The City Rail Link is probably the most intensely scrutinised transport project New Zealand has ever seen thanks to the government’s earlier outright opposition to it. Over the last six years we’ve seen a number of studies, reports and business cases examining the project and often one sided and deeply flawed reviews of all of these. In 2013 when the government finally came to the party and agreed with the project although they wanted to delay it till 2020. In January they agreed the project could start earlier (although their funding may still only start in 2020) which would allow Auckland Transport to get on with the project including negotiating contracts.

AT already had approval and was/is well underway with the first stage of the CRL up to Wyndham St. Late last year they started the process of sounding out the market on the rest of the project. As part of that they’ve produced an internal business case looking at the project taking into account the all of the changes to the project and improvements in their understanding of it.

AT have now released a glossy summary of this business case – one issue with the document is that many of the graphics are of quite low quality and in some cases impossible to read. They are quick to point out right on the front cover:

This document is AT’s internal business case to facilitate the Gateway Review process prior to letting contracts for enabling works construction.

It is not a joint business case with government.

As I understand it, the Gateway Review process is related to the market sounding and working out the best way of sequencing and contracting out the project. As AT Chairman Lester Levy says at the end of his opening message.

The business case summarised here will continue to evolve. This version is suitable for the AT Board’s decision on letting Enabling Works contracts. As the project is further developed the costs (and benefits) will be refined and the business case advanced.

On to the interesting stuff.

AT say their detailed economic assessment shows the project will return benefits of $2.96 – $3.2 billion in Net Present Value using the NZTA standard 40-year assessment with a 6% discount ratio. When assessed against the costs including operational ones (also in NPV terms) it has a BCR of 1.6-1.7. That’s much better than the 0.4 in the hatchet job that was the Ministry’s initial review or the 0.9 in the City Centre Future Access Study which wasn’t a full detailed assessment. It’s also better that most of the government’s big RoNS projects

A breakdown of the benefits is shown in the graphic below.

CRL Benefits graphic

Travel time savings are obviously the biggest single benefit and the document gives some information on the project’s impact on transport use. The results were modelled by the joint modelling group that is made up of the council, AT and the NZTA. They say that in 2046 during the two-hour morning peak there will be 50,000 people using rail if the CRL is built compared with 32,000 using rail if the CRL wasn’t built and 12,000 in the AM peak in 2014. Aotea Station will surpass Britomart and see 13,000 people pass through in the morning while Britomart will still be busier than it is today and have 12,000 during that time.

The modelling also looks at difference in mode share for the city centre across the entire day between 2010 and 2041. As you can see private vehicle usage remains unchanged at 34,000 – about the same as it also was 2001. Bus use and ferry use both increases slightly but the big changes come from rail, light rail and active modes which grow significantly. Based on those figures, by 2041 only 26% of people will enter the city centre in a car. It also must be remembered that so far we’ve had a history of underestimating public transport usage.

CRL City Centre Mode Share

Interestingly in the section that briefly talks about capital and operating costs it says AT may not need new trains initially.

As the CRL allows a major productivity benefit from shortening the route from the west to Britomart, additional EMUs may not be required for the immediate post-CRL opening services. The shorter route means that the overall operating cost for the rail services will reduce.

This seems hard to believe given how fast patronage is growing. Yes the CRL will speed services up and combined with improvements that need to be made before then, it will help get more out of the fleet we have but in my view, the CRL will be so popular that not having additional services sounds like a recipe for very busy trains.

Aotea Station Design Platform Mar - 16
Aotea Station will be the busiest in the city

One of the big things our economic assessments aren’t able to grasp – especially with projects like the CRL – is just how transformational they can be, especially when it comes to land use. For the West in particular it will be like the whole area has been lifted and moved 10 minutes+ closer to the city. Even within the project area it opens up some significant development potential.

They say that just the CRL footprint includes 4.9ha of developable land with a potential floor space of 210,000m² to 250,000m². That could be enough space for thousands of jobs and thousands of new resident. The estimated value of this potential new development is $1.2-$1.4 billion and of course that won’t have been included in the business case. Some of the options for redevelopment are shown below.

CRL TOD options

The project, while disruptive to build, will be fantastic for Auckland and it’s good that over the last few years AT have been able to get on with it despite the initial government opposition. We’ve already seen the disruption start with bus and traffic changes and as underground services get shifted. Within weeks diggers will be on the ground to actually start working on the tunnels themselves.

