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How to link North Shore rail into the network?

There seems to be growing interest rail to the North Shore, perhaps mainly driven by the fact that one of the project’s biggest benefits would be putting off spending $5 billion on the stupidest transport project ever, another motorway crossing of the Waitemata Harbour. However there still seems to be relatively little discussion and agreement over how it might link in with the rest of the rail network. The Integrated Transport Programme costed the rail crossing at around $1 billion, but seemed to show it finishing tantalisingly close to the rail network at Wynyard, but not actually linking in (suggesting that NZTA and Auckland Transport have included it for show more than serious consideration) or perhaps it’s just hidden behind the words “city centre”.itp-rail-crossingThe Auckland Plan was a bit more definitive, showing that North Shore rail should link into the rail system at Aotea Station:cityconnection-awhc-aucklandplanPresumably Aotea Station’s is being future-proofed for a connection to a future North Shore Line in its design (something to submit on in regards to the City Rail Link notice of requirement). Previous options of connecting in at Britomart seem to have been abandoned – most probably because Aotea is more central and it’s not possible anyway to hook the North Shore line into the CRL as you’d end up with far too many conflicting train movements. Patrick outlined in a post a few months back how an extended Aotea Station might work to serve both the CRL and the North Shore Line. A further station would obviously be provided at Wynyard Quarter.

But what next? Should the railway line just be an independent line (maybe Vancouver Skytrain style light-metro to keep Peter M happy?) or could it link through to the Southern or Eastern Lines? Exploring each option further highlights advantages and disadvantages for every option, and perhaps not a particularly obvious preferred candidate.

Starting off with linking it through to the Southern Line, which would most easily be done by continuing the tunnel under Wellesley Street, probably bridging over Grafton Gully and then linking in with the Southern Line just north of Parnell. Something like this:northshore-south-closeThe line could then extend to either the Airport or to the Southern Line, or conceivably both (especially if on the North Shore you had one service pattern commencing at Takapuna and another commencing at Albany). The end result of this approach is probably something similar to what Matt and Patrick developed last year – known as “the cross”:Advantages of this approach include the creation of a pretty legible and easily understood network – basically a north-south line and an east-west line, with a few variations and branches further out. You get a direct link from the North Shore to the Airport, you provide a heap of capacity to the city centre by running the two lines completely independent of each other and you remove the need to use that slow bit of the rail network around Vector Arena. Disadvantages perhaps include the enormous strain on Aotea Station as the transfer station between the two main lines, the requirement that North Shore rail be built to heavy rail standard (rather than the likely much cheaper Light Metro). It also effectively requires the construction of a second CRL – this time in an east-west direction. As we’re struggling to find the funding for the first CRL it does appear slightly premature to be planning what’s effectively a second, somewhat similar, tunnel.

The next option is to look at linking the North Shore Line up with the Eastern Line, via a route that takes a little bit of imagination but isn’t too impossible – leading to something like this:northshore-east-close
Once again this option appears to have a number of advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include perhaps a slightly shorter and simpler link with the rail network that doesn’t involve bridging Grafton Gully and perhaps utilises some of the trackwork at the old Auckland Railway Station area to link into the Eastern Line. Trains heading further east could travel on to either Manukau via the existing Eastern Line or to Botany (or beyond?) via a new southeast line (as previously discussed here). Splitting the trains across two destinations in the east would balance well with trains originating at Takapuna and Albany on the North Shore – creating something like this:

  • Albany-Manukau via City Centre, Panmure and Otahuhu
  • Takapuna-Manukau via City Centre, Glen Innes and Highland Park
  • Swanson to Papakura/Pukekohe via CRL, Newmarket and Southern Line
  • Mt Roskill to Airport via CRL, Newmarket and Penrose

Mapped it looks something like this:ns-rail-optionsNow before you go and yell at me for being too city centre focused I’m not necessarily suggesting that what’s shown above is Auckland’s ideal future rail network, but rather that it’s one way of showing how a North Shore Line could be “linked in” with Auckland’s existing rail network.

