Below is AT’s proposed post CRL rail running pattern. Quite complicated, with some peak only services and an infrequent 3tph [trains per hour] Henderson-Grafton-Otahuhu crosstown service. One feature of this design is that the 6 tph Swanson-CRL-Onehunga service [core Western line service] has every second train stopping at Newmarket, so it becomes 3tph from there to Onehunga. This is because the branch line from Penrose to Onehunga isn’t able to take any higher frequency, but also because there probably won’t be the demand on this little line to balance that of the whole of the western line, unless it is to be extended. And at 12tph there is plenty of action south of Newmarket- a train every 5 minutes each way.

Post CRL running pattern

Another notable feature is just how important Otahuhu is becoming. It’ll have 18tph both directions at the peaks; a train every few minutes each way [correction: actually 21 tph in the peak direction]. A frequency only matched by the Centre-City underground CRL stations. So it will be a great place to connect; that frequency kills wait times and connection anxiety, but also it offers a one-seat ride to everywhere on the network bar the last three Western Line stations and, unlike Newmarket, there is space for an expanded track layout for all these train movements [plus dedicated freight lines]. Add the fact that as you read this, thanks to the Council’s Transport Levy, a bus interchange station is being built there too, it’s becoming a real busy hub.

So picture this; How about adding the heart of Mangere and the Airport to the list of direct Otahuhu rail connections?


The Line

Here’s how it could go, there are a couple of options at the northern end, but otherwise around 9km of track over flat terrain pretty direct to the Airport. And, importantly some very good points along the way to serve the local community and add catchment to the service. On the map above I am proposing new stations at:

Robertson Rd

Mangere Town Centre/Bader Drive

Montgomerie Rd

Airport Terminals

The first two are close together but serve communities separated by SH20, and both are on good perpendicular bus and bike routes to expand that catchment. Mongomerie is also at a junction for good bus connection and is in the middle of the growing employment area north of the Airport. So residential, employment, and the community, education, and retail of the Mangere Town Centre too. Importantly this would act as a way to reconnect the community flung apart by the motorway severance. More on local impacts below.

Otahuhu is 25 minutes from Britomart, a number that should come down when AT and their operator sort out their currently overlong dwell times, and would be around 10 or so minutes from the Airport Terminals. 35mins from the heart of the city? Even cabinet ministers from the provinces would see the point of that congestion free journey when [say] going to meet us at the Ministry of Transport or NZTA in the city. But also such a fast and direct service would make taking it by connection from the North Shore viable, improving options for what is currently an expensive and congestion prone journey by any mode.

And in terms of running pattern it’s already sorted: send all 6tph of the western line on to through the CRL, Otahuhu, Mangere and the Airport. An immediate 10min all day frequency, through the busy Ellerslie and Newmarket hubs, direct to Remuera and Parnell, all the city CRL stations and every point on the Western line. Easy transfer at Otahuhu for every other station and connection point on the network. Uber to any station on the network with your bags, and you’re on your way in comfort and at speed right to the Terminal, and out of the vagaries of Auckland traffic and cost and hassle of parking. Personally I would prefer that transfer to the one people make now in their thousands at Airport Park’n’Rides.

Or if it’s preferred the 3tph currently intended to stop at Newmarket plus the 3tph of the crosstown service on from Otahuhu to make up the frequency. That looks overly fiddly and illegible to me, but that’s not important for this argument; the point is that Otahuhu in fact looks like a better point to connect Mangere and the Airport to the rest of the city than Onehunga, for both speed of service, and onward connections. And the added bonus of improving network efficiency by simply extending existing services.

Local Community

Of course the route is not free. the section between the SH20 interchange and Otahuhu station goes down a highway designation that NZTA still probably want and that the locals recently fought to keep as it is. Here:

Mangere Central

It is possible that the local community, if treated fairly and with respect, may see the advantages for them in having to this line in their midst. It is substantially different from a highway in terms of width, noise, pollution and benefit. The current residents would need to be rehoused to their advantage and the line would have to come with high quality and numerous crossing points and increased community access to the new stations and other destinations. It could be a catalyst for a whole lot of improvements in the area. But I can’t speak for them.

Otherwise it just faces the same route issues that the one sourced from Onehunga has. The refusal by previous decision makers, especially Manukau City Council, but also NZTA, and ARTA, to future proof adequately in their plans here means more expensive elevated solutions will be required over SH20A. However we are assured that the current Kirkbride Rd works allow for that and that the Airport company is similarly preparing for such a line. Otherwise it doesn’t look to face any unusual engineering challenge. Only the standard political and financial ones.

Interestingly here is report by BECA for ARTA from 2008 that features this route, with exactly the same station placements [can’t be too illogical then]. That found that Route 2B, as they called it, scored well:


BECA Airport Rail

But the report is complicated by the inclusion of the Avondale-Westfield line. One I never seen the point of in passenger terms and can not picture an efficient rail running pattern for, and that is only there because of an ancient freight designation. Also I find it odd that the report doesn’t analyse routes it terms of how services would use them.

Avondale-Onehunga-Penrose, and further, looks like it could be a more useful Light Rail service, once AT have their ‘four finger’ routes all ending along this line. The rest of the report is very dated and I’m sure would use very different ridership projections now.

I am confident about the utility and therefore the appeal of such a fast and direct line for Airport customers and employees, especially with such good onward connections and a turn up and go frequency. So long as the Sydney pitfall of putting a punitive fare on the Airport Station is not applied. Add the local residential, employment, and student catchments and bus connections, and this looks like a strong option without either the slow winding route from Onehunga, or the cost of crossing the Mangere inlet.

There is still the problem of the conditions that the Airport company are demanding; in particular a more expensive undergound route to future proof for a second runway to the north and to keep it out of the way of their new terminal plans. However AIAL also predict huge rises in passenger and associated business volumes at and around the Airport which means that they are going to find other more valuable uses for land than just car parking. And, despite the heroic showering of money on State Highways if this growth is still to only be served by single occupant vehicles and buses stuck with them then these roads and the local ones in the area are not going to work. A really effective Rapid Transit route and service is only going to be needed here with increasing urgency, and nothing will give the capacity and time competitiveness like hooking into the existing rail network that is already much of the way there.

Yes the capital investment will not be minor, but the outcome is both a permanent and extremely valuable for both the city’s efficiency and resilience. It will also add efficiency to the operations of the rail network, increasing utility and cost effectiveness by working those existing assets harder. The always senseless claim that ‘Aucklanders won’t use rail’ or other forms of public transport, has been proven wrong beyond any doubt since recent improvements and booming ridership numbers.  It really is time for certain groups to drop their blinkered knee-jerk rejection of this mode, as it is based on historic conditions and experiences that no longer apply in the new Auckland, and as it really is the best tool for this important job.

Like the Rail Network the Airport appears to be on a trajectory for 20mil passenger movements a year by 2020: It is long overdue that we get these two critical systems linked together for their- and the city and nation’s- mutual benefit.


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  1. The route looks sensible and I’m hoping we’ll see some nice density out at Otahuhu as a result – this area will surely change considerably in the years to come.

    Out of curiosity, any thoughts on a tunnel vs property purchase? I think a rail line is as much severance as a large road, and I’m sure residents will too with the school right there and recent fights against the E/W link. Vancouver’s Canada Line to the airport is tunnelled for a long way and avoided destroying neighbourhoods/communities (albeit much richer ones). Your blue section is considerably shorter than the underground aspects of the Canada Line (5 or 6 km I think

  2. Excellent, well thought-through proposal Mr Reynolds. Take this up AT. Its a very good solution for connecting the communities in that crucial part of South Auckland, with the rest of the city.

