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Sunday reading 5 June 2016

Welcome back to Sunday reading this long weekend.

We start this week with a borrowed slide explaining the way that the quality of your city’s Transit system controls the quality of your driving commute:

DOWNS-THOMPSON PARADOX

This explains what’s wrong with current expansion of SH16 and the completion of the Western Ring Route. The Transit part of this project is woefully inadequate: Intermittent bus lanes on the shoulder of the motorway are unlikely to lead to sufficiently fast or reliable bus travel times, this means the choice of taking the bus will probably not be attractive enough to tempt enough people away from driving on the newly widened motorway. This will lead to more induced driving and an increase in traffic congestion [which ironically will further slow those buses, because they are not on their own RoW]. Perhaps not immediately on the new parts of motorway itself, but certainly on local feeder roads and especially in the city and CMJ where the State Highways 1 and 16 and city exits all meet.

The biggest beneficiaries of high quality Rapid Transit are those who need or choose to drive. The better the alternative; the better your drive.

Staying with the value of Rapid Transit let’s head to Montréal where plans for a new layer of Rapid Transit has just been announced [in Lime Green below, with existing networks], which raises important issues around driverless technology:

reseau-electrique-metropolitan-montreal-metro-subway-map-connections

Similar to Vancouver’s Canada Line, a system that CPDQ also has a financial stake in, trains will run every three to six minutes along the mainline and every six to 12 minutes on the three branch routes, including the train service from the airport to downtown. In contrast, the Deux-Montagnes commuter rail line is limited to every 20 to 30 minutes during rush hour and every hour outside of rush hour on weekdays.

But these high frequencies are only possible due to the nature of automation, which makes frequent train services significantly more economically feasible to operate. If there is a surge in demand, operators can easily and quickly increase frequency by deploying more trains by switching the controls at the operations centre.

With driverless technology, the operating costs are markedly lower than systems that require drivers and it has the potential to attract more ridership given that frequent services and superior reliability increase the utility of a transit system. Knowing that a train or bus will come soon, a transit service with a high frequency means transit users do not have to worry about service schedules. This reduces waiting times and connection times between transit services.

We really need to have a Transport Minister and Ministry just as excited about the opportunities for these technologies in the PT space as they are about them for private vehicles, the value is huge and the technology proven. SkyTrain in Vancouver has been driverless since 1985, carries 117m pax pa, and has run at an operating surplus every year since 2001.

Staying in Canada, here is how Montréal can have such ambitious city-building plans, central government is chipping in:

The new Canadian government is shifting investment to sustainable and social assets, away from Carbon intensive assets likely to become a burden on future citizens, and away from the failed ideology of austerity:

Investing in infrastructure creates good, well-paying jobs that can help the middle class grow and prosper today. And by making it easier to move people and products, well-planned infrastructure can deliver sustained economic growth for years to come.

At the same time, new challenges have emerged that make the need for investment more acute: things like the rapid growth of Canada’s cities, climate change, and threats to our water and land.

Congestion in Canadian communities makes life more difficult for busy families, and has a negative effect on our economy—when businesses can’t get their goods to market, it undermines growth.

A changing climate is also hard on communities. From floodways to power grids, investments are needed to make sure Canada’s communities remain safe and resilient places to live.

Investing in infrastructure is not just about creating good jobs and economic growth. It’s also about building communities that Canadians are proud to call home.

With historic investments in public transit, green infrastructure and social infrastructure, Budget 2016 will take advantage of historically low interest rates to renew Canada’s infrastructure and improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

In Budget 2016, the Government will implement an historic plan to invest more than $120 billion in infrastructure over 10 years, to better meet the needs of Canadians and better position Canada’s economy for the future.

2.2-en

Frankly I expect this kind of approach to become orthodox this century. That is once we can shake the stultifying grip of last century’s habits and world view, and properly start to address the issues in front of us.

More on vehicle speed and safety, this time from Nate Silver’s 538:

Given the social and economic toll of speeding, one might assume that we set speed limits with careful calculations aimed at maximizing safety. But that’s not exactly how it works, and a history of questionable applications of data is partly to blame.

