Last week I highlighted an update from AT on Light Rail. In addition to that they also gave an update on rail to Mangere and the airport including their consideration of using light or heavy rail for the project. Once again I wasn’t at the presentation personally so can only go off the slides shown.

Firstly one thing I do think is good is that AT on their website are calling Airport and Mangere Rail. To me that’s a much better description of the project than just airport rail as this project will serve a much wider community than just the airport which is one of the reasons it’s worthwhile doing.

As for where the project is at. The strategic assessment already undertaken has shown that rail is the most effective long term solution and a scheme assessment has determined a rough footprint which would require the purchase of 218 residential and 17 commercial properties. They estimate the project would cost around $1.4 billion to get to the airport from Onehunga. The engineers have been looking at ways to cut the cost of the project and two points are noted.

  • They’ve estimated the cost of double tracking the Onehunga branch line at $400-$600 million. For that price it sounds like they’re effectively suggesting trenching the whole line – presumably to remove all of the level crossings.
  • Put the rail alignment down the centre of the motorway. I don’t know what the original alignment was but I wonder if it crossed the motorway a few times to give better coverage of the community.

By building the route as light rail they believe it could be done cheaper for similar benefits and so they’re comparing the two modes.

They appear to be looking primarily at how to provide a single seat journey from the airport the city centre with the two options shown below along with a comparison between the two.

Rail to Airport - July 15 - LRT vs HRT routes

Rail to Airport - July 15 - LRT vs HRT figures

I have some serious concerns about this analysis as AT seem infatuated by light rail at the moment so it seems to me they’ve in effect stacked the deck against heavy rail. Here’s why

  • The light rail option is an extension of line that doesn’t even exist yet and there’s no guarantee it ever will.
  • I also wonder how practical that alignment alongside SH20 is. I know Light Rail can climb hills better than Heavy rail can but that route would be one long, steep and slow climb if it’s even possible.
  • When the measurement of success seems to be based on how many people could walk to a station and catch a train then having the heavy rail option with fewer stations it’s no surprise it has a lower result. It seems to me silly not to at least have a heavy rail station around the Montgomerie Rd area which is only about 2km from Mangere and 2.5km from the airport. Other stations may be able to be justified.
  • It’s no surprise that the Light Rail option has more people within walking distance of a station as it travels right through the densest residential area in Auckland – the CBD. I’m not sure if AT’s heard but there’s a heavy rail project which does that too – it’s called the City Rail Link. What’s more AT’s planned operating pattern will see trains from the western line pass through the CRL before heading towards Onehunga. It seems like there’s a bit of gerrymandering going on this. If AT are talking about delivering single seat rides then they should also include all the people next to the western line, even just the people near the inner west and CRL stations add almost an extra 60k to the walking catchment.

CRL Outline-Train-Plan-31July2014

  • With a dedicated corridor between Onehunga and the airport the travel time of light and heavy rail is not likely to be all that different. The issue comes in north of Onehunga. AT say above the extension just from Dominion Rd will have 1.9km of slow on street running, what’s not also mentioned is the on street running on the Dominion Rd corridor through to the city. The next slide looks at exactly this issue and it is perhaps the biggest argument against light rail. A 35-38 minute travel time is very competitive with all other modes at all times of the day whereas light rail is barely faster than the existing airport bus. It’s also worth contrasting this approach to what happens elsewhere in transport. As a society seem to be prepared to fork out billions with few questions to obtain a few minutes of travel time saving on roads the same but for rail it’s all about how we can do things on the cheap.

Rail to Airport - July 15 - LRT vs HRT Travel times

Next we have a bit of a matrix comparing many of the things mentioned above including what I consider to be flaws in many of them. One thing I haven’t mentioned is the frequency of service. This is something completely within AT’s control of how they run the rail network.

Rail to Airport - July 15 - LRT vs HRT matrix

The next few images show cross sections the proposed rail alignment down the centre of the motorway and through the Kirkbride trench. The car lanes would be pushed out to create enough space.

Rail to Airport - July 15 - Trench cross section

Rail to Airport - July 15 - LRT vs HRT motorway alignment

Lastly this image shows an elevated section soaring above the Kirikbride interchange. My understanding is that both options of through or over the trench are possible and are both still being considered.the chosen mode will go over or through the trench so both options are being considered.

Rail to Airport - July 15 - LRT vs HRT elevated alignment

It’s good to see some details on this even though I’m not convinced by the analysis done to date.

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  1. Time is the most important factor and light rail does not cut mustard. If going to the airport from pukekohe, Swanson or Albany you don’t want to use slow light rail going through extra stations.
    The focus on just people near the new stations is just stupid.
    It’s an international airport with people flying around the world serving all of auckland damn it. Plus the thousands of worker’s come from all around auckland as well

    1. Yes agree. Not convinced by the LRT option. The walk-up catchment analysis seems odd for this project and a bit lazy. This is about serving the whole region – not just walk up catchments. So we really need an accessibility and travel time analysis of how each option fits into the broader PT network: how it interchanges with other lines, routes, etc.

