I attended Auckland Transports media briefing yesterday for the City Rail Link. Much of the information from the presentation has already been reported on various news sites around the web so I thought I would post some of my impressions as well as some of the images that they have provided. As mentioned already, the main purpose was to confirm that the exact route for the CRL has been finalised and AT have worked out just which properties they will need. In some cases they will need to buy the entire property but in other cases they may just need to purchase the subsurface rights. None of the properties that need to be purchased contain heritage or character buildings and some of the properties will be able to be sold and developed again once the tunnel is completed. This is broken down as per below:

Of course a big part of the CRL is the economic justification for it, we didn’t hear any updates to this but I am aware that there is quite a bit of work going on behind the scenes to clarify things. Positively as part of the presentation, the CEO of AT repeated a few of the things that we have been saying for some time including:

  • That this isn’t a loop and trains won’t go around it in circles
  • That this isn’t just about the CBD and that the impacts will actually be felt more out in the suburbs from quicker journey times, higher frequencies and better connectivity
  • That this is also to deal with a capacity issue as Britomart will hit capacity in 2020
  • That one rail line can carry 10 times the number of people that a motorway lane can (he repeated this a few times)
  • That there simply isn’t enough room in the CBD for the amount of buses that would be needed should we not build this

About the only thing that he didn’t say that I wish he had was that without the CRL we don’t have the capacity for things like lines to the airport. One thing I do like in the image below is that they have called the CRL a ‘Network Enhancement’ which again is probably to reflect that it not just about the CBD but the entire rail network. AT have also confirmed in the presentation that any future North Shore line will connect to the CRL at the Aotea Station which will enable us to eventually develop the rail network into a cross pattern like we have talked about on the blog in the past.

And here is a map showing the exact route, the CRL will take:

The blue sections will be cut and cover while the orange parts will be dug using a tunnel boring machine, the TBM can’t be extended further north as it would be too shallow. A few other things to note is that the eastern link is included as are all stations as well as a new station named the Inner West Interchange station which would be just to the west of Dominion Rd. My understanding is that at this stage, AT are including all options in the NOR stage just in case they need them. The inner west station would be used as a place to terminate trains should the eastern link not be built so it could be a case of one or the other. And here is what the vertical alignment looks like:

Lastly this wasn’t shown in the presentation but here are a few other images AT have provided, first how the trains will get through Britomart:

And what the Aotea station could look like, if it is accurate then I love the extra wide platform. It is probably also one of the few cases where the number of people put in this type of image is actually less than what it would be in reality

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  1. Wow that long-section map of the whole route highlights how deep Newton Station really is.

    Any discussion of staging stations? Any details of the design/layout of this Inner West Interchange? Any further information on when the notice of requirement for the designation might be lodged and then notified?

    Herald article today confirms that Westfield downtown will need to be demolished. Yay! http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10817246

    1. Staging of stations was asked and the answer was that no decision has been made yet but that they are making sure they have the land available for them.

      No designs of the inner west station and no discussion on train routing.

      NOR will be lodged in a few months.

    2. “Herald article today confirms that Westfield downtown will need to be demolished. Yay!”
      Thank jeebus for that! Step one of the transformation there. Presumably we’ll see a big tower pop up, but lets hope the ground floor and frontages are an improvement on the current dog of a building!

      1. I understood that the Britomart platforms were alighed for the rails to pass between the foundations of the (then Air NZ) building,

        cut and cover’s going to make a real mess of the CBD for a while! North Shore buses back to the Victoria St route?

        1. There is a new simplified and streamlined bus network planned for Auckland which will be in place before the CRL dig starts, that should make the mitigation a lot easier.

      2. Be nice to see that super-block (Queen, Customs, Albert & Quay) broken up with an east-west lane actually.

  2. It’s things like this that gets one all enthused and excited about the possibility of Auckland being a great city one day. [/wistful thinking]

  3. “But Automobile Association spokesman Simon Lambourne, although agreeing that a route should be protected, said his organisation questioned whether it should run under Albert St rather than closer to the growth area of Wynyard Quarter.” How’s this work? I assume this means take it to Wynyard and then up the motorway corridor.

    1. The AA is retarded on public transport matters, so it doesn’t work. I really don’t see why you would go goo goo over a tunnel to a growth area at Wynyard (which will eventually have around 10,000 job places and a smaller number of residences) over the core of the existing CBD (which already has around 60,000 jobs and 20,000 residences).

