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Airport only pretends to want a rail connection

On Saturday of all days, Auckland Airport (AIA) released their new 30 year vision including a website called Airport of the Future. In many ways this doesn’t appear all that different from their previous long term vision documents, with the key change seeming to be that they eventually want the future Northern runway to be longer than currently planned and consented for. Here’s the video that they have put together to show the long term vision.

There are a couple of key things that AIA are predicting to happen over the next 30 or so years.

  • Annual passenger movements will increase from 14 million to 40 million
  • The number of flights in and out of the airport will double to 260,000
  • The number of jobs in the airport area will increase from roughly 20,000 to around 40k (airport say it will create extra 27k jobs but that’s across entire economy). To put things in perspective, the entire Highbrook/East Tamaki industrial area and the Manukau City Centre and surrounding industrial areas combined contain about 40k jobs.
  • Daily trips to and from the airport predicted to increase from 63,000 per day to 140,000 per day.

That’s going to put a lot of pressure on the transport networks and the airport has been stressing that it’s leaving land aside for a future rail connection. However the more I look at what’s proposed the more it seems just like PT wash as they know it’s what the public want to hear. I’m pretty sure they don’t actually want a rail connection ever, and here are five reasons why.

1. Difficult route

If you look closely at the route above plus the staging plans you can see the route goes straight through about 9 different buildings to the south of Tom Pearce Dr. Even though the airport own the land it is going to be extremely difficult to kick out all of the businesses at or around the same time, especially if they have well established operations. My guess is we can expect increased construction costs as a result to compensate for this issue.

2014 Airport Vision Plan

This could be reduced by shifting the corridor slightly north to Tom Pearce Dr.

2. Fully underground route and station.

It’s not 100% clear from the documents but from what I understand, the AIA have basically told Auckland Transport that the entire line has to be underground through their property – although that’s partly a practicality thing too. Starting from the north the line will now obviously have to go under the proposed longer northern runway. By the time it surfaced from that it wouldn’t have long to go before having to dive underground again for an underground station that AIA want. I also can’t see them wanting an at grade line through their airport services area as that would hinder necessary movements. That’s potentially up to 3km of underground tunnelling. The outcome of this is to significantly increase the cost of the project making it harder to justify.

Along with shifting the route slightly north to Tom Pearce Dr, once it’s clear of the runway there’s no reason why it couldn’t raise to the ground level and be elevated through to the terminal.

3. Distance from the terminal.

The main reason for building a rail connection to the airport is to make it easier for passengers and staff to access the area. The plan is to combine the international and domestic terminals into a single building with the domestic one in the south end with the international terminal in the northern end. Now I assume there would be underground links under the multiple roads accessing the terminals however even so the location of the station is potentially up to 500m away from the international terminal. Airports are obviously good at moving people long distances through the likes of travellators however that is quite some distance. The station would also be further way from the terminals than the parking buildings proposed. Perhaps there’s a legitimate reason for it, but it seems this is just another way to reduce demand for any rail service.

Surely it wouldn’t be that hard to extend the route a few hundred metres closer to the terminals.

4. Second Airport area station

As mentioned a bit part of the AIA’s plans is to turn the area into not just a better airport but a massive employment hub too. They are already working on developing a CBD type area with hotels, office parks and retail on their land. It may look close on the image below but those offices are about 1km away from the proposed station. This may be part of the reason for the airport station being short of the terminal but if that’s the case, the reality is most people working in the office areas aren’t going to want to cross a the mega roads needed to serve the terminals and carparking buildings to access it on a daily basis. With a station more directly connected to the terminals, another station about 1km east to serve the office and retail precincts might be better. It might add a little bit to the journey time of trains but help the line be far more useful to more people which should more than make up for it.

2014 Airport Vision Precincts

5. Carparking

It’s no secret that AIA makes a lot of money from carparking and that revenue has been growing strongly. In the year to June 2013 the revenue from their parking business was just over $40 million, about 9% of their total income. Currently the airport has about 7,000 carparks and as part of their vision they want to expand that to about 20,000 carparks (although it isn’t clear if this is extra or total – the herald article suggests it’s extra). The intention is to focus the new parking in two mega buildings that are both directly linked to the terminal and they would be built in the first phase of the master plan which means before 2022. They are the two massive buildings in the image below. To give a sense of scale, the recently build Novotel Hotel right next to the international terminal can be seen right next to the curve in the terminal building. In terms of carparking buildings, the AT’s massive downtown carpark holds less than 2,000 cars.

2014 Airport Vision aerial

All up there doesn’t seem like that much commitment and definitely not any real push by AIA to get a rail line to the airport built. At a recent IPENZ discussion I understand they basically said they thought the only people who would use a rail line/PT to the airport were the time rich. This is almost hilarious though as a train would be able to get people to the airport from the heart of the CBD in about 35 minutes, even with stopping at stations along the way. That’s a kind of time that simply won’t be possible to achieve on the roads most times of the day. They apparently also said expected buses to be able to cope with demand for the next 30 years yet seemed to think the roads around the airport would be able to handle a doubling of traffic.

Things definitely aren’t looking good for rail to the airport.

142 comments to Airport only pretends to want a rail connection

  • Fred

    The airport has been pretending to want rail for decades while doing everything possible to stop it.

    Which is a dumb tactic because all that land wasted on giant carparks could make them way more money as hotels, office buildings or whatever. Terrible short term thinking.

  • Gary Young

    I had always thought the plan was to have a line running through or under the airport precinct and continuing onwards to reconnect with the main trunk heading south to enable links to Manukau, Pukekohe and even Hamilton.

    Why build a station that requires reversals? It ought to be designed like Sydney’s airport link which simply continues through the airport as part of the wider suburban rail network.

    It also occurs to me that projected job numbers in the 20,000 to 27,000 figure are, in themselves, sufficient to justify a rail line and station.

    • There’s a couple of major problems with a connection to Manukau.
      -There’s no clear running pattern That makes sense.
      -There are difficulties in the connection to Manukau that make it much more costly.
      -demand not likely to be strong enough for a rail line between the airport and south. That’s one reason why we’ve gone for a busway in the CFN.
      -The network vastly improve connections from Mangere to Manukau
      -if there was any station where a longer dwell was warranted it would be the airport with lots of people getting on/off trains with lots of luggage

      • The reversal situation at the airport is just the Britomart and Newmarket issues repeated. The plan needs to be changed to include through running.

        If the line is to be from one direction only, it should be from Wiri, as that enables airport trains from north, east and south. The Onehunga option only enables north, which means it’s pretty useless as a means for Aucklanders to get to the airport.

        Start with Wiri, to get the airport trains from north, east and south running. Then in the longer term, build the airport-Onehunga-Avondale line as a new suburban route.

    • Patrick R

      A much poorer option for many reasons, doesn’t serve the Mangere community, nor the commercial area north of the airport [so not just about travellers], also there are already two branch lines off the Southern Line, and branch lines fracture service frequency, extending the O-Line [and upgrading it] means higher frequency for this community as well as all those on the way to the new line end. In other words it works really well in running pattern design [see the CFN]. Also this line can still be extended east to the Southern Line where it it would join with a south facing connection, rather than another city connection, in order to serve the growing southern population… including the Waikato etc.

      • Gary Young

        Alternatively then; since the new building has a curved frontage how about a loop, as at Heathrow, and site the station at the midpoint of the terminal, either underground or at first floor level like Hong Kong.