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  1. If growth plateaued at about 18m trips prior to CRL then yeah more EMUs might not be needed immediately due to the increased productivity the CRL will release. However as it stands we will hit well over 21m trips by the time CRL is completed which means that peak services will be true ly overloaded. Even with the productivity gains there won’t be enough trains for 21m or the expected growth post-CRL with improved services. At the very least they need to be buying a handful more 3-car EMUs to complete more 6-car rather than 3-car EMUs.

    1. I guess we have a few more years to screw up our courage (and find the money). What would be a reasonable lead-in time for such a purchase? Seeing that they would be existing designs? 2-3 years?

    2. Even now Wiri depot is devoid of all but a couple of trainsets at 0730 so I’m not sure how they are going to cover the new Western timetable from 08May let alone any increase in business before the CRL opens.

    1. Yes I thought the same. Millions of Auckland wide trips converted from road to rail. Hard to believe the $6m includes figures for avoided deaths, injuries and illnesses, let alone GHG emissions at any reasonable cost.

    2. Probably restrictive aspects of the EEM (Economic Evaluation Manual) and similar processes. Plus some systemic bias – if you gave this project lots of health benefits for reducing car-induced pollution and injuries, someone could ask “Should we not include those as disbenefits for new motorways?” (Hint: We should).

      1. Realistically, though, new public transport won’t reduce congestion or road traffic volumes. Trips moved from road to rail will be in turn replaced with induced demand for road transport. Thus you can’t really count any of the benefits of reduced car travel (safety, emissions etc.). Obviously we should include them as dis-benefits of new roads (but we don’t).

        1. Stephen that’s just not the case. PT clearly reduces the severity of traffic congestion, but even more significantly it enables the successful functioning of the city regardless of the level of congestion. In other words when PT is better and more use it then the level of traffic congestion becomes increasingly irrelevant for more, and whatever huge number the economists decide traffic congestion costs the economy must fall, as traffic congestion become optional for workers, learners, and consumers. So with more mature PT and Active networks, the issue of traffic congestion becomes focussed on freight and delivery and emergency users, not on the hugely important human part of the urban economy, and that can then be addressed through priority and pricing. But in a stunted imbalanced city like Auckland it is politically and practically difficult to introduce those measures because of the weakness of the people moving alternatives to the private car.

          Therefore building the PT and Active networks IS the solution to the negatives effects of traffic congestion, if not its visible presence, but its actual cost to the economy. And must be the city’s top priority.

  2. Considering all previous projections have been well below the targets actually achieved by rail this may well prove to be a conservative projection.
    All major cities in the world rely mainly on their rail system to transport people and it staggers belief that the Trucking companies did not back this project from the get go as congested roads lowers profits for them.

    As Bruce rightly pointed out it would perhaps be prudent to order more EMU’s now as with the time lag between order and delivery we will be at capacity and in three years time the maintenance factor will also start to see breakdowns occurring and the one thing that customers rely on when they commit to using a service is reliability.

    Well done AT great business case now lets get this show on the road.

    1. I think it would be incredibly short sighted not to order more EMU’s ahead of time. I don’t know the exact lag time but I’m guessing it would be around 2-3 years? I would be surprised if it took much more than 6 months for passenger growth to use up the new capacity in time savings.

      1. Induced demand for trains?

        As I typed that I marveled at the long way we’ve come in a relatively short period of time and how far we still have to go.

        1. Indeed. Of course all infrastructure investment is demand inducing. That the highway/sprawl industry has been and is still allowed to pretend it isn’t shaping and creating demand is still extraordinary to me. The heart of our transport structures is in fact founded on this nonsense: They maintain they are only ever meeting demand; never shaping it. And that is reflected in their evaluation systems.

          1. > Of course all infrastructure investment is demand inducing.

            When it comes to PT, that induced demand is part of the point – the larger strategic objective is to get more people using PT as compared to driving, since it’s more efficient to provide and promotes better economic, environmental, and health outcomes.

            When it comes to roads, that induced demand undermines any case built on the idea of “easing congestion”. The only roads this doesn’t apply to is when that’s not the justification – e.g. Puhoi to Wellsford, which is supposed to be about Northland’s economic development. There the whole idea is to increase traffic. Which it probably will do, but at a horrendous price tag.

            The main difference between roads and PT is, that increased demand improves the quality of public transport if frequency is increased to match. Increased demand can only ever decrease the quality (to users) of roads.

