Photo of the day: Manukau MIT campus

I was out at Manukau the other day so stopped by to see how how the new MIT campus was looking. The campus sits on top of and will be integrated to the Manukau station. The work is now primarily focused on inside the building.

MIT Campus Manukau 2

Work is also going on in front of the building on Davies Ave. The crossing here will eventually link the new bus interchange and the train station.

MIT Campus Manukau 3

Inside the building, is what the entrance to the station is expected to look like.

AT-Manukau-Station-interior-l

More info on the Manukau Southern Rail Link … kind of

The transport committee meets next Tuesday and there is quite a bit on the agenda. I will look at aspects at a later date but one that caught my eye is something that has been discussed a bit here recently, the Manukau Southern Rail Link Connection (page 213 – 6.9MB). We have talked about a bit in the past here and here. This report doesn’t really add anything new but does summarise many of the issues. The link is shown in red below and the intention is that it would allow for trains from south of Manukau to directly access the Manukau station.

Southern Link

The report confirms that there are some potentially big barriers to building the link. The first of which pretty much confirms that some really poor planning went into this entire area, but I guess that is fits with how Manukau has always been. About the only thing that was done right was done by the NZTA who designed the motorway bridge piers to enable it. Since that time, Kiwirail have built an Inland Port on the Eastern side of the tracks, partially covering the path of the southern link. That will only serve to add costs to the project.

As we also know, a key rail project will be a third main line that will help to separate freight trains from passenger lines however that is going in on the western side of the tracks. It means any freight trains accessing the inland port HAVE to use the same tracks as our passenger trains, increasing the chances of delays occurring. Auckland Transport is also building the EMU depot on the opposite side which will see a lot of train movements in the area, especially when combined with the Manukau junction itself. In my view the EMU depot and the Inland Port should have been on opposite sides.

Even if it can be built cheaply enough, there are also potential operational issues from doing so, in particular could the two track Manukau terminus station handle all of the trains from both North and South not to mention the inevitable conflicts between freight trains and passenger trains in this area?

As always with these things, the biggest issue will end up being if the benefits outweigh the costs. There is no information given as to just how much the physical works however the report does say that just to run a 15 minute service between Papakura and Manukau would require an additional 3 EMU. Those cost around $7.5 million each to buy and at least $400,000 each per year to run.

It is worth remembering that there is still a lot of development and services to add to the existing network. By the time electrification is finished and all of the electric trains rolled out we are expected to see a train every 10 minutes to/from both Papakura and Manukau. With those higher frequency services and a quick transfer at Puhinui, the benefit of a direct service from the south to Manukau reduces significantly. That means it may only really become a viable after significant growth in Manukau as well as particularly the greenfields expansion that is proposed south of Papakura.

Overall the most interesting thing about the report is that it suggests Auckland Transport are currently working on updating their rail development plan which will set out what they intend to do to improve the rail network out to 2041. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what comes out of it and I wonder if they will still be using the same models which underestimate rail trips?

 

p.s. Nice of the council to use an image from the blog, the map has obviously come from this post.

 

Does a “Manukau Southern Link” make sense?

There has been renewed discussion of a southern rail connection into Manukau Station over the past few days. The catalyst for this discussion seems to have been the Council rejecting a funding bid by Auckland Transport to double-track the north-facing rail connection, with a possible reason for the rejection being some confusion about the proposed north-facing connection and the much desired south-facing connection. If you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about, hopefully the diagram below resolves any confusion, with black showing the existing rail links and red highlighting the missing, but future-proofed, southern link:manukau-rail-connectionsThere is something intuitively logical about having the southern link in place, when you think about Manukau’s role in Auckland as the commercial hub for southern Auckland. For a start, Manukau station is likely to be the destination of more trips than it is the origin of them – because of the proposed (although now on hold) tertiary campus, the shopping centre and the employment in the area. Once the bus station is built that might change to some extent as people catch a feeder bus and then transfer onto the train. But even then I think as many people are likely to be connecting between buses or simply catching a bus to Manukau as they are to be making bus to rail connections. In summary, at least in my mind Manukau city probably serves the area to the south of it more than to the north of it, so providing a rail connection to the north but not one to the south seems counter-intuitive at best – rather silly at worst.

