britomart, Aotea and, to a lesser degree, K-Road, and therefor not have to worry too much about loading and unloading times at any particular station. A North Shore route would have most of its passengers use Aotea. That makes me think that the design should include passive provision for future growth such that ultimately there is an island platform for each direction and trains arrive and depart on alternating sides in order to maintain the route capacity even if there is lengthy station dwell.

  • Jamie Walton

    Good post. One comment of apprehension: The first map appears to indicate an in-out station for the airport (as does the “experts” report http://www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/improving-transport/plans-proposals/Rail/Documents/AT_ARTA_Policy_PlanningForRapidTransportCorridors.pdf for the best loop option on page 14 – why have a loop with an in-out station?!). Surely we’re not going to repeat the mistake of Britomart all over again are we? Why not do what Sydney does: Have through stations for the international terminal and another for the domestic terminal on a loop line?

    • Those are really just indications not any solid plans. We should hopefully find out more in a couple of months when the work going on behind the scenes confirms the best route option. Also one thing I would say is that at the airport, the only slight advantage of having it have to reverse is that it gives more time for passengers to board/alight with their bags. That of course assumes that the line is primarily designed for airport use and not a through journey.

    • An in and out branch could be a lot cheaper to build and could give a faster and more direct route. It would require a track tunnel/viaduct to be threaded into the airport only once, as opposed to a loop which would need a tunnel or viaduct from either side. And as Matt says wouldn’t be much trouble as you’d want to stop the train there for quite some time anyway.

      It wouldn’t be a repeat of Britomart because the airport station wouldn’t need anything like the 20 trains an hour Britomart maxes out at. If that really was an issue they could make it a three or four track branch anyway.

    • Hamish O

      The situation would be more comparable to Newmarket, where western trains are stopped for around 3 minutes while the driver changes end. I however don’t agree with Matt and Nick that the airport will need extra time, maybe a little bit, but not 3 whole minutes. Through traffic is not something to ignore, what about the people from Mangare wanting to go to Manukau or further south?

      • Hamish, I don’t necessarily agree that it should be an in and out situation but I was just pointing out that if it was, it wouldn’t be all bad for this one particular case. I also mentioned about how it wouldn’t be good for through journeys but then I’m not fully convinced at this stage about the merits of sending it through to Manukau anyway.

        • Hamish O

          Yeah, it would hardly be as bad as Newmarket because of those two factors.

          On the Manukau thing, I only include it because it seems like the connection would be so cheap (it’s mostly farmland) yet it would allow the whole of South Auckland to connect to the airport via rail.

        • Luke C

          Yes considering Manukau to Airport still survives with a two lane road the need for a rail connection is a way off yet. I would build it about 5 – 10 years after the northbound connection. Need to protect corridor now though.
          Is going to be very expensive to connect back to the main at Wiri due to SH20 in the way. Ideally want to interchange with both Southern Line and the Manukau station.
          May need new interchange station at Wiri, or shift Puhinui south a bit to do this.

          As for in/out vs loop, I assume station would be at end of Cyril Kay Drive, about where the freight gate is. http://goo.gl/maps/x6RCU This puts it part way between the two terminals. From here doesn’t seem too different to either send it east down Laurence Stevens Dr (through station) or can go north then along Tom Pearce Dr for a termini station. Having a through station would mean that station is E-W orientation, so less walk to terminals, compared a N-S terminus. On the other hand would need a big sweeping curve from SH20 to get this E-W orientation. This rough diagram might make more sense! http://goo.gl/maps/sMBzF

        • Jamie Walton

          Thanks Matt, Nick and Hamish for your replies. Keep in mind that (last time I looked) Auckland airport is (was?) planning a second runway parallel and to the north of the existing runway, so the northern approach to the airport terminals would have to run under this runway in a trench or cut-and-cover tunnel in any case (unless a very circuitous horizontal alignment was chosen – which I wouldn’t put past them, as they seem intent on using what looks like 19th Century 7.5 chain (150 m) radius curvature for the CRL – maybe we’ll get a 20th Century system in the 22nd Century?).

          • There’s certainly a new terminal planned, I have always assumed that the best way to feed rail through the airport was elevated like at Brisbane. And I have little issue with in/out in this case although a loop [that word again!] would be better depending on cost and plans for extension.

          • Not so Jamie, and that’s one reason for the in-and-out branch idea. The line can go in a fairly direct line around the eastern end of the new runway without need for trench or tunnels. The new runway sticks out to the west a lot more than it does to the east.

            The loop track options I’ve seen are actually longer and more circuitous than the branch.

            As for the station, I like the idea of having it elevated at level one, coming straight into the terminal extension end on. Perhaps another benefit of the terminal branch, people could step right off the train onto the airport floor. With a loop you’d have to go up and over or down and under one of the tracks.

  • The airport plans to eventually integrate the domestic terminal with the international one by moving it to the northern side. The airport company is also involved in the project looking at route options so I’m sure they will be thinking about how to integrate it

    • Jamie Walton

      Thanks Patrick, Nick and Matt. I have to admit I haven’t seen a map with the second runway, new/extended terminal and proposed rail routes on it. I would think a submerged line in the vicinity of the runway would be safer (so planes that overshoot can’t plough into trains), but maybe that’s just me.

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