  3. While in full support of the CRL, Aotea seems to be the only station we’re getting from this following the dropping of Newton (which I understand) and the hatchet job on K’Rd which will make it a not so popular destination.

    Good to see the info packs from AT but as the signs say, ‘the build is on’. Let’s focus on getting it built.

    1. Just because it won’t open with 2 entrances straight away doesn’t mean K’Rd won’t be a station. For me that saves a hell of a walk up a hill (I’ll be able to take an escalator!) I imagine there will be lots of people using that stop.

      Also, don’t forget Parnell Station 🙂

      1. The other entrance should be the first to be built. Mercury Entrance is in the middle of no where and will have a smaller catchment compared to the other entrance.

        1. Talked to AT lady at their CRL info kiosk they had in front of Britomart for a few days about a month ago expressing my dismay about the non-opening of the Beresford Square entrance. She spouted off the whole growth and development potential of the Mercury Plaza entrance. I countered with the majority walk up catchment will still be closer to Beresford Square and that doing anything later always costs more in the long run and doesn’t save money. She said that Beresford Square will be completely built (the underground bit) including platforms etc, so will be very easy to complete and open later.

          She also confirmed that AT are going to re-do the platforms at Britomart changing it from the current five to four wider ones. She also said the owners of the proposed building going up in the Elliot Street parking area had are not interested in having a connection from Aotea Station but that Sky City may do so. Discussions are being held between AT and Sky City on that.

          And yes, given the fact we can’t even run all current peak time trains as six cars, the growth we’ve already seen, and going to 10 min peak times on the Western, another order of trains is required, and sooner rather than later.

          1. Growth and development potential of the Mercury Plaza entrance? Gee, give me a break. If the underground bit of Beresford will be completely built why don’t they just make it the station?

          2. Jeff you think it has no potential because of how it is now?; that’s the very opposite of what potential means.

            Think of the K Rd entrances as being staged: It does make a fair bit of sense to do them in this order, there is a great deal potential to build at scale away from the heritage buildings down the hill; the station entrance will transform the appeal of this area, and then there is the small matter of cost spreading and completion speed that can be achieved with this entrance. Additionally there are some very ungrateful and obstructive property owners up the hill who seem to not understand the value of having their buildings right next to an entrance. Meh; let them have the disruption and less of the pay off for their obtuseness.

    1. The station is projected to be the busiest on the network, yet is being made incredibly narrow. Sounds about right. Screens look to be crucial, not just for safety, but to give the platform additional floorspace.

      1. Yes an incredible dangerous situation in this day and age not to have screens on new stations like this. AT still living in the past. Why can nothing ever be done right first time. At least they are letting in sunlight which I heard is expensive but worth it.

        1. Meh. That’s hardly a problem. They could “retrofit” platform screens six months before opening. So argue for them, instead of despairing – its hardly critical path at the moment.

  4. The way I read the ‘no need for additional trains’ line is that is because we will need more pre CRL because of the strong growth, there will be already more than we have now. In which case this is probably right that the increase in productivity from the more direct route and through-running will provide the additional capacity the CRL will require, at least to start with.

    My BOE calc was an additional seven sets or 21 units are needed to run six-car sets on all three main lines for the two hour peaks. However there still are considerable time savings yet to be delivered on all lines which will also increase the productivity of what ever size fleet we have.

    1. I hope you are right on this. My figure was 87 three car sets required to meet the demand before the CRL is commissioned, assuming 10% compound growth, and there is no sign of growth slowing down to 10% yet. We are talking about demand more than doubling.unless restricted by execrable service. Through running will add the equivalent of 4-5 trains, many of which should be configured as six cars, so say 10 three car units. That’s about 1 year’s growth for the EMU fleet. The current fleet will be maxed out in the next outbreak of March madness.

      1. The issue is really only at the peaks, although they are likely to lengthen. There is plenty of spare capacity off-peak. I see it as a key task for AT to incentivise off-peak utilisation. Through both service improvements [turn-up-and-go frequencies] and price discounting. Unfortunately these two levers are somewhat counter-indicative, in the sense that an off peak discount may lower income making it harder to increase service levels. It may not however if it works, ie more off peak users at a lower price may even increase fare income if the pax jump is high enough and if it is not all at the expense of full price peak use… My hunch is that of the two using any surplus to run higher frequencies off peak should be the first tool to employ. True all day TUAG frequencies are a powerful driver of uptake as they deliver both wore journey time improvements and perceived reliability of service [no need to look at a timetable].