However, looking at how Auckland’s rail network will function in the future the north-facing link at Manukau starts to make a bit more sense – enabling Manukau to become the southern terminus of the eastern line while southern line trains (i.e. those going via Newmarket) will bypass Manukau and head further south. Certainly as I understand it, that will be the post-electrification service patterns with 6 peak trains per hour on the three main lines and two on the Onehunga Line:service-pattern-post-electrificationSo there’s a logical role for a north-facing connection at Manukau in our future rail network. But how might things work in terms of providing a southern link? In my mind there are a couple of options:

  • Continue the eastern line trains from Manukau south to Papakura and potentially onto Pukekohe
  • Run a shuttle train from Papakura/Pukekohe to Manukau with the train terminating there and returning to Papakura/Pukekohe

Let’s look at each option in turn. Firstly with the proposal to continue to run eastern line trains from Manukau to Papakura or Pukekohe. This option would effective mean that the trains simply “detour” from the main trunk line into Manukau before returning to the trunk line and continuing their journey – much like how the 233 bus along Sandringham Road detours down St Lukes road to the mall before returning to Sandringham Road and continuing its journey. The option is shown below as an edit to the earlier diagram:-east-line-to-puke It’s hard to know exactly how long the detour would take but to be reasonable there’s probably a couple of minutes in, then a couple of minutes for the driver to change ends and then a couple of minutes out – perhaps a six minute detour overall, fairly significant.The other disadvantage of this option is that you potentially end up running more train service south of Manukau than you actually need – because you’re running both southern and eastern line trains (with 6 tph on each) all the way down to Papakura. I’m not entirely sure of the loading profile on Auckland’s trains but it seems that most lines slowly build boardings at they head towards the city (the Western has a couple of blips at New Lynn & Mt Albert due to school kids) with maximum loadings on the eastern between Orakei & Britomart, the southern just south of Newmarket and the western just before Grafton station. Needless to say, we’re unlikely to need 12 trains per hour just north of Papakura.

The other option is to run a shuttle between Papakura/Pukekohe and Manukau. Immediately this seems like probably the more viable of the two options – because post electrification the current plan is to run a shuttle train between Papakura and Pukekohe because the wires are only going as far south as Papakura. Extending the shuttle train north to Manukau would provide a service that makes use of the southern link – something like this:puke-man-shuttle
I will get onto analysing the likely cost-effectiveness of extending the shuttle northwards in a minute, but the initial obvious problem with this option is the question of what to do once electrification is extended to Pukekohe – as is currently proposed to occur potentially in the not too distant future. Then we won’t have a diesel shuttle at all – in fact we shouldn’t have any diesel trains on the entire rail network – and therefore this interim solution no longer makes sense and we’re back to either the first option or continuing the shuttle as a duplication of the newly electrified direct service into town. In fact those are pretty much the same thing, come to think of it.

In any case, I think we need to look a bit closer at the cost-effectiveness of additional rail service south of Manukau if we’ve made the decision to not inconvenience those wanting to bypass Manukau (i.e. those travelling from Papakura to Newmarket or Britomart) by forcing them to detour into Manukau. For the shuttle option in particular, we need to look at whether it’s worth running the extra service kilometres between Papakura and Manukau for the number of additional passengers likely to catching the train. In essence, our potential “market” for the southern rail connection are the stations of Homai, Manurewa, Te Mahia (which mysteriously isn’t shown in the RPTP maps), Takanini, Papakura and Pukekohe. In particular, I guess the key point is what would a train service from the south to Manukau offer which is superior to the proposed bus network in the south:manukau-south-bus-network-2016The map above is the proposed 2016 “all day network”, with lines in red indicating the rail system, blue indicating “frequency services” which will run at least every 15 minutes 7am-7pm, every day of the week and the green lines indicating the connector/secondary network that will operate at least half-hourly most hour of the day, every day of the week.

