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.

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  1. Leave it available and just point users to Puhinui to do a train swap for the time being. If data from HOP cards indicate a growing number of people using this route then re-evaluate the situation. In the future, if the South Eastern line is to be built as a ‘skyway’ style line then I would go even further by removing the EMU’s from the Manukau route and create an interchange at Puhinui or closer for users to get off the EMU’s and on to the LRT.

  2. The problems here really go back to the siting of the new city precisely nowhere. It should, of course, been just that little bit further west so that it could like Manurewa and its other older more southern neighbours, have its own station on the line. Instead the ideologues of the day insisted that it should instead be virtually in the motorway. Yay, such visionaries. So all it is a series of expensively curving over-wide roads, oceans of carparking, and the perfectly predictable combo of constant congestion and and low economic intensity.

    Then to try to fix this we add a branch line. Always problematic in terms of providing a good running pattern, as they are, by definition, not on their way to anywhere. Still, as the new bus system comes into force and many routes from the South Auckland hinterland connect to the new station and train frequencies increase there is a good chance that this branch will work well as an interchange centre. So it will be at the heart of a South Auckland Transit Interchange and will offer the fast connection to the higher volume and long distant destination that is the role of the RTN part of the network, ie North. This suggests that you are probably right, until perhaps there are services coming from further south than Papakura and a case can be made for a deviation or return service to MC? A Pukekohe-MC service and a MC-City service?

    But still it is hard not to conclude that the station, under endless cost cutting assaults from the usual suspects; especially local Councillor Quax, is sited critically short of the Centre still. Here was the chance to use up some of that sea of asphalt and bring the RTN connection nearer to the shopping Centre, Rainbows End, the Court. Closer integration of stations with amenity makes them much more effective for the destination itself. The placement of this station looks to me designed by road planner’s mindset; sitting on the edge of the destination just like an arterial highway not actually IN the destination.

    So it’s a compromise, will be great for the MIT being built above and as a bus/train interchange, but it could have still been perfect for these two as well as legibly at the Town Centre if it was just 300 more metres east. And with really good pedestrian routes to Rainbows End and even the Events Centre [or is that too much to ask?].

    As it is its 5/600m across carparks and busy arterial to Rainbow’s End; too far with a bunch of kids? Added to AT’s hopeless lack of family and off peak concessions? Missed opportunity much?

    1. Oh Patrick, seems we are singing off the same song sheet with the entire argument you just made above 😀 Although in reply to this “this suggests that you are probably right, until perhaps there are services coming from further south than Papakura and a case can be made for a deviation or return service to MC? A Pukekohe-MC service and a MC-City service?” – see my reply below

  3. Presumably the existing branch junction will be redundant when the Mangere-Airport-Manukau line is built. People traveling between Manukau and the CBD will change lines at a new interchange station, or do the whole journey on the Airport Line. People traveling between Papakura and Manukau will change lines at the same interchange station.

  4. As someone who lives south of Manukau and will being using the Integrated MTC next year when my Business School moves there it would make more sense to have Southern Link rather than the northern. Most people who study at MIT come from South Auckland and around or below the Manukau Area. While I would more than likely only catch the bus to the MTC having the option of a single service to Manukau rather than having to catch a train on the Southern line above Manukau then catching another service back down to the MTC seems entirely logical and it seems rather ill-thought that it was not done to begin with. Most people above Manukau are not going to go to Manukau they would go to Sylvia Park etc so I really do not understand what was going through their minds when they decided to build the line initially.

    1. Surrounding the station will be a fairly large interchange at which buses from around the surrounding area will congregate on. The station is more about being a transfer point for those from the south who are travelling north rather than those headding south. Yes MIT is opening its campus there next year but just because most students will be from the south, doesn’t mean it will generate enough patronage to justify an entirely separate service. As you say, you would most likely just catch the bus and many others would do the same which leaves the question of who will actually use a train that goes directly to Manukau. In my opinion it would only be those that live really close to one of the handful of existing stations and who also work/study in Manukau which would be an incredibly small number of people. To run such a train would likely require a lot of extra subsidy for not a corresponding patronage gain.

      1. Oh come on Matt. Stop with the tired old “There’ll be heaps of buses blah blah blah…” Me thinks Nick has brainwashed you with his bus mantra! Drake is just one of many students, shoppers, and workers SOUTH of Manukau and who see Manukau as a destination not as an origin. You’re ignoring the fact that these people as Drake explains would rather have a direct train service there than a bus going round the streets, and I and I think the vast majority of people round the world would agree. As you will no doubt remember, I and others pointed out back when Manukau Station was opened that it’s main catchment was from the south, not the north.

        I think there are going to be a lot of Drakes out there when the MIT building opens next year who will have hoped to take the train directly into Manukau but won’t be able to. The only point I agree with you on is that a 30minute schedule isn’t good enough, It should be 15min. That level of service is almost good enough to just turn up. I tell you what Matt. You have fallen victim to the “Yeah it’ll be a PRETTY GOOD interchange” way of thinking rather than the “How do we get the maximum benefit of this station?” ie. You’d prefer the mediocrity of a PRETTY GOOD interchange rather than a fantastic station.

        Since you’re happy to promote the idea that pax from the south can take buses, I wonder if you’d be happy to accept a bus service into New Lynn if for example your station got closed and you no longer had your own convenient rail commuter service from nearby home? My point is that it seems a bit rough for someone who has a nice direct rail commute to come out and tell others that they shouldn’t. Maybe you should try and put yourself in Drake’s or Ben’s shoes who both live down that way. Afterall I suspect from observation they probably have a good idea about who goes there and for what reasons etc etc. Yes, you have some statistics about people living near the railway line blah blah blah but sometimes Matt, statistics don’t tell the whole story.

        The fact that I generally don’t post that much here is because I don’t need to as this blog invariably gets it right. Not on this occasion though. Sorry for the wrap Matt. Don’t take it personally.

