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Extend Light Rail to the North Shore?

Regular readers will be well aware that we strongly believe our transport agencies need to rethink the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing. It appears to us that the price tag of $4-$6 billion is way out of proportion to the benefits another road crossing would provide. This view only strengthens the more we see the changes that are occurring, for example just last week we learned that the NZTA’s own post implementation reviews highlighted that traffic volumes weren’t living up to projections on a number of motorway projects. We also found out that one again that vehicle kilometres travelled in Auckland had fallen in both real and per capita measures despite strong population growth.

In Patrick’s letter to the NZTA he said:

It is our view that both a driverless Light Metro system, or a continuation of AT’s proposed Light Rail network across the Harbour, to Takapuna and up the Busway, need to be properly explored as the next possible crossing over the harbour. As they are likely to achieve all of the aims NZTA and AT are charged with delivering for the city much more completely and at a lower cost than any additional traffic lanes and without any of the disbenefits.

– the economic benefits of true spatially efficient urban transport system linking the Shore to city and the isthmus RTN
– make a massive transformational shift to public transport
– real carbon and other pollution reductions of scale from a 100% electric system
– huge place benefits, including a real reduction in city car and bus numbers
– no additional massive costs on approach roads
– resilience of additional systems as well as route

With this post I want to look at the idea of extending AT’s proposed light rail (LRT) across the harbour. So far we know that AT are looking at very high capacity LRT vehicles – up to 66m long and capable of holding around 450 people.

Town Hall LRT_800

They would run on at four LRT routes on the isthmus on Sandringham Rd, Dominion Rd, Mt Eden Rd and Manukau Rd, combining into two corridors through the CBD – Queen St and Symonds St – before terminating at Wynyard. These are shown below.

LRT routes

So what if we didn’t terminate them in Wynyard and instead extended them via a new crossing to the North Shore. As we know one of the features of LRT is that it can run at street level allowing for the network to reach past the expensive grade separated infrastructure like we see on the busway. Of course that can also be a curse if it is run mixed in with general traffic. Outside of the busway a good compromise is like what appears to be proposed for the isthmus with dedicated lanes and signal priority.

We know that the busiest bus routes on the North Shore are the Northern Busway, to Takapuna and up Onewa Rd. Those areas/routes also happen to be where some of the highest levels of development is allowed for on the North Shore as part of the proposed Unitary Plan – although I think a lot more should be allowed.

 

UP - North Shore

Combining the routes for the Isthmus with those corridors on the shore could deliver us something like the network below. You can see it features one route to Takapuna, one to Glenfield and two routes combine to serve the Northern Busway – one of which goes via the Universities, the Hospital and Newmarket

LRT to the Shore

The immediate question many of you might have is about capacity and whether LRT would have enough to serve the shore. Assuming a frequency on each route of roughly one service every 5 minutes that would combine for a capacity across the harbour of over 21,000 people per hour. To put that in perspective, currently over the two hour morning peak around 9,000 people cross the harbour bridge on buses. As such LRT would allow for more than a fourfold increase compared to what we have now and assuming they could do around 80km/h – which is the speed of the busway and seems fairly common on many overseas LRT systems – it would remain time competitive with driving at most times.

The biggest issue with any proposal will always be the cost however this is where LRT could prove a winner. In the last harbour crossing study a rail only tunnel was estimated at ~$1.6 billion – far cheaper than a road crossing. Add in converting the busway and the routes to Takapuna and Glenfield and I suspect we’d be looking at $3-3.5 billion. It’s worth noting that a high level study in 2012 estimated a similar network – but with the Takapuna branch extending all the way up East Coast Rd and to Browns Bay at around $4.5 billion.

Of all of it, it seems that the biggest challenge would end up being the section on the city side from the crossing to where the Queen St and Symonds St routes separate as that would have a high frequency of LRT vehicles through an area with a lot of intersections and conflicting movements. In saying that I’m sure it’s something our talented engineers are capable of solving.