        • Patrick R

          Yes, exactly.

        • I actually prefer the idea of the line terminating at the terminal building (or both lines even, if the manukau side stacks up too). Not only is that cheapest to build and the smallest footprint, it means the station platform can blend right into the departures hall with no stairs or escalators. You could roll straight off the end of the platform and on to the airport concourse.

      • You can either have a proper airport service that takes people by train to the airport from north/west, east and south, which means the Wiri line, or you can have a new suburban line through Mangere, with a second-rate airport service tacked on the end that only goes north/west and not east or south.

        The whole idea of airport rail is to provide a rail service for Aucklanders to get to the airport on, and Onehunga-only won’t do that. The airport will expect results for its investment in rail, which means providing a service to all the major rail lines. People travel to/from the airport from all over Auckland, not just the CBD.

        The Wiri option is shorter, cheaper and more relevant as an airport service, so lets get that built, and worry about providing Mangere with a new railway station as the next project, preferably as part of an Airport-Avondale line.

        • Sailor Boy

          We can do Wiri, give it stuff all frequency and only add an airport stop, or get Mangere bridge, Mangere, Favona and the airport, actually put some decent frequency on it and more importantly have a shorter trip to most of Auckland.

          • Build Wiri and give it a high frequency.

            But the point is, the airport station must be built with through-running in mind, and not the current plan of having drivers change ends, and trains crossing each others paths outside the station as shown on the airport upgrade plan. That’s just repeating the mistakes of Quay Park and Newmarket. Have the rail planners learned nothing?

          • So Geoff a third branch off the Southern Line and somehow it will have high frequency?, rail infrastructure must be designed with real running patterns in mind, unlike highways. The Airport alone is likely to be an insufficient driver of ridership and therefore frequency, however a line through the employment and residential areas of Mangere plus the commercial and airport makes real sense. And by extending the O-Line service and upping its frequency means these trains have somewhere to go without trying to add too many more trains through Newmarket and Britomart. Currently the O-Line is two trains an hour, take that through Mangere, linked with local buses, and to the airport with stops in the commercial areas and it could start with 6 per hour, trains every 10 minutes. A service with a good variety of rider generators along the way and great anchors at each end. Airport v. NM and the CRL city stations.

            The airport is a sensible place to terminate services, and this can mean from and to the south too. I can see services from the Waikato for example terminating there [why wouldn't the airport want that?] which I think makes much more sense for southern travellers than a slow loop all the way to NM and Britomart from the South. Those not heading to the airport would transfer earlier to regular city EMU services. Or running that south-airport-city service with a slightly longish dwell at the airport in order to allow for those with luggage to alight and for time keeping. The airport is not at all comparable as a stop to Newmarket.

            I have used a lot of Airport train services around the world and in my view it is far more important to have the station completely within the Terminus than swinging passed at a 500+ metre distance across roads and labyrinthine carparks which almost certainly would be the cost of insisting on an inline station.

          • It’s also repeating the ‘mistakes’ of Papakura, manukau, Swanson and Onehunga… Not a mistake at all, just the terminus.

            Trains have to terminate and drivers change end somewhere, where would you have them do it? Wiri? Manukau? Papakura?

          • Sailor Boy

            Exactly what Patrick said. where on Earth are you planning to run the trains to at the other end.

          • Nick, trains shouldn’t have to “terminate” at the airport at all. The plan is to have them arrive from Britomart, driver change ends, then depart for Papakura, probably stopping at the airport junction to let another train past. It’s a dumb plan.

            It should be designed as a through route, because it will operate as a through route. Remember, the whole Onehunga-Wiri line is planned, not one or the other. My argument however, is that in order to get it underway sooner, they get the short bit built first, then do the longer bit later, preferably all the way to Avondale.

            Patrick, I would have the line routed differently so that it passes closer to the terminals on that through route. I agree, 500m should be avoided.

          • Just not gonna work Geoff, for the reasons pointed out above:

            1. Another branch line off the Southern; what’s the frequency? 1- 2 trains and hour?
            2. Only serves the Airport and some now splintered catchment on the spine of the Southern; won’t stack up.
            3. If just a connection service to existing Southern services- well buses can [and do] do that.

            The Airport is the end of the line, doesn’t mean there can’t be a South to the the same Airport terminus service too. But an Airport to the City via Wiri is a very poor option that won’t pass the sniff test.

            I guess you could try to get a South-Airport connection built first, with transfers at Homai or Puhinui for the city [there is no station at Wiri] but then people are already lobbying for an south facing connection at Manukau; so how would that work? A few services go south to Manukau, another few North, and another few west to the Airport? To have 10 minute frequencies on these routes Papakura would have to be served by 18 trains an hour! The same problem as having a third branch line from the north: either poor frequencies on each branch or uneconomic oversupply on the spine and centre.

            Shame Manukau isn’t west of the Southern, then it would be like taking the O-Line south; extending an existing branch, which makes operational sense. But adding another one is hopeless.

          • Bryce P

            Makes more sense for any RTN line to go from the Airpirt to Botany via Manukau as it’s own line. A busway would do nicely.

          • So you want to terminate them at Papakura instead. So how many trains an hour are you sending there now?

          • tuktuk

            Absolutely go for Onehunga – Mangere Bridge – Mangere – Airport as the highest priority WITH a decent terminal at the airport close to the action (as close to the terminals as Melbourne’s Skybus is ideally, or Heathrow, or even Sydney’s train station which isn’t too bad in location). Just achieving that will be momentous. And heck, we’re already part way there with Onehunga. With decent frequency, much like any other hub and spoke network, there will be good options to transfer to other services at Penrose, Newmarket, Aotea and Britomart. Trains, buses and ferries connecting at these points with a frequent commuter rail service would allow all the Auckland region tight integration with an Airport link.

            The point has also been well made by others that it is actually the residential and employment areas en-route that will make it viable for rail. There is a strong indication that Mangere itself is already a considerable source of employees working at the airport and surrounding warehousing district. The airport traveller traffic itself is really just the icing on the cake, though over time, on the back of a frequent commuter service, provided fares are reasonable, it will steadily grow in popularity. I think it will actually exceed expectations and is needed to link the economic growth of the airport with the city itself.

            What is forgotten about a Wiri link, is that a bridge would be required over a deep inlet near the airport at a similar location to the current road. So, actually no real cost saving there, perhaps the bridge might be half to two-thirds the span distance….but a bridge is still needed.

            Looking longer term, it is a good thing that at least a route is potentially being designated toward Wiri and Manukau City. And it is OK to trade off a through station at the airport against a better location at the airport. If a link through to Manukau is heavy rail, then, again as others have pointed out, dwell time at the airport is less of an issue than it is at Newmarket as passengers will need time to cart luggage on-board. It may however be that a link through to Manukau, and around to Botany Downs, the east and perhaps on to the North Shore may actually better suit a different form of rapid transit technology. In that instance a shared terminus with cross platform transfers between the two rapid transit modes is actually a huge bonus.

            Lastly, a perhaps another option for the link from the airport through to Wiri, and points south. It is possible that a regional fast train service may eventuate in future to Hamilton. It is tempting to try to mix that into an airport link also…..however there are potential trade-offs involved in mixing fundamentally different equipment and operating patterns. Perhaps making the connecting stations at Wiri, and between the rapid transit and departures at the airport as good as they can possibly be, is actually the better way to go. On the proviso, of course that frequency is reliable, frequent, and fast between Wiri and the airport. And noting that passengers off such a regional service also have transfer options at Newmarket, Britomart and possibly elsewhere on the network.