      Good one AA, let’s make the tunnel much longer, less direct and more expensive to service less than a quarter of the people.

    2. The primary purpose of the AA’s comments seems to be to inject some confusion into the debate to try and get the public questioning the project.

  4. Sorry, a frivolous post I know, but they could have used our trains in the artist impression. No yellow doors for one thing! Must have been created some time ago.

    1. There has also been a bit of “artistic license” with the train images. One of the cars on the right appear to show a car only two windows long with no doors !?!, while the EMU are 5 or 6 car sets,

  5. great to see it progressing but I do worry about the depth of Newton and K rd station. From the deep subway stations Ive been in overseas they were always slightly uncomfortable and quite a hassle to get out of. After arriving at the station you still have to walk for another 5 minutes and take numerous escalators.

    I wonder if they can try to include some entrances at lower levels through tunnels to the south or north. … for instance, from the diagram above, a level tunnel from the central fire station area which would connect into K rd station. It wouldnt seem as deep if you had an exit option at say 20m above the rail platform as opposed to going all the way up to the top at 33m

    1. Considering the depth at K Rd there are plenty of opportunities for entrances. For example you could have a pedestrian concourse and escalators starting at southern end of the station box, that would be almost at the intersection of K and Queen by the time it got to surface level.

    2. The Pitt St station would be almost under Myers Park right? An entrance from there couldn’t hurt…

  6. Interestingly the CEO of The New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development said on Newstalk ZB this morning that it is likely that the project will cost up to $10billion.

    Furthermore, he criticised the route selection; instead preferring a route which encompassed Wynyard Quarter and the University which would not connect to the Western Line directly.

    1. I love how all the road lobbyists know sooooo much about transit network design…. and so helpful with their advice too. The AA and NZCID have had it all their way for so long that they just can’t understand that they aren’t being listened to.

      1. A route encompassing Wynard quarter and the University would almost certainly cost 10 billion. Probably more of a loop configuration. I think the link achieves most of the objectives. Nothing to stop extending the tram service for Wynard quarter. Further underground work could be considered many years out.

  7. Interesting that the network map shows the Western line terminating at Swanson. I know that this is the limit of the EMU service and everybody seems to agree privately that Waitakere station is a waste of space but has deleting it from the network been previously signalled?

    Apologies if I’ve missed something somewhere.

  8. Hard to see that placement of the ‘interchange station’ as in anyway optimal. Too far west; too close to Kingsland, and if it was under Dominion Rd it would both be able to interact with buses there and service populations on both sides of that barrier much more effectively. Dominion Rd needs a re-build at this area anyway, but of course this would be more expensive.
    Also seems a shame to be giving up yet more land in this area to transport infrastructure, although again a building platform could cover this station at a cost.

    Of course, in my view the station is unnecessary if the eastern link is built as well at the southern portal. If it works out I see no problem with retaining the Mt Eden Station on the Grafton line only although only because it is already there, again it is hardly in an optimal location.

    1. The placement of the interchange station is optimal for engineering purposes, and that only. I can’t help but think the whole concept is an example of arse about face planning: design infrastructure around trackwork constraints, then pop off and try and fit some sort of service schedule to it. If they were doing it properly they’d start with a service plan, fit the appropriate stations in where they have maximum connectivity and catchment, then design the infrastructure to suit… but if they did that we wouldn’t be talking about this interchange idea, they’d have just gone with the eastern link. After all, the goal isn’t simply to construct a railway line, it’s to create an efficient rapid transit system.

      I get the feeling Mt Eden will have to go or be moved in any case. It would be badly placed to get any real service frequency, and would be mere minutes walk from Newton station.

      1. Exactly… that syndrome seems to be an endemic issue in the field.

        When I suggested that the train design should be customer focussed and all about delivering an enhanced experience for the user like good airlines do I got shouted at by stakeholders from the opposite end of the service chain.

        Still I think it is a good idea to protect a route for a wide range of running patterns at this stage and with the lodgement out of the way then we can get serious about optimal running patterns, and then commit to what is best to build.

      2. Mt Eden should still have a regular frequency, as presumably half the Western trains will go straight to Newmarket, then enter the CRL from the Britomart end. Otherwise, you force all the Newmarket passengers to go via the CRL, adding 15 minutes to their journey. Ideally you would have a 50/50 split between western trains going clockwise or anti-clockwise into the CRL.