The big flaw with both “the cross” option and the one shown above is that they leave no role for Grafton Station, other than potentially on some sort of shuttle between Newmarket and Kingsland (would have to be Kingland now the Inner West Interchange station is gone). Both options also require significant expense east of Aotea Station to “link” the tracks coming into the city from the west with either the Southern or Eastern lines at Parnell or a bit north of that at the old railway station. Both options also seem to relegate the role of the City Rail Link by pulling either Southern Line or Eastern Line trains out of the tunnel and effectively giving both lines only one city centre station (plus Wynyard). Finally, both options also require the North Shore Line to be built as heavy rail, which is likely to be quite a bit more expensive than a light-metro option – although still barely half the cost of a road crossing of the Harbour.

The final option is to just terminate the trains at Aotea Station – running trains from both Albany and Takapuna to Aotea and then back again. This option is completely independent of the existing rail network:shore-aoteaAdvantages include relatively low cost (compared to other options), the potential to do driverless light-metro and the fact that the rest of the rail network’s balance isn’t stuffed up in the ways that caused problems with the other options (such as it being difficult to serve Grafton Station). Disadvantages include quite a lot more transfers, creating another independent system and the challenges with where you’d maintain the train fleet.

As I noted at the start of my post, there’s no clear winner when it comes to options to connect North Shore Rail into the existing system – but there sure are a whole heap of interesting options. Which is your favourite? Why? Have I missed another option or two that might work even better?

82 comments to How to link North Shore rail into the network?

  • Yes the big question is what to do with the tracks after they get to Aotea and the presence of either Grafton or Parnell makes things tricky.

    Personally I think the idea of a one seat trip from the shore to the airport is a massive selling point and will help more than it hinders. As such I think it is worth the extra cost of connecting it to the existing lines, although I’m not convinced that it would cost that much more than traditional heavy rail anyway.

    As for commenting on driverless trians, our existing EMUs also have the ability to be changed to driverless in the future if we want and it is as simple as plugging in a module to them, something I confirmed with the EMU team directly.

  • Good discussion to have, we really need to be preparing for this, especially the route and station site needs to be planned in Wynyard Quarter now, and Aotea Station needs to be designed to make integration with a lower perpendicular station easier. We need to stop closing off future possibilities though a closed minded visionlessness.

    But really don’t see there being any reason why Grafton would not be served by any number of patterns when the Southern Line is through routed at Aotea. Especially as you would want a southern service to use the CRL. And there is always the option of a direct West-South pattern. Because of the limited and branching nature nature of our existing network we are a long long way off having single patterns on individual lines, especially as they approach the centre were the additional capacity they provide is needed. Here’s a possible more near term version of Matt’s map. Showing the first stage of a route across the Harbour to Takapuna and the busway still functioning over its best grade separate section; Akoranga North:

    But there are a variety of options, and it is becoming really clear that Grafton is going to be an increasingly useful station, especially as the University develops its huge new campus right there, so I really can’t see us wanting to serve it with a shuttle. By the way the bridge over Stanley St to connect to Parnell a tunnel in Constitution Hill would be quite low, basically like the existing rail bridges at the bottom of Parnell, but hopefully designed a great deal better than those, but nothing like another Grafton Bridge.

    • Richard D

      Yes, ignore my comment below about extending the purple line to New Lynn and Otahuhu to cover Grafton. I’d forgotten about this variation and it is probably better.

  • dan again

    Ok, so if this site is not biased how do you explain the opening sentence.

    In regards to the northshore line however this is a good question. I’ve always been of the opinion the we should keep the subway and use the rail line to go to places not easily served by it. Now that we have the unitary plan saying places like Devonport are to have high rise buildings it makes some sense to send a line up there.

    • We have explained in many posts in the past why we think that another road based harbour crossing is a stupid comment. It isn’t based on a bias but looking at the impacts, the main one of which is to pump thousands more cars into the CBD when the rest of our plans are focused on reducing the impact of cars on the city centre.

      If you think that the AWHC is a good idea then once again, please write a guest post explaining why. We would actually love a post with an opposing view and I can assure you that we don’t censor any guest posts that get provided. All of us started out just as readers like you and the way I, and the others started writing on the blog was by providing guest posts. After we started doing enough of them, we were given our own log on.

