One thing that really frustrates me about public transport projects is the tendency of both our official agencies and many supporters to completely undersell the benefits of them. Auckland Transport is a frequent offender of this and I think that the main problem is that they are a bit gun shy. They are too scared to talk about specific benefits of the project, in particular the parts that really matter to the general public. It is seemingly out of fear that they might not meet those objectives at some point in the distant future, or that plans may change. But by taking this approach they often lose out on much of the impact that they could otherwise achieve. The City Rail Link is perhaps the prime example of this. Below is a list of the benefits from that AT provided at their CRL open days that were held recently to support the consenting process:

The City Rail Link (CRL) will improve the entire Auckland rail network – allowing more trains, more often, more direct and more reliably to more places.

  • The CRL will allow more frequent services on key routes with double the number of trains able to run on the network
  • Britomart will become a through station and not the end of the line, unblocking the network and eliminating the need to travel via Newmarket
  • More direct travel to the city and improved access to the city centre and major employment areas with three new stations near Aotea Square, Karangahape Road and Newton
  • The number of people within 30 minutes train travel of a city station will double
  • More people on trains will reduce the pressure on roads to keep traffic moving
  • Bus and train services will be better integrated

AT Open Day CRL times

It is really the first two of the bullet points that I really have a problem with. Let’s have a look at them more closely.

The CRL will allow more frequent services on key routes with double the number of trains able to run on the network

Doubling the number of trains on the network is a good thing but most people wouldn’t have a clue just how many trains are on the network now. Even less would know how many trains are expected to be on the network following the completion of electrification. I would suspect that most people, the ones that don’t currently use trains but who we may want to in the future, probably think that trains only come once every half hour or worse. For them doubling a “crappy” service doesn’t mean it will suddenly become useful. My thinking on this was largely confirmed by the release of a Horizon Research poll released late last year that said 6% of respondents indicated that if the City Rail Link had the effect of increasing train frequency to every 15 minutes in peak hours, they would switch to using rail to travel to work.

The reality of it is that our main lines already have at least 15 minute, or better, services during the peak hours. With electrification and the new PT network, this is expected to increase to a train on the main lines every 10 minutes, not just at peak but all day. The CRL doubles that again meaning we could have a service on every line every 5 minutes combining to a train in each direction through the CRL every 2½ minutes. To me saying either of those two figures  is far more powerful than just doubling the number of trains on the network. I think part of the reason why there has been a reluctance to give any specific details regarding frequencies is partly related to the second point.

Britomart will become a through station and not the end of the line, unblocking the network and eliminating the need to travel via Newmarket

Along with the reluctance to talk about frequencies, there has also been reluctance to talking about just how trains will be routed around the network. Currently everything travels from Britomart to the west or south and back again. Any journey from one part of the network to another requires a transfer. The CRL gives the opportunity to change that by through routing services meaning services that come from the west could potentially head south or east after passing through the central city. It is just where they will head that seems to be the problem. Decisions on routing seem to be way down the priority list so not a lot of detailed thought seems to have gone into it. In a double whammy, without knowing the routing proposed it is then hard to say just how many trains will run on the network which causes the issues found in the first point.

But it is these two points that would do far more to sell the project to the general public than pretty much anything else. How different would that Horizon Research poll have been if they had of quizzed people about 5 minute frequencies instead of 15 minute ones? So if Auckland transport won’t promote the project in a way that will get through to the general public, it becomes even more vital that advocates, like this blog, get the message out and that brings me to what caused me to write this post in the first place.

Yesterday the Green party launched their Reconnect Auckland campaign under which the building of the CRL is seen as a critical project. The launch brought with it media attention, the perfect time to really sell just how transformational the project will be. Unfortunately in my opinion they really wasted the opportunity by underselling it. Co-Leader Russell Norman appeared on TV twice about the issue and both times said it would only allow for trains every 10 minutes at peak, half of what will be possible. The first time was on TVNZs Q and A programme (click to go through to the video)

Reconnect Auckland - Russell Norman Q&A

And let’s not even go into failing to dismiss the notion that trains will be going around the city in a loop. The panel also discussed it briefly (need to skip past the GCSB stuff).  The second time was later in the day in an interview for the 6pm news.

Reconnect Auckland - Russell Norman 6pm news

Of course the greens aren’t alone in this underselling. Labour are just as bad with the press release put out by Phil Tywford and Iain Lees Galloway also claiming it would only allow for 10 minute frequencies.

Mr Twyford said the City Rail Link would double the number of trains on the network, unlocking much needed capacity and opening up the potential for trains every ten minutes on the western and southern lines at peak times.

Of course compare that with the way that roads are promoted, all sorts of benefits get mentioned even if they are not true. A great example of this is Puhoi to Wellsford where even in parliamentary questions, spurious claims have been made. For example last year Gerry Brownlee claimed time savings that in reality would require vehicles travelling up to 250kph. Of course I’m not suggesting that PT advocates should put out false information but at least stop underselling these projects.

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    1. The 23 minutes from New Lynn comes from AT but by my calculations even that is underselling it and it is more likely to be around 20 minutes. A couple of things to remember, trains from west currently go the long way around to get to the city by going to Newmarket first. There is huge savings to be had by not sending trains there and having changing ends each time. Also the comparison above talks about getting a train to Aotea station which would be before Britomart on the Western line. Currently anyone doing that trip also has to then walk up from Britomart to Aotea so there is savings from that too (which is where the 53 minutes comes in.

      1. That is not comparing apple to apples, that is political BS speak. Yes I can see that cutting out new market bit will help, but by how much to brittomart. You may have noticed more development of new office on the waterfront than around your theoretical Aotea station! When the port is finally removed 🙂 there will be even more demand for downtown!

          1. So it foes infinitely fast between Aotea and Brito then 🙂 I suspect rail time calculations are as accurate as aussie PPP traffic projections

          2. p.s. The “volume” of people in Aotea area are students. “Centres of learning” generally go for cheaper city digs, if you improve the area the rents go up, and the “Centres of learning” move elsewhere, it’s a dog chasing it’s tail

          3. Rail time calculations are more accurate than PPP projections as they are based on physics. I know mine aren’t 100% right but they also have a lot of tolerance built in.

