Here’s Auckland Transport’s latest video about the City Rail Link project:

This is useful for showing the route, but I still think some further visual material is necessary to get across some key messages which still seem to be regularly misinterpreted:

  • The CRL is the “missing piece” in the whole rail network
  • The CRL will not operate anything like a “loop”
  • The CRL significantly benefits the whole of Auckland, not just the CBD

I think the best way to show this would be for Auckland Transport to actually come up with some future route options – it seems like they must have advanced from what was in the City City Future Access Study (shown below) because the notice of requirement doesn’t include the Inner West Interchange and does include the East Facing Link. ccfas-route-mapWhile progress is being made on the consenting process, I can’t recall what was going to happen in terms of next steps around preparing a detailed business case for the project. Gerry Brownlee seemed to suggest the other day in parliament that central government officials were still analysing the results of CCFAS.

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  1. I note AT have taken a leaf out of NZTA’s book and that’s the use of that kinda progressive sounding ambient music with a fly-through which makes any big project sound like a good idea. Good move.

    Totally agree Mr A re visuals. Network maps are an incredibly powerful tool for getting the public on board. On occasion I chuck amateurish MS Paint network maps up on my FB page and all of a sudden people just get it – the CRL all of a sudden makes sense. The Frequent Transit Network map in the RPTP (the work of some on this blog I believe) was brilliant for that reason.

  2. I despair about the marketing of this crucial project. Who decided highlighting the method of tunneling and the depth of stations was important? Or that failing to emphasise the route of trains from the West and South would convey the broader than CBD benefits or the non-loop nature of the project. Amateurs.

    1. More money pissed up against a wall to be sure. These things always are for people already sold on the project.

  3. Just a question regarding the frequencies – do they really think they’ll be able to support an 18tph frequency out to Swanson? That would make it more frequent than a number of metro systems worldwide during peak hour (5 minute frequency is the standard for a good number of cities with metros – even during rush hour in much larger cities such as Osaka the train interval varies between 3-5 minutes). I mean for Puhinui to Westfield to have 20tph seems like a real overkill (IE close to Yamanote line frequencies) and I know that is because of the quirk of the system in having the Eastern and Southern join up, but a higher frequency on that stretch than through Newmarket seems odd.

    I’m probably horribly out of touch with Auckland these days having not been back in almost two years, but do you locals on the ground really see this as feasible or is it more of a marketing ploy to make the network appear more attractive to hope to garner support?

    1. If by ‘support’ you mean the infrastructure could deliver 18tph, then yes it could. If you question whether there is demand to justify 18 tph to Swanson, then I agree with you, not for a very long time at least.

      To the extremities of the network 6 tph would be appropriate, more than enough capacity and a very good level of service. Further in near the peak loading points they will probably need more. To me that suggests an arrangement where half the trains turn back around a midpoint, or in other words two lines doubling up on the inner parts of the network, and only one going to the outermost stations.

      However, it might be that the above map was an exercise in showing the maximum that could feasibly be run, rather that what they’d actually run on a day to day basis.

  4. I don’t think that having so many trains between Puhinui and Westfield is a bad thing given that so many people use them to get to South Auckland. Even then, though, 20 tph to the South won’t be necessary for a long time. The extra capacity might allow for limited stops trains, perhaps, which might make taking the train more popular. The trip to South Auckland can feel very long when you’re stopping at so many stations that have comparatively little patronage.

    1. Cities of a similar size to Auckland with very well-patronised (and well-liked) public transport systems and full metro systems such as Munich and Stockholm run trains every 5 minutes (that’s 12tph) on their metros during rush hour per branch and still manage around 1 million users a day on networks of around 100km with 100 stations. If these networks I describe can cope with passenger loadings that are greater than 5 times the entire patronage of all public transport in Auckland at current levels, one does have to question how much capacity one needs. This is why I say that the frequency might be a little bit of overkill and the operating costs of achieving such a frequency in the suburbs may outweigh the benefits of having such a frequency, hence the question – are they citing such frequencies to make the project appear to be more appealing or do they seriously believe that one needs such a level of service and on what can they base that?

