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Decision made on Sarawia St

The Sarawia St level crossing has long been an issue for numerous reasons, these include:

  • It’s the only road connection for Laxon Terrace and Youngs Lane
  • It’s the busiest and most complex crossing in NZ in terms of rail movements thanks to the nearby Newmarket Junction and station
  • The gradient of the line through the area causes additional problems and added complexity
  • AT have said it will prevent higher rail frequencies due to the operational limitations.

To address the operational issues the crossing has to be closed but something needed to be done to provide the residents who rely on it access to and from their houses. Just over a year ago when AT started consulting with the local community and at the time they considered that the best option was resolve the access issue by building a new link through to neighbouring Furneaux Way. They were also considering a possible link through Newmarket Park and a bridge to Cowie St (a bridge to Sarawia St wasn’t possible due to the steep grades).

Sarawia St Options

Auckland Transport announced last week that they have finally decided what they are going to do with the Sarawia St level crossing.

AT has completed its analysis and made a decision on how Laxon Terrace will be accessed once the Sarawia Street level crossing (known as the Newmarket level crossing) is closed.

We have selected a road-over-rail bridge solution from Cowie Street to Laxon Terrace. The Cowie Street Bridge option was chosen due to it:

  • providing the safest access for all road users, compared to other options
  • accommodating all modes of transport, including pedestrians and cyclists
  • providing opportunities for improved connectivity to Newmarket Park and a planned cycling and walking route linking Parnell and Newmarket via the old Parnell rail tunnel
  • having the least disruption due to the main work site being located on railway land, away from the majority of residential properties.

The Cowie Street Bridge option will see no change to Newmarket Park or Furneaux Way. The impact on Sarawia Street will be limited to closure of the current level crossing, effectively making it a no-exit street.

In making its decision, we have endeavoured to balance the concerns of local residents and the wider community (including Newmarket Park users and rail patrons).

Development of the Cowie Street Bridge design is expected to start in March, with project completion scheduled for the first half of 2015. We are committed to working closely with local residents throughout the design and construction processes.

This is an interesting decision as at $6 million it was the most expensive of the three options and performed worse than the other two options in an economic assessment (which all benefited strongly from travel time savings to rail users). I strongly suspect it was the favourite option for those on the street though. The cheapest option was $2.6 million so less than half of the cost. Is this a case of AT just going for the easiest option due to less objections from locals? I couldn’t get an answer out of AT as to whether this was considered a roading or PT project (I’m going to assume the latter).

Also interesting is that AT are actively talking about using the old Parnell rail tunnel for a walking/cycling route.

Here’s where the bridge will go.

Cowie St Bridge

The news of this crossing has also reminded me that AT were working on a plan for what to do with all of the level crossings across the region. That was meant to have come out last year. I wonder what’s happened to it?

95 comments to Decision made on Sarawia St

  • TheBigWheel

    Looks like an expensive roading project for the benefit of a few people in Laxon St and Furneaux Way.. $ 3.4 m of discretionary spending.

    Meanwhile Newmarket Park will be impacted by the view of the wall along the top edge.. and the noise of the cars using it.

    • Typical NIMBY. How would you like if they closed off road access to YOUR house. Get Real

    • Mia Thompson

      Perhaps “TheBigWheel” would like AT to cut off road access to his property? What inane selfish comments. Bet he doesn’t even live in the neighbourhood. Blatant Attack on Natural Justice by wealthy Cowie Street Residents
      Hands off our bridge say poorer Laxon Terrace Residents
      We’ll seek Judicial Review if Council backtracks say Laxon residents
      Protest signs up again
      Say No to money politics, we want justice.

      Families living in a quiet little street in Remuera have discovered that they are under threat of having an underpass which does not meet safety standards constructed directly opposite their homes with a 50% increase in vehicle movements. And this is despite Auckland Council publically rejecting that option in December 2013.

      It has been decided that the Sarawia Street Level Crossing needed to be closed to improve Auckland’s rail network. Council undertook limited public consultation (some residents directly affected have never been contacted) and sought debate on alternative access for residents.
      Four options were considered. Out-of –Area Greens opposed a road through Newmarket Park. Wealthy Furneaux Way residents threatened to go to law over a Laxon Terrace – Furneaux Way link-up. An underpass involved the highest cost, most disruption and least safety. A Cowie Street bridge presented the best solution, will increase road safety and was thus chosen.

      However at a bitter emergency public meeting on 22 May 2014 in Parnell, it has become clear that a small number of wealthy Cowie street residents have involved heavyweight barristers in an unjust attempt to overturn that decision.