    2. +1 If they are going to use the catchment for LR through the burbs then they need to use the rail network catchment as well (including CRL).

        1. Additionally AT are over-emphasising the importance of ‘one-seat rides’, at the very moment they are transforming the whole PT system to transfers based model.

          A well as ignoring that the entire Western Line is also on these rail routes. Of course a one seat ride is better if all other things are equal, but a faster more frequent service will be more useful to more people by connection. That’s why we sre changing to the new network: ‘move to outstanding Public Transport in one network’ is what AT’s Statement of Intent says.

        2. Yes I’m convinced, Heavy Rail from Otahuhu is the way to go, at least initially. For me personally it suits either way having close access to the Penrose or Sylvia Park station 🙂

    3. Depends how long you have to wait for heavy rail due to lower frequency. If light rail takes 10 minutes longer but trains are every 5 mins off peak vs every 15 mins off peak for heavy rail, there isn’t much difference for people going to/from the airport.

      1. Is there anything inherit to LRT that means it has to run at lower frequency? What if LRT takes longer and has lower frequency? And then you have the unreliability of LRT running in heavily trafficked streets.

        1. No frequency is generally a response to demand, but then it also feeds demand. The fewer bigger LRVs makes for poorer frequency for users, but less street blocking for other users [drivers] esp compared to the same numbers of people on buses.

          But you’re never going to get high frequency in mixed street running. Even down the middle of Queen and Dom Rd on there are intersections and traffic to deal with.

          I still don’t think LRT is good for these two separate roles on the one route. Better to tailor the service to fit its core city street role and leave the longer distance and more direct journey to metro rail on its own ROW.

    4. yes, time is important and just as important for someone living in the Central Isthmus, if they have to catch a bus to Greenlane Station, then their journey is significantly slower than if they could catch LRT on Dominion Rd

      so your statement is only true for that proportion of passengers traveling to/from the Auckland CBD

      for me, on balance, the lower capital cost of LRT makes it a more real world achievable option

      1. But Steve the rail network covers much more of the city than Dom Rd LRT. And that speed difference and certainty would make using the ferries or Busway and transfer at Britomart or Aotea more viable too.

    5. Why does any solution have to be ground level based? What is wrong with putting up supporting pylons and having whatever rail means use above road track? Less impacts all round and no need to further restrict roading etc? Continuing on this line we could literally have trains / railcars / whatever go virtually anywhere for (maybe, would need research) less cost, and much faster implementation. Creativity around stations / on/off points and we have something quick and built in much less time? Thoughts?

      1. This would be unlikely to help. Elevated rail is pretty ugly, and expensive when you not only have to engineer level track, catenary and stations but structural supports above ground as well. We get NIMBYs about having a simple cycleway across an existing bridge, let alone a 10m high rail solution.

        It’s worth noting that no roads are being restricted either. count the number of lanes pre and post rail.

    6. This is not just about an express rail service to the central city. It can be both an express service to the city centre and an all-stops service for people who aren’t going all the way to the city.

  2. Those travel time savings for heavy rail from the existing Onehunga terminus are huge. You’re right, if this was a motorway we’d throw $4 billion at it even knowing that the time savings would evaporate due to induced demand.

  3. does the onehunga line need to be double tracked, if the rest of the trip was double tracked a short section of single track (with a crossing loop at te papapa) might be ok for 3 trains an hour?

    1. I can see the headlines now: “AT spend $1billion to run 3 trains per hour”. That’s not going to cut the mustard I’m afraid. I’d suggest 6 per hour at peak is a minimum, and even that’s marginal given the relative level of the expenditure.

      1. There is an inaccurate hangover idea from the sprawl years that AKL doesn’t have a city centre, or that there’s no one there and that there is no point in serving it. Recently repeated by the PM when the gov was last criticising this project.

        The city remains by far the densest and biggest centre employment, is rapidly growing as a residential area, and of course host by far the most hotels and attractions. Soon to be joined by a vast convention centre and new hotels. Right on top of Aotea Station. The airport is a growing business hub too, and connecting this into the rail network will improve efficiency for meetings and employees.

        Fast connection by rail to the city centre should be the priority, not rambling down between the bungalows of Balmoral.

        1. How about doing both, sort of ? Build the heavy rail for rapid transport from CBD/Newmarket (the second CBD) but build the LRT to Onehunga and allow people to transfer. Not sure that Airport to Manukau option is really that viable (most people would drive who live out south and it is not really a business/tourist destination). For people who don’t want to drive the 380 would be adequate if it was more frequent….just have some easy way for people to move between the Manukau bus interchange/ train station (underground travelator) plus build the southern link. This would be helpful also for people transferring from intercity buses to 380 service to the airport. Probably be cheaper than building the heavy rail link from Onehunga to airport and Manukau…but I am not sure where you are going to find the $2 billion + for this project.