It’s a bit difficult to pick out routes individually but overall it seems like most places are covered fairly well by the all-day network (this is supported by a number of lower frequency routes not shown above) and it also seems like pretty much all the routes feed into Manukau city at their northern end. In other words, pretty much anywhere within walking distance of one of the train stations which form the ‘market’ for a southern connection into Manukau is already proposed to be served by a fairly high frequency regular bus service doing the same thing. Everywhere outside the walkable catchments of the train stations also manages to be served by these bus services that can take passengers to Manukau (which is why we wouldn’t want to do away with those services) as well as feed passengers into the rail network if they want to take trips to areas north of Manukau.

I think I’m finding myself coming to a couple of conclusions here. The first is that Manukau is simply in the wrong place. The idiots who chose to build a new city centre a few kilometres east of the railway line create a geometrical problem that is incredibly challenging to fix – do you divert trains away from where seemingly most people want to go in order to serve the important centre or do you terminate trains at the important centre, creating inefficient outcomes or missing connections?manukau-locationThe second conclusion here is perhaps a recognition of the different roles of buses and trains in the public transport network. To over-simplify a bit, trains work well for longer-distance trips where speed and capacity is of the essence – but at the cost of coverage. Buses work really well for shorter trips because it’s much cheaper to spread them out and cover a wider area, yet they’re pretty slow and relatively low capacity so you don’t want to be running them on incredibly long and high demand routes because that becomes inefficient.

As a result of this second conclusion I think that there is a way to make a southern connection to Manukau work because there are important trips for it to serve – quite long distance trips where speed is important and coverage perhaps less important. That is a shuttle between Pukekohe and Manukau – however I think it is only after the significant greenfield development occurs between Papakura and Pukekohe and we see new stations at Paerata, Drury and perhaps somewhere between the two. Until then I think buses can probably do a better job at providing connections between Manukau and the hinterland to the south than a train can – and probably for a much lower cost.

Should we build the Southern Link at Manukau?

On the agenda for this weeks Transport Committee meeting there is a notice of motion being put forward b George Wood in regard to the southern link at Manukau.

If you don’t know what the southern link is, it is in the image below:

Basically when the Manukau branch was built, it was only constructed with a link to the north however as part of the motorway construction, the NZTA designed the bridge that spans the motorway so that a southern link could be built in the future if needed. Now the thinking for most people is along the lines that as most people who work or visit Manukau come from south of the area then we should build the southern link and at first that seems to make sense but as you look into the issue closer things aren’t so black and white. The first thing we need to consider is how we would run services that would make use of the link.

The first option is that we send some or even all trains heading south into Manukau first and then back out and on south to Papakura. The issue with this of course is that even with electric trains, it would add around 7 minutes to the journey time for anyone who catches the train from south of Manukau to points further north. The other option is a shuttle type service that runs from Manukau to Papakura or perhaps even Pukekohe once electrification has been extended. If we had to choose one option then the second one would be best as it doesn’t inconvenience existing users but the thing is, we are unlikely to be able to justify such a shuttle at anything more than a 15 minute frequency.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the entire urban population south of Manukau is only around 100,000 people and for what is a fairly short journey the only ones who are likely to consider doing using the rail line are those that actually live very close to the station. Further feeder buses in this part of town will mostly flow through to Manukau anyway and there will be an interchange with the station so for most it even with the link in place it would probably still be quicker to stay on the bus than transfer.

Next there isn’t actually a massive amount of employment that isn’t already served by the existing stations. In the map below the entire area contains about 26,000 jobs yet as you can see many of them are already just as close to either Puhinui or Homai. Manukau itself might only have about 10,000 jobs.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly are the costs. Obviously to we would need to pay to build the link and I’m not sure how much that would cost but to run such a train service, would likely require at least 3 additional EMUs to be purchased and operated just for a service to Papakura. Each EMU costs about $7.5m and was estimated in the CRL business case to cost close to $400k to run (although the MOT felt this was undercooked in their review). Including purchase costs, over a 10 year period it would cost over $30 million to provide such service. That money could easily be instead used to provide a substantially better service on the existing bus routes that would benefit a much larger proportion of local population.