        1. Simon – If you are not living right next to the station you have to get to it some how, that means walking, cycling, driving or catching a bus. If you are catching a bus would you get off and wait for say 15 minutes for a train service when you could stay on the bus to get to your destination faster. I doubt there are many people across all of Auckland who wouldn’t want a rail service direct from near their house to their main destinations but that doesn’t mean we should build rail lines everywhere. The question is actually just how many would use these services and I don’t think it would be that many and I don’t believe in putting scarce funds into a service that not many would use. Putting in services that end up costing a lot more to run but that don’t provide a commensurate patronage benefit will only lead to it being even harder to secure funds for rail projects that provide much more bang for buck as the likes of Dick Quax and will use it as an example of waste.

          As for my situation, no of course I wouldn’t like it if my station was closed but that is different as I chose to live where I do because the rail line went to places I wanted to go, even when it involved a transfer. Here we are talking about a service that has never existed so it is a different situation.

        2. Matt, it’ll get more bang for its buck if people from the South can use it as well (and no, I don’t mean via a transfer at Puhinui). It’s funny you’re talking about service cost and patronage benefit because it certainly isn’t living up to anything anywhere near that at the moment and is a waste using it as it is right now. Dick Quax, and others are already pointing that out! With no Southern link, I’m betting that’s not going to change even when the MIT opens next year. And if the situation isn’t changed so that the station can receive people from its major catchment area I don’t see any huge improvement in its patronage in the long term either. Infact it’s becoming increasingly likely that the station (Not the MIT cos students will still go there anyway. They just won’t use rail at all which is stupid as I thought the whole idea of putting the MIT on top of the station was to maximise the station’s patronage potential!) could be a failed project. I’m sorry but I totally disagree with you that the numbers from the south won’t be that many. Unless I lived close to Manukau itself and there was a bus that gave me a quick run into Manukau, I would still prefer a feeder bus into one of the stations and rail from there. Sorry, but I just way prefer travelling by train than bus and I suspect I’m not the only one.

          Whether or not the line and service is already established is irrelevant. Either way it is about giving as many people access to rail services as possible that’s why I’m saying as someone who already has access to a service you should be careful about judging whether others should or shouldn’t. I have access myself already but I try to put myself in the shoes of those who don’t when talking about these issues. Of course, we can’t put rail lines into every street, but I think there is a clear need or demand for a service like I think there is in this case then we should be prepared at the very least to examine the option more closely and talking to and getting feedback back from students, workers and shoppers etc. maybe a “Have your say” campaign etc. I just think there should be a lot more talking to the community involved before this is put on the backburner by AT (And I think it will be despite George Woods’ motion). Infact the idea should be community driven, not by Cr woods who isn’t a local Cr. If the community doesn’t want it or doesn’t think it’s needed, then fair cop it should be dropped. Has there even been much community interaction on this? Where are the local Crs on this?

        3. This whole partnership between MIT and AT is about putting study and suitable public transport options in the one location rather than people having to use their cars to get there. To get to MIT in its present location in Otara for most requires two buses if they don’t drive. I know a lot of people that come from Manurewa and they look forward to easier access towards their place of study next year and it would be great if they could just pop on the train from Manurewa and take the service straight into Manukau.

          I was not meaning earlier about a solely dedicated Britomart – Manukau – Papakura service, rather than maybe Papakura – Manukau Service with the present interchange service for above Manukau. It may not be cost effective now for the service, it might be needed 5 years or even 10 years time. The MTC was designed to expand and when it does when the uptake of tertiary education increases in the south then at the very least there should be the infrastructure in place now to meet that rather than finding down the track that it needed to be built yesterday.

          I’m not entirely sure how many people would use the train, but with fuel prices as there are and the scarcity of parking which will be initially available for students without clogging up all of Westfield Manukau or the surrounding streets (or paying for parking) it would a lot easier for most to be able to use a train to get to MIT as it is right there and there is no hassle about traffic jams, of finding a parking spot in the morning/afternoon. There will be 1500+ Students initially going to the MTC, and with a large proportion of those driving it means a further 250+ cars clogging up Manukau CBD.

          I live about 20 minutes out from the nearest station, but if there were a small service provided from Papakura – Manukau during peak hours in the morning and after noon and then the rest of the service half an hour frequency (or higher depending on patronage) I would more than gladly walk in the morning to and from the station for one direct service, inconvenience here is the main problem rather than time (though I do up to 2 hours waiting between bus services in the morning and afternoon to get to and from MIT.

          I’m not sure if every Southern/Nothern bus service will meet with the MTC or whether some services will just stop at there or just go through Westfield Manukau and carry on their journey, for me that does not concern me, a brisk 5 minute walk up and I’m there (plus the added benefit of going into the mall and picking up subway is always too tempting to pass up on).

          The idea integrated MIT/AT Hop card was discussed to a small extent from what I’ve learnt on my studies into the MTC. The idea is just that an idea but something which again makes perfect sense but sadly cannot be realised until at least the MTC is up and the integrated ticketing service is in operation next year across the network. It would still be something I would look forward to in the future as a public transport user and something which I’m surprised has not been brought up more with other Polytechs and Universities within Auckland, it makes perfect sense if they want to get us students off our reliance of cars and into public transport.

  5. The reason why this has now come up as a Notice of Motion was due to the fact I kicked a fuss after seeing this http://voakl.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/2012-10-11-16-35-38.jpg and decided to blog about that concrete pad.

    But it seems you have changed your tact there Matt after I last spoke to you at the Civic Fourm two Saturdays ago about the South Link – but that is a side point.