        1. Really? Which rolling stock in Stockholm is similar? I don’t see the similarity with the tunnelbana stock at all, however, there might be some similarity with the pendeltåg. The pendeltåg rolling stock is the Alstom Coradia Nordic. These are super nice trains and are quite fast running – they travel at 160kmph in regular service here. If Auckland does get something similar in quality it’ll be a great day for public transport.

    1. Why, probably because an excess of service on the western line becomes somewhat necessary without that link from Newton to Grafton. With one line on one side of the tunnel and three on the other, that one line gets busy. One critical flaw of not building the east facing link.

      However It is very important to reiterate that AT have realised that, dropped the above plan, decided to include the east facing link out of Netwon and are currently evaluating and testing options for different service patterns accordingly.

      I can’t say much but the options I’ve seen so far are very promising.

      1. No, without the eastern link there isn’t any reason to run all the way to Swanson, as obviously you can change tracks much sooner than that. 18 trains an hour into Swanson is just bizzare, and you’ve got to really wonder how they came up with that. Swanson only justifies 4tph, or 6tph at a stretch (say a decade from now). It will never justify 18tph, especially the cost of building a major multi-track terminus there.

        1. Well thays why I said ‘somewhat necessary’, they could obviously turn service short on the western line, quite why they decided to show all 18tph to Swanson is very perplexing. Anyway as I’ve noted below this plan has gone the way of the dodo and they are working on a much improved one.

    1. I’m curious whether there would be any actual loop services between britomart, mt eden and newmarket. In other cities I’ve found such loop services to be quite useful (admittedly as a tourist though).

      1. I would expect the answer is no, because of the pressure looping services would place on Newmarket junction as they doubled back on each run.

        However there would be two lines going through Newmarket, south and onehunga, so there is a very good opportunity to send one line each way. For example one goes Newmarket – Grafton – CRL via Newton, and vice versa, while the other goes Newmarket – Parnell – CRL via Britomart, and. Ice versa.

        That provides the same linkages from a passenger perspective as a loop, without the inefficiencies of doible duty on junctions and sending trains back where they just came from.

        1. It won’t work then because the CRL removes the constraint further down and allows about two and a half times times the current frequency.

          Newmarket junction will hit capacity before the CRL. Continuing to double back trains at Newmarket would slash system capacity for no good reason. Every one train you loop and double over Newmarket junction is two trains you can’t run through.

          As an extreme example, if you looped and doubled every western line train you would be forgoing enough slots to run a whole other line at the same frequency.

          The other question is why you would every want to run a train to or from the west to the Parnell Branch, given that it would always be faster via the direct CRL route. Hampering system capacity and introducing complexity to run slower services, I can’t see it ever happening.

        2. Might just clarify I’m talking about net trip times. While it would be faster for trips to or from Grafton, Newmarket and Parnell, it would be slower for trips to or from Newton, K Rd, Aotea and Britomart. I’m anticipating the latter group will generate three or four times the patronage than the former.

        3. What constraint further down Nick? The additional Southern Line trains are through services, and won’t need more than two platforms at Newmarket. The third platform can be used by up to 6tph “back tracking” quite easily. Not that we would want that many. But a couple of loops per hour would provide west-NM passengers with adequate choice, instead of slowing their journey significantly by forcing them to go around the CRL or transferring at Newton, which I understand AT wants to avoid.

        4. I mean the current situation at Britomart is the constraint further down. The CRL removes that, and Newmarket becomes
          the next weakest link. Yes 6tph backtracking is possible, but only if we want to forgo 12tph on other patterns. Maybe they’ll make that trade off, but I’d rather they just run double the frequency and let people transfer. That would still be a shorter trip time than waiting for the half as frequent direct train.

  5. One advantage with the CRL is getting rid of the inefficient diversion to Newmarket for Western Line services.

    Any pattern west to Newmarket would be better to keep running south, but I’ve yet to see a convincing network pattern that included such a service post CRL.

    As we will be fully running a connection based system city wide by then it will be very easy to move between all the stations in the city ‘loop’ area with one transfer and no more than a minute or two of waiting, as each line will service at least four of the seven inner city stations (CRL + Britomart, Parnell, Newmarket, & Grafton).

  6. “The other question is why you would every want to run a train to or from the west to the Parnell Branch, given that it would always be faster via the direct CRL route”

    Because Newmarket is the second busiest station on the network, thus AT wish to maintain some direct west-to-Newmarket services. If you don’t, the CRL project becomes a major step backward for west-to-Newmarket passengers.