      Many people are angry about this. Firstly that council is even entertaining further submissions on a closed matter. Secondly that the Cowie Street minority are being given ‘closed-door private appeal’ rights. Counsel for Cowie Street residents has refused publication ‘fresh evidence.’ The public has no access to this private ‘fresh proposal’. Thirdly and most importantly because AN UNDERPASS IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN A BRIDGE. All in all, a classic Not-In-My-Back-Yard stoush that only goes to prove that wealthy think they can ride roughshod over natural justice and poorer people get the least safe option because they can’t afford to hire lawyers.

  • Greg N

    Well if its a PT project then thats most of this years annual cycling budget blown – since it has a cycling component, without a doubt the measly cycling budget will end up paying the bulk of it.
    At least they didn’t go for a tunnel/underpass option – that would have cost $20-30m and sucked up 3 years of cycling budget. ;-)

    I suppose the Furneaux Way residents didn’t like the (AT preferred) option that used their street as it would increase traffic past their doors and they’re certainly collectively lawyered up enough to make it probably more expensive and uncertain for AT to go down that route than go for the overbridge which while more expensive, has more controlled costs and timeframes, so may be the “cheapest” option over all. And it avoids the need for AT to maintain the private road(s) in that development – some of which are pretty ropey – having cycled down there in the recent past.

    On the subject of using the old rail tunnel for ped/cycling access – whats the grade of that tunnel? 2 to 3%? the existing rail tunnel seems pretty steep when you go through it on the train.

    Assume this link would come out near to the Parnell Station and surrounds on the northern/eastern side of the exiting rail line.
    But wasn’t there some issues with the current access not being very “cycle friendly”? So would be faced with even more works at Parnell Station to make the cycling part work.

    • Max

      Regarding the tunnel steepness, the old tunnel was renowned for steepness, but that is very relative for trains compared to cyclists. I would be extremely surprised if this was steeper than 1:30, which is really a rather gentle slope still. It may well not be steeper than 1:40 (most older rail lines actually are 1:50 maximum).

      Re how the Parnell end of the cycleway through the tunnel would connect, there hasn’t been much work from official authorities yet that I am aware – it could use the new underpass south of the train-station-to-come, but to suit as a link to the City Centre, the path would have to run parallel through the edge of the Domain on the western side of the rail track for a bit, which could be a fight, seeing that the Domain’s proponents are concerned about losing any more space or trees…

      • Max, I think there’s a path planned along the western side from the underpass to the new western platform anyway, so making it suitable for cycling shouldn’t be too difficult.

        The old tunnel isn’t much steeper than the current one, it was replaced to enable double track rather than eliminate a steep grade.

        I don’t get why out of all the options considered for replacing the level crossing, they didn’t look at the most obvious one, of running the new road above the tunnel portal. It would be relatively straight forward, albeit some earthworks and a retaining wall, but cheaper than the bridge option.

        • They did look at it but said it would have required strengthening of the tunnel and other earthworks which would have been costly

        • Max

          “The old tunnel isn’t much steeper than the current one, it was replaced to enable double track rather than eliminate a steep grade.”

          Actually, in RAIL terms it is quite a bit steeper – otherwise the new tunnel would have been single-track, and they would have kept using the old tunnel for the other direction.

          “Max, I think there’s a path planned along the western side from the underpass to the new western platform anyway, so making it suitable for cycling shouldn’t be too difficult.”

          That’s what you’d think, but sadly, AT’s consultation with stakeholders on this matter has not been good so far – at one stage, they even built the underpass claiming to have consulted CAA on it, when they hadn’t. And that was months and months after earlier attempts by CAA to get into contact with them to discuss the relevant issues, and make them aware of the Waitemata Local Board’s and local community group’s plans for the Greenway through the Parnell Tunnel.

          Of course, as you say, it SHOULDN’T be difficult to make this cycleable, and we are hopeful that AT does the right thing. The underpass itself could work well enough, but getting the links to/from it right will be critical.

  • Max

    “since it has a cycling component, without a doubt the measly cycling budget will end up paying the bulk of it.”

    Thankfully, that’s NOT how the funding system works – when it comes to the accounting as to how much cycling spending they have done, AT may argue that this is in part a cycling facility (which is true enough), but the money isn’t coming from the cycling budget – lets not get paranoid.

    Its great to hear that we will get cycle access – we at CAA argued from day one that some form of rail crossing for walkers/cyclists needed to be retained. Though I’m keen to see a bit more detail about how the cycleway to the tunnel is going to be integrated in the long run. At least Cowie Street, even with more traffic due to the new bridge, is going to be a low-volume and hopefully slower-speed street.

  • Fred

    So this means we can call bullshit everytime AT cry poor? What a stupid waste of money – they must be swimming in it.

  • Wow!, that handful of residents in Furneaux must be well connected, millions and millions just so some a few drivers don’t use their street, and so they can get directly through to the top of Parnell. Extraordinary subsidy to a small number of properties that are already well placed.

    Of course that crossing should never have consented in the first place- clearly that was done so the developer could sell one more property… this is good money after bad and at a crazy level.