    From my submission to the RPTP on the Manukau Southern Link:

    As I said above, the Herald and I had commented on the missing link in April. Now some seven months later it seems apparent the link is a no-go or basically dead. Without the link; Manurewa, Papakura and Pukekohe are virtually isolated in easy access to Manukau by rail. This flies directly in the face of the idea around a Rapid Service that should allow very easy access with minimum fuss or transfers to a primary service centre for South Auckland.
    The current proposal using trains which incur a transfer penalty at Puhinui or the bus trundling along the Great South Road (which takes more than double the time a train does) from Papakura to Manukau (and skipping Homai on the way) to me in my opinion is substandard for the people in these locales, and basically reinforces the isolation factor/feeling these residents have from a major service, employment and leisure centre!
    Operational Proposal for Manukau to Papakura Link
    With the Manukau to Papakura Link (The South Link) built for around $3.8m, the next question is what kind of services do you run. The answer is both straight forward for both the existing diesel passenger train fleet and the upcoming new electric passenger train fleet. The estimate length of journey from Papakura to Manukau Station via The South link is around 19 minutes (plus a seven minute walk from the Manukau Station to the Westfield Manukau Mall), compared to 30 mins using the Waka Pacific 471 and 472 bus according to the http://www.at.co.nz Journey Planner.
    Thus allowing for turnaround at Manukau and Papakura Stations and knowing what rolling stock availability there is available pre-EMU’s; I recommend using one ADL-2 class DMU to run a single service backwards and forwards between Manukau and Papakura every one hour in a single direction from 6:00am until around 10:19pm – seven days a week. That means for example your Papakura to Manukau via The South Link would start at Papakura at 6:30am and arrives in Manukau at 6:49am; then leave Manukau at 7:00am to make its return run to Papakura via the South Link.
    An example of how a proposed Papakura-Manukau via The South Link Timetable would work (for brevity I have not included the afternoon services nor to Pukekohe as of yet)

    From Papakura Arrive at Manukau From Manukau Arrive at Papakura
    6:00am (first service) 6:19am
    6:30am (first service) 6:49am 7:00am 7:19am
    7:30am 7:49am 8:00am 8:19am
    8:30am 8:49am 9:00am 9:19am
    9:30am 09:49am 10:00am 10:19am
    10:30am 10:49am 11:00am 11:19am
    11:30am 11:49am 12:00pm 12:19pm
    9:30pm (last service) 9:49pm 10:00pm (last service) 10:19pm

    When the new electric trains are fully on-stream replacing the diesel fleet between Papakura and Swanson, the frequencies can be increased to every 30 minutes at the minimum, 20 minutes for optimum service delivery until either the Botany or Airport Line (via Puhinui Station) is open and a new operating model would be in place (subject to EMU fleet availability).
    In concluding this section of my RPTP; I highly recommend Auckland Transport remedy the situation and get that link for $3.8m built by 2016 at the absolute latest. Once the link is built, operating services would begin on an hourly timetable, stepping up to 20 minute frequencies once the new EMU fleet is fully online. To do otherwise is not an option unless you endorse isolating a major part of the community from its main service centre!

    Although since I wrote that, I have altered to state that the 10 ADL-class DMU’s would be running the Pukekohe/Papakua to Manukau shuttles until the electrification to Pukekohe is complete in which the EMU’s would take over. This accounts for the fact that the DMUs would have already been running Papakura-Pukekohe shuttles until the electrification was complete in which would need more EMU’s any how.

    So yes I am appreciative of costs but however I do support George’s Notice of Motion especially with Manukau, Takanini, Papakura and Pukekohe to undergo substantial Brown and Greenfield development over the next 20 years. Heck I have a 500 housing development going up behind me that will bring in 1200 new residents making the South Link (and Walters Road Station) a pretty high priority in my eyes.

    Matt was advocating for a delay on the South Link, I am advocating for a high priority on the South Link. Seems like a quirk if we applied the CRL as Matt and I would basically swap sides 😛

    1. Sounds like you are suggesting a half hour frequency which we know will not attract that many people and on average, even with waiting for a connecting service it would still be faster going via Puhinui

    2. Ben you’ll have to get with the programme about connections. Lots of fractured services here and there at hourly or even half hourly frequencies is a poorer option than 10min or better constantly on highly legible routes with wider coverage served by connection. A Papakura rider changing at Puhinui will beat someone on your one-seat-but-long-wait-at-the-station to MC everyday.

      Be good to improve the cover at Puhinui Station soonish then.

  6. one service any hour is totally hopeless, need 30mins minimum at least. With trains on Southern and Manukau running at 10min frequency would almost always be preferable to catch the regular EMU rather than the irregular DMU.
    In general is better to wait a few years and do a proper job. See how many people use the connection and Puhinui for one thing.
    Yes it is essential in maybe 5 or 10 years. For now would rather see the money spent on improving connections between station and mall, Rainbows End etc.
    Another idea I had for a longer term operating pattern would be for Southern line trains to run express from Puhinui, stopping only at Manurewa then Papakura and Pukekohe. The Manukau south line trains would then stop at Homai, Manurewa, Te Mahia, Addison, Papakura and Drury. Would provide a quicker journey for a majority of passengers. Would allow Manuaku south services to run at 10 min frequency too, so this would be benefit for people on that line. Not 100% sold on idea myself, but worth thinking about. A 10 min saving for the express could make it worthwhile, but a 5 min probably not.

    1. If there is to be an express it would be better to run it Pukekohe-MC all stops, then direct to the City, or City + Newmarket. The direct part would make up for the MC deviation for those doing the big commute, and would also serve intra southern travellers. Not sure we have the track for services of varying speeds though.

      Or perhaps better, and note this only once electrification reaches Pukekohe [all those new dwellings!], how about a Puke-MC service and back again, great for intra southern, long commuters change at MC or further south [as they will be at Papakura soon], and pretty elegant use of the branch line’s two tracks; one for the services north and one for the south.

      There is plenty of time to check the numbers once MIT is open, the EMU’s are in use with 10 min pattern. No panic.