All of this doesn’t mean I think it should never be built but before we do we need to consider all of the options. It also really highlights one of the key problems with branch lines in that services have to be split off or extra services run at great cost. Perhaps this situation also highlights the different roles of buses and trains quite nicely. Buses are great for service coverage at relatively low cost and for short trips. Trains are good for high-demand long trips where the focus is more on speed & capacity and less on coverage. Trips between Manukau and the north are likely to be longer than those between Manukau & the south so there’s a logic in the trains focusing more on serving trips linking Manukau with the north than those linking it with the south.

Perhaps when we electrify to Pukekohe and if we open up some of the land between there and Papakura it might be the time to reconsider this but until then, I feel that putting the link it will waste our scarce PT funds that could be better used else where.

History never repeats …. Except for Transport in Auckland

They say that history never repeats but that doesn’t quite seem true when it comes to transport in Auckland. Our transport history is littered with examples of poor planning, bad decisions, underestimated demand, a lack of vision and corner cutting in order to save a few dollars. A couple of prime examples are:

  • The harbour bridge – we have all heard the stories about how the design was cut back to save a little but of money at the time only for traffic volumes to require the capacity to be expanded a decade later. Also cut were things like walking and dedicated PT connections, things that are still missing to this day.
  • Britomart – built at a time when rail patronage was low, its five platforms fed by only two tracks was considered to be sufficient capacity for 50 years yet less than 10 years later we have all but run out of space for more trains at peak times. Electrification will give us longer trains but history shows that will only work for so long.

We can now add the Manukau rail link to that list. There are three major issues I, and others, have with the station:

  1. It stops short short of Manukau – Officials will praise how MIT is building a campus on top of the station but that doesn’t make the location good, even extending it just another 150m would have made a huge difference and the campus could still have had a direct exit for students, like how the Westpac building is now at Britomart.
  2. That there is no Southern link – This means that the only way to access the station from the south by train, which would likely be it’s largest catchment, would be to get a train to Puhinui and transfer to a train heading back to Manukau. The NZTA even designed the motorway for it which can clearly be seen in aerial photos, they even built the formation for it so it would be easy to build in the future.
  3. That the station appears not to have been designed in a way that would allow for future extension.

I remember reading some information on this a few years ago on the first point and so went looking for it and what I found surprised me. This story was in the Herald on 1st April 2008 but is no April Fools joke

The council decided last week that an estimated extra cost of $10 million to bring the line 60m east of Davies Ave, into a carpark near its headquarters, was too high when it was trying to stop rates from rising more than 4.9 per cent.

That followed advice from Government agency Ontrack that its budget of about $50 million towards the $72 million link from the main trunk line at Puhinui would not extend past a 9m-deep trench on the western side of Davies Ave, except for a basic pedestrian underpass to the carpark.

Although that would still leave passengers 140m short of the civic offices, and even further from the Southmall shopping centre, the station would be on the doorstop of a potential tertiary education development in Hayman Park.

Most people would probably agree that 60m doesn’t sound like much, especially when it would cost $10m but it can make a massive difference to peoples perception and use of the station. There is meant to be an underpass into the carpark from the station except when I visited the other day, there was no sign of it and no one else seems to know what happened to it either. We also learn that the MIT campus wasn’t even agreed to at the time, in fact another report I found indicated they were looking at several different options so there was a chance nothing would have been built on top of the station.

So what about that Southern link and future proofing the station

But Forum for Auckland Sustainable Transport spokesman Bevan Woodward, representing a coalition of several groups such as Walk Auckland and his own Cycle Action Auckland, said similar limited thinking was behind capacity constraints already emerging at the Britomart rail terminal.

“We have to future-proof these things and start getting it right,” he said

Mr Woodward’s coalition wants provisions for a rail link to be extended east in a loop through Botany Downs to Panmure, rather than relying on feeder buses to bring passengers to an interchange at the proposed Manukau rail-head.

Although Manukau transport planners are prepared to envisage replacing buses with a light-rail link through the east once the population grows large enough in new suburbs such as Flat Bush and Dannemora, they believe it would be too difficult to run heavy trains under or over the Southern Motorway.

But Mr Woodward said that should not be insurmountable, and noted that a road flyover of the motorway was already being built with full Government funding as part of the $210 million link between State Highways 1 and 20.