  3. I don’t like it. It’s inelegant compared with the onehunga route, it requires significant housing removal and it leaves the inefficient onehunga branch without upgrade. I’d consider it a fairly distant plan B.

    1. Inelegant is a curious word to use, as that’s certainly one way to describe the slow winding route from Onehunga to the water crossing. In fact I think this is considerably more elegant. On your second point I agree, it means the cost of upgrading the O-Line to full grade separation cannot be justified. So this route would probably better suit being part of a longer surface LRT connection as I say in the text.

    2. Elegant schmelegant. Only thing that matters is how fast it is. If airport rail takes much more than 30 minutes to the CBD I suspect it will be a waste of time. This route does seem sensible as it provides a wide option of connections too.

      1. Elegant is a good word; it contains efficient. It can’t both elegant and no use. This is the most direct and efficient route possible. And with proper 30sec dwell times, which AT must focus on next, this could get down to 30 mins. And that is extremely competitive; remember right to the terminal, no staggering through an ever bigger car park. No traffic snafus. This is the answer.

        1. Maybe I should try and clarify my comment a little. The southern line branches to go to Onehunga and Manuaku. If this new alignment was implemented it would be a 3rd branch. If the Onehunga line is extended then there is one fewer branch and the single tracking to Onehunga that limits frequency is solved. This is what I mean by more elegant – solves two problems at once without creating another one (assuming the additional branching affects TPH on the branches). The questions of speed and location coverage are of course also important. I can’t say if it’s better to cover Mangere Bridge on the way to Mangere or to have that extra stop east of SH20. I’m also unsure why going to Otahuhu is faster that going through Onehunga. Are there inherent assumptions that may make that true or not? Then there’s the effect of the ROW on existing housing and possible additional costs of trenching, tunneling or elevating. It’s good to have options, it’s also good to have rigorous analysis of those options. Otherise they’re just RONS.

        2. You are right about branches; yet as I show with their running pattern that simply taking the 6tph that will terminate at Otahuhu + Newmarket on this new branch wouldn’t actually dissipate frequency on the line at all. I agree without extension the O-line will never have RTN frequency because it will never be able to justify the cost required to grade separate it. To me that calls into question its eventual use by heavy rail. A more frequent other service, bus or LRT that transfers at Penrose or Otahuhu [or both] and heads off in other direction, Mangere, up SH20 may be better, across to Panmure…etc. And yes am in favour of good analysis of all options. And am distressed that this has not yet been done so NZTA can sneakily shut down options, or even more sneakily make sure every option is prohibitively expensive. AT have been way too slow here, for too long they have shown little interest. This increasingly important route has a woeful history of neglect by so many of our institutions.

        3. I think it is a small price to pay to miss out Mangere Bridge in favour of a rail route via Otahuhu (I live in Mangere Bridge). Much of it is not zoned for future intensification because of the NIMBY element in the area, whereas much of Mangere central and Mangere East are. The rail lines are still relatively close anyway. (5km max)

    3. I think a rail route to the airport across Mangere would require demolishing less houses than the Waterview motorway did!
      It was designated for a future motorway, then in the 90s/00s the Manukau Council started allowing houses on it.

  4. I think it’s a great idea and have been in favour of this route for some time. The main change I could make is to tunnel the stretch under the residential area. The tunnel diameter is very small compared to road tunnels we’ve been building and then negates level crossing and land purchase issues. Also removes residential severance, as David has mentioned above. The Onehunga corridor is better suited to LRT IMO.

      1. Well the EMU’s are pretty quiet. And on almost the entire royre it doesn’t need to be super elevated as it’s mostly just to enable walking / riding so as to mininise physical intrusion.

        1. Yes elevated down centre line of motorway, nice elevated station at Mangere Town Centre, also providing pedestrian and cycling links across the severance. Place benefits likely to outweigh visual disbenefits as it is over an existing visually and aurally poor motorway. Elevated also provides good security from short-cutting, suiciding, or rock-throwing miscreants.

  5. The avondale southdown freight line could benefit aucklands passenger network by removing freight trains from the core westfield – newmarket – avondale section (depending on marsden point they could become a problem) and the designation could become quite useful sometime. Obviously if the north auckland line is closed it becomes a non issue.

      1. Agree. Even if NAL gets busier, much of the freight could be night time runs anyway. And using LRT allows the line to cross at Avondale and head down Rosebank Rd to an interchange at the NW MWY.

        1. I suspect there would be strong opposition to a high usage of diesel freight trains at night. We would properly end up with restrictions similar to what has happened at Western Springs, leading to the use of trucks instead. That said it is currently moot, as we’re unlikely to get such an increase for a long time.

      2. Granted but who can confidently say northport wont one day be another port of tauranga with multiple 700m long trains daily, or piles of trucks on the awhc/holiday highway if that is preferable.

    1. Avondale Southdown was proposed as a means of getting freight to a port at Pollen Island which has been off the books for years. And yet the rail designation lingers blighting the neighbouring land and preventing much happening there, not to mention causing ridiculous extra expense to Transit NZ when they built their motorway. Maybe the George Bolt issue is just their form of utu.

      1. I’m pretty sure that the Avondale-Southdown designation predates the Pollen Island proposal – certainly in recent years it’s been seen as getting freight between North Auckland and Westfield/Southdown, where rail freight facilities are concentrated, avoiding Newmarket.

        It may not be justified by “one train a night” but I think that there are currently four, and if Marsden Point gets connected there is potential for many more. Squeezing them into a four/five-hour night window would be difficult, and running them in between frequent EMUs to all intents and purposes impossible (and the same applies with rail to the airport – to my knowledge no purpose-built rail-air link in the world carries freight).

        And I’m not sure why (even if there were a way of doing it) a comparatively few freight trains should be banned at night on noise grounds while the adjacent motorway is full of noisy trucks at all hours.

        1. There’s more at, which says (amongst lots of other interesting stuff: Glen Innes-Penrose line, anyone?):

          “Primarily this line is likely to be justified in terms of how it would improve shifting freight between Northland – via the North Auckland Line (the Western Line) – and the industrial hub of Auckland around Southdown/Penrose/Westfield. At the moment all freight trains heading north need to pass through Newmarket and the inner part of the Western Line – which obvious means plenty of potential conflicts with passenger services. As passenger service levels increase in the future it is likely to become more and more difficult for freight to find an appropriate ‘window’ to operate in, particularly through busy junctions like Newmarket. This is where the Avondale-Southdown line would come in handy.”

        2. As I vividly recall from dashed lines on old maps and atlases that I used to have (or have access to at libraries), on top of the research work of Chris Harris, I think the Glen Innes-Penrose-Onehunga-Avondale line was planned to continue up the Rosebank peninsula to a port complex at Pollen Island and/or Te Atatu peninsula and then continue on to Whenuapai airport (Auckland’s main airport at the time) and then on to rejoin the North Auckland line at Kumeu, with a link from the Rosebank peninsula to the vicinity of Baldwin Ave station on the Western line to the CBD, and another link from Onehunga to Westfield, thus respectively making a significant shortcut for travel between the north-west districts to the CBD, and the then-developing employment areas in the south-east of the isthmus and beyond to South Auckland. All this when the population of Auckland was only about 350,000 (albeit most of the areas these lines were to go through were still open pastures at the time). It amazes me how small-minded people have become since then.

  6. Agree. Better for Mangere TC and the surrounding areas, (totally different proposition from a motorway if done well.. could even cut and cover?) and for that matter the whole of East Auckland.. bus to Otahuhu interchange. Also way better for the Eastern Line suburbs. GI to AKL is tortuous using Onehunga (two changes at Otahuhu and Penrose or 11 stops via the CRL).. plenty of people working at AKL commuting from these parts acc to the 2013 census data. With the Otahuhu option they have a simple, frequent, _elegant_ solution.