  4. If they put the existing bus on that matirx it would out-perform the light rail option. All that cost to save 2-4 minutes seems hardly worth it.

    And what a surprise that if you build 7 new stations you have a better catchment than building only 3. Surely the time/catchment tradeoff applies equally to light and heavy rail.

    1. A bias to getting the best system that will offer the greatest benefits over the long term, not short term money saving. Harbour bridge, 4 lanes. Yeah.

  5. AT seem to be missing the boat again but when are they not most days of the week.

    I saw that light vs heavy rail matrix there and I thought okay so heavy rail wins the total hour capacity and the travel time between the airport and the City Centre. To me that is the major win and benefit right there with everything else secondary. I thought the idea was to go from the Airport to the City Centre as quickly and efficiently as possible hence heavy rail being the obvious choice here. If you need to go somewhere in the interim between the two major stations then that is what a bus or Isthmus LRT line from an interim station on the Airport Line is for to complete the journey or am I missing something here.

    Just a note on journey times though I see it takes 35-38mins possibly. Pretty good. Right now if I want to avoid the jammed SH20 my option would be the Southern Line from Britomart to Papatoetoe (35mins) then the 380 bus which is about another 20 minutes if that?

    1. I agree. I also use the train and 380 bus route at busy times. Yet again AT have ignored that route. It should appear on the travel times graph because it is less than one hour if you can make a good connection. Most disappointing that AT are not going to make the 380 bus (or replacement 30) a frequent service when the new southern timetable starts. The route should also be the default route on their journey planner, especially as it serves all the suburbs along the southern and eastern lines, not just the city centre. A cynical person might think that the Airport company are pressuring AT not to have too many local buses going to the airport as they might be competition for their ever growing carpark business. Hence the 380 remains at a 30 minute frequency with no promotion. Come on AT, get real and demonstrate that there is a need for public transport to the airport by offering a decent service connecting to rail and hence to many parts of Auckland.

    2. What do you (collective you, not *you*) look for in airport transportation when you’re in some other city? This gets to the very purpose of the link which should determine the mode, etc. In my case, when it comes to airport transportation I just want to *get there.* The service needs to be frequent and totally reliable. That argues for anything in a dedicated right of way to avoid traffic. Travel time is less of a consideration because you can plan accordingly. If it *always* takes 38 minutes, that’s fine. It doesn’t have to take 25 minutes for the service to work. But if sometimes it takes 25 minutes and sometimes 38 minutes and sometimes 65 minutes it does not work for airport transport. So give me ten minute headways and a guaranteed travel time and I’ll use it. Light rail doesn’t meet those tests.

      Think of airport links around the world. Which are heavy/commuter rail and which are light rail? Right. Heavy rail. JFK, Heathrow, Orly and CDG, Arlanda, Schiphol, PHL, ORD, Frankfurt, Zurich, and I’m sure you can add a lot more. Phoenix’s light rail goes within about a half mile of the airport so they’re building a $1.6 billion airport rail system to link to it (which cost $1.4 billion).

      1. Very nice answer and in my eyes is a very solid answer for Heavy Rail extending from Onehunga AND from Otahuhu as both Patrick and Bryce have suggested.

        As for Manukau to the airport we can come to that question later apart from AT needing to pull finger and get that Airport 380 (soon to be the 30) on 15 minute frequencies from Manukau and Papatoetoe Stations to the airport.

        I have noticed the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board asking AT to look at options of rail (heavy or light) from Manukau to the Airport (amongst other things). Will see what AT come up with there.

  6. Yeah, Nah,
    Patricks, Mangere Airport 2.0 route using Heavy (aka “Commuter”) rail is a much better alignment and plan all round.

    There is no serious consideration of the rail link limitations when going over the so-called “future proofed for rail” Mangere bridge, nor the issues likely to occur when the East/West Highway is rammed down along there as well, overriding any plans AT has for that last half mile link from Onehunga station onto the Mangere bridge structure.

    Leave Onehunga as it is, and don’t go there for the Airport.

    1. Agree 100% with the Otahuhu – Airport corridor. And, if anything, I’d look at converting the Onehunga line to LRT long term. Could easily run into other areas.

      1. I agree.

        How about:
        1) Heavy rail to airport from Otahuhu branch; and.
        2) LRT from Otahuhu to Onehunga and onto New Lynn

        I don’t think you need to convert the OL to LRT – remember that the Manukau Rd LRT line ends in Onehunga. I actually think that’s a bigger reason to shut down the OL than anything else.

        1. Yes I really think the energy needs to be comparing rail via Otahuhu or Onehunga.

          I will say in Onehunga’s case it does probably cover Mangere better and extend the reach of the RTN further. So long as the route through Onehunga and across the inlet can be done efficiently. But the speed and efficiency of using the Otahuhu hub has great appeal.

          Longer term I see a southern link with south facing connections only, the line could then continue to Papakura ideal for connection with future Hamilton and Tauranga services as well as the southern line itself, and adding frequency to those busy stations as South AKL grows as planned. 12tph with a great spread of destinations across south AKL industrial base.