Overall the thing I like the most about the idea is that it allows for through routed connections, removing any need for large terminals from the CBD/Wynyard which is what we would have with the current LRT proposal and/or if we decided to do a light metro or heavy rail option. Compared to other options that have been presented in the past it is also the only one that also looks at serving the western North Shore. Both the western and eastern routes could also be extended if needed. The biggest downside compared to the other rail based options is that LRT would still need a driver which would have an impact on the operational costs.

Lastly it’s worth noting that I’m fully aware that this may not be the best solution. A different solution might turn out to be better however the point of the post is to highlight that options other than the default of a new motorway tunnel exist. We want to see the NZTA and others assess any future crossing from a fresh perspective – much like what happened with the City Centre Future Access Study.

63 comments to Extend Light Rail to the North Shore?

  • Gary Young

    Would love to see trams/light rail extended to the Shore but are you certain a driver is essential?

    London’s DLR has been operating driverless from it’s inception so the technical aspects of automation have been satisfactorily resolved elsewhere though I’m not certain of the cost comparisons of driver/driverless.

    I also feel that the Wairau Valley industrial/shopping district would be a logical inclusion right from the start rather than waiting for future extension.

    • George D

      You can eliminate the driver if it has exclusive ROW. You’d need it for street running though.

    • mfwic

      Except the DLR had a guard on board who then had to make sure it actually got the platforms. The software was simply turn the wheels x times and stop – turn them y times and stop. Any slippage and the thing stopped in the wrong place continually. The DLR was a mistake from the moment Thatcher got rid of planning restrictions in the Docklands area. From that moment on it should have been an extension of the tube- which eventually happened with the Jubilee line.

      • Yes the DLR was a product of a polity that believed Transit was in permanent decline to be fully replaced by private cars, but met resistance and agreed to the cheapest compromise it could. Has been upgraded significantly since and augmented by the Jubilee Line and now the Overground, and is shifting serious numbers. Many more than Thatcherism believed possible and for a lot longer than they believed it would.

        Things change.

  • Early Commuter

    What problem is this solution solving?
    How many people is it moving, to what maximum transit time?

    Right now this is just a solution looking for a problem. Start from the desired result. More people to their destination more efficiently. Right?

    • Harvey Specter

      I think this is a good question and needs to be addressed as part of the proposal. My understanding is that buses can easily cope with the demands of patronage from the Shore (yes I know they would need to increase frequency) but that space in the inner city is limited and likely to be extremely congested, especially around britomart.

      I know AT are keen to increase the number of Double Deckers on the road, not just on the Bus lane but from the likes of Takapuna and Onewa Road – is LR a better solution to this.
      What are the operating costs of LR compared to buses.
      Buses provide much more flexibility – I would hate to be wanting to get to work when a LR breaks down in the tunnel and the bus fleet has been decimated such that there is no back up capacity. I know that one of the arguments for a ‘second’ car crossing is resilience of the network and I wonder if reliance on LR will make resilience worse.

    • The same problems as any additional crossing is supposed to address: Capacity, Choice, and Resilience. Your question is of course a good one, and in many ways relates more to the question of timing; ie when do we, if at all, need an additional Waitemata harbour Crossing? And that is a really important question, especially as it seems pretty clear that the modelling used by all our agencies is now out of date. It seems unable to capture real responses to changes in infrastructure in particular.

      And remember the Isthmus routes that AT are proposing stretch a fair way into the 2020s n terms of delivery, so no one is suggesting starting these tomorrow either. Bus capacity in the city is an increasing issue.

      • Early Commuter

        You don’t just build a factory. You work out how many widgets you need to produce. Then you work out the factory.

        So, let’s start from the desired outcome: improved social and economic outcomes (happier aucklanders and more productive business)
        The impact would probably be reduced transit times (in this simple approach)
        Our outputs would then consider different classes of goods and services – road-metre-hours (note I do not say roads, or rails, I specify them in terms of their provision e.g. sports field availability is a better output measure than number of sports fields available)

        Everybody, notably the government, needs to do this

      • Steve C

        I think that the word “crossing” emphasises my issue with this proposal, that it isn’t serving the Shore, but serving the Auckland CBD by taking Shore people there. Yes, there is a bus network on the Shore, but arguably the same point could be made about that network.