Roads are planned according to a concept known as design speed, basically the speed vehicles are expected to travel.3 Engineers often apply the 85th percentile rule to a similar road to arrive at the design speed for the proposed road. It might make sense, then, that the design speed would become the speed limit. However, in practice, the design speed is often used to determine the minimum speed of safe travel on a road.

Confused? So was I. Norman Garrick, a professor of engineering at the University of Connecticut, explained how this works using the example of a commercial office building.

“It’s completely unacceptable for someone to die in a plane crash or an elevator,” he said. “We should expect the same of cars.”

And for some local flavour via Stuff: Drivers not coping with Christchurch’s new central city 30kph limit:

Acting Senior Sergeant John Hamilton said police spent 90 minutes on Friday to see if drivers were abiding by the new limits. Stuff witnessed about 10 drivers being pulled over for speeding on the corner of Montreal and Cashel streets within 30 minutes, including two Christchurch City Council staff. 

Hamilton said most of the drivers ticketed were driving between 50kmh and 60kmh, with one motorist spotted driving 65kmh.

Now I have some sympathy with these drivers for the simple reason that the both street [see above] and vehicle design mean that to stay below 30kph in anything other than congested traffic takes a huge amount of attention and control. You might argue that we should be attentive and ‘in control’ whenever we are driving, and of course that’s true, but the fact is that most operation of the vehicle for anyone but learner drivers is a subconscious act, and in fact needs to be as we should be focussing on the environment and not constantly checking the speedo. But of course, in truth, half our minds are really elsewhere, on other things when we drive; we do it on a kind of human autopilot. So if we want drivers to keep to safer slow speeds in cities, or around schools, or wherever, we really need to change the physical environment to forcibly slow the ‘natural’ speed of those places.

As for the cars themselves, well that’s a lost cause, even the simplest little car is way overpowered and torquey for these environments: they just want to get up to highway speed and stay there. Perhaps these slow streets won’t really work until those law abiding pendants the bot-cars are ponderously pootling us around…? Note these drivers weren’t just breaking the 30kph limit they were all also breaking the old 50kph one!

CHCH slow streets

Christchurch 30kph network

Related: we do like this more creative communication from some Transport Department:

Below a very interesting chart showing population change in London. I like that it has a name, and a good one, for the cycle we are clearly in now: City Renaissance and that it dates its beginning unambiguously to the early 1990s:

London Population changes

Note also that London’s population growth in this City Renaissance period has decidedly been both up and out, not just up. The rest of the paper, City VillagesPDF, from the Institute for Public Policy Research is very interesting too and relevant to Auckland’s situation. Basically the housing supply problem can be pretty clearly matched to the abandonment of public housing construction under neoliberalism, same as in NZ. Despite population growth, State and Council dwelling numbers have been falling not growing in recent decades:

London Housing supply

And lastly, something from the energy transition department. Luís de Souza is a scientist from Portugal who is always worth reading on energy supply, especially for anyone interested in the longer term trends than the noise of the trader market as reported in the MSM. Here he is calling 2015 as the year of Peak Oil:

Titling the last press review of 2015 I asked if that had been the year petroleum peaked. The question mark was not just a precaution, the uncertainty was really there. Five months later the reported world petroleum extraction rate is pretty much still were it was then. This is not a surprise, but the impact of two years of depressed prices is over due. 

Nevertheless, during these five months of lethargy the information I gathered brings me considerably closer to remove the question mark from the sentence and acknowledge that a long term decline is settling in. Understanding the present petroleum market as a feature of the supply destruction – demand destruction cycle makes this case clear.

So happy Birthday Queen Victoria [yes it’s actually her birthday], and happy reading…

 

35 comments to Sunday reading 5 June 2016

  • Jeff T

    Can we have Justin Trudeau once you’re finished with him in Canada?

    • Greg N

      If Canadians are as smart as I reckon they are, they won’t be letting him go until he’s been in power longer than his father and is then older than Winston Peters is now.

      I think we’ll need to find a home grown local alternative sooner than that. Maybe Julie Anne Genter for PM [or at the very least Transport Minister]?

    • Steve Withers

      Canada still use First Past the Post. Trudeau might be free to come here sooner than many think. He won his present majority with 39% of the vote….just like the Conservatives he replaced also won with only 39% of the vote.