            Great posts and responses by the way to all on recent developments in the Auckland PT scene.

            So much better than the Herald which as of this evening had ignored today’s switching on of the power at Britomart entirely to fuss about the mayor’s $5200 gym equipment… the article was written by one of the usual suspects, what a complete plonker. Given the mayor’s past health worries, this really is scraping the bottom of the barrel, shame on you Herald.

          • tuktuk

            ‘And it is OK to trade off a through station at the airport against a better location at the airport.’

            Correction there – And it is OK to prioritise a better location at the airport in preference to a through station.
            Hope that clarifies that. It is getting late in the evening, even in my neck of the woods.

          • Yes Nick, airport trains terminating at Papakura? Why does that surprise you, obviously there’s no point in terminating north or south of Papakura, as that’s the main southern area station.

            No Patrick, not another branch line, the airport line is Penrose-Wiri, so through services are planned, although you may temporarily have a branch line if one leg is opened before the other. Obviously a good reason to change the airport rail layout as currently proposed don’t you think? Why have yet another location where through trains have to change direction, as per Western Line trains at Newmarket?

            If I understand you two correctly, you are advocating for Auckland Transport to downgrade the airport rail project to a dead-end branch line that only serves the north, instead of the current plan to provide a through line that serves the north, south and east.

          • No you don’t understand. There is no current project, no designation for this area, just lines on maps by people like us. There is a study, called SMART, that is still not public. We are advocating the staging of a possible pair of lines that meet at the airport, by advocating for the only one that has a chance of happening because it is the only one that stacks up. There is no chance that both directions will be built at once, and yes the Airport is a great end of line location. You are fixated on a non-problem; the service could still run in the future on to the southern line.

            For this area to host the first major new line after the CRL the project will have to be as cost effective as possible and add as much value as possible. I repeat this means there is no chance it will be a big loop across two rivers in its first iteration, so the argument then is; which direction adds more value and it is clear that the answer to that is the extension [and upgrade] of the O-Line. Then the issue is that it must integrate fully with the terminal and not cost a fortune to feed through the other competing needs of the airport- therefore a again a sweeping loop under 100s of metres of airport property is a potential game breaker. And must have another stop in the pre-airport commercial zone.

            Why you mention Heathrow i can’t understand; four separate terminals served by a loop; that’s not through routing but a cul-de-sac.

            ‘Why have yet another location where through trains have to change direction, as per Western Line trains at Newmarket?’ Because it is not like Newmarket at all. It is a very particular kind of destination, and as explained above, and there are advantages in both cost and operation in this kind of terminal. And it is a terminal. And still be run well as one with a future line east as well.

          • It surprises me because you seem to want to terminate every train in Auckland in Papakura. Just how many trains does the township need each hour?

            Downgrade what? There isn’t even a designated corridor, let alone a plan, let alone a confirmed and funded one. Are you preempting the SMART study and just deciding what you’d like and calling that the plan?

          • Nick, it’s not about Papakura, it’s about serving the airport. To be viable, an airport rail service will need to link the entire rail network to the airport. It won’t work if you only make part of the rail network relevant to airport travellers. There will be plenty of passengers from southern stations to/from the airport, not to mention many airport workers live in southern suburbs.

            The Wiri option is almost half the cost of the Onehunga option, but has a much larger catchment of airport travellers.

            Patrick, I didn’t mention Heathrow? The airport options were investigated extensively by ARTA, and the loop option to Wiri was favoured, so I’m not sure why AT would go back to the drawing board, unless they are influenced by the central government desire to contain rail’s role in Auckland to that of a CBD feeder only, with everything else to be buses on roads?

          • Geoff from what I’ve heard the cost of a connection to Wiri isn’t about half the cost. In fact it’s about the same, if not more as one through Mangere. The problem lies with what to do at the Wiri end and how it’s hooked back in to the existing network. Also no political party (with the possible exception of the greens) will agree to build a line from Onehunga to the airport if one from Wiri already exists, at least not any time soon afterwards. That means it’s imperative we go for the option that provides the most overall benefits to the wider community and that means extending the line from Onehunga and thereby picking up the residential and commercial catchments around SH20 and SH20a. Going via Wiri will not be as successful and the results of that will be used to argue against further network expansion by those who oppose PT.

          • Matt, the airport line junction at Wiri is quite straight forward, being located opposite the Manukau Branch Junction, then simply follow the motorway and Puhinui Rd. There’s no major obstacles in the way, although two underpasses and the inlet bridge will be required. From memory, I think the Wiri option was $473m and the Onehunga option $890m in 2008 dollars (I stand to be corrected). The expense with the Onehunga option, aside from the extra distance, is the need for massive undergrounding through Onehunga, a significant number of grade separations, and a large bridge across the harbour.

  • Nik

    I’ve always thought that rail to the airport was going to happen, but the deal breaker would be the access charge for the station. The main revenue streams that rail would affect wouldn’t just be parking but also taxis.

    Recent comments are that they don’t want to pay for any of the infrastructure associated with rail, but I’m guessing they’ll want to clip the ticket for any passengers that use the station.

    With a sizeable capital return about to happen, I believe that the board should be reminded that the airport is a public good, not only a revenue generator.

    • Loraxus

      With it being only 25% in Council hands, it IS mainly a revenue gatherer. Thanks to previous iterations of neoliberal sell-offs of profitable companies.

  • Sacha

    Cheeky pricks need to be reminded where all their land came from.

  • The Airport company intend to keep up the healthy income stream from an expanded parking business and expect the City and State to keep subsidising that by pouring billions into ever wider roads through the surrounding communities to facilitate it. To secure this and to pay back their planned investment in extremely vast parking structures it is important to frustrate any competition to this plan, this is why they are so controlling of the taxi industry’s presence and have never been interested in rail. All business loves a monopoly, and the airport already is one, especially in such a distant and isolated country, it is important that Aucklanders and the Council don’t just roll over and allow them to dictate terms. After all it is us they wish to tax execute this business plan.

    What has changed is the that they know Aucklanders want rail to the airport and they can see the inexorable logic of it from an objective position, after all they have plenty of overseas consultants that no doubt all assume that this most efficient system will be integrated into any growth programme. So now we can see their new strategy: they are making soothing noises about rail while working as hard as possible to insist that the only possible rail route is as expensive and inconvenient as possible.

    The government is already right there with plans to urgently supersize the road access further for them, and unfortunately the Council as a shareholder makes it much less a detached operator here. As in its dealings with the Ports of Auckland Limited it seems to get seduced by the promise of higher dividends and fails to pull back and consider all the issues.

    The extension of the Onehunga Line through the Mangere residential communities, serving the growing work force north of the Airport and finally the staff and users of the Airport itself will clearly be a successful attracting high ridership from each of those different sources; anchored by the City Centre at one end and the growing Airport and commercial centre at the other. And a really significant tool in keeping the roads through and to all these places flowing and functional.

    The Council needs to balance all the issues here and firmly show the AIAL that its growth plans need to take into account the impacts on the whole city and not just on the laziest ‘rental’ profits they can find. And right now that means not falling for this gold-platted rail to the airport plan.