        1. Loopy service patterns should be avoided all costs. Inefficient & needlessly complicated. Halves the effective frequency from stations near the junction (no ones going to go the long way round when its quicker to get a direct service). Better off with transfers for Newmarket at a much higher frequency than excessive fetishing of the single seat journey. Keep it simple…

          1. How would you transfer to Newmarket if no trains are running through Mt Eden? What you advocate is forcing all Grafton/Newmarket/south transfer passengers to go the long way around (by running all western trains into the CRL first). Better to run half of them that way, and the other half via Newmarket first. Then people have a choice.

          2. If you have Newton station and the eastern link, passengers can easily change trains at Newton to travel from the west to Newmarket.

        2. Services won’t loop, it’s horribly inefficient and would be basically impossible without major modifications to Newmarket junction, and as Kegan say’s it halves the frequency. Even with high frequency why loop anyway, who is going to want to sit on a train for a 9km detour via seven stations to get to the last on the loop? Nobody.

          In any case, why would a 50/50 split be ideal? I really doubt 50% of western line passengers will be going to Newmarket, more like 10%. The vast majority are going to be headed to the tunnel stations. No point adding 15 minutes to 90% of the passengers trips to save 15 minutes for 10%!

          1. It’s no different to the long standing 50/50 split of southern trains from Westfield Junction. Half go to Britomart via GI, and half to Britomart via Penrose. It gives passengers a choice, and covers more stations than having one route. Yes, the frequency is halved, but that doesn’t matter if it just means a 5 min frequency splits into two routes of 10 min frequencies. That’s plenty.

          2. I still can’t see why you’d want to retain the stupid Newmarket reverse. One of the great things about the CRL is the ability to get rid of that.

          3. Huge difference. On the Southern/Eastern demand for travel each way is roughly even and the travel time to Britomart almost identical. If only 10% of people south of Westfield were headed one way and that way took an extra 15 minutes, why the heck would you send half the trains along it?!

            And you couldn’t have 5 min frequencies on the Western Line if you looped and alternated. That would mean 24 movements over Newmarket junction each hour from the Western Line alone, let alone the Southern and Onehunga lines. If you wanted to run the southern lines through Newmarket also it would be more like 10 min frequencies on the Western at max, or every 20 minutes per loop direction. So half the time that gives people the ‘choice’ of sitting on a train going the long way round for an extra 15 minutes, or sitting at the station for an extra 10 extra minutes waiting for the right train to turn up.

            Looping half the trains could only mean one of two things, half the trains overcrowded and half nearly empty; or half the trains loaded with people wasting a whole lot of time passing round the long way through a bunch of trackage and stations they aren’t wanting to go to. Probably the latter to be fair, people will tend to just get on the next train that comes along. But why would you want to waste those peoples time, waste those service-km and staffing hours? It’s just an inefficient detour that few people will use, but everyone has to pay for.

    2. I use Mt Eden station a wee bit, usually for getting on the Western line to head home after a few drinks. It seems the least used of all the inner stations on the line (Baldwin, Morningside, Kingsland, Grafton) – would be nice to have the 2012 station boarding data.
      I can’t help but feel it won’t be missed with the Newton station providing better catchment around Eden Tce, and a better placed new station just east of Dominion Rd (an opportunity to rebuild/dismantle the NNR overbridge perhaps) to pick up coverage from Mt Eden north of View Rd. This of course presumes the eastern link is built from Newton to Grafton – seems absurd to have a station placed between the two intersections of said link. I hope those at Auckland Transport who see sense continue to work for the link to be built in the primary stage.

      1. Yes I think there is an argument for a well sited replacement for the Mt Eden Station under Dom rd as part of a rebuilt intersection, especially if Newton is to be delayed [staged]. Any further west it is too close to Kingsland. Downside is that it delays the bulk of western line travellers for a currently smallish number [at Mt Eden]. That could well change though with the CRL and with a well placed station with direct access to both sides of Dom Rd…? But then i still see value in direct west-south services and this would be a useful transfer between them:


        1. I think it is situated reasonably well for catchment purposes. Pedestrian access would be through George St(presumably closed) and Charles St. That patch of northern Dominion Road (esp West side) is ripe for intensification. Having the station more towards Porters Ave would double up on the Newton station catchment.
          Sadly the Domionion Road interchange will only be able to be demolished post CBDRL, and this station could help reduce traffic through there, and increase support for its demolition. I wouldnt want the $100 million cost added to the CBDRL, and Fanshawe demolition a higher priority.