    And all dressed up in green-wash. The cycle and walking track can happen without this flyover, not only that they would be much better without it.

    • Max

      It seems from old aerial photography that there was a railway crossing at Sarawia as far back as 1940, including a small subdivision. Though I agree, money could have been saved by going across to Furneaux Way. Wonder if AT will give their reasons why they chose not to go that way?

      • Presumably this was the cheapest option that maintained good access across the rail corridor, or in other words the other two options were cheaper but only by relegating pedestrian and cycle access to a maze level crossing.

        Perhaps AT and Kiwirail thought it worthwhile to spend more to avoid that?

        Pretty sure the original point of the disconnect was to avoid an almighty rat run fro Remuera rd. In hindsight maybe they should have designed it specifically for that.

        • But Nick a pedestrian and bike bridge would cost a fraction of this figure with vehicles all going to Furneaux… creating a lovely quiet little cul-de-sac…. No need for any kind of level crossing.

          And of course post CRL should actually see fewer train movements through here as the western line and much southern line traffic goes the other way.

          • Loraxus

            I suspect – but do not know – that the connection to Furneaux Way would have required compulsory land purchase, as the existing pedestrian through link is on private land. Can anyone confirm?

            At the end of the day, it’s in my opinion a failure of planners in years past (some in many, many years past), who allowed the Furneaux Way and Laxon Terrace roads / subdivisions to go ahead without mandating a proper road. Probably because locals were worried about people detouring around Newmarket Town Centre that way. This is one of the costs we get from that decision, it seems.

          • Greg N

            Patrick you are right, but in allowing Furneaux way to be used like this, AT said they would then (have to?) take over maintaining the (private) roads in this development that Laxon Terrace residents will be using to access their homes via it.

            And I think there are a potential raft of issues with these private roads – sure – not next week or next year, but in the next 5 or 10 years certainly.

            So if Furneaux way is developed like this, AT could be up for millions down the track in fixing up these dodgy private roads to “AT”/public road standard.
            Which would be an even bigger subsidy to an even bigger group of well heeled residents if that happens.

            So while it does stick in the throat this may be the better outcome for the longer term.

            However, there is one possible kicker here – whats to stop the Furneaux way residents coming to AT when their roads turn to custard and demanding access from Laxon Tce (via the new bridge) – in due course – if AT accede to that then that is also a private subsidy. So in that case I hope AT would sting the residents a fair whack of the $6m cost of the bridge.

            And I wonder it AT has factored this in to their thinking here which is why a grander scheme is being built than the desired outcome demands.

            Loraxus – yes Furneaux way did require purchase of land from the western property adjacent to the current cycleway for a single lane through road, and maybe the price of that (both for the land, and the resulting legal stoushes) is why AT backed away from this as the favoured option.

            The cycleway/ped link is on private land, but I understood that pedestrian/cycle access is covenanted and must be preserved as there was a pedestrian link through here when the old Newmarkter footbridge went across the railway.

            Mind you the development goes out of its way to discourage any use with its “These are Private Roads (- so bugger off)” signs around the place.

          • Steve D

            Won’t the option they selected also require compulsory purchase? The design look like it goes right through the private carpark for 9 Cowie Street.

      • George D

        An OIA of the reasons for and against each option would be useful.

    • Furneaux Way was never a realistic option, as you can’t have an entire 40+ home suburb accessed via a narrow shared space, especially when it’s surrounded by apartments where people purchased and moved in with the expectation it would stay as is. What happens when someone in that suburb decides to build a new house, and there’s a constant flow of trucks and contractors driving up and down the shared space? Or delivery trucks moving furniture? The suburb needs proper road access capable of handling the normal traffic of any public road in an urban environment.

  • “The news of this crossing has also reminded me that AT were working on a plan for what to do with all of the level crossings across the region. That was meant to have come out last year. I wonder what’s happened to it?”

    Meant to come out next month as well as a decision on the Manukau South Link as part of the Rail Strategy

  • George D

    This is simply bizarre.

    As Patrick says, this is a subsidy of hundreds of thousands of dollars per property.

  • Bryce P

    I’ve got a slightly different take on this. As long as traffic volumes and speeds (30kmh) are restricted, then this actually becomes a high class walking / biking route with cars as guests (in the Dutch way of doing things). As long as rat running is removed.

    • bbc

      It will of course just be a road with no marked cycle lanes and as such will not be a high class cycling facility in the slightest, it will also probably remain as a 50km/h road. Amazing that at the drop of the hat AT will spend a significant portion of what they spend on cycling in a year for the convenience of half a dozen houses and their cars.

      • Steve D

        I agree with Bryce: I’d rather the roadway was narrow and slow, than wide enough for cycle lanes and thus also speeding cars. The bridge feeds only to a dead end street: it’s very much at the “street” end of the spectrum, not a “road”.

