Within the Auckland Transport Alignment Process Interim Report is the news that the six lane highway across the harbour as currently planned, the Additional Harbour Crossing, just doesn’t work, and is now at least mortally wounded, if not actually dead.

ATAP - Interim Report - AWHC

Clearly a total re-think of ways to serve the growing movement demand between the city and the north east is required. In January the Waterview connection and the supersizing of the North Western will open, and later a new interchange between SH 18 and SH 1 will complete the next road connections between the upper harbour and the wider city.

Additionally the SkyPath, SeaPath, and improvements to ferry services will also be added to the mix for the inner harbour, for the Active modes.

The great missing piece in the movement jigsaw for this part of the city [as elsewhere] is a Rapid Transit connection across the harbour and through the Shore. The case for the next major connection across the harbour utilising the high capacity, smaller foot print, and traffic reduction outcomes of Rapid Transit is now all but made.

Here I want to explore the options for an actually successful harbour crossing, particularly in light of recent announcements about the Mangere/Airport RTN, but also because of the need for a viable near term system that fits into the longer term needs of our growing city. I can’t emphasise this enough; for a system to actually get funded and built it surely must fit both those criteria, and that is not easy.

What follows is an exploration of possibilities done with a fairly broad brush; a high altitude view, with a lot of scope for variation in detail.

In 2012 I wrote a couple of speculative posts proposing the Shore Line as an extension of our current rail network. Here and here. I was interested in looking beyond the CRL to examine future improvements to the Shore and through Mangere to the Airport. In particular in offering an Albany to Airport one seat ride through an east-west CRL II type project, like this:


While there is some elegance to these proposals [and some problems] it is clear that I started from an unexpressed assumption that all future rail systems would be extensions of the current network. This is no longer my view primarily because our current network has very firm structural upper limits for train movements, that means at some point it becomes limiting to try to add ever more arms to this body. Adding an additional high demand area like the North Shore will bring those limits forward, especially to hard to expand pinch points like Newmarket Station and Junction. Remembering too that freight movements are growing on parts of the network too. This isn’t to criticise our re-born urban rail system, it will remain the vital core of Auckland’s RTN, growing quickly post CRL to 50m trips pa. and beyond. But rather to recognise that it needs to be free to serve these core roles, supported by other existing and enhanced networks, and some new ones.

I also suspect that the required crosstown tunnel would be prohibitively expensive, especially when combined with a cross harbour one. Together these costs could be sufficiently high to kill the plan.

Instead, adding a new and complimentary network, making connections by transfer at interchange stations, adds resilience as well as more capacity, in that problems on one network won’t affect the other. This also allows us to tailor the next network to our current demands and utilise all the latest technology and thinking without needing to accommodate it to the physical parameters of the existing system [freedom from the ‘happenstance of yore’].

On the assumption that the current Busway can be relatively easily converted to Light Rail, the obvious opportunity is leverage off AT’s Light Rail plans for a Queen St-Dominion Rd system through Mangere to the Airport so that this:

becomes this, an idea we have explored in the past:


So the return of the highly desirable one-seat ride from Albany to the Airport, on a high catchment spine; the A-Train, but this time via Light Rail, on a combination of higher speed grade separate paths, and high access street running. The advantages and disadvantages of these conditions have been debated at length on previous posts, what I want to examine here are future network possibilities of such a system, because networks are always greater than their parts. However it is worth a visit to this analysis of the recent addition of Light Rail to Paris’ Transit mix on this very issue; degrees of separation, I guess you could call it. Basically it concludes that while it is always better to strive for as much separate running as possible, this needs to be balanced against both capital cost and quality of access. And especially the quantity and quality of the transfer nodes with other major Transit Networks.

It takes just a few seconds looking at the RATP map to see why the Paris trams are so useful. In Paris’s hub-and-spoke transit network, they are the rim of the wheel, connecting the ends of Metro and RER lines in far-flung parts of the region. All nine lines offer at least two stations that connect to other modes of transit. Some offer many more:

No. of transfersNo. of total stationsPct. of stations with transfers

So returning to Auckland and the proposed A Line we can see that while it would be a great complement to our existing fast growing Rail Network, and likely further RTN extensions including AMETI, and the North-Western, it still only connects with it at the four stations indicated with blue dots above. However the possibilities for leveraging off this system to create a second route with a rich abundance of connectedness:


The western section carries along the grade separate SH20 alignment to a new station at Owairaka, then continues to Mt Albert Station, Unitec, and to the future RTN station at Pt Chev on the North-Western line, on-street [The RTN connections are why I prefer this possible extension over one to the metro-centre of New Lynn]. The southern to Puhinui Station and the Manukau City Interchange Station down Lambie Dr, again mostly on its own alignment.

Which of course can be extended to include AMETI:

A B lines

The simplest idea would be to run these as two overlapping lines A and B, giving the Airport and Mangere great connectivity west, south, north, and east. Direct to the City Centre and great connectivity with every branch of the RTN, including of course the Onehunga line. Or say three lines all converging on the Airport. Such a system is also highly stageable, and you all can haggle over your favourite technology for each part….


The key principle though must be future proofing for upgrades. I think it is vital, for example, that the harbour crossing, if it is to be Light Rail, is built so it can take Light Metro for the time in the future that the demand from the Shore is high enough to justify a tunnel from Wynyard to Aotea Station and the option of implementing a fully driverless system as then it would be 100% grade separate. I’m sure some would like to start straight off with such a system, but I think it is clear that designing systems that can grow with the city is the only viable way forward.



Without trying to put a date on it, below is a pretty good integrated RTN future to aim for:

Rail running at 5min frequencies on the outer lines so a train every 2.5 mins in the CRL and other places [Red and Green]

LRT also at varying frequencies depending on place, perhaps even two routes from Wynyard to the city

More Ferries, Rapid Bus on Gt North Rd and the NW and across the Upper Harbour, although especially from Pt Chev to the city could be LRT too.