  9. I notice waitakere wasn’t on that rail map even tho pukekohe is. A sign it’s going to be closed soon?

    1. OK, I’m particularly interested in Swanson being/becoming the end of the line too… I’m looking at buying land near Waitakere station to build a house.

      It’s confirmed that the EMU’s won’t go out that far? Am I to become a local lobbyist? Say it ain’t so.

      1. I’m sorry to say that I think they will terminate in Swanson, as very few people use Waitakere station

        1. Until 2009 Swanson and Waitakere were in the same fare stage, but then ARTA made Swanson-Waitakere its own fare stage. This discourages people from using Waitakere, and driving to Swanson instead. The financial disincentive, along with irregular service, results in Waitakere station patronage being lower than what its natural level would be at if these disincentives were not in place.

          1. I find it hard to believe that they’d be building a 3rd platform at Swanson as I’m lead to believe they are going to do for a deisel shuttle, if they had it in their minds to close Waitakere.

          2. It wouldn’t be the first time Auckland has built something it’s never going to use, or built something only to rip it out and move it. Take a look at the Wellington St on-ramp for example.

      2. Electrification definitely isn’t being extended to Waitakere. There are a couple of issues, one is that the tunnel would need to be lowered and that would be quite expensive. Tied into that is that patronage at the station is very very low and hasn’t improved at all over the last decade. Only about 100 people board trains at Waitakere each day so it makes little difference to the overall network yet adds quite a bit operational costs. Group those things together and there become serious questions about whether it should be retained let alone electrified.

        The only way that electrification or even retention of rail services could be justified is if there was substantial development that occurred around the station but locals don’t support that and would actively fight it.

        1. Also given the size of Waitakere village one can assume that the majority of passengers there are park n riding in from the rural northwest. Once frequent electric trains go in as far as Swanson we can assume the park n riders will head there instead, and Waitakere station would become very quiet indeed.

  10. Off topic but serious question – has anyone ever considered the cost of covering the Northwestern motorway from, say, Bond Street to Newton gully and re-establising the through streets with model residential and light commercial development? Or is that just crazy talk?

    1. Sanctuary one of the great ironies of surrendering your inner city to massive motorway systems is that they not only amount to very poor land use on the area that they occupy directly but that they lower the value of land in the surrounding areas through severance and general degradation.

      Which is a long way round to saying that the resultant building platforms are almost certainly of insufficient value to justify the construction costs, let alone the air rights payable to NZTA as well, at least currently. So a more intensively occupied and therefore less auto dependent CBD is a necessary pre-requiste to capping parts of the CMJ.

      One of the many advantages of the CRL is that it will stimulate commerce and therefore higher land value around its stations and go some way to improving this situation.

      This coming semester I am teaching an urban design paper at the School of Arch that will address this very issue; I am looking froward to the students coming up with some creative solutions to the severance issues caused by the motorway system in the CBD [Severance City].

      1. What if said motorway is covered? The suggestion here would in fact increase the surround land values by hiding the motorway in what would be in essence a tunnel. I’ve often wondered if something similar can be done in the K-Road area down to around Wellington St.

  11. What interests me is the impact the “inner west interchange station” (I prefer the name “Eden station”) will have on Kingsland. The two stations are far too close and I consider it should be built east of Dominion Road. There is the risk Kingsland could just become a station stadium used for big games as Eden Park. Asuming there is a change of government in 2014 to one willing to fund the CBD rail link, realistically when could construction start and be finished?

  12. It’s totally awesome that Auckland Transport has announced this but could I just say from a media perspective that ideally, perhaps, they would have considered the risk that this announcement would come out on the same day as the Scott Guy case? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect them to consider this, even if they couldn’t be exactly sure how long the trial would take. I have been involved in campaigns where we deliberately delayed announcements or launches by a week to ensure they didn’t coincide with another significant media event that we knew would soak up attention. in this case, the Scott Guy case got 7 pages in the Herald and the route of the CBD rail link just half a page. If part of the aim of this announcement was to put political pressure on the govt to fund the project then it probably didn’t fulfil that goal.

    1. Their graphics are still rubbish too, no decent attention given to visual communication still… but once this process is out of the way there is time for the better options to rise to the surface and be taken.