        I wonder about this sort of design (over the bridge itself): http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2009/07/country-road.html

        I don’t think rat-running will be much of an issue: Furneaux Way residents have both the power and the motivation to stop it, and seem to do a good job at the moment.

        • Bryce P

          Those markings are show what are ‘advisory bike lanes’. This mean cars can drive in them (slowly) if there are no bikes there – for over taking or when on coming traffic is met. We don’t have such a rule in NZ (although I would argue that, like ‘sharks teeth’, we should).

          • Steve D

            We’d do it differently here: broken yellow lines at the kerb, then a solid white shoulder line further in. This already has the same legal (and probably practical) effect.

            By the way, I did see some Shark’s Teeth in Auckland the other day (albeit facing the wrong way): I’ll tweet it when I get a chance.

          • Bryce P

            Can those marking be used for bikes though I wonder? As for ‘shark teeth’, yeah, there are quite a few around but I don’t believe they have any legal standing in the road code. ‘Give way’ signs and markings obviously created for cars not multi modal.

          • Max

            Bikes are legally able to ride on the shoulder, so Steve D’s example would work – but then we might just as well do real cycle lanes / paths if we are going to such bother.

          • Bryce P

            Unless of course we are constrained by road width which is when this would be useful. In the link that Steve supplied, that road wouldn’t be deemed wide enough by AT standards for 2 way traffic and bike lanes but if the ‘advisory’ markings are present then this gives a higher element of subjective safety until budgets allow a wider road to be built, incorporating protected lanes. Yes, we should have a much bigger budget but we don’t, so perfection is some ways off (2030 apparently).

          • Steve D

            The thing is, cars can’t (legally) drive in bike lanes, so if we do formal bike lanes, AT will need to make car lanes wide enough for two-way traffic on their own, or provide specific passing bays. This option means that we can have the roadway be effectively one lane wide, but cars can still pass by each other using the “shoulder” (which they would do anyway, legal or not).

            Wide + bike lanes, in the context of a quiet residential street, is considerably worse than narrow + no bike lanes. It invites much higher car speeds.

            Seriously, this is a tiny dead end street going nowhere but serving a couple of dozen houses. Even in the Netherlands, it wouldn’t have protected bike lanes. Traffic calming is the solution. Once the Parnell Tunnel link is built, and considering that bikes can still get through to Furneaux Way, it’s (unintentionally) a perfect example of David Hembrow’s concept of “segregation without cycle paths“.

          • Bryce P

            Ah yes, I agree Steve. The bike lane stuff was a bit of an unrelated tangent….:-)

  • Fred

    This would fund a quarter of SkyPath.

    • Phil..

      Skypath is sold as a private enterprise investment – no public money should be spent on it.

      • Greg N

        SkyPath is a PPP (under the BOOT model), so you are wrong on that count.

        As for your comment that no public money be spent on Private Enterprise projects, that rules out just about every PPP planned or conceived and Charter Schools and just about half the Social Welfare programs the government runs.

        And in any case we know you position on Skypath so go take a piss on your rose bushes for us please Phil.

  • Steve D

    Money aside, this seems like the better option. I wonder if AT looked at a potentially cheaper one-lane bridge: if they were happy with one-lane access via Furneaux Way, why not a one-lane bridge?

  • Waspman

    Ah the rotten borough of Epsom strikes again. I don’t want to sound Newstalk ZB talk back callerish, but this is bloody outrageous. As previously said the quickest easiest link is there and staring them in the face and all that is needed is a slight expansion of thoroughfare that already exists at Furneaux Street.

    And if that option was taken a couple of level crossings on the Western line could also be eliminated, not to mention the long suffering residents south of Takanini and their lethal level crossings. Guess they went to the wrong school.

  • If the additional $3.4m avoids a prolonged battle through the courts, how much does AT save in lawers’ fees and court costs and delays? If the people in these streets are as well-heeled and well-connected as commenters seem to think, they’ll fight hard to get the best possible outcome for the area and that is never free for the Council. It would also mean that this decision would be held up on implementation until, probably, the CRL is completed.

    Do people here actually see no value in a pragmatic decision that avoids potential legal costs and lengthy delays? Because I sure as hell do.

    • Waspman

      Lets get really pragmatic and leave the crossing as is and better spend the money elsewhere especially where safety is the issue, not inconvenience for the locals and those jolly irritating crossing bells.

      • Greg N

        I would concur,there must be several other level crossings that $6m would get a better return for the buck than this 1 crossing.

        Seems to me that its KR driving this. I think they could postpone the decision for at least a year or so and spend the money on sorting out more important crossing meantime.

        • Rather have the crossing removed unless you want to sit at the signals that guard the crossing for 90 seconds each time – which happens now. The crossing impedes the efficient movement of second most busiest passenger line in Auckland. So again remove the crossing if you want good frequencies through the area….