  • Gary

    Has anyone told them that even with the most optimistic peak oil forecasts that oil will have peaked well before this plan becomes reality?

    Electric rail will become a lifeline not a hindrance!

    • mfwic

      I am not trying to be a smart arse (not this time anyway) but can you have both peak oil and global warming? I mean if the oil runs out doesn’t that fix the climate change thing? Have the climate experts factored in peak oil or do they straight line pollution? Any thoughts?

      • Gary

        Mfwic – just to explain the concept of peak oil, it is not about oil ‘running out’ it is about declining production which means that growth stops (or will be very difficult to maintain) therefore stifling the economy that relies on it.

        There will still be a lot of oil left (and other fossil fuels) to create global warming but peak oil (energy) will mean that we will not be able to produce as much as we have in the past; it will be a far bigger problem than global warming depending on your view point.

      • Loraxus

        Of course you can – delayed effects. To a good degree, we will have global warming even if we stop burning fossile fuels TODAY. It’s long past the point of no return – now it’s all about making it “not as bad as it can be”.

        Also, we have tons of fossil fuels – coal – left. Coal can be changed to oil, coal can be burned for electricity. At even worse climate change cost than using oil. Plus, there’s oil that we can get at – but only once prices rise enough, and only with massive ecological effects in getting it, like tar sands. So if we don’t change to other energy sources, this is likely to happen (coal, tar sands) even more than it is already.

      • Gary Young

        “if the oil runs out doesn’t that fix the climate change thing?”

        Alas, no. The fossil fuel reserves that have already been extracted and burnt to date ensure that warming will continue for decades yet, even if we stopped using oil right now. There is huge momentum in the Earth’s climate systems that we are powerless to stop. All we can do now is try to reduce the harm to the environment in the longer term by modifying our behaviour.

        This, by the way, is well off topic, so I’ll say no more.

      • john smith

        unfortunately yes, as there is HEAPS of coal. ‘Peak’ only refers to the particular fossil fuel that is most convenient for transport.

      • mfwic

        Thanks for your comments. The coal issue sent me googling in that direction. Looks like you are on the money, it depends how much coal gets used as a substitute. Some say it will get worse as coal releases sulphur others say no because there isnt enough oil and coal reserves are overstated and difficult to get at. the two views are http://www.peakoilawareness.info/peakoil-and-global-warning-a-link.php saying it gets worse and http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/peak-oil-may-keep-catastrophic-climate-change-in-check/ saying the business as usual CO2 scenario is unlikely. Its a bit of an alien versus predator debate with neither being good.

    • JimboJones

      Won’t need rail to the airport after peak oil – very few will be able to afford to fly. I guess AIA would rather ignore that possibility.

      • Loraxus

        “very few will be able to afford to fly.”

        More likely we will find alternatives, at least in the mid-future. Hydrogen-powered planes have been working for a while now, but are still a decade to two from practicality for large airline uses. And with fixed routes and large infrastructure hubs at each end, implementing support for hydrogen planes will arguably be easier than for hydrogen cars…

        • Greg N

          You know “hydrogen powered” flying devices were invented some 60 years ago – then they were called V2 Rockets and ran on Hydrogen Peroxide, and before that we had Hydrogen packing Airships, like the Hindenberg.

          I don’t fancy flying in the 21st century equivalent of any of those thanks, and neither will most of the 40+ million population AIA expects to use the Airport 30 years from now after Peak-Oil.

  • TheBigWheel

    “I also can’t see them wanting an at grade line through their airport services area as that would hinder necessary movements” ..so, around the terminal areas, build it above ground like Brisbane, Frankfurt and dozens of other airports I could think of. Anyway, it needs to go right into or immediately outside (connected via covered walkway) the main terminal building.

    The Council (who we elect, and whose mayor says he wants to build rail to the airport) needs to apply much more pressure to AIAL to get this done, and properly.

    • Bryce P

      If only Banks hadn’t sold those shares. AC would be in a much stronger position otherwise.

      • Patrick R

        Not necessarily; as with POAL it seems that dividend dependence leads the Council to compromise their wider governance role…. But yeah, it was a stupid decision simply on a business level, the city would be in a better financial position without having sold them, but then it was always about ideology not what’s best for the city.

  • Gary Young

    On a different note does anyone else think the new terminal arrangement is back to front?

    If the shorter northern runway is for local and domestic flights while the existing long runway is international then all domestic and international aircraft will have to pass one another on conflicting pathways when moving to and from their respective runways.

    • Yeah, exactly what I was thinking. Surely domestic should be next to the new short runway?

    • The new plan sees the northern runway the same length as the southern one and they say the airlines want domestic kept south. That means the majority of international flights will be on the north

    • Nick M

      I’d say the intention in the long term would be to use the northern runway for international services. At 2150m it should be capable of handling most departures to east coast Australia and the Pacific, and a reasonable percantage of international arrivals from everywhere (though at a guess more heavily loaded widebodied aircraft might not be able to accept such a runway for landing). The material released talks about it being expected to be used by types such as A320s, B777s and B787s. I actually think it makes a lot of sense for the northern runway to be more focused on international routes and the southern one on domestic routes. If you look at a great circle which is aligned with Auckland’s runway direction, every international route currently served except Santiago is on the northern side of this route, while every domestic route except Kaitaia, Kerikeri, and Whagarei is on the southern side. I’ve mocked this up at http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=AKL-PERAKL-PPTAKL-36%B051%2723%22N+4%B012%2730%22WAKL-37%B009%2723%22N+6%B012%2730%22W&MS=wls&DU=mi

      I actually think serious consideration needs to be given to whether the northern runway should be longer still, in order to allow all international departures to go from it. By 2025 it is likely that the current generation of Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s will have been almost entirely replaced by Boeing 777Xs, 787s and Airbus A350s, all much quieter types, so the noise impact on communities could be relatively small. Extending the runway to the west rather than the east could also help in this regard, although there would be a greater cost to doing this.

      Finally, another thing to consider is that during lower traffic periods and when the wind conditions permit it, having two parallel runways of sufficient length would allow simultaneous opposite direction parallel runway operations (SODPROPS). Night times would be the most common use of this mode of operation. If 05L/23R is built as 2150m the airport may be able to handle SODPROPS with arrivals on 05L and departures on 23L, with some heavier arrivals needing to land on 23L. A longer 05L/23R could increase the ability to operate SODPROPS and thus reduce noise impact to the east.

      • Last year my plane landed at Frankfurt in complete parallel with one on an adjacent runway. I was able to watch it as if I was witnessing the plane I was in from the outside while being in it. Kind of surreal.

      • George D

        Engine technologies are improving continually, and noise generally represents inefficiency. The new generation of jets coming into production in the next five years are all much more efficient than the ones they represent, and by 2030 the current a320/737 generation will have been eliminated entirely, replaced by near-term NEO/MAX replacements and the subsequent ‘new small aircraft’ generation. Noise will be less of an issue, but development in Auckland will have intensified and corridors may contain more affected people.

        • Bob

          The airways corp have changed the way they route flights in and out of Auckland. There isn’t a single corridor anymore, but a wide swathe, where they allow jets to turn not long after takeoff and fly over the central isthmus. That is what people in Epsom, Onehunga have been complaining about in the past couple of years.