      • dan again

        Given the new crossing bypasses the cbd it seems strange that you assume its going to pump thousands more cars into the cbd. I would like to write a post but I’ve already been banned about 15 times before for not being anti car enough.

        • The new crossing would bypass the CBD yes, but the old crossing effectively becomes a large off ramp feeding into Fanshawe St and Cook St and that is where the problem is.

          Send me your guest post with your reasoning as to why you think we are wrong and I will publish it. The only conditions (and not just you but for anyone) are that the posts aren’t abusive against us or our readers although you are welcome to call us biased if you back it up with some facts showing that we are.

        • Liam W

          Dan the AWHC amounts to doubling the road capacity between Esmonde Road and Spaghetti Junction with no accompanying capacity increase elsewhere on the network – that one or both of two things: 1) Enabling lots more cars to be fed into the city centre via the existing crossing as Matt says; or 2) Massive new choke points at either end where the new crossing will link into the existing network. Neither outcome is especially beneficial in my view, particularly when you consider the busway has proved a far more effective decongestant than new road capacity.

          As Matt says it’s fine having an opposing view – but on this blog unlike Whaleoil an evidence base is generally expected. Sure “stupidest transport project ever” is pretty emotive language, but the posts pointing to that conclusion are based on good hard information. So don’t accuse the authors here of bias – add to the debate – in short, put up or shut up.

        • Starnius

          Even if it had no negative impact on the CBD at all – and I am not saying that – adding another road crossing would be a huge opportunity cost, because it is money gone that could go into much more valuable PT (and road!) projects elsewhere. Since the pot is not unlimited, whether a project displaces other projects due to the funding required for it is as much an effect as the direct impacts of the project itself.

    • Erentz

      Re: Devonport, hear hear! It makes it more difficult to link into the network. To start it could link into the existing CRL but when the CRL reaches capacity it will require something new and what that should be needs some thought. But I would like to see a light metro from Albany thru Takapuna and Devonport, the CBD, and then perhaps on to the airport.

      http://www.punk.co.nz/2011/09/10/rail-through-devonport/

      • Erantz Devonport is, One, well served by the ferry service in one direction and buses linking to Takapuna and beyond in the other. And, Two, is not a growth node unlike Takapuna. Devonport will not be changing character much at all so therefore there would be very low benefit for the very high costs of running any kind of RTN through there. Especially as the costs would also be to quality of place as well as financial. The motorway corridor is the only available route, with the addition of a branch to Takapuna through the low grade commercial and car parking sites currently there.

        • Richard D

          Patrick
          Alternatively, you could go under Wynyard, hitting the Shore in the region of at Stanley Bay Park (with a station), cut across Ngatarina Bay on an embankment, (opening up the bay to the east for redevelopment or for a lagoon similar to Oraki Basin, with potentially a station in the Bayswater Park area, Then continue north west on an embankment heading for the motorway corridor with a spur past Esmonde Road to a Takapuna station on reclaimed land maybe in the area of Pupuke Rd, or going through built up areas to reach Takapuna centre. It looks perfectly doable. The line still ends up at the motorway corridor, but in addition there could be two intermediate stops serving Bayswater and the western end of Devonport.

          • No chance of any new embankments anywhere on the Waitemata- the locals won’t have it, and I’d have to agree. With a ferry service those places can have a lovely connection across the harbour for a very low capex, but a high-ish opex. I look forward to some proper analysis of what could be achieved with ferries on this harbour but my hunch is that we are not doing it as well as we could.

            There will be no rail to Devonport, as there will be no motorway to Devonport, and I’m sure the Devonpovians are pleased about that.

            Hey I’m very certain about the huge advantages of a proper electric grade separate rail network for Auckland but only where it is warranted.

          • Richard D

            Patrick, you may well be right about no new embankments. But done properly, embankments are a wonderful opportunity for providing a flat, level and wide walking / cycling routes well away from motor traffic. (Such a shame that one is not provided along the side of the embankment at Hobson Bay.)

          • Max

            Richard – a walk/cycleway along the Hobson Bay embankment has been in the plans for years, and is in fact one of the projects more likely to happen in the next 5-10 years than many others. The only reason it isn’t happening / hasn’t happened: Money. There’s never any money left for walking & cycling, so these projects all go into a long waiting list…

        • dan again

          I guess you didn’t read the unitary plan Patrick, if you had you would know it’s marked as a growth area. In fact most of that coast could see some real growth. A fast and clean transport system, unlike ferries, could be just the thing to get the ball rolling.

