Every now and then you see comments that make you want to laugh, cry or just bang your head against a wall at the stupidity of them. Yesterday there were a couple of such comments from Judith Collins in an opinion piece talking about the Auckland mayoralty. They aren’t really the key part of her opinion but present a good opportunity to bust a few urban myths and concern trolling.

First up one of those old urban legends.

A sprawling city the size of London with a population the size of Perth’s.

There’s couple of interesting aspects to this statement in the comparison of London and Perth.

I’m not quite sure where the comparison with London came about, possibly it was one of those ones from the 50’s and 60’s that was used to justify investing in roads and not in public transport. Regardless of its origin it’s false and presumably only came about by including much of Auckland’s rural hinterland. If we’re talking about cities then we should be comparing the urban area and in that regard London at around 1,738km² is over three times the size of Auckland at 559km². You can clearly see the difference in the image below which shows the two cities at the same scale.

London vs Auckland

Auckland is a long relatively narrow city due to its geography and would look considerably smaller if it too was on a river plain.

It’s also odd that she chose Perth to compare Auckland too. Perth’s population is now estimated to be over 2 million, a level Auckland is not expected to reach for roughly another 15 years. Of course we’ve already kind of been following Perth for some time when it comes to transport, not least of which included using their old rolling stock until we too electrified our rail network.  If we want to continue to follow Perth then more investment in our public transport network and in particular rail will be needed which brings us to the second comment of hers.

Auckland needs roads first and foremost. The Central Rail Link is a good idea and would be a lot better if it included stations at the University of Auckland and AUT. The fact that it won’t include Auckland City Hospital is a lost opportunity. But, then again, Auckland’s hills and gullies make this extremely expensive. Therein lies one of the other issues that London, for example, doesn’t face. Auckland is not flat. It’s built around 60 volcanic cones after all.

The good news for Judith is we have done exactly what she suggests. We’ve spent decades building roads first and foremost and with the exception of a few bits here and there, our road network is largely complete. Once Waterview opens little over a year there will not be any significant gaps in our roading network and all projects after that are tinkering with what we already have. That means for Auckland to move into the future it needs to start focusing on its missing modes, its high quality public transport and active modes networks.

It’s the comment about the CRL not including the Universities and the Hospital that is what really drove me to write this post. It’s classic white anting and the suggestion the CRL route be changed to include these two locations along with Wynyard has been pushed by the NZCID for some time – they are also pushing for a longer and more expensive road tunnel under the harbour. It all reminded me of a document I received from an OIA request over a year ago but never posted. The document is a presentation by the then Minister of Transport to the Cabinet Strategy Committee and is dated 23 August 2013 and I assume Collins was on that committee while she was a minister.

In explaining the CRL it states the CRL is Key infrastructure project for meeting forecast growth in demand for access to Auckland’s city centre It also notes that 14 options for route alignment, number and location of stations were considered in the Options Evaluation Study before determining the preferred route and that the preferred route was endorsed by Auckland Transport, Kiwirail and Auckland Council.

It says the confirmed route is 3.4km long and has the old cost of $2.86 billion.

  • Fairly straight alignment, consistent with rail planning principles
  • Proven constructability
  • Central route covers both sides of CBD
  • Significant travel time savings for Western Line passengers.

It then looks at the NZCID route. Notice it is about 800m longer and costs about $800 million more

MoT on Alternate CRL Route - Page 4

The stations proposed would obviously have an impact on patronage, the page below doesn’t show the Hospital or Wynyard but as you can see there is little difference in how many people would use alternative route for the Universities.

MoT on Alternate CRL Route - Page 5

Modelling of the overall impact of PT patronage out to 2041 shows that in the AM peak there would be a difference of just 150 trips. This is likely because the longer less direct route for some journeys will put a number of people off using PT.

MoT on Alternate CRL Route - Page 6

If the small difference in patronage wasn’t bad enough it also turns out the route isn’t feasible as it would require a 9% grade when the maximum for trains is 3.5%. Just eyeballing the graphics also suggests that it would involve some very deep stations.

MoT on Alternate CRL Route - Page 7

As for connecting Wynyard, they say AT modelling suggests that on its own it isn’t enough to serve with rail. It doesn’t mention it but to me Wynyard seems much more suited to being a station on a route that connects to the North Shore.

