Auckland Transport have published a new version of their airport rail video, essentially stripping out the heavy rail parts while also adding a little bit more detail about the airport.

Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects is it shows a bit of how light rail would get through Onehunga. It appears the plan is to elevate the light rail line over Neilson St right where AT are about to remove the bridge that lifts the road over the rail corridor.

Airport Light Rail Video - Onehunga

Every time rail to the airport is discussed, here or in other places, there are a number of people who question AT’s decision to use Light Rail to connect to the airport. The biggest complaints/misconceptions I’ve seen against the idea of using light rail to the airport are:

  • Light rail is slower – especially on Dominion Rd with lots of stops
  • That it will be like Melbourne mixed traffic
  • Light rail doesn’t have enough capacity
  • It will mix with trips on Dominion Rd
  • It’s light and so heavy must equal bigger and better

So let’s step through some of these and to do so, I’m going to use Seattle as an example. The reason for using Seattle is that its Link Light Rail has many characteristics that appear to be almost identical to what Auckland Transport is proposing.

First a little bit about the system.Seattle Link Light Rail Map

Seattle has only recently started building its light rail system and the first section opened in July 2009. Since then there have been a couple of extensions, to the airport in the south (six months later) and just in March this year, a 5km, 2 station extension to the north. Further extensions in each direction are already under construction with other lines and extensions planned.

As of now the entire light rail system is just over 30km in length which is almost identical to the distance between Papakura and Britomart. It does have fewer stations though and outside of the city, much wider station spacing. The route is a mix of grade separated right of way with a mix of tunnels and bridges, median running and in the city centre it shares one tunnel with buses. Below is an image from Streetview showing Martin Luther King Jr Way which a 6.2km long section of median running and is similar to what we can expect along Dominion Rd. As you can see it is not mixed with traffic and the rail is separated from the road by a small kerb. Access across the tracks at intersections is controlled by lights.

Seattle Link Light Rail Martin Luther King Jr Way 2


The light rail vehicles used in Seattle are capable of speeds up to 105km/h which at maximum is only 5km slower than our heavy rail trains are capable of, and which ours don’t often get close to achieving in normal service. Seattle has some fairly lengthy sections which over which I imagine it is able to make the most of it’s speed. That means it only takes about 44 minutes to travel the 30km for an impressive average speed of just over 40km/h. That is about the same average speed as the Eastern line from Manukau but considerably faster on average than the Southern, Onehunga and Western lines, the latter two average less than 30km.h.

Even if you exclude the section from the Airport to Rainier Beach and from Westlake to the University of Washington, the system achieves similar average speeds to our network.

Seattle Link Light Rail Travel Times

Obviously our existing trains need to be faster but that is a discussion for a separate post. What is clear is that at the very least, it is possible to get light rail up to a similar speed as what we’re achieving now with our rail network.

To achieve the times Auckland Transport claim, LRT would only have to average 30km per hour, the same as being achieved on the Rainier Beach to Westlake section. With AT planning to create a corridor like shown above (but with a single traffic lane instead of two), that should be possible. There’ll be no light rail mixing with cars and also no stopping ever few hundred metres like many buses and many traditional tram networks such as Melbourne do.


It’s all very well saying that heavy rail has more capacity but just because you can build a rail line capable of running trains with a capacity for 1,000 people every 90 seconds, it doesn’t mean you should. It is very expensive both to build and run so most cities only do it if they absolutely need to. Better to build enough capacity for what you’re going to need (plus a bit of redundancy).

As we know, AT are planning on using up to 66m long light rail vehicles (two 33m coupled together) that can carry up to 450 people running every 5 minutes. Looking over at Seattle, they have 29m long vehicles that can carry around 200 people running at up to every 6 minutes in the peak. They too can couple vehicles together and until recently were limited to joining two trains together but their system allows for up to four to be coupled. Four vehicles connected together would be around 116m long and carry up to 800 people – more than one of our 6-car trains are designed to carry (ours carry 750 people). Given the technology is obviously already available, there doesn’t seem to be a technical reason why we eventually couldn’t see longer light rail trains here – assuming we designed for the possibility.

Seattle Link Light Rail - Int Dist Station

Another way of looking at capacity to see how it’s performing. Sound Transit who run the system publish ridership data monthly. The opening of the extension to the University of Washington in March has seen ridership soar at up to a staggering 83% compared to the same month a year prior. That means over the last few months, this single LRT line is carrying more than Auckland’s entire rail network combined. The results suggest that by the time the extension has been operative for a year that their system will be carrying 20 million+ trips a year. Seattle’s weekday numbers are about the same as what we have but they do much better on weekends, something we’ll hopefully see the new network improve.

Seattle Link Light Rail Ridership 2016-06

On both speed and capacity, the example for Seattle shows that Light Rail can be every bit as good as our current heavy rail system. For me the key is not the name of the mode but how it’s designed. The pressure that needs to be applied to Auckland Transport, the council and the government is to provide the funding needed as soon as possible and to ensure that it’s implemented to the level advertised in the video above (or better). Light or heavy, it’s still rail to the airport.

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  1. As far as I am aware, the proposal mentioned on this site to use heavy rail directly from the Otahuhu area was never looked at as an alternative? What would the costing of this be compared to light rail from Onehunga across the harbour? Would have been interesting to see a proposed construction cost comparison between the two.

    I have just come back from both Seattle and Denver and although these systems do work well in both cities, it was interesting go hear in Denver that the new heavy rail line to the airport being highly rated over the existing system by users.

    1. +1 Gary. LR requires a line from Dom Rd to And through Onehunga, it requires a very expensive bridge over the Harbour, the requires a lot of elevated track all the way along to where the SH20A turns off to the airport (ie where an Otahuhu HR line would meet).

      1. Sure Bruce, but it’s still slightly cheaper with the line through Onehunga and Dominion Rd, and you get a line through Onehunga and Dominion Rd.

        So it’s either half the price for the same gain if you don’t count the extra line, or it’s the same price for twice as much gain if you do.

  2. And still has one ultimate flaw compared to heavy rail via Otahuhu: it misses the universal connection to the South, East and ultimately west.

    Again Heavy Rail via Otahuhu allows direct transfers to the Southern Line heading south and the east (G.I via the Eastern Line) meaning a rail connection between a large industrial complex (the airport) and its population base (the east and south). LRT via Dominion Road does not allow that thus we are missing a fast connection to around 40% of the population of which services the airport complex.

    For those who say the Botany Line will deal with this, no it does not as it misses the existing complex although will capture the new Puhinui Gateway complex. In any case the Botany Line to the Airport given there is mean to be a station at Puhinui (thus above the heavy rail system) means for once we have redundancy capacity if one mode fails.

    So what was said above about LRT I am sorry I find irrelevant on one rather large point compared to its heavy rail counterpart, the universal connection at Otahuhu giving a direct connection to the Airport’s large population base – the South and the East.

    1. +1 Ben. Considering that most airport workers live in the South and East this should be a no brainer!
      BTW I don’t see your Talking Auckland blog linked on the links section of TB? Oversight or snub?

    2. Totally agree. It is a real shame that the authors of this blog seem to be totally blinkered in their approval of LRT rather than continuing to debate the pros/cons of the various options and admitting it is mighty close as to which offers the best solution when all things are considered. It is not as clear cut as they or AT make out.

      1. I’d suggest questioning yourself on why we might support it. We’ve definitely debated a lot amongst ourselves raising all of the issues we see in the comments and more. We don’t think it’s as close as you make out based on what we’ve seen and heard (not all of which can published)

        1. Yes you did debate it quite a bit but then as soon as AT and NZTA decided it was LRT or nothing, you seemed to agree 100% (which seemed strange as prior to that point the blog didn’t seem to strongly advocate LRT to airport). Unfortunately many of us still don’t believe all the “facts” being used to justify the decision, as is being demonstrated by number of comments on any posts about LRT to airport.

        2. Not everything we know about the project is public yet and affects our position. We’re also given confidence based on some of the people we know are involved.

        3. That was Tony Blair’s argument for there being WOMD in Iraq!

          Maybe stop promoting this solution until all the facts can be shared, just in case some of the “secret facts” in the dossier turn out to be made up or at least strongly rose-tinted.

      2. Concur.

        We should ask the mayoral candidates (okay Goff) to do a full business case study on and together for comparison:

        1) LRT via Dominion Road
        2) Heavy rail via Otahuhu
        3) The Botany Line to the Airport

        Let’s get it all on the table now for the people and businesses to figure this out ourselves then tell AT what we want. Not the other way around.

    3. Two points to consider on the other side of the argument for the heavy rail fans:

      1. By adding a whole new route it brings new catchment and new Transit access point to the city
      2. It is complementary to the exiting rail network, especially once extended east to make another connection at Puhinui.

      Remember the transfer model is at the heart of new system; it is car-thinking to insist on taking one vehicle with you everywhere, and not to grasp the advantages that can come form sliding between serves and systems. And that includes the increased resilience of separated systems.

      1. Patrick, I don’t think all people who advocate HR in this instance are “HR fans”. Most, I suspect, support LRT for other applications where it is well suited (i.e. isthmus). We are still not convinced that LRT is best for a medium distance route like the airport.

        Also, are you saying that for people from South who want to use public transport to airport should change at Penrose and then again at Onehunga to use LRT, or should just keep changing at Papatoetoe onto a bus? Or should they go all the way to Britomart and then back again.

        1. Hang on, Ben just above is advocating heavy rail for a short distance link from south Auckland to the airport! That very mode biased.

          Personally I think the local connections should be with what all local connections should be, bus! Workers from Mangere, Papatoetoe and other nearby locations should be able to catch a bus direct to the airport to work. Same way city workers from Ponsonby or Remuera catch a bus to town.

          That appears to be what AT have in mind, given they have restructured the local bus network to either run to the airport directly, or to feed to the major hub at Mangere for a quick connection.

          Quite frankly, if the light rail is that much cheaper like they say it is, then we can build light rail from Manukau to the Airport as well for still less than the heavy rail option.

        2. “Quite frankly, if the light rail is that much cheaper like they say it is, then we can build light rail from Manukau to the Airport as well for still less than the heavy rail option.”

          That would require the upgrading of Puhinui station into some sort of super station (something that could have been done instead of the branch line to Manukau for the handful of people that use it) as the main transfer point for airport connections.

        3. Indeed, presumably LRT platforms would be elevated across the heavy rail platforms, like they appear to be proposing for Onehunga.

      2. Valid points Patrick but Points 1 and 2 also work for via Otahuhu and the Botany Line.

        With via Otahuhu there is a transfer point and the same with Puhinui and even Aotea Station and Britomart (for those from the Shore) so the one vehicle everywhere would not really apply.

        LRT via Dominion Road still gives the new catchment point to the City and I support LRT down Dominion Road to the City but not the Airport (hence my preference heavy rail via Otahuhu and the Botany Line).

        As for the western gap? Busses over the Mangere Bridge to Mangere heavy rail station would suffice.

        Argh bit muddled there in my reply there (watching the Unitary Plan debate) but hope that makes sense.

    1. Yes that includes Dominion Rd. The tracks will be down the middle & raised like that image. There will be access across the tracks at the big intersections (same as Seattle) but light rail will have signal priority there too

      1. So which side of Dominion Road are they going to demolish? The picture above seems to show a central median double track of say 7m with two traffic lanes on the nearside plus a central shoulder that becomes a turning pocket plus footpaths. If you do that either side you are close to 30m wide, Dominion road is 20.1m wide.