        So (this is blue sky stuff after all) lets extend the Takapuna line through Milford to reconnect at Smales, that way Shore residents can travel between the Albany and Takapuna sub-regional centres and all areas served by the collector network

        with respect to the buses crossing the bridge, has anyone done the arithmetic to see if they are carrying a lane’s worth of people to justify bus lanes on the bridge itself?

        • Greg N

          Well at 9,000 people in the AM peak you have way more than enough people being moved for a dedicated bus lane on the bridge.
          Of course, as far as vehicles go, even at a low assumption of a mere 30-40 people per bus, that would not be enough vehicles (*buses*) to justify the use of the road space for them in some peoples minds. You get the same argument on Remuera Road too – even though the numbers show that a mere 3% of the vehicles (the buses) carry nearly 50% of the *people* in busiest 1 hour period of the AM peak – and thats last years figures, this years figures are well over 50% of people on Rem. Road are moved by buses.

          Its only NZTA intransigence about having any bus lanes on the bridge and the motorway either side which prevents them being added.
          – hence the current jokey “bus lane” in the AM direction, south of the bridge is currently being trialled.

          • Nigel

            A bus lane on the bridge during the peak may lead to a big enough gain in transit time to attract enough people to switch from their cars to negate the loss of capacity for cars.
            One could perhaps soften it by making it a T3 transit lane then it would encourage carpooling as well as buses.

          • Nigel.

            We will probably need to push hard to educate Aucklanders that another road crossing won’t work and we should explore a rail/PT option.
            many Aucklanders assume that another road is needed and is the best option even if the cost is closer to 6 billion. Personally I would have been very supportive of a road (bridge or tunnel) until I came accross this site and learned that a road won’t work and will likely make things worse.

    • I’d suggest reading the last paragraph. The point of the post is not to say that this is the best option but to say that this is one option and we need to look at things properly.

      • Early Commuter

        BUT YOU CANNOT EVEN CONSIDER OPTIONS UNTIL YOU HAVE SPECIFIED THE PROBLEM AND DESIRED OUTCOME

        Do not even *think* of solutions until the problem has been sliced, dissected, revised, reviewed, and analysed. Otherwise you solutioneer.

        My background is policy analysis – I know nothing about roads and buses but a lot about decision-making.

        • The problem is NZTA want to spend six billion dollars building a tunnel that will do nothing but make traffic downtown worse. The desired outcome is something that is far cheaper but better at moving people (if NZTA don’t need real problems before they solve them, then neither does anyone else)

  • I still prefer the idea of a Light Metro line connecting to Aotea as a main spine. The sheer capacity of a Skytrain type system is astounding and future proofs (as much as is possible) population growth on the ‘Shore. Can run LRT to the stations on the shore along the corridors you’ve suggested. But yes, we, as in Auckland, need to have this discussion vs being forced into the proposed AWHC.

  • tuktuk

    I think of Light Rail as being a stepping stone to driverless Light Metro. Light Rail can be progressively added to the North Shore Busway, while the North Shore Busway stays in operation….yes, it would mean night and weekend embargoes. But, the busway could continue in operation in between times, especially during rush hour.

    So the trick is – just as the geometry and structural loadings on the busway were future-proofed for Light Rail, can the installation of any Light Rail tracks on that Busway be future proofed for driverless Light Metro at a later date? Trickier will be decisions on how much street running to do on the North Shore. Significant amounts of street running will make a change to driverless Metro more challenging, although, as with driverless cars, the technology is evolving. Street running may not always be incompatible with driverless operations.

    • Harvey Specter

      What is the issue with street running and driverless. I assume it is the potential for crashes. Given the development of driverless cars, i wonder if this will solve the issue.