        2. A quick (and I’m no pro) check of the census and I think ridership via the Otahuhu – Airport line could be on a par with any Penrose – Airport line. There are a lot of people to the east of SH20.

        3. Totally agree with Patrick, Greg, Bryce, Stu. Plus.. Otahuhu gets you to the eastern line (fast growing Sylvia Park / Panmure / GI..) with one change.

          Prima facie, AT’s proposals don’t appear meet the Basin Reserve Flyover Test: “the requirement to consider all non-suppositious options with potentially less adverse effects”. I guess this works in the positive as well: “non-suppositious options with potentially more beneficial effects”?

        4. As long as it’s a cut and cover/tunnel through Mangere, as appears to be the suggestion for the proposed heavy rail option through Onehunga. Otherwise it’ll be another piece of infrastructure cutting through Mangere and dividing our communities.

        5. I remember on this page when there was a suggestion that the CRL be overhead/elevated. The response from the author and nearly all commentators was negative to the suggestion, citing noise, inconvenience, dead space, graffiti. “A bit like the Basin Flyover in Wellington really”. In Mangere, this won’t be like the Strand elevation where the train is over head for a few metres. In Mangere it will be elevated across the entire suburb, unlike anything in NZ. Mangere is largely residential and not an inner city business area such as the Strand. If elevation is not good enough for the CBD, why should it be good enough for Mangere? Or another way, if cut and cover/tunnel is good enough for Onehunga, why not Mangere?

  7. I remember the misery of using the Picadilly line to get to Heathrow. There was nowhere for people with bags other than to stand in the doorway while long suffering commuters had to climb past/over. If you are going to or from an airport you need your bags beside you at all times yet that doesn’t really work with commuter services. Both options look like crap to me.

    1. the “misery” of an intensively-used PT network is a trade-off I’m prepared to make ;).

      I’d certainly rather that than *no PT* in this area.

    2. I have just come back from Kuala Lumpur and agree totally. The successful airport rail options (KL, Hong Kong) have space for luggage; the unsuccessful options (Singapore, Sydney, London) do not. If the rail is to be used only by airport staff then luggage is not a problem, but operating hours are very important.

        1. I agree with you BP… While NZ will never have enough money to have a dedicated rail link from the airport to the city, we could have dedicated trains that are a fast service – stopping only in say Parnel and Britomart. Post AWHC this airport train could go on to terminate in Takapuna.
          This would become a premium service with the cost of a fare just below the taxi rate. Like the Heathrow Express. The profits from this could go to pay for the more general (slower service) that stops at all the commuter stations. Labour and Green voters could have the choice of (ignoring the double standard) paying up for the express or mixing with the ‘common people’ and taking a stopper.
          Only question is does NZ rail have line capacity for an airport service every 20 mins plus a commuter service?

        2. There wouldn’t be any profits from an express service, there isn’t the demand for a direct downtown to airport link. If you did that it would be the all stops service that subsidises the express, because there would be far more people catching it along the line and into town than there would be to or from the airport.

      1. I remember arriving in KL 7 years ago and being amazed the airport rail service. Comfortable, space for luggage, non-stop, fast and door to door from the airport to to the central rail station in KL.

        Auckland can’t keep compromising on cost every time a public transport project is dreamed up. Heavy rail is the only way to go, regardless of whether it’s through Otahuhu or Onehunga.

        1. And free porters at Sentral (important when your wife cannot lift her suitcase), and an easily understood taxi service. Hong Kong also has a very good taxi service at the Hong Kong Island terminal

    3. I used the Piccadilly line as recently as February and always use it on my at least yearly trips to London. You can’t beat 1 hour from Heathrow to Clapham (2 changes included) and for 3 quid. Worth the hassle of standing at the end of the carriage with your bag if there is no space elsewhere. Huge numbers use the service because it connects to so many parts of London, just like a decent service to Papatoetoe Station on the 380 bus would do as an interim measure in Auckland. I’ll also be using the 901 bus from Melbourne Airport to Broadmeadows Station on Friday.

        1. Sure, but as an interim, can we get the frequency up? Drive the change, not adapt ad hoc. As an alternative, is a bus from Otahuhu potentially any quicker and of more use?

        2. The leg between Papatoetoe and airport could be doubled at much less cost than the rambler to Onehunga. Ridership won’t rise, in my opinion until frequency is improved.

        3. I agree, increased frequency of 380 is essential to driving patronage. what a letdown that AT cut it from the proposed frequent network.The leg between the airport and Onehunga is certainly a rambler, just a local service and shouldn’t be promoted as a route to the city. The 380 could do with removing the circuitous route from Papatoetoe station back around through the main street when heading to the airport. Having passengers cross the road from the station to a new stop opposite the present one would cut three or four minutes off the trip to the airport

    4. mfwic, the Piccadilly Line (as with most of London’s lines) is over a century old and doesn’t have the space in the tunnels for larger trains. So they are relatively cramped.
      The Heathrow Connect/Express has more room for luggage.
      Auckland’s EMUs have more space on them than a standard tube train so shouldn’t be an issue. Remember a lot of people using the train won’t have luggage (airport workers, residents along the line etc).
      HR is most definitely the way to go. I really can’t understand AT obsession with LR to the airport. LR is for urban use moving people around the city not for going longer distances to places like the airport.