            As for the Uni’s. No they aren’t chasing cheaper digs. In fact the opposite is happening with the example being Auckland Uni where they are going to sell their Tamaki campus and buy the old Lion Brewery site which will consolidate their campuses in the central area. They see value in being located centrally.

          4. puts NL to Aotea Station (Elliot St) as 47 minutes (and Maxx uses a slow walking pace), so you figure are just wrong. CLR is a nice idea. But where are detailed and accurate timings and usage charts? Most of the “Centres of learning” in Auckland are NOT Auckland Uni, and that moving to New Market, with no or limited trains from NL to NM, ohh the irony

          5. Yeah that seems like a real straw man argument. Cna you give an example of a Uni that has moved from the centre because of growth in the centre? Pretty much every city I have been to in the world has been in the centre of the city especially in older cities with a vibrant CBD.

            Canterbury Uni moved but that was more a matter of capacity at the old Arts Centre site. As a past student of that Uni I would also say it was not a great move and only further added to the woes of the Chch CBD.

          6. Pete – which figures are wrong? The pre-CRL or post-CRl numbers? I assume the pre-CRL so we are talking half the time to get from NL to Aotea and slightly longer to Britomart. A metro style electric train like in Sydney will take you from, Aotea to Britomart in maybe 3 mins as they accelerate much faster than diesel trains.

            As with most metro style systems, if you want to go from NL to a destination on the other side of the CBD, like Newmarket, you will just stay on the train and it will go through the link tunnel through Britomart and the new Parnell station to Newmarket. Again, just like the current system in Sydney. Does that make sense?

            If not, what is your solution to Auckland’s future traffic woes? Have you seen the City Centre Access study and what6it predeicts for traffic in Auckland? How would you solve that with existing technology?

          7. Pete AK UNi is not moving from the City to NM, but the Tamaki campus to the NM site. With the CRL, both Grafton and NM stations will get more trains, more often from more places. The highest concentration of students in the country are in the central city; AUT, AK Uni, Senior College, Mainz, language schools, etc; Aotea Station will be a short walk to all of these except those that are closer to NM/Grafton.

            The Northern Busway serves the Shore campus of AUT, the Southern Line heaps of schools and MIT, trains between Grafton and Middlemore clearly connect our two biggest hospitals… even Unitec will be better connected with higher frequencies on the western [with bus connection].

            What more do you want?

          8. Although I have no issue with the accuracy of the time savings, the issue they have is that they measure time savings to places you can’t currently get to and so naturally the sound like massive savings.

            If roads quoted their savings in the same way by including existing walking paths they could easily arrive at all sorts of fantastic time savings. The thing is that by doing so you are not given people all that much of an idea as to the amount of improvement that is happening to the network.

          9. Auckland UNI student numbers are probably fine, it’s all the other education providers scattered through the city that makes the numbers crazy. Both numbers are wrong. Maxx site coinfirms first number wrong 47 not 51 for NL to Aotea Station area. And hows does an electric train do 11 Km and 8 stops in 23 minutes, 30 seconds stops! This is Auckland not NY

          10. @snow flake – Plenty of people already catch the train to Britomart and then walk to Midtown, so it’s hardly the case you can’t get there. That massive time saving is very real for people who actually make that trip, and the many more who will make it when it’s quicker.

            @pete – yes, our trains are going to be faster than New York’s subway trains. New York trains usually don’t go over 50 km/h, and often much slower. Ours will do 50 km/h through the CRL, and 60-110 km/h on the surface.

          11. But 8 stops in 23 mins is just under 3 mins per stop. That is very realistic for an electric system as again the acceleration is so much better than diesel.

            There are many tertiary institutions close to train stations, like the MIT campus being built actually on top of the Manukau station. So someone could live in New Lynn and go to MIT and be able to get on the CRL and be there in maybe 40 mins. That is not bad and a hell of a lot better than driving that distance.

            The major factor with the CRL is that it will transform the city, into a city for a start and not just a big country town. Institutions and services will move to take advantage of the density of people around train stations – as has happened all over the world.

            Motorways do the same thing. One of the arguments for the P2W motorway is that it will open up development north of Auckland and trandform that region. So exactly the same arguments are being made only with the motorway they will be dependent on everyone getting into their cars to take advantage of those developments.

            What are your solutions to the coming traffic crisis in Auckland? Lock Auckland/NZ down with a 1 in, 1 out policy. Force immigrants to go and live in smaller cities where they will be socially and culturally isolated. Force businesses to relocate to far flung suburban locations whether they want to or not? Or are we betting our economic future on everyone wanting to work from home by 2040? Just building more roads or doing nothing isnt an option as the City Centre Access study showed.

            The vast majority of cities in the developed world (perhaps with the exception of some cities in the southern United States) and even a lot in the developing world (Shanghai, Bangkok, Bogota, Curitiba, ) are addressing or have addressed these issues with efficient (mostly rail based) PT – why are they all wrong? What is so special about Auckland that it cant work here?

          12. @Matt_L would love to see you calculation details for 20 minutes! Nothign against PT and rail, think it’s the best way to go. Just not convinced CRL is best thing to build first, if at all. Underground anything in a flood, volcanic and earthquake prone country just seems silly too

          13. Pete – The speeds are based on this post I have since had more accurate info but haven’t added it in yet but from what I can tell, it isn’t likely to massively change things.

            As for your comment about about not having anything underground in a city like ours, you do know that Japan has underground systems in cities that have almost daily earthquakes and is far more likely to experience flooding (in the form of Tsunami). San Fran and LA and many other cities have underground systems in earthquake and flood prone cities.

          14. What is the comparative acceleration difference between the old trains and the new?

            I was told last week that we needed 15mins for a train to come into a station drop off some passengers and then be on its way again. 3 mins sounds like quite an impressive change.

          15. Ah, Pete, now we get the real reason- are you tunnel phobic? Fair enough, there are people who hate going underground, like those who hate flying, but please don’t argue against something that the rest of us are happy to use. Anyway you’ll still benefit as the streets above will be freer for cars, trams, buses, bikes, and shoes…. even if you never use it

            Also as we know from the London wartime experience underground movement systems can provide places of refuge in emergencies. Britomart is already below sealevel, the CRL downtown will have to be flood proofed too.