      I assume the momentum/braking distance for such a large vehicle would be an issue and how fine you are required to calibrate the sensors (compared to a car) for a potential issue.

      • The development of driverless cars… isn’t very developed. For all the bluster they still don’t work at all well on anything like a live traffic environment, so don’t count on it! But do agree if it’s going to work anywhere, it’ll work on fixed route PT first.

        • Harvey Specter

          I think the test vehicles are a bit more advanced than you suggest. And I am sure it makes it a lot easy when the only decision is accelerate or brake. Dont have to worry about steering.

        • Ari

          Actually they work well on a busy motorway. Not so well on a busy urban street those pesky pedestrians and cyclists. They work even less well in the rain or snow.

    • That’s a really expensive way of adding higher capacity. Pick one. Build it. Light Metro (aka Vancouver Skytrain) can easily run on thr busway corridor, is driverless from the get go and can carry over 250k boardings per day. Let’s not do this half hearted. Build for the future we want.

  • Adam W

    I think heavy rail is a much better option than light rail. If you are going to the expense of putting in a rail connection over / under the harbour you might as well upgrade it to full heavy rail.
    Gary Young above mentions the DRL. When the DRL opened it went capacity in a very short time – blew all expectations out of the water and it was not long afterwards that full Tube lines had to be extended into Canary Wharf at great expense.
    Once rail is build to the Shore it needs to be a full on service.

    • Light Rail = $50m kilometre on street. Heavy Rail = $500m a kilometre in tunnels, viduct or by buying hundreds of houses and demolishing them.

      Might as well have a network 1/10th the size, or ten times the cost?

      • Chris O

        It’s not quite an exact comparison though. A heavy rail solution for the North Shore would need a tunnel or bridge to cross the Waitemata, but would then mostly use the existing Northern Busway. The only branch for a heavy rail or light metro solution would probably be a spur to to Takapuna (where right of way issues like you suggest might turn up). By comparison, the light rail proposal could branch out to Birkenhead and Onewa as well.

        Personally I’m with Bryce – I’d prefer a driverless metro system (like the DLR or Skytrain) as the spine of the North Shore rail network.

        • Heavy rail can’t fit in the busway, its too narrow, too steep and the structures too light. It would need a total rebuild for heavy rail. Light rail on the other hand will fit in fine.

          Also you’re forgetting what happens in the city, a 2km tunnel from Wynyard to the middle of town with a couple of stations is about a billion dollar job. Light rail up fanshawe St, maybe $100m.

          • You’re forgetting that between LRT and Heavy rail there is Light Metro aka Skytrain in Vancouver. Just needs a single 8m diameter tunnel under the harbour. It’s been mentioned here before and the passenger carrying potential is pretty much future proofed. http://transportblog.co.nz/our-proposals/rail-to-the-north-shore/

            We also need to keep in mind that, rather than looking for the cheapest option, we need the best option and when the alternative being sugfested by NZTA is a $6B road crossing, a $2.5B high frequency train to Albany doesn’t seem so expensive.

      • Dave B (Wellington)

        Trams running in the street are for local or inner-suburban travel, not for covering distances fast. Connecting a North Shore heavy rail route into the existing system would be by far preferable. Full tunnelling is not necesary if corridors can be planned where possible across open ground. A useful technique only just beginning to emerge is to build at-grade, cover-over and landscape. This provides the benefits of a tunnel at a fraction of the usual cost.

        And the cost of any rail development needs to be viewed in the light of the sums currently proposed for roading schemes. In Wellington we were given a largely unnecessary road tunnel, 200m long, for $124m. Nobody even flinched.