    1. Newmarket would not be the second busiest station once the CRL is opened, it would be pushed to at least fourth by Aotea and K Rd. With three busier stations the other way it makes sense to prioritize those first, and run to Newmarket after. If you try and split them by actually demand you’ll end up with seven trains going to the CRL and every eighth going the other way. Of you do more you end up takingost people round the wrong way to benefit a minority. It’s makes for a useless service pattern, who would wait for one train an hour direct to Newmarket when you could just take the next train going every five minutes and either spend an
      extra ten minutes to stay in your seat and go the long way, or spend five minutes to transfer to a Newmarket bound train at Newton? Why bother when it will be so easy to get to newmarket anyway.

      1. Do you think Geoff does Swanson to Newmarket a bit, or is he just being argumentative for the sake of it?

  7. Actually with the service patterns that seem to work best for me the two southern line routes, from Onehunga and Papakura (Puke) almost do do the full loop: one Newmarket then Grafton, CRL, eastern line. The other Newmarket, Parnell, CRL, western line. So the only journey with these models that would require a transfer is west to south, just like now actually except it means transferring at Newton instead of Newmarket. And Newton will be an island platform with at least 18tph each way, so fast and easy. And by 2020-ish transfers will be second nature to Aucklanders, unlike now!

    1. Why is it that other developed nations can do this sort of stuff (meaning the promotional video) competently, but we** cannot? The most charitable thing one can say about this AT video is one hopes it’s just the teaser for some real information to come. Can we encourage them to look closely at this Dublin video.

      In AT’s video, nearly 25 seconds of information free elevator music before anything happens. This is not the way to attract the attention of Gen Y.

      ** I hope you don’t mind me, as an Australian, using the inclusive ANZ ‘we’.

      1. PS I was particularly impressed, in the Dublin video, by the line: Environmental benefits – ‘allowing more people to move from private cars to public transport’. They are sensible enough not to raise unrealistic hopes about ‘reducing traffic congestion’. It’s not about reducing traffic congestion as such – it’s about giving people the opportunity to avoid being in it. Congestion will then find its own level.

      1. That one is pretty good. I think bigger praise goes on the city line for the continual updates on progress and other such information one gets with that project. They even have a whole YouTube channel documenting progress and describing the process of building to everyone. They also have more technical videos too for rail nerds showing the exact movement of tracks at each point for anyone who wants more than the marketing campaign.

        1. The costings are around $3 billion NZD at current exchange rate. This project is quite complex though as it has to contend with the metro tunnels underground, go underwater twice and integrate stations with complex interchanges at T-centralen (that’s all metro lines at once so new tunnels between the lot) and at Odenplan where it has to integrate with the green line – not to mention Stockholm Södra where it integrates with long distance trains. Beyond the tunnel, there are massive changes with new bridges, flyovers and track quadruplication outside the city centre that are all costed with this project so it is quite extensive beyond the tunnelling.


    Quote from Mr G.B. : “We’ve made some big commitments to public transport, both capital and operational cash. To say we should simply do more to fix the problem doesn’t recognise that New Zealanders like using their cars.”

    Interesting. Wonder why. Is it because there are few decent alternatives in New Zealand to cars due to underinvestment in public transport by chance…..?

    So $1.25b in congestion costs per year in Auckland don’t sway one that there is an issue?

    Decade after decade of transport stuff ups and it looks like it will continue. Crazy place.

  9. Who is this made for Trainspotters/ Engineers/ NZTA? There’s nothing here for the Average Joe.

    A voice over could help, show the whole bloody system, not just Central, and where’s the “there’s a missing piece to our transport jigsaw” with pics to illustrate. Jane taking 40 min to go from out West to Newmarket, back to Britomart. AFTER SHOT- Jane takes 15 min to get in, using wifi, reading the paper while schmuckleberries above sit in traffic.

    Come on AT, make something for the regular folks! (And if you can’t- call me)

  10. That video is a complete waste of time and ratepayers money. As stated by others, if I were the average, ignorant ratepayer sitting on the fence, this video would do nothing to change my mind except to the negative and I still would have no idea why we are going to spend billions on it.

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