            You know both Japan and California are way more earthquake prone than Auckland; what happened in their earthquakes? Elevated highways crushed people in their cars:

            “The BART system in San Francisco was built to sustain a major earthquake and, in fact, came through just fine in the 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989. Some of the worst damage, in fact, was sustained by above-ground infrastructure – like the Bay Bridge, Interstate 880 in Oakland and the Embarcadero Freeway in SF. The bridge was closed for weeks, the Embarcadero Freeway had to be torn down as it couldn’t be repaired. So the lesson seems to be that bridges and freeways don’t do so well in earthquakes, but subways are fine!”

            Here is a round up of subway systems and earthquakes:

          16. @snowflake

            “I was told last week that we needed 15mins for a train to come into a station drop off some passengers and then be on its way again. 3 mins sounds like quite an impressive change.”

            You obviously have not ever been on a suburban train ever have you? You’d be able to observe for yourself that it is way quicker than 15mins.

          17. Conan, just last week I proposed having a train arrive once every 8mins onto a platform and I was laughed out of the room for making such a proposal. I was then informed that one train ever 15mins was all a single platform could handle.

          18. You are confusing two measures, as the larger figure needs to include the spacing between trains that the signaling system requires. Decelerate, dwell and accelerate would be shorter than that, even with the diesel trains.

          19. Nothing against tunnels. Given that we missed CHC earthquake potential, one wonders how wise it is to use cut’n’cover and tunnels in Auckland? What don’t we know about this land? CRL is a fine idea, it just costs too much, there is probably a much simpler and more elegant answer, but if you keep slamming the current CRL you block/miss the obvious. CRL is fine IF Aucklands population goes up significantly, but most here are already fed up with the people congestion. The waves of old and new migrants from UK/EU came here to live in a little village, not a smokey city

          20. Current Maxx site shows NL to Aotea Station (Elliot St) (train + walk) at 47 mins. Are you going to check that out, or just bury your head in the sand?

          21. Pete, Maxx only reports the published timetables which aren’t especially accurate. They are set by the operators who tend to show the best case scenario with no delays and low traffic. If Maxx is giving you 47 minutes off the timetable then it is almost certain the average actual travel time for that route will be significantly longer.

          22. But Pete, what about if there really arent any? Then we are just fiddling while Rome burns around us. Have you read the CCFA study? It examined 43 options including the elevated option, busway tunnels and a lot of others. It said the CRL is the best option economically for what will be delivered.

            Do you have any suggestions or ideas?

            Why people came to Auckland 100/60/30/10 years ago is irrelevant. There is no way to stop the global drift to cities or immigration to Auckland without becoming a Fortress New Zealand or enforcing internal immigration laws that 1. would be bloody expensive to enforce and 2. equate to a police state – it was/is very popular in Communist countries as a way of controlling the masses.

            And anyway, it wont be smokey if we all get out of our cars and use electric trains and bicycles!

          23. I know I’m a bit late to this comment trail, but just wanted to say that 3 mins per station would be wonderful, and realistic. I used to count trip length by 3mins per station (obviously overseas). E.g. I’m travelling 6 stations so I’ll get there in 18 mins. Would love to do that in Auckland!

          24. @Snow Flake don’t be do disingenuous. You were arguing 8 minute headways on a single track at a terminal station, that is the equivilant of putting 2000 vph down a cul de sac.

          25. Peter what do you mean? It costs too much, do you mean it costs a lot? Then yes it does, but too much? To say that you have to show that it is of little value compared to comparable solutions to the problem. Can you do that? The MoT, NZTA, et al couldn’t in the CCFAS.

            This project is in fact a bargain. With only 3.5km of new track, blissfully underground and therefore of very low impact on the existing fabric of the city,we get a brand new Metro system. Cities all over the world would wishing they had such an opportunity to instantly transform their transport capabilities like we do with this one project. A mere 2 billion and a brand new resource.

            Only the mode bias and anti-city ideology of the government prevents them from seeing that this is the single best project in any sector in the nation. Not expensive. A bargain.

    2. New Lynn to future Aotea station. Currently have to go by bus, or walk about 15mins from Britomart after 33 minute train journey. For example the 223 at 7.05am takes 48minutes to do the trip, adding in 5 minutes walking gets you the 53 minutes. And yes 23 minutes is how quick the CRL will enable that journey to be made. Thats how transformational it is!

    3. Pete, Currently the train from NL goes out to Newmarket and reverses, then wends its way to Britomart via slow curves and then leaves the pasenger with a hike or an interchange with bus to get to Aotea Square. The CRL would allow the traveller to get to Aotea Sq directly over lines with a reasonable speed, and without the need for interchange to get to the final destination.

  1. I got so mad at Brownlee (and the reporter for not questioning it) when I saw that piece on One News. “We can’t just put our money into one thing” – like the roads of questionable significance?

  2. Yes, there are some very simple things that need to be done much better by lead agencies and supporters. We have discussed these before. Some quick examples:

    – Producing clear, shareable graphics that show more of the lines West and South whose performance the CRL will increase, rather than a tight focus on the CBD or on engineering features.

    – Showing through-routes to counter the ‘loop’ myth.

    – Showing the potential airport and Shore lines that only the CRL would allow.

    – Agreeing and sharing key points like peak frequencies being 5 minutes.

    This is not difficult stuff. Some people need to do the jobs they are paid for. Or get out of the way.

  3. Let’s not quibble over the exact numbers as if they are even close, THEY ARE DRAMATIC.
    NZTA are spending hundreds of millions reduce travel times between Auckland and Tirau by 35 minutes and tout travel time saving on the top of every post I can find on the project. And 35mins is a lot, but it’s still nothing like the time savings shown on the graph at the top of this page. How often do people travel from Auckland to Tirau; once maybe two or three times a year wheras vast numbers travel EVERYDAY between New Lynn & the City. Providing each of them an extra 25mins TWICE per day has got to make their lives more liveable. Come on AT – talk up your efforts and get this job done!

    1. I get the distinct impression that AT is entirely deaf when it comes to any form of criticism, no matter how constructive. I’d go a little further than Matt L when he states that the AT manageriat seems apprehensive of making statements that may turn out to be overoptimistic. I contend that they operate under a belief that their decisions should be seen by the AT board as infallible (they are, after all, engineers for the main part) even though their track record doesn’t actually support this stance; and they couldn’t give a stuff as to what the public say and think because, for some ‘funny’ reason, the board’s not electorally accountable to its stakeholders.