      • Bruce

        IAL you would have to build a tunnel under the harbour either way (unless you used the Harbour Bridge for LR which I don’t think is being advocated here). Whether the tunnel is for HR or LR it will for all intents and purposes cost about the same. Most of the busway has been designed for Rail and I’m not sure where you get the part about it being too narrow? The EMU width is 2.76 m while typically a 4m spacing is used between rail centrelines (but could probably be less on a solid foundation like the busway). This gives a minimum width required of just under 7m but allow an outside space meaning 8m width. Buses in Auckland are typically 2.5m wide so I don’t think 52cm is going to make a difference. Also the busway has wide barriers to prevent buses from leaving the busway in an accident. As trains are on rails these could be reduced if needed (although trains are wider about 1m + above the ground than at the rails so this might not be necessary. Where an issue would come up would be between Sunnynook and Constellation Stations. This could be fairly easily overcome by dropping the height of the busway/railway further under Sunset Road. It probably would not even require tunnelling just cut and cover. Further along between Greville Road and Albany Station something would have to be done there however as this part of the busway has not yet been built hopefully this too would be future proofed for rail.

        • No. Heavy rail needs longer gentler grades than LRT, or Light Metro, which makes for much less flexibility about surfacing, and potentially considerably more cost. Same is the case on the existing Busway. The required geometries for LRT are more forgiving.

        • Imperial Advocacy League

          Kiwirail minimum structure gauge is 2.75m from the centerline on straight track. That gives a minimum of just under 10m, with all masts and signals outside that. Realistically 12m is needed.

          Same with grades, heavy rail can do 1:33 max, light rail 1:15 easy. Light rail tunnel would be half the length, you could build a light rail bridge too.

          • Dave B (Wellington)

            The max heavy rail gradient in New Zealand is 1:33, yes. However this does not mean “heavy rail can do 1:33 max”. Examples abound of adhesion-worked heavy rail going steeper than this. Here are a few:

            • 1 in 28 (3.6%) – LGV Sud-Est high-speed line, France
            • 1 in 25 (4.0%) – Cologne–Frankfurt high-speed rail line
            • 1 in 20 (5.0%) – SOB Rapperswil – Samstagern, Switzerland
            • 1 in 18 (5.5%) – Flåmsbanen, Norway
            • 1 in 14.2 (7.0%) – Bernina Pass, Switzerland

            And the heavy rail trench down to Brotomart is only about 10m wide. Easy.

          • Dave B (Wellongtin)

            Brotomart? Problem with a keyboard having i and o next to each other.

    • conan

      The DLR certainly exceeded passenger expectations, however this is London we are talking about. The capacity of the system is around 100 million trips per year. I think a similar system in Auckland would not be bumping into this sort of capacity in a hurry.

      • Dave B (Wellington)

        Careful you don’t confuse peak passenger loadings with long-term passenger numbers. PT in New Zealand tends to be highly peaked, with typically low off-peak usage, so low long-term numbers can mask what the true peak-requirement is. Many cities offer an RTN frequency that is no greater than what Auckland will be doing, but the difference is they sustain it for most of the day so their daily (monthly, annual) carryings are much higher. But this is not what you specify for. Peak capacity (pphd, peak passengers per hour per direction) is what it is all about.

  • Nik

    I was reading the article and noticed references to a Busway, which has revolutionised how PT is delivered across the North Shore.

    I’d like to see everyone refer to it as the Northern Busway, which creates the expectation that there will be a Northwestern Busway and more importantly an Eastern Busway. I think the Eastern Busway is more important as it doesn’t follow a currently extant motorway.

    The we could create significant people movement through building new infrastructure that didn’t rely on current routes mainly utilised by single occupant vehicles shows how far the public discourse has come and how far it still has to go.

    The language we use to create that future does matter.

  • Advantages of an LRT to Shore plan: balances the Isthmus routes efficiently, is highly stageable, and because of street running can provide a wider network. Lower capex cost of key components, Takapuna Line, Busway conversion, and in particular city-side connection and grades of tunnel approaches.

    Disadvantages: not true RTN, though in practice speeds would be comparable on the core grade separate route, not likely to be driverless. Probably dependent on earlier Isthmus plan going ahead.

  • Greg N

    As a side question, has anyone costed a second harbour bridge next to (the eastern side of) the current Harbour Bridge which is able to take LRT and dedicated bus lanes and provide walking/cycling only – leaving the current bridge for cars/trucks only?