When or whether parts of this are Buses or Light Rail, are not so much my focus but rather getting the coverage optimised, and the routes protected.

No doubt it will change but here’s a potential version. Discuss:


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  1. Is the line from Owairaka to Mt Albert intended to follow the rail corridor, or New North Rd?
    NNR is very congested through this section at rush hours and on weekends, and two lanes in the peak direction (from CBD to BBRd) with little room to widen.
    Using the rail corridor makes more sense to me, especially with the likely grade separation of the Woodward Rd level crossing, and considering the busy NNR/Woodward.Richardson intersection. Then there is the also very busy Mt Albert Rd/NNR intersection and Mt Albert Rd bridge to get over.

  2. Harbour tunnel should be large enough/future proofed to be able to take light metro or HR. It won’t cost much to do now but it would be incredibly short sighted not to do it as it would be uneconomic to do in future.

    Your original plan with CRL2 would actually place LESS strain on the network since it splits the routes out.

    1. I think a combined tunnel won’t be practical as the road alignment will be different to rail, especially at the ends, so any notion of “future proofing” is window dressing for the $6bn tolled motorway option. Better to have separate tunnels. Rail tunnels will be at least a third of the diameter of road, resulting in nine times less dirt needed to be bored and removed. Ideally the CRL TBMs could be put to the AWHC task.

      1. Cam I’m referring to rail only tunnels… They should be made large enough to take any type of rail (future-proofed) not just LR diameter.

          1. Geometry is less of a deciding factor between heavy and light rail, than often suggested. Reason being that both systems will suffer constrained performance if curves are tight (grades are less of an issue – see below). Sure, light rail can negotiate sharper curves, but the speed penalty is considerable.

            Light rail that avails itself of the cheap expedient of employing sharp curves to fit the street-environment will not be “rapid transit”, in a comparable sense to heavy or light metro with its own non-restricted alignment. Remember that heavy rail can also negotiate tight-ish curves (e.g. 95m radius Vector curve) but the same penalty applies: slow running.

            So, heavy or light, you get what you pay for.

            The peripheral tram routes that Paris has installed succeed as a complementary system to the largely radial metro lines. The trams do not purport to be major arterial services. By contrast an Albany – AK Airport route would very definitely be arterial and I believe it would be tremendously false economy to develop this as anything other than a properly-segregated rail route. And it might as well be heavy rail because a fully segregated and comparable light rail route will most likely be a similar cost.

            With regard to gradients, the oft-heard mantra that “heavy rail cannot handle steep gradients” is a smokescreen by those who want to rule it out for other reasons. Sure, traditional rail operation where a locomotive pulls many times its own weight of wagons will be very restricted as to how steeply it can climb.

            However the only real issues limiting climbing capability are i) Ratio of powered wheels to unpowered, and ii) Power and torque capability of the traction and braking systems, and iii) ‘Vertical-curves” (transition between different gradients). i) and ii) apply equally to light or heavy rail. Modern EMU’s of either genus where all or at least many wheels are powered, are not limited to the same gentle grades as a loco and many unpowered trailers.

            The Swiss and the Scandinavians (and probably others I don’t know of) have demonstrated that adhesion-only heavy-rail can climb gradients of 5%-7% without issue. I am quite sure the Auckland EMUs with their 67% of powered axles will be able to climb much steeper grades than the proposed 3.5% (or whatever it now is) of the CRL, especially if such grades are merely short ramps up-and-over things.

            Vertical curves will be more of a constraint for heavy rail with its 20m-long rigid car-bodies as against light rail’s short, multi-articulated vehicles. However seeing how easily Wellington’s Matangis can transition from level to 2.5% at my local station indicates that vertical-curves should not be a show-stopper.

            More heavy rail for Auckland should not be ruled out. It is likely to be the best solution for any new arterial routes, and also for any non-arterial feeders that can be readily/affordably be branched into the system.
            Otherwise – go for light rail.

          2. Dave that’s all good, except I think you are failing to factor in a sense of scale to your conclusion that only fully grade separate will do. Wider Paris is home to 10.5 million people compared to greater AKL’s 1.5million. Outer lines go through whole Auckland scaled areas.

            And yes, If AKL had an existing underground Metro like the one in central Paris, even one scaled pro-rata to our smaller city [not to mention the RER], we too would be only supplementing it at the fringes.

            It is clear that Paris is adding less than 100% grade separate LR instead of extending the metro for the same reason that that very same tradeoff is being considered in AKL: cost.

            However, as I say in the post all effort must go to securing as much fully separate RoW, and as much priority elsewhere as possible in this trade-off.

            No-one here disagrees with you that separate running is a key definition of an RTN, but a line that both has a majority of fully separate running and a high degree of priority elsewhere, like the new Parisian lines, can be be of significant value. And when that value, including the great access that street running offers, is balanced against the significantly lower cost, we may just a system that 1. gets funded, and 2. goes a lot further.

          3. Additionally, that’s very clear and convincing about geometry. Yes I too would to see any rail tunnels across the harbour properly future proofed for changes in rail type in the future. Higher capacities are likely to be needed later, including the likelihood of the addition of a tunnelled route to Aotea from Wynyard at some stage, as i say in the main post.

          4. Patrick aside from any comparisons with Paris, I am just going by what I consider the likely patronage of an Albany-Airport rapid transit service might be. I believe it would be great enough to justify an exclusive, quality, protected right-of-way, just as the current rail lines do. Anything less I believe we would soon find ourselves bemoaning and then being forced to spend more to do things properly.