And

Manukau councillor Bob Wichman said he had always believed the rail link was to extend to Dannemora, and he was disappointed by the limited nature of what was now proposed.

“We are being told we are getting less and less for our buck,” he told fellow councillors, after hearing that the link would initially serve only rail movements to and from central Auckland, and that it might be 10 years before Manukau could be linked to stations further south.

Even back then it appears there was never any real plans to allow the line to be hooked up to the South but next is the part that really pisses me off.

But Manukau Mayor Len Brown said that, while he remained committed to early planning for rapid public transport to and from his eastern suburbs, the priority was to accept the money already on offer from the Government.

If his council hesitated in doing that, it risked having the money reallocated “to other squeaky wheels, and there are lots of squeaky wheels in transport”.

He told the Herald that although light rail might become more viable than buses to and from the east, there would always have to be some form of interchange at central Manukau, as he would not countenance extending heavy rail to his suburban hinterland.

“You can’t do it in local residential areas and I’m not going to.”

So Len Brown seemed to care more about getting some money from the government and saying he signed the project off than getting the best solution for his constituents and the region. What’s more he also ruled out the possibility of ever extending the line in the future which is just plain lunacy. It even appears from this document in September 2007 that both Ontrack and ARTA strongly preferred the station to have a central platform which at least would have made it a bit easier to extend but that appears to have been ignored somewhere along the way. Of course all of this wasn’t helped by other councillors like Dick Quax who hates rail and who pushed for the whole thing to be delayed like this article from 2007 indicates (without a doubt he would have tried to push out the decision again and again).

Now of course this is old news and with the exception of the southern link there isn’t a great deal we can do about these issues right now but just the other day we heard something even more concerning. That Auckland Transport and the Council are looking at how they can cut costs from the CRL. In particular they are looking at cutting out stations which would negatively impact potential patronage. Even more concerning is that they are looking to drop the Eastern connection which would mean it was not possible for trains to get to the CRL tunnel from Newmarket. Here is a comment from that post that describes exactly why that Eastern link is needed

As a network modeller who did some investigatory work on this project a year or two ago, I cannot understand the statement that “current modelling shows its more “efficient” with only 1 direction of link”. The modelling I did envisaged a triangular junction at Mt Eden and crucial to the scheme was the creation of a “CBD Loop” which the east-facing spur would achieve. The pattern of service that I modelled was that all trains entering the CBD would travel around the loop and exit by the same or by another route, with the loop linking the inbound and outbound journeys together into one. Thus nothing “terminated” in the CBD. This is exactly how both Sydney and Melbourne structure their services with a high degree of success. And combined with additional CBD stations, this gets right away from the flawed notion that focussing the entire service on a single CBD access-point will suffice, and that it is somehow OK to “inject” thousands of travellers into the CBD at this one point and expect them happily to disperse under their own steam.
My objective with the Auckland model was to demonstrate the feasibility of a 10-minute peak frequency on all lines, combining to give a 5-minute frequency in each direction around the loop. Under this model, the east-facing spur carried significantly more traffic than the western one, and without it the concept of a CBD Loop would be effectvely lost.

I am concerned that there are decision-makers out there who are not fully aware of what this scheme is all about and what it is capable of delivering. The danger in allowing politicians to pare it back to fit under some arbitrary bar of cost-acceptability, is that a lot of money could still end up being spent on something that proves ineffective. I also wonder whether there may be areas of overdesign in the scheme from which costs could more effectively be cut. I am mindful that at the reinstated Parnell Station, someone considered it necessary to spend a lot of money altering the gradient profiles to make the track through the station less steep (was 1 in 40, now 1 in 80), and the track approaching the station even steeper (was 1 in 45, now 1 in 37.5). I question the need for this, given that stations on Wellington’s Johnsonville Line have managed quite acceptably at 1 in 40 for many years. Maybe in Parnell’s case there are reasons that I am unaware of, but the tendency to insist on “rolls-royce standards” can kill the viability of otherwise worthwhile projects. If cost-savings are are to be made on the CRL scheme, they need to be made competently in a way that will not leave a gold-plated white elephant.

