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Light Rail Preferred to Airport

A big day yesterday with Auckland Transport officially deciding to drop the option of heavy rail to the airport in favour of light rail (LRT) or perhaps even buses as had been foreshadowed in the Herald in the morning but also hinted at for some time from previous information released by AT.

Mangere Light Rail Station

Yesterday afternoon they released the previously confidential paper that was used to justify the decision which has thrown up a few interesting details.

In the end the biggest nail in the coffin for heavy rail has ended up being the cost which is now estimated at $2.6 to $3 billion. Being even more expensive than the CRL and with fewer benefits – after-all the CRL improves the entire rail network – it is always going to be hard sell and in the end AT and the NZTA have said it simply offered “low value for money” with a Benefit Cost Ratio of 0.37-0.64. As a comparison they estimate LRT could have similar or even greater overall benefits – I’ll get to that soon – but come in at less than half the price at an estimated $1.2-1.3 billion giving it a BCR of 1.11-1.72. That figure seems to be an improvement on earlier information such as the video that was released at the beginning of the year.

Light-Heavy rail to Aiport Routes and stats

The biggest issue with the LRT option though is it assumes that LRT will already be in place along Dominion Rd and that this is therefore just an extension. The issue with that is so far there is no agreement from the NZTA or the government that the Dominion Rd route will be supported – although the ATAP report last week seems to confirm something more than just more buses will be needed. But even if the cost of LRT along Dominion Rd (estimated at $1 billion) was included in, it still comes in cheaper than heavy rail and would have even higher benefits. The LRT option also benefits from providing new connections on the isthmus to the South West so represents a greater expansion of the rapid transit network. A comparison between the accessibility of the two is below.

Light-Heavy Rail - Light 45min Accessibility to Airport

Light-Heavy Rail - Heavy 45min Accessibility to Airport

The estimated costs and benefits discounted to 2015 $ are shown below.

Light-Heavy rail to Aiport BCR

On the costs, one expensive part of heavy rail is the need to also upgrade the Onehunga line and deal with the level crossings. AT say they considered three options for this, a long New Lynn style trench, realignment via Mt Smart and elevated rail with costs ranging from $458-578 million. Later it appears a low cost option of closing two of the level crossings and barriers which would cost $155 million and that was used in the Indicative Business Case but AT are also concerned not grade separating the crossings would cause traffic issues.

Within the airport they also eventually came up with a more direct route shown in blue but that requires bored tunnels ~20-25m deep and adds to the costs listed above and is what pushes the cost to $3 billion. There are other issues too such as with the terminal station under the airport, AT would have to pay for it when the Airport wanted to upgrade the terminal which is likely to be sooner than when AT have LRT scheduled and that would add $100 million to ATs already tight budget requirements.

Light-Heavy rail to Aiport - airport alignment options

The paper also addresses many of the issues that have been raised on here and in other places in the past.

Travel Times

One such issue is the travel time and people have in the past questioned suggestions that LRT could be the same or even faster than heavy rail. They say travel times were worked out using several models taking into account issues such as LRT speed down Dominion Rd, the acceleration/deceleration possible, station dwell times, specific track lengths, curves and gradients along with how fast vehicles could travel over them. They say that because of the heavy rail geometries required there is only a few locations where HR can hit top speed.

All of that resulted in the range of times shown below from both Aotea and Britomart with LRT coming out on top from Aotea which is centre of the CBD.

Light-Heavy rail to Aiport Travel Times

One particular area where LRT is much faster is in and around Onehunga, presumably the section over the harbour where the line has to be elevated above Neilson St then again over the East-West mega road before dropping under the motorway bridge as shown below.

Mangere Inlet Rail Crossing

The big concern for me with travel times is that it comes down to how well they’re implemented and so far AT haven’t proven themselves good at at that. This is evidenced by how poor AT have seemingly been so far at addressing our slow trains.

Capacity

Another issue that has been raised before is the capacity of LRT. What needs to be remembered is that even before this idea came along, AT aren’t planning on dinky little streetcars running around the suburbs but are large, long and potentially quite fast. As AT have said in the past they could be up to 66m long carrying over 400 passengers each which is on par with our current electric trains.

Light-Heavy rail to Aiport capacity

So over a two-hour morning peak with services every five minutes LRT could be moving up to 10,000 people an hour in each direction which is about the same number of people who currently arrive at Britomart each morning and nothing to sneeze at. They say the model estimates that with LRT around 3,500-7,500 people would cross the Manakau Harbour each morning with around 5,300-6,900 using the section from Onehunga to Dominion Rd. The biggest concern would be that if it was too popular it might restrict capacity on Dominion Rd but in many ways that would be a nice problem to have.

Opportunity Costs

One interesting aspect of the paper is a discussion on the opportunity cost of Heavy Rail. While it doesn’t happen in reality, they say the hypothetical situation of taking the money saved by using LRT would be enough to also build a light rail link from the Airport all the way to Botany – whereby it could link with the proposed AMETI busway. I don’t think that this route is a high priority to sink another $1b+ into just yet compared to other PT routes such as the NW-busway but it is interesting to ponder long term as part of a wider LRT network.

Light-Heavy rail to Aiport link to east

Here are the recommendations the board were provided which I assume they accepted. Given the capacity that has been suggested is needed and that we know there are already issues with bus capacity in the city I can’t see a bus option stacking up other than for some short term improvements.

  1. That Management discount heavy rail to the airport from any further option development due to its poor value for money proposition;
  2. Instructs Management to:
    • a) Develop a bus based high capacity mode to the same level of detail as the LRT option to allow a value for money comparison with the LRT option and submit this to ATAP for consideration;
    • b) Refine the LRT option further to address the high risk issues as articulated in this paper;
    • c) Report back to the Board on the findings of the bus based high capacity mode and LRT comparison.
    • d) Progress with route protection for bus / light rail, not heavy rail;
    • e) Align the SMART and CAP business cases to enable the consideration of an integrated public transport system between the city centre and the airport
    • f) Progress the business case development of the RTN route between Botany, Manukau and the airport and align this with NZTA’s business case development for SH20B.

The decision between light and heavy rail will never please everyone but personally I’d rather a light rail connection that actually happened than a heavy rail one that never did. A bit of a case of don’t let perfect be the enemy of good but in this case it’s not clear that heavy rail is perfect. I also don’t think it’s realistic to think that it’s just a political change away from the decision changing like some have suggested. I personally can’t see other political parties agreeing to fund something with such a poor business case given the alternative option that now exists. We’ve been critical of road projects that have poor economic cases so it’s only fair that we do the same with PT projects (although do wish these road projects were subject to greater levels of scrutiny – looking at you East-West).

What is needed though is to simply get on with things. We can’t afford to wait another 15+ years for this to be built, we need to be getting on with it. Compared to some of the motorway projects which now get accelerated rapidly, major PT projects like this seem to languish in the back of the planning departments for years, if not decades. This needs to change if Auckland is to become a much more liveable city.

385 comments to Light Rail Preferred to Airport

  • Mr Plod

    So Patrick’s heavy rail route from Otahuhu has been totally ignored or fully investigated earlier?

    • Bruce

      Exactly. What a joke, typical small town mentality.
      A few points: 1) Costs have gone up so they can have a bored tunnel under the runway… WHY?!!!! There is nothing there. The ground is soft. Simple dig a cut n cover trench and save a hundred million $$$. Otahuhu would avoid the issues with Onehunga line saving a truck load and not need a bridge again saving a truck load.

      • Sailor Boy

        Cut and cover is usually *more* expensive than bored. Especially if you have to be able to land an Airbus on top.

        • A further issue is that land by the airport is terrible for digging holes in. I’ve been told that the ground conditions at Kirkbride are worse than the New Lynn trench, they’re basically building a concrete boat.

        • patrick M

          No Airbuses planned for this second and shorter run way. The intent of the Airport is for it take over all domestic and most shorthaul (3-4 hours) routes. So smaller (lighter?) aircraft.

          • Actually understand the airport want to lengthen it now to be able to take larger planes

          • Nick R

            That’s correct, every single domestic destination bar Whangarei is south of the airport, and every single international destination to the north. Therefore their plan is for the north runway to take international and the south runway domestic, that way they can split the airspace in two and avoid a lot of potential conflicts.

          • Peadair

            A320 are the domestic and short hall

          • My understanding was that the new runway would initially be shorter and mainly handle domestic and shorthaul international, however that’s a good point about the airspace overlapping. I imagine once both runways are full length one would be for landing and the other for takeoffs as that gives the greatest efficiency for taxiing.

          • Nick R

            Jezza, they changed their strategy fairly recently. It was for a small northern domestic runway about ten years ago, but since swapped. The plan is for eventually two full length international standard runways. They also have a renewals issue coming up, they need to rebuild the existing runway more or less completely in the nearish future, which is very hard to do without a spare one next to it!

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            Hard, but not impossible: didn’t they use the taxiway as a runway while the latter was being resurfaced, or is my memory at fault?

          • Mike – your memory isn’t failing you, I definitely recall a period around about 10 years ago when we were landing and talking-off from the taxiway while they were doing significant work on the runway. The cabin crew warned us the terminals may appear to be closer than we are used to and not to be alarmed!

            Nick R – thanks for the info. So what you are saying is that they will have one for domestic and one for international rather than one for landing and one for take-off? I can see the logic in this as you mentioned with the separated airspace.

          • Nick R

            Mike, indeed the did but I think they are now planning for a full reconstruction of the runway which would presumably take a lot longer than resurfacing. This is only second hand information though, I’ve got no real idea. Clearly two full length intercontinental runways gives them the most flexibility and redundancy.

        • Bruce

          Bollocks Sailor Boy, Bollocks.
          There are times when that is true but not in this or many instances. Why? Because this doesn’t involve ripping up built up streets and utilities. It is also a short distance (typically a runway and associated taxiways take up around 400m however the actual parts that are used in that 400m are about 100m total with the rest being empty space). I guess you have never been to LAX or Heathrow, or Sydney – all of which have cut n cover under the runways for roads which are much wider than a rail corridor. The actual weight needed to be supported in a cut n cover is not actually that great nor is it difficult or expensive to do. In fact a bored tunnel would probably have to be strengthened more than normal due to it having some weight above it.

      • Dan C

        why not just keep to that original alignment that doesn’t require bored tunnels. How much is that ‘more direct route’ going to save, 20 seconds?

    • Yes it was investigated by ruled out due to the costs and risks of property acquisition. The potential for severance issues and that it would still require expensive infra on airport side.

    • Ricardo

      Monorail, up on pylons, small footprint. Just like most Asian countries. Why waste real estate or further constrict surface based transport.

  • Matthew W

    The “opportunity cost’ section is quite amusing. It’s obviously not enough to tell our desicion makers something will be cheaper, you now have to show them something cool they could buy with the money. It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer lost a peanut and instead of finding it, he found $20 down the back of the couch. Upon which he was very dissapointed until he remembered that “money can be exchanged for goods and services”. The opportunity costs section is reminding our desicion makers that money can be exchanged for goods and services.

    • John Polkinghorne

      I believe it went:
      Homer: [disappointed] Aw, twenty dollars, I wanted a peanut!
      Homer’s brain: [revelatory] Twenty dollars can buy many peanuts.
      Homer: [skeptical] Explain how!
      Homer’s brain: Woohoo!

    • Nick

      Yes, that section is crazy. If it saves $1bn, that’s the opportunity – $1bn.

      You can either spend it on other stuff or reduce the burden on ratepayers. The decision of what exactly you’d use it for should be driven by whatever is best for Auckland, and is unlikely to happen to be a related project like another LRT line to the airport.

      It’s a bit like the report authors got all excited about the concept of opportunity costs and thought it would look cool if they put something in there.

  • Anthony

    If upgrading the line through Onehunga is so expensive, put it beside the harbour / east-west link.
    What is the cost of immediately halting Kirkbride and reconfiguring to allow rail to pass at grade?
    What period are the assessed operating costs for? Note LRT is approximately double heavy rail.
    How will the LRT connection at Onehunga work? Costs?
    LRT speed on Dominion?

    • Sailor Boy

      “How will the LRT connection at Onehunga work? Costs?
      LRT speed on Dominion?”

      You realise that has a;l been answered to come up with the route time and costs right?

      • Anthony

        Answered to what level of detail? A costed concept sketch and bill of materials or just a provisional sum? And published where?

  • Don

    Disappointing to see that this project was a gold plated design from the start, then knocked on the head because of being to expensive.
    I question the need for a double track when Penrose to Onehunga is single track. Continue as single track.
    A single loop track from Onehunga to Airport then back to the Southern Line at Puhinui or Wiri would have been as efficient with trains traveling in both directions crossing at the Airport.
    Heavy rail could have also allowed rail freight to a depot on the Airport Oaks side of the new runway…..that would help remove trucks from roads.
    The other factor that kills the project is the long time frame involved…….no one at AT has any vision of the future – just a lot of bean counters discounting future costs to 2015 ?%@&???

    • The total amount of air freight in/out of Auckland each day is well below a train load, and consists of small lots mostly to/from Auckland locations, and therefore of no relevance to rail. I doubt you would fill a single wagon, let alone a train!

      • Andrew R

        In 2014 Auckland airport had 84,737 tonnes of export freight and 88,292 tonnes of import freight. Which is a daily average (combined) of 474 tonnes. (Source table 3.2, New Zealand International Airport Freight, final report March 2016 for Ministry of Transport, by Murray King & Frances Small Consultancy Ltd and Richard Paling Consulting Ltd.

        Domestic air freight in addition to this.

        • John Polkinghorne

          They used to have it in the Auckland Airport annual reports, but don’t seem to any more. Back in the mid-2000s, they were doing 170,000-200,000 tonnes of international cargo a year, and 30-40,000 tonnes of domestic. So that sounds similar to your figures Andrew, and domestic is quite small compared to international.

        • Don

          I wish to point out that there is a lot of freight distributed from warehouses in the Airport Oaks area. and a lot of that is trucked in from the Ports, from Westfield etc.It is not just for air freight. The area around Airport Oaks is in fact a major transportation node for many goods and has room to expand. The area is currently only serviced by trucks.

          • …and you want to service this with a single track railway that would still be expensive (especially as it would need freight gradients), that would occupy the right of way that could otherwise be used by a rapid, frequent passenger service!?

          • The Airport Oaks area is served only by trucks, because all of Auckland is only served by trucks. Trains only go to Southdown, and all distribution Auckland-wide is by truck from there. There would be no advantage to building a freight railway to Airport Oaks because the logistics of such an operation would not be very efficient, and the volumes too low. The railway runs through other major industrial areas as well, but doesn’t serve them directly anymore. The days of individual small businesses having private sidings as the norm are long gone.

        • Bigted

          Andrew the majority of airfreight is for metro Auckland and even what is not (defiantly not a train load) would be sent via road due to time frames (if it is important enough to be air-freighted it is required now and not when the train gets there).

    • Let me get this straight, you’re accusing AT of having no vision, yet you are proposing a single track line! This wouldn’t allow 10 min frequencies, which means it wouldn’t be a rapid transit route and wouldn’t be that appealing to air passengers, as many would just continue to jump on the Skybus. These two factors would render it a complete waste of money.

    • Bigted

      As most of the freight into or out of airport oaks is Auckland metro to remove those trucks from the road you would also need rails into every business in Auckland. Metro freight will continue to be moved on trucks no matter how much long haul freight moves on rail.

  • Sailor Boy

    The other thing to remember is that LRT now doesn’t rule out heavy rail from Otahuhu 50 years from now when LRT up Dominion Road and Manukau Road are buckling under the pressure.

    The biggest disadvantage of LRT is the poor connections to the Eastern line, but that is largely (if not completely resolved by extending the line to Puhinui.

    The Botany line that they suggest would also be a great line:
    Several strong anchors along line for all day, both way ridership,
    Straight route along mostly high speed roads allows high speed operation,
    In terms of city building, allows southern centres to redevelop into true city centres to service local areas.

    I also note that at those discount rates they are only discounting between 5 and 7 years, meaning they are expecting the spade in the ground in 3-5 years.

    • Bevan

      This is a good point – i.e. That LRT to airport via the proposed route doesn’t preclude HR from Otahuhu in the future when extra capacity is required. It makes this bitter pill a bit easier to swallow.