          • Well the unitary plan hasn’t been released yet so I doubt he has read it.

          • Steve D

            The Unitary Plan hasn’t been released yet, so I don’t think you can blame Patrick for not having read it. But the development map in the Auckland Plan shows Devonport and Narrow Neck as areas of “least change”. You’re right that most of the East Coast Bays are growth areas, but mostly of that area is north of Takapuna anyway, so is equally well served by either route.

          • dan again

            Oh, well the map they had in the paper the other week was proposing developments of up to 8 stories over there.

  • Richard D

    In the cross option, the purple line is just too short. If it were (say) New Lynn or Mount Roskill to Otahuhu via Grafton, there is then a credible service linking west with south without having to go via the CRL – a saving in both journey time and capacity. If you wanted, this expanded purple service with the yellow one, could allow the green to travel non-stop from a certain point.

    Linking the North Shore to the Eastern line will still involve tuunnelling under the CBD a second time, will still cause Aotea station to be the point of interchange (including now in addition all airport passengers from the North Shore) so there is no great benefit. However, it now adds all the North Shore traffic to the port area. Rail to the port is important – it takes an enormous number of lorries off the road in the centre of Auckland. Crowding railfreight off the port risks needing even more rail infrastructure to compensate, more lorries back on the roads or Auckland losing shipping traffic to Tauranga. The cost saving vs the cross option does not seem great and the option brings additional disadvantages. It doesn’t seem to be a credible alternative.

    The final option – if it is done in an incompatible gauge – in effect says that we have complete faith that for a considerable period into the future (ie until we build a second -compatable- tunnel) it will be acceptable to have to change mode in the CBD between the North Shore and the isthmus. That appears to be a very CBD focussed decision. I can imagine a few scenarios where our successors might curse such a decision as being short-sighted. For example, it would be a real hinderance to the economic centre expanding towards Newmarket if the key skills lived on the shore, It would be a hinderance to international firms setting up on say the north end of the North Shore and needing fast access to the airport for businessmen or if it is tourist based, easy access to the shore from the airport for luggage laden tourists. If the tunnel from the shore were built to a compatable guage it could also terminate at Aoteael – but would we reallydo that? There would be a tunnelling machine in place, needing to tunnel 6 or 7 kms. What would be the incremental cost of another km compared with having to come back at a later date and bore that final 1 km of tunnel if at a later date it was decided to link up the corridors? It would probably make a lot more economic to just bore the tunnel anyway and not fund titting out that final km.

    I really feel that an solution that is incompatible with the rest of the network would be very short termist, and actually make it quite difficult if the situation changes for what we want our transport network to do.

    I read an article recently about how cities need to have good access to airports in order to compete on the international stage – I shall try to find it again and post a lnk – and only the cross option is compatible with that as an aim.

  • Richard D

    sorry ‘”kitting” out that final km.’

  • Brendan

    Can someone please explain what the benefits of rail would be over the busway?

    • dan again

      The beauty of it is that it will force everyone to make a transfer from a feeder bus onto a train therefore increasing overall rail patronage. The trains will also be so fast they will save 30mins of your 20min journey.

    • Doloras LaPicho (@chaosmarxism)

      Rail and the busway are complementary. The busway doesn’t go into Takapuna, which harbour rail could do. And rail wouldn’t get stuck in traffic on the Bridge.

    • Sailor Boy

      Higher capacityy, greter speed, greater interconnectivity.

      • Starnius

        Talking about greater speed – I read in the NOR documents that the CRL design speed is 50 km/h. Is that because of the gradient & stop distances? It seems downhill at least we could go faster ;-)

        • Sailor Boy

          No you can’t go faster downhill is the short answer, basically you have the same traction stopping as you do starting so the speed is the same either way.

  • Brendan

    Does anyone know the average cost per km of Vancouver Skytrain style (which has the advantages of no level crossings, and minimal damage to properties that the track goes near) vs cost per km of the rail used in the rest of Auckland?