    Doesn’t let the E-W motorway off the hook though..

  7. Quite like this idea, as it means people can travel by train from any point on the network direct to Otahuhu and to the airport from there. Eastern and Southern passengers are quite disadvantaged by the Onehunga option. The eventual two-route plan (from Onehunga and Wiri) could finally be dropped as well, leading (presuambly) to an overall cost saving.

    I would go with cut & cover for the residential area. Avoid splitting the community.

    1. Yes I see a future line completing the circuit across from the Airport to join the Southern Line near Wiri, but with south facing connections only.

      The service simply continues on to terminate at say Papakura [the line will be electrified with more stations further south by then]. So A Swanson-CRL-Mangere-Papakura Line elegantly adds capacity on the populous stretch of the Southern Line south of Manukau City, just after the Eastern line services leave the main line.

      The equivalent population of Hamilton is to be added to South Auckland over the next couple of decades so there will be demand.

      1. +1

        Agree. This would make it a true Southwestern line, as discussed many times on this blog (better future-proof the approaches to the airport station to be a through station in that case, to avoid another Britomart dead-end in-out problem).

        You’re right Patrick, this will give people a choice of route options and take the pressure off a saturated Southern line (I think many people, even on this blog, really underestimate how big rail is going to become in Auckland’s future form).

  8. Why not build the line as Light Rail to Otahuhu?
    The only single seat ride with this proposal will be those from west or down the southern spine so everyone else has to change trains anyway.

    My thoughts of LRT is based on that cool picture of Dominion Road LRT – imagine if that Mangere corridor had *local* dutch-style connectivity – bollards to keep the cars and like off using it like a corridor – then add cycleways, walking, and LRT down that corridor which if done well like Dominion Road is proposed..
    Would allow reduction in severance and without the issues around overhead electric lines (hopefully).

    With properly placed stations it could completely transform Mangere Town Centre and the whole area and give the community a PT system to be truly proud of.
    for Dom. Road AT proclaim 15,000 people within 500m of the Dom Road LRT corridor, surely Mangere+Airport would offer similar “walkup” densities, if not now, certainly before too long?

    Also that PT/cycling “solution” AT are proposing between Mangere and Otahuhu as a “tack on” sop for the East-West corridor needs to be scrapped and redone with something like LRT in its design.

    Lastly I note the BECA report routes the rail lines around the eastern end of the 2nd runway avoiding tunnelling – why is this not an option in the 2.0 option here too?

    1. On your last point, since that report the airport have decided they want a full length runway so that’s ruled out the eastern option which was meant to be the plan for both the road and rail.

    2. I don’t support light rail to the airport. On street light rail surely could not safely exceed 50-60 km/h, whereas heavy rail can easily do 100km/h. Remember the line will be competing against motorway speeds, not local roads like Dominion Rd.

    3. Yes LRT could be a strong distributor but the core route needs to be RTN, it must be fast and direct. Not rambling through the ‘burbs, no matter how much traffic light priority it can get.

      LRT linking the ‘four fingers’ along the SH20 route and connecting with the rail line at Penrose, or Otahuhu, or even at Mangere TC, would be ideal.

      We have not only tracks but services with new modern trains half way there; why wouldn’t we fight to do it properly, and complete this route?

      Just because of the intransigence of others working against the city’s best interests.

    4. Also on the last point: planes and trains (and road vehicles) should really be grade-separated.

      (I think Gisborne airport is the only airport in the world that has a level crossing on its runway! – and it was like this for many decades (before the railway line was (hopefully only temporarily) mothballed).)

  9. Interesting idea but as I discovered at the new CLG last night there is no longer any room at the inn down George Bolt Drive – the entire designation will be taken up with 4 motorway lanes + emergency shoulders + 3.5m shared path – there is zero space left for rail (light or heavy) except in the Kirkbride intersection trench (580 metres long) which has been widened by 4.5m to accommodate a future single light rail track down the centre-line. I asked very carefully about all this and was told that any rail (light or heavy) would require land purchase along the whole SH20A corridor. Of course there is underground but the cost then becomes unrealistic. AT has seriously dropped the ball here by failing to designate. There latest study by AT/AC is due out very soon apparently but meantime work starts next week on the noise walls and cycleway on the very land we always assumed had been earmarked for rail to the airport. How sad.

      1. Could it be that the airport doesn’t want rail connection because that would impact too much on their revenue from parking. It’s a huge earner for them.

        1. Well this is not a near term likelihood, and given the Airport’s growth trajectory I figure they will need an RTN solution as well as expanding their parking offer. Especially as it will enable more high-value landuse proximate to the Terminals. I prefer to take their publicly expressed views in favour of this as sincere. But I am an optimist.

        2. Yeah, that’s a dotted line on a plan corresponding to ATs old plans, I don’t think the airport cares much.

          If they did they wouldn’t stick the station underground on the far side of an eight lane access road and a carpark.

        3. I met with several of airport exec team some 10 years ago or so. They fitted the description of being grey haired, anglo-saxon managerial class establishment males comfortable in their Audis or SUVs. The idea of airport rail seemed completely outside their comfort zone in contrast to being able to count the number of car-parks on their parking lot that they could generate revenue from today.

          Everything that has happened over the past ten years seems to indicate that this mindset is very entrenched…their somewhat younger marketing teams might sell the vision of Auckland as an international Asia-Pacific airline hub, but I suspect the same grey haired men regard this purely as spin. Their managerial focus doesn’t extend beyond the next quarterly or next annual result. I’d love to be proven wrong.

    1. Elevated. The cost will be higher, but this has been chosen by NZTA and others who refused to plan ahead.

      It frankly is absurd to see a fast and direct RTN service through our second biggest employment area and most important link to the rest of the world as a ‘nice to have’ that can be priced out of the equation. It is the key to the efficient running of the road system, especially for freight and service vehicles.

      1. Yeah, at least, apart from the to be built Kirkbride interchange, there are no elevated interchanges to get by. Makes elevated easier and not being in a residential area, noise issues are mitigated.

      2. I totally support the elevated option through George Bolt Memorial and through Kirkbridge interchange. NZTA and AT’s complete negligence here has condemned rail to the elevated option. Might even provide some nice scenic views of suburbia for tourists and airport zone workers using the line.

    2. Single track?! Incredibly pathetic.

      In 1909 when the population was only about 100,000 we began doubling the railway lines in Auckland.

      What planet are NZTA on to think about a single track in the 21st Century?!

    3. What happened to the NZTA, AT, etc. project to designate rapid transit to the airport with the promising name of “Smart”? Renamed “completely dumbed down”? Or “Insane” for securing a designation within the airport but no way to reach it? Project code “BWH”? (Brownlee Was Here.)

      For a project that was on the top 3 list for the mayor and number 1 public popularity (IIRC front page of the Herald?) this is pathetically sad.

      BTW: what is a CLG?

  10. Josh Arbury has written a position paper for Auckland Council apparently – was due to go out for public comment in May but has been delayed while waiting for more info on light rail option to allow “apple with apples” comparison of both modes for rail to the airport. Unfortunately AT and AC seem blissfully unaware of what NZTA is actually building – work is now at an advanced stage as they construct stage I which is the new north bound on ramp from Kirkbride which will provide the motorway with a detour around the footprint of the trench and overbridge. This on ramp and the cycleway alongside it occupy what should have been the railway designation. Not sure if their paper is only looking at Onehunga-Airport route – be very interesting to see what is put up and what feedback ensues.

    1. Soo, what you’re saying is that with NZTA providing for rail in the Kirbride Trench design, they have precluded the ability to get rail to that trench to actually use it?