            I have the same issue with those who push LRT or Tram-train as a means of extending Wellington’s rail system over the busy City-Airport corridor (currently earmarked for an expensive motorway!).. Sure, Wellington is a tiny city by world standards, but nevertheless it has 15 heavy rail trains arriving within a ½-hour period during the a.m. peak – that is, a pretty-full 4, 6 or 8-car train arriving every 2 minutes. The figure I always used to quote of 12,000 passengers during each peak I believe has now been considerably exceeded and I am not sure what it is now. But to expect LRT-in-the-street to interface end-on with this and not be extremely self-choking I believe is a delusion. Sure, a percentage of existing patronage would not want to continue beyond where rail currently goes, but the new patronage it would generate through providing the joined-up connectivity could potentially double what we have now. Thousands of car-journeys for which PT is currently not an alternative would potentially transfer to rail because it would be quicker, more convenient and highly-usable.

            As PT advocates, we need to beware of short-changing ourselves and future-generations. We need to grab a little of the brazen audacity that characterises motorway promoters! Both Auckland and Wellington may be small, but the corridors in question may be as busy as equivalent corridors in sections of much larger cities.

            As I wrote somewhere above, early during the re-development of London’s Docklands, a similar tussle between light and heavy rail resulted in light metro being chosen as a cheaper alternative to extending the underground. However it soon became apparent that the DLR alone could not cope. Subsequently the Jubilee Line was extended to serve Docklands, so now the area has both heavy and light rail. But this was not envisaged by the original DLR promoters who considered that light rail would do the job..

          5. Well Dave, exactly! I would not be surprised if we also end-up with both forms of rail to the Airport, and a higher capacity upgrade to LR across the harbour. As I say in the body copy above, the RoW across the harbour needs to be upgradeable. The real question is how do we get a near term system funded, and I surest that holding out for the ultimate perfect solution is likely to mean getting nothing. Basically; hasn’t east London now got the best of both worlds?

            In short; LR now, and almost certainly more later. This isn’t cutting corners, LR, or any decent near term system builds demand for further networks and improvements.

          6. @ Patrick.
            OK, I’d go with that if I was comfortable that everything necessary would be thoroughly future-proofed with a long-term solution in mind. But I very much doubt this will happen. In fact I doubt any further major rail developments will happen under this govt’s watch. Their vision is to build roads and rail just does not fit within their world-view. If they can block or stall it they will.

            We badly need a change of government to get anything beyond the CRL moving (might even need it just to finish that!), but if this happens the funding rules may all change anyway.

            If it really is a Hobson’s choice of light rail or nothing then light rail it must be, but I just have a feeling that fobbing us off with non-existent light rail is a convenient stepping stone to doing nothing except Moar Roads As Usual.
            I hope I’m wrong.

          7. Remember LR is not the government’s creature. This is AT’s programme. The gov departments that have pushed buses back into the equation. You are right there is no proactive rail agenda whatsoever under this government, but they have been able to be persuaded when shown, at length, there are no alternatives.

          8. Good to see the discussions between Patrick and Dave B. Although I normally favour heavy rail, in this instance the combination of the one seat ride from Albany along the Northern Busway, via Dom Road to the Airport, really does make Light Rail the best fit. Nice plan Patrick.

            PT only under harbour tunnels by the far the best way to go….but running Light Rail over the existing harbour bridge is not physically impossible. Any chance of buses and trams monopolising 1 tidal lane over the harbour bridge southbound in the morning peak and northbound in the afternoon peak if we had to (severely) compromise? Completion of the “super-sized” NW M’way and SH20 connection might just provide the alternative route to boot sufficient cars off the bridge if we needed to.

          9. Dave I think it would need far more than just a change in government to do some of the stuff you suggest. Sure it’s always nice to go for what seems like the highest capacity available but everything is about trade-offs. If it can be shown that the same objective (including quality and time) can achieve the same outcome for half the price it’s a pretty hard sell politically to ignore that. For the Airport and the North Shore, the questions I think are whether a system is fast enough and has enough capacity. The analysis so far, including based on looking at what’s happening overseas, suggests the LRT option could fit the bill and also potentially allow for a much more rapid expansion of the RTN network to other locations.

            I think we’d all be a lot more comfortable with the idea light rail to the shore, airport and elsewhere if we actually had the Dom Rd section up and running and could see how it was actually performing.

          10. Matt L – agree, I think over a long time of a particular government the oppositions ideals start to become a bit of a mirage and we think they will change everything we want. It’s easy to forget Clark and Cullen took eight years to finally agree to rail electrification.

          11. Equally, jezza, the next change of gov does not mean going back in time to the Clarke/Cullen years. And the it will be a Green/Lab gov, not just a Lab one. In any case both parties have full RTN building not not m’way building policies for AKL, inspired by the CFN. I would focus on holding them to these policies, than on relitigating decades old ones. The challenge will be that the cupboard will be bare and m’ways all signed up.

          12. Agree – it will be a step forward, the point I was making is I wouldn’t rely on it being the step forward that people are expecting, both National and Labour are generally reasonably close to the centre when they are in government. Also my money would be on NZ First being much more influential in the next centre-left government than the Greens.

          13. Disagree on both counts.

            1. Last century Labour and National were very close on Transport policy in that they were largely roads only and were fiscally conservative; ie they largely agreed in what to build, but also were both reluctant to spend much. This changed in a small but important ways under Clarke/Cullen when labour-led gov built the Northern Busway, and funded project DART, that led inexorably to electrification [Greens were important in this]. Without those two project we would still have no RTN in AKL! But the really significant end to the general major party consensus came under the current government who are still firmly ‘roads first’ but also financially unrestrained. Never seen a road they didn’t like, couldn’t be bigger, or built sooner.

            2. The next change of gov will be led by an actual coalition Lab/Green that has been formalised. And is currently pretty close to Nats in the polls. Whether or how much NZF are in the next gov with either side is indeed a big question and what it might mean for policy. NZF have a very pro-rail policy, what that means in practice will depend on the major partner, hopefully it will have a positive influence if they’re there on whichever side. From the outside the NZF policy looks like an easier fit with L/G than Nats, especially NZF/Green, as the Greens are also very pro-rail, but then we know Peters has an antipathy for the Green Party no matter how much their policy may agree in detail. Things like electrification of rail freight for example…. so its hard to judge. Of course PT is not just various pet rail projects so that influence may be a distraction, or even a diversion of funds.