    • The issue in 50 years is the airport will be developed out so will be much more expensive to do anything else

      • Simon C

        Which is why it’s so disappointing to see this blog happy to settle for second best rather than battling for the HR option to be taken.

  • Of course heavy rail to the airport from Wiri (which can have trains from both north and south) is a few hundred million. So there remains an affordable heavy rail option.

    The reality is that both AT and NZTA trumped up the cost of heavy rail from Onehunga over the past 12 months. Projects not previously envisioned, such as elevating the line unnecessarily, and replacing existing grade separation at Neilson Street unnecessarily, and allowing the East-West Link to take priority across the rail route despite airport rail being planned first, all conspired to triple the cost and kill the project off.

    The same two agencies will do the same to North Shore rail. The CRL, in their minds, completes the rail network.

    • Wiri isn’t practical. I understand it requires a very very expensive junction and it’s not clear just how it would operate, as yet another branch of the southern line which could reduce frequency on those existing lines. Having a number of low frequency connections isn’t ideal

      • The Wiri junction is quite straight foreward, although could have been better had AT designed th EMU depot in a manner that enabled a more streamlined southern connection.

        Trains would run Papakura-Airport-Britomart (both via Newmarket and GI), giving maximum coverage and relevance to airport rail. Britomart-Airport via Onehunga would have been very limited as a means for Aucklanders to get to the airport.

        • Nick R

          Are you serious, am I getting this right? You want to run the southern line from Papakura up to Wiri, then send it 8km west to the airport, park it there while the drive swaps ends, drive it 8km back to Wiri then carry on up to town, but split the frequency between the two corridors?

          So you want to halve the frequency Papakura to Newmarket and at the same time add half an hour on to the journey time?

          • Bruce

            Or punters from Papakura could hop off at any of the stops along the way to transfer to a normal Southern line service direct to the city (as people do in cities all over the world).

          • Sailor Boy

            I interpreted it the same way, we must be getting it wrong though because surely no one can seriously think that is a worthwhile solution?

          • Bruce – the problem with that is they wouldn’t just hop off and catch the next one, they would wait at home and just catch the next train that runs direct, meaning the direct train that runs every 20 mins to the city would be packed and the indirect train that runs via the airport every 20 mins would likely by relatively empty, which as a waste of the limited number of slots on the rail network.

    • Nick R

      I would agree with that statement, the CRL completes the heavy rail network. Once the existing heavy rail is linked up and turned into a proper S-Bahn style almost metro, why would we every want to build another heavy rail line for urban passenger service again?

      Heavy rail is expensive, has big geometric constraints and in the Auckland context of multiple junctions, overlapping lines, shared running with freight, any new lines wouldn’t have much capacity. Meanwhile there are various urban passenger systems on a spectrum from trams to light rail to metro that are cheaper to build, cheaper to run, faster and higher capacity.

      Of course the CRL and current upgrades make a huge amount of sense, because we already have four main lines and a couple of branches stretching across half of Auckland. Indeed, leverage of that and make it work properly. But building brand new ones?

      Why would we ever build another heavy rail line when it would cost more to do a worse job? If you want heavy rail type characteristics, then build an automated metro.

      • Thanks for confirming you’re against North Shore and Airport heavy rail.

        Actually Nick, the cost of heavy rail is little different to that of light rail, if it’s only being built for urban passenger trains. The geometry required for freights is not a requirement. The CRL is not being built for freights.

        How many rail networks do you want? One heavy and one light will do fine, let’s not divide resources and lose economy of scale too much.

        • Nick R

          And yet the CRL has a ruling grade of 3.5% that ends up requiring stations 40m underground. Why do you think they did that, to spice up a boring design job?

          There are some reasons you might use heavy rail on the north shore, but none of them stack up against the cost involved. You could build a metro line down the north shore all the way to the airport for the same cost as doing just heavy rail on the north shore. So why would you?

          • “And yet the CRL has a ruling grade of 3.5% that ends up requiring stations 40m underground. Why do you think they did that, to spice up a boring design job?”

            To get under the motorway. But it’s a moot point, because the line to the airport has no such grades. The dip under Kirkbride Rd wouldn’t even be noticed by an EMU.

          • Nick R

            Erm, the line is far far under the motorway, still about 30m deep. The reason K Rd is so deep is that they can only climb at 3.5% from Aotea. Think about it, at 800m away you can only climb 28m, nowhere near enough to even risk getting close to the motorway. Check out the long section on the AT website.

            FYI the dip under Kirkbride Rd is about twice too steep for our EMUs to handle. You can work that out yourself from the plans and the 3.5% grade restriction.

            I know you’re a fan of heavy rail and arbitrarily hate light rail for some reason, but you can’t ignore that they have different operational characteristics and abilities.

        • Phil Hayward

          Why don’t we have that attitude to “PT”, being able to be provided entirely by buses and busways, with far lower need of transfers, with the associated transfer station costs on top of all the other capital costs?

          I think the skepticism most commenters here display for Cost Benefit Analysis, is skepticism in the wrong direction – I believe that any or all of the rail based projects being discussed, will suffer cost blowouts and patronage shortfalls.

          It is all very well to talk about the potential for X thousand people per day able to be delivered from the airport to the CBD, but why should public subsidies so favour the CBD? There is far more trip requirements to “everywhere else”, and the property owners in the CBD are already the best-off in the economy. How about they pay for a rail connection if they want it? Sensible countries integrate ownership of the sites served by rail based PT, in the PT enterprise itself – our property investment sector needs to be given this message loud and clear if we really want to save the planet with transport planning. What’s a bit of compulsory acquisition of property in the big picture?

          There is an iron rule we confront when investing public money in the delivering of riders to a small-footprint destination in a traditional Anglo private property system: actual “greater good” agglomeration gains are slight or non-existent, compared to capital gains in the land values, which serve to “price out” participants in the wished-for efficiencies. The Japanese have a system that “prices them IN”.

          • Sailor Boy

            You realise that by 2040 almost 250,000 people will work in this route’s catchment areas right? That’s not everyone, but it is almost 1/4 of Auckland’s entire working population.

          • Nick R

            We do have that attitude to all PT Phil, it’s horses for courses. Buses and Busways are great up to a point, when the volume of buses required creates a huge spatial demand which makes it inefficient and expensive. Almost all of our corridors are below that point, but a few critical ones are above it. That is the point where more people on fewer much higher capacity vehicles (ie. rail) comes in.

            A case in point, the Northern Busway effectively requires two whole streets through the city centre and over a dozen bus stops to run it’s current operations. If you want to double that, you need space for four corridors through town and two dozen bus stops… or you build a rail line that carries the same amount of people with half the spatial requirements at stops… or you take your buses underground, but that usually ends up being more expensive.

          • Max

            We want rail so people like you don’t put cars on our busways two years later.

          • Phil Hayward

            Sailor Boy: I am predicting that the way our Real Estate market works, there is not a cat’s chance in hell of the kind of increases in employment and residents in more central locations, that these utopian transport proposals depend on. I am even pointing out the way the successful examples around the world are run (but even that is not to mention their population, location in the world economy, and evolutionary path to where they are being totally different to us).

            NZ’s miniscule, low value, primary products exporting macro-economy has not a show of sustaining the kind of subsidy costs and the distortions (in urban economies) that this kind of planning would entail.

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            If “success” looks like any of those US cities that you refer to, than clearly failure is an option – and a good one!

          • Sailor Boy

            I always wondered what it would look like for someone to have all unstated assumptions supporting their argument be wrong, but for their argument to logically flow from that. I now know that it just looks sad. (upsetting rather than pathetic) I’d love to see what evidence you have to think that CBD and airport numbers won’t increase in line with regional employment growth, especially given the current office boom in the CBD.

          • Bigted

            I hate to say this but I have to agree with Sailor Boy there will be 1/4 of the working population in that catchment area (it has a large percentage currently), look at the dollars spent on PT that leads to the CBD for less than 30% of the current working population.

          • The answer to your question lies in Curitiba, Brazil. They have an enormously successful bus-only system; so successful that they have adjudged it can’t cope and so they are building rail.
            Curitiba is from memory either about the same size as Auckland or smaller.

  • Two fatal assumptions missed by AT that skewer the figures:
    1) Assumes Dominion Road LRT is built which it is not and in honestly should be included in the Airport LRT figures.
    2) The bulk of heavy rail costs to the Airport come from the Onehunga Line duplication and harbour crossing.

    This is why heavy rail from Otahuhu should have been investigated as it saves the Onehunga issue out while widening the catchment as it captures the Southern, Eastern and even the Western Line (a transfer at a CRL station) which are already in place. Otahuhu also allows for me to come up by train from Papakura and transfer over at Otahuhu to carry on with the Airport.

    Much as I like that Botany Line piece mentioned above the way AT fiddle around that will be ages away while Otahuhu to the Airport can be done pretty much right now along the back of urban renewal in Mangere once the Unitary Plan goes live.

    • Sailor Boy

      Adding the Dominion Road section would increase the benefits *enormously* and probably skew the findings even more in favour of LRT.

    • Josh

      I assume that the exclusion of Dominion Rd LRT from the figures stems from the fact that Dominion Rd LRT would also still have to be built if heavy rail were to be built to the Airport, so the costs involved apply in both scenarios.

      • Given LRT does not exist in Auckland currently but heavy rail does there is the establishment costs of LRT compared to an already established Heavy rail system that simply gets extended.

        Not saying that establishment costs should ever put us off LRT as the Botany Line route suggested would serve the South and East extremely well (to the point it should be done first)

    • Jon Reeves

      Without a doubt, AT are misleading Aucklanders over they way they have “up-costed” heavy rail vs light rail. That is not what a responsible COO should be doing and begs the question – why are they doing it?

      This is not the end of Airport Rail – NZTA and AT have jointly just helped make this an issue which will grow faster than a driverless bus on a congested road.

  • This is the key point:

    ‘I’d rather a light rail connection that actually happened than a heavy rail one that never did.’

    Ok agencies, you’ve made your decision; get on with it.

  • Matthew W

    So it sounds like they are now going to look at a bus option. The patronage numbers are feasible for bus. It will be interesting to see what they assume north of the harbour. They could run down the right of way on Dom Rd/Manukau Rd, or they could assume a transfer in line with network principles. They could have a transfer with Onehunga as well.

    • meh; could build a busway from the airport to Mt Roskill, but then what? There’s not the width down Dom Rd, nor anywhere for to go in the city, and they didn’t include the space in the Waterview tunnel, unless they want to pinch a lane each way?, and nor would the stations be in great places, except perhaps Owairaka… And it wouldn’t be that cheap.

      Remember LR requires a narrower RoW.

      • Matthew W

        Well you could transfer to whatever you want to run down Dom Road was my thinking if you do have LRT. Anyway it will be interesting what they come up with and how it stacks up.

      • Patrick, let’s cut to the chase. David Warburton wants buses. And he wants them between Otahuhu and the Airport, connecting with trains. Light Rail won’t be happening. There’s not going to be any busway either. Really, there’s going to be nothing sustantially greater than what currently exists.

        Dumping two of the three major rail projects, and coming up with billions of dollars worth of new roading projects nobody has called for – Need a clean out of AT management – they are aligned with central government and not delivering what Aucklanders want.

        • Phil Hayward

          What makes you so certain you represent “what Aucklanders want”? What they want is less traffic congestion. They all assume that “other people” will use the trains and leave the roads clearer “for ME”. I have yet to meet an ordinary Kiwi motorist who supports commuter rail investment, and who intends to use it themselves if it gets built. This is why most of the time, the cities with greater degrees of rail-based urban transport investment, have worse traffic congestion, not better. Especially down at the “small city” end of the scale: Wellington is a global outlier that proves the point – seeing its commuter rail investments are orders of magnitude greater than those in, say, Wichita, how come Wellington has 45 minutes + congestion delays per hour at peak, and Wichita has about 7 minutes?

          You could look at Kansas City as a benchmark for whatever Auckland hopes to achieve – or Indianapolis, or Nashville. Even European cities success can be ascribed to doing everything far better, including highways, arterials and streets, as well as PT. Their PT is costly anyway, but not as costly as our attempted imitations would be; and their whole economic and socio-economic environment is to their advantage. For example, you might have had city centres in Europe with 30,000 people per square km a century ago, and which has fallen to 15,000 today, but it is completely invalid to assume that a new world city that started from next to nowhere a century ago, can increase its density to match. Especially if its property rights and title and ownership and fiscal system produces capital gains at the slightest sign of “demand”, pricing out everyone but the first one percent or so of potential relocators.

          • Sailor Boy

            “I have yet to meet an ordinary Kiwi motorist who supports commuter rail investment”

            That is because you define ‘ordinary kiwi motorist’ as someone who doesn’t support rail investment. Your logic is entirely circular and unhelpful.

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            The alleged 45+ minute congestion delays are irrelevant to most commuters to Wellington’s CBD, because most of them don’t use cars. And since many of those that do could use other modes, this vehicle time penalty is actually a matter of people choosing to be congested over other factors.

          • Bruce

            All of your American city examples Phil are relatively flat circular spread cities. Wellington is jammed in by steep hills, a large harbour, Cook Strait and the Tasman Sea. Christchurch is more like those cities.

          • Paul Carter

            Couldn’t agree more link to puhinui mainlines more direct cheaper etc these guys have alternative self serving motives

          • Phil Hayward

            Bruce: I pointed out to Fran Wilde once, that connecting the two corridors (Tawa/Mana and Hutt) with multiple road connections, would vastly increase the potential interactions between participants in the urban economy; and she replied “but that would kill the commuter rail system”. What do all those economists know, who say the reason for cities existing, is maximising inter-person interactions?

            Mike (longstanding) – so it makes sense for an urban area to have a single workable node where most people cannot afford to live anywhere near, where almost all the interactions take place; rather than what economists suggest about the maximum possible number of people able to interact with each other within the shortest time frame?

            Philip Morrison (Vic Uni) also points out in an item called “The Distributional Consequences of the Creative City: The Case of Wellington”, that there is maximum social injustice going on due to the disparity in access to amenities. I am sure the residents of Taita would love your Lambton Harbour elitist attitude.

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            I love the way PH (no-one else!) knows what Aucklanders want, so I’ll jon in this rather sily game. What I suspect most Aucklanders want is to be not caught up in traffic congestion themselves, rather than a reduction in congestion in general. As it happens, many Aucklanders now have that option, and many more will after the completion of the CRL – take a train (or a busway bus) instead. TomTom’s congestion figures, being vehicle-, not person-, based don’t show this, which is why the picture they present is so distorted and unrealistic.

            There isn’t the same issue in Wichita or Indianapolis becauses road’s the only mode in those places, but even Kansas City is beginning to see the light with its recently opened streetcar.

          • brendonharre

            Phil new world cities can intensify. Houston has significantly densified inside their inner motorway ring centre.

            Here is an a really good slideshow of pictures and facts showing how a city intensifies when it has freedom to do so.

            http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/events/rethink2011/documents/MakeoverMontgomeryConference_3A_Tennant.pdf

          • Bevan

            Phil “I have yet to meet an ordinary Kiwi motorist who supports commuter rail investment, and who intends to use it themselves if it gets built”

            Well, I’m an “ordinary Kiwi motorist” and I “support commuter rail investment” and I like to use the trains in Auckland when it suits my journey needs (have regularly commuted on the Western Line for a previous job and would definitely use the Airport rail services – already use the Skybus).

            So, when would you like to meet?

          • Chris

            Hi Phil. I’m “an ordinary Kiwi motorist who supports commuter rail investment”. Sadly Auckland is too car-dependant, so I drive everywhere. You read the blog so it’s surprising that you are quite ignorant to the fact that the increasing population increase can’t be serviced on our current road and public transport networks. Both networks are already struggling at times, and the only solution is to invest in increasing the connectivity and capacity of our public transport network. As a motorist, this benefits me when I drive, and it may also present the possibility of being able to take advantage of alternative transport modes when suitable.