    5. mfwic, funny you should say that, I was just thinking how the LRT option will be slow and rambly like the Piccadilly line, crammed in with local shoppers etc, whereas the Rail route will be faster, stop less, more room, so more like the Heathrow Express, if not the cming Crossrail service for comparison. Especially as the CRL will be done.

  8. I am very skeptical about light rail to the airport via Dominion Road If existing bus services down Dominion Road are to be replaced by light rail there will inevitably be a slight reduction in the number of stops (i.e. further to walk from house to stop), which will be acceptable as a trade-off for the benefits of light rail. My fear is that if the light rail is then extended out to Mangere and the Airport there will be pressure to further reduce the number of stops in order to reduce the overall journey time at the expense of those using only the isthmus section of the line. So there is an inherent conflict between the original driver for the light rail project (providing an attractive service for residents of the southern isthmus using 4-5km spur lines) and the Airport/Mangere project which will be about five times longer and far too slow to be attractive for city-bound tourists. Add in the steep incline NW of Onehunga and light rail to the airport struggles to make the cut

    1. Yes extending Dom Rd LRT to the Airport amounts to confusion of purpose with the result that it will likely do neither well. It will be too slow, too variable, and too cluttered with conflicting users.

      LRT is a local distributor, it is not Rapid Transit. A route of this length really needs to be RT, furthermore it’s already half way there, with connections to the rest of the rail, rapid bus, and ferry networks. The time difference and reliability is significant, especially when connections are considered.

      And it is disingenuous to not count the cost of most of the LRT route; it isn’t there yet, unlike the Rail system. AT’s proposed Isthmus LRT stands up in its own right it doesn’t need this Frankenstein mismatch addition to work. And extending our booming rail system here will actually improve the network running pattern, lift occupancy, and operating efficiency.

      Good money after good.

      1. yes and see my comment below on connecting residential areas to employment (i.e. origins to destinations). I’m afraid LRT to the airport really fails transport planning 101 on this front.

        More specifically, what the south-west area needs is rapid PT connections to places of employment and education, including but not limited to the city centre. It also includes connecting the SW to Onehunga, Panmure, Greenlane, Ellerslie, Newmarket etc.

        These places have many more jobs in their catchment than the LRT line will provide, which simply connects them to residential suburbs along Dom Rd. I don’t expect much demand for travel between these two places, as they are relatively distinct communities of interest.

    2. yes, I tend to agree Graeme. I don’t think LRT is the right tool for this job. I would think either 1) frequent rapid buses; or 2) heavy rail; or 3) driverless light metro (e.g. SkyTrain) would be a better fit for this corridor. Advantage of #3 is that the operating costs are sufficiently low that you can afford to run high frequency and long span – both of which are important for airports due to the time sensitive and spread nature of the travel demands. This needs to be factored in here: How frequently and for how long can we afford to run LRT to the airport?

      Sppan and frequency are my primary concerns. Basically, while the Airbus gets a lot of flack for reliability, we tend to forget that the frequency and span are excellent. Indeed it runs at 30 minute frequencies all through the night. Brisbane’s airtrain, for example, shuts down at 10pm, which is not good given all those late flights.

      I also think it’s important to think about *where* the *residents* of the SW areas might wish to travel to, which I don’t think is often given adequate weight in these debates. From where I’m sitting there would seem to be more demand for people in South-west Auckland to travel north to Onehunga and then to areas on the heavy rail line (which support lots of employment, such as Newmarket), than there would be demand to travel to west and up Dominion Rd. It seems to be me that the heavy rail option connects residents of the SW with employment opportunities to the north, whereas LRT connects the to other residential areas.

      Ultimately, I don’t think LRT to the airport would be a smart move. Not compared to bus, not compared to heavy rail, and not even compared to light metro.

  9. I note that they have not discussed these options;
    1) A heavy rail link Airport to Manukau – so that we have a loop service in both directions. Will double tracking then be necessary for Stage One if stations only a double tracked to enable trains to pass?
    2) A link to Manukau would mean connecting with a light rail network out east to Botany, Howick. Our Mayor when at Manukau built Te Irirangi Drive to carry a light rail link to Manukau.
    3) No consideration of a freight yard at Airport or Airport Oaks…..there is no AT thinking of getting trucks and containers they carry of the roads.

    1. Hey Don,

      Eventually the plan would be to extend the line to Manukau. Which is why HR makes sense. It would operate in both directions so double-tracking the Onehunga line makes sense. Manukau might not need full double-tracking (at least initially).
      Light rail would be good from Manukau out east.
      This is the other advantage of HR… it can be used for freight too!