MoT on Alternate CRL Route - Page 8

The presentation notes the following conclusions

MoT on Alternate CRL Route - Page 9

And the last part of her comment

And we Aucklanders love our cars. Many Aucklanders work in south Auckland and live in west Auckland. That’s the nature of Auckland. Buses travel on roads. Rail is useful and needed but it’s not the only solution.

As I’ve said in the past Auckland’s love affair with cars is more of an arranged marriage due to a lack of quality options.

Yes many people do live in West Auckland and travel to South Auckland for work. However have a play with Statistics NZ interactive commuter map and you’ll see it’s not super significant numbers. Once the new network is in place it will be easier than ever to commute between the two areas. For those that want to drive – which is likely to remain the fastest option – if only there was a road that would let them bypass having to travel through the city to get to the south. Perhaps we could call the road the Western Ring Road. The example below is of commute patterns to the area unit that includes the Airport. Around 1,200 of the nearly 16,000 people who commuted there came from West Auckland

Census Journey to Work - Airport

Lastly of course buses travel on roads but they generally do so on local roads, not state highways like the government is prioritising. I look forward to seeing Collins tell us all what roads for buses she is proposing be built.

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  1. It is scary when some of these politicians reveal how uninformed they are. It’s not long ago she was a decision maker for National!

    As a side note I didn’t think it was written very well either – it seemed like it was put together in a huff and in haste. Zero wit. Sort of like this comment.

  2. Premise 1: A smart politician would know that adding $800 million to the capital cost of a project equates to an annualised capital cost of $48 million p.a. (assuming 6% p.a.)

    Premise 2: A smart politician would know an extra 150 journeys per AM peak period equates to approximately 120,000 additional rail journeys p.a. (assuming an AM peak factor of 4, and 200 “normal” days p.a.).

    Premise 3: A smart politician would know that $48 million p.a. divided by 120,000 journeys p.a. yields an average cost of $400 per journey, or $26 per km (assuming 15km per rail journey).

    Premise 4: A smart politician would know that $400 per journey, or $26 per km, is a relatively expensive means of transport. It’s approximately equivalent to transporting people by helicopter. (NB: I appreciate that conservative politicians have a tendency to travel by BMWs and/or helicopter, but someone needs to tell them that it’s really not that cheap).

    Conclusion #1: Judith Collins is not a smart politician, and nor is she a transport planner.

    PS. I note that Judith Collins is trained as a lawyer. A smart politician would do some research before mouthing off on issues of which they have little prior knowledge.

    1. I think what you describe is an intelligent politician which is not the same as a smart politician. A smart politician can easily eschew intelligence and use BS arguments score points. In this case she says something that the general public – who aren’t aware of the costs and patronage implications – think makes sense and so they’re more likely to think she’s right.

      1. Also plays well to her southern audience who have not been told much yet about how CRL will improve their travel options. Politicians will always fill an information vacuum to suit their ends.

        1. Oh I say the South is coming around Sacha

          Our Ward Councillor (Manurewa-Papakura) was anti CRL in the beginning and now pushes for it like anything. We have constant complaints the Papakura Station Park and Ride is full too quickly with Takanini now taking the overflow.
          And hammer it home enough that it takes 50 minutes from Papakura to Britomart by train and 60 minutes or more from Papakura to City by the motorway (as well as dealing with everyone clown on it) and people soon get the message

        1. The literature on expertise seems to suggest that people can be really competent in their chosen specialty and clueless when they try to tackle other areas that they don’t know as well. For example, winning a Nobel Prize in chemistry doesn’t prevent you from denying global warming, arguing that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, or espousing astrology. (Actually, there are a bunch of Nobel winners who have said daft things in other fields.)

        2. “Essentially, for Auckland to be as sprawled out as LA it would have to pave over the Hauraki Gulf and Firth of Thames.”

          Don’t say things like that – they might just do it!

    2. I get the impression that some lawyers and many politicians are more concerned about having a winning argument than having a factually correct argument. This annoys me.

      1. Yes, although it depends on how you define “winning”. I think Collins is winning when it comes to hoovering up support from people who are on the right of the political spectrum. Hands down.