          • Trains stop at Sarawia Street when there is a conflicting movement through the junction or station. Will still happen after the bridge is built. The waits at Sarawia Street won’t be eliminated, they will just be shortened, and in most cases by much lesser amounts than 90 seconds.

          • That is true – junction movements will still cause delays.
            But with the removal of the crossing the second delays from waiting for the signals to run their timers down will disappear as well (currently if a train has gone through the crossing and the barrier arms have gone back up and another train enters the area there is that run down timer before the arms will lower again.)

            That said 90 seconds down to something shorter will be better.

          • Greg N

            Why can’t there be sensors in the road that detect (like traffic lights do) when vehicles are present, if there are none then the 90 second timer shouldn’t run – it should be however long it takes to turn on the lights and lower the arms (15-20 seconds?).

            Secondly, distant sensors should be used to detect if another train is within 60 seconds of the crossing and if so, then the arms stay down for longer.

            This is not a busy intersection – the traffic analysis showed about 35 vehicles in the AM 2 hour peak so why shouldn’t they be inconvenienced by not having instant access to their properties? If they don’t like it then they can collectively pay for the difference between the cost of the bridge option and the next cheaper option.

  • JimboJones

    It actually seems like the right decision to me, 3.4 mil doesn’t go far in a legal battle. I wonder if it was the Furneaux way residents opposed, or the Laxon Tce (their drive into the city would have increased quite a lot heading backwards to Remuera), or probably both!
    While complaining Epsomites annoy me a lot, you do have to keep in mind that these people would pay a huge amount more in rates than say the residents of Takanini, If you were paying $5k in rates a year you would expect to be well looked after.

  • TheBigWheel

    @JumboJones..

    All of the above, Furneaux Way, Laxon Tce and Takanini residents alike live in a democracy.

    In a democracy, we pay taxes not to secure disproportionate discretionary benefits for ourselves but for the common good of everyone, rich and poor.

    All things equal, I expect Takinini residents to be better after than “Epsomites”.

  • Bryan

    I wonder if there would be as much antagonism against this bridge if the area had “affordable” housing instead of 57 “rich pr*ck” townhouses? How much cheaper would a cycle bridge have been, and would it not have a similar visual impact?

    • Dan

      You’re not really wondering, are you Bryan? Of course AT would go with the cheaper option elsewhere. AT went to the Furneaux Way (private street) residences with this in 2011 and didn’t manage the message very well. It’s been uphill ever since. The $4M bridge is at least a solid bet. Who knows how much it would cost to fight the toffs on Furneaux? Their precious street would see a couple hundred more car trips per day.

  • Bryan

    Would also have required purchasing a $1.2m property to get access to Parnell Rd, or a $750,000 one to get access to Ayr St.

  • Sailor Boy

    Shame you aren’t a local resident then.

  • Anthony

    This doesn’t look like a good spend of or return on public money.

    How about a toll on the new bridge. Even if the residents are paying $5K in rates per year, collectively they’re not covering even the interest on $6M.

    Fix the signals so the barriers stay down if there are any trains approaching that might get held up. They all knowingly purchased properties on the far side of a level crossing, so they can put up with waiting for the trains.

    The money would be better spent on a crossing that has more than 35 vehicles in the AM 2 hour peak, e.g. Woodward Rd = 11474 cars per day, St Jude St = 12662.

    • Laxon resident

      Anthony yes we all knowingly purchased properties in Laxon terrace but you are obviously misinformed. None of us want the crossing to close. We have spent many hours to try and convince AT that we are happy to wait, that there are no safety concerns (never had an incident ) and the money would be best spent elsewhere. AT refuses to listen. THey insist the crossing has to close. So don’t blame the residents sir.

  • Peter

    What I don’t get it is, I don’t see what’s wrong with having a busy level crossing, with 10 minute frequencies the entire network’s level crossings will be seeing what the crossing is currently seeing and with the CRL coming that will reduce the amount of trains going through there by around 1/3 even with increased frequency, how does a level crossing hold up trains, all it does is hold up the odd car/cyclist/pedestrian on a quiet as street for about a minute or less, if traffic flow was there concern why not do it at a location where there is actually thorough levels of traffic. If they really wanted to remove for some weird justification like maintenance costs or etc they could just split the street at make both sides no exit, I never see anyone there going past on the train so I doubt it would have much impact, though a footbridge or cycle bridge would be nice for those who cant go as fast as a car and simply go around.

    • Luke C

      With 2 lines at 10 minute frequency plus Onehunga this will be seeing 14 trains per hour in each direction. Level crossing would spend most of time closed. Also issues because so close to Newmarket station, so not much time between train setting off and barriers needing to be down. Could delay trains slightly.