      1. You can have a mix of all stops and semi-fast services with no additional infrastructure (though doubling Penrose junction does make such a timetable more elegant).
        To satisfy myself that a service pattern of all-stops and semi-fast services would work, I created a timetable with a mix of fast and slow services. In it I had southbound fast services catch up with Manukau stoppers, and then get away fast again once the Manukau service had left the main line at Wiri. I was still stuck having to provide all stops services between Puhinui and Papakura. (Incidentaly, without having done the detailed analysis, such a timetable looked like it shortened the journey times of services from Manuera southwards by 6 or 7 minutes).
        Opening the southern chord would allow the all-stops service to go via Manukau, ahead of the fast to Wiri and then following the fast from Wiri, and possibly shorten journey times by a further couple of minutes. However, it would extend to Papakura the issue of lack of capacity for the aspired-for level of peak service plus all the freights that is forcing thoughts of more tracks south of Westfield.

        On the airport link problem, it rather depends on where the airport loop connects with the main line as to whether the southern chord would be necessary for a Manukau – Airport service. This also compiounds that lack of capacity issue.

  7. I don’t think we need to add the service urgently, as has been said in the article, the area can be serviced effectively by buses at the moment. However I believe we should build the link to at least finish it and provide more options, even if it doesn’t get used a hell of a lot, eventually it will, and surely it would be cheaper to build that link now, while we are carrying out our electrification of the network, than doing it later. Also note that when having events in and around Mankuaku in the future it may be handy to have the link in place to maximise service options.

    My view is build it now, for future capacity.

    1. We will hopefully be carrying out electrification of the network for a long time to come – the CRL, Airport Line, Onehunga double tracking and Pukekohe will all need electrification, so there’s a lot of opportunity to combine the southern link with another project. As long as the right-of-way is there why build it until we have a plan to use it for something?

  8. All suburbs south of Manukau have a direct all-day every-day bus to Manukau under the RPTP network. In fact all buses south of Manukau go to Manukau full stop, they all anchor there at the northern end.

    Therefore, no one would catch a bus to a train station to transfer to a train to Manukau, because that very same bus is headed to Manukau anyway on a more direct and accessible path. So the only people who would catch a southern link train would be those living within walking distance of the four stations and working/studying/shopping in Manukau. Everyone outside walking distance will have to get the bus anyway.

    Anyone who advocates a southern link service would have to answer the following question: “how can we justify a new rail service that is only five stations long, where the only patronage would come from people in the walk catchment of four outer suburban stations who are headed to a smallish suburban regional centre”.

    The southern link is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. The powers that be a right to not have built it. It is the sort of thing that needs to be allowed for, and considered again once we have an extra 100,000 people living down south.

    1. Why Nick? Because within that area are a lot of people who want to go to Manukau for study, work, shopping and recreation and as per Drake’s comments above would prefer to do it in the comfort of a direct train service than a bus going around the streets. Nice use of the word “direct” when talking about your bus service there Nick. Buses are never direct unless they’re a BRT operation like the NEX. They always go round a number of streets, even if you rationalise the routes, and have more potential stops than trains. Yes, they’re cheaper and you can operate more services but give me a more comfortable and direct train service anyday!

      1. And yes, while it might be allowed for in the future Nick, the problem is once it doesn’t get built or gets put on hold, it’s often on hold for forty years, not four!

      2. That’s all well and good for those people who live within walking distance of the station and could therefore chose between the bus or the train…. but that doesn’t answer the question of just how many people live within walking distance of those four southern stations, and are also headed to Manukau. Is it enough to sustain a regular rail service?

        1. One thing about Britomart was the mantra “build it and they will come”.

          Why does this not apply to Manukau?

        2. Because Britomart was located in an employment, education and retailing centre roughly fifteen times the size of Manukau, and at the head of a network of forty stations, not four. It was built in a location which has significant daily traffic congestion and exclusively paid parking arguably in short supply. Manukau isn’t congested to the same degree, and has masses of cheap or free parking.

          The southern link to Manukau has approximately 1/15th the pull and 1/10th the catchment of Britomart, plus the factors pushing people to PT are lower. So indeed build it and they will come, but in this case ‘they’ will be a tiny fraction of the patronage Britomart gets. The argument isn’t that no one would use it, it is that so few would use it that it would be incredibly uneconomic to provide a reasonable service level.

        3. There are actually six stations south of Manukau – Homai, Manurewa, Te Mahia, Takanini, Papakura and Pukekohe. That is quite a decent amount of people. If you look at people coming from Pukekohe as an example, taking a bus to Manukau takes almost an hour and includes a transfer at Papakura. A direct train ride would take about half the amount of time.

        4. Te Mahia is being closed according to the RPTP, it got very little use anyway. And I don’t think anyone could justify running both southern lines to Pukekohe (a five minute all day frequency to Pukekohe would be extremely expensive overkill). That leaves four stations to feed to Manukau from the south.

      3. Chris, Simon, along with George W, you’ve got my vote. Build the link now – it will actually bring more people to Manukau…especially when you put in an underground walkway from the station to the shopping mall…and to Rainbows End. Inferences here in this thread that South Aucklanders are more wedded to their cars than other parts of Auckland are just plain wrong. As a former South Aucklander, I know that if given the choice of not taking my car to Manukau and taking a comfy train that takes me right to the door of the Westfield Mall and particularly to Rainbows End, I’ll take the train definitely! $3.8 mil is a drop in the bucket compared to other grossly more non-sensical transport infrastructure projects previous Auckland councils have frittered away money on – projects that this blog has taken those councils to task on many times in the past.

    2. Wow, we agree 100%.

      I’d add that the southern link would add a double conflicting move. Papukaru->Manukau conflicts with Manukau->Britomart as well as Britomart->Papukaru. An option certain to reduce reliability on the southern part of the system particularly.

  9. Matt, Nick and Patrick. I side with George Wood on this one but recommend the southern link be built in FY2016 – in time for the full EMU fleet operation. Cannot see the need to purchase extra EMUs Matt. A via Manukau Britomart-Papakura service can be run using current allocated EMU RS. A Manukau-Papakura service makes no sense. Its got to be a Britomart-Glenn Innes-Manukau-Papakura service (rename it from the Eastern / Manukau Line to the South Eastern Line) to recoup the build cost. Adding an extra 7 minutes onto a journey between Papakura and Britomart via Manukau and Glenn Innes etc is neither here nor there and it gives the travelling public a choice as to how they want to get in and out of South Auckland. What is the detailed cost breakdown for this NZ$3.8 mil southern link build and is this an official, qualified figure?