      Granted, Trudeau has promised to change the voting system before the next election. Canada may well adopt some form of MMP (reading the tea leaves). But it hasn’t happened yet. 🙂

    • Ari

      No thanks to Trudeau. He’s only their because of his dad’s name. All he has done so far is undo some Conservative policies without really doing anything else other than break some election promises. But he did get some cute pandas, so that’s at least something.

  • The angle of your foot on the accelerator means that it is *uncomfortable* to drive at 30kph, and comfortable to drive at 50, and even more at 60.

  • Greg N

    That top picture in that slide appeared in the Dom. Post one day when I happened to be in Wellington on business.

    It took up the entire top half of the front page [“above the fold” as they say], so it was very “in your face”.
    It was published about the time when the new Matangi’s were coming into service [many months ahead of Aucklands EMUs]. At first glance you might just have read the picture as saying “look at our new trains”.

    But the caption said [to the effect that] all the people in all the cars on all the motorway lanes in the picture could be easily carried in the train crossing above them.
    There was a story buried elsewhere about the transport plans for Greater Wellington but the two items were treated quite independently.

    However it was a very visual example, and a point that is made time and again here and elsewhere as to how inefficient SOV travel actually is.

    And yet the point continues to fall on deaf ears as yet another $B+ is thrown down to add one more lane to a motorway or add just one more motorway to the network in the vain hope this will finally complete the puzzle.
    Christchurch being the most recent and ongoing victim to this “just a little bit more” incrementalist thinking of roads only policy.

    Another classic case was yesterday when the moving of the Auckland port options were being debated on TV3’s The Nation.
    Comments were being bandied about by some of the vested interests in the round table discussion and also by some of the commentators afterwards that $5B is too expensive to consider moving the port, and the position they adopted was basically there are more pressing issue for Auckland, therefore it is not needed now so why consider it?

    Completely ignoring the fact that we are getting ready to spend exactly that sort of money on a tunnel under the harbour without much say by the rest of us.

    And also that there are big costs of keeping the port where it is and there are some big benefits to moving it as far as freeing up public land at the harbour edge.
    The $5B figure for either tunnel or port move is not fixed in stone, likely to go up for the tunnel and down for the port move.

    The elephant in the room on the port move that all ignored [which I know TB tweeted about] was that in the next 10-40 years the scale/size of container ships will dwarf what we have now.
    Few ports worldwide would be able to manage these next generation ships today and no ports in NZ will be able to cater for them without ongoing dredging or relocation/reconfiguration of their current port operations.

    The status quo of keeping steady as she goes is not an option.

    Although it is a major part of much of all levels of “planning” we are forced to accept – unless its traffic projections which are always on the increase.

    We really need some good long term planning and follow through – so we can resolve all these seemingly unrelated issues in a co-ordinated way instead of the current kneejerk and piecemeal, no more than one problem at a time thanks, approach.

    So all kudos to Canada for [paraphrasing Tony Blair] “Protecting Canadas interests in a [climate] changing world” – or at least trying to even if it ultimately fails.

    Pity we don’t have currently have any politicians in power who will do likewise for NZ and put our interests ahead of the markets.

    Lack of doing so is exactly how the current housing and homeless crises are upon us “so suddenly”.

    The Markets will provide and markets are always right philosophies are corner stones of the policies Thatcher pursued in the late 80s when she first outlawed local councils building new housing stock and then also required them to sell down the stocks they had in a fire sale.

    The same policy of a sinking lid [and ship] has been in place here for State and local Council provided housing since then as well.
    Usually it was accompanied by the “TINA” mantra, that is “There is no alternative”.

    All of which lead to the huge deficit of maintenance on state owned housing, which then justified the subsequent sell offs and lead to a massive decrease in availability of safe, quality, low income housing at the very time we need it.

    Some 25 years later, the neolib chickens have come home to roost as a result. Should anyone including the neolibs be surprised?

    The market solution of government rent subsidies to private landlords is now a giant drain on Government funds. Funds that can and should be spent elsewhere.