    Surely that option would be a lot cheaper than any tunnel, and would use the existing motorway designation on Northcote point (and bythe way, sorry, Phil, we’ll need to bulldoze your and your neighbours houses in the process to make room for the rails).

    Even the cost of buying Phil and all his mates houses would be peanuts compared to the cost of any tunnel – rail or otherwise.

    I know that the purists don’t want a second bridge over the harbour, but since the first one is not going away anytime soon according to NZTA, why bother trying to tunnel when we can run alongside the current bridge and not actually add that much more clutter/visual pollution to the harbour than already exists?

    Surely that should be the “base case” for any additional harbour crossing study.
    I know NZTA’s preferred option is for a tunnel, but thats for road vehicles only, no PT to speak of and comes with a $6B price tag and a huge stack of environmental damage far worse than a second bridge would do.

    Time for a complete rethink?

    • Yes I don’t understand the thinking that assumes a bridge is a poorer aesthetic option. We have one ugly bridge, why wouldn’t adding a beautiful new not improve the scene? Personally I love bridges where they have a little more ambition that the average NZTA post and beam effort.

      A Transit and cycling walking bridge from the end of Wynyard is a great, and likely cost effective option. They only problem is the need to get high enough for the masts of Westhaven to happily pass under… Might make for trick grades for all but LRT. Spiral anyone?

      • Given the hoops that a mere clip on has had to go through, can you imagine the RMA hearing for that? Besides which, I think St Marys Bay is a major issue. There’s no room left. A ‘rail only’ tunnel, built to Light Metro dimensions (a mere 8m dia) wouldn’t be overly expensive.

        • Jamie Walton

          Such a project would come under the PWA (like the CRL does), wouldn’t it?

          There could be room at St Marys Bay; going by Google Maps the width between the property boundaries and the edge of the reclamation varies between 135 m at Shelly Beach Road off ramp/over-bridge, 71 m at the narrowest point to the north of No. 17 London Street (but the Westhaven Promenade sticks out into the bay much more than this at this point), to 128 m at Jacobs Ladder, and looks to average about 100-120 m along most of the rest of it. The motorway looks to be 46 m wide from barrier to barrier, so that leaves at least 25 m to make provision for other modes (not counting walking and cycling if the Westhave Promenade is used for walking and cyclin at the narrowest point) without having to do any additional reclamation.

          Any future tunnel should be of sufficient diameter to enable it to be future-proofed to allow for heavy rail in the future.

      • Jamie Walton

        The gradient of the current harbour bridge is 1 in 20 (5%), which should be no problem for light rail, or for driven or driverless (“light” or even “heavy”) metro, so a spiral shouldn’t be necessary.

        There should be no aesthetic impacts if a RT/bus/walk/cycle bridge followed (more or less) the same profile and route (vertical and horizontal alignments), as the existing bridge and approaches, as it would appear to be the same thing as the existing bridge from almost all angles – although of course it could be made to look much more modern/nicer/cooler, like the Skypath design.

        There could be sufficient width on the northern approach within most of the existing motorway reclamation (especially at the old toll plaza area, which could include an Onewa station), apart from having to bridge inlets (as the current motorway and busway does), until it reaches land proper at Akoranga station. There could even be sufficient width on the southern approach if the motorway lanes and shoulders and medians were rationalised a bit (the walkway and cycleway could use the Westhaven Promenade and/or the St Marys Bay original shoreline path).

    • JimboJones

      Would be interesting to put it to a vote – either a new road tunnel for $6 billion or a complete light rail system on the shore and isthmus for $6 billion (and I think you would get change from the latter). I think even most PT haters would see the benefit of the light rail option especially with a route map similar to the one above. And of course there would be more car capacity opened up on the bridge with significantly less buses and more people using PT.
      In fact if modelled I think a decent light rail option would decrease car commute times across the harbour more than a second road crossing would!