    • Nick and I have had arguments about that a few times. Nick thinks that a Skytrain style system would be cheaper due to less constraints (tighter curves, steeper grades etc.)
      From what I have looked at I think the costs would end up being pretty similar, a busway should be the cheapest to build yet it appears to have been no cheaper on a per km basis than our recent rail projects.

      I think there are other things to consider too, if you did something like the cross pattern, you could do the project in stages with the first part ending in Takapuna. That would allow trains to be serviced at an expanded Wiri depot. If instead you only build it Skytrain style, or only the section from Aotea to Takapuna then you would need to build an expensive ($100m) maintenance depot which would probably have to be on that empty land next to the Akoranga station. Land that could be better used for say, putting more people within a short walk of a high frequency station.

  • Trev

    Capacity, Brendan, capacity. At some point we simply won’t be able to squeeze any more North Shore buses into the city centre.

  • PBY

    North Shore Rail is going to be really expensive. I think it will be highly desirable but anything to significantly reduce the Capital costs would be worth looking at.

    Potentially there is the cost of a busway upgrade, Takapuna Spur, Harbour Tunnel, Wynyard Station, linking into the exisiting network and in some options a new cross city rail tunnel.

    I think the important thing here is to make sure our current planning and construction is future proofed to enable North Shore rail when the time is right.

    • Yes expensive if we do it all at once, I think the biggest hurdle though is getting it over the harbour. Once that is done it is the kind of thing that can be chipped away at, extending it a few km’s at a time. I think the same thing about rail to the airport. If we had a line across the harbour to Mangere Bridge then it would be easy to chip away at it to extend it to the airport, extending it one station at a time.

  • Starnius

    Taking a step back, can someone explain why we don’t want to link the Shore rail line in at Britomart? Is that because it would be difficult for people coming from the Shore to then go to Aotea and K Road?

    It just seems to me that linking to Britomart would be a lot cheaper than going further south.

    • It is mentioned in the post. Basically there isn’t the space at Britomart to add it in unless you built it completely independent of the existing network as otherwise it would severely reduce the capacity of the rest of the CRL. If you are going to the trouble of building a new separate route you might as well put it in to Aotea which is the heart of the city rather than at Britomart which has half of its catchment as water.

      • Starnius

        What’s wrong with using a train coming from the Shore, arriving at Britomart and reversing there to continue down the CRL, except of course that the dwell time goes up a bit?

        • What’s wrong, where do I start? ;-)
          First of all, to get a north shore line into Britomart it would need to join the CRL at around the corner of Albert St and Customs St. That would have to be a flat junction which means that every train from the shore, prevents one or more trains from other locations from using the CRL. That means not as many trains from west or south can use the CRL so you end up undermining that investment. Second you are suggesting terminating trains there, that would block up the lines at Britomart and prevent even less trains from other parts of the city. In short it would have huge consequences for the capacity of the CRL.

          • Starnius

            Ehm, no, I am not. First off, why would it have to be a flat junction? if we are prepared to tunnel all the way under Aotea’s new station, why can’t we do grade-separation at Britomart? Not saying it is going to be easy, just not seeing why it necessarily needs to be excluded, and at grade crossings assumed, as you do?

            Also, I did not claim to speak of terminating trains – you brought that up. A Shore train could either change direction at Britomart and run down the CRL, or continue east out of Britomart.

          • It would have to be a flat junction as there isn’t the room to bring the tracks from a shore line back to the level of the tracks of the CRL when they reach the Britomart platforms, that is unless you are proposing a brand new sub level station. The reason it is being suggested at Aotea is we can dig out the little bit that we need to allow the platforms to connect at the same time as we build the station. Britomart hasn’t been designed for anything under it so would be a massive task.

            As for changing direction at Britomart, to do that first it would have connect to the existing station. Trains would have to travel through that junction and they wait for the driver to change ends, like what happens on the western line at Newmarket. All the while the train would be blocking up the tracks preventing other trains from using the tunnel. Yes they could carry on out east but where would you logically send them?

          • Starnius

            > Britomart hasn’t been designed for anything under it so would be a massive task.

            Why can’t we build another 2 platforms under Quay Street?

            > As for changing direction at Britomart, to do that first it would have connect to the existing station.