      What a nice “f*ck you” 2 finger salute from NZTA that is to Auckland.

      1. AT paid for the necessary changes to allow rail, NZTA had never even included it in their designs nor were prepared to pay for its allowance.

        1. So NZTA let AT pay to have it put in something it couldn’t ever use?
          Sounds like a f*ck you to me from NZTA no matter how you dress it up or point the finger.

    2. Graeme, did NZTA also charge AT for the (again, pathetic, single track) enabling of the piers for the recent Mangere Bridge duplication? (That’s what I recall.)

      If NZTA have now blocked rail to the airport within most of the SH20A designation, and are proposing to block it again with the East-West link, shouldn’t AT be able to claim their (our) money back?

  11. Not sure I support this alignment to be honest. Personally I’m still in favour of the whole D shaped ‘loop’ from Onehunga to Wiri. Going via Onehunga may be slightly less direct but it means less branching off and also serves Mangere Bridge. Having said that, going via Otahuhu would serve the Eastern Line stations better, although that could be done via Wiri.

  12. Regardless of the Airport line it seems much simpler to run the ‘cross town’ Henderson to Onehunga via Grafton as it is only intended as a low freq 3tph route and that is all Onehunga can handle.
    You can then run Swanson to Otahuhu via the CRL 6tph with a 3-6tph freq from Newmarket.

    What is going on with the Green line on that map??
    It looks like Henderson to Britomart and Grafton to Otahuhu with limited trains south..?
    Surely that line would run continuous Henderson to Otahuhu via the CRL and Eastern line??
    With no Grafton stop? Extended services to Papakura and Pukekohe as required?

    Am I missing something there? Kind of confusing…

    Regarding that designation in blue there doesn’t appear to be much severance at all, at least not in terms of roads.
    Robertson Rd to Otahuhu station looks like you could get there by crossing only two roads.
    Pedestrian crossings of rail can be at grade with warning bells, looks like you might only need one at Garus Ave so could put extra money into a basic pedestrian bridge / tunnel there.
    Robertson Rd looks ideal for a mini-Panmure station style over-under, bus-rail interchange.

    1. John the two Green lines seem to represent low frequency peak only additional services, the eastern one being an express. The whole thing looks more fiddly than is ideal, but I’m no expert!

      Yes the crosstown and the Onehunga line are clearly looking to hook up; perhaps because each is equally sub-optimal?

      1. Wow, that is insane…

        6tph Swanson to Otahuhu – onto Manukau via CRL and Newmarket
        6tph Henderson to Otahuhu – onto Papakura via CRL and Eastern line
        6tph Papakura to Britomart – onto Otahuhu (or Manukau) via Grafton, CRL and Eastern line

        3tph Henderson to Onehunga via Grafton
        3tph Papakura to Pukekohe – shuttle, or more as req

        12-18tph all stations except after Henderson (6), after Papakura (3+), Manukau (6-12) Grafton (6-9), Parnell (6) and Onehunga branch (3)

        Or something like this – doesn’t need to be so complicated!

        1. Basically it is the lie of the CRL ‘unlocking the rest of the rail network’ coming home to roost.
          The CRL lets a whole lot more trains get to Britomart – and as shown by this – not in any particularly sane way just a few more.

          A few billion dollars later and stations like Manurewa get 3 more trains per hour *at peak* and only by re-introducing the confusion of needing to look at which line it’s on (but only at peak mind).

          As opposed to doing something like this Mangere / Airport line….

        2. Well the moment Manurewa requires more than the 6tph it gets now the CRL will make that increase possible. No CRL: impossible, remember the CRL also frees up the Newmarket junction and station too. Enabling the western line to get the frequency and direct route it is currently screaming out for. The CRL also is the network fix for greater reliability at higher frequency. You no doubt are aware of the current network reliability probs…?

          The population growth in the south will likely lead to more services, but they won’t happen with the blockage at the heart of the network being fixed. Remember those trains to and from Manurewa go somewhere, and if that somewhere ain’t working or is full, there’ll be no growth in capacity at the other end. All parts are connected and there is no demand anywhere on the system like the central city, including from Manurewa. The central demand is what drives the frequency you have there now, even if you never use it to go there, it’s still working for you.

        3. Replying to myself as well as your reply seems to have hit the maximum nested depth @Patrick 😀

          Yes – I’m acutely aware of the current reliability issues having been affected by them most mornings over the past 2 weeks.
          Which makes your glib responses more frustrating given that it’s mainly been the Diesels that *have* arrived. And the ‘reliable new electrics’ that seem to be breaking all over the place still.
          And yes – we go past the EMU centre near Homai and see the broken services limping back in far too frequently to count.

          And it’s interesting that the current demand that already leaves people on the platform at Homai some mornings is seen as not warranting more services until post 2041.

          On the Newmarket / Western line front – that’s easily fixed without billions of dollars just by not stopping at Newmarket. There is already a stop at Kingsland; and yes it would increase the need for a *real* station in Parnell, but that’s not a multi-billion dollar proposal.
          The proposed rail pattern makes it painfully obvious that the decision to inconvenience anyone going that way has already been made – so how about not spending billions of dollars just to pretend otherwise.

          And I’m happy with your admission that this is all about getting more trains to the centre city.
          What I’ve continued to point out though is that increased services *to the rest of the network* is only constrained by Britomart because the CRL *is* all about getting trains to the CBD.

        4. Well if you can’t understand that getting more trains to where the demand is greatest is vital to the network functioning and rail doing its job I can’t help you. Newmarket is capacity constrained by the flat junction as well as the station as I mentioned above. Your complaint about the CRL seems to be locational and cost. The two are completely joined, you only build underground systems where demand and land value is high; centre cities all over the planet exhibit this pattern, I don’t understand your problem.

          As to capacity not meeting demand at Manurewa; car sets and more frequency at peak is surely the answer. And more capacity at any time will not happen without the CRL. We will need more trains before the CRL, I agree with that, if that’s what you are saying, to get longer trains.

        5. Regardless of frequency and specific destination of individual riders, all trains on the Southern line from Manurewa are heading to Britomart.

          If you want greater frequency from Manurewa you want more trains going to…..Britomart. But then you can’t can you, because its a dead end and the trains have to reverse out. Sure, you could tinker with a line that diverts west at Newmarket, but that is only addressing a small part of the problem for the wider network.

          This fixation with it being “all about the CBD” is ironic given that once the CRL is built, Britomart will just be another station on a connected network. Probably not even the busiest (Aotea?). Instead of thinking about the CRL getting more trains TO Britomart, think of it as getting more trains (and people) THROUGH Britomart. And that has flow on effects (increased frequency) all the way back down all lines.

          And as for new lines before the CRL? Whatever capacity you could squeeze out from a West-South direct line would be eaten up in a few years based on patronage targets. So sorry, no capacity in the long-term.

        6. I don’t understand the lie?
          Henderson – Britomart via the CRL and Papakura – Britomart via both the CRL and the Eastern line would have 12-18tph if the running pattern I suggest is implemented… A train every 3~5mins including your Manurewa??
          But it’s only possible because of the CRL.

          In fact I’d say you won’t get those running patterns because you won’t have the patronage to justify it… I mean think of it, having a train that can take literally 100s of people every 3~5mins through your station… that would be world class and probably require an urban area of 5m+ people.
          But it’s only possible because of the CRL.

      2. I find the map and Green lines confusing too. It is very complicated. In particular the map seems to show two green lines each with 6tph. One is Henderson-Britomart, and another is Grafton – Otahuhu/Papakura. To make things more confusing it says 18tph will run through the CBD rail tunnel. 6 are from the red line and another 6 from the blue line. If the two green lines have 6tph each that will add another 12 bringing the total to 24, not 18. 18 only makes sense if the two green lines were joined together in a single Henderson – Otahuhu/Papkura line (which would make alot more sense) leaving me to wonder if there is a mistake in the map and there should be such a single green line.