  4. Hmm, I guess you didn’t see the discussion last week where I ppointed out you could double the number of trains running on most of the existing network for about 0.1% of the cost of the CRL. Provided you had the trains.

    1. And as has been explained many times, there are serious issues at the Newmarket Junction, as well as at Britomart that prevent additional trains from being added. Its also odd but not surprising that international rail experts who have worked on the projector reviewed it also disagree with you. Also interesting is that the MoT who have for a long time not liked the project never once thought that it was an alternative either.

      1. Matt, I think you need to be a bit more specific here. Disagree with what and never thought what was an alternative?

        1. I thought it obvious, but if not; disagree with “you could double the number of trains running on most of the existing network” and never thought “double the number of trains running on most of the existing network” was an alternative.

          Newmarket is a bottle neck and Britomart is a dead end with 5 platforms. Doubling the current number of trains would simply create double the problems that you find at these stations.

          1. Chris, I think you will find that neither international rail experts or the MOT have ever made such claims in the entire existence of the universe.

            If you have some direct links to the contrary I will be rather impressed.

    2. Yes we saw it. But not all of us think that it is so easy to just write off the CBD as a destination or agree that it isnt desirable to have more people working in the CBD.

      If we build the CRL we can have fast access to the CBD as well as allowing much faster travel between West/South or West/East and ultimately South/North (once we build rail to the North Shore).

      I realise from your previous comments you think it is a waste of money and we should all work in the suburbs but I dont think that is the way cities work, certainly not the way they work well. If we dont build a real city now that takes advantage of all the benefits of agglomeration of capital (both material and intellectual) but try and have some kind of pseudo city just spread all over the place, I really think we will struggle to retain or attract back what little young talent we have.

      It is really a question of whether you like cities or not. Auckland is not currently a city as far as I am concerned as it lacks much of the real urban form that a city needs, like a good PT network that services a vibrant CBD.

      1. Goosoid you are getting me all wrong. I think the CRL is a great project and something that needs to get built ASAP provided we get a good design. I have certainly never said it was a bad project, never said or implied I don’t like cities and I certainly never said anything was a waste of money.

        All I’m pouting out is that what we are told is the main benefit really isn’t. It’s one of the benefits but nowhere near as important as to how effectively the CRL gets people into and around the CBD.

        1. Wow that is how you write about something you do support? I hate to see what you say about things you dont support? LOL

          Well I do think one of the great things is the access outside the CBD. Infact for me, someone who lives in Bayswater and mostly travels by cycle/ferry, the biggest benefit I see is travel ex-CBD. I think Auckland has some great areas that I could access much better if I could take the ferry to the CBD and then jump on a train. If trains were every 5/10 mins then I would be able to do that. Right now the frequency isnt sufficient.

          I have actually raised the idea you have re straight through S/W trains quite often and was quite enthusiastic about it until the infrastructure problems at Newmarket were explained. Although in theory it is great, it would just give fuel to the argument that the CRL is not required by chewing up another $100m for the realignment at Newmarket.

          If it was just a matter of rescheduling the trains, I agree it would be fantastic, especially once the electric trains come in and we have 10 min frequencies anyway. It just seems to me like a distraction from getting the CRL built, which is the most important issue in Auckland right now as far as I am concerned. Despite most Aucklanders seeming to have no idea the concept exists.

          1. I haven’t actually used the train for about 5 years now but when I did I found it was just fine for off peak trips I could quite happily stroll down to the station, wait for a train then off I would go. With all the upgrades that have been done it should be even better now.

            I can’t see that changing at all with the CRL.

          2. there is a very big difference between waiting 30 minutes and waiting 5 minutes for a train. A 5 minute frequency will slash the average journey time, and make the train much more attractive as no timetable will be required.

          3. Anyone on the Onehunga line. Even at peak times it is limited to 2 trains an hour due to the lack of capacity at the terminus.

          4. Well that is rather poor, good to hear the Onehunga line will be running at 5min intervals off peak post CRL however.
            I do wonder what the average passenger volume will be though?

          5. Onehunga would operate at half the frequency of the main lines until such time as it might be extended to the airport. Still, ten minute headways is much more useful that 30/60. Passenger volume will increase significantly once Hop is fully implemented and the RPTP bus network is rolled out. Plenty of people from the Mangere area will suddenly realise that the free transfer to train will save them about 25-30 mins over staying on the bus for the trip to the City Centre at peak times. Shame we can’t get the train frequency up to make that transfer really useful, so it’s not going to work nearly as well as it could.

          6. Nick. I agree with you there. The current route that the Onehunga buses run along to the city is diabolical.

            Given no upgrades are planned for this route I may actually find it easier to catch the bus for 4km in the wrong direction to hope on the train and take an 8km trip back to Newmarket.

            Although given waterview is said to halve the amount of traffic heading down this route the bus route may turn out to be rather good in 5 years time.

    3. @Snow Flake, 0.1% of the cost is 2.86 million. That will not buy a single extra carriage. We are likely to need to double our fleet to handle the increased demand, pretty sure there is 500million assigned to that in the CRL project, so you are looking at 500million before you build the extra bit of track and an extra platform at Newmarket.

      Why do you continue to ignore the capital costs.

      1. SB. Did you not read the part where I said “provided you had the trains”.

        Interesting point you raise however, are they really planning to spend over $0.5b on new trains as part of the CRL to go with the current new trains on order?

        1. No, new trains are only part of it, there are also various regionwide network improvements included in the costing, such as station changes, removing level crossings from the western line and duplicating the onehunga line.

          1. I know I’m working on such crossings. As to if they actually build them however nobody knows.

        2. Then you would still have to upgrade Newmarket ‘s 3rd platform for aroung $100m minimum.Then the cost of CRL is down to 2.3 and your idea is still at 5 %, but in reality is at 20 as we can’t just pretend that we have trains.

  5. I was really excited to hear what Russell Norman had to say but then spent most of the time yelling at the TV as he kept dropping clunkers that will just give ammunition to the anti-CRL gmind set.

    The pro-CRL message really needs to concentrate on dispelling all of the myths that prevent people thinking PT can work here (density, geographical characteristics etc) and on showing the number of people who live within an acceptable distance from a train station.