          14. Fair point on #1 as it’s easy to forget about their major role in the Busway and DART, also this government has gone to the next level with roading, a big concern being they could be leaving us with a Muldoon like legacy with a number of PPPs on motorways effectively not being funded until next decade.

            I’m not sure about the formal Labour-Green coalition yet (you may have better contacts than me though), as by expiring at next years election it is effectively just an agreement not to fight each other in the election. I still think Winston’s ability to lean either way will make him much more powerful compared with the Greens (even if they get more seats), even to the point where he may angle for Prime Minister. If it’s the difference between getting ministerial roles or not Labour will go with whoever works best for them.

            You are right though NZF is still not bad for rail, I would just expect it to be more pet project, less working towards a network.

          15. Jezza. Yes, and that is a potential problem with the NZF mode focus. It is a welcome corrective to the Nat one, but it’s still unbalanced. Anyway, I look forward to it having positive outcomes as as you say, they are likely to be there.

            Elsewhere my views are twofold. Lab cannot govern again without the Greens and, at last, seem to have grasped that. But it is a tragedy for the Nats that they haven’t grasped that if they were able to meet the Greens half way, properly, not only would they not find themselves lost without a clue on so many issues but would also have a viable alternative to coalition with NZF, and could keep Lab out forever. I know this is all but impossible emotionally for them, but also as their vested interest support base would be affected by the necessary policy shift, but then where are these voters going to go; NZF? A one person party? That is not sustainable (pun intended).

      2. The TBMs will likely be knackered by the end of the CRL project as they will designed with cutting heads specifically for this project, there is little benefit in transferring TBMs from one project to another as it’s the expensive bits that wear out. It will likely head back to the manufacturer who will smelt it to recover what is useful for the next TBM that is built, it’s common for those used building subways to just be entombed underground at the end as it’s not worth recovering them.

    2. Bruce, Yes that 3-line system has tremendous appeal:

      1. Southern Line: Pukekohe- Britomart via Grafton
      2. West/East Line: Swanson-Man City via Panmure
      3. Northern Line: Albany-Airport via Aotea

      Reduced conflicts at the Britomart throat, no slow dance around Vector… 3 pan city routes with pretty good interlinking.

      But, this requires a CRL II, all the way from Wynyard via Aotea to Parnell viaduct, tricky under the university. A rebuild of the Newmarket junction and Station to handle all Southern and Northern line movements, or frequencies on both would be capped. And a heavy rail Harbour crossing and conversion of the busway….

      My hunch is that laundry list would be prohibitively expensive? Am I just not ambitious enough, or is it the right time to look at other systems that can serve those routes to complement the current rail network?

      1. Patrick, this is why the harbour tunnels need to be built to be able to handle HR. It might be in 30 years time that there is a need for a whole new HR line up the North Shore (additional to the LR line) which would probably be tunnelled the whole way. At which point a CRL2 might also be needed if the CBD keeps growing along with the whole city as that would increase capacity on the rail network massively.
        The city end is the only part of a tunnel that would have gradient/radius concerns really so they would have to design to allow for HR. The Shore end is shallow so a very gentle gradient etc.

          1. Similar to what they said about the harbour bridge. Why would the harbour bridge need more than 4 lanes?…. As soon as it was built it needed more. Typical short-sighted Auckland thinking.

        1. We simply don’t need heavy rail to the North Shore. Using a grade separated LRT route allows much higher frequency that Heavy rail will achieve any time soon in Auckland. Frequency is just as important as carriage carrying capacity.

      2. Correction. The volcanic cone is under Victoria street car park. I think that the cone could be a problem to bore though ( you might need explosives – which would have vibration issues -particular with some of the heritage buildings).

  3. Looks good. I wonder if the yellow line would be better going to New Lynn or Avondale? However connecting it with the orange line is a good idea. With the blue line across the harbour landing in Wynyard, surely a bridge is going to be so much more practical than a tunnel? And cheaper.

  4. “I’m sure some would like to start straight off with such a system, but I think it is clear that designing systems that can grow with the city is the only viable way forward.”

    Don’t understand what you mean by this. Light rail tunnel alignment will be different to a vehicle tunnel. Designate and build for rail first, and future-proof for a road tunnel if it ever becomes necessary.

    1. That sentence refers to the whole system, not the crossing. Perhaps it is a little clumsily put, but what I mean is that a full network as shown above is stageable and key sections such as Dom-Queen or Dom-Albany, are operable and efficient on their own and not reliant on the full network to be complete to function, and function well.

      But of course each stage should be designed to fit into the mature network.

  5. Here we go Patrick, this is my alternative from last week:

    This includes the North Shore Line, Dominion Road LRT and the Botany Line. Of course the heavy rail route is via Otahuhu giving a Universal Connection given the Botany Line would not be around for a while later (and when it is we have redundancy capacity too).

    SH20 is the only missing link I have so am open to bring heavy rail down to Onehunga as part of the Southdown-Avondale corridor if freight ever eventuates. Otherwise extend the green dash bus line up to the Mt Roskill Spur or even New Lynn Interchange (again giving redundancy capacity).

    For the rest it is all here: https://voakl.net/2016/07/06/airport-line-via-otahuhu-the-universal-connection-to-the-airport-for-all-of-auckland/

    1. +1 Ben Ross.
      Onehunga is now a non-starter due to NZTA (and it would be expensive due to need to double track and build a bridge over the harbour for rail).
      Otahuhu is the best option (although I would also accept Puhunui HR).
      As you point out these options are likely to cost about the same as LR (due to them being shorter and not needing to go across the harbour) and provide a faster more direct route to the airport (along with better suited trains for passengers with space for luggage). It would also still serve Mangere just as well (if not better if tied in with local buses) and doesn’t add unnecessary passengers to a local service along Dominion Road (which will probably be busy enough by itself).
      It also keeps the ASD route clear for future HR (freight and probably another suburban services too) which will probably be needed once Ports of Auckland goes.