The CRL got overwhelming support as part of the Auckland plan with 80% of people agreeing with the need for it now and this is without the council doing anything to even promote the project (because their current attempts have been pathetic), if they did a proper job of informing the public about what the project actually was and why it is needed then that would put the pressure on the government to support it and cough up some money for it. Sadly in light of what has happened previously at Manukau when Len was in charge it seems we could be seeing exactly the same tactics, get the price low enough to secure the government funding even if that means critically damaging the whole project.  When it comes to transport in Auckland it seems that history definitely does repeat and is doomed to keep doing so.

Manukau Station Open Day Photos

I popped down to Manukau today to have a look through the station with the open day that AT held, here are my thoughts and some photos.

The main entrance is through a few shipping containers, not the most elegant but understandable considering there is a building being built over the station at the moment.

There are currently two ways to get down to the platform, as you can see everything is still very much a work in progress compared to what it should eventually look like on the right.

And here’s another view from the platform level, the escalators must be going in at a later date (the free sausage sizzle was nice although sadly I don’t think that it is a permanent feature)

Here is a view from the other end of the platform looking back towards the main set of stairs. One thing I was pleased with was that the shelters extended almost all of the way down the platform, only the part in the foreground of the right image was uncovered. A train was also put on doing runs back and forth along the line to Puhinui Station but one thing I couldn’t understand was why they put on they did it with one of the oldest and noisiest trains in the fleet, surely an SA set would have been a better look.

Now for my criticisms, as the picture below shows, at the bottom of the stairs there is an open area similar to Britomart. This means that if we ever woke up to idea of extending the line towards Botany we would probably be prevented from doing so due to the station design, at the very least it would be incredibly costly to fix this issue meaning it is likely to never be able to happen.

The other main concern is something I have raised before and that is the location, this is the image that greets people when they exit the station, a sea of carparks. Those carparks should eventually be redeveloped but who knows how many years away that will be.

While out there I also popped up the road to the other major AT project happening in the area at the moment, something I have heard described as the biggest PT project after the electrification works. This is the first of two multi story carparks that are being built which is intended to allow for the land in the image above to be released for development. I can understand the strategy and agree that it is better in a building than spread out at ground level but I am concerned that if the ground level parking is not removed as soon as this opens it will become expected that this is just in addition to what exists now. The problem would be than when redevelopment occurs locals will expect even more parking to be replaced. AT have also talked about some of the space in this building being used as a Park n Ride and setting aside the issue of having a Park n Ride in a built up area like this, the building is about 250m away from the station. While not that far to walk, that time has to be added to the rest of the journey time which would probably make it easier just to stay in the car and drive all of the way.

And here is an image which shows the car park in relation to the station.

Manukau Station opens tomorrow

If you count the tracks into Britomart as just reinstating a line that used to exist (which is true, although originally the tracks were at ground level), then the Manukau branch is the first piece of new track added to Auckland’s rail system since 1930 – when what we know now as the Eastern Line was constructed. This makes tomorrow’s opening of the branch (when normal timetables commence), along with the newly built Manukau Station, quite exciting.

The official opening of the station was last week, and today there is an open day for people to see through it and take short train rides. This is described further by Auckland Transport:

Auckland Transport is holding a community open day for the public to view the new Manukau Station and ride on the new rail line on Saturday 14 April from 11.30am to 2pm.

There will be station tours and information about the second stage of the station construction, short train rides, face painting, a celebrity sausage sizzle and music from DJ Sir-Vere. Parking is available in the Auckland Council staff car park.

Passenger services from the new station begin operating this Sunday 15 April.

Initially, Manukau Station will have three trains an hour in peak times and one train an hour at other times.

The 580 bus service from Botany, Flat Bush and Redoubt Rd will be extended to Manukau Station, and services increased, to provide a connection between trains and these suburbs.

A temporary entrance to the station on Davies Ave, next to Hayman Park, will be in place while construction continues above ground.

The second stage of the project is a $95 million integrated transport hub and tertiary campus at the Manukau city centre site.