        1. I would have thought a 7m LR corridor, one 3.5m lane in each direction and a footpaths would fit comfortably into a 20m road. I can see the ability to turn right anywhere that isn’t a big intersection being lost though, which might not be popular.

        2. You can but it isn’t going to look like the picture Mat put up. Martin Luther King Jnr Way is about 31m wide and the light rail corridor is around 8m plus the width of the shoulders to the through lanes. Even with that width they won’t be travelling at full speed. Dominion Road is 20.1m, It will probably have a 7 to 7.5m wide LRT median with no shoulders, narrow traffic lanes and shops either side with people wanting to cross. The choice is likely to be cycle lanes or decent size footpaths but not both. A safe speed for that environment is probably closer to 35km/h. Just to be clear I am not complaining, I am happy with that if it is the cheapest option as I will probably never use it.

        3. I think that is light rail’s biggest risk (whether it goes all the way to the airport or not), whether it will be able to run at 50kmh on Dominion Rd or whether this will be seen as unsafe in what will be quite a residential environment. I don’t know enough about LR stopping distances relative to cars to know whether that will be a concern.

        4. I dont think 50km/h is seen as unsafe on Dom Rd. It a major arterial. Not many houses face directly onto it. If 50km/h is unsafe then why is the speed limit 50km/h?

          All the residential side streets should be 30km/h though IMHO.

        5. Mfwic, no need to demolish as they already demolished buildings down Dominion in the 1960s to widen the intersections and put in slip lanes. Anywhere you need extra width for turning lanes etc is already widened.

          Between intersections LRT can easily fit in the median at about 7m across, that’s the same as the bus lanes put together.

          Might need to widen a bit where they want the platforms to go however.

        6. So Nick how wide will these platforms be? The emergency evacuation walkway inside the CRL is only 800mm (0.8 metres) about the same as a standard doorway, even that much on either side cuts the remaining transport lanes down quite significantly. They will be required in the built up areas of Dominion Rd the areas that were not widened for intersection.

        7. One island platform of 3m width would meet all the access and disability requirements I am aware of.

        8. Bigted – I imagine the stops will be near the major intersections as this is generally the best for both the walk-up crowd and also connecting crosstown buses.

        9. Another traffic lane? You mean one, it’s only the bus lanes that are being replaced otherwise.

          And really who cares, an extra traffic lane on street on the likes of Dominion Rd would move about 600 vehicles an hour at best. The light rail line could move 10,000, so its an easy trade off.

        10. Nick there is only four lanes on the majority of the road, 2 transport lanes and two bus lanes that double as parking off peak so there are not that many extra transport lanes to be swallowed up by LR when rail should be on a dedicated corridor not a road.

        11. Correct, so two bus lanes become two LRT lanes and you are left with the same two traffic lanes. So what is your point again?

        12. Either:

          A) At the major cross streets where Dominion Rd has already been widened and is already five or six lanes wide, or:

          B) anywhere else you want to put a station where you can widen the roadway by 1.5m either side, given that almost all of Dominion Rd already has a road widening designation in place, where the buildings are set back and where 80% of the corridor has grass verges and front yards subject to the widening overlay already.

          I don’t understand how you think AT can spend two years evaluating, designing and costing the option but need to rely on you to remind them to check if it fits. Seriously.

        1. 28 minutes from Britomart to Onehunga even if you just miss the train and end up waiting for the next one (48 minutes to Onehunga) the LRV you chose not to take will still be just getting to the end of Dominion rd so you will still effectively be catching the one before it from Onehunga (if they run at anywhere near the frequency TB would have you believe they will) at worst you will get on the same one but will have had a far more relaxing journey.

        1. Under heavy or emergency braking steel wheels on steel tracks will have no show of being comparable with vehicles that weigh a fraction the weight with rubber on ash felt.

        2. Bigted, LRT emergency braking is often magnetic steel block onto rail, more effective than steel wheel and generally comparable with rubber tyres on concrete/asphalt.

  3. I still think HR via Otahuhu/Puhiniui is the better long term solution. Auckland (and NZ) has a long history of short term thinking that ends up costing more in the long run.
    LR by all means along Dom Rd etc but no need to build an expensive bridge over the Manukau Harbour (or the expense of building from Dom Rd down to Onehunga).
    HR also serves a greater population despite ATs flawed graphics. The South and East aren’t supported this LR at all (let alone any future intercity – Hamilton/Tauranga train service).
    You do absolutely nothing to show how airport passengers are going to get on mixed in with commuters either.
    As for capacity you know that there is no way in hell that AT would be forward thinking enough to design for 3xLR cars joined together so will be forever stuck with 2 or face a huge bill to build new stations at a bazillion times the price.
    Fact is that HR services are getting faster all the time with little improvements here and there so there is absolutely no way that LR via Dom Rd can be as fast as an HR line to the airport (unless they scrapped all the stops in which case what is the point?).

    1. Going via Otahuhu or Puhunui also won’t be cheap and have been looked at. Both also present challenging service patterns. South Auckland workers would be served by better connections, especially is AT built that LRT line from Botany as well.

      As for mixing, airport peaks are often not the same as commuter peaks. It’s also a bonus as it means the line should be able to have good all day frequency

      1. ‘Going via Otahuhu or Puhunui also won’t be cheap and have been looked at’

        Have AT made available any costs or reports/assessments on the viability of an airport HR link from either Otahuhu or Puhunui? There has been much talk on this blog but little real data.

      2. Auckland Airport Peaks are morning arrivals (around 6am so people will be getting on the tram just after 7am so by the time they hit Dom Rd it will be 7:30am.. busy time, likewise people heading to the airport for the morning departures will be heading there around 6:30am in most cases.. although that would be in the opposite direction to most commuters). For the evening departures people will be heading to the airport at 4:30-5pm for their 7-8pm flights… So again mixing with commuters during the busiest times of the day. The middle of the day at AKL is actually fairly quiet.

        1. Not for international it isn’t, 10am to 3pm is the busiest time of the day international arrivals. The morning arrivals peak for international runs from about 4:30am to 6:30am (might be a bit later in summer), so it will have some but not full overlap with the commuter peak.

        2. Between 5am and 8am you have NZ23,LA801,QF151, NZ1, NZ246, NZ176, CZ335, NZ5, AA83, KE129 and NZ90 (all large widebodies except NZ246). Having worked in and around Auckland Airport for many years I can assure you that this is the busiest arrival period (times do change a little over summer with arrivals tending to be an hour later (which then drags in NZ31 also) and on certain days there are additional flights.

        3. Bruce – the peak hourly volumes are between 12pm and 2pm at the moment as that’s when all three A380s come in, amongst a number of other arrivals. It moves to between 1pm and 3pm in daylight savings months. The peak between 5am and 6am isn’t far behind though, and even 6am to 7am is quite high on average. Your point is correct though, there is definitely going to be a clash between inbound passengers and commuters during the morning peak, epsecially in summer when those morning flights mostly move an hour later.

  4. I would note that I don’t think Dominion Rd and Martin Luther King Jr Way are entirely comparable. Dominion Road will have a great deal more foot traffic and higher density development in the future. This will, in my opinion and just a guess, lead to long sections of 30km/h running along Dominion Rd as per the Gold Coast LRT. That is my main concern, speed wise. As for connectivity, by using the Dom Rd route, eastern suburbs, such as Kohimarama, are left out of the network when an Otahuhu alignment would include easy transfer from the Eastern line.

  5. You are incorrect when you state, as a fact “he light rail vehicles used in Seattle are capable of speeds up to 105km/h which at maximum is only 5km slower than our heavy rail trains are capable of”. The EMU’s are capable of 130kmp/h, but the maximum speed they are authorised on the nexwork as it is currently set up is 110kmp/h.

    I have never been on LRT at 130kmp/h any where in the world and I’ve traveled on so many LRT systems I’ve lost count. However, trains are the winner to the Auckland airport, the line is just 9kms from the Airport. LRT is 27kms away from the airport.

    What Aucklanders need is a OBJECTIVE study on this mode, not the “junk” presented by Auckland Transport which has purposely over inflated the costs of fast, modern EMU trains.

    1. Jon allowing the trains to do 130km/h isn’t going to do anything to change how fast our trains actually travel due to issues like station spacing and curves.

      As for costs, even if you made them the same, LRT still comes out on top as users can still transfer to a train at Onehunga while also providing new connections via Dominion Rd. And yes Dominion Rd needs to be built first but then you also need to include the benefits of doing that in the assessment and that only strengthens the case for it.

  6. Okay that is the plan, now we want to see AT get on with it and start work. No more delays please.
    Just some thinking…
    1) The video does not show the Botany to Airport link. I would think this will be the fastest construction job, as it is at ground level. Make sense to start this first.
    2) LIkewise Onehunga to airport could be started well before Dominion Road and isthmus light rail infrastructure.
    3) Will the light rail isthmus network replace the Onehunga line eventually?
    4) Going to light rail, does this mean KiwiRail is not in the management picture? Thereby Auckland ratepayers pay the bill and there is no help from Central Govt.

    Lets get started AT, especially on the sections you can do now. Lead times and sourcing roling stock, you might get the first service going in 4 to 5 years.

    1. Don it is not a matter of doing this in sections as LRVs unlike buses require rails to their storage, maintenance and cleaning facilities, the Wiri EMU depot (something LRVs will need a duplicate of within their network) cost over $100M five years ago on cheap Wiri land so where is it you envisage building the LRV main depot? Any cheap land is far from any routes that have been suggested so far.

        1. The cost of the depot will be included in the Dominion Rd section. That first part has to take the all of the major set up costs and after that it becomes cheaper to roll out to additional lines. The existing EMU depot is designed to be expanded a little bit I understand but not massively. Even just to accommodate the trains needed for CRL I suspect they’ll need more stabling around the network.

        1. Albany isn’t cheap… it is probably one of the more expensive places! Pretty much can forget anywhere on the Shore unless they used land they already own (ie the old rubbish dump which is right beside the busway).

        2. That is not an ideal site either and as AT have said ‘no rails on the shore for 30 years’ it will not be much use for a while yet.

  7. Heavy Rail is capable of 350km/h in other countries, so we should buy that if we want to just compare what different technologies can do in other countries.

    1. Please provide examples of where heavy rail is used in a metro or suburban capacity with relatively close stops etc operating at this sort of speed…
      High speed rail isn’t particularly relevant to the discussion.

      1. My point is that talking about 105km/h trams is not that relevant to Queen street or Dominion Road… Our trains can today do up to 90km/h up from Quay Park to Newmarket and onto Westfield (most still travel at a leisurely 60-70km/h as timetable isn’t optimised). What will average top speed between stations be on LRT between City and Onehunga? Surely 50km/h and even then there will be more stops, so how on earth can the timing to airport be similar to HR? It is just fairyland thinking in my opinion. Maybe the part of AT that specifies dwell sequencing for Trams will have different disability and safety targets to those doing the EMUs and allow doors to open before tram has stopped and no ramps for wheel chairs, therefore 5s dwells will be possible and that is how the magic trams will keep up with the potential HR timings???

        1. How on earth can the timing be similar? Simple, the heavy rail is slow, both in running and dwell times.

          Britomart to Onehunga by heavy rail takes 28 minutes today, to cover 12.8km. That’s an average speed of 27.4 km/h. If you are going from Aotea you can add a couple more minutes on again.