  • JimboJones

    If we had two airports in competition and the other got rail, AIA would struggle to compete. Maybe that’s the answer? Can we get rail to Whenuapai? Maybe Auckland Council should sell its shares in AIA first though ;)

    • Gary Young

      “Can we get rail to Whenuapai?”

      Taking a branch off the Kumeu line should be no harder than extending rail to Mangere. Trouble is, it couldn’t be electric because of the Swanson tunnel problem.

      The whole Whenuapai second airport question has gone very quiet in recent times. I suspect it is a bit of a dead duck though you are right – it would give AIA a bit of a kick where they need it.

      • Loraxus

        Only if the second airport provided international flights. And you can kinda see how locals would oppose this…

        • Lloyd

          What about Hamilton Airport? It is closer to Auckland than Kuala Lumpur’s airport is tpo Kuala Lumpur.

          • bbc

            Provide high speed rail from Auckland to Hamilton airport and I’d happily fly out of there, otherwise there’s no way I’d choose an airport that required 1 1/2 hr drive to get to.

  • If only the Council and NZTA would look at how much they’ve already spent on roading access to the airport, and how much they are likely to need to spend in future. Surely the sum is way more than higher capacity rail to the airport.

    What ever happened to the SMART rapid transit study? Has that stalled?

    • Patrick R

      Highjacked by these demands by AIAL and the other pro-road forces that have learned to bury alternatives under unreasonable additional costs would be my guess.

    • mfwic

      I am pretty sure it is a rule that anything with Smart in its name is going to be BS. It is always code for “we are selling something” Just like Euro in a name means “cheap and nasty”.

  • Christopher T

    Given that the current runway is barely 1m above sea level, I imagine that AIA will be desperately sea walling it in 30 years time and bemoaning the fact that their grand plans didn’t account for the effects of climate change. 14 to 40 million passenger movements per annum; in their dreams, I suspect. As with pretty much every other New Zealand-run company, the level of climate change deniability at strategic level is astounding. But, hey, dinosaurs are meant to behave like dinosaurs and extinction seems to be the preference here.

  • Loraxus

    Video not playing due to privacy settings…!

  • Nick1234

    Auckland Airport is a commercial organisation therefore it would be irresponsible of them to do anything other than maximise their profits. Like all commercially run airports, that means focusing on car parking and retail rather than on usability for passengers. It’s a wonderful business model, just like Westfield with the added bonus that customers willingly pay significant amounts for parking too. The only way that will change would be due to government intervention.

    • JimboJones

      Are you saying that Heathrow would make more profit if they shut down their train and tube access? I guess the difference is that they have competition, and people will pay more to fly out of Heathrow because its much easier to get to than Stanstead or Luton.

      • Gary Young

        Although in Heathrow’s case the rail connections only take you into London where you then have to change for mainline rail services.

        I used to love visiting Heathrow when I was a plane-spotting schoolboy but the last couple of times I flew from there I found it crowded, noisy and with far too many arrogant and officious jobsworths on the staff.

        On my last two visits to the UK I used Manchester and Birmingham. They are altogether quieter and more pleasant and in both cases you can walk from the terminal to the airport railway station to catch direct trains to any other city.

    • Nick that is a wild over simplification. The airport is a public service that has had all sorts of public support including but not limited to the ability to forcibly acquire land in order to provide this service. It is run commercially for transparency and efficiency reasons, ie as a process but this fact doesn’t define its entire purpose.

      • Nick1234

        That’s true, but as a commercial operation it is inevitable that maximizing profit will take higher priority than other considerations. If it didn’t there would be something wrong. Unfortunately in the case of an airport, particularly one like Auckland that has virtually no competition, that leads to results that don’t always put the passenger or community first. I’m not saying it results in a terrible airport, far from it, but the drivers to improve public transport links are never going to be as great as those to increase retail or parking revenue, unless the government forces the issue.

  • JimboJones

    What if the airport built and owned the rail on its property and took a share of the ticket price? Most PT airport routes are much more expensive than equivalent routes – if the fare to the airport was say $16 (same as airport express) with AIA getting the difference between that and the amount AT charge for the normal zone fares, then they might make some reasonable money from it. And of course the cost of building it would be much less with the AIA doing some of the work.

    • If the fare was $16 no one would use it. Remember that the vast majority of passengers would be those 40,000 workers they plan to have on site, air travellers are a small slice of the pie.

      • Gary Young

        But the fare on the Airbus is already $16 and it seems to be busy.

        • Busy for a bus carrying air passengers yes. Put those people on a train and you’d be lucky to run one train an hour half full.

          • Bob

            but the train would also pick up and drop off passengers in the suburbs it passes through.

          • Yes of course, and you’ll also have the airport workers who’ll outnumber air travellers substantially… if you charge the normal price for it. My point is the number of people who might pay that extra big fare is comparatively small, so why bother. The bad marketing alone is reason enough not to. Ask anyone about the Sydney rail link and the first thing they say is “geez it’s expensive, don’t use it, you’re better of catching a cab”.

            One train holds about 15 bus loads of people, you’d have to be running a bus a minute before trains automatically become warranted. Price off the workers and you are left with an airport station that warrants about one train a hour at best. Then you start to wonder why you’d bother spending hundreds of millions to take it past the Mangere suburbs.

            If they are going to do this they need to make it actually work for a lot of people, not build it and slap on a huge surcharge just because thats what some other airports do.

          • Nik

            I’m working in Sydney and only catch the train. Sydney traffic is horrendous, it’s only three stops from international to the city.

            The good news is that the fare i paid yesterday when i flew in was less than thursday when i flew out due to using Opal rather than cash, the Sydney version of Hop. The only plus about Hop verus Opal is that Hop is rolled out and Opal is only Ferries and Trains, with a couple of bus routes, so far. The airport Opal readers went live on the 28th.

      • JimboJones

        You could have significantly cheaper monthly passes for workers.
        If they did make it to 40mil movements, and if 10% of those took the train, and if AIA took $5 per pax, that would be $20mil per year. If AT took $6 that would be $11 each way to the city, not too bad compared to taxi ($70 each way), bus ($16 each way) or car (20km @ $0.77/km + parking)

        • So why bother charging $16 for a handful of air travellers considering that most of the users will be workers, you won’t make much off the air travellers getting stung. Why not just charge the normal fare?

          • JimboJones

            Are you sure it would be mostly workers? If 50% of workers took the train, that would be a predicted 20,000 a day. If 20% of airline passengers took the train, that would also be a predicted 20,000 per day.
            Like I said, if just 10% of the predicted 40 million air travellers took the train it would be $20 million P/A at $5 per head. That’s not a bad ROI if the airport spent $100 million on building its part of the line and station.

          • @Jimbo Jones, Although your ROI is calculated on there being no reduction in earnings from other transport sources,
            It is claimed they make about $3.5 million in taxi licenses a year ( and would probably be more with 40 million Pax), so this is likely to fall if some passangers switch to rail.

            http://www.indiannewslink.co.nz/index.php/archives_2013/dec_15_2013/airport-taxi-drivers-plan-fast-unto-death.html

          • Passenger movements are predicted to grow from 14 to 40 million, or about a hundred thousand a day. Ok, however don’t forget that AKL is the major hub for New Zealand (and to a lesser degree internationally), i.e. a lot of passenger movements connect between domestic and international without leaving the airport. Currently 5% of passenger movements are international-international transit, I can’t find a source on domestic-international transit but I wouldn’t be surprised if it accounted for half the movements overall (particularly as one person going domestic to international or vice versa = two passenger movements).