    On the issue of the perceived tyranny of distance between the Manukau station and the shopping mall / Rainbows End, its nothing that two (cut and cover) underground walkways cant fix – walkways that are closed off after business hours.

    1. Rob, the eastern line is proposed to terminate at Manukau. If you extend that to Papakura they you’ll have to need more EMUs/staff/funding. You can’t just tack 26km extra service onto each return trip out of thin air! You’re looking at around 2,500 extra service-km a day.

      Also they are proposing a ten minute all day frequency, extend the Manukau line south and you end up with five minute all day frequencies to Homai, Manurewa, Takanini and Papakura. Is that really justifiable? I can’t see the need for that sort of capacity, Even with minimal 3-car sets you’re still looking at capacity for 4,500 people an hour every hour of the day to travel from four suburban stations.

      I think most of this becomes a moot argument once we have the aforementioned ten minute headways and average wait times of five minutes to connect. If people are so hesitant to take their direct bus service then a short connection allows them to make the same trip by train.

      1. Nick, why does extending the Eastern line service from Manukau down to Papakura require extra EMUs? I dont follow. Agree that 5 minute frequencies are not sensible. 10-20 minute intervals is what I am thinking. Why cant you split off-peak trains to run either via Manukau / Glenn Innes or via Penrose, between Britomart and Papakura?

        1. Because it is 26km extra service! Unless you cut frequency you need more peak fleet to operate the same timetable over a longer distance. From what I understand the 57 EMUs is enough to run the peak service with some six car trains and some three car. If you want to use those trains on a service extension you either have to pull them off the six car services or cut some three cars out.

          Or are you suggesting they take the ten minute service from south of Puhinui and run half up the southern line and half up the eastern via Manukau? Presumably this would require half of the services north of there to do the same? Sounds messy, complicated and illegible to me, you’re taking a perfectly legible network and splitting frequency and service pattern.

  10. I have been thinking over tha last 3 months that the timing is perfect
    for a solution to south auckland/franklin and north waikato public
    transport and believe this is easy to introduce for little cost outlay.

    1) AT are only focused on britomart and newmarket commuters.
    2.)AT sole focus next 2 years is electric trains
    3.)When Manukau Tech is completed this station will explode
    but not without a southern link.
    4.)By 2015 AT will have 20+ trainsets sitting around doing nothing
    and I mean the SA sets not the adk’s

    I propose a 3car set timetable between Te Rapa (the base) and
    Manukau with stops at Ngaruawahia,Huntly,Te kauwhata,tuakau,
    pukekohe,papakura, manurewa and Manukau.

    2 services each way in rush hour and maybe a 2 hour daily service.
    this service will prove very popular and would easily pay for itself,
    as long as kiwirail dont track fee it off the planet.

    The trainsets are currently stabled at pukekohe with both drivers and train managers already there. Most infrastructure in place,
    would only need platforms at the waikato stations which I am sure
    the local councils would come to the party, and 100m of track
    at Wiri BEFORE THE PLACE IS WIRED and the opportunity lost.

    This is a easy addition to the auckland network which is win win
    on so many levels.

    the main point here is terminating point would be the “the Base shopping centre”
    which has exploded in size in the past 2-3 years.
    now a major bus hub,shopping centre and place of employment.
    Any Hamilton pax can easily use buses to connect.

    would be pax base/ngaruawahia/huntly/ te kawhata,
    then tuakau/puke/papakura,
    then papakura/takanini/rewa to manukau

    all 3 sectors above would have their own numbers, on top
    on any pax going longer ie connecting to akld

    the plans of 2000 etc were about akld-hamilton pax only,
    britomart just cant cope with any extra trains.
    2015 is another 2 years away and travelling dynamics have changed.
    More shoppers/workers looking for closer to home options than
    going to downtown hamilton or auckland.

    This is a massive opportunity for auckland south public transport,
    and George Wood is correct that it must be done now, not after electrification!!

    1. Grant your best hope is to get the Waikato councils interested. You are right AT are very focussed on Auckland as it is their brief, but also they have a huge amount on their plate over the next four years so are unlikely to lead any such plan but may well be supportive of a well worked proposal….?

      Be mindful that you are basically suggesting changing the Pukekohe to Papakura diesel service to a Hamilton to MC one, if the Pukekohe line electrification doesn’t get brought forward that is.

      Outside of conflicts on the NIMT and the Manukau branch and complications of responsibility and costs it’s certainly worth looking at. Take it all the way to Tron town too though don’t you think; the centre needs some love? Don’t debase your entire city to the Base…..

      Running Tron to MC is not a silly idea especially as there will be good connections from there to the rest of AK, especially the City Centre and the Airport….

  11. Did consider central hamilton but 2 probelms,

    Veolia have running rights to Te Rapa,
    apparently further is a major. and
    current Hamilton station is not central.

    Electrification to puke would be great but think this proposal
    is 10’s of millions cheaper.

    Forgot to add also with upgrade to puke recetrack and V8’s at puke,
    will need larger fleet than ADL’s to move pax.

    While pitch to Waikato councils required, it is manukau link
    and AT’S trains that required first.

    Puke is now part of super city but people out this way,
    not feeling the love. All we seem to have is higher rates and less services.

    1. I do know that there is a lot of enthusiasm at both AT and AC to find a way to fast-track the elec to Puke as there are a great many savings and efficiencies in not having to run any old diesels on the network…the opex savings may trump the capex cost or come close enough…. That may put a spanner in your works so like I’d say I’d get Waikato interested before the fate of the ADLs is decided….

  12. The Wiri inland port is in the way of the link and the tracks to Manukau would have to cross the tracks for the loading bay in the port.
    They would have to lengthen the port at the southern end to make up for the lost loading bay if a link to manukau was to be put through.