          The light rail alignment is actually slightly shorter and more direct too. It won’t be hard for LRT to achieve 27km/h average.

        2. Dealing with traffic and pedestrians down Dominion rd (far from being a direct route to the airport, Manukau rd maybe but not Dominion) along with scheduled stops it would be more likely to average less than half that, somewhere in the vicinity of 10-15 kph.

        3. You are missing my point. HR dwell times are only slow because of AT decisions around how the EMUs were specified and not getting rid of TMs. AT can fix these things on the EMUs (or choose to make the LRT dwells hampered by the same constraints), which then removes most (if any) dwell advantage from the LRT. The running speed of the EMUs is not slow heading south except the 800m curve around the vector stadium (recently raised frm 25km/h to 30km/h for the EMUs), but via HR Otahuhu to the airport via Tamaki this does not come into it.

          To be clear I think HR from Onehunga to the airport is a poor solution and LRT probably trumps it all things being considered. HR should go from Otahuhu with semi fast services from the city via the waterfront.

        4. Sailor Boy easy to work out on a scrap of paper (or envelope if you prefer), maximum speed 50kph, accelerating from every stop or slow patch back to 50kph takes time, decelerating to a stop or slow for what ever reason, how many scheduled passenger stops, how many intersection stops etc just have a look at and then work out the average speed of the current buses along Dominion rd and I think you will be horrified, LRVs may be slightly faster as they won’t stop as often and may accelerate faster but not by much.

        5. Trundler the TM has very little they can do with either dwell times or the overall travel time, far bigger inputs are the condition of the network and the trains themselves. Once the inevitable happens and TMs are removed from trains it will be up to the driver to get out of the cab and fault find and fix any issues the TM does now, that will make trips slower not faster.

        6. “Dealing with traffic and pedestrians” why do you want LRT to do that for?

          Hint, its not trams, its light rail. It won’t deal with traffic and pedestrians because it runs on it’s own dedicated, physically separated running way and gets priority at the lights. It’ won’t stop for traffic at all.

          I find this really strange, it’s like you guys are trying to invent a really bad concept to complain about and you just willfully ignore what AT is actually proposing. Read the pages on the website, there is plenty of information there.

        7. @Nick “Wilfully ignoring what AT are proposing”? Perhaps it’s more a case of realistically evaluating what AT are likely to deliver.

          AT don’t exactly have a good track record delivering what they propose. More than two years now since AT had to remove at the last minute the word ‘faster’ from their promotional materials for the electric train launch. ‘smarter, faster, quieter’ that Dr Levy had been promoting suddenly became the lame ‘smarter, better, quieter’. Two years and no change, the electrics are still running slower than the diesels they replaced.

          And how’s that smartphone NFC integration coming along for HOP? You know that one that was just about to launch a trial in 2012.

          “In a world first, Thales will be using its near-field communication (NFC) application throughout Auckland Transport’s final smart card ticketing system, HOP, before deploying it globally across all networks and banks. The trial, which utilises Telecom’s XT network, is expected to enable participants to pay forAuckland’s buses, trains and ferries through their mobile phones.
          Auckland Transport’s Chief Executive, Dr David Warburton said:

          “Mobile phone technology makes the option of paying for transport services using a device the majority of New Zealanders carry with them every day, a natural choice reducing the number of cards customers have to carry. We look forward to working with our technology and service partners in this trial.”

        8. @BigTed

          The Gold Coast example is probably realistic to compare with our Britomart to end of Dominion Rd proposed section. Their overall average speed is 23km/hr for the 13kms end to end, not much separated sections I don’t think.
          Auckland Custom St to end of Dominion Rd is 7.9km, in the video I note they say it would be around 25/26 mins to that point, that is an average speed of ~19km/hr. If they could achieve 23 km/hr would be done in 20.6 mins. Current Google suggestion time right now tonight is around 28 mins by car, so that time looks pretty doable to me.

        9. Grant try again, if you want to compare something find something a little more like what is proposed for Dominion rd. The GC LR has a section just about as long as Dominion rd that is completely separated an fenced allowing LRVs to run at top speed (70kph), Dominion rd does not have this. Having been on the GC LR I have no issue commenting on it and it is not what people would want from the CBD to the airport and the average speed from the Gold coast (23kph) would not be achievable on Dominion rd.

          I’m not against LR on dedicated corridors like the Northern busway bus see it as plain stupidity putting it unprotected down main arterial routes like Dominion Rd.

        10. Matt I was just pointing out to Grant who was trying to use the GC LR as a comparison to what is proposed for Dominion rd, having been on the LR on the GC and the fact that their LR has a dedicated fenced corridor with no stops about 400 metres shorter than the whole of Dominion rd where their LRVs can run at max speed (70kph) using the average speed from the GC and saying it will be the average on Dominion rd that will be unprotected down the centre of a road with multiple intersections and stops.

        11. Except once again you’re completely wrong. The Gold Coast LRT system isn’t fenced, at least not for any part I’ve seen, and I’ve ridden on it. Even in the heaviest pedestrian areas it’s not fenced off – but in those it does have a lower speed limit of 30km/h. The station spacing also varies quite a bit, some are over 1km apart but others are only a few hundred metres.

        12. There is a bit where it runs next to the Gold Coast Highway that is fenced off, but it’s the highway that is fenced off not the LRT. Likewise there is a couple hundred metres by the hospital that is new off-street light railway, Those would be the equivalent of the airport section next to SH20 sure, but 90% if the route is in the middle of the street, kerb separated with a traffic lane each way next to it. And no fences. If there are no fences through the middle of Surfers Paradise I don’t see why Mt Roskill shops will need them.

        13. Matt there is a 4.9 km section from Broardwater Parklands station to 500 metre short of the North surfers paradise station that is fenced on one side from pedestrians and the other side from Gold coast Hway (feel free to look on google street view) where their LRVs would be able to run near their max speed (70kph as per G:links own specs) with no stops and no crossings. Take that section out and concentrate on North surfers paradise station to the end of the line (a section that more closely represents Queen st and Dominion rd (the route from Britomart to SH20) 18 minutes 7 stops as per G:link, 5.2km as per google maps and you have an average speed of 17.3kph. Throw that more realistic average speed back into the Britomart, Queen st, Dominion rd route 8km as per Google maps and you get just under 28 minutes to the Dominion rd SH20 on ramp.
          AT will then have you believe that the further 15 km to the airport with a further 6 (I think) stops in 15 minutes an average speed 60kph and as we are comparing the G:link units that have a top speed of 70kph (even with the units AT are apparently looking at has a top speed of around 100kph) makes this time frame a big ask.

          Feel free to check my figures if you wish Matt.

        14. Nick I have not said the Mt Roskill shops need to be fenced, I have only questioned the estimated average speed along Dominion rd and said slower speeds are required when not running in a protected corridor and Grant was the one that tried comparing the G:link saying the average speed 23 kph would apply to Dominion rd where if our system could average 23kph the whole 23km to the airport (G:link 13km total, 4.9 km no stops fully separated max speed possible, 16 stops average speed 23kph) it takes 1 hour not 43 minutes.

        15. Feel free to check your figures, Ok

          To start with it is only 2.45km from North Surfers to Broadwater so right from the start your numbers are wrong. Further, as Nick mentions, it’s fenced because it’s next to the highway but pretty much the rest of the LRT is right in the middle of the road and no fences.

          The section south of North Surfers mostly has a 30km/h limit, could certainly go faster if the limit was higher but also the station spacing is a little closer than what I understand AT are planning. Interestingly if you watch the video at about 1:10 it shows how long they expect LRT to take along the way. It shows it reaching the SH20 in about 25 minutes. Over the 7.9km distance that works out at an average of about 19km/h. Not unreasonable given compared to the gold coast it’s a straighter route, has wider station spacing and likely a higher speed limit. In fact it shows that AT’s planned speeds are entirely reasonable.

        16. Matt you are correct, I was a bit tied and asking google maps to give me a distance from point to point and didn’t check where is measured (it was giving a road distance and with various one ways and no turns it went on a big ticky tour). That section is actually irrelevant in the discussion with Grant, he wanted to compare the G:link system with a proposed Dominion rd system and the only section of G:link that is even remotely comparable to Dominion rd has and average speed of 13kph. Every time there is a LR post there is arguments about average speed on the Dominion rd section.

        17. Dominion Road proper is 4.8km long, from the flyover interchange at New North Rd to the southwestern motorway. North of there it’s the Ian McKinnnon expressway right to Queen St, south of there it’s separate light railway.

          So even if it is as slow as 13km/h on Dominion Rd that’s still only 21 minutes to go from end t end. However that’s about as slow as the current buses that have lots of stops and no functional priority at the lights.

          If it’s a bit faster at 18k/h then that’s only 16 minutes.

        18. No arguments their Nick, add in the time up Queen st at roughly another 2km at the same average speed (if it can mange that average on the hill) adds another 5 plus minutes add in the time (although it will be small as this will be the quickest part at a guess) around Ian McKinnnon from Queen st to Dominion rd and the time is getting that little bit closer to 30 minutes (give or take). Depending on how well the intersection priority works, the comparable part of G:link that has the 13kph average (Matt has pointed out the max speed in that section is 30kph but I can’t find anywhere else on G:link that compares to Dominion rd, other are comparable to Queen st but are flat unlike Queen st. Grant was the one that started with the comparison) has intersection priority and seven stops (remember Dominion rd is under control of the council (AT) that can’t allow traffic to flow through all the lights down Nelson st at the speed limit without stopping). The intersection priority may have the lights change for the LRV on approach (best case) or it may need the LRV to arrive first until we know how it will actually work and see it working it is one persons guess compared to anothers.
          I do stand by my opinion that while dominion rd may benefit from light rail it is not a sensible route to use for airport connectivity.

        19. Ted, the devil is in the detail. The “slow” bit of Queen St with lots of pedestrians and the like is actually only 950m long, from Customs St to Mayoral drive by the Town Hall. After that its basically a straight run over the next 2.5km to View Rd by Eden park, with only two sets of traffic lights in between.

          I reckon if you are leaving the Aotea area, the LRT will be at Balmoral by the time the Onehunga line has made it to Newmaket.

        20. wow, lot of reading catchup and been out so only came back to this bit of conversation about 1am last night, didn’t expect to cause so much havoc, but good to see that detail (the overall speed of the slow running sections) debated a bit which was my intention and also satisfy my own curiosity. I’m sure the faster LRT vehicles proposed for Auckland will well make up time alongside/on the motorway sections. If I get time or if someone wants to compare number of stops exactly with the Gold Coast bits that kind of match all of Queen St to SH20 sections would be interesting. As the others have said the straighter path of Auckland and less stops makes this timing quite possible in my mind. In any case, ideally I think if they could provide for HR (from Otahuhu) future proofing AND LRT via Onehunga it would be great in case things change (though I’m sure this is too idealistic to expect…).

  8. Hello TransportBlog

    It is possible for rail to connect to the Airport via Onehunga rail station. The trick would be to use a tram-train vehicle that is capable of running on the Auckland railway network in train mode, and then exit the rail alignment on to the road as a tram, continuing in LRT into Auckland airport. I believe some of these run in Germany and there is one being installed in Adelaide, Australia.

    Tram-Train operation does not seem to have been considered here, perhaps it should be.