          • Daryl

            What utter hogwash Phil. Without the Wellington rail network, Wellington would be beyond screwed when it comes traffic congestion. Just look at what happened when a major storm took out the rail between Petone and Wellington. Easily a 2 hour plus journey between the Hutt and Wellington! And then that congestion caused further congestion throughout the entire motorway system, not just in the Hutt. Without the rail, Wellington simply wouldn’t be able to cope with the extra congestion caused. And as for your ideas of just sticking more roads in, I’d love to see you try and fit extra lanes between Wellington and Petone!

          • Dan C

            Re: Wichita

            If you have a brief glance it a map it is immediately obvious why congestion would be less of an issue, wichita is not a harbour city with multiple pinch points. Compared to wellington there is almost limitless space for a roadway network to expand.

        • Adam W

          I couldn’t agree more.

        • Geoff you don’t have a very good record with these sorts of reckons. The one thing I’m finding really interesting about this announcement is the very consistent reaction that AT/AC/gov just need to get on and build what ever they’ve chosen.

          I’m increasingly of the view that this actually accelerates a solution and that it can only be LR. Bus only has cost difference on its side and it is unlikely to be cheaper than LR and will certainly be less effective and with more disbeliefit, especially the same spatial issues that proved the CRL the best option for City Centre Access.
          And anyone who thinks options that are a billion or so more than others can just be plucked out the air by our representatives and experts are dreaming.
          Your reading requires a grand anti rail conspiracy at AT, if that were true how come they fought so hard for the CRL?

          • The CRL is needed to make the existing network work. But beyond that, all the indications are that rail has been ring-fenced.

            I like your optimism that this advances a solution, and I hope you’re right, but I predict LR will be dumped, or relegated to “possible future project” status, with the only tangible work we’ll see within the next decade being additional buses to the airport, on existing roads. As I wrote earlier, AT management favour a bus solution. I suspect the only reason they haven’t ruled out light rail now is because it’ll draw too much flak.

          • And your evidence for this AT ‘bias to a bus solution’ is? Despite all the time and money trying to pursuade gov agencies into LR on Dom/Queen?

          • Matthew W

            Geoff, AT havent even mentioned a bus solution until now. They had actually bizarrely ruled it out on reliability grounds earlier. But yes now it is time to look at a bus solution so the optioneering continues. Its weird this wasnt looked at earlier – seems like a very mickey mouse process.

  • Hello

    Why would they replace trains with trams they would get better investment with trains anyway as trams will max out.

    • Nick R

      I doubt it. If you run it as trains into the CRL then you’ve only got maybe capacity for six trains an hour in the tunnel, because you’re sharing the same track with the other three heavy rail lines. WIth light rail on an entirely new route you have the whole capacity of the entire line, you could get up to 20 to 30 light rail vehicles an hour if you want to really push them through. THat’s far more capacity.

      Also note they aren’t planning trams, they are planning light rail. The LRT vehicles indicated above are almost the same size as our EMUs, and over twice as long as the longest tram they run in Melbourne.

      • Hello

        Thanks for comment on the benefits of light rail. Heavy rail still is faster and looks nicer than light rail and will encourage people to use trains more. But light rail is still a viable option as it can still take a decent amount of people and is also good as it replaces a lot of buses which means less co2.

  • PeterP

    I’m glad that the agencies are moving forward on this. In a way I think LR might be a better option here, as it allows for easier growth later, especially if we get decent sized units (as suggested by the AT reports thus far). Tight curves and steep grades is where LR ends up easier to retrofit, so we could have a network that covers a greater area and has better accessibility.

    • The whole system is very stageable too. Especially if you add across the harbour and up the Busway. That’s a whole new rail system to complement our current growing one.

      Pretty elegant and efficient, IMV.

      • Nigel Owen

        As someone who lives on the shore, I find the idea of being able to catch light rail all the way to the airport very attractive.

      • JimboJones

        Patrick, am I reading this correctly? You are now in the light rail camp? What changed your mind?

        • I have always been in the what the evidence supports camp. Have been persuaded by the information.

          My assumptions that extending the current network rail would make for 1. faster travel time, 2. be cheaper, and 3. be of higher value, have been shown to be wrong.

          I increasingly see more opportunity in this proposal than I first thought, including for across the harbour and up the Shore: two really good rail networks are better than one!

          Will write a post soon when I get the chance.

          There is quite a lot which is fairly counterintuitive at first glance. Urban Transit Network design is a much more complex business than it may seem; can be quite humbling if you think you know it all….

          • Trundler

            Do you honestly believe their assessment that LRT travel times will be close to heavy rail? Total b*****ks if ever I saw it and I am surprised Transport Blog isn’t calling it out. How can a LRT travelling down a busy road and trying to replace that bus service (i.e. keeps stopping) ever compete with heavy rail.

            TransportBlog should be advocating for the Otahuhu heavy rail route. You were onto a winner with that one.

            LRT on the isthmus is for a completely different purpose as medium distance travel from the airport region. And I agree (might) make more sense than HR to extend over to the north shore.

          • ARUM

            I’m not sure if it will be faster, and like you I have my doubts. But if you are going to spend something like $4 billion on a project, I think you would get better value from LRT down Dominion road (where the buses are packed now – or so I am told), another link to Onehunga (which I believe will develop a lot more as a destination – with Dress mart, Onehunga wharf development, Night markets, Onehunga beach front ), route to airport (and if they get a good interchange at Onehunga – good transfer from the Onehunga-newmarket branch line), Manukau (With MIT and AUT, Manukau bus interchange (long distance buses) plus future developments according to Panuku Development Auckland) and then out to Botany. I just feel there is more growth potential and it adds more than Auckland-Newmarket-Onehunga-Airport route. Getting from Botany or Manukau to Onehunga or Dominion Road is not that easy via PT (I hate buses for long trips).

            It is not prefect but I think you would get more bang for your bucks.

          • JimboJones

            Out of interest, if there was no price difference between heavy or light rail to the airport, which do you think is better?
            My preference for light rail has always been cost based (actually more opportunity cost based!) – but are you suggesting light rail could be the better option regardless of cost?

          • Sailor Boy

            a) it won’t be travelling down a busy road – it will be travelling in an exclusive ROW in the middle of a busy road.
            b) While it is replacing a bus route, it isn’t replacing it like for like. It will stop much less frequently, as is clearly seen in the documents above. It stops roughly as often as the HR line and takes a much shorter route.

          • AC pretty much vetoed Otahuhu route due to the housing that would be removed. A problem no one even tried to quantify/solve. It still wouldn’t be cheap, calls for being elevated for much of the route, and there’s a bit in that junction at Otahuhu. Then there’s the issue of it adding another branch off the Southern and that it doesn’t serve the Mangere bridge area.

            Matt looked at the speed claims here, I found this quite convincing, along with further info from the lead people at AT:

            http://transportblog.co.nz/2016/01/13/perhaps-light-rail-is-fast-enough-afterall/

          • donna

            Well gosh I’m glad someone noticed that an Otahuhu route would entail the removal of houses. I’m somewhat alarmed reading the comments that many people seem to think the part of Auckland south of Penrose is terra nullius and it’s OK to bowl a few houses so people can get to the airport quicker.
            And as for the heavy rail is too expensive? Sorry, not buying it, and not buying the light rail will save us trope, either.

          • Bruce

            It would only be the removal of a handful of houses and would provide the perfect opportunity to renew and densify the area. So while land acquisition costs will be moderately high this land redeveloped would be worth so much more and could take advantage of having a RT route right on its doorstep! AT could actually make money out of the redevelopment…now there’s a novel idea… I wonder who else has done that? Answer: Most cities that have recently built or rebuilt a rail network!

          • Trundler – one aspect that gives us some confidence in the travel times is based on information we’ve been told that isn’t in these reports. We know that people working on the project really wanted to get heavy rail to stack up but simply couldn’t. As for LRT, in many cities of similar size or larger it is now being used in the way we’re looking to use it. The old ideas of what LRT can do are changing very rapidly

    • Hurry up with the route protection for crying out loud. Thought they were protecting the route already for either light or heavy, but nothing done yet apparently.

      • Simon C

        Cam I sat in the committee meetings and remember the airport rail being on the agenda. I think it’s unfortunate the CBT committee didn’t keep the heat on and went for the softly, softly approach. Might well have had that designation by now. Unfortunately can’t go back and reverse that committee decision!

        • KLK

          You seem to be throwing around a lot of suggestions and criticisms. What was your role in pushing the HR option and what research and facts to support it can you share here?

  • How in heck can it be cheaper to create a new light rail track all the way to the CBD, than link up existing heavy rail to the airport from Manukau, Otahuhu, or Onehunga? Ridiculous, absurd, preposterous.

    • Sailor Boy

      Needing to dig a 3km long trench at both ends probably doesn’t help.

    • Call555

      Trenches and tunnels are really expensive to construct, especially adjacent to structures which can be affected by settlement etc.

      • Trundler

        Yeah and digging up streets to lay light rail is really cheap and painless (ask Edinburgh)

        • Mike (the longstanding one)

          Asking Edinburgh would be an excellent idea, because they’ve learnt a lot of lessons about why their construction was so much more disruptive and expensive than anywhere else. Similarly, if you’re building a guided busway talk to Cambridge, ditto.

          • Don’t forget the cost over-runs for light rail in Dublin.

          • So as I understand it. AT reckon a tram with a significant portion of its run on streets will be as quick as a train on a dedicated track? OK what are they smoking? Also have they looked at the luggage needs of airport passengers? Airports need dedicated fast trains with lots of luggage space. Hong Kong comes to mind, but even those carriages are a little light on room for luggage. Airport passengers generally want a quick trip into town and don’t mix too well with the requirements of local commuters.HR generally provides the best level of service for such passengers.

            Light rail from the airport through Manukau to Botany seems a little short of the logical destination of Panmure, which would eliminate a good part of the land gobbling Ameti route.

      • Bruce

        Just as well there aren’t any where they want to do it at the airport then! It’s currently not developed and will be bulldozed further to build the runway. Easy.

    • Call555

      To me the Airport destination is a red herring. We will be opening up 5 new Stations (excluding the Airport station) in the south east Auckland Area south of Onehunga. That will be a massive boon for the people in this area (low income in general) giving them quality transport options to get to work and around. We are talking $1 billion extra for bugger all additional stations for what? I think the Heavy Rail proponents need to step back at bit!

  • “Dominion Road option proposes some shared running through village centres. This may introduce travel time reliability risk for the overall journey between airport and city centre.” (p18)

    Oh for pity’s sake. That would be bad enough if Dominion Road LRT was only for Dominion Road. But this is the region’s main connection to the airport.

    Why is that even necessary, anyway? Surely they’re not watering down LRT to save a few on-street carparks outside the local shops, and there’s a better reason for it?

  • Patrick O'Rourke

    Something needs to be done now as getting to the airport is horrendous. AT chopped the proposed 15 minute interval 380 service in the Southern bus restructure. Left it at 30 minutes with the four sides of the square drive around Papatoetoe village.They need to trial a bus shuttle linking the terminals and Puhinui Station/ Manukau station and bus interchange running as a frequent service and look to get bus lanes on Puhinui Road. The service could start this year and the bus lanes or bus priority put in place as soon as practicable. I live on the North Shore but would use it instead of the overpriced Skybus which gets caught in traffic and really only serves the city centre. The service could be turned into a LRT route at some time in the future.

  • Andrew R

    Why the difference in 45 minute PT catchment in the Herne Bay to Point Chevalier area between light rail (Attachment 7) and heavy rail (Atrtachment 8), above?

    Given the alignment shouldn’t heavy rail have more 45 minute PT catchment shown?

    • Sailor Boy

      It’s the transfer to the Mt Albert Road frequent bus route. by LRT you get to do it at Mt Roskill, by HR it happens at Penrose.

  • I can see a lot of benefits for a light rail network, but travel time to the airport from the CBD won’t be one of them. I still think it will be faster to get the train to Onehunga and then get LRT for the relatively high speed section on to the airport. Even the existing train to Papatoetoe and transfer to the 380 could be more reliable and faster than one seat LRT (but 380 service frequencies need to increase from half hourly). I did this trip the other day in 49 minutes, thanks to a good connection at Papatoetoe

    Putting that aside, for isthmus originating trips to the airport though it could be considerably faster. There are a heap of other benefits that come with LRT too. If we do this we’ll build more overall capacity and add redundancy for the PT network. As Patrick says it is stageable to Botany and especially to the North Shore. If AT have a good concept for North Shore LRT, it forces NZTA to consider it as an alternative to a road only AWHC to the Shore.

    The thing is it needs commitment now. We’re in the middle of no mans land at the moment. We’ve cut off heavy rail as an option to the airport without having a funded alternative. Any further delays are going to make building this even more expensive.

  • Nicholas O'Kane

    Is building a heavy rail connection using the earlier route (in the trench as per that AIAL masterplan) for around $1.6bn still possible? Or do we have to pay $3bn for heavy rail. Much as I prefer heavy rail $3bn seems a bit much to me.

    Also why has no-one investigated running light rail up Manukau Road to newmarket, and then over Grafton Bridge to Queen Street? this route seems more sensible to me than Dominion Road. And I also hope that the Dominion Road Onehunga section doesn’t prevent the future Avondale – Southdown link

    • Nick R

      They have looked at Manukau Rd Nicholas, it’s actually a slower route because of a lot of turns and intersections at either end (Dominion Rd is basically dead straight) and it stuffs up all the buses at the city end. There’s about a dozen major bus routes running through Newmarket and into town, you might replace one of them but that leave all the rest that you would have to relocate somehow. With Dominion Rd and Queen St, there is only the dominion Rd buses and the City Link that you’d replace, and nothing else gets interfered with. Also Dominion Rd is a much stronger corridor in it’s own right, you benefit more people running there than on Manukau.

      • Matthew W

        So what, we wont be able to run LRT and buses on the same corridor? Sounds very inflexible. This is very common internationally.

        • Nick R

          We can hardly manage the volume of buses that are there now, I don’t see how we could possibly add light rail tracks and stations into the equation also and have it work. I’ve seen shared bus and LRT corridors in places like Germany but they run relatively low frequencies, like an LRT every five minutes and buses every five minutes.

          If you look at Symonds St we have a bus every 25 seconds already.

          • Matthew W

            Yeah Symonds St is pretty high volume. But rather than just adding LRT, you will add LRT and remove half the buses. I hope we have a proper PT corridor through Newmarket at some stage, but I dont see how it could be all LRT and if it isnt all LRT then is it all bus?

          • Nick R

            Yeah that’s where I see the problem. If you have say a dozen main bus routes on Symonds St, you replace the busiest one with LRT, then you’ve not halved the bus numbers, you’ve only knocked off maybe 10 or 15%.

      • ARUM

        I like to Dom road link partly because Dom Rd is a destination in itself (Food) plus it is not hard to walk to Eden Park from there. Manukau Road has it some attractions (Auckland Show Grounds) and students might use it to go to AGGS, but it is heavily congested in the morning (With a motorway on-ramp at Gillies Road) and I’m not sure how you will get LRT though there plus keep that intersection working (Unless you close Gillies Ave and make everyone use Khyber Pass or you could widen the road there). Maybe there is someway of doing it but Dominion Road route looks simpler. Linking to Botany would be great (Something the late MCC promised but never delivered). I think that a good SW link is needed and LRT gives more future potential but I hope they build the Southdown- Avondale in the future. I think Onehunga will become a major hub and growth center if all the urban development occurs in that areas (i.e. Onehunga Wharf development). So in my mind if LRT to the airport can provide an alternative link to the central isthmus plus provide future proofing for options further south (Manukau and botany).

        It can also be a proof of concept/demonstrate what LRT can do and hopefully provide a catalyst for North shore LRT (the busway is design for Light rail but not for heavy rail). I think Otahuhu to airport can be handled by buses ok if you use the Otahuhu interchange (but you would need bus frequency to something link every 15-20 minutes) (this would give a public transport option to the airport for the eastern line customers).

        Anyway that is my two cents worth

        • Interestingly, more I think about it, so long as they design the interchange well, Onehunga could actually come into its own as a rail terminus with LR to Airport. And its should be easy to integrate the two systems there with LR needing to be higher to go over Nelson St, the rail station can be below.

          It would be somewhat ironic if the utility of that transfer ended up justifying upgrades to the O-Line in order to get higher frequency there, especially so that at least the 6 trains per hour of the Western line could serve it!