    The message also needs to emphasise the benefits of getting from New Lynn to Ellerslie or Henderson to Glen Innes, not just to the CBD. By talking about the CBD all the time it just gives fuel to the anti-CRL crowd to roll out their myopic biut accurate stats about how many people work in the CBD. Also about how it will enable rail to the North Shore and the airport.

    I think it would be great if someone at AT did a dummy post-CRL timetable so people could see what will be possible. Eg you plug in that you want to travel from Manukau to Kingsland and show how long it would take. That may open people’s eyes up to what will be possible and they can make a comparison with that trip by car now.

  6. As one who would genuinely like to understand why the CRL is a “good thing”, I find this post and other previous ones very confusing. I have no doubt it would be “nice to have”, but is it justified economically?

    Firstly, we are told that the CRL will speed up travel for those who work in the Aotea area. I get that, but how many people does that affect? As I recall, total CBD workers number around 60,000, so it will be a small proportion of that number, who are also train users and are incapable of walking a few hundred metres uphill. And yet we’re also told that stations have walkable catchments of x00 metres (I can’t remember what x is – maybe 4?, maybe 8).

    Secondly, we’re told that western line users heading to Britomart have to go into and reverse out of Newmarket. If that is so, why was the triangle built? I thought that a significant proportion of western line trains would or could bypass Newmarket.

    Thirdly, another argument is that the CRL will allow one to live in Glen Innes and work in Glen Eden, or vice versa, for example, and travel on a single train without changing. I get that too, but where are the statistics to support this demand? And if there is such a demand, why don’t certain trains do this now? Or do they?

    Now I understand all the stuff about unlocking capacity, increasing frequency and reducing travel times, but none of this seems to be supported by useful statistical information, or even surveys of potential users. As an aside, yesterday a keen supporter of the CRL, Russel Norman on Q&A, consistently called the CRL a loop, while the bloggers on this site insist it’s a link. I couldn’t care less what it’s called, but one would expect the advocates to have sorted out a consistent name by now.

      1. Is a bell necessary on a bike? No idea Christopher, it might depend on which motorway. However, as we were discussing the CRL, do you have any useful thoughts on that topic? If so, I would be very happy to hear them.

    1. Jonno yes you are confused:

      1. Western line trains CURRENTLY do a dogsleg into Newmarket on the way to the Britomart terminus. The CRL will remove this detour.
      2. The AK CBD in general and the Aotea catchment in particular have the biggest concentrations of people anywhere in the country. Currently trains go to one point on the edge of this area so the CRL will provide the first ever direct and free from congestion journeys from East South and West through the heart of this area. It is reasonable to expect that many different combinations of journeys will become newly attractive to many more people than currently use trains as a result of these new, faster, more direct, and more frequent options.
      3. The new through-routing patterns made possible by the CRL will offer may different options than just to Britomart and then home again. Like say from Meadowbank to Kingsland for Eden Park, etc. I would seriously not trust any guess at how many and when these trips will be taken up as this whole idea is completely new. In theory we could try to guess how many are currently driving between every possible point on the new lines but that is unlikely to help; overseas experience suggests changes on this scale will lead to new trips currently not taken. Even Parnell to K’Rd I can imagine being popular as the streets between those points are crowded and hilly and slow to navigate.

      You see the CRL will change everything; it is the difference between having a metro and not having one. The only possible precedent I have think of in Auckland is the Harbour Bridge, it is not like adding another lane to an existing motorway, everything will be changed by this. We have to build it to really find out. I am certain that almost everyone will be surprised by how suddenly jumping on a train becomes so useful and ordinary to so many Aucklanders who currently are hardly aware we have such a thing once we build this Link. So it is not a surprise that it is not understood because there is no precedent for the scale of change it will bring with this mode, nor any mode since the 1950s. It will be like the Sky Tower; with the CRL our Metro will become a new defining image of Auckland.

      4. The reason we don’t like to use loop and are disappointed when others do is that it gives the impression that trains will go around and around in the CBD and this is not the case.

      And yes it is way more justified economically than any RoNS.

    2. 80,000 workers plus 60,000 students, plus who knows how many who come for shopping or entertainment or civic stuff. That is the current demand. If we increase the ability to get into the city centre quickly and easily then those number will increase. There are estimates of developable land to double the number of job spaces in the CBD, if people can get there. Likewise things like movies or restaurants or strolling on the watefront or going to the theatre, if it becomes quite easy to pop in on a train more people will do it. Recall there are new stations planned at Aotea and K Rd and Newton. These stations service more than just the core of the CBD, plus together with buses they allow a huge chunk of the central area to be accessed very easily. FOr example the fastest way for many people to get to Ponsonby Rd would be a train to K Rd station then on a Link bus for four minutes. I did an analysis not long ago that revealed 23% of Auckland jobs are located in the city centre between Ponsonby and Parnell and back to Eden Tce.

      Here is another way to consider it. We have over 150,000 trips to the city centre each day. Already some 50% of those don’t drive, they come by public transport, walking and cycling. If the City Centre is to grow and develop economically then the demand for trips will increase, particularly at peak times but also across the day and evening. There is very little extra capacity for more car traffic and little potential to build any. Bus movements are something like 90% of the reasonable maximum, before we start doing things like shutting whole roads down for buses only. If we want to grow the city the travel can only come from PT (and walking and cycling), and within PT rail is the easiest way to give a huge increase in travel capacity.

      Generally people are willing to walk over a kilometre to get to a station in their home suburb, research at New Lynn and Henderson proves this. However at the destination end the walk distances are about half that. That’s why precise station location in metropolitan centres is critical, while in suburban areas they can be a bit wider spaced. Britomart is at the bottom of a long hill which doesn’t help either.

      Why was the triangle built? World Cup fever. It was intended for stadium specials only as far as I know.

      There is statistical information of origins and destinations from the census, this shows there is demand for crosstown travel. Why don’t we run these trains already? Because the core of the network is a logjam so running them is hard (despite what Snowflake and others claims we can’t just run more trains on the existing tracks and junctions), the route is quite circuitous around the east side of town, plus the demands are low. It might only be demand for one train an hour between Glen Innes and Glen Eden ways. So how does the CRL fix that? Well it relieves the logjam by doubling the number of tracks through the core, bypassing one main junction and relieving the number of conflicting movements on another. It also means that the direct run into the city centre is also the fastest route across town. This means every single train is simultaneously the best way to go to the CBD and the fastest way to go from east to west or whatever the pattern may be. You can carry all those crosstown trips ‘for free’ without needing to run any special crosstown trains, you just get on the next train that comes every five minutes and head to the city or out the other side.