      • Peter

        Yeah but with little traffic I still don’t see the problem even if it spends 1 minute closed 2 minutes open repeatedly, the train doesn’t take that long to pass the crossing, I suppose you might be right but it needs further investigation. Also the level crossing here at Avondale station is right next to the station, there’s no issues even with trains approaching both directions and other rather bizarre situations I’ve witnessed there…

        • Waspman

          This crossing barely affects train movements (unless it is faulty) and in the scheme of level crossings its a minnow that feeds a couple of short residential roads. As previously stated what does hold trains up is the movements of trains in and out of Newmarket (crossing over etc). This highlights the elephant in the room for AT that I think Len Brown intermated he was aware of in his letter to the editor this morning 13/02/14 and that is how are they going to cater for more trains in and out of Newmarket. Fact is if nothing changes Newmarket Junction will become a major choke point stuffing up the best laid plans for better frequencies.

          • Perhaps you guys should read the Kiwirail factsheet on why it needs to be closed http://www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/improving-transport/sarawia-st-crossing/Documents/kiwirail-fact-sheet-sarawia-street.pdf

            How does the crossing impact on the train operations?
            The crossing currently impacts train operations more than other level crossings on the network
            because of the necessary signalling measures needed to manage the high number of trains, the
            topography and the proximity of Newmarket station.
            Restrictions have been applied to the signals at the Newmarket platforms so they cannot
            be set to allow a train to leave the station until the signals at the crossing have been activated to allow
            a train through there as well – ie the alarms have started operating.
            This is due to the very steep down grade and the associated risk of a train passing a red signal and
            entering the crossing without the alarms operating. This impacts on the headway (interval between
            train services running on the same track in the same direction) through this section of the corridor with
            a train unable to depart Newmarket until the train ahead has almost reached the Parnell station site.
            There is also a safety requirement once crossing alarms are cancelled, that the alarms will not
            reactivate for 15 seconds. This allows a “minimum open time” for a car or person to safely cross the
            crossing without the barriers coming down on them. This “minimum open time” means sometimes
            trains can be required to stop when coming up from Parnell on the steep grade, with a very slow
            restart, or stay stopped at the Newmarket platform, preventing another train from berthing.

  • I think there’s some confusion here – if there are two opposing trains, the alarms remain active until both trains have passed the level crossing. If the first train clears well before the second approaches, the alarms remain active until the second train has passed. Furthermore, after the alarms have stopped, there’s only a 15 second delay until they can start again, not 90 seconds. But this won’t cause any delays to trains anyway, as the system is designed to keep the alarms active after the first train, if the second train is within the distance where it would otherwise be delayed if they switched off.

    So I would have to disagree that the level crossing causes delays to trains in that manner.

    The issue appears to be that the signals at the Newmarket station won’t allow a train to depart until the alarms have activated, and that the alarms won’t activate until any train running ahead is well north of the Parnell tunnel. So the delays only occur in the instance of two trains departing Newmarket for Britomart in quick succession.

    So, the point I’ve always made on this issue in recent years, that removal of the level crossing won’t make any difference to the frequent occurance of trains stopping at Sarawia Street, stands true. The delays at Sarawia Street are simply not caused by the level crossing. They are caused by the single track section through the junction that opposing Western Line trains have to negotiate. Something that would happen less often if KiwiRail built the missing link from the NMB Down Main to platform 2/3.

  • On a related point, are they also planning to do work to the intersections at places like Normanby Rd, Porters/Wynyard St, George St etc on the Western Line?
    I would have thought that as the Rail network gets more busy, that there would be a push to avoid level crossings altogether. They should probably be making a move on those areas already…

  • AT didn’t have the stomach to disturb the dears on Furneaux Way. Too much money to fight and too much risk to programme. Simpler to build an economically unjustifiable bridge for 200 trips/day.

    • No but AT don’t care if Laxon Terrace residents suffer 3 years of roadworks including a level crossing replacement, sewer replacement and now the bridge because Laxon Terrace residents aren’t complaining rude money-bags NIMBYS who talk loudly in the streets, pollute the air with foul ‘cooking” odours, let their dogs defecate anywhere and trespass to steal flowers and fruit

  • No cheese please

    Rat runners will not be a problem with either of the options. If the Cowie Street bridge goes ahead, there will be no access through Furneaux Way. If Furneaux Way is opened up there will be no access via Sarawia Street.

  • william@williamcarson.com

    AT has now admitted that the cost of a Cowie St bridge will be $8M-$10M and this is without benefit of knowing the cost of stabilising the ground. The true cost could well be $12M to $15M. An underpass in Sarawia St will cost under $6M. For the bridge to go ahead part of Newmarket Park will need to be acquired. You don’t need a calculator to work this one out.

    • Loraxus

      Lol. So you are happy to use rumours of unstable ground to create your own cost-blow-outs for one project. But digging a big hole for an underpass, you assume the ground is all fine?