        But in other respects I think Collin’s is losing. Not only is this article patently ill-conceived, but it also comes across as painfully naive. There are occasions when one should bolster one’s “core support”, such as when giving speeches to party conferences and/or favourable NGOs. On the other hand, there are also occasions when one should knuckle down, do some research, show some empathy, and thereby appeal to people who may be somewhat favourably disposed to your values and views even if they are not yet core “supporters”. There are also times when you also need to politefully respect views that are different to your own, while clearly articulating why you disagree.

        Coming back to the matter at hand: An op-ed in the Herald is an opportunity to present one’s views to a relatively wide range of people. While I appreciate that nanny Herald tends to occupy the right of the political spectrum, for whom Collins’ article may appeal, it is nonetheless likely to have a more “centrist” audience than most simply by virtue of its large readership (i.e. the law of large numbers and regression to the mean). To put it more bluntly: If Judith Collins wants to be an influential politician, and possibly even leader of the National Party, then she needs to learn when/how to talk to the 80% of New Zealanders whose political views are somewhat to the left of her own.

        And that means not using the Herald as a forum for ideological rabble-rousing. One only has to look at Liberal Party’s fortunes in Australia since Malcolm Turnbull took over to see what moderate political views can do for support levels (+5% swing back to Liberals compared to when Abbott was leader). Yes Turnbull’s softly softly approach may grate with some of the more conservative elements of the Liberal Party, but these people will always vote LNP. The same is true for the people who are persuaded by Collins’ recent transport tirade in the Herald: She is “winning” support from people who already support her. From what I know of her electorate, she will never lose her seat. Of course, this doesn’t mean taking their support for granted, but it does mean that you don’t have to shout their views from the rooftops if they’re not accepted by the wider populace.

        So what will Collins and National gain from this article? Not much, I suspect. Repeated surveys have repeatedly shown that the majority of Aucklanders favour greater investment in public transport and walking and cycling. Collins is of course welcome to hold a different view, although one would think that such a position would be carefully researched and persuasively written,

        So Collins is winning on some counts, but losing on others :).

        1. What’s more interesting, in my view, is that she clearly feels unable to dismiss Transit in general and the CRL in particular so is left clutching at concern trolling; ‘there’s a better route’, not it shouldn’t happen at all. This shows just how far the debate about our city has moved in a relatively short time. And, just like in transportation and land use planning, what matters is the trend. Or as our PM once put it about his old job, currency trading; ‘the trend, your friend’. If this is the best a politician like Collins can muster then she’s already lost the war.

          Meanwhile, over the Tasman, her worldview has been deposed and replaced but a much more relevant one, one that will prove much more politically successful:


        2. A positive perspective on things! I think you’ve got a really good point.

          My hope is that NZ is a place where facts and evidence can in fact win arguments. That’s probably essential. We’re too small and distant to rely on good economic luck all the time, so we have to actually be smart about things.

        3. Collins can lose her Electorate Seat of Papakura (my own Electorate) if the Opposition got arsed and mounted a full three year campaign. Her vote majority was slashed about 50% in the last election so nothing to tip her out entirely if you stand a more “sensible” conservative MP.

          Also Collins is part of the Collins Faction (yeah cue irony alarms) which like Abbott give no inch and damn everyone else that is not “them.” Whereas more of National will be like “Turnbull” and be moderate more towards a comprehensive transport network (e.g continued increasing patronage at Papakura Station).

          Bridges is the one to watch though. Why do I have a gut feeling that tunnel boring machine will be starting on the CRL around 2018 if not 2019 at absolute latest.

        4. Interesting discussion about Judith Collins and her possible bid to be Mayor of Auckland this morning on Nine to Noon. I would have thought that her political career was largely over – relegated to the back benches and renowned as a bit spiteful – but there was speculation that the Herald article was just a signal that she was keen to contest the Auckland Mayoralty, as Key doesn’t seem keen to have her back on cabinet. Personally, I’d be really surprised if people saw her as the great right hope to combat whoever Labour put up (apparently going to be Phil Goff). Couldn’t Auckland find candidates who aren’t seen as failed ex-Politicians?
          But to me, her brusque style of management (“stick it, Sweetie” etc) and her links to dodgy environmental dealings (like her shonky husband digging up swamp kauri and exporting it to China) and her plain refusal to give even the tiniest of damns, as well as ill-informed pro-roading comments and factually incorrect comments like the ones you discuss above, means that she surely hasn’t got a chance? Even less than Maurice Williamson or – horror of horrors – John Banks making another comeback?