          • JimboJones

            Lets hope so Patrick

          • Nicholas O'Kane

            This would be awesome

          • James C

            The prospects for the Onehunga branch remain tantalising despite this dead end. Double-tracking is still a useful upgrade and the corridor is 95% available for it. Upgrading platforms for 6-car operation will be necessary for both special events at Mt Smart and for Western line continuity. Moving the location of the terminus, perhaps a few hundred metres to the straight section along Princes St, is a possibility, which may become essential if Galway St is to become some kind of freight connector to the E/W truckopalypse. The under/over station idea also seems to comply with grade separation at Galway and is hinted at in the AT concept video. The storage building on the south side is toast, whatever the plan, leaving lots of room to smooth things out. Double tracking and Penrose Platform 3 are not especially compatible, so I’d expect to see that platform ditched to make room for a 40km/h double tracked curve there (currently 25) and a new Mt Smart stop built between O’Rorke and Maurice to serve the stadium and local employment. Ellerslie would become the prime Onehunga/Southern transfer point in this scenario, which as an island platform is easier than a hike to Penrose 3, and only a matter of a five minute wait if the Onehunga line is running at ten minute frequencies to match the Western. That said, the way things are developing, I would put equal money on the Onehunga branch simply being closed again, since LRT will serve Onehunga and bean counters gonna count.

          • Bigted

            James C why waste so much money oh double tracking a line the (in your own words ) “is kind of in the way of the Southdown (to Avondale) link and I can’t see how they could co-exist without a lot of dollars being added to either budget”? From what I have seen of the Onehunga line the small amount of the corridor that is wide enough to be double tracked has the existing track right down the centre so would need that moved sideways before any double tracking could start.

            This line carries maybe a little over 50 people (during peak) so there is no need for 6 car EMUs to run on it. The stupidity of putting a new station between O’rorke and Maurice rds for the handful of events at Mt Smart, a station that would be a similar distance from the two stadium entrances as the current Penrose station (already able to accommodate a 6 car EMU) is from the O’rorke rd entrance.

            The “E/W truckopalypse” as you put it along with the realignment of Onehunga harbour rd to connect with Galway st are required to improve the flow along Neilson st as well as making access to the metroport complex (the only point that rail to road to rail transfers happen anywhere in Auckland) easier and safer.

          • James C

            Continuing your near flawless run of being wrong on everything, I see Bigted. Not to mention completely devoid of charm. I won’t waste electrons explaining it to you if you can’t even be bothered looking at a map.

          • Bigted

            James can you point out where you believe I got it wrong.

    • James C

      As much as I hate the idea of abandoning the HR option, the LR option probably does less damage to the prospects of the Avondale-southdown link if it’s ever needed (or done – not the same thing as needed, which it arguably is in a big picture fantasy). The Onehunga branch is kind of “in the way” of the Southdown link and I can’t see how they could co-exist without a lot of dollars being added to either budget – which as we see today, is the best way of making sure it never happens.

      • Mike (the longstanding one)

        The AT document specifically mentions the Avondale-Southdown Line as an issue with the LR, not the HR, option because the LR proposal follows the ASL for a fair distance between Dominion Rd and Onehunga. If freight on the North Auckland Line takes off (a big if) the ASB will be needed to bypass Newmarket etc, which will be too full of EMUs to allow freights except in a very tight overnight window.

        The ASL would be an issue with the Onehunga line whether HR is built to the airport or not.

        • James C

          Right you are. I was thinking only of the OBL side of things on the assumption that by the time any ASL action was needed, the Manukau Rd LRT would be in place for this traffic. Of course, none of that assumption is valid, so I need to look at that some more. I would love to know what Kiwirail think of these ever bolder plans to use their corridors for a system they can’t touch and that will block out their own opportunities.

  • Graeme Easte,

    I have read the full report and am astonished at the number of ways in which the reasoning is skewed towards LRT versus HR. For example the Heavy Rail south of Kirkbride would require purchase of a strip of commercial land (8 metres wide x 3km long) but no such allowance is required for light rail. The entire designation is now taken for the widened motorway with only a narrow central divider and a cycleway down the western side – in order to provide a central strip for future rail the motorway will have to “do the splits” to create a central reserve for rail – and whatever the mode that will require compulsory acquisition of expensive real estate. Based on my analysis there are numerous other errors in the report. However, a decision has now been made and is unlikely to change.

    • James C

      It really irks me that people in positions of power or influence are looking at these bent numbers and just accepting them unquestioned. Sure LR is a good and useful system, but it hasn’t been a fair fight. I hope like hell that the same kind of skew isn’t applied in the favour of buses when LRT and BRT go head to head!

      • Dave B (Wellington)

        Hi James.
        If Wellington’s experience with the Public Transport Spine Study is anything to go by, that’s exactly what will happen. Heavy rail gets considered and torpedoed, just so they can say they have “considered” it. Then the same happens to light rail. Each rail option is deliberately loaded with unnecessary costs and has its benefits talked-down to ensure it gets knocked out. Finally you end up with some form of watered-down BRT being touted as “the best”. Sorry to sound negative but we’ve seen it all before down here.

  • Adam W

    Why does attachment 6 – Heavy Rail catchment only focus on the city – that is just ridiculous.
    It’s a damn airport for goodness sake – people from all over Auckland use it – not just to the City.
    The entire current Heavy Rail network should be included in the Heavy Rail catchment. The current heavy rail network exists is planned to have trains every 10 minutes and will feed directly into an extension into the airport. This would have a great benefit to the BCR I’m sure.

    Also doesn’t the Onehunga line need to be double tracked sometime, especially with the CRL in the near future? This would ensure a more robust network to Onehunga? So yes it is an expense but gives fixes a clear gap in the current network – the only single line.

    There is no way Heavy Rail should be canned using the above as justification – there are to many clear holes which just don’t hold up, including there is no analysis on Patrick’s Otahuhu suggestion.

    • Nick R

      It doesn’t, it shows the total catchment to the airport in time bands, from all over by all modes across the whole network. Purple is within 15 mins of the airport, dark orange 30 mins, light orange 45mins.

  • I suspect in reality that by the time this is built there will be more than one LR route on the isthmus meaning they will be able to split the airport trams along say both Dominion Rd or Mt Eden Rd. This would ensure there is still sufficient capacity for commuters on those roads travelling to the CBD. I think a key for me with LR to the airport is maintaining a good frequency on the Onehunga line that would still allow airport and Mangere passengers who live work around Newmarket and Ellerslie to transfer to/from trains at Onehunga.

  • I am somewhat disappointed, mainly because I think that this decision makes it less likely that anything will be built to the airport in the medium term. It reeks of cooking the figures against any rail option.
    Apart from the economics, of course, from an airport passenger viewpoint (as opposed to a commuter from Mangere) this is regrettable. Many passengers through the airport carry quite some luggage, and whatever people say, my experience with lots of baggage hasn’t been good on light rail. There often is no space for luggage, station dwell time is too short, especially with many standing passengers and people unfamiliar with the system (for example tourists). Also, the clear limited stop service is far easier to understand for tourists. Light rail will provide a connection to the airport, but it is not as fit-for-purpose as heavy rail would be.
    I think this fit-for-purpose analysis has been left out in an analysis that is based very much on a set of variables, which may be more familiar to transport planners, but not as relevant in this case. It is not just about moving people between two points, it has to be taken into account who these people are and how the transport link fits into the wider network.

    • Sailor Boy

      https://c2.staticflickr.com/9/8241/8569781305_b02b7a297a_b.jpg

      However would we fit luggage in such a tiny vehicle.

      • Does look better from that perspective than anything I’ve been in, but have you ever used it with lots of luggage?
        In any case, it clearly goes against best practice in other countries.

        • Sailor Boy

          No it doesn’t. Heathrow is connected by light rail, gold cost airport will be, Vancouver airport is. LRT=/=to trams which is, by the sounds of it, how you are judging it.

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            SB: there’no light rail (actual or planned) for Heathrow, unless you count T5’s car park pods and jntra-terminal shuttle. Both the existing rail links and all proposed ones are heavy as.

          • I didn’t say that light rail to airport doesn’t exist, but best practice clearly is heavy rail.

          • Dave B (Wellington)

            No, Heathrow is not connected by light rail. Unless you count the Piccadilly tube line as ‘light rail’, which it isn’t. The other rail connection (to the Great Western main line) is standard heavy rail.

            Too many bogus claims being made by too many people here.

          • Bruce

            Heathrow isn’t connected by LR. It is serviced by both a tube line (Piccadilly) and by a main line (and soon to be Cross Rail HR).
            You might be thinking of London City Airport (short haul flights only) which is connected to the DLR.
            Likewise STN and LGW are on mainline HR.

          • Sailor Boy

            Well, it isn’t heavy rail, that’s for sure. Most metro/underground systems the world over are light rail. When there is limited freight demand, running light rail exclusively for passenger service is international best practice.

          • Sailor Boy, are you confusing “heavy rail” with some Australian heavy iron ore railway? I don’t think anyone is advocating that. What people understand by heavy rail is an extension of the Auckland rail network tailored to rapid passenger transit to the airport. One might compare that to the European S-Bahn or RER, even though many airports around the world also have dedicated airport express lines.

          • Sailor Boy

            No, I’m not confused. I’m deliberately arguing to make no sense to demonstrate that heavy rail-light rail distinctions are meaningless. You can have 2 lines that run the same alignment, same carriage space, same acceleration, same top speed, and one is light rail, the other is heavy rail. By most definitions the tube isn’t heavy rail, so it is light rail, but it is a pointless distinction. We should care about the top speed, alignment quality, priority, alignment, and acceleration of our option but we cannot say that heavy rail is better or worse on either because there isn’t any actual difference between the two.

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            SB: we could argue all night about where “light rail” stops and “heavy rail” starts, there being a continuum all the way from horse trams to hyperlink, but the London tube and most other metros are absolutely definitely heavy rail.

            Light rail is generally characterised by things like street running, simple and open stations, slow speeds, and no or basic signalling: the Tube, the Metro, the Subway, the El etc etc have none of those characteristics.

          • Sailor Boy

            Go on then, show me an internationally recognised classification of light and heavy rail for which all of the metros discussed match heavy rail, but our LRT (at least from Onehunga) wouldn’t.

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            OK, SB – let’start with street running. None at all on any of those heavy metros, proposed for LRT at Auckland airport (hence the different alignment from heavy rail), and of course along Dominion Rd etc. Imagine the Tube (no public level crossings) doing that!

          • Bruce

            I’ll give you something… The London tube trains use the same gauge and rail as mainline trains. In fact there are several mainline tracks outside of London that have the 3rd rail for tube trains even though the tube trains don’t go there. While deep tube trains are relatively small they are still most definitely heavy rail. The larger shallow tube trains aren’t much different from our EMUs.
            I don’t know anyone that would consider the tube to be LR.

      • Yes, there can be some fluidity. The distinction is loosely focused on type of vehicles, stopping distance, right of way, routing, interoperability, and station design. Things like gradients and curvature are also part of that, but they can also be very fluid. What I’m mainly concerned is that it is fit for purpose and can actually be built and integrated into the transport network. With the types of vehicles and the clear network structure, heavy rail seems a better fit for purpose. I would be glad if I’m wrong, but since we have no light rail in Auckland, heavy rail also seems to have a better chance of getting built.

        • James C

          The value of there being an existing network with existing technology and existing expertise seems to have been overlooked. Enhancing/extending the current and increasingly successful metro rail system has to be worth something over importing a currently undefined, unbuilt, untested, start-from-scratch system and expecting the kinds of pie in the sky performance they’re claiming. I fear this becoming a many years long episode of teething problems and under-delivery that will make the EMU/Electrification project seem like flawless and instant success.

          • Dave B (Wellington)

            Spot on. Big tick to this.

            . . . . o
            . . . o
            o. o
            . o

          • Actually. Though what you say seems to make sense [and was my view] the reverse is the case here, or at least will soon enough be [in the long life of urban rail systems]. Post CRL AKL will have a very full and busy but tight system. This is great, on the one hand there is little idle track or overwide RoWs, on the other; one little problem anywhere on the network and everything stops. Also as discussions about express trains and intercity services etc show, there just no redundancy anywhere for either additional services or growth past a certain point. Now that’s fine for maximising the efficient use of the existing RoW and the CRL is really smart at this. Additionally freight traffic is growing too.

            But from now on, adding to this system and we get diminishing returns. Complementary networks are powerful and resilient. Active, Road, Busway, HR, and LR, looks good for AKL, and an Albany to Botany [or Panmure] via Mt Roskill and Airport, LR system is a great complement to our existing networks. And more so because it will be totally separate from HR and mostly separate from Road.

            Having said that, the one extension that does make sense in terms of fitting with the proposed post CRL network is the double tracking, at least, and extension of the Onehunga Line as that is currently unable to take the frequency of its proposed line…

          • James C

            The complementary network angle is indeed a very important plus for LRT, and something that I’d like to see fleshed out to a much greater degree, there being obvious opportunities north, south, east and west. This was probably the last opportunity to expand the heavy rail network to new territory, so trashing it all in favour of a comparative wild guess still seems somewhat less than ideal to me.

  • How does the connection from the Western Line to LRT work, anyway? There doesn’t seem to be an LRT stop anywhere near Mt Eden station. Do you have to go all the way into Aotea? Seems like it’d add a lot of extra time given that the LRT and heavy rail lines actually cross each other at the hopefully-soon-to-be-former Dominion Road flyover.

    Or do you ride your Western Line train all the way through the CRL and out to Onehunga, then transfer? Also seems fairly roundabout.

  • Paul Carter

    Why persist with building rail from Onehunga? When mainlines at Puhinui are only 10km distant without needing large bridges?? I can only guess AT wanted extra capacity and services through Mangere and hence will get cheap light rail slow rail option

    • Well the docs show LR not to be slower. Grade separate most of the way and with signal priority and wide stop spacing where on street. And yes it is a Mangere line that has a great anchor in the Airport rather than just being about travellers. And if via Dom Rd also adds that catchment. And if that then enters the city at Queen St adds a whole new high quality high capacity route into the city.

      What you are proposing is just another spur off the Southern Line that has no workable running pattern and that adds trains to an already full network at low efficiency, while only adding one additional stop. So low coverage, low value, but still not actually cheap.

      Also rail via Parnell is not fast; that’s a fiddly line that doesn’t allow rail to operate at speed.

    • Mainly because it is more than just rail to the Airport, it’s also about providing a rapid transit corridor in the South-west, which the Puhinui option doesn’t provide.

  • Tony F

    Interesting to see that the number of stops along Queen Street has been greatly reduced. Earlier plans were showing six, but it appear it’s been reduced to just three now. Although less stations might speed up journey times a little bit, it seems very strange that the stations are spaced closer together along Dominion Road than along Queen Street. If anywhere warranted closely-spaced stops it would be Queen Street so I’m not sure what their reasoning is for reducing the number of stops. Does anyone know?

    • Sailor Boy

      No longer going to the waterfront took one out, and I would say that the now plan to align them exactly with the CRL stations.

    • Actually the three City stops, before heading to Wynyard look good to me:
      1. K Rd, actually in an underpass below street level, so no intersection there, level connection along Cross St to K Rd Station, Link bus for Hospital, Domain, Ponsonby….
      2. Outside the Civic Theatre, where Queen St is very wide, and a short walk to Aotea Station, two Universities, Town Hall, Aotea Centre, Art Gallery etc etc
      3. Bottom of Queen St, Britomart, Ferries, etc etc…
      Any more and the thing would be forever stopping, where would you want another one? They look like they have the city and the interchanges covered….

      • Bruce

        Would probably add one in between Aotea Square and Britomart around Victoria Steet.
        Thing is they won’t be running very fast along Queen Street for safety reasons (probably be limited to 30km/h) so another stop isn’t going to make a big difference and with the density in the CBD it would make sense.

      • Grant

        Yes I think one around Victoria needed too, pretty big walk ~830m otherwise between Britomart & Wellesley & highly dense area. Mind you bigger distance (870m) between Cross St & The Civic & more steep. I guess they trying to get the time to the airport down.