      1. Thanks Bruce.

        The other beauty of going via Otahuhu with heavy rail is it can be used alongside Labour’s Comprehensive Housing Plan to undertake urban renewal in the Mangere area most of which is Housing New Zealand land. I have some details on how the renewal would work here: https://voakl.net/2016/06/30/airport-heavy-rail-via-otahuhu-botany-line-our-airport-lines-a-redux/

        If the renewal was to happen alongside the Airport Line via Otahuhu, given the price of land and housing even in Mangere, the project could end up cost neutral to the Government overall. So $1.2b on an Airport Line via Otahuhu with no doubt $1b investment and proceeds from Housing NZ in the Mangere area.

        Seems economical to me and a win for everyone.

        1. Yes Ben, excellent work there.
          I also like the idea of LRT from Manukau to Botany and building through to Panmure as LRT rather than busway (although in terms of cost I guess if it was designed as LRT but without the rails and powerlines then it could easily be converted when funding allows if too expensive to do initially).
          Some of the other savings to be made (enviromental + imports) would be the roughly 3000L per day needed to run Airbus services… That is 1,095,000 pa (or around $700k pa assuming they get discounted diesel prices) EMU use electricity which is almost entirely made from renewable’s here in NZ (and that isn’t even counting how many thousands of cars per day HR would take off the road).
          Another benefit of airport rail which isn’t mentioned much (if at all) is that if you can get visitors to a city to use PT in the first instance then they are more likely to use that during their stay (rather than adding to congestion in taxis etc).
          Also even for locals their first taste of PT might be taking the train out to the airport… they might actually like it and start using PT day to day.
          I know for me personally I wouldn’t bother to use LR to the airport as it would take too long (on top of a NEX journey) however I would use HR.

  6. While the general philosophy of this post is admirable, with my project management hat on this has the smell of “solutioneering” i.e. developing a proposed solution before the user requirement is defined. In this case, I think what is needed is to determine the key prerequisites – people, place, time – and then work out what solution would best meet those requirements. You can’t build a power station until you know how many kwh are needed, you can’t build a police station until you’ve analysed crime patterns, and transport networks exist solely to deliver a service, which needs ex ante definition.

    1. I wonder if a bridge from Hobsonville Point to Beachaven would be an option, given the development at Hobsonville Point. Line down to Onewa.

      Edit this was not supposed to be a response to EC

    2. EC, I can’t agree with your angle because it is very rudimentary and reactionary. You seem to suggest there is some external, platonic-ideal of transport demand that exists out there and that the point of the transport system is to simply meet that. THat is the very old school ‘predict and provide’ model.

      The point you are missing is that transport networks shape both transport use patterns and land use patterns. Where you put the transport capacity and connectivity will determine how people travel, and where housing and other development occurs. So there are many purposes of a transport network, one of which is to literally shape the city. This is ‘decide and provide’. Pick what kind of city and transport patterns you like, then build that.

      Obviously it’s not just one or the other, because there are existing networks and land use that lead to existing demand. But if you go in to analyse existing transport demands to determine where the network should be you’ll not be surprised to find that the network should be where it already is. Your method is one of maintaining the status quo. That might be a worthwhile goal from some perspectives, but it’s not exactly the only way to skin the cat.

      1. Oh and a second point while I’m on a rant: What Patrick is doing above is clearly trying to develop a regional network, a grid of interconnecting trunk lines.

        One of the pitfalls of transport planning is trying to be too clever with travel patterns and hoping to exactly meet specifics of trip types, demographics etc. This never works very well in the long run, as the best transport networks support a very wide range of trips by a wide range of people to and from a wide range of places. In short, it is better if transit planners don’t make a lot of assumptions about who you are and how you travel but rather just assume you’d like to travel readily and easily.

        That’s where comprehensive grid or web networks are the best, it lets you go all over the place without assuming where you ‘should’ be going, or assuming that what you do already is what you will always do given other alternatives.

        1. How readily, how easily?
          A transport network that thinks “within 30 minutes” is readily is very different to one that things “within 2 minutes” is readily

          So, until you define the requirements, you can’t define the solution.

          1. My point was there are solutions that don’t require you to define requirements, which is just another term for setting outcomes. Consider what you’re thinking, we need to divine what the requirements are and that determines the intervention. Picking your requirements is picking an outcome.

    3. “with my project management hat on this has the smell of “solutioneering” i.e. developing a proposed solution before the user requirement is defined… you can’t build a police station until you’ve analysed crime patterns”

      For context, here’s another comment you left in a previous post:

      “a larger police/army generates greater public utility (perhaps not the same ROI as a smaller force)”

      So on the one hand you’re happy to argue that more police are always better; while on the other hand you argue that more transport isn’t. Interesting little logical inconsistency.

      1. Not inconsistent at all. More transport may lead to more utility, but there’s a sizeable gap between more transport and a specific solution.

        The same with police. More police may lead to more utility, but the effectiveness (utils per coppa) will be dependent on where they are based etc.

        If someone says “We need a new transport network that allows people from the shore to do this and that” that wouldn’t be solutioneering.

        And to the commenter above – it isn’t rudimentary nor reactive. It’s proper first-principles based policymaking. To come up with a solution and then retrofit it to a problem is rudimentary and reactive. We used to call it “brochure shopping” where a senior officer would pop in one day with a glossy trade magazine and say “we need that” pointing at some piece of kit. And yes, that piece of kit might be able to destroy 500mm of RHA at 2.5km, traverse a 20 degree gradient, run at 75kmh offroad (all good things) but the underlying question is “do we actually need to do that?”. Same with transport.