    Kassel Tram Trains, Germany

    1. LRT would likely be built to standard guage, while our rail network is narrow guage so there would be a compatibility issues. Also as far as I can tell tram-trains are only really viable in a situation where there is an under utilised rail corridor so the trams can have a clear run under line of sight rules. On our rail network they would have to run to rail rules, which would require them to be built to heavy rail standards, which negates the tram-train benefits. Someone with more technical knowledge than me might be able to confirm/deny this.

    2. The current EMUs preform much like the LRVs that are somehow are cheaper to get to the airport than HR. HR to the airport does not need to be freight capable (like the CRL would not be able to take a 1000mtre long freight train) and as the EMUs can perform much like the proposed LRV (but with greater capacity and flexibility) surely HR would be the better option.

    3. LRT; there’s just no particular advantage in doing this and a great many problems to overcome by trying to, including, but not limited to; platform heights, crash weights required for railway use, and congestion on the existing network.

      I know it seems like a win/win but it isn’t really once you dig down into the details, frankly it would be better to just extend the current network if we want to run services on the current system to the Airport.

  9. There are advocates for LR and advocates for HR, and the two can argue about it until the cows come home. There are pros and cons to either option. However we’ve got to be pragmatic here and take into account how developments happen and infrastructure gets built. However much people might want some grand independent committee of experts to investigate the best solution and decide on behalf of Auckland what will happen, then instruct AT / Kiwirail / whoever to get on with it, that’s just not what happens.

    These things come about by organisations and politicians pursuing particular agendas and developing specific ideas, which may be flawed. These ideas get bashed around, changed, refined, until something sufficiently acceptable to decision makers gets approved and something gets built. Random selection rather than intelligent design.The art of the possible.

    So the decision here isn’t about whether we should have LR or HR to the airport, it’s about should we have LR (because that’s what AT is championing) or nothing. There isn’t an HR option on the table.

    1. There was a HR option on the table until NZTA and AT took it off.

      Oh year and as there is no current rail proposal to the shore from NZTA or AT we should all advocate a motorway tunnel under the harbour with bus lanes as that is better than nothing….

      1. The reason they even had to make the decision now and not closer to when it might be built is actually due to the airport company as they want to redevelop the area and need to know what is planned. Possibly also upfront costs too

        1. and the airport company can get on and build it to HR standards (since it will be for their benefit). LR can then use it if that ends up being the technology chosen. Keeps it future-proofed for when Auckland as always realises it’s short-sighted mistake and has to fix the problem by putting in HR (like how they had to add the clip-ons to the Harbour Bridge).

        2. Except that isn’t going to happen. Going that route means AT (ratepayers) then have to stump up to pay for it and likely fairly soon while the rest of the line isn’t built. Now sure we would love to see whole line built soon but there is so much that is needed

        3. Just make HR/LRT rail route a condition of any future airport resource constraint. That doesn’t cost AT rate payers anything.

        4. Exactly as Trundler says. Due to capacity constraints AKL isn’t allowed to expand any further without provision for HR being built. They would very quickly snap into line.

        5. I’m pretty annoyed at Auckland Airport for how they obstruct any plans to put rail there. is there any way we can hold up or block resource consent for their second runway/expansion if they don’t include heavy rail future proofing? Also we can just pay the upfront cost (how much is it?) for the heavy rail under the runway and put light rail through it if need be

          Everything about whats happened to rail to the airport annoys me. The Mangere SH20 bridge was built for rail, and then turns out it wasn’t. The Kirkbridge road trench doesn’t allow for heavy rail due to steep gradients. Then they remove the Neilson Street overbridge and the Airport sabotages it. We should get the road lobby back by NOT building a bridge over Neilson street and have barrier gates, and have the cars queue up to let the trains pass at street level. Let any rail bridge over Neilson street come from the roading budget

        6. The rail options from Onehunga did not even use the old rail freight corridor to the port that the Neilson st bridge goes over.

  10. I think it’s important if a LR network is built in conjunction with the existing HR network that it is designed so that a 2nd CRL can be built sometime in the future that is perpendicular rater than parallel to the (soon to be) existing CRL. I don’t see that in AT’s current plans.

  11. As several have mentioned, the Dominion Road part will totally change the character of Dom Road for better or worse. It will change from a secondary artery to a local street. Not sure where all the traffic is meant to go, that uses this artery between Balmoral and CBD, but it’s not going on Dom Rd any more. Seen this in another city with a similar sized street that used to have arterial function, after LRT down the middle the effective speed possible ([edit] for cars) is about 20 kmh. Not saying good or bad, but definitely major change.

      1. Sure I can picture it gone too – all those cars, just vanished! Like the artists’ conceptions of a new public space with 5 carefully chosen figures widely spaced. But it doesn’t happen that way. There will be some sort of flow on effects. In the city I mentioned, lots more traffic now uses a (new) bypass motorway and enters on another spoke. Does this mean that all traffic from Balmoral to CBD must now use Waterview? Was that planned for?

        I’m all for the LR in theory but the Dominion segment is definitely an optimistic idea.

        1. “But it doesn’t happen that way.”

          Yes it does, London reducing vehicle capacity for cycle lanes as a prime example.

          Also, traffic in the congested period is limited by intersection capacity, not travel speed so reducing maximum travel speed (through lane narrowing) won’t affect throughput.

        2. Traffic does, in fact, disappear. Traffic Engineers are taught, completely erroneously, that traffic is a liquid, and must flow like sewage, and that it is ordained to exist in permanent volumes, no matter what the available road or parking supply is like. Yet this is not the case, traffic in all its forms; vehicle, pedestrian, PT passenger, bike rider; is created by the space and attractions created for it. Induced.

          All of these forms of traffic are not nearly like liquid as they are like gas; expanding to fill the space allotted to them and contracting where it is less available; basically we get what ever we build for, cetrus paribus. 60 years of self-confirming vehicle only supply has lead to, surprise, 60 years of vehicle only growth. Now that we have belatedly started adding other options, surprise again, that traffic turns up too.

          In the same way that vehicle volumes have dropped on Queen St as a better balance in priority to other modes was applied there, ie longer more frequent pedestrian crossing cycles, so is it likely that drivers will choose say Sandringham Rd or to use the LR, or delay their trip or whatever.

          There is nothing god-given in the current vehicle volume on any street or road anywhere, that says it must be accommodated by that mode at that time for ever. Everything is subject to change and it is for us all to decide just how much space given over o any mode is optimal, and whether other options may be a better use of some of that space, including of course, non-movement uses. Cities are all about the economics, aesthetics, and ethics of space.

        3. I’m actually more interested in planning for the change that will occur. Feels like some people are trying to say you can just shoehorn the LR in without too much change to other patterns, and that’s not true.

          Good change should appear to just work but it’s not effortless.

          What’s the intended usage of the vehicle lanes? Are they meant to be for local use or arterial use (“traffic flow”) ?

          If they are supposed to be for arterial use it’s going to be a very unpleasant place for peds, especially without the parking, since parking does at least insulate footpath from traffic.

          What kind of retail is envisaged – currently there’s a mix of neighborhood and destination retail. How does arterial vs local traffic balance affect that?

          No street parking and also no bike lanes? so retail parking (as might perhaps be useful for destination retail) gets pushed onto side streets. Oh wait, I can’t turn right most places, either. More traffic on side streets.

          No bus traffic in local lanes? does that mean no PT at all except for the LR? how does that fit with LR as an essentially express service here?

          AT has a vision. It’s got potential, but it’s not very filled out. It’s not a plan yet, just a vision. In my opinion it’s a bit optimistic loading all the different types of people flow in this area onto the LR.

        4. @Charles.

          Interesting point about the buslanes. 90% of the bus traffic is replaced by LRT. LRT does the same journey the busses did, so no one is loosing out there. However in the new network the outer link was reinstated after consultation. So between valley and balmoral roads the outer link is going to be mixing it in the general traffic lanes. Dom Rd in the morning peak is pretty much stationary for the full length of that section. What is that going to do for outer link reliability / ridership?

      2. “It will go away, we get the traffic we build for.” Yup, my guess is it will either go to Tauranga or Hamilton.

        1. No they will all ditch their cars and use the LRT system as it will be so efficient in getting to the CBD, compared to what we have now

        2. Only if you want to go to the CBD, everyone else will still be in their cars on a further restricted transport corridor.

  12. I totally agree with all of Trundler’s comments on this post.
    The Transport Blog seem to have given up on impartial evidence and seem so very strongly focused on light rail to the airport, and focused on examples that support their view.
    This is what I have come to expect from other people / organisations and am surprised to see it here.
    That fact Heavy Rail keeps being supported by the readers of Transport Blog is because of our experiences in the past using light rail & heavy rail.
    The only benefit of light rail to the airport that I can see from Matt’s post’s is around cost – and I think a better long term solution is Heavy Rail, it’s about Opportunity Cost, importantly future proving Auckland public Transport and expanding and connecting to the heavy rail network.
    Auckland with a million people needs to have more heavy rail lines to bring people all together quickly and to ensure quick and easy transport around the city. Heavy Rail to the airport and to the North Shore are the 2 key next steps in the process after the CRL.
    Light rail is good for smaller areas such as the isthmus.

    1. We don’t just support it lightly and we are big supporters of basing decisions on evidence. As mentioned to trundler, not all info we know and that affects our position is public.

      One of the points of the post is that modern light rail is actually not all that different from heavy rail, just cheaper

      1. “modern light rail is actually not all that different from heavy rail, just cheaper”

        Just that the capacity of HR is far greater than LR (without joining multiple LRVs together thus removing all the perceived advantages) and is not significantly cheaper unless you are laying rails that can support freight trains that is not required for the CRL so why would it be required for any other routes that will only see metro passenger trains. The EMU fleet that AT have will perform as well as any current LRVs on the day to day operations with the added advantage of greater capacity and flexibility from the EMUs.

        When you need to duplicate the Wiri EMU depot for LRVs (in excess of $100M five years ago on cheap land at Wiri) how can LR really be as cheap as it is made out to be?

        1. That’s where you are wrong, heavy rail capacity is lower. Think about it, if you extend a HR line to the airport it will be at best one of four lines running through the CRL. Therefore it will be limited to one quarter the capacity of the CRL, which is something like eight trains an hour each way to start with and possibly twelve an hour each way at the very most. That’s 6 to 9,000 passengers per hour each way.

          Meanwhile, a new LRT line can easily operate at twenty, possibly thirty trains an hour. With about 500 people on board each one you get 10 to 15,000 passengers an hour.

          LRT wins hands down on capacity, unless you are spending another two or three billion bucks for a second CRL at the same time.

        2. 500 people on a LRV, you are joking aren’t you? In theory you will be able to connect up enough LRVs to carry 500 pax but it removes any advantages LR may have had if you do and makes it a pretty long vehicle causing many other issues.
          The CRL will be able to handle just over 30 TPH in both directions that is less than 2 minutes between trains, not that it will be required as the rest of the network will still be limited and 12TPH coming in to each end of the CRL means there is still CRL capacity at double that plus some once the capacity of the outer lines in increased.

        3. If there is demand for greater capacity on an HR airport line then a shuttle service can be introduced between the airport and Otahuhu/Puhinui bumping that 4TPH up to 6TPH. Sure it introduces the need to change there (although some people would be doing this anyway to go South etc). Of course the other option is to have them operate on a loop… 3TPH via the Eastern Line running anti-clockwise through the CRL and 3TPH through Mt Eden Southern Line clockwise through the CRL. Since Otahuhu is where the pinch point starts for the Southern Line this avoids that restriction (which Puhinui option would have).