      1. Given you mentioned me. Actually yes we can run more trans, it’s just that by doing that alone addresses very few of the problems.

        As for going from Glen Innes to Glen Eden. I don’t see there being much difference be there a CRL or not. Chances are you will need to take one train to town and then another out just like we do today.

        1. No you won’t well depending on the route configuration I favour an East West and an Onehunga Papakur combo. Even if you do have to transfer it will be far quicker.

          By the way, at the moment we do not have capacity to add that service as the strand is at its maximum, and these trais would have to go through that area.

      1. Hell yeah!

        Saw it just as I got off so couldn’t get a photo, but pretty stoked. Went into britomart and they said rolled out by june on NEX and all buses by November.

  7. I have to ask why the hell was Russell Norman the Green Party MP who fronted rather than the party’s own transport spokesperson Julie-Anne Genter who wouldn’t have made the mistakes Norman did?

  8. Snowflake, what do you mean places you can’t currently go? I’m sure plenty of people do it already, only thing is you need to take a train then the shuttle bus or a bus then walk. Build the new station where so many people go each day, and you give them an option that is much faster than what they do now. If that isn’t a travel time saving I don’t know what is. I guess the road equivalent would be relocating a carpark closer to a destination so that people can spend more time driving and less time walking from the car to their destination.

    Pete, those times are based on what they already do on the rail network. For example, the western line is 23km from Swanson to Newmarket, and does that in 48 minutes. 23km in 48 minutes is 28.7km/h.
    The other figure then, 11km in 23 minutes, that equals… 28.7km/h. If anything they are underestimating the speed by basing it on what the current slow lumbering trains can achieve. And what is so spectacular about 30sec dwell times? We do that already in places, so does Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. It’s not particularly spectacular, 45sec is considered a very long and slow dwell on most suburban rail systems.

    1. Well Nick.

      If I was trying to sell Puhoi to Warkworth the same way I could say the time saving was about 3.5 hours as that’s how long it would take you to walk from the end of the motorway to Warkworth.

      1. How do you not get that those are incomparable. Currently the fastest way to get from NL to Aotea in nthe rush takes 53 minutes, this will go down to 23. Currently in the busiest periods Auckland to Whangarei takes a minimum 2 hours, the motorway will reduce it to 1 hour 55.

        We are talking about the best possible travel times here.

  9. But nobody walks it, so you’d be saving no one any time.

    The key point here is that people do already use PT to get from the likes of New Lynn to the Aotea area, so making that trip faster is an actual time saving.

    1. Yep, my wife works up next to where the Aotea station will be and walks up there from Britomart every day. Post CRL she would be able to walk out of the station and right into work, a decent time saving not just on the train but also in walking.

    2. If they want to be more representative of the affect the CRL has they need to compare the inner stations such as Newmarket, Britomart, kingsland and Orakei with how things will be operating with the new trains.

      Currently only one of the 6 routes shown is a true representation with the others including too many none CRL benefits.

      They also don’t show any of the potential penalty trips such as Kingsland to Newmarket.

      1. Indeed, they need to market the benefits much more widely and completely. They should also take into account the wait time and transfer time improvmenets that come from vastly improved frequency. There won’t be any penalty between Kingsland and Newmaket if wait time is taken into account in the equation, because the wait time at Kingsland with be about a third of what it is now, which more than makes up for the additional time required to transfer to get to Newmarket.

        1. Yes knowing how much time would be saved going from the likes of Orakei to kingsland would be great. Although the passenger volumes would likely be rather low it would show just how much more effective the system would be operating.

          As for making non-transfer trips into transfer trips I would imagine a number of people would be rather posses off.

          Although their maximum wait time may be reduced people tend to like to sit on one vehicle rather than having to change part way through.

          For me the added transfer would likely just make me drive as I really cant be stuffed with doing such things.

          1. Well in the case of Kingsland to Newmarket you don’t actually have to change trains as they both be on the same line, albeit a slower route via the CRL. Just that changing trains saves you time, so the option for either is there… But yes, at the end of the day travel from the west to Newmarket is being make second fiddle to west to CBD trips, but I think that is very justified. My guess is for every one person who feels put out over Newmarket we’ll see ten or twenty new travellers who relish the direct fast trip into the city centre.

        2. I have finally figured out what your point has been with all your posts (especially considering you say you are pro-CRL).

          You are saying that many of the positives credited to the CRL will actually be achieved before then by electrification and the new trains. A lightbulb has just gone on. There is some truth to that but I see each of them as one half of a very complex puzzle. One cant really deliver the solution for Auckland without the other, at least long term.

          From my pretty extensive experience of commutting on metros in Europe, transfers are not a problem. It is lack of frequency that puts people off. If you have to change but know there will be a train every 5 mins, then it is not a big deal. Again I believe this has been borne out by research.

          I really believe that you wont opt for the car over transfers if there are 5min trains as it is really nothing to wait, especially when it will be very short walk to another platform,not the labyrinthine walks in some London stations, more like Prague where you go up one flight and you are on the other line. London is just too big to be a useful comparison, Prague is a much better comparison with a similar population (and incomes).

          Some of the phases on traffic lights in Auckland are almost that dwell time and certainly waits to get on the motorway can be 3-5 times that. What is the difference?

          1. The thing about PT is that people like to take it because it is an easy stress free form of travel. Once you start interrupting people’s trips the ease and stress free ride is diminished.

            From back when I used to take the train in from out west it was a smooth ride in and I tended to wait for about 1min at the station. The overall trip however took 40mins for me to get to work in Newmarket rather than 30 mins in the car or on the bus.

            If things where changed so that I then needed to catch a bus to the train station, wait a few mins, catch the train to another station only to need to wait a few more mins to transfer to another so I could finally go for a 10min walk once I got to Newmarket I would be sure to drive as it would be much easier and about twice as fast.