        1. Perhaps you have missed all of the other posts on this blog describing the problem or unreliable and overcapacity transport options, and the posts describing broad goals of any solution and should go and read those instead of expecting them all to be in one post.

        2. We are well beyond that already EC, done and dusted. We know we need additional transport capacity beyond what the busway can provide in a way that provides fast, reliable and accessible trips. We know we need it in a way that can do that outside of traffic (or rather, must do so outside of traffic to be fast and reliable), we therefore know we need rapid transit, in a rail form. Beyond that who cares but it looks like light rail is shaping up to be the right mix of meeting requirements and being affordable to build and run.

          Auckland is far beyond what you’re talking about.

  7. I’d add an lrt to airport down manukau road too. Doubles capacity for one seat rides cbd to terminal and can be a cross town route balancing any other north shore lines.

    1. Yes, I think there will need to be another isthmus route as I’m not sure it will be possible to maintain signal priority in the long term as capacity is increased to take both airport/south-west and Dominion Rd passenger loadings. Not sure which route is the best though, Manukau Rd would likely put LR in conflict with buses through Newmarket and Symonds St.

        1. They definitely can, but I think it would have to have an adverse impact on speed as it would make signal priority difficult. An impact on speed would likely just drive passengers onto Dominion Rd services, just like passengers from say Papatoetoe to the CBD are much more likely to take an eastern line train than a southern line train.

      1. Newmarket is a problem, but I would run it Grafton Road and Wellesley. Also, I think that some other routes will need LR by that Stage: Remuera Road for example

        1. Makes sense, hopefully by then all inbound Howick and Eastern buses are terminating at either Panmure and Ellerslie rather than clogging up the CBD, which would further reduce the impact on Newmarket.

  8. I think my alignment would be to complete the tunnel to Aotea stage 1 would be Albany to Aotea LRT. Stage 2 would be the extension to Siverdale no point extending busway if LRT is planned for same time. 2020s

    Stage 3 would be to continue the tunnel to SH16 after which would run up the centre of the motorway having the stations under the flyovers which would provide access then onto the NW busway after the Causeway to Westgate. 2030s

    Stage 4 would continue down SH18 back to Consti. Late 2030s

    Advantage of this would be all class a Row meaning 99m LRVs instead of 66 and can be driverless straight away with the extra LRV attached each one is 33m and no drivers area the LRVs could carry over 700 people each just short of our Class AMs

    Totally support the extension of the Southwest LRT to Botany though.

    1. Harriet. One thing to bear in mind when talking about LRV’s carrying over 700 people is that these high figures represent max crush-loading capacity in a predominantly standing environment. If these numbers are expected routinely, then light rail is the wrong choice. You should not specify a system that relies on extreme crush-loading by design.

      Even the “up to 450 people per vehicle” of AT’s light rail proposal conceals the fact that this represents multi-standing crush-loading.

      As a comparison, a state-of-the-art Bombardier Flexity 4400 LRV at 30m long seats only 70 people with room for 181 standing (251 crush-loaded total) – i.e.a standing-seated ratio of 2.6:1

      A 3-car Auckland CAF EMUs at 72m long seats 230 with room for 143 standing (373 total).- i.e.a standing-seated ratio of 0.6:1

      Interesting that in the London Dockland development, light metro was originally chosen as a cheaper alternative to extending the underground. However it soon became apparent that the DLR alone could not cope. Subsequently the Jubilee Line was extended to serve Docklands, so now it has both heavy and light metro. But this was not envisaged by the original DLR promoters.

      Light rail has its place, but it is not be seen as a panacea to the scare-off costs often (unfairly) bandied about for heavy rail.

      1. That’s not quite true Dave, those figures are the rated capacity when full at the acceptable crowding level. Usually that’s 4 standees per m2 which is quite low and comfortable. Crush loading would be 20% more again.

        Bus yes it is based on more standing, like most metro systems across the world they are designed to accommodate people standing for shorter trips.

  9. Gee. That dog-legged line using slow LRT to the Airport looks terrible. I am never going to support that as an alternative to modern, faster Airport Rail. I want a first world city with true options to compete against the private motor car. LRT city-airport doesn’t cut the mustard no matter how Auckland Transport and friends try to sell that donkey.

    Actually, a donkey will probably be faster if you skew the data. Must let AT and friends know.

    1. Jon,

      You will note there is a Puhinui Link. This could be enacted first (now even). Heavy rail to Puhnui from town and then onto the airport will be fast, about the same as rail via Onehunga. That good enough for ya?

  10. If you’re looking at AWHC rail only options, has anyone looked at an alignment that crosses the harbour to the Devonport Peninsula, up to Takapuna and reconnecting at Smales Farm? This would increase the catchment of the lower section of the north shore line considerably (avoiding a large section of empty areas including Onepoto Domain, Tuff Crater etc.), provide an attractive alternative transport mode to the politically important Lake Road, avoid the need for the spur, improve connections for Takapuna to the north and south, and improve general walkability along the route. However, it would change how you connect with rest of the network in the city.

    1. That would increase connectivity to 20,000 people in the Devonport penisula and reduce connectivity to the circa 50,000 people in the Onewa catchment (which is also zoned for more growth). So not sure it would pass a cost benefit test given the busway already exists.

      1. How do the Onewa road catchment get to the north shore line (assuming it is a station by the motorway junction?) Catch a bus from Beachhaven/Birkenehead, then change? Might as well just have the bus continue to the city.

        1. We are planning a PT crossing. If it is bus then the busses will run along the PT crossing. If it is LRT and a bridge, the buses could still use the crossing. Only if it is LRT and a tunnel, then the buses wouldnt be able to use the crossing unless electric/PHEV. At that point they would need to change but agreed unlikely if heading to city. More likely if heading north. However, Onewa has virtually the same bus demand as Dominion Rd and people are saying Dom Rd is at capacity, which would imply Onewa is too hence you would run LRT up Onewa.