    Money is being endlessly tipped into low quality “slum” housing, most is no better than the unkempt state housing that prompted the sell-off. In fact much of it is former unkempt state houses now even more run down than when it was sold off, thanks to 25 years of even less maintenance.

    Private rentals, for which the government cannot easily control the quality of, and for which a huge amount of taxes are being used to prop-up/maintain the market status quo – with no plans to change the situation anytime soon.
    Subsidies which go completely against the “a free market is always right” mantra.

    Does anyone in charge actually connect all these dots here on all these transport, PT, housing, man made climate change etc issues – or are they simply all no more than unfortunate, unintended, unforseeable and therefore completely unconnected and unrelated events we have to react to and cannot plan for?

    • I think the argument is that voters want soundbites filled with ‘good ideas’. Good ideas = things that cost them less, save them time or make their lives easier (or would appear too, if you don’t think to many layer deep). Actual good ideas on complicated issues (the environment, cities, transport) are not usually obvious on the surface (require actual thought beyond ones own circumstances) , so can’t be popular.

      For many, it’s just too hard to picture anything else, so everyone not neolib/central just comes off sounding like a crackpot.

      New Zealand is a strange place – it presents itself as a whole bunch of things:
      1. Forward thinking (i.e. liberal)
      2. Number 8 wire mentality (i.e. clever solutions, we figure it out and get it done without the big resources other might)
      3. Punching above our weight in the world

      while in reality, it looks more like:
      1. Socially conservative, terrified of change. The way things were was always better and we should fight to keep it that way, even if that passed is no longer possible and trying anyway just ruins the future prospects
      2. “she’ll be right’ a.k.a. slapdash and halfarsed
      3. Arrogant – reinventing the wheel and ignoring international best practice because we are ‘unique’ somehow

      With a preponderance of ignorance due to a non barely functional fourth estate and general lack of interest beyond people’s own immediate family I don’t see much hope for change. There are smart, qualified people but their ideas are ‘different and dangerous’ and anyone citing overseas examples/experience is laughed off (we know better). Old men will continue to tut tut and guide us on the trusted path to making New Zealand what it was (or is pictured as being) in the 50s. The younger people are perhaps more open to new ideas, but are equally ignorant, and getting them to vote seems impossible. I don’t blame them though.

      • David I think that’s all true, however we do live in an interesting time as shown by both the appetite for change among some and fearful pushback against this from others.

        Certainly from some angles I think we may be in the pressure build-up phase that often happens before a sudden burst of re-invention. The current housing/transport/environment stresses are building in a way that reminds me of the political and economic pressures that grew to boiling point under Muldoon in the early 80s. Which is to say things are increasingly polarised but that support of the status quo increasingly involves such contradictions that those trying to shore it up have to resort to blanket denial of fact. For example the PM on housing cost.

        Going to get more rather than less interesting, methinks.

      • Tony

        Lol. What a miserable rant.

      • I don’t think that the population is terrified of social change, and are clinging to the old ways. The case of gay men in instructive; decriminalisation, then equal human rights under the HRA, then equal civil rights for marriage. That journey took space of 30 odd years. The case of Maori as well; the renaissance of the 70s and 80s (anyone remember the coloured blocks used for learning te reo?), through to Treaty Settlements, and enshrinement of the Treaty in law, down to my ability nowadays to argue that iwi are partners with Council, and that has implications for practice.

        I know you are making a point, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a good one. Things are changing around us, and in ways that perhaps we don’t understand. For instance I met a young national voter, young businessman, grew up in back of Te Awamutu, who was disturbed by the fact that children are living in cars, a situation engineered somewhat cruelly by his party. Pretty sure there’s dozens like him. He’s realising something, that building a liveable city can’t be left to chance alone. We have to make choices.

  • Mike (the longstanding one)

    An interesting feature of the Montreal proposal is that it’s mostly (Deux-Montagnes – Central) a conversion of an existing electric suburban railway, fully upgraded and modernised just 20 years ago – see https://www.amt.qc.ca/en/trip-planner/train/deux-montagnes#Itineraire. I’m not aware of such a conversion happening anywhere else, and like Vancouver’s SkyTrain it will be a rare example of a light metro system, something that’s never really caught on (like the rubber tyres on Montreal’s Metro).