Things are likely to start off fairly low-key for the new station – with the initial timetable somewhat disappointing and only one bus route integrated. However, over time this will change as the tertiary campus is constructed and as Manukau becomes the primary transport hub for all of south Auckland. The integration of this campus with the train station seems like it has been done really well – and in my opinion it’s a pretty groovy design too: 


Over time I also hope that some of those hugely wide roads surrounding the station will be narrowed down and made more pedestrian friendly. In any case, tomorrow is a huge step towards making Manukau City Centre a much nicer and less car dependent place.

Manukau Timetable is out

The new timetable that includes Manukau is now available on MAXX. If you want to catch a train from there in the morning, arriving at Britomart between roughly 8am and 9am you have the following options:

  • 7:16 via Glen Innes
  • 7:37 via Newmarket
  • 7:57 via Glen Innes
  • 8:18 via Glen Innes

Each will take roughly 40 minutes to get to Britomart. To those that want to be on the very first revenue service to use the station you will want to catch the 7:26am from Manukau to Britomart on Sunday 15th April (I think I will most likely still be in bed) while the first revenue service to arrive at the station will leave Britomart at 7:06 and get there at 7:46. This does raise its own questions as it means train and it’s crew will sit around at the station for 40 minutes before making another run, hardly an efficient use of resources and something I hope gets fixed up quickly.

One thing I am very disappointed about though is that the only real timetable changes are to add in Manukau when last year Auckland Transport promised on a number of occasions that the new timetable would include improvements to the western line which simply haven’t happened.

Manukau Train Station gets a date (and images)

Another press release from Auckland Transport yesterday, this time confirming that the Manukau line and station will open on April 15.

First stage of Manukau Station opens soon

The first stage of Auckland’s newest train station and the first rail line since the 1930s will open in Manukau on 15 April.

When passengers begin using the first stage of the Manukau Station development they will enter through a temporary station entrance to the completed platform areas in a rail trench below ground level.

Construction will be continuing above ground on the second stage, a $95 million integrated transport hub and tertiary campus at the Manukau city centre site next to Hayman Park.

When complete in 2013, the new station entrance will be on the ground floor of the Manukau Tertiary Centre. When this second stage opens it will have high quality facilities, including a ticket office, with easy connections between trains and buses leaving just outside the station entrance.

Auckland Transport and Auckland Council have partnered with Manukau Institute of Technology in the development. Kiwirail have built the 2km rail line from the Southern Line to Manukau city centre.

Auckland Transport, train operator Veolia Transport and Kiwirail are working together on the start of new services to Manukau.

For initial services Manukau Station will have three trains an hour in peak times and one train an hour at other times.

Buses from Botany, Flat Bush and Redoubt Rd will be extended to Manukau Station, providing a connection between buses and trains. Further bus services will be extended to the station next year, with it expected to eventually become the main bus hub for south Auckland.

In the future, about 600,000 passengers a year are expected to use the train station, a similar level to Newmarket, only Britomart will be busier. About 1.2 million people are expected to eventually use the bus station each year.

Auckland Transport Public Transport Operations Manager Mark Lambert says passengers can expect a similar standard of station to New Lynn and Newmarket when the Manukau transport hub is fully complete next year.

“What is opening soon is just the beginning of the station development and train services in preparation for the arrival of new electric trains.

“Auckland Transport, Veolia and Kiwirail have agreed on a phased introduction of rail services to Manukau. We are continuing to review with Veolia the timetable to see what improvements can be made on other parts of the rail network.”

Veolia Transport Managing Director Graham Siberry says says “Everyone is delighted to be helping add a new branch line service and we will work hard to continue to deliver an excellent rail service and grow the network. It’s wonderful to see customers choosing rail in increasing numbers.”

The Mayor says it is great news that trains will soon start running to Manukau city centre.

“People can also look forward to a really high quality station building opening next year as part of the Manukau Tertiary Centre.

“The Manukau Station and rail line is a classic example of the transport infrastructure that would be built from revenue generated from the Council’s Alternative Transport Funding Sources programme.

“Existing funding sources fall well short of what is required to provide the facilities and systems to move people and goods efficiently and in a co-ordinated manner by road, rail and sea in greater Auckland.  At least $10-$15 billion of alternative funding is required to meet the transport needs of a rapidly growing population, estimated to be 2.5million in 2030.”