      • Tony F

        As others have mentioned I think replacing the ‘Civic’ stop with a stop near Victoria Street and a stop outside the Town Hall would be a good idea because otherwise it’s a very long walk between Civic and Britomart. While the removal of some of the stops along Queen Street was certainly necessary, it seems to me as though someone has simply been told to remove a certain number of stations to reduce journey times and they’ve strangely decided to remove them from Queen Street instead of the much less dense Dominion Road. There’s no point in speeding up journey times by removing stations along the busiest part of the route; this will actually make average overall journey times longer as people will have to walk further to the stop. If they want to reduce travel times then they should remove some of stops which are going to be used the least, not the ones which would be among the busiest in the entire city.

  • brendonharre

    The report and discussion on public transport to Auckland airport stinks of false assumptions to achieve the desired outcome -being no more expansion of the existing passenger rail network in Auckland -CRL is all Auckland will get. Unlike the motorway network there will not be a steady incremental improvement of the network -certainly not under this govt.

    The fear I would have is that NZTA have dominated its Auckland partners by imposing obstacles for expanding passenger rail in Auckland and by distracting attention with a proposed new type of public transport service -light rail, which they can later torpedo. Meanwhile the massive expansion of motorways continues unabated……

    Maybe I am being too paranoid and it is better to go along with the Transportblog stance of if LR is a definite and HR is not then LR is better. But is LR a definite? -the whole business case of LR versus HR to the Airport assumes the Dominion Rd LR service exists -but it doesn’t and that proposed service is currently unfunded. There is plenty of time for shifting of the goalposts type mischief……

    P.S Helsinki has an existing LR/Tram network, which goes half the way to the airport but they didn’t choose to extend that. They chose to expand their faster passenger rail network for a service which opened last year. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_Rail_Line

    • Oh, do you want to say that John Key was not informed about this and the other dozens of cities in which heavy rail has recently been built to the airport?

    • Earlier actions by NZTA and its predecessors, and the Manukau City Council, carelessly [or otherwise] compromised the route, adding unnecessary cost to any solution, but especially conventional rail because of its geometric limitations, so some cynicism is warranted. The view, especially in the road building agency [what NZTA remains], was that rail is over and from the past and will never happen [a view still to found from harder ideologues like Hide] was at least the conventional one then, even if narrow and visionless. Now such a view is completely unsupportable given the facts of Auckland’s growth and physical constraint, and proven power of spatially efficient urban transport modes for supporting thriving urban economies, including in Auckland.

      My concerns now are:

      1. GET ON WITH IT>
      2. Make sure the street running can deliver the speeds and priority
      3. Design it for driverless operation, how does that work with street running? Basically need driverless car tech, or driverless from Airport to Owairaka then a driver to downtown?

    • Dave B (Wellington)

      Brendon, I totally share your fears. This whole exercise reeks of covert anti-rail agendas in much the same way that the Public Transport Spine Study did in Wellington. The aim of the current government is to develop road transport and not rail. This is the scene that has been set since they took office in 2008, and most local authorities have been either swayed or bullied into line.

      I don’t believe any rail development will happen until there is a change of government, and if and when that happens then all the rules may change and heavy rail may well be back on the table.

      Right now there is only one certainty: Vast sums will continue to be poured into roading projects, regardless of cost-benefits or economic justification. Rail is not wanted.

      • The purpose of this exercise is because the airport company has required a decision on either HR or LR running into the airport this year, so I’d say it’s safe to say HR is gone now irrespective of a future government. I don’t share Brendon’s fears, this is a route protection exercise at the moment it will be a while before it is built anyway irrespective of what colour the government is.

  • Grant

    I love heavy rail but am moving towards the LRT in this case now. Another factor in your total journey time is wait time and so if LRT ends up 5 min freq. it gets closer to the heavy rail option times anyway. Sounds like these light vehicles will be wider & so more suitable for luggage too. I do note a big portion of standing passengers though to compare, long stand if going a full journey (could be good if sitting on a plane for hours though?). With LRT will we have an easier/nicer/closer station at the airport end? Cheaper running costs a bonus also. Seems the report and all the planning is biased towards LRT, but I think it’s fair to assume an existing Dominion Rd route etc as this can be justified in it’s own right.

  • Phil Hayward

    http://www.rmastudies.org.nz/library/34-centre-digest/460-new-bridge-spells-the-end-of-visions-of-city-airport-rail-link

    “…(Sydney’s) rail planners of the late nineties had predicted the link would be carrying about 70,000 passengers a day by now (2010). By 2009 an average of 90,000 passengers a day used Sydney International airport and about 10% of those, or only 9,000 passengers a day, used the rail link.
    The total of passengers, staff and “meters and greeters” at Sydney airport is about 100,000 a day, and rail carries only about 11,000 of those per day – only 16% of the prediction.
    This is far below the loadings required for the Sydney Airport Rail Link to pay its way.
    The Auckland figures simply make even more dismal reading for any potential investor.
    Auckland Airport moves a total of about 15 million passengers, staff and “meters and greeters” a year through its international and domestic terminals, or about 40,000 people movements a day, of which maybe 10% would take a train. That is only about 4,000 a day.
    No rail system can run efficiently or effectively on such low volumes.
    That is only 2,000 a day in each direction and over 15 hours that is only 135 passengers an hour, which means a two-carriage train would only need to run every half hour to more than carry the load. That frequency is far too low for people arriving by air and keen to get where they are going. The long wait between trains is even more serious for people departing for the airport who run the risk of missing their plane if they just miss the train.
    The dilemma facing all rail links to airports is that modern aircraft deliver passengers in large lumps with trickles in between. Consequently, small trains will be frequently overcrowded and larger trains will frequently run near empty.
    This problem is reduced at massive airports like Heathrow with very high passenger movements every minute of the day and which cater to a large percentage of day trippers with little luggage. Both Sydney and Auckland cater to a high percentage of international travelers with large amounts of luggage…”

    • Dave B (Wellington)

      Hi Phil.
      It seems that the information you quote above is out-of-date. It is true that Sydney Airport’s rail link performed poorly until recently, but this was because of excessive fares charged under the PPP model of operation.
      Apparently in 2011 the exhorbitant ‘station access fee’ was lowered by state subsidy, patronage is now booming and the State Government is reaping big dividends.
      More (inconvenient) evidence that rail does work!

      Don’t believe me? Then look here:
      http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/train-passengers-to-sydney-airport-line-governments-coffers-to-tune-of-100m-20160301-gn7c3y.html

    • Bruce

      A few things: 1) They overcharged rail users massively so nobody used it. 2) Sydney Airport is in a different location compared to AKL. There are multiple highways/arterial roads leading to to from angles up to about 200° (160° being Botany Harbour) with population coming from those angles. AKL has access from about only 100° and only 2 roads.
      3) Sydney’s was more expensive because it is built as a double decker tunnel with boring all the way under and through to the other side of the airport. It forms part of a longer line also which benefits from it so the total costs can’t be just apportioned to airport only.

  • Reading between the lines, Onehunga is now stuck with a single track and half-hourly frequencies forever. Like, actually, WTF?!

  • Phil Hayward

    Owen McShane continues: “….If all those 5,200 passengers a day are willing to pay $20 a ride each, that’s only $38 million a year which is only 3.5% of the $1.1 billion cost of construction. The current cost of capital is at least 8% and could be 12%. So the revenue does not even cover half the cost of capital. (The proposed loops may improve these figures somewhat over the original proposal for a single rail link from Britomart to the Airport, but Sydney’s rail link also goes on beyond the Airport to serve some major suburbs and still doesn’t work.)
    So, add on staff, maintenance, fuel, overheads and you are looking at a genuine turkey – with total losses in the billions….”

    He was wrong on the trend in cost of capital, of course… but low interest rates cannot be depended on for the entire term of loans of the nature required for transport projects.

    • Mmh, may be quite different from Auckland and Sydney, but the Brisbane airport railway line seems to be going well. So you just have to pick your city to make your point. Still, most cities internationally go for heavy rail when connecting the airport.

    • Sailor Boy

      “The current cost of capital is at least 8%” Not on planet earth it isn’t. Try 2.5-3% tops for governments.

      I also don’t see why you are only counting passengers at the airport station, but costs for the whole line. It’s almost like you are deliberately trying to rig the answer.

      Also, you know that Northern Gateway also doesn’t cover the cost of capital right?

    • Phil; nothing to see there: Owen McShane and Tony Randle were/are raving ideologues with fathomless hangups about steel wheeled transport and therefore even more spectacularly wrong than you.

    • Mike (the longstanding one)

      Absolutely damning evidence from a single years-old example written by a clearly unbiased source – classic!

      And did the widening of Mangere Bridge really take 20 minutes off the peak driving time to Auckland airport, as predicted?

      • Not last night; traffic to a standstill on that bridge for me coming home from the airport; and Waterview isn’t even open yet. Of course it’s stupid to have all our eggs in one transport basket. Poor Phil has no idea about the scale of Auckland, nor its geographic constraints, nor especially about the power of complementary but separate networks!

  • The Real Matthew

    Every time we’ve had this debate I’ve come on here advocating for a light rail option, preferably one that feeds into the heavy rail system (may not get that aspect).

    Thank goodness someone has seen sense. The heavy rail option was lunacy on a number of fronts, not just financial.

    Matt L, I see you’ve found a light rail mate in Larry Williams!

    • JimboJones

      I don’t mind light rail feeding into the heavy rail at some point (e.g. at Onehunga), but I don’t like the idea of having to change from light to heavy rail to get to the city. Light rail from airport to city via Mt Roskill with heavy rail connections for other journeys is fine, but light rail terminating at say onehunga then heavy rail from there is a sub standard solution IMO.

    • Yeah I was surprised he was so supportive

  • Richard A

    I’m in the of “If LRT is the way to go, build it!” However, waiting more than 10 years for this isn’t acceptable.

  • kelvin

    Since light rail has to stop at every stop in dominion road and beyond, it would be slower than skybus which runs directly from city.

    I am not convinced the light rail can run 80kmh at dominon road. It will be 20-30kmh in average consider traffic light and dwell time.

    If it is slow, people simply wont use it and we just built a white elephant no one uses.

    • mfwic

      That aren’t proposing 80km/h are they? Up a street the maximum speed would be 50km/h, any quicker and it would need to be fenced- surely no one is proposing that for Dominion Rd?

    • Nick R

      I think you are right on an average of 20-30km/h, but that’s not bad. The southern line between Britomart and Penrose only averages 31km/h for example. If the light rail can do 30km/h then it’s just as fast as the trains.

  • John Lawson

    How is it that heavy rail is so much faster elsewhere? For example 30km from Armadale to Perth takes 36min, whereas here it’s claimed that less than 30km takes 45 min.

    • Our network is slow; windy, level crossings. The LR route as proposed is fast, ie a great deal of own RoW, no level crossings

      • Mike (the longstanding one)

        Not quite “no level crossings” – there’ll have to be quite a few on the isthmus and at the airport!

      • James C

        Level crossings make no difference to normal running speed. Walters Rd is crossed at 110k more than 100 times a day. Only a red light changes that.

    • Dave B (Wellington)

      Auckland’s EMU’s are artificially slow at the moment due to a combination of restrictive track geometry (in places), technical idiosyncrasies and extremely conservative timetabling. The aim was to get the new trains in and bedded-down before tackling these issues. Now they are being focussed on and hopefully we will see some significant improvements shortly.

      • James C

        After today’s reading, I’m beginning to wonder how much of the tardiness in delivering a swifter timetable that could be delivered right now is driven by a desire to make heavy rail not seem too much faster than light rail. That’s an easy tactic to make a political gain.

  • JBM

    If they are going to do a Botany line in addition to the LRT line from Dominion to the airport, then I’m in. They can model it on the skytrain in Vancouver. The only problem is that what AT say this month will be completely different to what they say in 6 months time and then god help us by the time next year arrives. They’ll probably come out with another announcement to get rid of the LRT option altogether and propose driverless cars and flying pigs on their own special carpet ride designation as the “more economically feasible option”.

    It is bloody annoying how road projects that have just been thought of yesterday get the easy ride through processes (ie: east-west bollocks) whereas PT projects have to jump through several political hurdles just to get anywhere.

  • Brutus Iscariot

    Bus transit to the airport is a complete joke system for a city with the goal of becoming world-class.

    • Matthew W

      Why is that again?

    • Melbourne seems to have got away with being world-class and only having buses to the airport for years.

      • Dave B (Wellington)

        Last time I went to Melbourne it definitely didn’t have world class transport to its airport. This was a noticeable lack that let down my impression of the place.

      • Matthew W

        I thought the Melbourne bus was fine last time I was there. The other places I have bused to airports – Liverpool, Manchester, Berlin, Prague. Don’t remember any issues of note.

        • Manchester has Light Rail to the airport!

          • Matthew W

            I know (I worked on it)! and heavy rail. The heavy rail is pretty amazing, its about 10min from the city centre. (That is in part due to the compact nature of the city). I used to take the bus from one of the nearby burbs.

          • Simon C

            I went by heavy rail from Newcastle over to Manchester Airport last year. was pretty good though stopped at Manchester Piccadilly for a while before finally heading to the airport.

            Patrick I can’t believe you didn’t take the sleeper down to Cornwall. Loved going down there on the Night Riviera http://seat61.com/Cornwall-sleeper.htm

          • Simon C

            I completely agree with Graeme Easte, Tim Franks, Brendon Harre and Dave B. I don’t believe the AT stats in the report one iota. I am particularly disappointed that Matt & Patrick have chosen to swallow AT’s info despite knowing full well how many times their modelling has been completely rubbish! Matt & Patrick, I wouldn’t trust AT’s modelling if I fell over it. Honestly do you? Do you really? remember the onehunga Line where the ARTA beaurecrats basically whitewashed the case for re-opening the line and were proved to be utterly, utterly wrong? Well, you can bet there some of the same people working on this project and I strongly suspect again making up false figures.

            I have been on Light rail in cities across three continents from Budapest to Melbourne, to Hakodate, to Hiroshima, to San Francisco and back to Basel (also Vancouver but I categorise that as light metro rather than on street LR) etc etc and yet I have NEVER ridden on one that compares in speed with heavy rail. Give me a KLIA Kuala Lumpur heavy rail express service rather than a LR one which is going to have a heap of stops compared to a HR option. The last thing people want when they are travelling to or from an airport is a stop/start journey. As someone living in the central city if LR gets done I’ll stick with either the Skybus or going to Papatoetoe and taking the 380* from there thanks.

          • Simon C

            I get that the people behind this blog wish to be neutral and open-minded and also constructive in their relationship with local bodies such as AT. However there are times when a decision is so blatantly wrong that this blog needs to stand up and give it both barrells to the local body and any other official body concerned. The owners of this blog may disagree, that’s their right, but in my opinion on this issue at least they have chosen to abdicate any responsibility to criticise.

            Also I am appalled at the attitude of “Well at least it’s better than nothing” from you guys. Honestly after the Harbour Bridge and Britomart shortcuts have you learnt nothing? Yes they got built but not building them properly created subsequent issues as we all know. But hey, no worries, let’s just keep making those same mistakes, shall we? C’mon guys, I sincerely believe you’re better than this. We need to fight for the proper job and correct decisions to be made, not to accept second best. Wasn’t this blog created to advocate for doing just that? Sad, but a little piece of me feels that today this blog has gone away from it’s original raison d’etre.

            BTW, as per my prior post it can be seen that I’ve taken LR a number of times so I’ve got nothing against it per se, and I absolutely think for a shorter journey on a main arterial like Dominion Rd it would be without any sliver of doubt tremendously successful. But not for Airport Rail.

          • Simon our view is shaped not just on this report but also on a number of other factors and discussions we’ve had over a long period of time. We’ve raised all of the issues you suggest multiple times and our comfort levels with the outcome has been informed in part by the confidence we have in some of the people we know have been involved in this. We also know that many of the people working on this project wanted to see heavy rail succeed but have simply not been able to make it stack up as a viable option.

            As I’ve said in another comment above, it seems to me that light rail is coming into a new use in many similar sized cities where it is being used as an RTN solution and doing well. One such example is Seattle where their single main LRT line from the airport to the city is now carrying similar levels of ridership to what our entire rail network is following a recent extension.

          • KLK

            Simon C – not sure why the comparison with KLIA. Its an express service (no stops) that only services two stations – the airport and sentral. That was never a viable option here.