    • Well in London the Overground is essentially the conversion of existing lines to a metro pattern, frequency, and legibility. Huge success. As, of course, is Vancouver’s SkyTrain. Driverlessness does not require lighter trains, it’s just that when on their own networks they can run lighter and cheaper trains. That operating cost benefit and service uplift as a result of automation is well worth chasing; it can mean the difference between expanding a city’s system or not. Hugely significant.

      Although more complicated on mixed use railways like in Auckland and Wellington [ie passenger and freighters on the same track], it is still prize worth pursuing. Is there anyone at MoT or any of our other public agencies working on this?

      • Mike (the longstanding one)

        The London Overground is just a normal suburban electric railway, very similar in concept and technology to what the Deux-Montagnes line is now. It was marketing and change of operating philosophy that made the difference in London – Overground technology is identical with what preceded it. The London equivalent of the Montreal proposal would be the conversion of the Overground to Docklands Light Railway standards, which would be a radical change.

        • Yeah well only to the tech-head. The customer doesn’t give a rats arse whether their train is classified as Light Metro or whatever, what they care about is is how useful the service is, and in in the case of the conversion of the Overground the change was profound from the users’ point of view; high frequency, reliability, service span, and legibility absolutely transformed the quality of the offer, and the public have responded, as usual, by piling on to the trains. This is precisely what looks like is being proposed in Montréal with bits of an existing infrequent commuter service and new extensions and connections.

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            The Overground change, indeed spectacular, was similar to many other conventional suburban railway upgrades – think Paris RER, or Glasgow Blue Trains, or German/Swiss S-bahnen. The technology stayed roughly the same, but the passenger experience was transformed. The Montreal proposal appears to be entirely different, replacing an existing modern electrified railway with a Vancouver-style light metro, something that I don’t think has ever been done before – certainly not in London!

            Whether passengers give a rat’s arse is a separate (and clearly very important) issue.They may not care whether a train is light, heavy, electric, diesel, bimode, maglev, elevated, tube, monorail, hyperloop, whatever, but these different characteristics are pretty important to urban and transport planners and operators, hence my raising the point about Montreal’s apparent ground-breaking uniqueness.

            And there could well be lessons for Auckland. If the Montreal project proceeds, the 1995 Deux-Montagnes modernisation, similar in scope to Auckland’s, will have lasted for only just over 20 years. Should we be prepared to scrap the CAF emus in the 2030s?

          • Mike, again, the ‘weight’ of the vehicle isn’t the issue, it’s how they are controlled and run. There is, I understand, the opportunity to upgrade the ETCS level on the AKL network to enable automation. This is not dependent on the vehicle but rather the systems; it does not involve scraping our new EMUs.

            Take staffing costs out operations and the marginal cost of running more trains, more often, later in the night or earlier in day, becomes close to trivial and the utility of the service and cost of running create a virtuous circle of self-reinforcing increasing improvement. That is more than worth investing in, that is certainly a way to extract even more value from the social investment in the city’s railway already undertaken.

            The key point of the Montréal plan is not that they are continuing their experience of running Light Metro vehicles from Vancouver, but that they are, as they stress in the quotes above, introducing automation to enable very high frequencies and spans at very low operating cost.

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            At last we’re agreed – your point about automation is absolutely correct, making the Montreal proposal very different from the fully manual London Overground, for which automation is not even a distant prospect.

            And I wasn’t aware that the EMUs are designed so that they will be capable of economic conversion to automatic operation when they’re some way through their life – that was very far-sighted of someone.

          • Stranded on the North Shore

            The fully automated systems need complete separation – no vehicular crossings, no possibility of pedestrians or animals on the tracks. The Skytrain goes on ground level and when it does, the fences can be pretty intimidating – see https://goo.gl/maps/LYs8q4T5Xgm

            I see that this kind of system could possibly be introduced on the North Shore using the existing busway, then under the harbour (perhaps instead of the NZTA mammoth version) or on a new bridge (see this pretty suspended bridge in Vancouver next to a road bridge: https://goo.gl/maps/yFP6mnawTmE2 )

            Then on the CBD side, it would either need to be underground or elevated to connect somewhere with City Rail Link (Aotea / Britomart ?)