I find it interesting that they persist with calling it the first new rail line in Auckland since the 1930s as technically I would call Britomart a new line and that opened in 2003. As I said the other day, I am quite concerned about only having 1 train per hour in the off peak, especially if Manukau is meant to be one of the key transfer stations and hubs on the network. I am also disappointed that Auckland Transport have gone back on their promise to have 10 minute frequencies out west, some they advertised heavily late last year would happen at the same time (they were first promised for the September 2010 timetable).

Here are a couple of images of what the campus and station will look like when they are all finished.

The Mythical Projects of Auckland Transport

This post isn’t about the Taniwha in the way of the City Rail Link but those projects and services that have been talked about or promised by various agencies for years but never seem to come to fruition. Some may even be able to be crossed off the list shortly but until they officially happen I will leave them on there.

Seeing as I already mentioned it I will start with the CRL which is probably the most prominent of all of them having been suggested and investigated at various times since at least the 1920’s but there are plenty of others on the list. Things seem to have gotten fairly quiet on this from both the council and Auckland Transport in the last few months

Manukau Station with Campus

 

 

 

Manukau Rail Link – This was originally meant to open in late 2010 but has yet to see a paying passenger after it quietly slipped to 2011 and was then put off till 2012 to avoid clashing with the RWC. It was then meant to open this month and was again quietly pushed back until March but there are rumours it has slipped yet again.

Those following the project will probably know that the Manukau Instutite of Technology is building a campus above the station, the eye on Auckland blog has some pictures of what this is meant to look like but here is one of the building that will eventually rise above the station

 

 

 

 

 

Integrated Ticketing – This has been wanted for possibly decades yet we are still waiting for it. It has had so many false starts that it would have been disqualified had it been a sport in the Olympics  and still it plods on with only vague dates as to when it might eventually see the light of day for real

 

This was from during the Christmas closure

 

 

 

 

Real time Displays for trains – Another long time coming project and something that has continually been promised but has yet to be delivered. It is made even stranger by the fact we have had the technology (sort of) for buses for ages yet trains which one would think was easier to implement still can’t be done. Electronic displays have now be installed at a quite a few stations and the format of the messages have now been updated to make them easier to read but still no sign of real time information which AT promised would be live by the RWC.

 

 

 

Recently extended Henderson Stabling Yard

 

 

Strand Stabling Facility – This might not sound that glamorous but could be quite important in helping to reduce our operating costs.  The intention is to build a stabling facility on the rail land near the strand where trains not being used could be stored during the day and night. The advantage of this is it saves them having to travel all the way back empty to Westfield and in a few years Wiri. It means less fuel used, less driver time needed and better use of our assets. I have found references to designs for this from the earliest ARTA reports I can find (around July 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

Extenstion of the NW Cycleway – In early 2010 the latest extension of the NW cycleway was opened which extended over 1km which provides an almost continuous path all the way from Bond St to Te Atatu. At the time of opening this the NZTA proclaimed:

With the Kingsland section nearing completion, the NZTA is now focussing on extending the Northwestern Cycleway further into central Auckland.

An investigation is underway to find a suitable route through Upper Queen Street, the Central Motorway Junction and along Grafton Gully to the Auckland University of Technology and Auckland University. The NZTA plans to have the 3 kilometre long-extension completed in 2011.

Well 2011 has been and gone and there has not been a squeak out of the NZTA about any plans to extend it further.

 

Extension of B Line services / high frequency servicesB Line services are meant to be high frequency corridors with a guaranteed level of service and while this it was just a trial and not something that was never actually promised to be rolled out further I still think it should be on here. It was trialled on Dominion Rd and Mt Eden Rd and from some of evidence that came out it had quite a positive impact on patronage numbers but since then we haven’t heard anything.

 

 

 

 

There are probably heaps of other projects out there that have either disappeared into the either never to be heard from again or have seen their timeframe continually slip so what are they. Also I think it we should give a name for these projects so in the comments please suggest some names of mythical creatures to associate with these mythical projects.