        4. Not joking at all, that is what AT have proposed. Read the website FFS, all the information is there. Really I don’t see how you can argue against something if you don’t even understand what the proposal is.

          Light rail with 500 people or more is quite common, including in the likes of Seattle. I don’t see why you think those are especially long, or why length is a problem. There no longer than our EMUs.

          CRL won’t be able to handle 30tphpd unless you grade separate every junction on the network and upgrade all the trains to level 3 rolling block train control, i.e. very unlikely.

          Here is something to remember: they aren’t talking about trams.

        5. Nick Britomart tunnel currently handles 42TPH (21 in and 21 out) 30 currently go/come via Parnell/Newmarket and they don’t require grade separation at those junctions as at each end of the CRL there is only going to two ways to go (west or south at Mt Eden or east or south at Quay park) why would this tunnel that is costing billions not be able to handle more than the Britomart tunnel can now?

        6. Indeed 21 trains per hour per direction currently at Britomart and 15 on the Parnell branch. But you were talking about 30 trains per hour, which is 50% more again. Not sure what you’re arguing here, that because it can do 21 tphpd (on a short section of track, with funky bi di operation) that the CRL can automatically achieve half as much more again?

          Of course the CRL will do more than Britomart, because it will have double the number of tracks in and out…. but that only means it can do about double the number of trains.

        7. Nick they come through and don’t need to go back the way they came so 9 more per hour should be childs play or are we actually wasting billions of dollars to something we can do already?

        8. Bigted, if you think achieving 30tph reliably through a flat junction is “child’s play” you need to sell your expertise to major players like Network Rail in Britain, who need ATO to get 24tph through the Thameslink spine.

          Fortunately for we adults, nothing on a railway is “child’s play”!

        9. Mike some of the controllers can’t manage to get one in and one out of Manukau with two platforms, two lines and two crossovers so maybe it could be a challenge for them but anyone that can bring 21TPH in and 21TPH out the current tunnel should find 9 more through 2 entrances several Ks apart not be a problem at all. It will be some time before this is required due to the restrictions on other parts of the network.

        10. Ted are you really so daft or are you being obtuse? HINT: There is a difference between trains per hour in total, and trains per hour per direction. 30 tphpd = 60 tph in total.

          Let me spell it out.

          Britomart can currently handle 20 trains an hour, or 21 if you must. That’s 20 trains per hour per direction TO AND FROM A DEAD END TERMINAL (ahem).

          The CRL will handle 32 an hour total to start with and perhaps 48 in total with extra upgrades. That’s 16 to 24 per direction on a through tunnel, times two directions.

          If the airport was built as heavy rail it would be limited to about a quarter of the total capacity of the CRL, given there are three other lines, or in other words it’s maximum frequency is half of the one way capacity given there are two through routed pairs.

          Therefore the most you can run on the airport is 8 trains an hour per direction to start with, and perhaps up to 12 an hour each way with extra signalling upgrades.

        11. Yes Nick, 21TPH in each direction that need to cross over with the 21TPH going the other way (2 trains, 1 each way every every 2 minutes 51 seconds) so another nine each way that don’t need to cross on and off platforms as only two will be used (2 minute intervals), remember only those to and from the west need to cross those to and from the south need to cross at Mt Eden and only to and from Newmarket need to cross those to and from the east (less crossing trains than are dealt with now).

        12. Ok, so were clear then. Quay Park and Britomart is at capacity at 21 trains each way, so adding almost 50% more trains each way isn’t possible.

          Actually its about the same amount of trains crossing at Quay Park, it will be six an hour toward parnell that conflict. Same as today where it is six from Orakei that conflict.

        13. @Nick “Therefore limited to about a quarter of CRL capacity”. Why would we run 4 lines & terminate them in the CRL? Isn’t the point of the CRL to be a through running service pattern?
          If we had an Otahuhu to Airport HR branch, then the network would have terminating branch ends at – Swanson, Onehunga, Airport, Manukau and Papakura(or Pukekohe if we extend electrification/battery EMUs). One assumes with a through running service principle we’d have perhaps Swanson-Onehunga, Airport to Manukau, Papakura looping around the CRL and back onto itself? (If we built the Mt Roskill spur, that would even up the ends to 6).
          In any case, the capacity of the CRL with an Airport HR branch is likely to be a third of the total. So with 32 TPHPD (& 48 maximum TPHPD with maximal upgrades) we can get about 11 TPH to the airport @ 750 EMU capacity or 1000 at crush, 8,250 -11,000 pax per hour.
          At maximum throughput, 16 TPH gives 12,000-16,000.

        14. Bevan, couple of things.
          It’s not 32 (or 48) tph per direction, it’s 32 tph total. 32 into the CRL and the same 32 out again, through routed. I’m assuming they are all through running with no termination.

          Consider if you have five patterns line you suggest, that are five starters you need to run into the CRL as the inbound runs, with the same five starters continuing through and out the other side. So thats 32 trains an hour that can enter the CRL (i.e. 18 an hour in the Mt Eden end and out the Quay Park end, another 18 an hour in the Quay Park end and out the Mt Eden End) divided by five lines. Divide it how you like but its hard to get more than 8 an hour on any one line.

          Even with upgrades to 24 tphpd and 48 tph total, and only four lines, you’re still looking at 48/4 = 12 trains an hour per line at absolute best. The very best you could expect from airport heavy rail is a train every five minutes.

    2. Adam I have been a strong advocate of extending our current rail system through Mangere to the Airport. However when new information and possibilities arise surely all rational people will carefully consider those and weigh up their existing position in light of them. That is the case here. I still see the appeal, especially for the rail network itself, in an extension from Onehunga, (which in practice means Penrose) or Otahuhu (both have advantages and disadvantages) however on balance I now feel there are greater advantages in the LR proposal than in the HR ones, not that the advantages are either obvious or significantly greater, but are there. Here’s a quick, but not exhaustive, summary:

      1. Cost; however accurate the recent study is it is clear that LR will deliver far greater coverage for the capital cost.
      2. Related to the above: likely funding and likely earlier start date, ie there is simply more chance LR will happen IMO. Also the possibility that it could be financed earlier via a PPP.
      3. Access to stations in Mangere; all the talk about the Airport misses the Mangere section, and LR offers more stations, one more in residential Mangere and one more in the business zone. These are really useful.
      4. Real possibility of extension east; Puhinui, MC, Botany [which leads to a reinforcement of the core role for existing rail system]
      5. Profound improvement to place in Queen St, Dom, Rd, and Onehunga.
      6. Real possibility that this system can then be extended across the harbour to Takapuna and up the busway, considerable accelerating a viable Rail to Shore scenario.
      7. Lastly the realisation that the our current two track rail system is fragile and limited, and, something that had just not occurred to me before, that rather than trying to squeeze more out of it than it can handle, adding complementary additional rail systems to the city is likely to be better and necessary, while also refining and improving our current system.

      1. There is no real reason why the HR option can’t have stops that give the same coverage as the LR option even via Otahuhu it can have the Favona station that for some reason can only happen under the LR option, the Otahuhu HR option does rule out a Mangere bridge station but in reality how many other parts of Auckland get left out and are further from a station than that and it is still close to any proposed Favona station or even Onehunga (their only current option).

        HR via Otahuhu can easily have stations at Favona, Mangere town centre and airport oaks, the airport shopping district is not really necessary given it’s proximity to the airport terminals, for some reason AT think only the LR option can have these stops (and still be as quick as the HR option).

        1. They actually explain the reasoning behind this in the SMART report, I suggest you read the document.

  13. So we are going over this again but this time comparing Auckland (Dominion rd) with another city that is nothing like it, the Seattle example shows LRVs running down the centre of roads that are wide enough for the LR plus two traffic lanes each way and turning lanes. Dominion Rd in its busiest places is currently only four lanes 2 traffic lanes and two bus lanes (parking of peak, a little wider at major intersections after the removal of properties around the road) but somehow there is room to run two lanes of LR down the middle without grid locking the area (gridlock that will effect the LRVs as they to must cross intersection just like the rest of the traffic. Somehow this will get someone from Britomart to the airport nearly as quick as the HR option (HR that has a dedicated corridor).

    If we are going to constantly compare Auckland to other cities that have LR can you actually use a city like Auckland. Dominion Rd is not wide enough to run two lanes of LR down the centre, very few current roads in Auckland are. LR if it is to be built needs a dedicated corridor but if you do that you may as well just build a HR metro corridor.

    I’m not anti LR just anti the crap we are being feed on it, like price without thinking about (or pricing) of the extras that the network will need but already exist for the HR option. The Wiri EMU depot cost just over $100M 5 years ago on cheap land at Wiri, any LR option will need a duplicate of this that doesn’t have the advantage of cheap Wiri land and as it won’t be built for many more years yet the cost even of just the land required could end up exceeding the total cost of Wiri depot.

    1. No. Dominion Rd is currently one mixed traffic lane plus one parking/temporary buslane each way. With LR it will be one general traffic lane and one LR lane each with no on-street parking and no buses in general traffic. Therefore with LR driving on Dom Rd will be significantly smoother than now, with no vehicles coming in and out of parking and no buses travelling or pulling in and out of stops. And no reduction in lanes.

      Your anti-LR argument is entirely circular; you are simply saying it needs a separate RoW because a separate RoW is needed. Yet as the Seattle example above shows the ability to run in a variety of RoWs is exactly the point of LR. You are just trying to define LR out of existence by claiming its must be like HR.

      Land for the depot is already secured by SH20.

      1. LR will need a dedicated corridor, building even on a median strip (something Dominion rd doesn’t have the space for) has it still mixing with traffic. If At want to play with an addition mode at least give rail (all rail) dedicated corridors and leave it to buses if you want a road based system. Don’t BS the costs comparisons even with the so called land (that you say they have, at what cost?) there is still well in excess of $100M before the project gets started and that doesn’t move one single commuter.

        1. ‘building even on a median strip (something Dominion rd doesn’t have the space for)’

          Why do you just make up nonsense like this? Or do you have trouble counting?

        2. The majority of Dominion rd is four lanes (without the ability to widen that through the busiest areas, that also happen to be the places stops will be required) two transport lanes (to be replaced by LR) two bus lanes/parking off peak (to be replaced by transport lanes) the platforms need to be at least 3 metres wide (losing one of the two remaining transport lanes if stops are built in places that are likely to be required), at every intersection they need to cross with other traffic. So yes I can count but it appears you can’t read and understand or don’t want to as rail needs a dedicated corridor to operate safely and efficiently. Dominion rd doesn’t even remotely resemble any of the overseas roads in cities that keep getting used as an argument as to why LR will work safely on Dominion rd.

        3. So we are back to your circular argument that concludes that Light Rail doesn’t exist. We get that you like totally grade separated rail, but that doesn’t mean that other degrees of separation aren’t real or viable. You are simply saying a cat is no good because it isn’t a dog. That is clearly true, but it is also no yardstick by which to measure the quality of a cat.

        4. You don’t seem to be counting. Dominion road has room for 4 lanes of traffic (plus a centre lane for much of it)

          Typically today it is: PMMP
          Or during peak: BMMP

          P = parking, M = Car/mixed traffic, B = bus, T= train

          With light rail it will be: MTTM

          with no parking and no bus lanes.