            See above. They would be out of the way of any CRL trains.

            > wait for the driver to change ends, like what happens on the western line at Newmarket.

            Which could be streamlined, but as I mentioned in my first post, I am aware that a switchback would involve some delays. Just not for OTHER trains, in my scenario.

            > Yes they could carry on out east but where would you logically send them?

            Down the Southern Line? It would be a lot cheaper to get a grade-separated junction near Vector Arena to join the parallel line (placed in my scenario to the north of the current Britomark / CRL route, as above) back into the Newmarket Line, compared with digging a tunnel all the way west-east across the CBD, which is likely equivalent to the costs of another CRL.

        • Liam W

          Would get in the way of trains entering from the south and east – could work, but would limit the frequency in all three directions.

          • Britomart is currently the most important destination on the network but it is unlikely to remain so once we have Aotea, unless of course we build the thing so poorly that it can’t handle the demand [not unlikely given the cost pressure from above].

            In short Aotea is a really good destination and designed properly, and in my view that is achieved by building two stations that are offset but connected, it can handle the huge numbers of people that will transform the old heart of town into an amazingly vibrant place: http://transportblog.co.nz/2013/03/07/how-to-link-north-shore-rail-into-the-network/#comment-61385

            i would give consideration to naming the two stations differently too, especially as that would greatly assist way finding between the lines. The east west one could be Queen St, or Wellesley St, or Horotui [after the Taniwha in the stream below Queen St], or whatever…..?

          • Hey also remember Britomart will remain the only city station capable of handling Inter City trains. We are going to need both its extra platforms and capacity on the Eastern Line for Waikato and BOP intercity trains soon enough….. IMHO.

          • Richard D

            Patrick,
            I think two seperate station names would be a bad idea – even when the stations are connected. Doing so would add a perception barrier to interchange for the infrequent user, possibky conjuring up the image of having to get to street level, crossing streets and then decending again in order to acheive the interchange, Calling the stations the same name (with an upper / lower, east / west, north / south differentiation if necessary) encourages the perception that the stations are linked as one and that interchange will be relatively easy. Why would we choose an option that discourages journeys with an interchange for the infrequent user, over one that encourages it?

          • I agree – one station name, it’s an interchange. Each line would have a name and the concourse & platform signage would do the rest.

            How about this for the line names: Harbour line (north/south) & Isthmus line (west/east).

          • I guess I just disagree with your assumptions about what’s best for communication with users. Here’s a detail from one of the most powerful visual communication devices ever made [at the neck of the bottle]. You will note several ways of indicating connected stations, from the same name [your preference] Liverpool St, to different names for directly connected platforms: Tower Hill/Tower Gateway, famously Monument & Bank, and Euston/St Pancras/King’s Cross. Don’t see a problem and I do see some advantages, clarity for one. Some people are more likely to get their easts and wests and their platform 1s and platform 4s mixed up than a completely different name…. but anyway, just an issue to consider.

  • Brendan

    All the proposed routes follow the bus way which follows the motorway.

    Wouldn’t it be better to build rail to cater to an under serviced are of the shore, like up Onewa, near Birkdale, Beach Haven, Glenfield?

    If the problem is “The busway doesn’t go into Takapuna”, wouldn’t that be better serviced by a quick round the lake shuttle service that picked up people and dropped them off at the akoranga station.

  • Daighi

    Sorry to hijack this thread, but has anyone read this article in the herald today: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10869713

    Nick Smith battling it out with Len Brown over urban sprawl…

    • Mr Anderson

      Look out for a post or two on that later today and in coming days.

      • Liam W

        You know, I think Nick Smith might slowly be supplanting Steven Joyce and Gerry Brownlee as my least favourite ministers. Let’s tally them up for the cumulative destruction they’re responsible re cities, transport and democracy generally…

        Smith: Sacked Environment Canterbury and replaced with commissioners, rammed through ideologically biased LGA reforms, now ramming through even more ideologically biased RMA reforms, and has now put himself in charge of the process for the tunnel/monorail to Milford Sound.
        Joyce: Plucking the RoNS out of thin air, fingers all over the Snapper/HOP kerfuffle, watering down the PTMA, cancellation of the Regional Fuel Tax, preventing other funding mechanisms from being explored, oh and continued antagonism towards the CRL and the compact city model/urbanism generally.
        Brownlee: See Joyce, plus his Christchurch dictatorship.