        5. I generally agree with you, although describing Phil Goff as a “failed politician” doesn’t gybe with my impressions of him.

          While Goff was never prime minister, he did hold down several high ranking and challenging ministerial portfolios in the last Labour Government, and by most accounts seems to do a pretty good job. And when I’ve heard him talk, e.g. at a Tamilese community gathering in Mt Roskill, he came across as relatively intelligent, articulate, passionate, and empathetic.

  3. I believe there is every chance she is deliberately misrepresenting the situation in the interests of allies, despite being properly briefed as you note. We’ve all seen her integrity in play over the last few years.

  4. The New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development’s website says they are an authority at the forefront of infrastructure development issues. And that they promote best practice in national development issues through research, advocacy and public and private sector collaboration.

    The NZCID proposal above for the CRL is not even competent. As a body they are a big turn off and I generally have found in the past that CEO Stephen Selwood’s mutterings add little of substance to issues. Why the Herald take any notice of him I have not been able to fathom.

    1. yes, the alternative CRL proposal is a non-starter. It’s the classic “let’s try and do too much” sort of PT proposal that contradicts some fundamental principles of PT planning.

      More specifically, public transport *lines/routes* function best when they are direct and frequent. The alternative CRL alignment is not direct in any shape or form. Indeed it’s almost an “S” shape. The CRL, on the other hand, is a very direct route between main destinations. While the CRL does not connnect to Wynyard, it is also possible to connect to Wynyard via *another means*. This could be any of 1) high frequency bus corridor via Universities and Wellesley street; 2) rail connection between city and/or North Shore.

      Indeed, $800 million would get you most of the way towards including a metro rail line to the North Shore in the next WHC, which would of course include a station at Wynyard.

  5. Some great fact checking here (or should that be mythbusting?) and I particularly like the side-by-side scaled map comparisons. Any chance you can do one for Los Angeles in a future post, since that’s another ‘fact’ I’ve grown up with: “Auckland is almost as spread out as LA”.

    The only (minor) quibble I have is your assertion “Once Waterview opens [in] little over a year there will not be any significant gaps in our roading network and all projects after that are tinkering with what we already have.” While the majority of your readers would agree with that, in the wider public there would be other views as well. Personally I wish we had constructed the Eastern Arterial (from the City to Pakuranga/Manukau) since that would have meant we have a true ring route around the city for vehicles. At present we have one motorway that dissects the city, and a second one that skirts around the southwest border. The eastern part of this planned ring was successfully blocked over successive decades due to (IMO) the privileged nature of it’s inhabitants – white, wealthy, middle class, and ‘more QC’s per square mile than anywhere else in Auckland’ (as I was gleefully told at one STEM meeting I attended). The people of Mt Roskill and Waterview had no such champions.

    (I just thought I’d make that point, since unlike Collins I’m not trying to relitigate the issue – it’s done and dusted.)

    1. You could quickly check on the comparison with LA by heading over to Google Maps. Essentially, for Auckland to be as sprawled out as LA it would have to pave over the Hauraki Gulf and Firth of Thames.

      That being said, the two cities have somewhat similar population-weighted densities as they’re both full of infill development in suburban areas.

    2. Whether the Eastern motorway should have happened or not it is a dead duck now. The designated land is now being used for a cycle way from GI to the city and the remainder will be sold off by NZTA.

      The AMETI project is partly the successor to the very unpopular project.

      1. Well except it is important to disagree with Nick here, a new access route to the city for vehicles from any direction, especially of two or more lanes would be an unmitigated disaster for the city. And will be an unmitigated disaster if the additional harbour crossing is built as currently planned. Because more vehicles in our small and constrained city centre will prevent the recovery of the city as an actual place continuing, This is the classic misunderstanding of access by vehicle; the easier it is to drive to a city centre the less worth while it becomes to do so, simply because of the spatial cost that vehicles in volume impose on place.

        Auckland city can only continue to grow in quality; in both economic performance and liveability, by reducing the numbers of vehicles accessing the city centre on a daily basis. This a process that has begun; all growth this century has been through other modes, and now it is time to actually wind back the current numbers: Increase access by goods and people while reducing the amount of space ‘lost’ to the private car.