      • Jamie Walton

        NZTA’s present AWHC proposal looks like it would actually have less through traffic capacity than is currently available; so it would really be a choice between carrying many multiples more people using PT, or carrying less people via 2×3 lanes (instead of 2×3-4-5 lanes at present).

        (And of course, all the congestion is at the northern and southern ends of the proposed road tunnel, so the road tunnel would constrain the traffic between the two points of congestion, which could surely only make things worse.)

        • There will still be the bridge and it will still have general traffic lanes. All Transit users are likely to get is a compromised buslane each way. Compromised because of the need to cross over between exists and onramps… Actually the Bridge will simply become a massive, and massively expensive to maintain for it’s use, off ramp for the city and Ponsonby.

  • Jeff H

    Add a LRT line from Devonport to Takapuna.

    • Matthew W

      Doesnt really have the bus traffic to justify it does it?

      • David B.

        It might make more sense to try out a frequent bus service first – and this would be the next step rather than going all out on an expensive LRT. There’s certainly enough traffic along Lake Road, so the demand is there if we can somehow meet it.

        To me the real problem is that services are not integrated. We end up using multiple combinations of buses/ferries where all of them are non-frequent services with travel times and fares that add up with every change. Until AT can make good on their promise to make the fares cheaper and the services more frequent, we won’t be getting people out of their cars any time soon.

  • JimboJones

    I guess you can’t overlook the fact that a road crossing would be tolled (I’m assuming both crossings will need to be tolled).
    If you assume the lower $4 billion build cost, an average of 154,000 vehicles daily, and the government bond interest rate of about 3.2%, then the toll would need to be about $3.70 per crossing to pay it back in 30 years – which might just be reasonable (you could start off with a lower toll and increase over time with inflation). So a road crossing may in fact cost the general population nothing.
    I can’t imagine a light rail system ever paying back the infrastructure cost through fares no matter how cheap it was to build.

    • conan

      Would be good to put figures like that to the public to see how necessary they really think this project is. A free route that is handling traffic just fine or a duplicate route you get to pay $3.70 a go for over the next 30 years (leaving out the non trivial operating costs…)

    • nonsense

      add another 1$ for tolling costs, and your vehicle figures start to go down. add operating costs ( would probably need a fulltime fire service next to teh tunnel, specialized equipment and training, policin etc air conditioning exhaust venting) plus the inevitable small crashes, the yearly big crash and the road tunnel idea starts to suck. these are all costs a rail tunnel doesn’t have. does modelling take these aspects in consideration? would heavyvehicles be allowed?

  • In terms of getting down the Queen St gully – what if you were to take the LRT down the CTRL ? Perfect as a grade separated route ? Just need to make sure it can be used by putting a set of points at each end ?

    • Dave B (Wellington)

      “CTRL” – Channel Tunnel Rail Link? No. You must mean CRL.

      Problem with putting lower capacity LRT vehicles down the City rail Link is that you take up train paths available for higher-capacity HRV’s. Once the CRL is open and gaining momentum, I don’t think there will be much spare capacity to muck around forfeiting valuable peak time paths for LRV’s, unless they are big enough to be comparable with HRVs. In which case they might as well be HRVs.

      • Nick R

        Light rail would not be interoperable with the CRL. totally different track, platform heights, power systems, signalling etc. Plus the CRL will be busy enough with the heavy rail network, light rail needs to add capacity, not just use up slots.

  • john m

    I am really excited at the idea of rail hea on the shore. And I think aucklanders need to push hard to stop government building the road tunnel link.
    But we shouldn’t get to excited when you see the letters LRT.
    Yes any form of train will have busway users jumping for joy.
    Until they end up waiting alongside buses and cars at the lights in the cbd and having to run 100s of meters to the rail station to carry on south or west.
    I personally see light rail on the bus way as a half atempt. When the bus way can be made level and wider with ease. And we already have facility’s for our current trains why build more for a different type of train on the shore.
    But there is one thing in this idea I do like.
    That’s the LRT running up onewa and passing my place on Glenfield rd.
    I see a great purpose for LRT in Auckland but not to replace our future narrow or cape guage rail lines.
    Or maybe we should use standard guage on the north shore and use much larger and faster EMU’s then our new Caf EMU’s
    And that will keep with the disjointed theme aucklanders are used to.