    1. I’m not so sure; the best way to serve this area, it seems to me, certainly to start, is to extend the Onehunga branch through Mangere to the Airport and connect across the south by bus as the roads that way are not congested and nor is that route as heavily used. But certainly there is an argument for Manukau to Airport but as that involves a tricky cross track route, I assume it wouldn’t connect with the NIMT at all but bridge it direct to the Manukau branch… hmmm?

    2. Yeah having the Airport line go straight over the top of the NIMT through to the Manukau branch seems like the only feasible option in the area given how many other track connections there are (EMU depot and inland port) in this part of the network.

      1. That’s what I was thinking – that might involve all Manukau services going to the airport, and having an interchange station at the current junction, with platforms on two levels at right angles. Which might mean the southern link wouldn’t be able to fit in.

        Not that I think that’s a great idea when we could just extend the Onehunga branch, but who knows what’ll happen?

  13. Airport line won’t be built for at least 10 years minimum, and even then the Manukau link should be a stage 2, probably another decade away.
    Anyone know capacity of Manukau station, doubt it could cope with 10min to Britomart, Papakura and Airport line too?
    Also I assume the Manukau airport line will be grade separated from the NIMT, probably overhead, otherwise will have to dig up SH20 somewhere to fit the railway through.

  14. Hmm CDBRL takes us to 2020 at best case, the construction starting on Airport line starting straight after will easily take us to 2022. Thats ok, airport lines regularly have lower patronage than expected, so shouldn’t depend too much on airport traffic. Mangere patronage will ensure Aucklands success.
    On the other hand double tracking to Onehunga to allow 10/15min frequencies should proceed promptly.
    Concentrating on express buses to New Lynn. Henderson, North Shore etc will be a good step too that will serve more people, low proportion of airport users head to CBD.

  15. One thing which would be helpful would be a repeater in the mall so we could observe when trains are leaving the station like they have at Slyvia park. Most people probably don’t mind the walk but if you walk down to the station only to find the next train is 55 minutes away then the next time you take the bus..
    My other comment is that Manukau is changing more stores and more jobs are opening up westward. See the Mitre Ten Mega right next to the Bunnings. So maybe the station site is not too bad. .
    I acknowledge that ten minute frequencies would make the transfer at Puhinui less tedious. . I would support a Manukau Papakura train. We might as well extract more service out of the ADL’s. $7.5 million for one EMU versus $20 million for 19 DMU’s. They deserve a life after electrification. They still seem to go alright.

  16. How many transport planners and others have actually been to Puhinui and transferred there – it is definitely not the safest place in NZ and neither is the walk from Puhinui.

    1. well that I would hope would be at the top of the list of infrastructure projects that help enable the success of the RPTP frequent network model.
      Will cost a million max for a gold plated version, either way costs far less that the any Southern link service.
      Along with Otahuhu station, Te Atatu and the tramline intersections with Balmoral Road.
      That brings up a point, would be good to see a list of these planned upgrade projects.

  17. From where I am sitting the key question we are trying to answer is: Should AT spend 1) $3.8 million to build the Southern Link and 2) invest in extra service for those passengers who want to travel by train from Papakura to Manukau? That to me sounds like a question that should be answered with some economic analysis.

    First the costs:
    1. CAPEX of $3.8 million incurred in year 0
    2. OPEX – 2,500 daily service-km (from Nic’s comment above) @ $20 per km (does that seem about right?) = $50,000 per day * 240 days/year = $12 million per year in OPEX. But this cost is incurred for ever, so discounted @ 8% over years 1-29 yields a cost of = $134 million.

    All up we’re talking about spending $138 million gross over 30 years (in today’s dollars).

    The second question is how many passengers we get from spending this dosh? Well, Manukau is closer to Papakura and Pukekohe than the city centre, so would plausibly be a more common destination, i.e. the potential travel market is higher. On the other hand, parking is much much cheaper in Manukau and there is very little congestion from the south, i.e. the factors pushing people to use PT is much lower.

    For arguments sake let’s say that 30 minute service from Pukekohe to Manukau ran from 7am-7pm 7 days per week. That’s 24 * 7 *52 = 8,736 services per year. If we then assume that each service generates 50 additional passengers (that’s an average, i.e. across the whole day and whole week) this approximately equals 440,000 extra rail passengers per year. Over 30 years (again discounted) we’re talking about 4.9 million trips. And for argument’s sake let us also say that these trips are net to the system, i.e. they would not have occurred if the direct rail service was not provided (this is highly conservative, because despite the preference for rail and avoiding transfers some people would still choose to use the bus and/or transfer at Puhinui in the absence of a direct rail service).

    These trips would in turn yield additional fare revenue. We know the system average fare recovery is about 30% of $80 million = $24 million from 11 million annual trips = $2.18 per trip. But this fare revenue includes a whole load of very long adult journeys that end/start at Britomart and Newmarket, so the average fare for the Pukekohe to Manukau line (which is more likely to be tertiary students) is likely to be a lot less, say $1 per trip. That brings in an additional $4.8 million over 30 years – which in turn will offset the gross costs and leaves us with net costs of $133 million (i.e. $138 million gross costs – $4.8 million fares = $133 million net costs).

    Divide the net cost by the net trips = $138 million / 4.9 million trips = $27 per trip. Now, that to me sounds like a hell of a lot of money per trip and for that reason I’m with Matt, Nic, and Patrick.

    Obviously this analysis is highly dependent on the service costs – and we have assumed a new line is needed. A potential lower cost alternative would be to divert trains that are already on the line into Manukau and then back out to continue their journey. This reduces the costs of servicing the line directly, but at the expense of everyone who is travelling past that point, i.e. to destinations on either side. How much would that cost I’m not sure – and it’s probably a calculation for another day.

    Basically, the Southern Link sounds like a nice idea, but when you look at the capital plus operating costs it just seems to be relatively expensive compared to other potential investments. But please let me know if you spot an error in these calculations: They’re fairly rough.