            Even your preferred HR option through Onehunga has 12 stops. LRT has more, sure, but airport travelers are going to be in the minority compared to regular commuters.

          • Matthew W

            I find it concerning Matt that there are individuals working in an official capacity that “want” a particular technical solution to succeed. We should be able to expect objective analysis and desicion making from these people.

        • Dave B (Wellington)

          If you’re using rail as your main means of getting around, which one often tends to in major world cities where it is the best way to get around, it is a total nuisance not to be able to access the main airport on that same system. I guess if you are in the mode of bussing around cities then bus to the airport will not seem like a step-down.

          Growing up near London, I remember the days before Heathrow airport had a rail connection and the recognised PT access from the city was Piccadilly Line to Hounslow West Station, then the “A1 Express” shuttle-bus to Heathrow. It was an absolute pain, especially with luggage (There may have been direct buses but these would probably have been slower still). Once they extended the Piccadilly Line to the airport it was practically and psychologically so much easier to get there simply by sitting on the one train from anywhere on that line (obviously if you weren’t on that line you would have to change, but once in the Underground “System”, transfers never seem to be a big deal. Then they built the connection to the GW main line and ran express services non-stop into Paddington (expensive) or stopping-services (cheaper). Now Heathrow is “World Class”.

          • I’ve never used an airport in Britain except London (City my fav) as I’ve only ever caught trains to see the country, which I’ve done a lot of, from living in Oxford, to walking in the Peak District or the Scottish Highlands. Did hire a car for an excellent roadie through Cornwall many years ago…. So never really noticed what the airport connections are like, except for London.

        • Matthew they were working to the previously agreed solution which was heavy rail but found it unsupportable based on more detailed analysis.

          But yes some people have preferences and it goes both ways, I’m aware of some officials who say NO to any suggestion that includes the word rail in it.

          • Matthew W

            So ideological technical people focusing on pet solutions. Gah. We need to bring back an independent non political funding agency if that’s the case.

  • Maybe AT are using this plan to leverage govt support for their isthmus light rail network in general?

    • Bigted

      After the way the government was suckered into the CRL without really any idea what it will end up costing they will be weary of supporting anything AT is involved in.

      • Bevan

        Hahaha Poppycocks! The CRL business case has been the most studied transport project ever I’d imagine! If the Government was concerned about transport cost, it would perhaps look more closely at the wasted expenditure on its RONS program, or perhaps the East-West connections which keeps skyrocketing in cost from a few hundred million to now $1.5 billion+. Just some painted truck/commercial vehicle lanes would gain a lot of the freight shifting benefit for a minuscule of the price.

        • Bigted

          The CRL has been studied and even as work begins the price estimate goes up another $500 million, the government has been sucked into it by AT and is now very weary (as they should be) of any project (especially when it involves rails) promoted by AT.

          The east west link makes it easier for freight to move from road to rail and rail to road at the only road to rail transfer point in the whole of Auckland, if it is too hard for transport companies to deliver to / pick up from the railways they will just put an extra truck or two on and transport it all the way by road.

          • Except it hasn’t gone up by $500m, it is the herald inaccurately reporting things once again, a speciality of Orsman’s. I’ll have more on this tomorrow.

          • Bigted

            Really I should have known, the Hearld hasn’t let facts get in the way of a good story yet so I should have known this probably would be no different. I do though have a big mistrust of AT and that may have clouded my judgement.

          • Warren S

            Well Bigted, I have far more mistrust of NZTA and NZ’s current motorway( and especially the RoNS) financing mechanisms than I do of Auckland Transport. NZTA is arrogance supreme – witness the Basin Reserve fiasco!

  • Zac L

    What about tram-trains?

  • KLK

    Agree that LRT only adds up if it is seamless through Onehunga and onto the CBD. In saying that, as someone mentioned above – and I have always argued – time estimates from airport to CBD are a red herring.

    This is a SW Auckland RTN. It will just happen to have the advantage that the two biggest employment hubs – as well as the international gateway to the country and biggest recreational/cultural/civic hub – are at either end. Only a very small number of travelers, as a percentage, are going to be going from one end to the other. Its all the people in the middle who will go north and south – and they will do both, at different times, for different reasons – that will be the overwhelming bulk of patronage on these lines.

    4 extra stations in a catchment area starved of decent PT, a large number of which will be heading (from the middle) north or south for work, as well as play. Travelers between the airport and CBD will be the icing on the cake, that I once (conservatively) estimated as 1600 p/day (5% of air travelers p.a.). That’s not counting the workers going to from the airport. This line will boom from day one.

    So the commentator making a comparison with Sydney’s (rapidly improved, patronage wise) airport line has missed the mark. Again.

    People may still complain about the times but would I live in, say, Mangere Bridge and spend, what, 25-30mins on an LRT to my job near Britomart? Absolutely. That amount of time is a blink of the eye, really. With wifi on board, its the chance to prepare for work in the morning, and finish things off on the way home.

    I also agree this is probably the end of the road for heavy rail. I think we’ll now see the HR lines supported by a network of LRT, or at least Busways to be converted later, where capacity remains. As a lay-man, I don’t really see any difference between LRT and HR. In fact, LRT would seem more preferable for “placemaking” where we are going through neighborhoods.

    • Dave B (Wellington)

      One difference you might notice between LR and HR is seating capacity. If you look at the table Matt included in his article, you will see that the proposed 66m LRV has seats for only 160 out of a crush-load total of 420 pax. A 72m, 3-car CAF EMU by contrast seats 240 out of a crush-load capacity of 450. Why the table only considers a 3-car EMU is suspicious (hey, let’s take the worst case to make heavy rail look bad!) . Normal operation would be 6 car, with double that number of seats. And no reason why EMU’s could not run at 5-min intervals once the CRL is open, if the demand is great enough.
      Be forewarned, you might not get much work-preparation done standing up in an LRV that is packed like sardines.

      • I think the reasoning is that LR vehicles can be doubled too….

        • Bigted

          A double LRV gives you just slightly more than the capacity of a 3 car EMU.

        • tuktuk

          Yes, light rail vehicles can be doubled to make some pretty large scale “trams”. The only limitation is the ability for streets to be able to handle very long trams or light rail.

          I am still gutted that heavy rail was shafted in the the way it was; it could have been done for less than $1 billion a decade ago, possibly as low as $500 million. And there was definitely mischief involved – certain of the road engineers involved were acutely aware of the implications for heavy rail as they progressively destroyed any possibility for that particular option to go ahead.

          But what’s done is done now, and light rail, ideally driver-less light rail capable of street running looks to be the way to go.
          However, you will need a strong political champion who can do what Len Brown has done for the CRL……otherwise the whole thing will go through the same process that the heavy rail airport link option has just gone through. Whether heavy rail, light rail or BRT, the quality of the corridor is everything – and you will need to be prepared to fight the “moar roads” builders for every square metre of transport real estate.

      • A 66m LR vehicle is already doubled so yes less capacity than a two-unit EMU but my understanding is that due to other constraints, EMUs are limited to about 10min frequencies whereas LRT can be 5 minutes or less so pretty much evens out on capacity. The issue isn’t what has the most capacity though but whether they have enough and on that count it seems LRT does have enough space for the demands expected. Of course one thing with the airport both for air passengers and for staff is that a lot of travel is outside of the peaks so not an issue anyway.

        • Bigted

          If EMUs can not run at less than 10 minute intervals why are we spending billions on the CRL to increase the frequency that is already running at 10 minute intervals on all lines.

          • They will be able to run at up 2.5m intervals where the demand is high; ie the city centre, which means 5m intervals further out. Each way. This will be a huge increase in frequency and capacity over the pre-CRL limits.

            However it will still be an interlined network, so even with 24tph in the CRL itself [48 in total compared to 20 today], that means a limit of 12tph on the two overlapping lines.

            Because of this interlined [overlapping] system two other sections also get huge service with this pattern, from Newmarket to Penrose, where western services continue to Onehunga, and further south where the eastern and southern lines share the route.

          • Bigted

            Patrick the question was aimed at Matt L who has just stated in his rave about the benefits of LR over HR that LR can run at 5 minute intervals but the HR EMUs are limited to 10. We already have rail at 10 minute intervals and that is why we supposedly need to spent billions on the CRL to increase frequency (Matt has said the EMUs are not capable of running any more frequent than 10 minutes), so why not spent those billions on expanding the network to give more of Aucklands commuters access to rail?

          • Well I guess what Matt means is in the short term, but I don’t think that’s the right way to think about capacity. Rail systems are very long term investments and design capacity needs to look forward to higher demand. The CRL has a design capacity of 48 tph, so as long as we don’t clutter the network with lots of random specialised services going here and there, that means a pattern of 12tph each way on the outer lines. And that’s a 5min frequency same as they are saying for LR.

            But having both systems at 5 min frequencies (2.5mins for key sections of rail network) means together a huge amount of additional capacity, frequency, and coverage. Win win.
            More quite literally is more. I really don’t get why train fans seem to see LR as in a fight with the existing network?

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            Patrick, your “48 in total compared with 20 today” is not a valid comparison, 48 being per double-track line in two directions, 20 being per single track in one direction. Capacities are normally expressed in the latter format, so a true comparison is between 24 and 20. That’s an impressive 20% increase, but not the 140% suggested, which would be truly spectacular.

          • Mike – it is a 140 % increase in movements as far as I’m aware, the reason being everyone of the 48 movements through the CRL is both and inbound and an outbound train, eg. an inound service from Onehunga continuing as outbound to Swanson. So effectively there will be 48 inbound and 48 outbound services with the CRL, in contrast Britomart can currently handle only 20 inbound and 20 outbound services. Hopefully, I have my logic right there.

          • Nick R

            Mike, currently 20 trains can get into the city each hour, 20 in and 20 out. With the CRL it will be 48 train that can get in each hour, 48 in and 48 out. Well actually it might not be 48 to start with because the signalling and junction stuff doesn’t allow for that from day one, but in the long run they can fix that and the capacity is 48.

            What I think Matt is getting at is that there is a limit on the number of trains you can run though the CRL, and every train you run from the airport replaces one you might run from the southern line or elsewhere. In that context, you’re unlikely to see more than 10 minute headways unless you are really filling up six 6-car trains an hour.

        • Yes, I can’t figure Mike’s math. There will be able to be more than twice as many train movements, not just 20% more…

          Each of the two tracks at the Britomart throat can currently pass 10tph, post CRL that will be 24tph:
          That is an increase of 140%. And that’s a very meaningful increase in capacity.

          Or 36k people per hour instead of the current 15k [at 750 per train]

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            No, Patrick – each of the current two tracks handles 20 trains per hour (20 in and 20 out in total), not 10, so going to 24 is a 20% increase per track.

            Agreed that the the number of trains departing in both directions will increase from 20 to 48 per hour, but the number of train movements will increase to 48 from 40 (20 arrivals and 20 departures).

            The complicating factor here is turning a terminus into a through station (and on a loop), where a relatively small increase in track capacity gives a much larger increase in station capacity by converting separate arrivals and departures into through trains. That’s why the CRL is so good!

          • Dave B (Wellington)

            Now I am confused!
            Currently there are 20 trains/hr over the two tracks in and out of Britomart (6x Southerns, 6x Easterns, 6x Westerns and 2x Onehungas.

            The CRL will do two things:
            1) Double-up the access to Britomart by providing two tracks in and two tracks out
            2) Remove the conflict between arriving and departing trains which currently have to cross each other’s paths at the station-throat.

            Modelling of an early version of the CRL showed that it could potentially handle trains every 2 minutes each way, i.e. 60 arrivals and departures at Britomart (and Aotea and K-Rd) every hour. I am not sure what the latest designs for the CRL are now capable of, but 2-minute headways are really nothing special.

            Obviously such intensity would require the rest of the network to be able to cope, but the message I am trying to convey is that, IF heavy rail ever gets to the Airport, and IF demand is such that 6-car trains every 5 mins are needed (=10,800 pphpd), then the rail network with the CRL should be able to deliver the necessary without compromising the rest of the operation.

            And so could light rail for that matter, provided a 66m jam-packed unit running every 2.3 mins (or a 132m unit every 4.6 min) each way along Dominion Road is considered acceptable.

          • Bigted

            Dave I can’t see trains every 2 minutes being to much of a problem (not that I know why that frequency would be required for many many years), the current frequency during peaks is one train every 4 minutes 17 seconds between Quay junction and Newmarket.
            There is not as much crossing over outside Britomart as you make out as 14 trains per hour come in one line and go out another it is only the 6 inbound eastern line trains (per hour) that cross over the Newmarket bound down line.
            The Britomart end of the tunnel deals with one train every 1 minute 30 seconds (20 in, 20 out) being distributed to and from 5 platforms.

          • Dave B (Wellington)

            Hi Bigted
            The “crossing paths” that I am referring to is the need for every train that comes into Britomart to potentially block the path of one wanting to come out. For instance a train coming in on the Up Main (=downhill, just to confuse!) and going into P1or P2 will block the egress from every other platform while it is making this move. Similarly a train departing from P4 or P5 will block every inbound train while it is crossing to the Down main (=uphill!). These conflicts limit the number of movements that could otherwise happen.
            An alternative is to run the approach tracks bi-directionally so that trains can come in and out without having to cross, but while in some instances this may be beneficial, this pattern also has its limitations in the time it takes for a train in one direction to clear the line for one in the other.
            Converting Britomart to a through-station completely removes this constraint.

            As a point of interest, a big benefit could be achieved once a few hundred metres of the new tunnels departing out the other side of Britomart are in place. Then it would be possible for an inbound train on the westbound through-track to drop its passengers, back-shunt into the tunnel and cross to the eastbound through-track without blocking other platforms. Given that one platform is to be removed before the CRL is complete, this facility could prove useful as a de-facto extra turnaround/layover siding. However I haven’t heard that this is officially part of the plan.

          • Bigted

            Dave the Auckland network is bidirectional (if that is the right word) but generally up trains travel on the up main and down trains on the down main to make controlling them easier, the point you are talking (the bottom of the Britomart tunnel) about already deals with one train every 1 minute 30 seconds in peak time (20 in 20 out) so again there should be no problem once it is required for trains to run at 2 minute intervals.

          • Mike as you say we currently have 20tph coming in and out of Britomart at peaks. This plan we got from AT a while back suggests that at peaks there will be 18tph each way so 36tph accessing the city so an 80% increase. There’s 12tph from the west, 6tph from the south via Grafton, 12tph from the east and 6tph from Onehunga/Newmarket via Parnell.

          • Nick R

            Ten, if you run trains at two minute intervals each way that is 60 movements an hour across the junction, a full 50% more than it just handles today. I wouldn’t be so confident that is possible.
            Also it would probably require a signalling upgrade otherwise you’d be constantly orange and red on every block across the network.

  • KLK

    Assuming LRT goes ahead from Airport to Britomart, there are some pretty quick wins in terms of short (relatively speaking) busway connections. Dedicated lanes between Avondale and Mt Roskill and then Mangere Bridge to the Southern Line (Otahuhu/Middlemore?). That’s a pretty sweet coverage across that side of Auckland (south of the bridge) right there.

    SE is obviously the outlier. The LRT line Albany-Botany is welcomed but realistically its going to be BRT first. Which is perfectly fine.

  • Matthew W

    So the image shows a platform less station (not even a kerb). That’s interesting.

  • Matthew W

    Matt I just noticed your comment in the post dismissing a bus option on capacity grounds. 2500 pax/hr is fine for buses. the question is where do you run them to.

  • I am not sure whether the report did not jump the gun with costs in the airport precinct. When I asked the airport company last week, I go this official reply: “Discussions relating to the costs associated with either mode have not been held yet as the project is only at the route protection phase. In the interim we have been working with both Auckland Transport and NZ Transport Agency to understand the implications of either mode. Ultimately we will require a decision from Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency and will plan accordingly.”

    Having lived in Switzerland and worked at the Department for Transport there, I asked myself what would have been done differently there as far as process is concerned. Two main things came to mind.
    1. Any such project would have been based on an existing system (most likely rail, but could have been extension of standard or narrow gauge).
    2. There would have been a local referendum with fully costed proposals, including financing of the options.