            So 100,000 passenger movements in the future might only equal 50,000 people arriving or departing at the terminal building. 20% of those is 10k trips.

            Note also that air travellers are one sided travellers, while workers are return travellers. 50% of 40,000 workers taking the train = 40k *trips* per day (assuming people commute both ways, two trips a day per worker).

            Real back of the envelope stuff but I think 4/5 workers 1/5 travellers sounds about right. So not sure about having a surcharge only to go back and reimburse that for 4/5 of users.

          • JimboJones

            Nick, that’s why I only used 10% of the 40 million, because a lot of them will take other flights, not the train. I think 10% is conservative.
            You don’t have to reimburse workers as such, just have a monthly or weekly Airport pass ticket that anyone can buy.

          • JimboJones

            greenwelly, point taken. But a lot of people will still take taxis (hence why I said only 10% of people will take the train), so a lot of that $3.5 million will still be taken. The bigger impact will probably be on their carpark business. But if the AIA can take as much money from someone arriving by train as they do from someone taking a car or cab, then they would be much more likely to build a train line – especially as it could seriously increase passenger numbers as currently the cost of getting to the airport is a major reason people choose to drive nationally or not go overseas.

        • Bob

          Workers using public transport to get to the airport or nearby for work will not affect income from parking, as most workers already have free parking. Even if they build the rail in stages up to the Mangere Town Centre or Airport Oaks it would be worthwhile. And then there would be the scrap/delays/negotiations with the airport for the last part. But build it and they will come. Just look at the Onehunga branch line.

      • George D

        You could easily build in a concession (possibly half-price) for airport and precinct staff.

        • greenwelly

          Places like VYR basically only ping tourists with and airport rail levy.
          Those travelling on monthly passes along with employees and others on concession tickets ( i.e locals) dont pay the $5 CAD Adfare, or can easily avoid it
          – although tourists can also escape it by buying a book of faresaver tickets from the 7-11 in the terminal basement,

        • thms l

          Airport staff already get discounted travel on the bus.

  • George D

    Why is the station designed as a terminus, rather than a through-routed station? Surely having all trains turn around is slow and inefficient? Wouldn’t the station have a hugely constrained capacity?

    This looks like the opposite of future-proofing.

    • JimboJones

      Cost. I doubt you would ever need a frequency of more than 5 minutes, and a terminus can easily handle that.

    • This is one issue I don’t have a problem with. All lines (except those pesky loops) terminate somewhere and this is a natural termination point. Furthermore there is no real problem with trains then leaving the airport station and heading on a line south, as people with luggage will need a slightly longer dwell time here anyway. And far better to have the station right in the airline terminal and heading out again than having a through routed one on the edge of the site and making people use another means of getting to the terminal. It also is a way to stage the northern and southern lines.

    • Trains have to stop at the end of the line for timekeeping purposes. The only way to run a reliable network is to allocate several minutes at the end of each run for recovery. You need to terminate at the airport otherwise you’re having to run all the way into town, out to the airport, back into town then back out to the other terminus without stopping or having the opportunity to catch up. The other benefit is you can run clockface timetabling if you have somewhere to wait accordingly. If you can’t wait then you have to simply head off again regardless of the time.

      Loops are terrible for that because you have no where to stop, or if you do stop you are blocking the line. WIth a two track terminus station you can easily achieve the layup you need. For example, one platform, two tracks and trains every five minutes means you could allow ten minutes recovery time per train. With a balloon loop line you’d need to move away within five minutes, or half the potential recovery time.

      If you are suggesting running through to more stations (i.e. toward Manukau) that is a different story, you could run through the airport in both directions and terminate at Manukau or something. But really even with two lines to the airport I would expect it would be most reliable to terminate them both there rather than link a couple of long lines.

  • Sailor Boy

    Can at not threaten them with compulsory acquisition?

  • Sean

    In regards to an airport link. All the council has to do is give the government an offer they cant refuse. remember John keys lovefeast with PPP.
    A certain Australian company built Stockholm Arlandas airport train. The city gave them a concession to run it for 40 odd years.
    Perhaps we can call mac bank and see if they are interested. PPP is John Keys new buzzword (30 years to late) and Mac bank has been involved in many projects like this around the world. get Macbank involved and give them an offer they cant refuse. Its great politics. Key cant turn down a model PPP project, and Macbank is very powerful and can put all sort of screws on the present government if they so want too. A battle he couldnt win and would never fight.
    Make Macbank an offer they cant refuse and get on with it Auckland council…

    Stockholms airport train has been a resounding success and the tracks are used for both express trains and commuter-trains stopping at the airport today.
    Around the same time the expresstrain to the airport opened the airport also got a railway station, but thats another story.

    And yes i know its a huge difference between an express airporttrain and a public commuterline. but Im sure something can be worked out. Macbank is happy to allow commutertrains on their express tracks abroad so…

  • Bob

    In the scheme of things, even a terminal 500m is acceptable, as long as it has covered walkways and travelators. Barcelona has that and it doesn’t seem to bad to me. All big airports have big distances to cover, whether from carpark to the entrance, the entrance to the check-in, check-in to the gate.

  • BD

    They make a killing out of the car parking business, they don’t support the rail link because it will affect, them milking that lucrative business.

  • cle

    On the terminating arrangements – even if two lines ran there, why could they not just build a two-island, four platform through station, which could allow through running (and space for future regional services, or freight to pass through) but also have separate capacity for proper turnarounds.

    Like Schipol’s station, but 4 rather than 6 platforms.

  • Lloyd

    So lets get this AIAL business model sorted out.

    We expect a massive increase in air travel into and out of Auckland. We expect a massive increase in the number of cars driving to the airport. We ignore peak oil.

    Should we rename the AIAL “Ostrich Corp”?

    Here’s a potentially better model – Invest in wind-powered cruise liners.

    • I’m more interested I. The development model. Buildings a CBD of 50,000 workers and expecting them all to drive and park? What cracks first, the road network at peak hour or the demand for acres of parking. I can’t see mangere workers willing to pay market rate for airport parking every day.

      Something doesn’t click.

  • nzdn

    Auckland Airport has unusually high degree of control over their own site – they even lay their own power cables. In theory they could charge a toll to anyone wanting to drive down George Bolt. I bet they have been mightily tempted by this – those pesky cheapskates who drop off their relatives at the terminal without parking are crying out to be monetised.

    About the only non-nuclear option to bring them to the negotiating table would be to oppose any flight path changes they’re seeking.

    Nuclear options would be giving the go-ahead to a competing airport in the region, or compulsorily acquiring the land out from under them.

  • I’ve got zero problems with their scheme, twin full length runways either side of the terminal precinct, commercial and retail development, more parking, new terminal. All good, sounds like an efficient and productive set up. Just wish they’d leverage that off a proper rail link built affordable and in the right place.

    Like Jarrett Walker is fond of saying, you can’t paint transit on afterwards. It looks like they’ve done that, big master plan then after the fact come back and say “the fully underground train line can just go over there somewhere, under those buildings and away from the terminal where we don’t have to think about it.”

    • Glen

      As someone who really wants rail to the airport via Onehunga to happen (for many reasons, but one of which [disclaimer alert] is that I live in Ellerslie and like the thought of a short, one-seat ride to the airport to fly out or pick up friends and rellies), I think this is the best comment on this page so far.