        Three provincial peas in a pod…

  • Trev

    Starnius, why are you so fond of linking at Britomart? Aotea Station is way better located in terms of being central to the whole city centre and much closer to the universities.

    • Starnius

      Because to build a Shore line, we already need a tunnel under the Waitemata – extremely expensive. If we add to that bill another extremely expensive tunnel under the CBD, we might as well kiss the likelihood of getting that link goodbye, in my opinion. Not going to happen, unless we ever get a government that is as crazy for rail as the current one is as crazy for roads.

      • Bryce P

        If the line is built as LRT why not build the line under Fanshaw St and then at-grade along Halsey and Wellesley Streets? Wellesley St could become a PT route with a couple of vehicle lanes for local access.

  • PBY

    Britomart may be the cheaper option for a connection, but who knows by how much?
    Its about 200m-300m closer to the wynyard station and a Quay st Cut and cover tunnel is probably cheaper than the Aotea to Parnell Tunnel/Viaduct. That said without worrying about money I would prefer a link into Aotea for all the key reasons above.

    • Starnius

      So would I – but I think the price tag for a Takapuna – Aotea – Newmarket rail link would be almost double that of a Takapuna – Britomart – Newmarket link. This is obviously just a gut feel. But as I noted above, we are talking a second CRL tunnel ADDED to the costs of a cross-harbour tunnel. Megabuckeroos.

  • KBilly

    The shortest distance to the north shore is from the port over to Devonport. Why is this not an option? It retains the busway and opens up another transport corridor. Sure it replaces the ferry but that’s progress. It may even not require the use of different trains/light rail.

    One of the good things about the eastern and western lines is that for the most part they’re located some distance from the motorway corridor.

    • Starnius

      The shortest distance is not necessarily the best by any means (and it is only the shortest distance over the harbour, not overall) – to connect rail from Devonport to any of the further, more densely settled parts of the Shore, you’d have to go through an area of suburbia that has no provision left for a rail corridor. So basically, every 30m distance, you would probably have to pay at least 1million to buy an expensive house & property, maybe 2million. By the time you managed to get to Takapuna, you’d be down several hundred million for that alone. And most of those hundreds of home owners would be instant, well-heeled enemies to your project from day 1 when you start to promote it. Not to even think of their neighbours, who would probably prefer not to have a rail line next to their house etc…

      Doesn’t sound like a steal when you can instead use a much more unproblematic route.

  • Duncan

    It’d be sweet if there was some way we could do the ‘Nippon Clipons’ for railway to and from the Shore.

    • Max

      Hi Duncan – the AHB is about 6% gradient – rail (even where specifically designed to climb grades, like the EMU’s for the City Rail Link) really struggles with gradients above 3-4%. So even if the clip-ons were strong enough you wouldn’t be able to use them.

      • Max, Duncan. Yes. But over the centre where it’s stronger. Gradient -wise Light Metro can go way steeper than Heavy Rail. The bridge gradient is not a problem. (someone did a great post on it here last year)

  • Harry

    The shortest line definitely isn’t the best in this case. Crossing the harbour between Britomart and Devonport would mean that the Wynyard Quarter wouldn’t be able to get a station, and it would make it harder to link up to the Northern Busway.

  • Light Metro across the existing bridge!

    Our friends in El Norte are gagging to be part of the rail system, they’ve done their share on the other side, now we just need to do the middle bit. Let’s say $1B all up?

    There- now with the $4B we just saved can we install the CRL and some Trams please?

    • San Luca

      Geoff. genuine question, is this possible? I wish that it is but no one seems to be suggesting it.

      • San Luca

        The light metro over the bridge part

        • tuktuk

          Yes light metro over the existing harbour bridge is possible. In fact, on paper at least, heavy rail is possible over the gradient of the harbour bridge – not sure on structural loadings though. But, coming back to light metro, yes definitely.