  • Evan James

    Why are even talking about heavy rail for something that will only be intended to be used for carting passengers. Modern LRT vehicles will do everything that heavy rail can do, but at a cheaper price, and with the ability to go in places that heavy rail can’t. There has been no suggestion that heavy rail to the Shore would be used for freight, so why are some here even thinking about it.
    When they were looking at the new electrical passenger services for Auckland, LRT on the existing network was looked at, but was rejected on safety grounds simply because the LRT vehicles would have to share the tracks with freight trains, and the new trains would have to be built to a lot heavier construction standards for safety reasons.

    • Nick R

      I agree Evan, horses for courses.

      Upgrading the existing heavy rail lines with new electric trains and signalling: cheap and effective way to enhance the asset.

      Linking the heavy lines with the CRL to double capacity and create an all-but-metro system: genius.

      Extending the existing Onehunga heavy rail line to the airport: Maybe the most efficient approach, don’t know.

      …but building brand new heavy rail from scratch just to carry passengers? Why would you?

      • Dave B (Wellington)

        “. . .but building brand new heavy rail from scratch just to carry passengers? Why would you?”

        i) Connectivity and compatibility with what we already have, unless we can be ABSOLUTELY SURE that not having this will cause no disadvantage.

        ii) Quality and speed, which if another mode tried to replicate, would push up its cost to something similar.

        Two points to consider:
        1) We go to enormously costly lengths to eliminate a few minutes of perceived inconvenience to car-users. Why then slug rail-users with avoidable interchanging, particularly if on arterial flows.

        2) Unfortunately heavy rail as we know it has fallen seriously victim to safety-standards which are way out of proportion to what happens on the roads and greatly push up its cost. Some of this is fully justifiable, some is not, but we are in an era where entities such as rail have become fair game for safety-peddlers to go over the top with. For instance, the corridor-width now deemed necessary for new rail construction. Nice in an ideal world, but adds to unaffordability in this world. Alternative new systems can be a way of dodging such requirements (often just by redefining them as something else in order to circumvent regulations!), but really, the answer is to have a long, hard and hysteria-free look at what we have burdened traditional rail with, and how much we can reasonably unburden.

  • do we have the population combined with a “city centre” to do this?

    i.e. are there are enough people travelling to the centre to make it economic?

    • It is a myth that Auckland does not have a centre. The city centre is not only greatest concentration of employment in the region, it is also growing, and it is where the highest value work in the whole nation takes place. Furthermore it is the type of work that largely requires one input: humans [and electricity]. Which is to say it is not warehousing, or farming, or manufacture. Services centres need efficient access and quality human environments to be competitive. Not truck superhighways; the city centre has different needs to industrial centres.

      However, any good plan for the city will not be just about any one area, matt suggestion above, like the CRL, is about through routing systems, so leveraging off the area with the highest demand to lift access across the city.

      In terms of this route if there is a push for six more traffic lanes that can only be because of an expectation of increased demand…. our view is that this is likely to be better met with an RTN system than with more driving… we just want an open minded study of needs and options.

    • Nick R

      Over a quarter million people travel to the Auckland city centre each weekday. That’s more than the entire populations of Hamilton and Tauranga put together. So yes, for a start there is plenty of population and plenty of people travelling to the city centre.

      But naturally transit isn’t just for the city centre, the lines go both ways so you can just as easily use them to to Albany, to Takapuna, to Birkenhead etc. And likewise with a full network you can use it to travel around the region free of traffic. For example you could go Albany to the centre on the LRT, change to the train out to Sylvia Park. Albany to Sylvia Park in about 45 minutes any time of day, regardless of traffic congestion… Or Panmure, or Ellerslie, or Kingsland, or Henderson etc etc.

  • Sailor Boy

    Take the symonds st routes through town on Wellesley not customs. Simple

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