        1. Wow that car-parking building beside the church is bloody awful and I can’t believe that our council planning regulations could allow it.

          Car-parking buildings really are an urban blight, aren’t they, yet here in Auckland we even allow them along our waterfront. Still I guess it’s a case of easy to put up, easy to demolish, so once we get our public transport working properly the demand for parking buildings will surely plummet. We really do need to get these new bus networks working – having only 6 percent of people close to a frequent service (that’s North Shore) has proven to been a sure-fire recipe for more motorways and more of this awful blight. Go for it AT, we’re behind you!

    3. “Personally I wish we had constructed the Eastern Arterial (from the City to Pakuranga/Manukau)… [that] was successfully blocked over successive decades due to (IMO) the privileged nature of it’s inhabitants – white, wealthy, middle class”

      Dear me Nick, what’s going on here? You wish we had built *another* 6-lane motorway to/from the city?! Or do you wish the people who successfully blocked it were a more diverse bunch? Well, they blocked it didn’t they? Shock horror: white, wealthy, middle class people did the right thing.

      A suggestion: go and visit the Hobson Basin.. walk around the bottom of the cliffs under the pohutukawas from Parnell at low tide.. do the 4 km loop round Orakei Basin.. walk through Kepa Bush and up the Pourewa Valley along the edge of the creek. Or get out on the water in a kayak at high tide. Then come back and write another post about why all this would be better if it was built over by a 6-lane motorway.

  6. Those views of London and Auckland are not at the same scale. Google Maps uses Mercator projection, and Auckland is significantly closer to the equator. At the same Google maps ‘zoom level’ places close to the Equator are shown at a smaller scale. The London image is 64 kilometers North to South, and the Auckland image is 80 kilometers.

    1. Red herring. London spreads out in all directions as it’s on a (largely) flat plain, while Auckland is constrained to spread along narrower north to south corridors by harbours and hills.

    2. I know, Auckland is still a lot smaller than London. But it’s something to look out for when comparing similarly sized cities. Area is distance squared, so in this case the area occupied by Auckland should be 50% larger. That’s not a small difference.

      1. Just to be clear, now that I read your reply again: I meant the distance between the top and bottom edge of the image, not the distance occupied by any urban area. The two images are not at the same scale (as in ### pixels = 1 kilometre).

      2. The urbanised areas reported by Matt – 1738km2 for London, 559km2 for Auckland – were calculated taking the curvature of the earth into account, rather than eyeballing maps.

        You’ve got a fair point that the scaling on the maps will be slightly misleading, but it doesn’t change the fact that London’s occupies over three times as much space as Auckland!

  7. Regardless of its origin it’s false and presumably only came about by including much of Auckland’s rural hinterland. If we’re talking about cities then we should be comparing the urban area…

    …so we can position the debate in ways favourable to you, by ignoring areas outside of the RUB?

    About a quarter of all population growth in Auckland occurs in its “rural hinterland”. Auckland has spent considerable capital in expanding to a very large footprint.


    1. Hi unaha-closp

      You seem to make the same comment about urban growth boundaries in pretty much every comment on the blog. While I don’t necessarily disagree, it’s not always relevant. I’d encourage you to take a look at the user guidelines, which discourage obsessive arguing regardless of post topic: http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/about/user-guidelines/

      On an unrelated note, I like the reference to Iain M Banks!

    2. The measure looks at the size of the urban area i.e. out to the edge of the suburbs. Another way of thinking about that is the area that can be seen as having street lights.

      Yes in future as we develop more greenfield land then that will obviously be outside the current urban area and as/when that happens then the size we will have to use to measure Auckland will also grow. There’s nothing controversial in that and I don’t see in any way how it’s about creating a ‘favourable’ position for us. FYI even Demographia use this definition in their cities index and in fact they list Auckland as 544km2 so slightly less than I have.

      1. Oh and just a quick check on population growth by local board area. Total growth from 2013 to 2014 across the region was 33,700. Growth in both Rodney and Franklin was 1,200. Combined that means growth in the rural areas is only about 7% of all of Auckland’s growth.

  8. From a purely personal perspective I much prefer the ‘real’ CRL route over the NZCID one. Coming in from the East as I do , I would be able to get to K Rd and Ponsonby, Mt Eden and points west very easily and much more quickly from Panmure or Manukau than I ever could by various bus routes at present (or even post New Network).