        1. If I’m right once they have enough trains to provide 6 – car trains on all services during the two hour peaks they effectively have all the trains needed with current frequencies. The reason being that all of the trains have returned to where they began after two hours, so are all available to repeat the same cycle again, even if the whole day ended up being a peak.

          1. Sorry Patrick, I should have made my main assumption clear that we will be able to shave a measly two minutes of the journey times between both Papakura and Britomart, and Swanson and Britomart well before any further units arrive. If they can’t then I accept that it’s a 2h 10m or 2h 20m turn around, but my point is still the same once this is covered with a full set of six car trains then the whole day can be covered.


            Train leaves Swanson at 7:03 am arrives at Britomart at 7:58am, this train then leaves Britomart at 8:04am arriving at Swanson at 9:00am. Shaving just two minutes off the journey time in each direction would have this train arriving back at Swanson at 8:56am, plenty of time to turn around and do the return journey at 9:03am. Looks like similar maths would work on the Southern line as well.

          2. Jezza, yes there is clearly fat on the bone to shave, but still that means 12 x 6-car sets on each of the Southern and Western lines for the two hours of the peak [and as you say all day thereafter]. So that’s 48 of the our 57 3-car sets spoken for. Take out one 3-car for the half hour schedule for the OBL [a lazy 27min turnaround], and a couple for maintenance [no idea if this is realistic] and that leaves only 3 x 6-car sets for the Eastern Line. The Eastern is currently run at 37mins, I figure that means at least 7 sets required to run at a 10 minute frequency. Is that right? So even with everything working like clockwork it seems, by my very rough calcs, that we’re short at least 4 x 6 car sets, or 8 x 3-car sets, but probably a few more, in order to run 6-car sets on the three main lines at 10 min freqs at the peaks and other times….? And of course to improve the OBL frequency or capacity or any other additions…. Not a huge number, but more required pre-CRL.

          3. I don’t doubt your calculations, they seem about right to me, there’s no doubt we need more trains in the near future, definitely before the CRL opens. My point was specifically around once we have enough trains to allow 6-car sets to cover all services within the return period for each line it doesn’t really matter if peak periods get longer.

            The slack in the Onehunga services defies belief! I’m sure they used to service this route with two Diesel units now it appears to require three electric units.

          4. @ Jezza
            That is exactly the problem. The extra train has been included in the Onehunga rotation to:-
            a) Cope with the longer dwell-times of EMU’s and slower run-times due to ETCS, as compared with diesels
            b) Permit timings that slot in optimally at Britomart
            c) Prioritise punctuality over utilisation of rolling-stock

            You are right that 2 diesel units used to service this route but with little recovery-time built in.
            Now punctuality is better but at the cost of a unit effectively lying idle at any given time.

            Because of the way contracts have been set up, punctuality has been prioritised over maximising the carrying capacity of the network.
            Which is better – to have everything running to time but with inadequate capacity, overcrowding and passengers left standing on platforms?
            – Or to have every available unit actually carrying passengers for as much of the time as possible, but not necessarily keeping to the timetable?
            This is a philosophical choice which will become increasingly fraught as long as usage continues to climb, unless more trains are procured, urgently.

      2. iirc services “overlap” at Swanson, due to the tight scheduled running time. There is too small a gap between services arriving and departing for the arriving train to run the next departing service, so there is effectively 15 minutes “wastage” built into the fleet schedule. The CRL will remove that wasted time.

    2. Surely you would plan for an opening peak service of 32 per hour (8 on each of four routes**), and an ultimate service of 48 per hour. Even the opening service would be a significant jump on the present 18 per hour. It’s not just a matter of handling demand on the current trend line; it’s also about making the CRL the core of a true ‘turn up and go’ frequency public transport network. That really means at least 8 per hour in the peak.. Once you’ve spent so much on the infrastructure, it would be silly to refrain from using the new capacity just for want of some extra train sets.

      An ultimate service of 48 per hour of course requires managing dwell time competently.

      ** maybe less to Onehunga, but that would require an intermediate turnback point assuming the pattern is pendulum routes from West/Onehunga to Manukau/Papakura.