  13. I like the huge concrete tubular column and beam in the last image. It reminds me of the super-cool Westminster Jubilee Line station in London: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Westminster_underground.jpg

    I’m generally in favour of doing things properly, rather than the usual NZ practice of doing a quick and cheap bodge job that is dated a few years after implementation. I really hope Auckland builds some great stations for the tunnel. They need to look cool; be built with quality materials so they stay looking good over the long term; and have plenty of room for growth in passenger numbers. In particular I think the stations need to have wide platforms; platform edge doors; light-wells connecting the platforms to the surface, if possible; and high floor-to-ceiling heights so that people don’t feel too much like they’re underground. The double-height ceiling with a mezaninne shown in the last image is encouraging since it gives a sense of openness. The stations need to have plenty of escalators and multiple entry and exit points from the streets. There needs to be good air circulation, maybe with cooling for the summer. Lastly… they need to have plenty of maps, both of the rail system, and of the streets and attractions surrounding the station.

  14. I would like to see the Campaign For Better Transport interviewed for these newspaper articles and on radio, not just the groups opposing the CRL.

    Looking forward to my return to Auckland next year watching things progress.

  15. Nick, the number of Western Line passengers travelling to Britomart or Newmarket is more like a 70/30 split. That’s still significant.

    If the eastern connection isn’t being built, then under your scenario all Western Line passengers going to Newmarket will have to go the long way, and Grafton would be closed completely.

    Better to have half the trains going one way, and half the other. They still get to all stations on the loop, so nobody misses their destination, but if they want to get somewhere faster they have a choice of chossing a clockwise or anti-clockwise service.

    1. Geoff that 70/30 split is based on a very quick trip to Newmarket, and a slow trip to Britomart and the wider CBD.
      Therefore Western line carries a higher proportion of people heading to Newmarket, than the CBD. However the CBDRL will change this and give a huge patronage boost as a much quicker trip can now to made to K Rd and Aotea. Therefore Newmarket will decline to something like 15% of the passenger volume as it will experience comparatively low growth.
      Also note anyone transferring at Newmarket to Southern line will do so at Newton.
      By the looks of the diagrams the Eastern link seems to have been shortened and most likely targets for money saving will be avoiding K Road and especially Newton stations.

    2. Geoff, I do agree with you in part but two things to clarify. Firstly I am fully in favor of constructing the eastern link, and my comments above are based on the assumption it exists. So in that case all western line trains would go to the city tunnel first and Newmarket second, while Onehunga trains would operate from the city tunnel to Newmarket via Grafton. In that case most people go direct to where they are going (the CBD) while the minority of people have the option of staying on the train for a longer trip, or transferrring at Newton for a shorter one.

      Without the eastern link there will be no trains from the west to the Grafton section or from Newton to the Grafton section. The purpose of the interchange and having no eastern is to effectively remove the junction entirely (it would still exist with a single track link for occasional freight trains). That’s one reason why I favour the eastern link, without it we cripple the flexibility to run any service pattern but the one forced by infrastructure constraints.

      In any case there will be no full looping, Newmarket junction can’t handle it.

      I still can’t understand why you are arguing against sending people the long way round (which I fully understand), yet you’re still so keen to send half the trains the long way around?

      1. [I still can’t understand why you are arguing against sending people the long way round (which I fully understand), yet you’re still so keen to send half the trains the long way around?]

        Half the trains going the long way under my scenario still leaves half the trains going direct, so people have choice. Under your scenario that choice is removed, and all Newmarket passengers would have to go the long way (assuming no eastern link).

  16. Why not use the existing Mt Eden station location as the interchange?
    The route is described as two parallel separate tunnels. It would be easy to split them at the intersection of New North Rd and Mt Eden Rd, follow each road for a short distance, then loop around to meet at each end of the platform(s).
    In this way, passengers from the west could transfer to go to Newmarket & south, and vice versa, without reversing or without having to backtrack from Newton Station.

  17. Affected sub surface property owners have been sent letters from Auckland Transport CRL project director Claire Stewart, notifying them about the CRL and information session times. All sessions will present the same information. …will explain the planning and property processes and timeline. Within the next month, we intend to initiate planning processes with Auckland Council to protect the route. If the route protection is confirmed, you will be able to develop your property (i.e.; foundations, basement) from 7 to 10 metres below natural ground level. Deepeer than this and you will need to talk to us and get our agreement. We envisage purchase of underground property happening after designation in 2014.

    Mahatma Ghandi Centre 145 New North Road
    17 July, 7:30am-9am, 12-1:30pm
    21 July, 1-2:30pm

    Beca House, 21 Pitt St
    19 July, 4pm-5:30pm, 6-7:30pm

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