          One other area that may offset some of those cost savings however, is going to be how one locates the rail corridor into and out of the bridge roading corridor at each end. Another question related to that is; how well those entry and exit corridors link back up to worthwhile passenger origin/destination areas of sufficient size…..the savings from going over the bridge are going to be pretty quickly used up if it means that an expensive-to-operate rail corridor operates for kilometres through areas with little potential walk-up traffic.

          If a tunnel based North Shore link can be located to accommodate a high number of possible passenger origin and destination points along its length it will win out despite the initial higher costs of building the tunnel. This is because the potential catchment is so much greater.

          And – this is where the North Shore Busway is complimentary with a rail link to the Takapuna basin. The former maximises the advantages of buses to bring in passengers from outside the corridor, while the latter maximises the potential of a walk-up catchment in Takapuna, especially if it is given planning room to grow upward. The overall desirability of Takapuna itself, would see high quality high rise apartments very quickly filled.

          • San Luca

            Thanks for that tuktuk. This was always my thought, I am just unsure why not only why not many people mention it in these sorts of forums and also in the media. Surely with building a light metro line over the bridge can help eliminate need for an entirely new structure for at least 30 years.

          • The bridge is being very efficiently used by rubber tyred vehicles right now, what is missing across the harbour, other than walking and cycling infrastructure (on its way) is a Transit route with its own right of way. The most efficient means of providing it is a tunnel. If you want to displace the existing users of the bridge then they will need their own much much more expensive new crossing. Which is exactly what we don’t want. And nor should anyone else who cares about value for money.

          • Hang on PR- if dedicating 1-2 lanes for higher capacity transit (Light metro) happens many of the existing bridge users will be displaced right onto those trains. isn’t that the whole point of all those stations up and down the Northern motorway?

          • tuktuk

            Upon reviewing your comments – just to re-emphasize a point. In the end, the CAPEX on the exact route needs to be considered in parallel to the OPEX and the potential passenger numbers attracted to that new service. If the bridge is going to draw in the largest catchment, then go the bridge. If the tunnel is going to draw in the larger new potential catchment for passengers, then that goes toward off-setting the initial cost.

            Having said that, if MOT/NZTA grab the tunnel option as an exclusive roads only investment, then by default public transit, cyclists, walkers and potentially local transport between Ponsonby and Birkenhead will be left with the current bridge. I think that it is important to make clear this will not prevent a viable light rail/metro option from being able to reach the North Shore. But fully understood why a tunnel rail connection to Takapuna is preferred, considering at this point, we do still have options.

          • San Luca

            What about under the bridge?

  • Chris Randal

    We can’t afford the CRL and we certainly can’t afford this.

  • Icebird

    My preferred option would be driverless rapid transit AKA light metro terminating at Aotea Station. I think the lower operating costs and higher frequencies possible with a driverless transit solution make it significantly preferable for a completely new transit line that doesn’t *have* to connect to existing lines. For transit users heading to points beyond the CBD, one vehicle change at Aotea Station probably isn’t too much to ask.

  • San Luca

    I don’t think it is the best logic to have the purple line starting at Mt Roskill and going to the Airport because the terminuses of the lines are so close to each other. People in Mt Roskill are no way going to take the train to the airport when they can take the Air Bus. I would make the purple line Mt Roskill to Botany and green line Takapuna to Airport

  • Stan

    You are all forgetting the obvious; NO ONE WANTS TO LIVE NEXT TO THE RAILWAY! Do you want it going past your house? It will never happen unless the system is totally underground which will add hugely to the bill.

    • Once the trains are electric, the noise impact of a rail line directly adjacent to a property will be hugely reduced. That makes it much less undesirable to live right next to the tracks of a metro line; freight will continue to be diesel for the foreseeable future, which means those trains will remain noisy.

    • Steve D

      Well, the route into Takapuna pretty much has to be underground anyway, since there’s nowhere else it will fit.

      But the main line will probably at grade up the existing motorway/busway corridor. If you already live next to a motorway, a quiet, modern, electric metro line is going to seem pretty great by comparison, especially if building it avoids the need to widen the motorway.

    • San Luca

      My preference would be to live next to an electrified railway than a motorway any day

    • MFD

      “NO ONE WANTS TO LIVE NEXT TO THE RAILWAY”.

      I do, Stan.

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