        2. Not sure about an Onewa Station; to transfer for one or two stops seems unwieldy. With all the Busway traffic on the new rail alignment, the Onewa buses would have the currently overcrowded Fanshawe bus lanes to themselves for a quick direct trip.

          Interestingly on the proposed and useless road crossing there will be no traffic entrance at Onewa and drivers there will be expected to drive away from the city to enter the tunnels at some vast and clogged interchange near Akoranga, or use the current bridge, which seems more likely.

          1. An Onewa Station will allow Shore to Shore connection though so should really be included for that reason alone, even if it was an LRT only crossing with buses still using Onewa Road.

          2. Case in point… Someone trying to go from Northcote to Massey University Albany is directed to catch a bus to Victoria Park, and transfer to NEX to get to Albany – according to AT’s Journey Planner. The lack of busway station (even a relatively simple shelters utilising the existing toll tunnels – something aka Sunnynook) adds 30 minutes to the journey. Let’s not allow the Northcote Point NIMBYs to stuff it up for 50,000 people or so.

          3. hmmm one more thought on this – if someone coming down on a bus from Onewa was say wanting to end up on Dominion Rd or Airport, then Onewa Rd station transfer would still make sense. I bet that travel time to Universities would also be quicker than bus even with the transfer… So north and south transfers @ Onewa Station should still be considered when the time comes.

  11. The harbour crossing debate seems desperate to avoid what could be the most cost effective solution. Lake Road is screaming for light rail, and even the current Devenport ferry could feed nicely into a tram to Takapuna, and around the corner to Akoranga Station (presumed to be converted to a rail system). This would require extra ferry services, and does nothing to address the supposed private car issue, but I am one that wholeheartedly disagrees with the private motor vehicle and making such a thing obsolete is on my bucket list. Surely in these environmentally aware times, the emphasis must be on improving the mass transit network, in every way possible. To quote Enrique Peñalosa (many will have heard this) “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it’s where the rich use public transportation.” And he was mayor of Bogota, a serious city.

    1. That would be slower from anywhere north of Hauraki Corner than the existing PT lines over the HB. So I dont think it is a viable alternative to what is proposed. If Lake Road is screaming out for a PT corridor, then put in a bus corridor first and monitor demand.

    2. That works for Switzerland. A colleague worked in Zurich for a multinational chemical giant, and the only time he met the CEO was on the tram.

    3. There is no horizontal space for that unless you did a single track loop down Lake Road to Devonport returning via King Edward Parade, Vauxhall and Old Lake Road.

      Then from Old Lake Road to Hauraki Corner you would only have space for a single line, which would take a grade separated light rail about 10 minutes to travel. I don’t know whether signals could allow that to work maybe with some side bays where space allows.

      Regardless, AT is not going to spend large amounts of money on Lake Road for two reasons:

      1. Resident NIMBYs are desperately fighting any increase in population/density on the peninsula. AT will use its limited funds to provide better options in places that want more people – like out West.

      2. The recent travel survey found that SOVs are the real problem, not a lack of road. 80% of the SOVs were headed to the city despite there being three excellent peak time ferry services from Devonport, Stanley Point and Bayswater to the city. If AT “fix” (however briefly) the congestion on Lake Road, that will just encourage more people to choose the least efficient form of urban travel, the private automobile. The old induced demand problem.

      The current congestion also makes the otherwise excellent bus service a non-starter.

      On Saturday I waited for a bus on Lake Road to go to Takapuna. At 12.30pm, the 11.52 scheduled 113 bus was still not at the bus stop after turning out of Old Lake Road. So I went home and got my bike, put my little girl on the back in her seat and was in Takapuna well in time for our 1pm show.

      This is why ATs main plan with Lake Road is to put in separated cycle paths on Lake Road. If there were good cycle connections that feel safe (subjective safety test) to the ferries and to Akoranga bus station, there would be a lot more people choosing that option. Lake Road already has an approximately 6% cycle mode share – huge for Auckland.

      1. The annoying thing about Lake Rd. is that it only requires the removal of a relativity small number of CBD bound SOVs to free the system up and allow am north bound and west bound North Shore traffic to freely access the the Esmonde Rd interchange. It would probably be cheaper to pay them not to use their cars than engineer capacity for them. Could be a case for improving the speed and frequency of the Bayswater Ferry where there is plenty of parking available.

      2. Could do it to Bayswater then along there (huge potential to redevelop all the old state houses there) then up to Taka from Belmont. Would avoid Devonport. That is if looking at LR options.

    4. Seems to be a theme of jumping straight to light rail options when dedicated busways will do the trick for much lower cost. The new buses are pretty flash too, before anyone starts sprouting the term “loser cruisers”.

      Otherwise, a big fan of Enrique Penalosa.

      1. A cross harbour busway tunnel is more expensive than rail due to ventilation requirements, fire system, etc.
        The next question is how to transfer between bus and rail. One interchange station at Onewa, or extend rail further, perhaps up Onewa, to Takapuna and up the busway.

    5. Wait, so I’m supposed to make my way to the waterfront downtown, then 5-10 mins wait for the ferry, then spend 10 minutes crossing the harbour, then a fewminutes walk out to the start of the wharf, get the next tram for twenty minutes up to Takapuna, then keep going over to Akoranga and then transfer back to a bus. That’s three services over 40 minutes to do what takes 20 minutes on one bus today.

      Not sure that is an improvement.

  12. Looks good. Before some of the far flung areas have an RTN. A next step could be put LRT down Manukau Rd and probably turn it into Greenlane West Rd rather than all the way down, connecting with Greenlane station. Get a bit of a cross town going in a fairly busy part of the city. Basically the new network Crosstown 4 & 6 combined. Take it all the way to Glen Innes eventually.

