A presentation by Kiwirail (from page 41) to the Auckland Council Infrastructure Committee provides some interesting insight into the future of the Auckland Rail Network. Unfortunately the council don’t record the infrastructure committee and put it on online so we can’t see exactly what was said by the CEO of Kiwirail but the presentation which has been uploaded to the council website does give an indication.
For the most of the presentation the slides appear to be a fairly typical business presentation talking about how they’re performing and supposedly changing their business to be more customer centric. The most interesting parts are the last four slides which highlight that there’s a lot more to do to improve the rail network than just the City Rail Link. The first of these is below and gives an indication of what needs to be addressed.
Auckland strategic issues & opportunities
- 23% pa Metro Growth
- Freight growth into Auckland
- Port of Tauranga
- Ports of Auckland
- Network Resilience
- Funding Shortfalls – DART perception/reality
- Integrated land transport planning (AT/NZTA/KR)
The remaining slides show how the network needs to be operating within the next year or two, how it will need to be working in the future and finally how an indication of specific pieces of work needed to realise the vision along with some cost indications.
For the short term it appears the need is to get the Western Line up to 10 minute frequencies, improve network performance and get more freight trains through South Auckland. On the latter point it the image suggests at least two freight trains an hour in each direction at peaks south of Otahuhu.
Moving forward to the future and by 2041 you can see a lot more trains will be on the network thanks to the City Rail Link. At peak times there would be 18 trains an hour on the Western Line in the peak direction plus 12 an hour on both the Southern and Eastern lines. There are also more trains on the Onehunga Line and more freight trains along with higher performance requirements. In a way this highlights one of the biggest benefits of the CRL, it allows us to get a lot more use out of our existing rail corridor. I personally remain disappointed they don’t plan on increasing frequencies past Henderson and I still feel like AT are trying to complicate the future train plan too much, especially with the Henderson to Otahuhu trains.
The most interesting slide – to me at least – is the last one showing a whole range of projects needed to get the network up to spec. It suggests that prior to the CRL opening around $400 million is needed not including level crossings or the Onehunga line which will be for some of the items on the list here plus I suspect a lot of catch up maintenance that still hasn’t happened yet. As you can see some of the urgent items include:
- More cross overs,
- more signals
- Infill balises (transmits the signals to the train)
- Getting freight trains using the new signalling system
- Level crossing closures
- 3rd main between Westfield and Wiri
Some of the more interesting items I can see include:
- What appears to be three different options for getting 6 car trains to Onehunga – extending the current platform, reconfiguring the station or a new platform at Neilson St.
- Changes to the eastern end of Britomart – getting more trains through Quay Park perhaps
- Extending the third main all the way to Pukekohe.
- A new Mt Smart station – this seems odd giving the close proximity to Penrose.
- Shifting the long distance services back to the Strand – surely this will not be good for the usage of them.
- Different options for reconfiguring Henderson station.
- A grade separated Westfield Interchange
- An upgrade to the junction at Newmarket
To me the considerable amount of work still needed to get the rail network up to speed is reflection of the level of neglect the network suffered from for decades.
Interestingly I suspect related to all of this, a week ago Auckland Transport posted this on their tender website although it has now disappeared.
This RFI sets out to identify a company or individuals who will be able to best provide AT with rail infrastructure design and constructability knowledge, for on-going commissions on the Auckland rail network.
Auckland Transport requires a Rail / Track geometrics, signalling and overhead line design and rail constructability consultant with at least 20 years experience in the provision of design and constructability services within a live operating environment. New Zealand experience is preferred with an intimate knowledge of the Auckland network an advantage. Experience working with KiwiRail is necessary.
This capability will be drawn upon on a regular basis to provide design and constructability services for modifications to the Auckland rail network such as:
- New stations and Park & Rides
- Grade separations
- Modifications to stations
- Level crossing upgrades
- Additional stabling facilities
- Additional mainlines for freight
- Extensions to electrification
- Signalling Modifications
- Track realignments
As you can see there’s a lot more than just the CRL to do to the Rail network.