      • william@williamcarson.com

        I am not dealing in rumours. The ground along Newmarket Park is unstable and was subject to a serious land slip in the 1970s. AT admits it has not conducted a complete geotechnical survey of that area. The area of the proposed underpass has been tested and shows no signs of instability.

        • Got a link to these admissions?

          • William

            John Worth of AT admitted to $8M on Campbell Live last Wednesday … See T V 3 on demand. Adrian Price admitted to $8-$10M at the public meeting in the Jubilee Bldg on 22 September. The AT website persists with the figure of $5.72M……this is the allocated funding not the cost.

    • Sorry but the underpass price you are quoting was a poorly designed and costed thumbsuck. The review by Opus indicates it will cost a minimum of $8.6m, and likely a lot more due to geotechnical issues… And that only gets you a super steep road access (12%) that fire engines and trucks can’t turn out of!

      The ground problems are a much more massive problem for cutting in an underpass, retaining walls and making a bridge under the rail, than putting in bridge piles above.

      https://at.govt.nz/media/707288/Appendix-5-Opus-Sarawia-Street-Underpass-Alternative-Assessment-Report.pdf

      • William

        The fire service has examined the plans and see no problem. Opus is not an independent reviewer. In fact their review is now in doubt by AT board due to a conflict of interest. Your faith in the AT website information is naive. I find it amazing that critics can condemn an underpass for which there are detailed plans in favour of a bridge for which we have nothing but an artist’s impression. John Worth of AT did not dispute the $5.6M cost of the CSRA designed underpass in his interview on Campbell Live last Wednesday.

        • Artists impression? https://at.govt.nz/media/imported/4964/Cowie-Street-Bridge-Option.pdf

          I get it, you live on Cowie St and don’t want a new road connected to it. That’s a valid point, why not just say that?

          Sarawia St is a dog of a place to build an underpass, not least because it is steep as hell already. The bridge option is straightforward, rather than fighting the grade change it works with it. The fact you don’t like the idea of a bridge doesn’t make the underpass work, unfortunately.

          Personally I always liked the Newmarket Park option, it’s one failing is that it doesn’t provide a pedestrian or cycle crossing which would need to be provided separately. Well. And the fact it opens up the park with a roadway, but I don’t see that as a problem really given the low level of traffic.

          • William

            Spot on…I do live in Cowie St but I am also a taxpayer and don’t see why the problem can’t be fixed where it exists for a lot less than a bridge. Furneaux Way was the obvious cheaper option but AT backed off that idea. I agree with you about a road through Newmarket Park but one of AT’s arguments against it was the instability of the ground!! There is already pedestrian and cycle access through Broadway Park to Newmarket Station….though not well sign posted.

          • The concern for the pedestrian link is more about access between Sarawia, Cowie, George St, Carlton Gore and the park and foreshore area, particularly because Ayr Street is so steep. As for cycling, that is in regard to the proposed Parnell tunnel/domain cycle way. Saying everyone can go through Newmarket station and broadway park doesn’t help there.

          • William

            The proposed cycle way via the tunnel has been canned according to the Waitemata Local Board chairman. I doubt if many folk in George St or Carlton Gore Road are anxious about park access…..in fact on the odd occasion I have been in the park it is usually deserted. I don’t find Ayr St particularly steep on foot and I am approaching old age in not exactly the best physical condition.

        • William – I have had it confirmed by senior AT people that the quote on Campbell Live was a bad edit from when he was talking about the residents proposed option.

          • William

            I know nothing about that but am not surprised that AT might be backtracking. They certainly appear to have a closed mind to anything other than a bridge.That still leaves Adrian Price’s figure of $8-$10M at the public meeting…….and that figure without benefit of knowing the cost of stabilising the land.

          • Put simply they don’t believe that the costs suggested from engineers employed by the Cowie St residents are accurate and I can definitely understand why. How anyone can seriously believe that it would be cheaper to shut the rail network for a month or more and dig up the tracks to put an underpass in vs building a bridge is beyond me. As for stabilisation, any bridge would just need deep enough piles whereas a underpass would need a lot of retaining work, not just for the rail network but also for the land on the northern side of the tracks

          • William

            The rail network would not be closed any longer for an underpass than for a bridge….a matter of a few days….in fact some expert opinion suggests it could be much longer for a bridge in view of safety requirements making it difficult for large equipment close to the line.

          • I think it is fair to say they have a ‘closed mind’ because they have spent a very long time going through the options in detail and have eliminated the bad options already. No point in having an open mind for things you have already investigated and found to be unworkable!

          • William

            Their mind was closed before the CSRA underpass plan was presented…..hardly democracy in action. At the 22 Sept public meeting AT management maintained that the final decision in favour of the bridge was a done deal. AT board chairman Lester Levy advised that the decision would be made at the October board meeting. Clearly there is a communication problem.