    1. Ok Stu, Nick and Matt, do it this way as someone else suggested earlier in this thread – spend the $3.8 mil CAPEX and build the link between now and FY2016. Put nothing through that link until such time as the rail patronage to / from that part of the network justifies doing so. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t in building this link now rather than wait 10 years and in the grand scheme of things damned if you don’t will be the nastier arse bite, which is why George Wood is pushing to get the link done now.

      1. Hmmm … I’m hesitant to invest capital in anything that’s not used immediately. Would you buy a car and leave it in the driveway? Note that I’m not arguing against future-proofing, because the link is future-proofed for already (and that’s something I generally support).

        Is there not a risk that building something now and then not using it gets highlighted (perhaps reasonably?) as an example of public sector “waste”. Just last week we had a post where we castigated NZTA for accelerating a highway project (that delivered no benefits) simply because they felt there was a “favourable procurement” window.

        Economics, you see, is a slippery slope ;).

        1. Yes, I know I sound like lGerry Brownlee when I say ‘to hell with the fact that the BCR is 0.2…just build the damn thing anyway!’ but in this case its a paltry $3.8 mil – loose change that we really shouldn’t be arguing over. Simon C and I know from our collective long years living in Japan that you dont ‘not’ build railway infrastructure particularly when the country is in recession. When the economy is down like it is now, you build up your railways – business case or no, as rail is the only transport medium where future proofing pays dividends in the medium term. Look at where Auckland’s population is heading – it went from 1.3 to 1.5 mil in under 2 years from 2010 and will likely be 1.7 mil by 2017…and a lot of that growth will be in South Auckland…so this 100,000 person threshold that Matt talks about being needed in order to justify the expenditure on the link…well that number will certainly be chalked up by 2017. Best not to wait another 4-5 years to build this link. Do it now while its cheap.

        2. A key benefit of the southern chord is that it allows fast trains to overtake slow ones. Until you look at the timetable you could run with the southern chord in place and compare it with the timetable you would run without, you cannot hope to capture all the benefits. Supopse by being able to overtake, key commuting services to Britomart become sub 45 mins from Papakura and sub 60 minutes from Pukekohe, Over and above the additional passengers Stu has above using the branch itself, you will now most likely grow patronage on the existing routes too. The costs could be dramatically different to Stu’s calculation too – by running some services fast, the saving in the diagram could be enough that the extra time to accommodate all stops services via Manukau could be accommodated with a much reduced requirement for additional units and crews.

        3. An example to demonstrate that there is more to this than just running a shuttle between papakura and Manukau:
          Take the existing timetable at Britomart, however:
          Anything via the waterfront now goes all stops via Manukau, between Papakura and Britomart
          The “southern” service now goes all stops to Penrose, then Otahuhu, Manuerwa, Papakura, Pukekohe.

          It costs an extra diagram – maybe two sets depending on what runs in multiple, but if you had really slick splitting and joining at Manukau, maybe you could save sets by only running in multiple north of Manukau.

          Journey time from Papakura maybe 47 minutes, from Pukekohe 62 minutes.

          There may still be capacity issues at the flat junctions to sort out, (especially as I have only looked at the Down) but I just thought I’d show what I meant.

        4. Or by running a simple, legible, but high frequency system without varying running patterns and other complexities, then both timeliness and coverage can be achieved with the slight cost of some trips requiring a brief connection. With the added bonus of greater reliability which is a direct consequence of simplicity. But high frequency can only come by not splintering resources in many different running patterns.

          Let’s try that first, it’s manageable, and it is a good step towards building the pax that will help secure more funding to add more trains and extra routes. I would love to see south MC services, but not hourly, so not yet.

          An average 5 minute wait at a new Puhinui Station [with cover!] and other people or a trip on one of the new bus routes looks like a big improvement for the medium term to me.

    2. So if we’re looking at things econimically Stu, here’s a question for you, Matt & Nick. You keep talking up the fact that you don’t think there’s enough pax south of Manukau to justify a good level of service economically. Personally I disagree. But the question is don’t you think the words Nick used “incredibly uneconomic to provide a reasonable service level” or Matt L’s “require a lot of extra subsidy for not a corresponding patronage gain”.descibe the Station as it is operating at the moment? Because I sure do!

      And what’s more, unlike in the case of Britomart, I can’t see it improving. Surely the MIT students coming on board next year will boost things? Nup, I’m predicting that it won’t change patronage much at all, especially since it seems most of them will actually take buses. But hey that’s okay because the bus part of the transport interchange will be a huge success! Same with the shoppers, workers, people going to Rainbow’s End for recreation. So tell me, exactly WHO is left to boost patronage of this station if no Southern link is built? Please don’t tell me there’s gonna be huge masses coming from Flat Bush or places like that, that are going to cram the trains going into the city. Because I just can’t see it happening! See for me, that’s the problem with Manukau. i just can’t see where we are gonna get hordes of pax to make this a successful station. For me, the best chance to get extra pax is from the south. I’m sorry, but living in the city, there’s no reason for the likes of me and lots of others to make a daily pilgrimage down to Manukau from the North to boost those troublesome figures guys. I just can’t see heaps of North to south demand to help out either…which leaves us with pretty much no one!

      Whereas i knew that Britomart would blossom, I don’t get that feeling with Manukau at all. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

      Quoting Nick: Te Mahia is being closed according to the RPTP, it got very little use anyway. And I don’t think anyone could justify running both southern lines to Pukekohe (a five minute all day frequency to Pukekohe would be extremely expensive overkill). That leaves four stations to feed to Manukau from the south.

      I thought Puke was going to be shuttle only? There won’t be any Southern line running thru to puke under my understanding so I don’t see where you get “5min all day frequency to Puke” from. BTW as someone else said, a lot people from Puke would go to Manukau for study, shopping at recreation and I agree. Also, though Te Mahia is set to close, I think it was you who said on the CBT forum that AT already is aware of the possibility of a new Walters Rd Station with a number of housing developments there so that’s something that could potentially add patronage.