  • What happened to the Auckland Airport rapid transport link to the Puhinui Train Station?

    The 7km link to Puhinui goes predominately through green field sites along the existing road corridor. Auckland Transport is considering spending up to $1.3b to Mount Roskill when a link to Puhinui Station for light rail might cost around $0.3b and give immediate access to 39 rail stations and a massive Auckland population. This is a simple, affordable and achievable solution right now to get rapid transport to the airport. Auckland Transport needs to stop mucking about with unaffordable projects and deliver quick wins to start meeting our transport needs. Further links can be added in the future.

    • Two main reasons:

      This proposal is not only about airport rail, it’s South-west rapid transit as well, covering Mangere, Mangere Bridge etc.

      This would restrict the number of trains that could be run to Papakura and further south, an area expecting significant population growth.

      • Stranded on the North Shore

        I agree, but we should still designate the Puhinui link for future generations, even if AT are not planning on building it soon. It might not be heavy rail, it might be flying rail, whatever, protect it now.

      • Bigted

        jezza how is a LR link to Puhinui station going to restrict the number of trains that could be run to Papakura and further south?

        • Your right it doesn’t, I clearly didn’t read Rob’s comment close enough and didn’t notice the reference to LR!

          • Bigted

            While my preference is HR from Otahuhu to Puhinui via the airport (including Mangere towncentre and a station to service airport oaks) and to make Manukau a through station via Botany to Panmure (or there abouts) but would settle for LR in its place. If the LR option was used it would run from the newly revamped Otahuhu station to Puhinui via the airport (including Mangere towncentre and airport oaks) then dump HR from Puhinui to Manukau (there is only a handful of people that use that section) and replace it with LR to also continue to Panmure station via Botany and Pakuranga.
            Puhinui station would need a major upgrade for this to a similar configuration to Papakura with platforms away from the main as it would be the place that eastern trains terminate (having no Manukau HR station) along with a station for the LR along with the flyover/under that LR would need to be grade separated from the HR.

  • Roland Sapsford

    Three quick points
    – seems odd to ignore tram trains that have the potential to make use of on-street and existing rail network
    – there seems very little understanding of the theory of the second-best in the economic analysis of anything in transport in New Zealand, especially given heavy investment in low BCR Rons plus absence of road pricing; its 20 years since I did a paper for the Victorian Dept of Infrastructure pointing out that conventional BCRs may be worse than random allocation as a project choice method
    – a key issue is what are the co-benefits in terms of broader urban issues of each mode, as a hard-headed look at the aviation business and climate change suggests the world of airports and airlines may look very different in 20 years time.

    • Tram-trains sound great but you need to understand that there is no spare capacity on the existing rail network, nor will be, to start adding new branches and vehicles here and there. AKL has around 95 km of double track lines running all passenger and freight services. Only double track, even at hubs and stations. This is not Sydney or Melb with huge legacy networks of four or eight tracked sections and vast yards at Victorian stations. We had little and then spent the second half of the last century ripping them up and flogging the land cheaply to crooks.

      Tram-train is no option. A whole new network is a whole new opportunity.

      • Roland Sapsford

        The network capacity issues are real but need to be addressed anyway for freight as well as passenger reasons. A whole new network is a new opportunity; making good use of existing assets and looking for synergies helps realise that opportunity sooner. Infrastructure is costly and we do want to look for win-win wherever possible. This is especially true in light of the other points in my post 🙂

    • Nick R

      Tram trains are lovely in theory but seem difficult in practice and are only applied in a few places as a result.

      In Auckland we would need trams that run on narrow cape gauge track, are capable of powering from both 25kv AC and 750v DC, have ETCS1 train control, meet all Kiwirail main line impact standards but simultaneously meet all the requirements of a road vehicle, are driven by fully trained train drivers (not the glorified bus drivers of LRT- difference is in the training, skill level and pay grade), have high level railway platforms even if they are in the street. All that sounds very expensive, why not just spend the money on a new LRT line instead?

      • Roland Sapsford

        This is as much about integration and flexibility as anything else. New Zealand seems woefully bad at that, and it would be a shame for Auckland to move to light rail, without even considering tram-train options. My point is not that they are NECESSARILY best, but that delivering synergies and more network by making best use of existing infrastructure doesn’t even seem to have been considered.

        I really really hope the gauge for light rail is narrow gauge – otherwise you shut out an opportunity forever! The technical issues mentioned are relatively minor (AC/DC running is straightforward or you could have AC light rail), the main line / road running issue is hardly a biggie. Probably the main one is the platform height difference, Addressing all of these would cost a fraction of the expense of building a new parallel network.

        • Again I take the entiirely opposite view. What exactly are the benefits of cluttering a finely balanced rail network with street vehicles? And, with a new and separate network we can start from first principles and optimise the system, vehicles, and procurement to our needs, rather rather have to accommodate heritage forms to fit the old network. This includes gauge, and especially floor height. Wider vehicles are better for users, especially with luggage, and also open procurement to a wider and more standardised supply base.

          Our current network is fine, and will be really good post CRL, but there are many advantages with adding a new complementary network to this, unemcumbered by happenstance from yore. Interoperability sounds great, but in practice it just means compromise in performance and higher cost. Start over now, work what we have to max efficiency and add new with the best available tailored to the city’s needs.

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            Normal track gauges and vehicle width are not related, as evidenced by such things as the SA/SD sets, so we can rule out that hoary old chestnut. As for a wider and more standardised supply base, metre-gauge light rail vehicles are common (it’s Switzerland’s standard tram gauge, for instance), so that’s no real issue either.

            Significant issues are platform height, including interoperablity with freight, for which there are technical solutions; and lack of current examples of true tramtrains of less than 1435mm gauge. Let’s consider these when looking at a proposal that has the potential to optimize use of existing assets and save money elsewhere, with attendant economies of scale, and not get distracted by relatively trivial side issues.

      • Mike (the longstanding one)

        On the other hand, the level crossings on the Onehunga branch are a major and costly issue for heavy rail, but there are no concerns with light rail about the greater number along Dominion Rd. So converting the Onehunga branch to light rail would retain all LRT’s benefits south of Onehunga while saving a shedload of money between there and Penrose.

        Yes, tram-trains are more complex but perfectly possible (though platform height issues might need some creative thought), and Auckland’s heavy rail already has the appropriate train control system.

        No-one is proposing the straw man of “adding new branches here and there” (though this blog has suggested at least three such new branches in the recent past!), merely that extending an existing branch in a different way would be worth looking at. We would be foolish to reject it out of hand.

        • Mike tram train has been pushed literally for decades in AKL. It has never been able to stack up, and thankfully we haven’t wasted any actual money on it. Let rail be rail, and trams be trams. Let each do their thing in a specialised way, even as each blur past each other in definition.

          In my view this tram train idea is fatally flawed at the conceptual level. For many it has been about trying to make trains run like road vehicles; the much vaunted, but mistaken, ideal of flexibility in Transit services. Private car fanatics like Phil above endlessly claim that flexibility is a virtue in Transit. It isn’t. Fixed, frequent, reliable, high quality service delivery are the virtues of Rapid Transit. Design it right and it should deliver same high standard decade after decade. Permanence is its strength. Inflexibility of route, flexibility of use. Car idealisers, always want one-seat rides to everywhere, which is a critical mistake.

          Now I’m sure this isn’t your view, you’re more sophisticated than that, but this has been behind the decades of trying to shoehorn tram train interoperability together in Auckland for decades. We dodged a bullet.

          • Mike (the longstanding one)

            “Inflexibility of route, flexibility of use” – precisely so: a tramtrain advocate couldn’t have put it better!

            The rest of that paragraph has me completely lost as far as its relevance to tramtrains goes – both trams and trains (and any hybrid) have fixed routes, and deliver frequent, reliable, high-quality services. I’ve no idea how or where private car fanatics come into that picture!

        • James C

          The high-level fantasist in me can envisage LRT up the Onehunga branch to Penrose, bridged over the southern motorway to Gavin St, up the Transpower corridor and over the NIMT to the southern shores of the Panmure Basin, along or alongside the Waipuna bridge and into the AMETI corridor at Pakuranga. Who knows if anyone would actually use that route, but it looks positively poetic in my mind!

          • Grant

            Interesting idea, but perhaps a lot more doable along Mt Wellington Highway to Panmure Station, rather than taking out half of the basin walkway etc. Be great to have an interchange station with both HR & LRT at the Mt Wellington Highway section and let that area surrounding it really develop high, mixed zone, good views of Basin etc & give Mt Wellington a city centre/soul. HR station a bit close to Sylvia & Panmure but does that matter? Could you build it on the Transpower corridor? I doubt it (underground power some of it now?), so really should replace the new network Crosstown 7 bus route all the way from Mt Albert – Mt Smart Rd along Penrose Rd, Mt Wellington Hway to Panmure (linking with a future Panmure to Bontany line). Now that’s what I call cross town. Dreams are free, many other competing project before I’m sure.

    • I agree with this comment, that “a hard-headed look at the aviation business and climate change suggests the world of airports and airlines may look very different in 20 years time.” I think that this is a very significant under-estimated matter. Airlines are making valiant efforts to convince themselves and the world that they can grow demand for 1000kmph jet travel within a strict carbon budget. They simply cannot, nor can they reduce emissions in any meaningful way in any meaningful timeframe. Research paper after research paper explains this, and show that ‘drop-in’ biofuels / algae on a massive scale are the only realistic way forward. But there is an inexorable logic that rules that out also. There is increasing pressure on land available for food crops, and there will be further pressure from BECCS, even as the threats to all crops from infestations and fires develop apace. In addition, national populations will not be tolerant of massive intrusions on growing areas for what will be seen as the extravagant flying needs of a few (shopping trips to Sydney etc). China has already set a target for its population of a 50% reduction in meat consumption. They will not look kindly in international negotiations on countries that insist that China’s sacrifices are required to support said Sydney shopping trips.

      • Tom I don’t disagree, but with two caviates:

        1. Air travel is so profoundly useful that it is the very last thing we will decarbonise. Long long after the last ICE vehicle has left our roads and rails. I don’t see the end of flying as certainly as I do the end of fossil fuelled land transport.
        2. AKL and NZ are so far from anywhere that the utility and economics of this mode will remain even longer than elsewhere. Continental long distance travel and freight is returning to rail but not to distant islands like ours. There will be no high speed train to Sydney!

        The easiest leg of the international journey to decarbonise is the trip to the airport. We should have done his years ago, and must do it now with urgency.

        • Roland Sapsford

          Glad to hear from you Tom. Patrick. I agree air travel is useful but we are very much recipients of global trends in this respect. We are service and price takers rather than service and price makers.

          Air travel is very very carbon intensive. And it is used by a very small proportion of the world’s population. Viable aviation biofuels are land intensive, and this creates a floor on their costs which is some distance above even historic high costs for fossil fuelled avgas. At some point, the reality of climate change will meet the “bunker fuels agreement” and the price of long distance air travel will skyrocket.

          Its difficult to see why airlines in this situation would keep flying to New Zealand in the numbers they do at present. When the cost and technology balance tips in favour of virtual meetings rather than air travel change may happen very quickly in terms of business travel. And sure, we enjoy going on overseas holidays, but New Zealand’s very isolation means it is actually very vulnerable to small changes in the economics of air travel.

          So long-lived infrastructure investment in airport travel options will ideally be designed in such a way that even if the airport demand isn’t there, they still serve a useful function in an integrated network.

          • I just really don’t agree. Flying really is extraordinarily useful. Including for Chinese and others in the rest of the world who want to come here. It is way way less replaceable than driving a vast SUV 2km to buy a latte.

            The world can substantially decarbonise by dealing with the more replaceable sources such as land transport and electricity generation without air travel getting more efficient. But it will do that too. But even if we do massively ration air travel we will still have some, and will need to access the airport and its surrounding landuse and suburbs with sustainable transport, so I really don’t think the possible prospect of less flying [which is by no means certain] is an argument for not investing in efficient electric transport systems to the area?

        • Roland Sapsford

          I love “happenstance from yore” 🙂 Wellington of course had different gauges for its trams and trains and this has created a permanently broken public transport spine in the city. So tales of yore are there to support many perspectives ;-).

          Others have covered off the technical debate. The central question I am raising remains getting the best from infrastructure. Are you aware of the extent to which the existing rail network will need to be upgraded for CRL to fulfil its potential, especially with rail freight growth? My point is simply that we MAY be able to get more light rail for Auckland AND a quicker pathway to airport rapid transit if we look at tram-train rather than a parallel network 🙂 Simply building a parallel network will take longer for example and cost more than track duplication on the Southern Line.

          • Nick R

            But they need to build the light rail up Dominion Rd anyway, as that corridor is chocka full of buses with little alternative to relieve it.

          • Ripping up the trams is indeed one way of unifying the rolling stock!

            Yes we already need more trains and certainly will once the CRL is running and other changes like the electrification of the rest of the line to Pukekohe. But that is still no argument to get half train half trams instead.

            The proposed LR system is in addition to the existing rail network not instead of it. Rail use is growing at 20%+ adding the LR network will lead to further sustained growth on both systems. AKL is in a fast growing mode with any quality services not in a scrimp and save mode looking for half-pie solutions. We need both.

          • Dave B (Wellington)

            Tram-Train only really works on lines which are lightly-used by heavy-rail services and therefore have spare capacity (or on lightly-used tracks even if within a heavily-used environment). This is certainly true of Karlsruhe, the ‘poster-boy’ city for Tram-Train operation. Tram-train vehicles cannot venture onto tracks where all available paths are taken-up by heavy rail services.

            Auckland (and for that matter Wellington) does not have an alternative network of lightly-used tracks just waiting for tram-trains to move onto. To run them on existing main lines would inevitably mean displacing higher-capacity conventional trains which would be counter-productive. Provide duplicate lines may be possible, but this negates Tram-Train’s cost-advantage of being able to use lines that are already there.

            For this reason, despite the apparent appeal of being able to cheaply extend the reach of rail by running off down streets, it is hard to see how either Auckland or Wellington are likely candiates for this to happen. It would seem better to keep street-tram and heavy rail separate, each fulfilling the role that each does best. and not to dangle the carrot of Tram-Train as a cheap way of avoiding the need to further-develop the heavy-rail network.

          • Roland Sapsford

            Nick, I agree absolutely that light rail up Dominion Rd is a good idea (at least provided it is done properly), and that offers a great opportunity to connect with the airport. All I am suggesting is that it will be better for Auckland to have at least some interoperability between “heavy” and “light” rail so that, just for example, one can get from the airport area to central Auckland via the Dominion Rd light rail route or via the Onehunga line (or across to Papatoetoe but that is another issue and would require co-opting some road space). This to me seems to deliver more value for money in terms of resilience and flexibility than parallel incompatible networks.

            Patrick I agree absolutely around patronage, just not sure why you see interoperability as a liability rather than an advantage in terms of network resilience? Tram train isn’t ‘scrimp and save’, its just leverage! Having one interoperable network rather than two seems to me to at least be worth looking at in terms of obvious gain. Which was my original point, not that Tram-train is ‘the answer’ but that it seems odd that the report ignores it in favour of a hard division between light and heavy rail…..

          • Bigted

            Roland Sapsford there is not the space on Dominion rd for light rail and if it is put down there it will be one hell of a slow way to get from one end of Dominion rd to the other without worrying about the time it will then take to get to the airport. There is talk of LRV being able to go 80kph when in reality it will have a maximum speed no faster then the current 50kph limit in the area and likely an average speed of less than half that.

          • Nick R

            Roland, you would be able to get from one line to the other just fine, they will both stop at Onehunga station. Step off one and onto the other. They aren’t incompatible in any sense for passengers, they are just lines on the network. The London Underground, Overground and DLR has about six different non-interoperable modes among them… but who cares, who notices? Doesn’t matter to me that the Picadilly Line trains can’t run on the Jubilee tracks.

            Ted, the southern line averages 31km per hour, so if the LRT on Domininon Rd averages 25km/h it will do just fine. That means it will go from one end to the other in twelve minutes. It’s only 5km long. Then the next 15km to the airport it can do 100km/h top speed if it likes, it will all be offline light railway. There are even some LRT units that can do 120, although I doubt that is necessary.