  10. OK, unlimited money time. Here is what I would do for the whole rail network (including the airport):

    * Heavy Rail from Albany (or further north) down the bus way and under the harbour. Trams feeding this line from places like Glenfield and East Coast. Branch line to Takapuna.
    * After passing through Wynyard Quarter and City the North shore line would become a fast service on new quadrupled NIMT between Quay Park and Otahuhu. These new “fast lines” on the NIMT would also be used for intercity and fast services from Papakura and beyond.
    * At Otahuhu the airport line would grade separate from the “fast lines” and then take Patrick’s route to the airport. Just think what the travel time to the airport from the city could be with stops only at Panmure, Otahuhu (for people coming from the South/West) and Airport Surburbs. Would be awesome.
    * 3rd or 4th main from Otahuhu to Papakura for passenger fast trains and freight.

    Of course a plan of this magnitude is unaffordable at current time, but doesn’t mean we can’t built bits of it at a time. Start with Patrick’s route from Otahuhu, then add 4 tracks to Sylvia park, etc, etc.

    In my opinion trams should be used as feeders to the Heavy Rail system.

    Tram direct from city to the airport does nothing for people coming from the South, so is not justifiable compared to Onehunga or Otahuhu options in my opinion.

  11. This very obviously needs to be Heavy Rail, it’s disgusting that they call it commuter rail as well, complete misnomer.

    Three most important factors are frequency, capacity and trip time. Heavy rail wins on the lasst two and on frequency both can manage 8tph after the CRL goes in. Regarding the catchment I can’t see how the Heavy rail is so low, surely all 28,000 CBD residents are 800m from both, plus all of the Southern Line stations, Heavy Rail also goes past far, far more jobs.

  12. The 2014 Public Transport Spine Study in Wellington similarly talked-down the benefits of Heavy Rail extension and inflated its costs, in order to make Light Rail appear more attractive. But then it went a step further by pushing up the cost of Light Rail and talking up the benefits of Bus rapid Transit to make that option appear more feasible.

    And not wanting to stop there, the study then compared expensive, segregated BRT with cheap, “paint a few bus-lanes” BRT, and hey presto, the latter emerged as the best, most cost-effective option for Wellington’s public transport spine. A “world class” example of a much-needed public transport proposal being watered-down to the lowest common denominator by those with precisely this agenda, but dressed up by spin-doctors to somehow be “world class”!

    Few people outside of those bodies responsible for transport were fooled by this farce.

  13. A few points:

    1. The analogy with the Piccadilly line is a good one. Tired international travellers and their luggage will not mix well with busy local commuters in crowded light rail vehicles. That will be much less of a problem on trains where there is more room. Provision could also be made for luggage racks on trains serving the airport.

    2. The key to a useful airport service is a short travel time to the CBD. 35 minutes is ideal. By AT’s own admission, sending light rail vehicles through busy arterial roads to the airport will be 11 minutes slower. That is a significant time difference. The 46 minute travel time estimate also sounds overly optimistic.

    3. Extending the rail line to the airport, double-tracking and trenching the Onehunga line, and increasing the frequency of services, will massively benefit Mangere and Mangere Bridge, which are otherwise cut-off from the CFN.

    4. There will be an easy interchange to light rail at Onehunga, assuming that line is built, giving easy access to Epsom and other parts of the isthmus.

    5. Routing the line via Onehunga leaves open the possibility of a future extension to the Western line, via Mt Roskill, on the Avondale-Southdown designation. That would allow interchanges with the proposed light rail lines at Dominion and Sandringham Roads, opening up even more of the isthmus to airport rail. (Note the proposed CFN already anticipates an extension of the Western line from Mt Albert to Mt Roskill.)

  14. I prefer the idea of an airport express service, created partly by adding a third track between Otahuhu and Britomart (yes I know this is expensive). The service times will be: Britomart -Otahuhu nonstop 20 minutes (18kms). 12 minutes Otahuhu to Airoprt with one stop in Mangere (9kms). Total time 32 minutes. We could possibly build the first stage Mangere – Airport as an orphan and extend light rail to Mangere, and then in future add the Mangere – Otahuhu connection

    I might add that these times are calculated from slightly longer distances from the Wellington network (namely Britomart – Otahuhu = Wellington – Taita, and Otahuhu – Airport with Mangere stop = Petone to Wellington with Ngauranga stop. The Wellington distances are slightly longer, so in reality it may be possible to do the trip in just 30 minutes or less. Something worth considering

    1. get a third main on the eastern line and that’s a go, but is hardly essential, anyway the train wouldn’t be just leaving from Britomart, this is the western line service. Though id there is that west-south service, that could become a west-arport, but then why would you do that? Miss the city centre and the two biggest station Britomart and Aotea?

      Britomart- Airport via Otahuhu all stops [drop Westfield] would be no more than 35 mins anyway.