      1. there will be high frequency services up Chapel Road all day, as well as other connecting services being brought closer to the station. Anyone who needs to go north of Manukau (except Otahuhu centre) will now need to transfer at Manukau onto rail. Thats a large number of people who will get a much higher frequency service, far better than the random slow Great South Road buses.
        Not convinced it will be the 3rd busiest station in a hurry though, but still patronage should get a good boost.

        1. That’s interesting Luke. No Manukau-Auckland downtown direct buses going via Great Sth Rd anymore? Ok, that will probably help but it’ll be interesting to see just exactly how much of a boost it is. I agree, I don’t think it would be anywhere near third in Auckland. Also the MIT students apart from using the buses could very well just use their cars and park in that new monstrosity of a multi-storey car park building.

  18. $1 per trip seems a bit low Stu as the single fare stage price is now $1.90 or something like $1.62 with an AT HOP discount. But even double that your argument still holds true.

    1. Maybe – but don’t forget that we have to account for a) lots of concessionary fares (children, tertiary plus seniors) and b) monthly passes and other tickets that “dilute” revenue. Then there’s the unfair “fare evaders”. If you crunch the average fare for the wider network it’s surprisingly low as well. The Northern Express, in contrast, appears to bring in about $4 per trip 🙂

      But you’re right – the fares are almost inconsequential in the economic scheme of things. Assuming $3 per fare (i.e. 50% higher than current network average) reduces the cost from $27 per trip to $25. So the core conclusion is not affected.

      1. I assume the NEX is high as most trips involve the CBD at peak times, hence long distance. Would be interesting to see stats actually. Seems to have very low off peak loadings. Hopefully the RPTP network should fix this a little, but do note all NEX’s will still go to Albany bus station only, which at the moment is in the middle of nowhere.
        Has any thought been given to run off peak NEX’s at least past the mall, or even to the University passing the employment areas. Should result in much more anti-peak traffic.
        Would result in slightly lower fleet utilisation, but don’t think is big issue offpeak.

  19. Bryce nailed it with the first comment: let’s see how it goes when the new trains and bus routes with much higher frequencies are operating. Southern travellers will have the options of a short connection at Puhinui or a bunch of bus routes. Connections people; it is a whole new way to operate in Auckland.

    Yes it will be somewhat annoying to be doubling back but the frequencies through here should make this still acceptable. And again i agree given the choice between a bus and train, like many for me there is no contest, I would always rather catch a train out of the traffic but in this city that isn’t usually an option- and at least it is here. As for me, choosing to live in Grey Lynn, it will not ever be possible to catch one from my neighbourhood….. For me to get to Manukau, and I do sometimes, it takes two journeys; bus/train or bike/train, I’m looking forward to way better service and only one fare.

    Stu is right; the future is not being closed off here it can be built later and there are so many calls on our Transit funds why do it before it can be used?

    I agree with Grant and others that a lot is going to change over the next four plus years so let’s see.

      1. When were you last at Puhinui Nick?

        When did you last go through the area immediately around the station?

        And don’t put me down like that – I have no objection to travelling by bus however the train suits me better.

        1. I personally have never been to the Puhinui station but, as all stations are being upgraded and if Puhinui has not yet been rebuilt, it should be done sooner than later with a possible role as an interchange station being taken into account.

        2. Sorry I’m not trying to be nasty, just poking fun at the old argument that trains and buses are always dangerous and filled with the scum of humanity, I obviously don’t actually think that is the case.

          I went through Puhinui last week on the train to Manukau but didn’t get off, it’s probably been a year or so since I drove through the neighbourhood. Seemed like a pretty regular middle class neighbourhood to me, tidy weatherboard bungalows and brick and tile units, quite leafy. Actually reminded me a lot of my grandfathers street in Belmont, similar age I guess.

          If Puhinui really has a perception of safety problem then that’s quite an easy fix with an upgrade and lighting and things, in fact I’d imagine it’s on the schedule for it already. They are working through every station so it will no doubt be done fairly soon.

      1. Are they any different from the people who hang around Manurewa, Homai, Takanini or Papakura? Or is Puhinui especially plagued by dangerous thugs?

        1. Yes it is.

          Manurewa is my home station and I feel quite safe there/

          Similarly at Homai – I have no knowledge of Takanini and Papakura.

          Another problem at Puhinui is that the station is not really visible from outside as Homai and Manurewa are.

        2. Hopefully upgrading the station and making it light and visible with security cameras (maybe even security for a while?) will do the trick to enticing more people to use it thus ensuring much better perceived safety.

  20. I use to pass the Puhinui station everyday as I traveled by train to school in the 80’s and the platform shelter was almost demolished by vandals back then. A new station hopefully will attract more users and reduce the problems there.

  21. I should have been in place from the start. The station should have gone to the mall as a second stop with contribution from businesses. My 2 cents.
    I don’t transfer at Puhinui – I don’t feel that safe at that station – its not very public and I would feel vulnerable standing there with my little one in his pram
    waiting for a transfer. Mind you I am a bus user – express bus to the central city little person in tow – why no trains – well they don’t go where I want
    to go in town – its a big mission pram in tow to get to work/daycare and the train conductors are not very friendly in my experiences
    to those with little ones – esp at peak times when they are full- whereas the bus drivers and bus passengers have been really great on those express bus services !
    We bus from south of Manukau if we want to visit Manukau as well – that journey done at non peak times I would gladly use the train for as its
    short and non peak but with the transfer I don’t – and since those busses can be very very packed I tend to just catch the train to Sylvia Park
    if I want to do errands, buy things – I would have done that in Manukau if the trains went there – guess I am voting with my wallet.
    Sadly I hear the council 10-year plan involves getting rid of all express bus services from the Papakura/Manurewa/Manukau to town area – that will be a big loss to me
    might be time to move on.

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