        1. The green lines are one way in the peak direction only, just extra frequency really.

        2. Unfortunately they’re not – if you have a look at the green line out south you’ll see it takes the Eastern route to the city even though the main line is the Southern.
          It is a different route with odd frequencies – not just a frequency increase.

        3. They are additional peak only services, that is a frequency increase, at peak. The eastern line one is an express; skips some stations. Giving key stations at peak double the frequency, yes they go on to two different terminations on the southern rather than Man City. Anyway these are clearly all subject to change in response to demand. But any kind of increase in service, at peak or otherwise, is only possible with the CRL.

  13. Let’s see this through! Basically what I pictured when I mentioned it on the East-West “preferred” option discussion. It basically knocks out two congestion birds with one stone: too many trucks and cars on suburban motorways. This could theoretically be done by extending the Onehunga line, which looks cheap, BUT that would mean double-tracking it, which involves clearing out a load of properties too, and it provides only connections to the CBD via Newmarket. It gets freight and passengers for Mangere and the Airport, but those out East need to double back, as does freight from the South.

    This option via Otahuhu, however, is a more long-term solution which is far more likely to be the better investment through its far greater flexibility. The track can be made to strength, double-line from the start, which gives frequency and capacity. It provides Mangere residents access to the entire city CBD-side of the shore; East, centre and West, without a mass of buses stuck in traffic (this is not a small part of Auckland, yet does not see the investment it deserves. Give a proper, efficient transport system, and people will use it, which gets cars off the road). It provides those going to and from the airport for their daily commute or flying with a fast, low cost option to or from, again, East, Centre and West (look at getting there from the city; Airbus Express at $16 each way or train then bus, taking 90min and relying on connections matching/traffic). It gets freight to and from all the heavy industries and freight movers who are now based in Mangere and the airport, from Ports of Auckland, Tauranga and the inland port by connecting them to the rail network (getting vast numbers of container trucks off the suburban roads and motorways, reducing traffic and road damage). As with the Onehunga rail option, it adds resilience to the route (a single car breakdown on the airport motorway often seems to block up the roads in all directions). This option allows for entire cross-city connections and would be fully compatible with the rest of the network, and by opening easy access to the larger population and freight base, and allowing frequency from the start, is going to be “more bang for your buck”.

    This also compares with light rail, which can handle passenger loads, but would likely cost more due to the infrastructure needed to get it to the city, or connections, which instantly turn away passengers. It also does not handle the freight loads, requiring continuous investment in that problem by another means. Heavy rail is one investment, both problems tackled.
    The issue with transport is the lack of future-proofing which has occurred. In solving this, there will be inevitable difficulties. The most obvious one is that people live where ideal transport corridors are, and they must be consulted and accommodated in the best possible manner. Noise will need to be investigated, particularly for running freight (unless Auckland to Hamilton gets electrified, all freight from the South will be diesel, no option of electric freight-haulers). The higher-frequency passenger trains should not cause too much issue, as they are much quieter on the outside.

    Often issues end up in the “too hard-too expensive” basket. The problem exists, it will only get worse. Auckland is growing, as is travel, business and housing around Mangere and the airport. As such, the longer it is left, the more desperate the need for a solution is, and the harder and more expensive the problem and solution become. It needs to be sorted.

    1. I don’t see this line as having any direct freight utility. Rail is not used for local distribution. But it would certainly remove thousands of cars from the roads that clog them for all other users, especially the increasing commercial traffic throughout the South west.

      1. We’ve currently got a continuous stream of container trucks heading down suburban roads to the freight ops out at the airport, as the inbound goods from the port head out to their distributors. Some of these trucks are carrying three containers each (wasn’t aware that was permitted, but they do). When they take corners, they swing wide, which has taken out building overhangs and I’m surprised they haven’t clipped pedestrians, especially around the schools. Road maintenance is also quite frequent, especially compared to prior to the industrial growth around the airport (back when the trucks did not use this route and the freight ops were around Sylvia Park), which is expensive and further delays traffic. It would be good to see accommodation made for freight handling to remove the trucks and road maintenance as well as cars. It also gets trucks heading up the motorway from the South. If you have two problems and can tackle both, do it.

      2. Any way of putting up images in a reply? Got a nice pic of three big container trucks going down Auckland’s suburban roads. Another four came through the lights before them and a subsequent eight in the following phases. A similar stream in the morning. All through a major school zone. Destination? The logistics companies out near the airport. Very common sight and often driven dangerously. With the volume existing, the only reason not to use rail for local distribution is the fact the rail doesn’t exist. Get it off the roads, reduce maintenance costs, improve safety and reduce road blockages

        1. SC – so where at the airport would you propose to put the facility to handle all the containers that rail would be carrying, or are you proposing building private sidings to every significant logistics company? Then, how are you going to timetable slower (but still time-sensitive) freights between frequent passenger trains?

          If you’ve got the answer to the latter, there’ll be no need to build a third main south of Westfield, and all the other airport rail links in the world, few (if any) of which carry freight, will be beating a path to your door!

  14. Nicely done Patrick, will take a closer look later.

    I think your option has legs…. With the existing proposed rail route down SH20, there were always grade separation issues getting around the motorway on/off ramps due to the low elevation, swampy ground and consequent high water table. These issues became greater as the room ran out when the motorway grew in size. I think the last bit down George Bolt Memorial Drive will end up being elevated as per Brisbane’s Airtrain…no great dramas there.

  15. Auckland Port goes. Freight moves to Whangarei/Tauranga. Double track rail installed from Whangarei to Auckland (IIRC the land is already secured) and with the new Avondale to Southdown rail track, Auckland freight and PT problems relieved in one easy step. We enjoy Auckland majestic waterfront once again. Fancy a dip at Brittomart beach?

  16. I’m not an Aucklander, but do frequently fly into Auckland – and the present situation is abysmal. But just looking at the map, it seems that the simplest, cheapest, most direct way would be to connect along Puhinui Road? I went that way in a taxi once – miles faster than going via the normal route through Mangere Bridge and Dominion Road etc. With a train on that route, it would be even faster. Only one thing – you’d want it not to have to change at Puhinui Station, but for the train to just curve around and go straight down the line to Britomart. I think that is what SC is talking about above as well? But most of the line would just be across farmland, route 20B, and would be simple to do. Seems so easy and so simple that there must be a reason against it – why am i wrong?

    PS – the waiting area for buses at AKL is just appalling – whoever is responsible for planning out the bus “station” should be taken out and shot – conditions treat the tourist to your wonderful city as unwanted scum. Really Auckland Airport – sort yourself out!

    1. Standing at Puhinui Station a few months back watching planes line up for the runway made me wonder the same. It would be easy and cheap. The downside would be the lack of patrons- the airport itself won’t often fill a train, unlike the wider area suggested in this post, especially the workforce in the growing airport area.

    2. I agree. It would be shorter to get to the existing rail and not require a major bridge. It would also allow a new station to serve a big area that has potential for development rather than pass through an area that is already developed. Only downside is it would take a bit longer to get to the CBD.

      1. I understand the connection to Wiri is actually very expensive as does require a bridge, needs to get through the motorway and would have an extremely complex (read costly) junction that would need to be built to also accommodate the third main, access to EMU depot, access to Manukau spur plus accommodate the inland port.