    Even the simple ability to be able to take the train up to K Rd from Britomart rather than take the City Link will be bloody wonderful- at the moment the City Link is often totally packed and has been known to take up 35 minutes from Britomart to Pitt St/K Rd – I can walk it faster than that, even with the uphill climb! The NZCID route covers areas that are already comparatively easy to get to – it basically serves only one “side” of the Inner City, and has no utility for K RD, Ponsonby, Newton, Mt Eden, etc – most of the western side of the CBD in other words. Despite going right through two major destinations, the NZCID route actually has a smaller catchment!

    Having the major junction at a heavily used station like Mt Eden also makes more sense than having a junction at at Grafton too especially for those travelling to games at the stadium for example. Grafton is also fairly close to Newmarket in any case.

    I also agree that Wynyard would be better served as station on a North Shore Line as Wynyard currently isn’t actually “on the way to some where else” – and in the NZCID proposal it is in fact a hugely unnecessary detour.

  9. Judith Collins was never one to let the facts get in the way of a good story. I think it’s probably fair to say she’s not really interested in transport in any sense other than as a cash cow for National Party donors. And no one gets rich building cycle lanes.

  10. How is Grafton now already the hospital stop? Does it need to stop inside the A & E to reduce the need for ambulances? The usual genius of this “are they stupid or evil?” government and its participants.

  11. Access to an from the hospital buildings and the uni campus are at the Southern end too :/. I even noticed that AT’s trrain map has a little H symbol next to Grafton on Sunday.

  12. It’s also worth pointing out that that 1,738km² is only one definition of London’s urban area and may use a completely different method than Auckland to determine theirs. Urban areas are complex entities to define and every country uses a different method – of which the results can vary dramatically. The current way London calculates their urban area results in a population of around 10million people, but it is by far not the “commuting” area of London. i.e. for London, any area that is broken up by 200m of non-built up land ends the urban area, but as many people know, London has a defined green belt that surrounds the first urban area, in which is followed shortly afterwards by additional urban areas that can all together create the London Metropolitan Area. The gaps between them can be very small, but with large populations. This area is not defined officially by the government, but London’s council uses various different definitions that result in anything from 14million to 18million people (which at its furthest is about equivalent to the furthest council border from central Auckland for London).

    Direct comparisons to Auckland would be difficult, but we should expect a true “standard” commuting range to exceed the 8000km2 mark. This may sound extravagant, but as pointed out already here, London spreads in all directions with no geographic boundaries such as harbours, gulfs and coastline. So this means a maximum of 45km from central London if we talked a perfect square (although it is certainly not that). Some organizations consider a good portion of the “South East” to be London’s main commuter belt (the 18million figure), which includes coastlines (as it hits Brighton or Southend-on-Sea) but this is not urban as it includes loads of countryside in-between urban pockets.

    Basically, at the end of the day, it is pretty pointless comparing Auckland and London. One is a city of less than 1.5 million, the other “gained” 1.5 million in its city proper alone in the last 15 years and has a city proper now of 8.6m (which is bigger than New York’s city proper) and confusingly called “Greater London” (i.e. this is the official title of the city proper under the mayor Boris Johnson and not a definition of a metro area as most cities use it), an urban area of between 9-12million and a metro area of between 12 to 18 million (and usually just referenced as around 14million to keep everyone happy).

    Oh, let’s not confuse this with the City of London, which is not actually the city, but is so weird you should watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrObZ_HZZUc (and yes, they define London as 7million, which just shows how fast that city has grown!)

    We are talking commuting though, so here is some transport fun for you. This first map shows London transport for the city proper and a little bit more. Basically, this could be as close as we can get to the 1738km2 urban area and is within the green belt. http://content.tfl.gov.uk/london-rail-and-tube-services-map.pdf
    But this isn’t the true commuter belt, and London transport knows this, so it also includes this map. Now, this one goes beyond the full “standard” commuter belt of London, but you get the drift. http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/static/documents/content/routemaps/London_South_East.pdf

    As some have pointed out, many people go to extreme lengths to commute in London, with more than 10,000 commuters crossing every morning from the area around Calais in France to London (at least according to a BBC report I saw on TV a couple of years ago).

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