          2. Well in that situation we might lose you as a patron, but I’m confident that any loss over Newmarket would be covered many times over by the amount of new train trips going to Newton, K Rd and Aotea, and extra trips on the faster journey to Britomart. Not great for some individuals, but a net positive overall by far.

            There is also the factor that other lines might gain a direct one seat trip to Newmarket, the eastern for example.

          3. True, based on nothing at all I’d guess about 90% or more people will find life on the rail system much better.

            It’s only logical really and you can’t please everyone.

          4. As long as the frequencies are right, transfers are not a problem. I would rather make several transfers (e.g. local bus to a rail line to a second rail line), knowing that I only had a few minutes wait time at each, than wait for half an hour to an hour for a specific service. Especially if I am in a hurry, because I know that I’m constantly getting closer to where I need to be, rather than waiting at the far end of my journey, hoping that a bus will turn up in time.

          5. Yes it’s all about the frequency. Frequency makes transferring trivial [and integrated fares]. One transfer on the average journey is easy, two might make you think, and three suggests a poorly designed system for a place of Auckland’s size, or a trip of unusual complexity or from and obscure and distant place.

          6. I think one transfer should be expected on most trips (to/from the CBD or other hub) and two is fine if going anywhere else (e.g. cross town/hub). No transfers is for shorter trips (e.g. to the local hub, or within town) or when you happen to be going from one hub to another, or if you are lucky enough to live by a direct route to work. Three transfers I agree would usually be a longer/more obscure route.

            And sometimes transfers actually make your life a lot easier. Like being able to catch the local bus to the train station (instead of a 10-15 min walk)… so much awesomeness for all the lazy people like me, haha.

          7. So let me get this right.
            You two would rather take a 40 hour flight to London with 5 stops on route than you would a 30 hour flight with 2 stops based on the sole fact that the connecting flights were more frequent.

            Note that at each stop you are require to stand round and wait. No sleeping or looking round.

            That sounds very strange to me but pretty much the same thing.

          8. Exactly wrong. The high frequency of the connecting parts of the journey improve it by making the total trip quicker. Clearly if there was a quicker and more direct option you’d take that.

            Here it is again: Currently there are lots and lots of infrequent but direct trips to the AK CBD across all Transit modes, and very few trips direct or otherwise much anywhere else. By taking those resources and focussing on a smaller number of the best routes [ie the most direct, quickest, most high volume, and, crucially, most separate from other traffic] and radically improving their frequency we can then leverage off this quality and frequency by making other trips feed into these. This is the RTN network; rail plus the Northern Busway.

            For example, say there is a bus every hour from Howick to the CBD; if that bus takes an hour to do this run, but now we terminate it at the Panmure train station and send it back to do that same Howick- Panmure run and that now takes 20 mins, then for the same resources we can triple the service to the people of Howick, but of course that will only work if the train turns up at Panmure often enough for them to not lose time waiting for the connection, and if the train is quicker than the bus to the city [it is]. But that wait time is important. So frequency is king.

            Also note instead of sending the bus back to Howick we also now have the option of sending it on another direction, like a cross town route where it will also link up with other bus and train services to further increase the places that can be reached either directly or with another connection. Have a look at the FTN map and see how it fits with the RTN and it will become clear that this connection model is results in a fantastic and radical improvement of the Transit offer for all Aucklanders on every imaginal kind of journey.

            And the cool thing is that this new cross town network is a result of improving the core higher demand centre focused systems; Win:Win. But it needs speed and especially frequency on the RTN, and the infrastructure to facilitate connections. Like an efficient means of switching from the Te Atatu bus to the SH16 bus. from the Howick bus to the Panmure train, etc…. and integrated ticketing and fares.

            This is the Great Upgrade.

          9. Patrick. As per the path of this discussion. How is turning a direct connection from Kingsland to Newmarket into a two stage trip with a transfer going to become quicker? That just makes no logical sense.

            In terms of the greater network change you bring up I completely agree, fact is however is that is not what we were talking about.

          10. Snowflake, consider your airline analogy in the case where the forty hour trip with extra connextions departs every day, and the thirty hour trip departs only once every six days. Now if you have the time and flexibilty you’d try and plan ahead to do the shorter trip.

            But say you’ve only got two weeks leave starting next Monday, well then you’ll take the flight on the first day rather than waste six days waiting for the faster journey. Quite obviously you get there sooner on the longer flight leaving tomorrow, despite the journey time.

            Same thing with the CRL potentially. The massive increase in frequency should mean it becomes faster to just take the next train that comes along and connect at the right place. they journey might be slightly longer but you can start it right now, so in most cases that means you get there sooner regardless. Now like the airline if you can plan ahead to be on one particular departure at the right time that is little use. But of you’re not quite certain when you’ll finish up a work or how long dinner will take or whatever, the frequency of departure can be muh more important for your journey time than how long it takes once you are underway.

          11. Ok. In the running patterns we favour Grafton is likely to get direct service from the Southern Line instead of the Western [because of the greater advantage of running Western Line trains straight into the CRL]. Western line users headed for Grafton and the Southern Line are expected to make a quick switch at Newton, simply crossing the island platform for a frequent service heading South. For these Western line travellers headed to Grafton or Newmarket there will be small disadvantage, but for Southern Line travellers to Grafton or the 3 new CRL stations, Western Line riders to the CRL stations, Britomart and the Eastern Line it will be much better. For Western Liners heading South it will be the same, one connection, but of course on a network with higher frequencies. So the net change for the whole network will be better than neutral.

            So you’ve found the one journey that will involve a transfer that currently doesn’t. That needs to balanced against the new ones that won’t AND that the fact that all journeys, with connections and without, will benefit from higher frequencies. Which i think is the point of the conversation.

            Incidentally it is relevant that you mention airlines, because this connection based system is exactly how they are all run, globally. Just today I helped my daughter book some tickets, and while it might seem mad to fly from NY to London via Frankfurt, but turns out to be the cheapest at the time she needs to go; bingo the power of connections. A slight inconvenience in the length of that trip but a greater convenience to her overall journey [and savings].

          12. Patrick and Nick, thanks for your replies. You have made the case very clearly, and have pretty much covered everything I was going to say!