      The scheme seems well thought out, efficient and easy to use from an airport user’s perspective (combining the terminals should have happened years ago!) But as Nick says, rail access needs to be designed in from the start. Even if it isn’t built right away (of course sooner the better, but), at least if it is designed in and space left for it, that is a (partial but very significant) win.

      Consider Narita Airport. For its many, many failings, at least with the Narita Shinkansen plan being included from the start, space was included in the terminal design for the two lines to put train stations right under the terminals. After many stops and starts, there is now a fast rail link to town (the new Skyliner) and another quickish one (the NEX) accessible simply by taking a lift down from the arrivals floor. The setup is now ideal for travelers, people meeting them, terminal workers, etc. We just have to make sure it doesn’t take as long to build in Auckland as it did at NRT!

      The other key factor here is that Auckland Airport is basically saying “we’re not going to pay for it, but you can build it if you want”. This means that if AT and the NZTA get their act together, a rail link can simply be built as part of the rail system expansion and not subject to ridiculous surcharges like Sydney is. (It needs to be cheap to get people working in the industrial parks also using it, which is also why the rail access should come via Onehunga and Mangere Bridge through the airport industrial park – this will hugely boost passenger numbers). Previous posters have mentioned Sydney – there is little more ridiculous than the MacBank-driven surcharge, which means getting off at SYD is suddenly MUCH more expensive as you head out of town… but then the next stop past the airport gets cheaper!?! The fare difference nobbles airport rail’s broad appeal and hence usability. It should not only be for overseas travellers etc. who can stump the steep fare. Affordability plus accessability means mass usability means viability.

      Perhaps the only situation more ridiculous than SYD is that at MEL – where the privatisation of the toll road to the airport included a no-compete clause, which makes it very difficult for the government to build rail access to the airport as they would have to buy out/pay off etc. the private toll road operators. Proponents of PPPs beware unintended consequences.

      Bottom line – rail to AKL can happen, the way is clear. It just needs the political will. Let’s keep fighting to make it happen.

      • Yes Glen. I used that Narita NEX last year and it’s brilliant, each train gets a total hoovering and mopping after arrival, they put little red velvet ropes up like at a night club, and cleaners sweep through to make it gleaming for us new arrivals! Fantastic. The dwell is fine.

        Our main point here is that a high quality and affordable way of taking a Mangere Line to the new Airport Terminal is clearly possible and that is what should be being explored and designed for rather than the Aucklanders having to try to fund this almost certainly prohibitively expensive scheme. And it may not be AIAL’s aim to price rail off their plans but that is the likely result of this current proposal.

        • Glen

          Patrick, welcome to Japanese standards of service! Shame you didn’t get to use the Keisei Skyliner as well, the same service plus faster speed, new track and a more direct route make for an even more pleasant and quick ride into town.

          A short dwell time at NRT is no problem either, it gives you the chance to check you’re in the right place for your (reserved) seat and move (never quick when towing bags) if you’re not. Airports are one place where (for airport passengers/visitors at least) a through line isn’t always a good thing.

          Can’t agree more with your main point too. AT should be talking to the airport and finding ways to keep the cost down rather than encourage it to balloon. Even with a Joycean roads-fest, rail transport to AKL will be needed sooner rather than later if the airport’s growth predictions come true. Surely there are ways AT can spend a little now to keep the final cost down, and even stage the development to make construction quicker later…?

  • Konrad Kurta

    Melbourne has exactly the same problem: no rail to the airport, and a killing made from parking and by the taxi company that services the airport. Nobody can be bothered building a rail line even though the public is crying out for one. It costs me $60 each way in a cab, and the bus from Southern Cross Station is a pain in the ass.

    • Glen

      Konrad, apart from the privatised airport ripping people off as you mentioned, it seems they’re having the same issues with gold-plating rail projects in Melbourne as we have in Auckland. See here http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2013/10/23/could-melbourne-have-airport-rail-sooner-rather-than-later/ for an even-handed discussion.

      BTW I’ve used the bus from Southern Cross, and although the bus terminal is a bit dark and smelly, the location is great, right by the CBD. Do agree that a train line to MEL would be great though, I’ve been caught in peak hour motorway traffic (thankfully from) MEL and it was hideous. A fast train on Victoria’s comfortable broad gauge would be swish.

  • Anthony

    Auckland Council should hurry up and designate a route, so that things don’t get in the way.
    I think:
    -it should be a through station
    -the track will have to go under the new runway
    -the station could be elevated like Brisbane if this is cheaper
    -the station should be at least as close to the terminal as the nearest carparks
    like this:
    [URL=http://s1020.photobucket.com/user/nz_aj/media/airportconceptmarkup.jpg.html][IMG]http://i1020.photobucket.com/albums/af322/nz_aj/airportconceptmarkup.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

    Auckland Council could build the line one station at a time from Onehunga to spread costs over a few years, a bit like the way motorways are built.

  • Anthony

    Auckland Council should hurry up and designate a route, so that things don’t get in the way.
    I think:
    -it should be a through station
    -the track will have to go under the new runway
    -the station could be elevated like Brisbane if this is cheaper
    -the station should be at least as close to the terminal as the nearest carparks
    like this:
    http://s1020.photobucket.com/user/nz_aj/media/airportconceptmarkup.jpg.html

    • Steve D

      Anthony –

      Unfortunately, Auckland Council legally can’t designate a route without the airport’s permission. The airport has an existing designation (to operate the airport itself), and new designations need approval from the holders of conflicting older designations.

  • Phil

    Rail to the airport is mostly a tourist option – same at every airport in the world.

    Whilst rail to an expanded AIA is clearly going to happen one day, it is never going to move as many people as private cars. People that make journeys to the airport are usually going from home to the airport and carrying luggage – often with teary eyed family members in tow to wave goodbye. Why would you take the whole whanau from the home – onto a bus to the City to then transfer to a train to the airport – when you could just load up the people carrier and drive? Frack social responsibility – lets just talk convenience and price!

    Yesterday I took the Heathrow Express into London. I had to walk a considerable distance from T1 arrivals to the station platform to pay £28 FIFTY SIX DOLLARS to go from Heathrow to Paddington. Then I paid another TEN DOLLARS to catch an underground train to my destination across London.
    – – – – – – HARDLY CHEAP – – – – HARDLY CONVIENIENT – — — – – –

    Now if London cant get rail right to an airport like Heathrow – what hope has Auckland?

    • Ross Clark

      Phil – agreed! – basically, only London City, of the London airports, has rail access which boths works and is cost-efficient. When I’ve been in London, and have flown in to LHR my preference (cost and even time), has been to use the Piccadilly Line.

      Most airport rail in the UK, as I know from separate research, is tourist rail (with the rare exceptions like the Heathrow Express and the Docklands Light Rail).

      • So Ross as tourism is our biggest export earner and is promoted as an important growth market this idea that ‘it’s only for tourists’ looks like a strong argument for fast tracking a high quality in-terminal rail line.

        • Ross Clark

          Yes – but only if the tourists are actually going into the central city. Many aren’t.

          And even then: as someone more familiar with AKL than what I am pointed out to me, long-haul tourists (which is what most of NZ’s are, by definition) are often in tour parties and logistically it is far simpler to put these people on a coach, so that they can get direct to their eventual destination, like the hotel. One major factor for this is luggage; a short-stay European tourist arriving in the UK will come in with a little luggage, like a backpack, but having to haul round up to 20kgs of luggage (I’ve tried) onto and off public transport can be quite a chore. And then in Auckland a new arrival might not be convenient to the railway station either.

