It was a relief last week to see the majority of councillors vote against delaying the City Rail Link project, as part of developing the draft Long Term Plan. Add that to Transport Minister Simon Bridges comments to Newstalk ZB yesterday saying the government accepts the need for and agrees it is sensible timing for the ‘enabling works’ to take place while the Downtown Shopping Centre works are going on. The enabling works is the cut and cover tunnel from Britomart to Wyndham St.
As such it now seems certain that the enabling works part of the project will commence either late next year or early 2016, with the timing of the rest of the project a matter for negotiation between the council and the government. With rail patronage booming, it seems like there’s certainly good reason for that negotiation to continue over the coming months before the final Long Term Plan is signed off in June next year.
For years now we have been annoyed by Auckland Transport’s inability to clearly explain some of the key benefits of the CRL project. Much of the talk has always been in terms of generalisations rather than specifics, often with far too much of a city centre focus and often just very confusing. Their best effort has been the CRL video they produced but requires people to actually watch it to get information which doesn’t support people being able to get a better understanding by glancing at an image. It would probably really help if they copied the messages in the videos across to other formats.
There are many hundreds of posts on this blog over the past five years about the CRL and its benefits for Auckland, so for this particular post I want to focus on one specific impact of the project – how it provides significantly faster travel times for people travelling to the city from locations along the Western Line. Here’s how Auckland Transport currently advertise the time savings.
Taking the intersection of Queen St and Wellesley St as a somewhat arbitrary location in “midtown”, we can start working out what difference the CRL makes to travel times – with a few key assumptions:
- Google maps says the walk to Britomart is about 10 minutes
- With CRL in place, it will take approximately 6 minutes to travel between Mt Eden Station and Aotea Station (Britomart to Mt Eden is listed as 9 minutes above, about 3 minutes per station).
- At the moment it takes 16 minutes for a train to travel between Mt Eden and Britomart.
- Finally, let’s assume 2 minutes to exit (or enter) any underground station – Britomart or Aotea
- This hasn’t taken into account the time spent waiting for a train which would boost the savings from the CRL even further due to the higher frequencies it allows.
Using the above assumptions we can map the western line in terms of how long it takes people to get to midtown from the particular section of the rail network – using rough 10 minute increments before and after the CRL. Thanks to Niko from Generation Zero for the fantastic graphic:
As you can see the differences are huge. The removal of the 11 minute walk up from Britomart plus it taking only 6 minutes (rather than 16) to travel between Mt Eden and town on the train means a whopping 21 minute reduction to trips times from western line stations to the very heart of Auckland. That means every location out to Glen Eden is now within a half hour train trip from midtown, whereas at the moment if you were travelling to midtown from Mt Eden via train it’d nearly take you half an hour.
A comparison between travel times to midtown at the moment, compared to a conservative estimate of post-CRL travel times is shown below. You’ll notice the New Lynn time doesn’t match up with what AT are suggesting which may be related to time savings from electric trains however we’re yet to see if any savings will actually eventuate. Even so, as you can see these are truly massive time savings, bringing many suburbs in the west far much ‘closer in’, in terms of their actual accessibility.
We’ll try to do a few more of these “travel examples” over the coming while, to really show in a concrete way what the benefits of CRL are. Southern Line to K Road station is next I think however we’ll also do some non CBD journey ones