    2. The problem is nobody has photos of LR on anything like Dominion Road. The goal will be to shoehorn it in without widening so it will be the narrowest median island that fits two tracks, one narrow traffic lane either side of that with no additional turning lanes, no cycle lanes and apparently it will be fast enough to operate as more than a local service. Good luck with that.

      1. Well one area of street design that I’ve long thought we should take from the US [only one mind] is the way they are willing to ban cross traffic turns in urban streets. Left hand turns for them, right hand for us. And clearly this will be the case here. Other than at the big intersections that the traffic engineers have already supersized, like Dom/Balmoral Rd, there will be very limited turning across the tracks, I’m assuming. So if you like traffic flow, then Dom Rd with LR is more likely to provide it.

        1. “Other than at the big intersections that the traffic engineers have already supersized, like Dom/Balmoral Rd, there will be very limited turning across the tracks”

          The idea being to give the LRVs a clear run. But, this is a suburban road with residential houses all along it. Pedestrians crossing the road, and dwelling on the LRT median to await cars to go past will be common, and will be the same impediment to LRVs as turning vehicles. And, considering the high levels of pedestrian activity at the various village centres along the way, and generally moderate pedestrian activity along the rest of the route, you are most certainly looking at either fencing off the tracks and restricting pedestrians to pedestrian crossings, or slowing the LRVs to a speed that is pedestrian-friendly.

          The choice would appear to be between slow transit time (much slower than AT have stated), or community division. This should have been sorted before, not after, choosing between LRT or HR for the airport (too late apparently).

        2. Perhaps the LR should be elevated along Dominion Rd hence retaining the current village centres with little change to pedestrian crossing and vehicle turning traffic, we could even keep some busses.

        3. Cars won’t be allowed on the Geoff. Look at the pictures, the LRT tracks will be kerb off from traffic. So this means no left turns between intersections, which would make it like Pakuranga Rd, great north Rd, wolverton st, Rata st etc.

      2. Actually AT does, they actually have a picture of Dom Road, where they have added the LRT into the picture. Have a copy but don’t know how to link.

  14. I’m still yet to see anyone challenge the times AT claim on any empirical basis, people just say the don’t believe them. This is called confirmation bias.

    1. What “empirical” evidence is there Sailor Boy? BTW I just love it when people use the word empirical to make their statement sound like it is a whole lot smarter than it is, that is called Pleonasm.
      How easy would it be for any average Joe on this blog to gather evidence on something that doesn’t even exist? – I would say it would be very difficult and expensive.
      What people do know for a fact is that LR has a slower maximum speed than our EMUs. They also know that for most of this route the maximum permitted speed for LR will be 50km/h (even in it’s own lanes on Dom Rd it will still be limited to 50km/h). LR will have more stops, over a longer distance with slower vehicles (and despite it’s own lanes on Dom Rd will still have to go through intersections and will almost certainly have collisions with cars etc).
      What AT are doing is cognitive distortion by their focusing on the positive aspects of LR while ignoring the negatives of it and at the same time focusing on the negatives of HR and not seeing the positives it provides.

      1. Empirical would be to look at the route and calculate a sensible travel time for light rail (even back of the envelope will do) and show that it is worse than Light Rail. Rather than just complaining that AT have done that process wrong, show that they have done it wrong because, having done that myself, I think that if anything AT are being pessimistic about light rail on this corridor..

    2. Um if it’s not built, and it wasn’t there last time I used Dominion Road, then how the hell can anyone show empirical or a posteriori knowlege of how fast it is?

        1. I imagine signal priority and a continuous dedicated lane, rather than the bus lanes that disappear at the major choke point – intersections, would definitely make it quicker than today’s buses, how much quicker I’m not sure.

        2. It’s not rocket science. No traffic on the LRT lanes ever, no stopping at traffic lights because of priority, widely spaced station stops. Fast dwell times from level boarding, multiple doors and platform stops. It’s very simple to work out how long it will take a train to run down a straight line slowing to stop at the stations then acellerate again. A fourth form physics student could work out the travel time.

        3. No traffic if you frustrated drivers don’t end up queued across the lines with LRVs every 2 minutes from each direction being prioritized doesn’t leave much time for all the other traffic to cross at intersections and pedestrians wandering around on the tracks.

        4. Actually light rail every two minutes leaves exactly as much time as there is now, as the intersections already cycle every two minutes or thereabouts. If the light rail is running up the middle of Dominion Rd then that already gets about half the signal time anyway, as north south traffic is already prioritised.

          Is ‘frustrated drivers’ queuing across the intersections and blocking Dominion Rd a problem currently? Do they do this and block all the traffic and buses? If so then a few red light cameras will sort that out, you don’t have to wait for light rail to stop people driving badly.

        5. Does that still apply with your LRVs that carry 500 pax? These would be in-excess of 150 metres long (a 6 car EMU being being 144 metres long)?

        6. Incorrect they would carry 460 people each, 2 x 33m LRV’s. Altrom are building them right now for the Sydney LRT rolling out in 2019, so it is feasible.

        7. They’re 66m long Ted, like it says in this very blog post. Did you read the post before you started commenting?! Seriously this is getting tiresome, you’re moaning and arguing about things that you are making up yourself, even when the correct information is right there.

        8. So let me get this right Nick, a 3 car EMU 72 metres long will carry 234 seated plus another 100ish standing (330ish pax) but a 66 metre long LRV will carry 500 pax?

          Quoted by Nick R
          Nick R
          August 10, 2016 at 1:45 pm
          Meanwhile, a new LRT line can easily operate at twenty, possibly thirty trains an hour. With about 500 people on board each one you get 10 to 15,000 passengers an hour.

          Nick R
          August 10, 2016 at 3:21 pm
          Light rail with 500 people or more is quite common, including in the likes of Seattle. I don’t see why you think those are especially long, or why length is a problem. There no longer than our EMUs.

          So carry 500 pax in an EMU it needs to be a 6 car (144 mtres long) and even that has some standing but you can somehow get more than 500 pax in a 66mtre long LRV and that is even “quite common”?

          Care to dig your hole any bigger?

        9. Correct, 500 people would be a crush load but a 66m LRV can carry 450 in comfort.

          This is what runs in Seattle, has been bought for Sydney and is planned for Auckand. Maybe look it up rather than spout bullshit? It’s not like these are secret figures, they’re written in the blog post above for a start, or on each of the respective agencies websites, including the AT webpage on light rail.

        10. NIck I still can’t see how you fit 500 pax, “450 in comfort” into a LRV that is 6 metres shorter than a 3 car EMU that has a crush capacity of about 340. Those using it as an airport service would also have luggage, do the just stick that on the roof?

          It looks like someone is either making stuff up or they are so biased toward LR that they are producing misleading information to support their argument.

        11. It’s because the EMUs have poor space efficiency and are focused on seating. One seat takes up the space for three or for standees, so you don’t have to reduce seating capacity by much to massively increase capacity.
          LRVs have a lot more focus on standing capacity and circulation room. See here for the Sydney spec, the manufacturers actually claim 338 people in 32.9m of length, which would be 676 people with a double consist. Presumably that is an absolute max chockers load however.

        12. Ok Nick so we are going to sell this as an airport option but then tell people ‘you don’t have space for your luggage and you need to stand for well in excess of 45 minutes, I can just see the public lining up to get out of their cars.

        13. It’s a bit feeble to claim LR has higher capacity than HR, when the case is actually that vehicles with no seats have higher capacity than vehicles with seats, the mode is irrelevant. AT/NZTA have loaded the dice by configuring HR with more seats than LR. You could just as easily do a comparison of LR with lots of seats vs HR with few seats, and conclude HR is the better options as it can fit more people.

        14. “Ok Nick so we are going to sell this as an airport option but then tell people ‘you don’t have space for your luggage and you need to stand for well in excess of 45 minutes, I can just see the public lining up to get out of their cars.”

          Therein lies the problem with LR. To make it’s capacity numbers stack up they have to remove seats (which is fine for an urban route a la Dom Rd). Standing for 45 minutes with baggage heading out to the airport however is not a good PT experience (especially when there will potentially be a lot of other people jammed in).

          I have said multiple times that I have no problem with LR on the isthmus (Dom Rd, etc) but I do however think it is a shortsighted penny pinching approach for airport rail!

        15. With an LRV every five minutes you still get 1,800 seats an hour. Which is more seats than an EMU every ten minutes despite the EMU at half the service levels costing more to run. Its not that they remove seats to provide capacity, its that they end up have the same amount of seats but far more extra capacity. If you are going to the airport at the end of the line you’ll have plenty of seats available. If you are making an 11 minute trip from Balmoral to downtown then maybe you have to stand at peak times.

          Lots more space on an LRV for luggage than an AM EMU. LRVs have totally level floors, totally level boarding, wide open vestibules and open circulation in the aisles. EMUs have non level platforms, steps up or down, and few places to leave luggage without blocking everyone else.

        16. Holes in logic, here is a hole in yours why don’t you look at the Alstom 33m Citadis X05 design specs before shooting your mouth off on something you clearly know nothing about.

          You clearly haven’t read the SMART documents, nor know anything about Modern LRV Specs, which is fine, but to come on and speak on the matter in such ignorance like your truth is gospel is like going to a Harry Potter quiz night when you haven’t seen the movies/books then complaining to the judge that the answer is wrong because feel the answer should be different.

          I would advise you to read the documents, most which are public, read about some LRV specs, and re-join the debate then.

  15. Having used the Seattle LRT system to/from the Airport in Feb this year.
    I’d add these points:
    1. Cash fare was about $4 something each way from the airport to [the then terminus] Westlake Station. This was peak fare both times.Took about 40-45 minutes end to end.

    2. LRT vehicles are visually like our EMUS but an older design, but with a very poor internal layout, it uses the same “bus style” seat layout as AT does on the EMUs, but the trains themselves have smallish carriages with the articulated sections having large “closet” areas that protrude into the interior that hold the electrics or air con or something making the cabins feel cramped and not “open”. certainly didn’t feel overly safe as the lines of passive survellience fo rother passengers wasn’t that great. So I wouldn’t fell comfortable alone on it at night. And I’m a guy.

    3. Bikes are allowed, but have to share the “cubby holes” reserved for folks luggage on a first come first served based. Maybe 2 bikes per carriage at best.

    4. LRT vehicle Speed was good – easily keeping up with cars on the adjacent roads, so was doing at least 55mph [~95kph] on long stretches.

    5. The system goes fully underground ala CRL from about Stadium station to Westlake so no mixing on the streets with cars/buses there. Don’t know beyond there as it had not opened yet when I was there.

    6. Some parts of it have huge “up and over” bridges/viaducts like what is proposed for the airport line, these are massive bulky structures built to motorway-style standard, not svelte little rail bridges like we get shown in all the videos here. So won’t be nice to be under them e.g. if in Onehunga. Don’t know who is right – AT/NZTA or the Seattle system builders. Suspect the Seattle folks have over-engineered it – but only a little bit.

  16. I still think I’m pretty open minded about HR vs LRT on this. The information Matt L & team now has that can’t be public would be interesting to know and is obviously convincing towards the LRT option. I think Ben Ross has a good point about HR connections to South & East, but this is more of a medium term issue if Botany line is done.
    Challenges for HR for me from the previous debates are:
    1. Cost & less certain technical/cost problems with doing HR terminal under the airport.
    2. LRT probably better access/flexibility right in close at airport end?
    3. LRT is not a short sighted solution as it provides network resilience and likely most/all future expansion of network around the city will be this system anyway albeit with not compatible systems as well. It’s all about the transfers.
    4. A useful frequent running pattern with HR without huge expense could be problematic, especially if the existing HR network really wants to go frequent.

    ps In the video/screen shot, looks like another elevated track of some sort, I’m picking a cycle/shared path to the old bridge?

