One side effect of the government’s announcement in late January to allow for the CRL to start on time in 2018 has been for a string of senior government politicians to visit the CRL team to see what’s going on.

Just over a week after the announcement Auckland Central MP Nikki Kay was getting a virtual tour of the Aotea Station

Two weeks after that Transport Minister Simon Bridges had a tour.

Now another two weeks on, Prime Minister John Key has had a look at progress and with the Herald in tow.

The Prime Minister yesterday took a tour around a busy railway station which doesn’t yet exist.

Mr Key slipped on a virtual reality headset for a walk around Aotea Station – one of the proposed underground stops for Auckland’s $2.5 billion City Rail Link.

The station is projected to handle around 12,000 people in peak hours and be one of the busiest hubs on the network.

Describing the visit to a downtown control room as a chance to grasp the complexity and potential of a crucial venture, Mr Key stressed the importance of making sure one of the biggest engineering missions in Kiwi history gets a “successful execution”.

“This is something that’s been talked about for decades. It’s exciting, but something you’ve got to get right,” Mr Key told the Weekend Herald. “The successful execution of the plan will allow it to be delivered on the broad budget of $2.5 billion to $3 billion.

Perhaps my favourite quote from him is at the end of the video where he says:

In one sense it’s a tremendously exciting time for Auckland, you know, you can see a world class city that can rival Sydney and Melbourne emerging before your eyes and you’ve got to go through all the planning phases and construction phases of that, but you know Auckland’s here for the long haul and they know the potential. And personally as someone who lives in Auckland I’m pretty excited by why I see. I think that for long period of time I’ve felt that Auckland could do a lot better than it has done, it’s got that natural beauty but it actually now needs the capacity and facilities to back that up.

That last line in particular is something we’ve also said many times before and one of the reasons we’re so passionate about improving this city.

We’ve seen the images of what’s proposed at Aotea before but the most interesting aspect of the whole piece had to be the video. AT have recreated the Aotea station in virtual reality and the video gives the best idea to date of what the finished product will look like. I personally thought it looked very good, especially the entrance on Wellesley St.

Aotea Station VR Outside 4

Aotea Station VR Outside 3

Radio NZ have also published the video but with just the shots of the station.

With various members of the government now visiting the project offices it suggests that they have rapidly getting on-board and wanting to be associated with the project and given even the PM has visited perhaps even suggests that they’re actually quite impressed by what they’ve seen.

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  1. I find it quite surreal to see all these National mp’s being so supportive after bagging the project at every turn for their first two terms. I note they are not calling it a loop anymore either… finally learned the correct name when they decided they loved the project?

    1. I still maintain the decisive factor was Len Brown deciding to step down. They would never ever have given him this win. They hate him so very, very much.

      1. Except they have given him this win. Mayor Brown’s advocacy will always be remembered in getting the CRL over the line.

  2. “I say to you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”

  3. The use of virtual reality is quite a good idea. I wonder if we will start to see more of that during the design phase of projects.

  4. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

    I almost imagine it is a relief to the more progressive members of the National Party that they can actually support and celebrate the CRL project developing and coming to fruition. It’s such a gamechanger of infrastructure, it was awkward to listen to the nonsense coming out of Brownlee/Joyce’s mouth for years against the project. Bridges gets the chance to reimagine himself in a supportive light now. Unfortunately for those series of transport ministers there is a carefully documented record of all their ridiculous opposition noted on the Hansard. I feel a blooper tape is in order!

    1. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you…”

      … then they pretend it was their idea all along and you don’t get a shred of credit.

      1. Yes, that’s what winning feels like. It’s something to get used to – the people who opposed change will always take credit for supporting it, once the change has become the new normal.

        And that’s okay. It’s what people do. If you’re hard working and lucky you can get the spotlight back, but it’s never guaranteed.

  5. I’m hearing an implicit intention to involve the private sector to ensure the project is done right…..(never mind all the actual history globally of it being a great way to see a project go sideways).