            Oh if the new mayor would have that vision…

          • James C

            The AM EMUs will (if desired) be capable of automatic operation (not driverless, though) within the confines of the CRL tunnels. It is conceivable that much or all of the SW/Airport line as shown in the AT video could also be run under automatic, which is possibly another complicating matter in the HR/LR comparison. A North Shore line would also likely be a strong candidate for auto ops if it were to connect with the rest of the network, or fully driverless if it doesn’t. The rest of the current network would require enormous expenditure to secure the quality of ROW for driverless operation. I doubt that it will ever be possible, indeed it is more likely that brand new underground or elevated new lines would be more cost effective. It’s just too easy for people, animals, shopping trolleys, cars, fridges and other debris to get into the rail corridor. The stopper for both automatic operation of the AMs and future driverless fleets on the outdoor parts of the network is that there is far too much variability in traction/braking in cold or wet conditions to hand those functions over to pre-programmed commands. I’d love to know how they deal with that in the much colder/wetter places like Vancouver that obviously manage driverless operation and very close headways. Here and now it would mean even slower standard timetabling or the risk of huge variation in punctuality and reliability.

          • Yes and no. All current automated rail systems are fully grade separate. However similar technology to road vehicle automation can be used to automate mixed use railways.

            Having said that the removal of level crossings is desirable and valuable for both the rail and road networks anyway and should be planned and budgeted regardless, and as a way to simplify future automation. Agree that future extensions should be physically separate for this reason. An aguement against AT’s LRT everywhere programme? LR can be automated too, but this is very unlikely in an street environment, surely.

            Although RoWs for LR can then run Light Metro, but again only if not including street running.

          • Nick R

            James, automated train operations aren’t pre programmed, they are active. The Vancouver system deals with differing track conditions the same way a human does, but assessing the conditions and responding appropriately. They have various sensors that monitor power, breaking, speed, weight etc, and also radar and laser track intrusion systems. (Vancouver doesn’t have to deal with wheel traction at all because it operates with linear induction propulsion and breaking, but the point still holds).

            It’s not exactly rocket surgery and it’s been in operation for decades already. Personally I think its no more advanced than an elevator in a tall building, they manage to perfectly and comfortably whisk the cab up 40 floors regardless of whether there is one person inside or a literal ton of people inside.

            I also disagree you need total segregation, we don’t need it for human driven trains and to be frank there is nothing a human can do in an emergency situation that a computer can’t. By that I mean there is often nothing the driver can do, if a car is stopped blocking the tracks at a level crossing all a driver can do is hit the brakes and hope they can stop in time, if a person runs out across the tracks by accident or for suicide there is literally nothing they can do.

            In reality, because the Vancouver type systems have all trains centrally controlled by the same control system they would probably do better, the system can monitor all level crossings and all trains simultaneously, no way a bunch of drivers with radios could do as well.

            Driverless trains are simple, relatively speaking. For all this talk of driverless cars, the task of a driverless car is much more difficult. Auckland will have driverless trains, then driverless trams and driverless buses, well before it gets any driverless cars. Any tech that works for driverless cars will work easier, better and sooner for vehicles that run on fixed routes, especially those that run on guide rails.

          • Additionally, Mike, the conversion of existing lines and services is only a part of this project; there’s a lot of new track too, including the link to the airport and across the St Lawrence:

            ‘…existing Deux-Montagnes commuter rail line – including the Mount Royal Tunnel running through downtown and the north side of the island – will be converted into a portion of the REM’s mainline route. It improves the route’s commuter rail service while reducing construction costs in the process.’

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deux-Montagnes_line

            ‘Under the Réseau électrique métropolitain proposal, the Deux-Montagnes line would be converted to rapid transit operation and be extended past Downtown and over the St-Lawrence to Brossard; two southwest branches would also be added, to Trudeau Airport and to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.[14]’

            More details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Réseau_électrique_métropolitain

            Looks like a great plan.