          Also, in terms of travel timing. International airports have arrivals and departures which are much more balanced through the day than what normal public transport is dealing with, and there are a couple of occasions now when I’ve got the bus from the airport to the top of Queen St or vice versa in only 35 minutes (no stops along the way)/

          • Well again we are told we have to grow the backpacker market because they are actually more valuable to our economy. They are heading downtown, that is after all where that bus goes and the backpacker and most other hotels are. And AK is heading to an all day minimum 10 min service, not a peak focused commuter one. Also serving travellers at the airport is only the icing on the cake for an extended Onehunga- Mangere Line. The vast numbers of staff at the airport and the surrounding businesses as well as those living in the surrounding suburbs will supply a significant number of riders. Much more than an airport line.

    • I was quoted NZ$130 for a taxi home from AKL last week, after hauling my bags out of the terminal and across a couple of roads to the end of a very long line of people queuing at the taxi stand.

      Hardly cheap or convenient.

    • Mike

      Phil – the $10 fare you spent to get to your destination would in fact have got you all the way from Heathrow by tube (albeit more slowly than the premium-fare Heathrow Express)- so much cheaper than Auckland’s airport bus, and barely more expensive than the bus fare for the fraction of the distance to Wellington’s airport.

      So VERY CHEAP (sorry for the shouting).

      • Phil

        The Piccadilly line from Heathrow is a joke. It would take for ever to get into London.

        The reality is – the cheapest option would have been to drive as it would be a door to door solution.

        • Mike

          Phil – clearly many, many other users of Heathrow don’t share your sense of humour – and don’t complain about spending $56 that they could so easily have avoided.

          • Phil

            Hey – you spend 40 mins circling over London because of congestion – you then have to walk forever from the gate in T1 to arrivals – spend 30 mins in a queue at immigration – who the hell has time to waste another 50 mins on a tube?

            Welcome to Public Transport in the UK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPWhK6P79Tc

          • London is hardly the paragon of efficient modern transit. Why not use the Vancouver example instead? It’s much closer to the same size, wealth, density and age as Auckland.

            Vancouver’s Canada line departs every six minutes across the day and every twelve minutes late at night, it runs twenty hours a day, and takes 26 minutes to get to downtown Vancouver and only 18 minutes to downtown Richmond the other way. The cost for the journey from the airport to the city is a regular three zone fare, or CAN $3.15.

            Owned and operated by a private company as a commerical venture. Runs 19km with 16 stations, 13 of which are on the main line from the airport to downtown.

            Cheap, fast, efficient, frequent. Thank god it’s not like London.

  • Dave B (Wellington)

    With good rail access to an airport, there is far less need for pickup/dropoff by car. Greeters/farewellers can indeed make the journey by train (our experience on arrival at Stuttgart a couple of years ago). Alternatively, farewells can just as easily happen at the local railway station where the journey actually beings (our experience on leaving Stuttgart).
    Good case-in-point: Geneva Airport, from which main line trains whisk you to/from many parts of Switzerland in one hop. Farewellers tend not to accompany the traveller on that part of the journey any more than they would on a connecting domestic flight. The main impetus for airport pickup/dropoff is the guaranteeing of a timely and hassle-free transit for the traveller. A good and reliable rail-air connection should achieve this.
    Last time I was at Heathrow (same trip as Stuttgart), there were three rail options for accessing the city.
    1 – Heathrow Express non-stop to Paddington (Expensive)
    2 – Heathrow Connect, stopping service to Paddington every ½-hour (£9.90)
    3 – Piccadilly Line to anywhere on the Underground (cheapest of all, but slow. £5.70 to city, or £8.90 for a 1-day off-peak travel card)

  • Dave B (Wellington)

    P.S. Best to avoid using the Underground in rush-hour if you have piles of luggage. But taxi or drop-off by car may not be a good option in rush-hour either.

  • Phil

    Dave, Geneva Airport is not a great example. It is an end station which is basically an extension of the rail line from Geneva Contrane. Geneva being such a small city (more a village) would have much more passengers arriving by car than train. Once again – most of the train users are tourists. Zurich station is better – it is a through train where trains between the East and West of Switzerland pass through but the Swiss that would arrive by train would usually not be local. In both cases the rail goes underground to the airport station much the same as AIA want.

    If you think we should have rail to AIA for the convenience of passengers and well wishes from Hamilton than fine but otherwise it will be mostly tourists heading from the airport directly to the city centre hotels.

    • Linz

      “Geneva being such a small city (more a village)”. Wrong.
      “most of the train users are tourists”. Wrong.
      “more passengers arriving by car than train”. Wrong.
      “Zurich station is better – it is a through train”. Wrong.
      “the Swiss that would arrive by train would usually not be local”. Wrong.

  • wayne

    When I make a day trip to Wellington, I can either get a taxi to the airport and a taxi home again, spending more than $70=00 each way. I can get the wife to drive to and from the airport twice, completely ruining her day. I can drive there and park all day, spending a small fortune on parking. What I would really like to is catch a train from Henderson to either new market or britomart change to the airport line. this would be both cheap and convenient.

  • Phil

    You seem to be very sure of yourself Linz.
    1. Geneva is a tiny city – very much a town that looks like it should be in France and sounds like its in Russia.
    2. The train to Geneva airport is mostly tourists – the locals take a taxi or drive.
    3. Geneva Airport has over 5000 car parking spaces spread over 6 car parks – that’s a lot of locals not using the train.
    4. Zurich airport station is a through train. There are three main IC trains running through it – Originating in Romanshorn, St Gallen, and Schafhausen in the East. They travel THROUGH Zurich Flughafen and onwards via Zurich HB to Geneva with the western end stop being Geneva Aeroport.
    5. Zurich airport has 10’395 parking spaces over 6 car parks – again – that’s a lot of locals not using the train.

    So – given I lived in CH and use both airports often – maybe you want to re visit which of us is wrong Linz :)

    • Linz

      1. Population of Geneva: 184,538 (city); 474,169 (canton). Hardly a village.
      2. “the locals take a taxi or drive”. Considering the percentage of households which don’t even have a car, as in most large European cities, this is nonsense.
      4. You said Zurich Station, not Zurich Flughafen.

      Your carpark numbers indicate a fairly small percentage of people driving when you consider the size of these airports, esp. Zurich.

      Yes I know CH intimately.

    • Linz

      And now, having glanced through Phil’s earlier comments on this topic, I see I have been trolled. Either that, or he has a strange desperate need to make foreign places confirm to his car-centric world view. A bit difficult when most households in large European cities do not own cars. Get help, Phil. Or move to Tauranga.

      • Yes strange isn’t it, guy who lives in England spending his time catching trains and metro’s all over europe apparently… waxing lyrical about how everyone should use cars to drive around suburbs.

  • Sacha

    Isn’t Phil banned?

  • MrV

    I agree the layout should be of a through running design, rather than the junction depicted. Surely thins would be cheaper to build than a junction?
    While you are there may as well have space for four lines (ie two through lines and two additional platforms for terminating trains.
    This would allow regional trains (from the South, Hamilton?) to perhaps terminate there in the future if the network were to ever be expanded.

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