          • There’s no way it would take just a matter of a few days for an underpass. It took 5 weeks to lift and regrade the tracks for the future Parnell station and when the pedestrian underpass was put in at Kingsland a few years ago it took at least 4 weeks. Things are even more difficult now as they also have to take down the wires and reinstate them. The issues with large equipment is equal for both options (although possibly less for the bridge option as there’s likely more room to move around than the tight confines the underpass would have.

          • William

            I wonder if you have an AT connection. With an underpass the wires do not need to be down….just temporarily move the towers. The railway land is narrow on the park side and I understand there are very strict rules about large equipment, cranes etc so close to the track.
            Consulting engineers and bridge builders involved in the underpass plan are convinced the job can be done within a very tight timeframe. We don’t have the benefit of bridge plans to make any time comparisons.

          • Perhaps you should read the blog some more if you think I have a connection to AT.

            You can’t simply move the towers to build an underpass. They have to lift the existing tracks around the area (which requires the wires to come down around the site), dig out the underpass, build the underpass/retaining walls etc. and then re-install everything again. Based on other recent projects it would be at least a month. Another one to add to that list is the underpass under Wellesley St for the Grafton Gully cycleway. That too took over a month to build. Have the engineers consulted with Kiwirail at all about their plans?

            Did you submit any feedback when the consultation was on. I get the impression the Cowie St residents ignored it and after the decision came back which they didn’t like are now challenging it.

          • william@williamcarson.com

            Have you read the CSRA underpass plan? My understanding is that the work will be nothing like what you suggest. Yes…I have been dealing with AT, asking questions and providing feedback for what seems like an eternity. You appear to have the ear of someone senior at AT so my involvement can easily be confirmed if required. The problem is that AT interprets information to suit itself….even A Hutching the AT PR guy admits he doubts the value of feedback on a street by street basis as this is distorted by population…..i.e. Broadway Park will always outweigh Cowie St in any self interest vote. AT fails miserably when it comes to consultation – the last meeting was held at 8 days notice and scheduled for 2 days after a General Election. To date the residents of Bassett Road have never been consulted and the proposed bridge will make a big difference to their outlook.

            The AT board met last Thursday in closed session to discuss the matter. So far no information has been made public about that meeting – transparent governance? – I don’t think so.

            May I enquire as to your interest in all of this or should we just let the matter rest for the meantime?

          • I’ve read through all of the documents on the website, including the CSRA underpass plan. It’s fundamentally the same as the underpass option AT/Opus/Hawkins previously evaluated, except less thoroughly developed. Please point out the difference with the CSRA plan that makes an underpass suddenly cheap and effective. The only reason it’s claimed to be cheap is that it isn’t costed properly and cuts a few corners. My guess is if you did the detailed design and costing it would come out the same as the one they already looked at, and likewise still not be a good option.

          • william@williamcarson.com

            May I ask your qualifications for making such statements ?

            The CSRA plan has been funded by a small group of private people and produced by acknowledged experts in their field. I don’t think I have to defend it here when we don’t even have any detailed plans of the bridge – a bridge that is proposed to be built on unstable ground at unknown cost. The AT budget for design/consultants for the bridge is over $900,000. The think the CSRA has done pretty well in the face of such AT opposition and failure to provide timely information.

          • My qualification is that I can read. I have now read through all the proposals, reports and evaluations written by the engineers and planners that are published on the website. Their conclusion is that the CSRA Sarawia St underpass is basically the same as the previous Sarawia St option. The only difference that the CSRA option is on more of an angle, and has left out numerous construction costs. I’ve simply deferred to the experts, not making any new assessment myself.

            Now I assume this is the bit where you claim that the ‘acknowledged experts’ you have employed to develop your favourite option are true, honest, trustworthy and skilled, while the ‘acknowledged experts’ who produced the work suggesting your favourite option isn’t good are biased, unprofessional, conflicted and conspirational.

            Funny how people are so willing to place faith in experts who tell them what they want to hear, yet so quick to discredit experts who say something else. And before you also accuse me of some AT connection, know that I have no interest in this matter and don’t particularly care which option occurs as long as it works and is the best use of funds. However the evidence suggests that your option isn’t that.

          • william@williamcarson.com

            All it takes is an ability to read and a lack of information on which to make a balanced judgement……….qualifications for a talkback host or an ACT MP.

            I don’t think there is much point in pursuing the subject in this forum so I will now sign off.

          • I gotta say though that employing Carrick Graham to bat for you was a bit of an own-goal as far as pursuading any regulars on this blog are concerned. As soon as we could see he was involved, we knew some manipulation and fudging of numbers was likely going on.

            The language superlatives in the Campbell Live piece are pretty good though – being taken seriously calling it a “two lane highway” (how many lanes are 99.9% of all roads again?) as if you need any road serving a pair of cul-de-sacs would carry as much traffic as any sort of highway.

            Wonder how long it’ll be before the personality attacks begin now I’ve posted this… *checks Whaleoil*

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