            Snow flake, if you want to experience how this really works then please do take a bus to Howick (or Torbay, or Blockhouse Bay), and then compare the first part of the trip with the (quicker) train/busway trip. E.g. If you look on AT/Maxx you will see that the train from Britomart to Panmure takes 22mins, whereas the shortest bus trip (on a Howick & Eastern service, which go via Panmure) is 43mins. Based on my personal experience, the bus trips are often longer because they get stuck in traffic. So there is immediately at least 19min saved by catching the train and transferring. If the bus doesn’t have to make that trip into the CBD in the first place, then straight away we have a minimum of 43mins x 2 (there and back) of extra bus time available. Which means that local services can run more often, etc (as Patrick has covered very well above).

            All the places I mentioned are reasonably near a transport hub, but the direct buses are fairly infrequent (especially outside of peak hours) and take a long time. The reason that people don’t transfer at the moment is due to a) tickets not being integrated, and b) low frequency (so they can’t be sure that they’ll get an easy connection). Once you solve those problems then connections/transfers are the best way to get around a city like Auckland.

          13. Oh, and my take on your use of an airport analogy: If the plane with more connections (I’ve done Seattle-Frankfurt-UK, and NZ-Australia-somewhere else-UK, and others) is cheaper and at a better time than a direct flight, then yes I would definitely take that. Especially as the stopovers are short and it increases my flexibilty. E.g. I can choose to fly to most cities in the UK from Frankfurt, which has saved me a huge amount of travel time from London to my final destination, whereas a direct flight from Seattle would probably only go to London. I have taken advantage of this type of flexibility and convenience several times. However, if the suggested stopover is 7 hours in LAX, then I will pay more for a direct flight to my final destination. It really depends on the overall convenience for me.

            Thankfully our PT network doesn’t include LAX, or US airport security, or 7 hour wait times for transfers, so I doubt that any transfer will be that big a deal. Maybe if I’m carrying a suitcase, but if I can manage that through an airport then I should be able to manage it from a train to a bus!

  10. “Have a look at the FTN map and see how it fits with the RTN”

    A simplified version of that combination might make a useful communication tool.

  11. Yes, This is a self centered question I will admit (“Me, Me It’s all about meeee!” type) and I’m sorry.

    As a car dependent / malcontent motorist who travels between Meadowbank and East Tamaki, what is the CRL going to achieve for me in the medium term (5-10 years)? There’s no train service to East Tamaki, and there’s a lack of cycle facilities and an abysmal bus service (Apart from the successful Botany to CBD 680 service that, but that only skims the top part of East Tamaki Ind.) due to layout which really is a catastrophic planning accident.

    What about the majority of Malcontent Motorists such as myself in Auckland who find themselves car dependent due to lack of travel choices and who have seen very little (if any) improvements / PT developments in their areas for about decade? Bus services in many areas (e.g Remuera Road) don’t appear to have been reviewed for almost a decade despite promises to do so by the previous councils.

    While I agree having the CRL is ultimately is something that is needed, I have a strong hunch / feeling that there is a plethora of other things in Auckland that deserve our attention and could be done in order to encourage people out of their cars at least in the medium term.

    1. It’s a fair question. We aren’t going to be able to use public transit for all trips. But the CRL should get some people off the road network you’re still using. And give you some options for those non-work trips where you would rather leave the car at home.

    2. You may not be aware but the current Regional Public Transport Plan proposes a massive revision of the exisitng bus network to put direct, fast, frequent and long span of service bus routes across all of Auckland. This is starting this year and being rolled out to 2016. The days of abysmal bus service are numbered, and yes the Remuera Rd bus has been reviewed, improved and extended along with every other bus route in the region.

      There are a plethora of other things that deserve attention but those are all being dealt with over the next five years or so, but after those are fixed the CRL is the next immediate need. Bear in mind that the CRL wouldn’t open for another seven years even if it were funded today, so it’s a medium term project after the short term projects are finished. The real risk is we do all the small things that need fixing, then have to wait seven years for any further improvement from the CRL. That’s why we need to start the construction process now, so that it is actually ready in seven years.

      Under the revised bus network proposed to integrate with the CRL, there will be a regular connecting buses to East Tamaki from Panumure station. This bus would run in park on the south eastern busway which is currently being built between Pakuranga and Panmure.

      You could, for example, catch the train from Meadowbank to Panumre then connect to East Tamaki via the new fast and frequent bus. The CRL allows the trains to run through Meadowbank and Panmure every five minutes or better in both directions. The current network is limited to ten minute headways at best.

      Now I assume you do things other than just work. As a result of the CRL the trains through Meadownbank will be very fast and regular, you could catch them one way to go shopping at Sylvia Park and skip all the traffic and parking issues. You might catch it the other way to visit the theatre at Aotea Square and not have to pay for parking. You’d also be able to take a direct train through the CRL to places like Kingsland, where you could, for example, drink a bottle of wine with dinner and not worry about drink driving. You could also catch it directly to an event at Eden Park station.

      Perhaps the biggest benefit is that the CRL creates a huge capacity and speed increase right along the eastern line, through Meadowbank, Glen Innes, Panure, Sylvia Park, and all other station on all lines. That means a lot of other people who are currently forced to drive have a realistic option of the train to areas that are served by stations. So while it may not benefit your personal trip, it benefits a lot of others, so potentially that means a lot less pressure on the roads you still drive on. A good example is how quick the bus-rail trip from the likes of Howick and Pakuranga to the City Centre will become, two to three times faster than driving. Lots of commuters will pick that instead, and won’t be driving on the roads as a result.

    3. AT are addressing the PT network in the short to medium term with the new bus network which came from a complete review of what we have now and provides more high frequency services all across the city. They are also slowly sorting out integrated ticketing, fares along with some other low hanging fruit (although some more bus lanes would be nice).

    4. Tian, the CRL is the end point of a major upgrade of all Transit services in AK, in particular a total redesign of the bus network resulting in a less city centre focused system, with higher frequencies, new routes (especially cross town) and free transfers. More services and for longer hours.

      The bus network changes will certainly offer you connections from the increased services on the eastern line either at Panmure (then new bus lanes and services to East Tamaki) or perhaps Papatoetoe.

      The CRL will increase the frequencies to 5mins on the Eastern line and connect your station to many more parts of the city, should you change jobs, or want to go to or through the city, say to go toEden Park for instance.

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