      1. Latest peak running pattern I’ve seen is very fiddly with expresses [despite the lack of track] and a cross town low frequer. 18tph through the tunnels at peak, each direction, so 30-36tph in total [asymmetrical at each each peak] with a base 12tph each direction, so 10 minute frequencies only on non overlapping lines outside of the peak. Really? Obviously subject to change, and anyway this is from a while ago so not even sure if it’s current thinking, below:

        1. By my maths if this is the proposed running pattern then they will definitely need more trains after the CRL is opened, as both the green and purple routes are in addition to the number of services that will be being provided immediately before CRL.

        2. So in peak hours from Henderson a train every 4 mins. The train frequency map only shows peak so does anyone know what the proposed off-peak is? 4tph? As an aside I’m wondering how Parnell gets 6tph one direction. The South goes via Grafton & K Rd in the CRL, the Otahuhu crosstown goes via Grafton, Mt Eden etc leaving only the 3tph Onehunga going via Parnell. Doesn’t seem to add-up!

      2. The Victoria line in London, which has no junctions, no conflicting moves except at terminals and is automatically driven with moving-block technology, has 35tph (every 105 seconds – apparently the next train can be seen running into the platform while the preceding one is still departing); the Thameslink tunnel under central London requires automatic train operation to get to 24tph. So 48tph (every 75 seconds) on a manually driven fixed-block network with multiple flat junctions would require just a bit more than managing dwell times competently.

        1. I think it’s aiming to have 18 tph (average of 3 minutes, 20 seconds between each train) through the CRL tracks in each direction, when all lines using the tracks are combined.
          So 36tph total, rather than each way.

          1. John I think there is time to build towards maximum throughput on the CRL. No capability nor need to run 24tph each way immediately on opening. It would need, surely, [see mike above] automation, among other things. But also more passengers than are immediately likely. But those users are going to come, as this will transform the utility of the whole network, and more besides [the buses that feed to outer stations, the places around those stations, etc..]

    1. Looks like it. Yippee. A good sized works yard then a fantastic development site. A couple of years ago I got my students to work on the possibilities for this whole slope; it’s rich with them. Especially as the height ceiling increases as you move south down the hill; the tallest buildings therefore shade nothing but the motorway. A great design opportunity on the back of the new station.

      1. Not yet according to LINZ property records. Council owns the Green Party building but not the Mercury Plaza building as of today. Unless a transaction is pending…

        1. Maybe they made a deal which isn’t public yet (and slipped through indirectly)? Emap property records also still show it owned privately.

  5. @JeffT That’s what I said to her. If I was a betting man, with complaints from up the hill once they realize (I’m sure a lot of people not as intimately interested in the project don’t know as yet) the station entrance closest to them isn’t going to open, there’ll be a big call to do pretty quickly what should’ve been done in the first place and I reckon the Beresford Square entrance will be open within 10 years (if not 5) of the CRL opening due to public pressure. As I said to the AT lady, once this opens and people realise you guys are going to get plenty of stick about this.

    @Patrick Yip, the development down the valley is great and will help patronage for that entry. No qualms about that. BUT having lived just off K Road until 2011 for several years I can with confidence tell you Beresford Square will STILL have the better walk up catchment and is closer to the actual K Rd retail centre. The idea to do this in stages is pure BS and I said the apparent savings are so minisculely small in the overall cost of the CRL project it’s bonkers they are not doing both entrances at the same time. As for you attitude against the owner who is actively against the Beresford Square entrance maybe that would penalise him, but in doing so you are completely forgetting you are also penalising many people who would want to use this entrance so that’s a pretty unhelpful and ignorant comment to make.

    1. I suspect the value engineering that has been applied to the K Road station build will be very quickly labelled a farce, but if that’s what it takes to get the project over the line, I’m prepared to go along with it.

    2. I agree 100% with you here Simon that the Beresford station entrance will be the more popular and more visible of the two entrances and should definitely be built from the outset. It beggars belief that they’ll essentially build all the framework/station etc but not build the entrance to save $20million or so from a $2,500million project. So sadly short-sighted and we will look back and add it to the list of NZ infrastructure projects that we shake our heads at for cutting corners, only to have to expensively retrofit it later.

  6. The numbers presented above mean very little and are heavily based on assumptions that are near impossible to verify until the project is built.

    I strongly suspect the $135m congestion benefits for road users will actually be near nil. As a comparison how have traffic times over the harbour Bridge benefitted from the Northern Busway? I’m yet to see or hear of anyone claiming they are making better time on the road. Most of the growth in the system once the CRL is built will be due to induced demand, not mode change.