  17. If HR went via Otahuhu, could there not be (post CRL) some services from the city that ran semi-fast from city to Otahuhu via Tamaki? Might need 3rd main from Glen Panmure to Westfield. That would surely kick-ass over LRT? 43mins to airport is a long time, when compared to Sydney for example.

    1. An extra main would not be required that far, just from the Westfield junction to the airport branch after Otahuhu for when the addition of the southern trains (12TPH through that section already during peak) but yes it will still kick LR in the ass time wise.

    2. Why not by transfer though? You are stuck in car-shaped thinking: That you must take your vehicle with you where ever you go…. just slipping between high frequency dedicated services is going to give everyone more and quicker options to more places than a jumble of lower frequency one seat one vehicle routes.

      1. You keep saying that the HR solution is anti-transfering, but HR from Otahuhu is all about a solution that is great for people transferring for people coming from the south (or West on Henderson-Otahuhu service). For people from south of Westfield, transferring at Penrose and then Onehunga to get to airport is not the opposite of “car thinking”, it is something that nobody will do!

        The HR solution is about making the most of the HR asset we already have. Also wasn’t one of the reasons for the CRL to support growth of the rail network such as airport line?

        1. “For people from south of Westfield, transferring at Penrose and then Onehunga to get to airport is not the opposite of “car thinking”, it is something that nobody will do!”

          Quite right, no one will do that; they will transfer at Papatoetoe to a bus service either through to the airport or with a Mangere transfer, it would be half an hour quicker than Penrose and you’d have to be a right numpty to even think about going via Penrose. Eventually, of course, people from the south will transfer at Puhinui on the Botany line that we will could build with a fraction the leftover money that we won’t spend on HR to the airport.

        2. There won’t be any money left over to be used on the Botany line, I think you will be surprised when you find out how much your beloved LR actually is and it won;t be a pleasant surprise.

        3. Harriet as the rails don’t need to be built to freight specs the costs of laying tracks would in the real world be very similar for HR and LR, HR only at worst 12km (Onehunga option) to less than 10km (Otahuhu option) and only 7km (Puhinui option) granted the Puhinui option doesn’t include Mangere and is solely an airport link. The EMU fleet actually perform much like the proposed LRVs and can operate on gradients that wouldn’t be normal for HR corridors (due to freight trains) you just need to look at the gradients in the CRL. LR is just over 13km just to get to Onehunga with completely new technology that has zero support infrastructure.

        4. Whether freight uses it or not is irrelevant, if it interlines with the existing heavy rail network and the trains have to run in the CRL then it fulls under the full requirements of the railways act, has to meet all of Kiwirails specifications, and has to be interoperable with the AM units, if not use them directly.

          The EMU fleet is limited to 3.5% grade for example, and they are especially powerful trains designed for the CRL. LRT can do 6% easily, or as much as 10% if you specify more powerful vehicles.

        5. Ok Nick so your LRV with 500 pax is going to out pull an EMU up a wet slope, best you do some real research and stop just repeating misleading info supplied by someone that lies in their dark room fantasizing about LR all night.

        6. You’re getting a little nasty and desperate sounding there Ted. Perhaps you should take your own advice and go do a little research on the topic. Yes light rail has substantially better traction abilities than Auckland heavy rail. Not least because an AM three car unit weighs four times as much as a 30m LRV, and has fewer powered bogies. Here is a LRT spec sheet I found with two seconds googling, it clearly states 7% grades, 25m curve radius, 30m vehicle lengths and 241 passengers at crush load. Go ask anyone who knows anything about what the AMs are capable of, and compare the abilities. You’ll find they have a limit of 3.5% grades, 90m curve radius, 75m vehicle lengths and 375 passengers.

          FYI, I am a professional public transport planner, researching rail systems and designing rail networks is literally my full time job. If you have any actual evidence that anything I’m saying here is “misleading dark room fantasy” then please do post it. If that is true then I would need to take that information to my clients immediately and put a hold on a number of projects.

        7. Nick R
          AM units are NOT limited to 3.5% grade. That may be what they were specified for as-a-minimum, but their actual capability is likely to be much greater.

          90m radius curve – yes. Although they might physically be able to negotiate curves sharper than this, problems with increased rail- and wheel-wear start to make themselves felt. However it should be noted that trains are deliberately speed-restricted around curves for reasons of ‘passenger-comfort’, long before safety-issues become of concern. If LRVs are to negotiate tight-curves faster (as buses do) then it will be at the expense of passenger comfort. We could speed up the EMUs around curves, but. . .

          Likewise with EMU versus LRV capacity. Sure, we could remove half the seats from the EMUs and mimic the “LRV-effect”, but would this really be desirable?

          Seems to me, with LR we are surreptitiously being asked to accept an inferior and less-comfortable product, but with none of its advocates prepared to actual come out and say as much.

        8. Its not just seating configurations Dave, you can spec LRT with all seated if you like.

          The fundmental issue is that HR would be one of four lines sharing the CRL, so 25% of the capacity of that stretch of double track. Meanwhile LR would be an entirely new line and could use 100% the capacity of that new double track line.

          It would be a struggle to get even 12 trains an hour on the HR line as an extension of the existing network, but with a new LRT line 20 or 30 an hour is perfectly possible.

        9. @ Nick R

          The thinking prior to NZTA/AT scotching airport Heavy Rail, was that the Airport line would simply be an extension of the Onehunga Line, which, when the CRL is open, would have no problem contributing a 6tph Airport service.

          If Otahuhu became the branch-point for heavy rail to the airport and that was in addition to the Onehunga service, then yes, there would be more train-movements overall through the CRL.

          However regarding CRL capacity, 30tph per-direction is perfectly possible, provided not too many trains use the Quay Park – Newmarket line because the flat junctions at either end of this is where the main conflicts will occur (unless thought is given to grade-separating them). But this section will become less important once the CRL is operating. I don’t think the CRL is likely to reach capacity for quite some time (even with airport rail), unless there is a major and unexpected shift away from road transport.

        10. Dave AT appear to be planning a Henderson to Otahuhu direct service (not via the CRL) after the CRL is complete so those could easily continue to the airport via Otahuhu.

        11. Doesn’t need to use much CRL capacity as you can alternate the trains clockwise and anti-clockwise thought the CRL with one going to Otahuhu via Eastern Line and the other going via Southern Line. 6TPH total but only 3TPH in each direction.

  18. I personally don’t care whether it is heavy rail or light rail or trams or tram-trains – as an out-of-towner, all I want is for something to be built as soon as possible, and be as fast and smooth and well-connected as possible, so I don’t have to put up with getting caught in Auckland’s bullshit traffic jams. The city is just ridiculous!

    But what I really want to know is – seeing as Dominion Road runs north-south, and the LRT is planned to travel at ground level, then what is planned to cope with the crossings at all the east-west traffic junctions? Are there any places planned where east-west traffic can sail happily under or over Dom Rd light rail (thereby speeding both rail and east-west car flows up)? Or are all the junctions proposed to be signalised junctions, with ensuing risks of traffic-jammed cars blocking tracks, trams blocking intersections, bicycles getting stuck in tracks and falling over on the tracks and getting sliced in two, pedestrians “skipping across” in front of trains etc etc. There probably needs to be a minimum of two non-conflict intersections for the Light Rail proposal to have any realistic chance of working, i.e. Balmoral Road and Mount Albert Road for starters. Any details on this?

    1. It goes under K Rd, but otherwise LR has signal priority at level intersections. But you must remember it replaces all buses on Dom, and the big LRVs have 10 x the capacity of a bus so this means there are many fewer LR movements to replace and extend this bus capacity. Drivers will hardly be adversely impacted, outside of having fewer opportunities for turning right.

  19. I hope they come up with a good connection option with the western line, from the video it looks like it comes close but terminates at Sandringham. It’d be a shame to have to travel all the way to town from say New Lynn or Henderson to get to the airport…

    1. Yes this is an issue in my view; AT have a New Lynn-Onehunga-Otahuhu line on their RTN map, though what that is I can only assume is bus?

      Alternatively going from Mt Roskill LR Station to Owairaka, Mt Albert, Unitec, Pt Chev [NW line], looks like a crosstown connection winner to me….

    2. Yes it would be nice if the Avondale Sandringham HR spur was in place at the same time as the Dom Rd to Airport LR. Just one change for New Lynn to Airport.

      1. Two changes actually as it would be very unlikely you would be able to go from New Lynn to Sandringham without changing trains once just like those coming from the south must change to go to Manukau or Onehunga as those lines run to and from the CBD.

  20. When further thought is applied to this line; would not the best possible outcome for AKL be to put an LRT line that runs directly from the airport to Botany with a full interchange in Otahuhu that would allow passengers to move from one line to the other in all directions. This would also act as the prime link from the Botany area to the heavy rail corridor and could remove the need for the AMETI bus lanes from Pakaranga to Botany; so that capital expenditure could be used to fund this line. It would be fully segregated so should allow for faster journey times without having to go through Dominion Road.

    This negates the need for the harbour crossing with associated expense, allows for movements of people in all directions and provides another means of transport to the East to improve road congestion in this area; all for a cost that could be less than the proposals put forward here.

    1. Stop making sense Gary but be prepared for the attacks to come your way for coming up with something new, for some reason they have something against the via Otahuhu option. This is the first I’ve heard of someone with LR from Otahuhu as an option but I like it far more than the Dominion rd disaster in the making or the Puhinui option, I had been in favor of HR via Otahuhu but could get to like a LR option that also includes Botany.

    2. Why would you build an LRT line from Botany to Otahuhu and avoid connecting the rest of the that part of Auckland. Going via Manukau connects those two areas up (both of which are meant to be Metro Centres). Even remotely feasible routes seem to be longer than the via Manukau option and would be slower as would involve many more intersections and corners, not to mention likely require the purchase of many residential and commercial properties.

      The suggested LRT route from Botany via Manukau then completes the circuit and people from south or east can catch that or transfer to it at Puhinui for a quick journey to the airport.

      1. Think about it Matt; you have the connection between Botany and Manukau with this proposal, one stop connection through Otahuhu from LRT to HRT, also to all other points that the HRT connects to. This proposal puts the LRT line through East Tamaki which is where a lot of the work force wants to get too and from giving a more valuable outcome than what you are suggesting. The LRT network could also be extended to Howick and/or Flat Bush in the future to extend its reach into the suburbs if required.

        You seem to be fixated on what is put in front of you and cannot think outside the square to get alternative resolutions.

        1. I have thought about it and even looked to see what possible route are you suggesting and found it quite difficult to connect those places logically, at least not without expensive property purchase and bridges. By all means draw it on a map for us and post a link. To help out I’ve even quickly chucked this together showing a straight line between the destinations.

          Yes East Tamaki is important, about 20,000 people work there but that’s spread over a large area and not that big in the overall scale of things, especially when you consider there are almost 700,000 jobs in the overall region.