          • Bigted

            Nick the current EMUs are capable of well over 120 kph (there are sections of the network where they are allowed to do 110) and they have a dedicated network and don’t have to deal with muppets driving and walking (most of the time) on their corridor. The estimate for the LR speed was an overall average not the average speed on Dominion rd, likely to be much slower due to dealing with traffic, traffic lights and pedestrians. Add to that Dominion rd is not even close to the most direct route from Britomart to the airport.

          • I think tram-trains would be ideal for Christchurch. There are three lightly used rail lines running into the city but with no lines really going close enough to the CBD to be useful. Having a train run in from Rangiora on the existing line before leaving it to run as a tram along Fendalton Rd and Park Tce into the city would be ideal.

          • Nick R

            That’s cool Ted, but actually the rail lines are lucky to break an average speed of 40km/h and 120km/h top speed isn’t even legally permitted, so yeah.

            The speed on the off street sections will be much faster, the same as heavy rail, there is no reason why it would be slower. On the on street section average speeds of 25km/h will be easy. The LRVs won’t have to contend with traffic lights or traffic. It will have it’s own dedicated traffic free guideway and priority at intersections.

            It’s almost like you ignore all the information and remain willfully ignorant on purpose!

          • Bigted

            Nick R I was talking capability like you were talking of the capability of the LRV, there was no mention of it being allowed (just like road cars that are capable of well over 200kph) just that they were easily capable of the speed.

  • Angus Robertson

    Attachment 6 and 7 appear to show the reclamation of Mangere Inlet occurring prior to development of a connection to the airport.

  • Jeff T

    So they’ve priced heavy rail out of the picture because of the obstacles created by ameti and are now telling us you can have buses or light rail.
    Put the project on hold and keep building roads and we’lljoy the airport congestion in the next twenty years. I would prefer they didn’t implement more PT so they can’t blame there ir second-rate options for having no effect on reducing congestion in the future.

  • Chris Rayner

    Why is there no cost benefit analysis for the blindingly obvious Airport Rail Link branching off the main trunk line at Wiri, in line with the new Manakau branch line. This branch would only require 10km of new track and go through mainly farmland and industrial areas many of which are already owned by Transport NZ, I don’t know what is up but it seems that the professionals can’t seem to see the blindly obvious !!! based on the cost per km for the recently completed Manakau Branch, adding in inflation and crossing the south western motorway I think this Airport link could be built for between 300 to 500 Million rather than the 2 billion they were talking about for the Onehunga Link.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154193799030600&set=a.10151329347165600.522030.557175599&type=3&theater

    • PeterP

      Because it’s not only about the airport. It’s about the whole South-Western area of Auckland and getting good PT into that area.

    • Bigted

      Chris while this is blindingly obvious to some it is not ATs idea so they will pretend it is not an option by not even pricing it.

      • Matthew W

        Doesn’t the 380 already take this route? Why not improve the bus priority and then see if patronage justifies a higher capacity mode?

      • Matthew W

        No I see it goes to Papatoetoe. Perhaps that is a first step then – step up an express service to Puhinui with priority and monitor demand.

        • Matthew W

          So a train to Puhinui plus express bus to airport with priority will give the same trip time as the proposed light rail from Britomart (or faster). Why isn’t this implemented now for the cost of an airport rail consultants report 🙂 ?

          • Bigted

            Time wise it would be a lot faster than the LR from Britomart option, the only problem is Puhinui station as no one in their right mind would transfer there without a major upgrade in both facilities and security.

          • Matthew W

            Yeah im sure they can tidy up the station for a small sum compared to the dollars we are talking about.

      • Stuart Donovan

        Bigted – the spur from Puhinui has been investigated several times in the last 5 years or so. It’s not a new idea you know, just a bad one.

        • Bigted

          Stuart it rail need to get to the airport it is the cheapest option (timewise similar to the Onehunga option everyone seems hung up on) and the first part of an airport loop, you know loops are the most efficient way to get the frequency out of the network (well thats why we are told we need a loop around the CBD).

          • Matthew W

            Im sure no one is suggesting rail needs to get to the airport, just people.

          • Ted it’s not just about the airport. It’s also about serving the southwest with rapid transit. Further I understand that option isn’t cheap either and has other issues such as impacting capacity on the southern line.

            As for your comment about loops, not sure where you get that idea from but loops are bad ideas and not efficient. The CRL is not a loop around the city, it’s too enable through routing of services. No train will go the whole way around.

          • Stuart Donovan

            I think you’re confused again BigTed. The CRL will ***not*** be operated as a loop, i.e. services will not run around and around. The southern line will run in via Grafton and then out via Parnell, but that’s still not a loop.

            And for good reason: Loops are not efficient to operate. As they don’t have a logical end point, staff changeovers have to happen with passengers onboard. Or you force them off and make them wait for the next services. So much so than London undid their Circle Line. If you want a local example look at the Outer Link: That route is so unreliable they’ve had to build in massive timing points just so they can keep to schedule.

            In terms of rail to the airport, I don’t know anyone here suggesting it as an end in itself. Rail to the airport is about opening up that whole area of Auckland to public transport, which currently doesn’t have much at all. That’s why a rail spur from Puhinui has been kicked around and rejected by so many studies. The key thing is how do you connect Auckland’s SW suburbs to the rest of the network.

            I’m personally still not convinced LRT via Dom Rd is the way to go, but I am quite sure that heavy rail via Puhinui is not.

        • Bigted

          Stuart and Matt, central rail LOOP is actually a LOOP around the city just because no trains will initially loop the city doesn’t change what it is. The airport rail loop being started as a spur line from Puhinui before becoming a full loop to Otahuhu (for the same reason as the CRL to increase frequency and efficiency) will cover the areas (and more) that the many times more expensive Onehunga extension to the airport will cover. Stuart the logical end point being the current Manukau station (there seems to be no plans and fast running out of options to make it the through station it should have always been), so the handful of pax that go to Manukau will take a little longer to get there from Britomart (assuming that is where they are coming from) but they could choose the transfer off a southern service at Puhinui if the extra trip through Mangere is too much.
          So Stuart this will connect the SW suburbs to the network the same way the eastern suburbs should be connected by Manukau being a through station instead of a stupid pissy little line.

          • Nick R

            It’s not even a loop in the railway jargon sense, as it joins the NAL to the NIMT and Parnell Branch.

          • Hey Ted, you seem to have trouble with accepting information that contradicts your very strident and often misinformed reckons.

            Hitting the caps lock button and repeating a word isn’t a useful form of debate. Especially when that word is precisely the wrong one: City Rail Link.

            I suggest you take a breath and consider what others say rather than react like these threads are about winning rather than discussing.

          • Bigted

            Nick I believe it is the Newmarket branch but Newmarket/Parnell it still makes a loop, just because there are no initial plans to use it as such doesn’t change what it is.

            Patrick link or loop it is still actually creates a loop and as per my reply to Nick above, just because there are no initial plans to use it as a loop doesn’t change what it is.

            The same results could be achieved without the CRL (link/loop) if AT would think outside the square, there is talk from some about trains every 2 minutes and others about 10800 pax per hour at 5 minute intervals. There are a couple of questions where are the units coming from to run every 2 minutes, where are these pax coming from and what are all they going to do while they are there?
            I am a reasonably young fella and I don’t think I will live to see the day that Auckland CBD requires 10800 pph, they are not going to get there via the current network or even with the addition of some more pissy little branch lines like Manukau and Onehunga.

          • Ted, again. Repeated nonsense, remains nonsense.

            You seem to mistake the track for the service. No passenger cares where track is; only what services they can use. Of course where the track is concerns those running the services, but it is make a huge mistake to think that the physical network matters more than the service it delivers. I have no idea where the various parts of my computer are, and nor do I care, so long as it works.

            Sadly this is a common problem that develops in institutions running systems, whether road, rail, telecoms, or whatever. In my experience rail seems to particularly attract systems obsessives getting the cart before the horse in this way.

            And you are still completely wrong about the CRL: the demand will clearly be there, as will additional trains. Post CRL the journey to 50mil pax pa will be quick.

          • Bigted

            Patrick is getting to 50 million all that matters? How about getting more paying pax that don’t damage the trains, threaten the staff and intimidate the paying pax before you worry about numbers.

          • What? Yes the most important thing for an urban passenger system is delivering large numbers of people efficiently. Passenger behaviour matters too, but while its management is important, it is a second order issue.

            Are you suggesting that because someone behaved badly we shouldn’t bother extending the system? You are being very odd.

      • mfwic

        Bigted you got it in one. There are AT’s ideas and they are always good and there are other ideas and regardless of how sensible they are they are bad ideas by definition. A rail link as Chris has described would allow a large area of land to be developed as a new town centre with rail access. They see it as an area with no development. Instead their plan is to continue the current car based option people have used for 50 years to get to the airport but to divert attention with a light rail option on Dominion Rd that may never be built.

  • Has any one factored in the disruptive social and community costs of running light rail down Dominion Road, and the time and cost involved in obtaining Resource Consents? For a really low impact low cost solution, how about this:

    Light Rail shuttle from Airport to Onehunga, (or Otahuhu if you prefer) along the already identified rail corridor – linking up to the existing heavy rail network

    • Matthew W

      In which case it may as well be bus if you are going to transfer north of the harbour there is no point in LRT (and even if you want to run them into town it is debatable if LRT is of benefit).

      The more I have looked into it the more likely I expect it that bus will end up being favoured after the options study on cost.

    • The argument goes that the Dom/Queen line is required/desired on its own terms and the Onehunga/Mangere/Airport line is an extension of that rather than the other way round.

      And transfer to rail at Onehunga will certainly be an option at that station. Although without at least some double tracking along its route it is limited to a low 1/2 hour frequency so is less useful without that investment.

      • Bigted

        Otahuhu is a better option than Onehunga and Puhinui is the cheapest option for the airport link.
        Unless there is something that will increase the patronage on the Onehunga line it seems a great waste to double track a line that only carries 150 ish people an hour over three services during peak time.

        • Stuart Donovan

          Agree with you re Otahuhu.

        • Nick R

          I think that increasing the frequency and extending it through mangere to the airport with half a dozen new stations probably counts as “something that will increase patronage”.

          • Bigted

            but at a high cost when the same result can be achieved for a fraction of the cost, you could build the whole line from Otahuhu for less than the cost of double tracking Onehunga and getting over the harbour.

          • Thing is ted if you want to be the big guy with lots of definite facts you really have to show some evidence… so where are these costings you refer to?

          • Bigted

            Patrick even a child could see it, going from Otahuhu doesn’t require the double tracking and removal of level crossings on the Onehunga line, it doesn’t require a harbour crossing and it only requires a similar amount of track and land as the Onehunga option needs once it comes ashore in Mangere.

          • James C

            But it does require the purchase and demolition of a great big row of houses, slicing the area in two, a junction and probably a flyover at Otahuhu, probably the same at Westfield and probably an extra line between them to avoid cannibalising the existing service slots through Westfield station limits. Even with all these things, the flow of six passenger trains an hour each way through the heart of the growing freight activity at Otahuhu would not be welcomed by Kiwirail or their customers. The Otahuhu option is far from a foolproof bargain.

          • Bigted

            James it is I believe about 56 houses of those 48 are already owned by the government (it was originally earmarked as a motorway link from the SH20/20A junction to Otahuhu near the current railway station. There will need to be no grand flyovers just sensible scheduling and as there is already a third main in the area it would have no more effect on freight movements than metro trains currently do. If Mr Goff becomes Mayor (and it appears he will due to lack of another option) he wants to move the POA and the best of the current bad options is Northport, something that would required the Avondale to Southdown line to be built for freight and from you own comments that can not coexist with the Onehunga line.

  • Chris Randal

    I have a HR rolling stock question.

    We currently have 57 units that are barely coping with demand at the moment. there are (allegedly) 40 more on order supposedly to cope with the CRL/Pukekohe.

    IF airport HR is built how many extra units are required for that compared with LRT units over and above the base case Dominion Rd stock requirement?

    • James C

      I put it at around 7-10 units to cover the distance and frequency increase with some doubles. It’s a variable figure, though. The exact travel time and how junction interactions affect that, how long the services stop at each end, whether demand warrants doubled sets and how many. The same factors affect the LRT, but possibly more so as the LRT is supposed to have a higher frequency in due course. Basically double the starting number to cope with the distance extension and double it again for the denser frequency. Actually, the distance thing wouldn’t double it, because the line speed will be much higher on the SW half, so travel time lower and number of extra services occupying that section will be correspondingly lower.

  • JBR

    In one corner; opposing keeping strategic options open for future faster heavy rail links to the airport and promoting unfunded light rail: AT, NZTA, John Key and Transportblog.

    In the other corner; wanting to keep options open for a faster, heavy rail option open: the public at large, Cr. Mike Lee, CBT, PTUA, respected business leaders, NZ Herald Editor, Brian Rudman, New Zealand First & the Green Party.

    AT/NZTA are working behind closed doors without any public consultation over the single most wanted public transport project in Auckland. Just so strange! It is also a huge sign that a full review of Auckland Transport governance is needed. Our wishes look likely to come true with a change of Govt in 2017.

    I still enjoyed the PR disaster on Monday by AT. Who will ever forget Dr. Lester Levy’s “I’ve just wet my pants” look when questioned by Todd Nial from Radio New Zealand.

    • Matthew W

      The public at large? How well informed are the public at large? These are technical matters. Evidence shows commuters value speed, frequency, reliability, legibility. Those are the metrics the deaicion makers ahould focus on. Its no more valid asking the public what vehicle type for a PT corridor than it is asking what pipe material should be used for a sewer line.

      • James C

        Agreed. I’d also be inclined to let AT off the hook somewhat given that these proposals are a case of playing the hand that has been dealt. The real villains IMO are NZTA with their decades long blocking game in this corridor.

    • Jon, in your great conspiracy analysis it would be a big mistake to ignore the role played by the Airport Company… just a little hint for you. Secondly, you have a taste for oversimplification; for black and white, for dividing the world into goodies and badies. A more subtle player might be more effective….

  • The Herald gets it….

    http://m.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11666503

    Time to take the shorter, clearer and cheaper route more seriously?

    • James C

      Do you think this route would make it through the same analysis as the Onehunga routes with a BCR of anywhere near 1? Passenger catchment a tiny fraction of the Mangere corridor. Substantially more difficult and costly junction demands. Still needs bridges and flyovers, but this time over acknowledged areas of cultural and ecological sensitivity. Still needs an underground terminal at the airport. Running pattern interferes with Southern line, Manukau line and freight to Wiri,Westfield, north, south and the port. Seeing how the Onehunga Branch case has been stitched up, I can’t see a Puhinui case carrying these cons through the analysis to any better an outcome. It certainly didn’t in the previous round of consideration.

      • Bigted

        None of the options actually need an underground station, it is just that seems to be what is wanted.

        • Nick R

          It does, if you are to pass under the northern runway and not add new level crossings, the alignment can only stay underground.

          • Dan C

            How does light rail avoid the undergrounding?

            Couldn’t a line from the north terminate between the terminal buildings, north of the runways?

          • Nick R

            Because it can quickly climb back up to surface level (3x steeper than HR is possible) and run down the middle of a street or on it’s own alignment where it can ‘bend’ around buildings and the like quite easily. Still has to go under the runway.

    • Matthew W

      Indeed Geoff and why not look at bus option along this short route? That could be a winner at least in terms of airport connectivity. Something more would be needed for Managere etc.

      • Matthew W

        And it looks like we could build a port down there so we may not want to invest too much in rail along there until that’s all sorted.

        Interesting report on the port. Puhinui wins because of transport benefits. Funny that.

        • Bigted

          There is no point waiting for a port to be built there because it never will. The Manukau harbours is just like a big estuary that is not suited to large ships, POA is not selling the Onehunga port to then build another one on that harbour.

        • Matthew W

          Oh except for the fact that they decided to use a 2.5% discount rate based on UK treasury guidelines and against NZ treasury guidelines. Using NZ treasury guidelines (or NZTA), staying where it is wins. I wonder how the NZ treasury feels about people blatantly ignoring its guidelines in favour of some written for a country on the other side of the world?

          Sorry off topic I know.

  • Jamie Walton

    What a crock. AT and NZTA are complete dumbasses.

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