        1. The bridge is more of a courseway over the creek rather than a big span over the Mangere Inlet. Bridges increase in cost in a non-linear manner the same way boats increase in cost. All of the option have to get past the motorway so that drops out of the comparison, the junction only really becomes an issue if you want direct services from Manukau City or the south and the third main is dependent on a government that wants to shred money.

      2. Bigger downside is that is does nothing for Mangere and misses a whole lot of residential and employment catchment. So becomes simply an Airport spur. I really do prefer a line with a good range of utility. Principally I see any line to the Airport as a Mangere Line with a really great anchor. Not just a spur for the airport.

        As you say directness and speed are vital too. That’s why AT’s big flirtation with LRT here worries me considerably. The distances are too long. To offer a real alternative for enough to work as a balancing system for the dominant driving mode it must be fast, frequent, and appealing. Done right; it’s the drivers best friend.

        Is not simple to connect to NIMT either, where; are you thinking Puhinui? Looks pretty tricky; want to whip up a rough design? Happy to run a guest post.

        There is room at Otahuhu for a nice flying junction, still leaving room for dedicated freight lines too.

        1. Whilst the Otahuhu to Airport option appears to be the best solution, it does present significant challenges particularly around access for a rail corridor. Would it make sense to start with an Airport spur from Wiri or Puhinui, but have a long term plan to turn this into a loop back to the north from the airport through to Otahuhu? This would potentially mean a shorter time to get a line to the airport, but also considers the longer term benefits of connecting Mangere and the commercial area to the north of the airport.

        2. I want to first go on record here and say this is a sub optimal thought in response to the thread moving towards how could the airport be connected from the Southern line at Puhinui, Patrick sort of issued a challenge.

          What about creating an interchange at Puhinui station?

          LRT: Airport to Puhinui station via SH20B and Puhinui Rd (West)
          Express no stops (maybe one possible airport park and ride stop close to the SH20/20B interchange)
          BRT: Puhinui station to Botany TC (or Howick?) via Puhinui (East) / Boundary Rd and H30
          Designed with the ability to upgrade to future LRT and connect through to the airport

          So Airport LRT meets Botany BRT (connecting / extending to Panmure / Howick) above (or below) Puhinui station with Heavy Rail interchange to the City and West or the South and Manukau.

          Avoids the airport’s future second runway, the roads have enough room to run LRT ROW down their centre and the route is already grade separated under SH20.
          A second LRT bridge would need to be built though.
          All along SH20B LRT could be run at 80kmph+ and up Puhinui Rd centrally at 60km,
          Roughly a 5min trip Airport to Puhinui station (6.5km) express.

          If Papakura has 6tph to Henderson via Parnell and 6tph to Britomart / Otahuhu via Grafton as well as there being 6tph Manukau to Swanson via the Eastern line then Puhinui station would have up to 18tph moving through its interchange.

          So Airport to Puhinui station 5min, 12-18tph ~3-5min transfer / dwell time and then into the City or down South on Heavy Rail or connect out East on BRT.
          I make that c.45min Airport to Britomart via Puhinui station with one transfer, with better dwell times that could probably go under 40min.

          Not great, sub optimal but highly doable and cheaper

      3. Take a look at Patricks map, to use Puhunui, you need to travel as far “down the line” past Otahuhu as Patrick’s Airport line would to get to Mangere Town Centre from Otahuhu, and thats just to get to the Airport line at Puhunui.
        At that point you’re as far away from the airport by rail as Otahuhu is now. So you have to mostly double back.

        Whereas with Patricks rail plan, by the time you’d reach the “Puhunui” equivlent on his Otahuhu deviation you’re only 1 stop away from the Airport.

        So the Puhunui plan really only benefits those from down south who are going to the airport, but as a percentage as Airport workers and users of the airport proper, that must surely be a low proportion.
        As Patrick says, can add it later, but surely the primary link has to be from Otahuhu to the airport via Mangere first.
        To deliver the most benefits to the most people soonest.

        And I’m sure that a lot of Mangere residents would love a direct link to the Airport precinct, would give them access to a whole range of employment that they probably can’t easily get to now.

        1. I agree that an eastern line connecting to Puhinui seems the most direct and simple option and would be through an existing rural area. I don’t see why Mangere or a whole bunch of residential stations on Patricks would provide any real patronage gains – they strike me as “Baldwin Ave” type additions to the network.

          This rail line is all about the airport – lets be honest about it.

        2. “I don’t see why Mangere or a whole bunch of residential stations on Patricks line would provide any real patronage gains”

          I mean no offence, but this is an extraordinary claim. Running a train line through a residential area starved of any RTN, and that train line linking the two biggest employment hubs in the region – won’t provide patronage gains? Really? Which brings me to my second point:

          “This rail line is all about the airport – lets be honest about it.”

          Yes and no. Yes, but you seem to be thinking only of travelers, not workers. Total rides each day by the latter would dwarf the former. And no, the airport is at the southern end. What about everyone going north?

        3. There are plenty of patronage gains from Patrick’s Mangere proposal with only 3 stations, and not tiny ‘Baldwin’ types. One is Mangere Town Centre (area’s main shopping centre), another is a major industrial/employment/airport hotel area. Via Wiri provides none of that.

  17. I am strongly against replacing the proposed Avondale-Southdown line with light rail. Heavy rail offers numerous advantages to light rail, and is much faster. Further the Avondale-Southdown line can be used to create a high frequency circle line, as discussed in this post

    I agree your proposed Otahuhu connection is very interesting and will reduce the need for an airport-Manakau rail connection. We should not ignore the Onehunga-Mangere route, so if we build via Otahuhu we should extend the future Manakau Road light rail to Mangere via Coronation Road and Bager Drive

    1. Replacing? There is no Avondale-Southdown line. Only a designation. I see no useful passenger rail running pattern. I don’t get who, in volume, would use a big loop service. It is a terrible idea to plan services simply on the basis of either existing track or designations. Rail requires real demand at volume or the investment cannot be justified.

  18. One thing they could do now to support their preferred running pattern is turn Otahuhu into a three platform station (similar to Papakura) to enable trains to terminate at Otahuhu without delaying services heading south. At the very least I hope they are going to future proof the new station/interchange to allow for this because I think its going to be a must at some point. Even now a third platform would come in handy.

    1. I’m thinking two island platforms, one up, one down, four passenger lines. Which is to say a northbound platform to the west and a south bound platform to the east. Extremely easy transfer between Southern, Eastern, and Mangere lines in the same direction as they all use the same platform. To head in the other direction need to go over to the other one, but that is less likely. Very clear way finding, people are much less likely to find themselves heading in the wrong direction.

      Freight line or lines a way to the west.

  19. I believe AT will need to make the train station ETA time board a bit more easier to understand with all those routes.

    They may need to color code everything with graphical screen instead just text and a time.

  20. Any idea of cost of this alignment compared to via Onehunga? Would it be cheaper to build or more expensive?

  21. Why no station between Mangere East and Otahuhu? Would probably be far more popular to cut these people’s neighbourhood in half if the get a station out of it.

  22. “Below is AT’s proposed post CRL rail running pattern” – according to the diagram’s title it shows just peak frequencies. Is there a similar diagram for the off peak?

    “Otahuhu…will have 18tph both directions at the peaks” – not quite. With the peak it’ll have 21tph to/from the north, 18tph to/from the south; against the peak, 15/12tph respectively. This does mean that Westfield-Otahuhu in the peak direction will be the most intensively used track in the network, 3tph greater than the CRL.

    I agree that it’s a poorly-drawn diagram (is it an official AT one?), made worse by the lack of a key. For instance, on the diagram dashed lines appear to mean 3tph, but around the explanatory boxes they appear to mean with-peak services only (i.e. the same as the green colour, both solid and dashed, on the diagram); solid lines on the diagram appear to mean 6tph, round the boxes services in both directions. And Baldwin Ave gets no service at all!