    It would also be interesting to see if all the costs associated with building the CRL have been accounted for in the above. e.g. loss of business during the build process, level crossing in the network that will require work etc

    1. Are you insane? If all the people on the Shore buses drove do you think a single vehicle would move at all? Over 40% of the people crossing the bridge in the morning take up less than one lane on the buses, so the other <60% can use the other 4.5 lanes.... you do the math. Currently 60K use the rail network each weekday, if they all just caught the bus that's another 1200 completely full buses on the roads. Imagine if those trips were all in cars instead, and remember rail trips tend to be longer; that would be a great deal more congestion, traffic congestion that is; more traffic makes traffic congestion. More trains makes for crowded platforms and trains. What ever we feed; grows.

      The really unbelievable idea is that new traffic inducing road projects claim decongestion benefits; and that is a complete nonsense.

      1. The 40% mode-share of buses over the AHB is mirrored in Wellington with 45% of journey-to-work trips from other local-authority areas (Porirua, Hutt, Kapiti etc) into Wellington being made by rail (scroll to pages 21,22). And this is in spite of the rail system unceremoniously dumping everyone at a single point on the CBD’s edge. How much more would rail carry if it served more of the CBD and southern suburbs? And yet all the transport investment ($Billions of it) is going into duplicating highways rather than extending the railway to better-perform this vital function.

    2. I work on the Shore and many ppl here talk about how good the Northern Mwy is compared to the North Western because of the busway.

    3. TRM you should have tried driving over the Harbour Bridge in the morning rush hour in 2004 if you honestly believe the busway has made no difference.

    4. “e.g. loss of business during the build process, level crossing in the network that will require work etc”

      You could (but I bet you don’t) ask the same question of your typical roading project. There’s nothing that requires more follow-on work than a roading project which suddenly pours more cars down a route – immediately you get punters and politicians to call for downstream works as well.

      And if you’re so worried about congestion impacts of construction works, tell you what: Road works usually happen on the road. This project only partially. So again, you are crusading in the wrong country.

    5. ‘Level crossing in the network that will require work’

      Trains have absolute right of way. If there is a requirement to build roads across or under train tracks for vehicle benefit than that cost should come out of the roading budget.

  7. I’m more concerned they Quay Park isn’t going to be grade separated like Mt Eden this along with not having ETCS Level 3 (Moving Block) will cause issues later as the 48 trains won’t be enough if new lines are opened + intercity or expresses are considered.

    I assume the moving block signalling can’t be done on most of the lines because of the kiwi rail rolling stock not being able to comply.

    Does anyone know if moving block signalling can be done just for the section between my e junction and quay park this could alongside grade separation of quay park put us up to 30tph each way rather than the planned 24tph

    1. The main reason why grade-separating Mt Eden was a concern wasn’t that it was immediately necessary. It was that the decision was permanent – once the decision is made, that section of tunnel can’t be modified later. If we’d had a level junction at Mt Eden it would have been a constraint forever.

      Quay Park can be grade-separated later if need be. As can Westfield. (And as far as I know, which isn’t that far, it’s already too late for Newmarket).

    2. I did hear from a signals engineer that ETCS3 with moving block isn’t yet available. I also heard that the GSM system in NZ may not be able to cope with ETCS2.

      I did, however, read somewhere that Siemens have a proprietary moving block signal system. Given that it is their ETCS that we have perhaps some research could be done in upgrading it to moving block.

      Then we have only the mismatch in speeds/acceleration/deceleration between EMUs and freight locos to contend with.

      1. If the moving block started at Quay Park Junction & Terminated at Mt E Junction you wouldn’t have to worry about freight trains as NAL Freight would continue on the NAL & NIMT freight mostly goes to Southdown or POA the latter which is before Quay Park junction. It’s also only in the CRL section that you need higher than 24tph each way & possibly Westfield-Wiri which should be solved with extra tracks more than extra signalling to segregate commuter trains from freight & expresses.

        I think CAF can make moving block trains work, I believe they are doing so in Turkey.

        I assume we can operate with different signalling systems because in Europe intercity trains do, and Kiwirail operate on multiple signalling systems.

