Some exciting news hidden in the agenda of next week’s ARC Transport and Urban Development committee meeting, that the next step is being taken towards making a railway line to the airport a reality. The full item can be read from pages 8-21 of this document. Some previous work has been undertaken into the airport line, but this MOU between all involved parties is a critical step forwards to making the line a reality. It was an MOU between the various parties that led to the current progress being made on the CBD rail tunnel.

Here’s a brief outline of the item:

Regardless of the timeframes for actually constructing the line, I think that we need to protect its route alignment as soon as possible – and this is an excellent first step towards that.

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  1. Great news but with the supercity coming this year what is to stop the council or AT from canceling this study? Also it does seem like a good idea to not only protect the route now but plan any works alongside roading upgrades.

    Next hopefully they can do the same thing for the far east of the city.

  2. Well of course the new council could cancel an investigation to protect future transport options to the airport, but that would be really really stupid I think. As I noted above this is pretty much exactly the same process as what’s happening with the CBD rail tunnel. Reading through the MOU in detail it will leads to detailed designs, notice of requirement documentation and a business case analysis.

  3. It’s being partly funded by NZTA so I am sure they’ll make sure there is some continuity in this project. I’m also sure they’re aware there’s a switch over coming up and will make sure it’s not lost during this process in someone’s back drawer.

  4. I think because the airport line depends on first having the CBD tunnel we can focus our attentions on that (construction wise) but a protected route is very important for ensuring one day we get an airport line…

  5. If you read the proposed text of the Memorandum of Understanding (attached to the ARC Transport & Urban Development Committee meeting agenda) you will see that the first stage of the proposed study is to do an assessment of alternative modes, so it is not necessarily a done deal that a rail corridor will be the preferred outcome. A bus way a la the Northern Bus way may still emerge as the favoured solution.

    1. Alphatron – a study was completed in 2008 that looked at the best way to serve the area, it looked at a busway, light rail, and a few options for heavy rail. It identified that heavy rail from Onehunga to the Airport and then out to Manukau was the best option. I think this study is to go into further detail to determine exactly where the line should go so they can designate it.

  6. I don’t think that is likely given the conclusions of the ARTA report. They basically said that it would cost about the same to build a busway as rail, except the busway has poorer connections to the existing route (i.e. you’d have to build a busway all the way to town, or dump in onto the local road network halfway), and would result in less patronage.
    The operation costs of a busway would be much cheaper though.

  7. I don’t know if operational costs of a busway would be that much lower in the longer term, if you consider greater staffing costs and fuels costs of buses v trains.

    The previous study suggested heavy rail was definitely the best option.

  8. I got the feeling for rail the considered the operating cost to be the whole shebang, including the payments on new trains, but for buses they only worked out what the subsidy costs to bus operators would be.

  9. Ahhh… yes well I guess if you add the cost of buying trains then that makes a big difference, particularly if you don’t factor in the cost of buying buses.

  10. Assuming it happens, just running rail beside motorways makes for an under-utilised resource. The Motorway effectively cuts off access from one side; look at the use of those stations on the Southern Motorway. Wouldn’t it be great to link Mangere Bridge Township and Mangere Town Centre along the way to the airport? This would make for so much greater connectivity across South West AK, especially if the dimwits actually took the line all the way into the Manukau City Centre [and of course beyond]…. Its not just about getting travellers from Britomart onto planes but also getting staff out there and linking communities. South AK is a planning disaster and a well planned line across the area could really transform the civic centres already there and peoples lives. So Onehunga to Mangere Bridge, cut and cover down Coronation Road and Bader Drive before following George Bolt to the terminals and the easier run through to Manukau City. More expensive but so much better. Of course it should be a loop but the Southern part, Wiri to airport is pretty straightforward, and could be put in relatively cheaply. It would make for yet another dead-end line, but I’m sure each of these little additions are adding a momentum to getting real support for the network… Mangere Bridge would become a really good place to live with a rail connection…

    1. Vincent, I agree that going down the motorway corridor is not ideal in terms of catchment. However, in terms of available corridors, the motorway probably has the best chance. I’m pretty sure all plans have had stations at Mangere Bridge and Mangere Town Centre. They’d be a big generator of commuter traffic to help patronage.

      Here’s the previous study:

  11. I agree that the motorway alignment may not always be best – but putting a new rail line through existing residential areas where there are no corridors free for it is (at least somewhat) as disruptive as putting a new motorway through it. So I think the motorway corridor – is it. And good pedestrian / cycling access bridges can mitigate a lot of the barrier issue for station access, if not the catchment issue itself.

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