    1. How they could involve private sector more is beyond me. Consultants and contractors do all work, govt stumps up cash

        1. True, but it is a really bad structure for a PPP. a 3.5km link on a 100+km network. LRT is ideal as partner would operate whole network, or whole route.

      1. +1 +1 +1

        Making the safest mode ever safer (but to its detriment economically and in other ways), while leaving the most-dangerous mode to go on killing, simply highlights the fallibility of the human condition. Put simply, WE’RE STUPID !

        1. @Mike (who’s using my years-old handle!) – I’m not sure what you mean by “building the station properly”, but “safety first” is a pretty useless mantra unless it’s applied consistently. If safety really was first we wouldn’t allow many tonnes of metal to head for each other at closing speeds of up to and over 200km/h separated by just a painted white line, but on roads we do; we wouldn’t allow drivers who hadn’t had their skills tested for 50 years to do so, but on roads we do; we wouldn’t allow said tonnes of metal to take over our city spaces, displacing the people who need to be there, but roads do just that – and rail has all these scenarios covered.

          Ignoring (as we do) these massive elephants in the room while making even safer a mode of transport that is already 10 times safer, at doubtless a significant cost (platform doors are not simple, cheap or easy), hence shifting people to the much more dangerous mode, is in fact the precise opposite of “safety first” – in the final analysis, it’s spending money to make more people die. That is not just plain stupid, it’s immoral.

          1. This post is about the new Aotea Station, not road safety. It will never be cheaper or easier to include safety barriers than during the construction of the station. If you want to rant about the roads, I suggest you look for an appropriate forum. Let’s get this opportunity right from the start, rather than the usual Kiwi attitudes of ‘near enough is good enough’ and ‘but we should be spending the money on….(name your pet project).’

          2. Thanks for the lecture (and for continuing to use my moniker!). It’s a shame that you don’t appear to understand the full implications of fitting platform edge doors, nor that making more expensive a very safe project that users will paying for directly in fact tends to make the overall transport system less safe, because of the price elasticity of demand.

            And one of the real problems of transport planning has been thinking in silos. Forunately NZTA and AT are starting to appreciate this, in the knowledge that you cannot treat any project in isolation. Whether you understand it or not, all transport projects for whatever mode have close linkages, and thinking that any one (eg Aotea station) can be treated in isolation is just a bit misguided. I suggest that you do a bit of reading around the economic analysis of transport projects, and you will find that choice of mode is central to this. Roads are where Aotea’s passengers are going to come from, making everyone safer: increasing the cost of that transfer through over-egging will make Auckland a less safe place than it would have been.

            Thank you for providing the opportunity to emphase that the future for Auckland lies in integrated transport thinking, rather than the rather strange thought that the costs of Aotea station (or any other project) can be considered in glorious isolation.

            And re “we should be spending money on your pet project”, I suggest that you look in the mirror!

    1. Boff. Mercury Lane and the area itself has long been safer than the Viaduct. The amount of people that this and other projects are adding will take care of any lingering worries like yours. It will be a top street (assuming we kick out the car parks for wide footpaths!)

  6. At 5:20 on a Thursday afternoon, how many people will be on that single platform at Aotea? 700? perhaps 1000.

    750 people boarding each train, spread over Britomart, Aotea and Karangahape, but Aotea will be the big one.

    So 400 boarding each train at Aotea, with a dwell time of maybe 30 seconds? It’s all hellishly tight. And if there are any holdups, it could be really uncomfortable down there.

      1. The deep tubes have trains that can hold 1,000+ people and come at least every 2 mins at peak times (except on the Northern Line). The major issue there is getting people off the platform and up the escalator in time for the next train at the really busy stations.

        1. “The deep tubes…come at least every 2 mins at peak times (except on the Northern Line)” – only the Central and Victoria lines have service intervals of less than 2 minutes at peak times. Other lines (including the Northern line) have headways of 2 to 3 minutes. At really busy stations it’s often not possible to board the first (or even the second or third) train.

    1. A 3-car train holds 373 passengers max but regardless of that, I think the station looks quite roomy with those high ceilings. I’d have to have a go on those 3D goggles to confirm that though.

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