  13. I just don’t see the benefits of replacing the busway alongside the northern motorway with light rail that just goes to the same stops/location (albeit, with addition of Takapuna which will help).
    In my mind a rail only harbour crossing should do one or both of the following:
    a) be used by a light rail (i.e. tram) system which feeds in from large population areas (Birkenhead, Glenfield, Takapuna, Beaches, etc, etc), while keeping the busway as-is (maybe feeding into the rail system near the bridge), AND/OR
    b) heavy rail up the busway for fast services from Albany – BUT more importantly allowing for further extension to further north to bring commuters in from further afield. There are so many lovely places to live north of Auckland but because the commuting options are either car (stuck on motorway) or bus (stops too often and goes to slow), it is not attractive. Whereas if HR went fast or semi-fast from Albany into the CBD in ~15mins it would open up so many more practical housing opportunities north of Auckland.

    I see no reason why a rail tunnel cannot be configured to handle both HR (to Takapuna and Albany/beyond) as well as local tram/LRT services. Even if it means dual gauge track. With 24-30 trains per hour possible through such a corridor, this allows for plenty of trams and HR services.

    And the idea somebody would want to sit on a light rail unit with 30+ stops between Albany and the airport is fanciful.

      1. I didn’t say that no other city has 30+ stops on a rail link to their airport. I used to live in London and can bet that there are not many business or regular users of the airport who catch the pic line there from outside the first 10 stops. Others will take taxi or HEX. Lets remember PT should be primarily for the regular users not for holiday traffic which is more price sensitive so may be happy with it taking ages (otherwise we have have to start supporting the idea of holiday highways as well!).

        For regular and business users, speed and connectivity is king. Which reminds me that re: connectivity, a rail link to airport from Otahuhu makes so much more sense as it allows practical connection for those coming from the south.

        1. Yup, but reliability of travel time is just as important, that stress-free advantage over the variability of congestion affected systems is very important.

          Many are willing to take a longer trip IF it is not likely to be subject to further random delays, ie if it is reliable, and especially if the time can be spent on a device…

          But agree speed is important. Most users of the A Line above would not be travelling end to end, just as most users of the motorway are not travelling end to end, but using chunks of it. By through routing we are just not trying to guess which chunks…

        2. +1 Trundler. South Kensington is about as far as most would go on the Pic.
          Thing is Sailor boy, London currently has 3 HR lines to Heathrow, it also has HR lines to Gatwick, Stanstead and Luton. Heathrow is about to get Crossrail too.

          Also London is a lot larger than Auckland so 30 stops on the Piccadilly Line is 71km versus about 38km Albany to Airport.

          1. Bruce Britomart to Pukekohe, even after electrification is about and hour and a quarter. Light or heavy, Albany to Airport is not going to be a quick run; they’re a long way apart across a couple of bodies of water, with stops along the way, including the city centre.

          2. Albany to airport would be around 60 minutes by HR. By LR it will likely be about 90 minutes mostly due to the slow running up Queen St and Dominion Rd along with a lot more stops.

          3. Bruce it’s pretty hard to see how there would be that difference. Our current rail route is very slow, the CRL II I envisage above, has the great advantage of removing the terribly slow Vector orbit, but still is unlikely to be fast as it would have close stops; Parnell-Uni-Aotea-Wynyard, and some tight curves and inclines, I doubt the average speed through the city would be quicker than LR up Queen, Through Mangere and the North Shore both systems would be on the same on separate RoWs, as LR would be from Mt Roskill. So in the end it comes down to the quality of the priority of the Dom Rd section of the LR [assuming the $500m is spent fully trenching the Onehunga Line]… So I can’t see an argument for a 50% speed difference. Through I can see how conventional rail would cost several times more to build.

          4. Patrick, I am thinking more along the lines of what Ben has for Otahuhu-Airport. HR is only getting faster as they fix up the bugs, improve the tracks and make efficiency improvements.
            In Ben’s example with HR you would transfer at Aotea and then take the train via Krd/Mt Eden/Newmarket etc so would avoid the slow curve at Vector. HR from Otahuhu would likely cost about the same if not less than LR from the end of Dominion Road at Mt Roskill (much shorter distance, much less land to be purchased, no bridge to be built, advantage of urban redevelopment to absorb some of the costs).
            Of course your plan with CRL2 would speed things up considerably (and would still work with Otahuhu-Airport).

    1. Knew someone was doing 2 transfers from Onehunga to southern then Eastern line in peak morning (to get to Manukau), seemed to work OK.

  14. I am seriously starting to question whether we should be actually carrying out CRL which I have been a great supporter of. If we are not going to utilise this network and expand it to other parts of the city then I do not believe the costs are justified and should be put elsewhere to systems that are going to be expanded in the future.

    As for the current work on CRL it could be stopped with the cut and cover section beyond Aotea so that trains could flow through this station and then back again on the other line to get some of the increase in capacity that is required.

    1. The CRL is required to get the maximum value out of the existing rail RoW. It’s a bare minimum for the efficient utilisation of that network, on those grounds alone it is of enormous value. Add the development and growth it supports not only in the City, but all along the network [places like Glen Eden, for example] and it becomes a killer app for the city. It does not rely on an ever expanding existing network to be worth it. It is the only near term project of real congestion busting value, as it will drag so many new users out of their cars. It is this project that will open opportunities to undertax the next network.

      1. I do realise what you have said but this backbone transport system must also be expanded to other parts of the city as a long term high capacity system if growth at projected rates is to continue which I believe it will.
        You are now lobbying for other systems that I believe are stop gap measures that at some point will need to be relooked at in certain areas as the will not remain viable.I am looking out 50 years not 10-20.

        1. Well no, Gary, even cities that appear to have one Transit system actually have many; there are many un-interopperable rail lines in London, for example, even within the Tube system itself. This doesn’t bother or even occur to users; they just choose the best route for their journey, transfer between systems, work the city. Only rail buffs know or care, and care too much sometimes as this can lead to them thinking that the city serves the railway and not the other way around….

          Multiple networks are not a flaw of great and efficient cities; but a feature.

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