          • So here’s the home page for the New Champlain Bridge, no sign of rail on the render, but I guess they are planning on taking the two centre lanes that have buses on them…?

            http://www.newchamplain.ca/project/engineering/

            Looks good. It is regrettable that we haven’t been able to have a debate in Auckland including the possibility of an elegant new bridge across the harbour rather than NZTA rashly and secretly pushing on with a daft road tunnels plan…

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            Nick R: lifts don’t have to interact with other lifts using the same shafts, which makes trains much more complex (except on a single-train shuttle). Driverless fixed-formation trains on a dedicated network aren’t easy (nothing on a railway is), but they ‘re becoming more common. On a mixed network like Auckland’s complete automation is a long way away, because nobody is doing much about making trains with variable characteristics (length, speed, braking capability, weight) automatic – it’s hard, the rewards aren’t that great, and people like the Americans are finding it hard enough to get down to one person in the cab, let alone none.

            Patrick R: yes, that’s why I said that most, not all, of the route was being converted from a London Overground (or Auckland) style system to a Vancouver style one.

    • Stranded on the North Shore

      Vancouver’s CBD tunnel is actually an old rail tunnel that was converted into a double-decker for the SkyTrain. That’s their “equivalent” of our City Rail Link. At the end of the tunnel – at the Waterfront station, the trains do a “Newmarket-style” turn around, and go back onto the network in the reverse direction. Being driverless, it takes about 2 minutes to empty the carriages, turn around and open the doors for the return journey. Cool stuff to watch for public transport geeks.

      • Nick R

        That’s true, and the interesting thing was a lot of the innovations of the now Bombardier system were required because of that tunnel. Initially it was a single track freight train tunnel, and quite tall as a result. They figured out if they could get metro vehicles just a bit shorter than standard they could double stack them in the one tunnel. That led to Vancouver selecting the ICTS prototype because it had things like linear induction motors, small steerable wheels, third rail power supply, low platforms etc that made it a good fit. See here: http://www.geocities.ws/greg_vassilakos/traindwg/lg-bombardier-artii-vancouver.gif These could fit in a tunnel only 3.3m tall and 2.8m wide.

        Naturally that compact cross section means they are easier and cheaper to build into existing runningways (say a busway for example) or where you are building a new tunnel (say under the harbour from Aotea, hint hint).

  • GlenK

    A funny thing about the new 30k speed limit in Christchurch is that the one-way streets within the zone (Durham, Montreal, Tuam) have coordinated green waves of traffic signals along them, and these are now set at 30km/h. A lot of drivers don’t seem to have twigged yet that if they speed faster than 30ks along here, they’re just going to get to the next red quicker…

    Interestingly, the Council are now proposing to extend the 30k zone one street further south (St Asaph St, one-way westbound) because it is technically difficult to coordinate the one-way pairs (and their intersecting one-way pairs) if if one is at 30k and one is at 50k.

  • john smith

    # Stranded on the North Shore & James – I don’t understand the argument that driverless trains require full segregation.

    Neither driverless *nor driverful* trains solve the shopping trolley on the track problem, because trains can’t drive on a line of sight basis (except very, very slowly). The driver is there to respond to signals, and the signals are there to avoid collision with other trains, not with shopping trolleys etc. Even with a driver, train comes around bend, there’s a shopping trolley on the track, train collides with it because it can’t stop in time.

    If you want to segregate the track for the sake of extra safety, well and good, but that’s a separate issue that applies to all trains, not just driverless ones. Putting driverless car technology in driverless trains would make them at least as safe as driverful trains, for any chosen level of track segregation.

    • Exactly, and well explained.

      Note that Auckland is the first ETCS railway in the Southern Hemisphere:

      ‘In Auckland, New Zealand, the first true ETCS Level 1 system in the Southern Hemispehere was commissioned on 29 April 2014 for KiwiRail by Siemens Rail Automation, in conjunction with the introduction of the ETCS-compliant AM class electric multiple units.[38] Implementation in Adelaide, SA is planned for mid/late 2014.’

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Train_Control_System

      • Mr Plod

        I find it fascinating that ‘people’ put up all sorts of arguments to demonise existing driverless rail technologies and how they won’t work in ‘special’ NZ, whereas many from the Minister of Transport up and down seem to have no issues with driverless cars citing them as a Holy Grail for alleviating SOV induced congestion. I’m sure there’s a term for this combination of near term short sightedness combined with long range myopia.

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