      1. I’ve had a play with the geometry. I think it can be done if you effectively widen the portal northward to three tracks, requiring Quay st to be narrowed by about five metres. No big deal as it has plenty of berm and median.
        Then you effectively add a central track between the two existing ones, which would dip down slightly to allow the oubound Parnell track to pass over it then climb back to meet ground level again about where the KFC is. This new track could be bidirectional but would carry inbound eastern trains in normal service. Outbound the would do what the do now, using the northernmost track.

        Newmarket also does have the potential for grade separation due to it’s three tracks. It would require a weave structure between Remuera and Newmarket, a three track section through the station, then a weave back between Newmarket and the Parnell tunnel. Effectively you take the inbound south-to-Parnell trains under the other two tracks to stop at the easternmost platform, then take them back under again back to the right side. Meanwhile south-to-grafton and grafton-to-south can proceed unconflicted, while parnell-to-south is a simple merge. Again is looks tight but possible.

        1. The other, longer term, solution to conflicts at the Britomart portal is to send the Parnell line, in toto, across Grafton Gull at the same level it is now but in a more westerly direction into a new tunnel opening at in Constitution Hill and through and under the CRL at Wellesley St, onto Wynyard and the North Shore. CRL -2, if you like, forming an efficient cross pattern north-south, east-west, through the whole city, and freeing all trains through CRL-1 at Britomart to speed through to the Eastern line without any merging or conflicts from Southern line trains. And dealing with capacity limits on the soon-to-be current system, when they become immanent.

          1. I doubt we will need CRL 2 since Northwestern & North shore rail is more likely to be LRT surface running or in its own tunnels rather than heavy rail.

            With 30tph each way (moving block plus quay park flying junction) we can have each way at peak assumes third main plus grade seperation of Westfield junction plus forth main between wiri and Westfield.

            11tph- Aotea – Airport – Manukau – Botany – GI – Aotea

            11tph – Swanson – Aotea – Panmure – Manukau

            6tph (4 express peak direction, 4 all stops, non peak direction 6 all stops) – Puke – Newmarket – Aotea

            2tph – Hamilton -Tauranga services would terminate at Brit

            Crosstown – 3tph

          2. Well it depends how far in future we are looking. It is notable that the recent AT map purports to be for a 30 year programme but it’s really just a ten year one padded out. It’s almost all done in the first decade (or could be) and then apparently we all sit around not growing or building anything. AKL is not near a mature Transit system or urban form: we are not Vienna.

            I agree that LRT is looking likely for the Shore, and maybe Mangere, but I don’t think we should stop looking ahead properly and without the usual habits of thinking small. Clearly a great deal is changing now, and has changed in quite a short period.

            All long term planning needs to be weary of Path Dependency. That is where NZTA have got themselves stuck with a very poor project across the harbour: a failure to think from first principles, but rather just doing what they’ve always done…. Onward.

          3. Additionally I think your proposed running pattern is a bit light on the rapidly growing deeper south, and is a system that is very precarious with so little redundancy- everything, almost, going through the CRL at maximum capacity.

            You do know, too, that when they built Mankau Station they completely killed any prospect of through routing trains by extensions? An extraordinarily stupid and shortsighted decision by some complete moron. But there’s so much structural steel and concrete at the end of the tracks to kill off the clearly sensible idea of tunnelling under SH1 from that station…

            Looks like your south eastern loop will have to have a surface solution; buses growing up to LRT, could be elevated I guess over the mway and mall? Or indeed in its own tunnels but still atransfer at MC…

          4. I mean you can play around with it bring the other lines down to 10 which brings south up to 10 as well.

            I have had this discussion with Ben Ross the current station can be kept but a new station could be built at the end of the day we are talking a multi billion dollar line not using a under 100 million branch line is the least of the issues.

            I would have the Airport line flyover the NIMT and keep it elevated down cavendish drive which connects directly to Te I Drive with the massive median all the way to Botany the rest of the line would follow this route


  8. Grade seperation of Westfield makes more sense to do alongside third tracking.

    Quay Park makes sense to do at same time as Mt E junction as you can roll the costs into the contract plus it minimised disruption better to do it at less than 20 tph western is single track in mt e while they do it rather than when it’s 48.

  9. Interesting that the 08MAY timetable has lengthened Britomart-Manurewa journey times by 1-3 minutes! One assumes that that is due to conflicts between Newmarket and Britomart.

    1. No it hasn’t, that’s just AT’s journey planner software which normally adds a minute or two to the start/end of journeys for walking time for some stupid reason – even if you select the station. If you go into the details it is the same as now.

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