      1. I was actually thinking about the possibility of new rolling stock specially for this airport express to try and get the time down towards 25 minutes. But thats not essential, and we can route the western line down to Otahuhu all stops and then to the airport as a first step. Only issue becomes the Onehunga line, but this can be covered with a new Morningside – Onehunga via CRL service

  15. I thought they would. Pull the cost saving card on our rapid transit.
    And they will again with the north shore line.

    1. Just a suggestion/comment. I’m interested that you are running the connection via Papatoetoe rather than via Manukau. I would have thought if you were going to run LRT to botany (as we were promised by the old MCC) then it would be better to run it to Manukau (via AUT campus) before going to the airport. Then you could pick up student movement plus people going to MCC for shopping or Rainbows end and AC staff could use it to get to their offices. Plus it would tie in with the bus interchange and if intercity buses use it then it would make a convent transfer – so overall allow a better interconnectivity with a range of transport options. Paying for it as always is the problem and I think Airport links are lower do in the priority list to other transport projects such as CRL, AMETI, north-western busway and even the Domain Rd LRT.

      1. The Light Rail stage one would run to Puhinui not Papatoetoe.
        Puhinui is the closest station to the RTN, consenting to it should be easy as it basically runs from the airport through a greenfield area using SH20.
        At SH20 there is already a grade seperated underpass to continue up Puhinui Rd to the station.
        Trying to run Light Rail to Manukau is longer and much more difficult as you have to cross both rail and motorway and the area is productive and industrial.

        Manukau station is a branch line, as such you transfer one stop to there if required coming from the Airport or East.
        6tph to Manukau and Papakura through Puhinui mean a train every 10mins to Manukau, Papakura, Newmarket and Panmure, and a train every 5mins to the City.

        Running Light Rail to Puhinui should be done in conjunction with finding a route through Mangere, just a cheaper, faster solution for getting Airport to the City, East, Manukau and South (also the West after CRL) in one transfer.
        Coming from the East to Manukau you could transfer to a bus at H30 or H3 from the Puhinui to Botany – Howick bus / future Light Rail line, or stay on until Puhinui and take the train back to Manukau.

  16. The most important aspect is speed. If travel by light rail is not faster than airbus, there is not much point.

    Light rail is good for travelling to the next suburb, rail is travelling across auckland.

    While light rail sounds cheaper to build and deliver short term benefits, heavy rail will pay off in long term if the apartments and terrance house are zoned to build around it.

    1. Coming from the background from hong kong. People who live in satelite town travel to work in cbd by heavy rail. Where mum and school kids travel to school and local shopping by light rail.

    2. what benefit does LRT deliver? Sure it is cheaper, but you can’t beat the cost of not building it at all, and for a couple minutes timesaving it really does seem poor value for money, rail for the sake of rail.

  17. It’s gotta be heavy rail or don’t bother. Always looking for the cheapest option in our country. If we’re that badly off we’d better stop calling ourselves a developed first-world country. We don’t act like it. Spend proper money on infrastructure like a real country does. This is why other countries think we’re a bit of a laugh. Rant over (thank goodness!)

    1. Completely disagree. There isn’t an unlimited supply of money – AT won’t be able to do every single possible PT route to the best possible standards. Compromising on one route may give the money to do another route. I would prefer to see lots of light rail than a small amount of heavy rail with the rest being buses. Buses suck.
      Why not wait until Dominion Road is done, see what the travel time really is, see how good light rail really is, and then decide.

        1. Do we know the cost difference between light and heavy rail? I can only assume it is significant for AT to be considering it. If there isn’t a big cost difference then heavy rail is a no-brainer.

        2. The thing is that it probably isn’t that much different. The same route still needs to be prepared. They both use rails (albeit heavy rails are stronger and more expensive – this is not the expensive part). So for an extra say 10% (even 30%) would be worth it for the increased speed/capacity/network integration/passenger comfort.

        3. In this case they are saying the ROW will be similar, as this isn’t street running through Mangere, but LRT can be somewhat cheaper because it allows more forgiving geometries; steeper inclines tighter curves. But then it won’t run as fast.

          Meh. I just don’t see the point. LRT’s great utility is its ability to bring high capacity right to the front door. Metro rail can only do that underground or elevated. That’s what’s so great about Queen St/Dom Rd route; it’s right where the people are. Here they’re trying to make it do another job at the same time. Looks like a poor frankenstein plan to me. All out of a desire to save a little capex for on something that will last as long as there’s a city here; if done properly.

        4. This is the high quality infrastructure that Calgary’s CTrain runs on. Then in the city environment it runs along the streets. Basically a railway that has the flexibility for street running, and I think this is what AT envision for Auckland. It means, eventually, we could have a city wide network far greater than what heavy rail could ever deliver. The concept is certainly growing on me.

        5. Does LRT have to be underground at the airport end? If not that could be a massive cost difference – heavy rail would have to be completely underground I imagine.
          I guess we have to wait for more information from AT.