    1. Yes this is an official AT map, but is from a presentation so would be expected to have verbal explanations with it. It does show both all day services and the peak overlay. I see what you mean about the 21tph at Otahuhu at peak one direction. How about that? A train at more than every 3 minutes! In Auckland! They certainly must be counting on sorting out the dwell times by then, then.

      Just goes to show what an import hub Otahuhu is to become. Going to be a lot of people there, what a transformation from now. Really ought to invest in some property around there…

  23. An airport line has to really tick two main boxes: (1) not be about the airport but rather, SW AKL and (2) duration (by time) in comparison to alternatives (car, buses).

    A link to Puhunui is an interesting one, something for the future perhaps. But as Patrick says, does nothing for Mangere, etc,

    Otahuhu seems to trump Onehunga for speed (and perhaps, cost?). Connects many more people too given access from the Eastern. In terms of elevated lines, I’m looking at the new MRT line being built across Kuala Lumpur. I never thought I’d say this, but it looks rather graceful compared to the older versions in the city and in places like Bangkok. I wouldn’t like to see them everywhere, but in part down a motorway corridor – for a short while – won’t hurt.

  24. Re the post-CRL train plan map: “Peak direction only”. Er – does that mean dozens of trains running back empty to run the next peak direction service? Or am I missing something.

    Also, if I’m confused by this map as a bit of a transit tragic how will Jo and Joe Public manage?

    1. That is what I don’t understand either, especially as there’s nowhere at Grafton to stash a few sets for peak use. There is at the Strand however, and Henderson, and South. So perhaps they intend to run them in in the morning and sit them at The Strand for the afternoon peak to be fired off like bullets from a gun. They could use the non-CRL platforms at Britomart if they were going east from there, but they’re not. So they must feed them between the usual services, maybe they travel via Parnell to launch from Grafton? Why would the express stop at Westfield? Perhaps that’s just a quirk of the map….?

  25. Great solution, Patrick, and to think it has had it’s genesis in the earlier post on that horrid East-West motorway proposal.
    Well done to the Transportblog team for raising another sound proposal.

  26. I like the idea but think that the route should be cut and cover to reduce the number of crossings and potential for people wandering on or obstructing the track. Speed to and from the airport is important for user so would hope that trains would stop at only a few stations past Otahuhu, with passengers able to transfer to a stopping service for intermediate stations.

  27. Great plan Patrick, well done.

    A major problem with South of Westfield Jn is the lack of the third main – you did cover that but it is probably of equal importance to unlocking the network as the CRL.

    1. Yes that a third main is clearly overdue. That would run to the west of Otahuhu passenger lines. And how about grade separation of the Westfield junction? Are NZTA planning to stuff that possibility up too, with their truckers super highway?

      KR do seem to be doing some work on the Third Main now, is this preparatory work? Middlemore looks like the most costly and space constrained point. What genius put that carpark there, and with access on the station side of the building? Fixable but surely better if it was just avoided in the first place….

      1. ” And how about grade separation of the Westfield junction? Are NZTA planning to stuff that possibility up too, with their truckers super highway?”

        Made that very point very clear to NZTA and AT last year during the “consultation” on the East-West options. Told them they could not impact the future need to grade separate the rails there.
        Or preclude the ability to link the Eastern Line to the NIMT line at Westfield when going south – even though thats not needed now, thats no reason to preclude it forever by building on it.

        They all said, yes, yes we will not impact KR’s ability to grade separate we will not preclude them doing that..

        Yeah Right.

        So NZTAs motorway overbridge will no doubt fuck up all options there too.

  28. I wonder about the wisdom of starting the CRL so early. Problem will be finding the experienced staff needed to do the job. The two previous cut and cover projects – New Lynn rail trench and Victoria Park tunnel – were carried out by Fletchers which had built up a team of key very experienced on the ground staff. However Fletchers isn’t going to be involved in the CRL project. I am talking about long reach digger drivers and the like who are needed for cut and cover tunneling, and they aren’t exactly thick on the ground. And then there’s the truck and trailer subcontractors to cart the spoil away. A lot of the early work will be in the same sandstone that the Victoria Park tunnel, and Hunua 4 pipeline was dug into and most tip site operators don’t want a bar of that stuff. Problem at the moment is most of those digger operators and subbies are involved with the current projects around town such as the Waterview tunnel and the North Western Motorway project, with more (including a major new sewage pipeline from Western Springs to Mangere) about to come on line in the very near future. Also there are the new subdivisions springing up around the place, and I am not even factoring in a start on the Northern Motorway extension, the so-called Holiday Highway. So my query is, would it not be better to wait a while before starting the CRL, at least until experienced ground staff become available from other projects, because without them I can foresee all sorts of problems.

    1. Smacks of concern trolling.

      It has to go ahead now to allow the demo and redevelopment of the Downtown centre site to occur.

      Presumably those in the firms who tendered and won the contract(s) knew all those things you raise, and have ways to manage it.
      So not a problem.

      The main tunnelling won’t be until long after WRR finishes anyway so won’t be a problem then, and the Christchurch and other big jobs will have ramped back down so will be plenty of staff available.

      Of course if NZTA want to do some other crazy mega road projects as well that may be a problem but its avoidable and not actually a problem right now.

    2. We will soon have an experienced TBM crew looking for a new project once Waterview tunnels are complete. Maybe we should bring CRL forward.

    3. Early?! It’s only 80 years late.

      Although you make a good point that the absurd rush to build highways decades in advance of their possible need that is the RoNS is sucking up construction capacity and accelerating inflation in the this sector. Very very poor fiscal management by this government. When begun at the depth of the GFC it was Classic Keynsian prime pumping, but now? In a construction boom, it is crazy to advance uneconomic multi billion dollar highways like Transmission Gully and the Holiday Highway.

      BTW the CRL early works have international expertise on board. Fletchers are not the only show on the planet.

  29. I’ve got no problems with allowing more truck drivers in, providing they have to sit the same licencing theoretical and practical tests that New Zealand drivers have to and not be allowed to drive on an international licence. You need to add digger drivers to that list, especially those with long reach experience.

    1. I met a lot of the team working on the Victoria Park tunnel during its construction, I worked in a hospitality establishment near the site, a lot of the expertise required was heavily subsidised by foreign workers from all over the world so no reason that won’t be the case here…..seems like finding problems where there aren’t any tbh.

  30. You should have given me a yell Patzi, I would have waved out to you. Maybe it’s time to come out of retirement and put the hard hat and hi viz on again. The point that I have been making is that the major projects have flowed from one to another as far as earthworks are concerned – New Lynn trench to Mangere bridge to Victoria Park tunnel to Mairoro interchange to Waterview tunnel – and the staff, operators and sub-contractors were able to move from job to job gaining knowledge and expertise all the time.

  31. Now that there has been plenty of discussion on this forum on this idea, how does it go from here to being on the officials’ radars as a viable option?? How do we put it in with the E-W connection?

  32. Excellent route Patrick. Does this mean we would only require the one route to the airport, or would a connection at Puhinui still be required?

    1. This is my favourite route and yes, it would allow Puhinui Rd to simply be a bus route, mostly for workers. Anyone heading for the airport from further south would be well serviced by an interchange at Otahuhu.

  33. Just noticed: Jarrett Walker has some guidelines for PT to/from airports; short version: make it through routes:

    “… to create a great airport train (or bus) for air travelers, you have to make it useful to airport employees too That generally means a service that’s an integral part of the regional transit network, not a specialized airport train.