        6. Geoff yes Calgary’s C-Train is very successful, but you will note that they are planning to underground the city part of the network because of the limits to frequency, reliability, and speed of on street running. This is of course very expensive and disruptive (can’t find the money).

          This is a huge concern with AT’s LR plan for this route. It basically chooses a limited system for ever. Is that cos they don’ think it’ll work that well, or just good old short terism?

          Do it once, do it right. AT.

  18. Prefer the heavy train option so leading up to its opening you can train to Onehunga then bus last bit. The connection worked well last time I did it. The problem then was that the 380 was quite an urban bus through Mangere. At one point it goes into Mangere town centre then out the same way (dog leg of about 3-5minutes). Even at 0500 it takes over half an hour to get from Onehunga train station to the domestic airport. It takes about 2 hours on PT to get from Torbay to the airport and it is about a 45 minute drive off peak

    1. Just curious, but have you tried transferring to the 380 at Papatoetoe? (as I think it works out to be the same timewise, but with more time on the train and less on the bus). Given the higher train frequencies, it’s definitely the superior option when coming back from the airport.

      1. Papatoetoe is a much better place transfer, not only much quicker on the bus, but there are trains each way every five minutes; zero waiting. However the 380 is still hopelessly infrequent, 30 mins.

      1. Stu Donovan – your comment has intrigued me. Do you know if someone is looking at light metro as an option for the airport line? I have been thinking of writing something along those lines myself to submit as a guest post, but I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time doing that only to find someone else has done it before me.

        Also, the Matt you refer to who thinks light metro could work, is that Matt L the administrator?

        Thanks, Daniel

  19. Something to consider – AT are proposing that Auckland have the biggest light rail vehicles in the world, with a 450 person capacity each. By comparison, Auckland’s EMU’s have a 373 person capacity. If they can give them a decent running speed along Dominion Rd, combined with 80km/h travel along the off-street portion, really we are talking about one type of train vs another type of train.

    1. hmm … except EMUs can be run as 6 car sets yielding a per train capacity of ~750.

      It also seems unlikely the LRT would average 80km/hr once it got off the Dominion Rd segment, especially given the grades they will need to navigate. I can’t see them travelling north on SH20 at anywhere near that speed to be honest.

      These things will be large and low!

      In my view, the main problem with the LRT idea is that it seems to under-perform from a strategic perspective. More specifically, let’s think about why we might build a rail line to the Airport/Mangere area? In my view there would be two primary strategic objectives (feel free to add your own):
      1. Connect (low income) residential areas to employment areas to the north, including but not limited to the city centre; and
      2. Provide a quality (fast and reliable) PT connection between the city centre and the airport.

      On both these strategic measures heavy rail wins hands down. Ironically, AT’s poxy coverage calculations (which as Patrick notes are a load of bollocks) kind of highlight this fact: The Dom Rd line will connect residential areas in the south-west to residential areas in the isthmus, whereas heavy rail connects the former to employment.

      1. I would suggest that we could make good progress toward these strategic objectives at a lower cost by setting up a frequent connecting bus service from the Airport to Papatoetoe Station, and then also putting in bus prioritisation along the route taken by the Airbus to enable a shorter travel time from the CBD to the Airport.

        I’d be reluctant to put a ton of capital into this project while so much infrastructure around the rest of Auckland remains unbuilt.

  20. Their modelling of this is rubbish. Surely with today software technology they could put every stop present & future in the network in a matrix and run some numbers. I’m interested what do AT (and overseas for that matter) use for modelling this sort of stuff, or is all done manually and with Excel??! In any case if you didn’t do that, they should be using one main central station (ie Aotea) as it would average out the whole network I guess especially they way we are moving towards that kind of main hub mode. Maybe this presentation was an old one done by a student as a first project and they just pulled it out of a hat to show with the LRT one. (giggle)

    1. Modelling of this nature is done via a technology called SATURN which runs on the C family of programming languages. We’ve had enough computational capacity to do modelling for all of Auckland for 30+ years. The assumptions that you make about parameters are what actually effect your result.

      I would say that the modellers have simplified their model by assuming that the only people to use this line are airport users from the CBD and residents in the SW and central isthmus going to work in the CBD. This is very lazy, and an awful assumption too. It also looks like they have compared the entire LRT line to no LRT rather than the actual extension to the airport. They were told to get a particular result and got it.

      Other very troubling assumptions are the frequency difference as both would be 8 an hour realistically, and that LRT achieves the same speed from Onehunga to the airport despite an extra stop and a top running speed 30kmh slower than heavy rail.

      1. All round poor work, but much transport modelling in NZ [and elsewhere] seems to suffer from these limitations and tendency to act like the butcher leaning on the scales to boost the desired outcome.

        But then there are no consequences to shoddy modelling as far as we can see, promotion probably. What has NZTA changed as a result of this very wide miss [below]? Have the assumptions been overhauled? Are the people running it the same, or from the same auto-centric background?

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