    The other key issue is that most airports are cul-de-sacs. It’s hard for a line to continue beyond the airport unless it’s underground, and this is another huge limitation on an airport service’s ability to serve a sufficiently diverse market. If you can afford it, aspire to be like Sydney, whose rapid transit system tunnels under the airport so that it can continue beyond it without branching.

    If you can afford it, go via the airport instead of terminating there. Most airports are large-scale cul-de-sacs, and like every cul-de-sac, they say: “I want only as much transit service as I can justify all by myself.” So if you can tunnel under the airport and serve it on the way to other places, as in Sydney, you will often end up with much better service for all your airport users, employees and travelers alike.” (

    1. Basically takes out too much housing, still has the branching problem, and fails to serve with East Auckland or the Isthmus. Does not serve the city-wide network nearly as well as the alternative below:

      For these reasons, and cost, I moved from supporting this to the combination of Airport-Puhinui-Manukau-Botany, and the Isthmus-Manger-Airport routes.

        1. Actually I was just agreeing with the reply you posted to Geoff Blackmore.

          ‘Yes I see a future line completing the circuit across from the Airport to join the Southern Line near Wiri, but with south facing connections only.

          The service simply continues on to terminate at say Papakura [the line will be electrified with more stations further south by then]. So A Swanson-CRL-Mangere-Papakura Line elegantly adds capacity on the populous stretch of the Southern Line south of Manukau City, just after the Eastern line services leave the main line.’

          You also didn’t think much of LR either.

          ‘Yes LRT could be a strong distributor but the core route needs to be RTN, it must be fast and direct. Not rambling through the ‘burbs, no matter how much traffic light priority it can get.

          LRT linking the ‘four fingers’ along the SH20 route and connecting with the rail line at Penrose, or Otahuhu, or even at Mangere TC, would be ideal.’

          More interesting is the almost complete approval you received for this HR line suggestion.
          Even the vociferous LR rightfighter KLK liked it.

          Anyway, nice waka jump into the HR bad LR good camp.

        2. When the evidence changes, my conclusions change.

          I do not have any religious obsession with any mode over another that discounts facts.

          And as for your proposed running pattern; you think it smart to slow down every rail journey south? Daft. How much else should be sacrificed for a one-seat CBD to Airport Heavy Rail ride?

        3. Guh, this tribalism is so boring. This camp and that camp, like you have to pick sides in a playground fight. Are you seriously suggesting that nobody should change their mind after four years of new evidence and investigation?

          That you should pick one thing and die in a ditch no matter how wrong it might be revealed to be, just because you picked that thing years ago?

        4. Sorry, you are right Nick, its getting silly. There should not actually be either LR or HR camps. It should be just PT and doing something about the roading madness and car dependancy we have in NZ.
          Just get something moving with these new PT proposals, FGS get some advanced eorks started on the Queen Street part of the LR.

        5. +1 Yip. An advance in any public transport mode improves the network and helps shift us from car dependency.

          Bogle, are you sure it’s advanced eorks we need on Queen St? Not ewoks?

        6. I think there are enough ewoks in AT and NZTA. Was also wondering if the LRT drivers will be LEs in the same union as the AT Metro LEs or drivers as in the bus drivers union. Or maybe another union. Should make for interesting PT redundancy when there is a strike. Does LR stop with the busses or trains?
          Eork that

  34. Running pattern as explained above when you supported this HR line.
    Pattern then route is rather idealistic, route designation is often influenced by other factors long before running pattern is determined

    1. Why the hell would you designate a route you hadn’t already planned and comfined a suitable running pattern for?! That’s beyond foolish, it’s insane.

      That would be like buying a car, then testing if the engine turns over.

      1. So you are telling me that a running pattern is established before route is determined or mode is decided upon. Sorry, don’t believe it as possible modes and routes are often proposed then best running pattern over that route is determined. Running patterns are not permanent and will often change to suit changing circumstances, pax numbers, timetables, new technology, safety etc.
        Doesn’t that happen now?
        Your car and engine analogy is meaningless

        1. ‘So you are telling me that a running pattern is established before route is determined or mode is decided upon.’.

          Yes, that’s how real transit planning happens. There is literally no other way to get funding to build anything. Why would you add a room to your house without any idea how it might be used?

          Perhaps because of what we have had to in AKL over the last 20 odd years, adapting an existing rundown freight railway to passenger use, you see this as some kind of ideal or usual process?

          No, that’s been a successful bit of make-work, but is not how you design new routes being built from scratch.

        2. Yes, the mode, route and running patterns are inseparable parts of the same system. If any draws a line on a map without working out if or how you could actually run a train on it, then that plan would be thrown out immediately in the business case process. Be very weary of amateur groups that go guns blazing with some half baked sketch of a corridor when they can’t even show it could work in reality.

          For a start you’d have no idea if the corridor or infrastructure you’ve proposed is suitable to deliver your project goals. You wouldn’t be able to measure it against KPIs. Proving that it meets the strategic objectives is the first hurdle of a long process.

          The you wouldn’t know how many extra trains you need, and of what kind. You wouldn’t know if you need to add extra stations, new platforms, junction works, additional stabling, additional stabling, new power substations, etc. You certainly wouldn’ t be able to complete the economic evaluation or financial case, as you wouldn’t know how much it costs to build, or how much it costs to run.

          You’ll never get any funding to secure a corridor without that. At best you’d be told to go off and do the next stage of the process to confirm those. Yes running patterns can change, that’s why they are usually described as an envelope. For example you’d specify the opening day network plan and a network plan at maximum capacity. The opening day network plan is the basic proof that the system can work and deliver against the project objectives.

          By the way, under current planning rules you can only designate land that is necessary to a project, and you can only designate land that will actually be used in the foreseeable future for the project, otherwise it lapses. So this means you need to designate for everything, say a new stabling yard, but you also have to prove it is necessary to designate that land. So in this example you would need an operating plan that is proof of the number and size of vehicles is appropriate, and that the stabling yard required to accommodate them is efficiently operated to minimise the footprint.

        3. Ok, i accept what you both say makes sense for a brand new PT route. However, all of the existing Auckland HR system has really been just successful make-work.
          Often that is the only option available so that making maximum use of existing infra may mean new extensions, loops, shortcuts etc.
          Interesting how running patterns soon become obsolete, design limits need stretching/widening and more routes are needed.
          Makes me think we are building the CRL inadequate to cater for growth or reaching capacity within few years?

        4. The CRL is a fantastic project, particularly for, as you say, optimising the current network.

          Now that CRL ltd are planning to future proof for 9-car sets and are building the whole K Rd station I have no concerns about projections for when it will reach capacity. Frankly if that moment occurs sooner rather than later that is simply a huge sign of success.

          Any two track line will have limits, and a growing city will need more of them at some point. Obviously signal upgrades can add to capacity too…

          That we are also building a pretty high capacity surface railway at the same time will help push the time AKL needs CRL 2 out into the future, but it still will likely be the case.

          And it is fun to speculate how to do that; dive the southern line under the city with a Uni station to Aotea and across to the Shore…? A sort of AKL RER>>>?

          Anyway just think how dynamic and vibrant will the city be by the time that is necessary?

          With HR and LR systems complete and at capacity means a huge amount of access across the whole wider city… a total RTN. Fantastic.

  35. This is an excellent article and the posts show that a lot of people supported this idea
    It looks like a viable alternative to the light rail section proposed from Onehunga to Airport.
    It also seems that light rail was seen as several parallel lines on the south isthmus to cbd
    An idea which seems to have been replaced by just one light rail isthmus line on dominion road.
    It would be good to see this reposted in light of the current Light rail scheme the rail spur fron Puhinui.

  36. Would it possible to email a detailed view of the light rail route from Onehunga/Mangere bridge/Mangere town center to Auckland Airport

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