        2. Gary what you’ve described is a possible bus route; when laying tracks it’s best to take as straight a line as possible, not wander around to visit every possible attraction on the way. So airport to existing rail/ major centres east? Surely its Puhinui, Man City, Botany… Otahuhu is becoming a very important rail and bus interchange, but then those same trains can be reached more directly at Puhinui, so I can’t see the advantage in taking a longer fixed route that way.

        3. Patrick, what on earth are you talking about, I am talking about a 16 km route not 25 km as proposed that is more direct and straighter than is current proposed. Here is the e-mail sent; could you please post the pictures sent with it as i cannot, so others can judge for thereselves:
          Hi Matt,

          In reply to the proposal of LTR from the Airport to Otahuhu to Botany I have attached the following 3 images that I am unable to publish on the site for some reason. I know there are challenges to be overcome with this route and this is only the first cut that would need to be refined but I believe that it is workable considering that the alternative that is currently proposed goes from Onehunga – Airport – Manukau -Botany; a distance of approx. 25km instead of 16 km in this proposal. Both routes have their challenges to be overcome.

          This proposal has one major waterway to cross where the current route has two; one motorway crossing instead of two and both would cross the main rail line at some point. This route would use existing road corridors for much of the route similar to what is proposed but some land purchases would need to be made depending on how segregated you wish it to be, and certain portions would need to be elevated.

          I would also question whether the current corridor along Puhinui Road to the airport is wide enough to fit the proposed LTR link and an extra 2 vehicle lanes that will be required in the future, without significant land purchases on this route as well? The current underpass under state highway 20 does not allow for this link meaning an expensive rebuild or elevated section? Extra bridging over state highway 1 required?

          Note the following:
          • Line would be elevated to go over Favona creek, industrial area and main trunk line where the Otahuhu station would be located above the current station.
          • LTR would run down Station and Avenue Roads in Otahuhu with a possible split in tracks in the town centre area where roads are narrower. Some of this would need to be elevated at each end.
          • Elevated crossing over Tamaki Estuary and motorway should be about the same length as the proposed Manukau Crossing.
          • LTR travels down centre of Highbrook Drive, Allens Road, Smales Road and Te Irirangi Drive to Botany. All of these roads appear to be wide enough to have LTR in the middle using existing corridor width without major land purchases required?

          Both have pros and cons, but I don’t think this should be ruled out just yet. Remember I believe this could also eliminate the need for bus lanes from Botany to Pakaranga (as the LTR would carry Botany passengers to the HRT and on to the city instead) and that capital expenditure would be eliminated from the current planned budget.


        4. Gary, just briefly it needs to be pointed out that no route or system between Botany and the southern line will replace the need for a similar one between Pakuranga and Panmure. All people deserve choice and these are two entirely different directions. Nor can the cost of an elevated rail system be covered by not adding some bus lanes elsewhere.

          I agree there is a good case for connecting Otahuhu Station to the Airport, and that could be done directly with an elevated extension of our current rail system. So much so I wrote the post about it:

          But that doesn’t mean I am not unaware of the disadvantages too. These include; the impact on local community, the fact that it doesn’t pick up other parts of Mangere, the cost, and the integration of HR at the airport (in the SMART study).

          The fact remains that all options have advantages and disadvantages, so it is a question of balance, it is currently my view that AT’s LR proposal has some significant advantages that aren’t met by other options. However it remains a shame that the opportunity for improving the network balance in extending current rail system is not one of them. I just feel this disappointment is outweighed by other advantages, particularly around cost (and therefore likelihood of it happening at all), and coverage for many many more people and places.

          Additionally my longer range picture for Auckland now includes two extremely efficient and focussed rail passenger systems, interconnecting, yet separate, working in a more resilient and complementary way. And that second system is most likely to be LR. We are on the way to building a potential truely great city with both these systems.

  21. Views of a street that has similar width to Dominion Rd with LR down the middle: Route de Vannes, Nantes France,+Nantes,+France/@47.2357912,-1.5858129

    The street view really doesn’t spark joy. Having been there in person, I’d say that is fair.

    The Nantes Tramway is regarded as a big success btw.

    I am actually pro the LR proposal on balance, but it is going to impose huge change on the amenity around Dominion Road.

    1. That doesn’t look pretty, or pedestrian or cycle friendly. It would be good to see if it carries the same amount of vehicles per day as Dominion rd as it doesn’t look capable.

      1. Agree on the footpaths/parking, but I think the lane widths are about right.

        My point is Dominion is not a 50m wide boulevard and it’s disingenuous to show those Australian or Seattle images as “what it’s like.”

        Just so long as AT understand the actual parameters. It will be a local street with a 30K speed limit, no parking, more difficult delivery access, no bike lanes, much lower traffic capacity.

        I continue to think their projections for Dominion are well to the optimistic end of what’s theoretically possible, and they are loading the entire success of the network onto these optimistic projections.

        As a side issue, it will load more general traffic onto Sandringham/New North and Mt Eden, which can ill absorb it. (Actually those streets might get LR too, so don’t count on them being useful for general traffic either).

        1. Charles you r point about delivery is important, but if you actually look at the condition of Dom Rd you’ll discover it has huge amounts of access and parking in what in other cities would be called access lanes, parallel back block routes. This may need some work, but it’s all workable. Seattle provides a good model, not exactly the same but nowhere is… cities all do fall to pattern, yet all are specific.

  22. I’m certainly open to LRT, but there are indeed big questions to be asked, including the question of what will happen if LRT in general does not proceed. The airport LRT proposal has jumped the gun, and assumed LRT from the city will be built, but that is not yet confirmed. LRT to the airport is a big project dependent upon another big project. Heavy rail from Wiri on the other hand is a cheaper and straight forward route across greenfields, with better connections to the people who actually go to the airport.

    Another issue is that in the New Zealand context, with our rules and regulations around rail safety, a dedicated off-road rail corridor is going to be treated as a railway. Simple curbs are not going to be deemed adequate for Dominion Rd. The tracks will need to be fenced off, and the rail tracks will be a no-go zone for pedestrians. So, will the community want to be divided with a Berlin Wall? The only alternative would be to operate the line under tram running rules, which means essentially that the LRT’s will need to be driven in a manner that responds to the presence of pedestrians crossing the tracks, and that means, with relatively heavy 66m vehicles, keeping their speed down. Especially when passing through the village centres along the line, where pedestrian activity will be high.

    There is good reason to question AT’s suggested travel times. They are either underestimated, or based upon the Berlin Wall concept, which may not get past any public consultation phase. Communities don’t generally like to be divided like that.

    1. Yes I’d say the “what happens if LRT on Dominion Rd doesn’t go ahead” is a valid risk.

      Why would we need to fence off the corridor on Dominion Rd. Are we different from all of the other countries in the world, including Australia? Hell we even have it at Wynyard (albeit slow).

        1. It’s illegal to be on the railway tracks, and they are largely fenced off.

          If you read my post again, you’ll see that tram-style operation would enable the tracks to be available for pedestrians, but as I said, that will mean trams slowing, and if necessary, stopping, for pedestrians. It will be a slower environment, especially when passing through the villages. AT’s times are not realistic unless you fence off the tracks and make them a no-go zone. NZTA will insist upon this if AT want the LRT’s to travel at speed, and not have to give way to pedestrians.

          Rail safety legislation does not allow for pedestrians on rail tracks other than at designated crossing locations, or if the tracks are used by rail vehicles that adhere to road rules, including safe operation around pedestrians just like any other road vehicle (which the Wynyard and Christchurch trams do).

        2. The light rail will operate under the specific light rail provisions of the railways act that specifically excludes LRT from many of the constraints on heavy rail. See section 80 for example.

          Under the act light rail can run in the road corridor, has priority over other vehicles, does not have to stop for pedestrians, and does not have to be fenced.

          Light rail will run just like buses on Diminion Rd, at full speed and not required to stop for pedestrians.

        3. Ok Nick so as they don’t have to stop for pedestrians does that give them the right to mow them down when they are wandering on the tracks?

        4. No, none of cars, buses, trucks, trams or trains have the right to mow people down.

          I must ask who all these people standing around in LRT lanes are, do these same people stand around in the dominion Rd bus lanes? Or is it the traffic lanes?

        5. “tram-style operation would enable the tracks to be available for pedestrians” – Why? In every country I have been to with trams, trams have priority over pedestrians (as I found out when almost run down by one in Amsterdam when I looked the wrong way). It may be that trams should stop for pedestrians on the street (just like a car or bicycle should) but that doesn’t mean it is a legal requirement.

        6. Nick these people will be crossing more often, currently to catch a bus you walk along the footpath to the bus stop and get on, LR runs down the centre requiring more crossing of the traffic so it would be perfectly reasonable to find pedestrians standing on the LR corridor waiting for a gap in traffic of in the road corridor waiting for the LRV to pass.

        7. Centre running does not require more pedestrian crossing. Currently heading into town, i cross half the road to the central median, then cross the second half, to the other side of the road, then get on the bus. Heading home i don’t cross anything. With centre running i cross half the road in the morning, and the same half in the evening. Exactly two half crossings in either case.

        8. Note also how people shopping around in a town centre often have to cross Dominion Road somehow. I happen to like Asian food so I’m in Balmoral every once in a while, and that is a relatively narrow stretch with a lot of shops and restaurants. What will the cross-section over there look like?

          And since we mentioned the speed limit, I think we really should have a 30 kph speed limit in those town centres.

    2. There is actually an easy solution for this, just like double deckers we would create a regulations regarding it. I am pretty sure you will find close to no one in Parliament given a funded LRT system who wouldn’t create new/differing regulations for this matter.

      Remember we have WQ Tram and the Tram in CC, regulators are obviously not panicking about track access regarding them or they wouldn’t exist.

      1. Harriet what speed do those trams rum at? No where near fast enough to run to the airport in just over 40 minutes with a over dozen stops.

      2. There is already new and special legislation for this, the railways act was modified in 2005 with a range of special provisions for light rail.

      3. “Remember we have WQ Tram and the Tram in CC”

        But they are 30km/h and required to be driven like any other road vehicle, including slowing or stopping for anyone in the way. That’s my point – if people are allowed on the tracks along Dominion Rd, then that’s how the LRVs will be operated. Just like the trams you mention. Imagine a dark and rainy day, or even at night, with people crossing the tracks or dwelling on them when trying to cross the road. The regular interaction between LRVs and pedestrians is going to slow them significantly, especially in the village centres.

        Is that what we want, if we want a timely service to the airport? If AT’s vision is for 66 metre LRVs whizzing along at a consistent 50km/h meeting the desired schedule, then fences will be necessary to give them a clear path. IMO, it willl be required in the safety case, if indeed they want it to be a dedicated corridor for LRVs.

  23. I also trust that AT will protect the Southdown-Avondale Railway designation, and that KiwiRail will not be asked to hand it over along any portion of its route. That is a national network strategic route, and essential for any future upgrade of the North Auckland Line.

  24. What is light rail “the best” solution all of a sudden?

    I remember visiting this site a few years back and both author and comments were very *for* a natural extension to the onehunga line to the airport.

    secondly…I thought that the new mangere bridge is future proofed so you can put a heavy rail line up the middle….(not sure, havn’t been over the bridge)

    (please don’t tell me they built it (2008) without heavy rail in mind??)

    whats more a *spur* of heavy rail across the airport terminal on the roadward side could continue on to mangere town centre….and then a link with the southern line again!

    an awesome and obvious solution.

    light rail raises far more questions than answers…and there will be huge opposition to it if it’s close to raods like dominion rd.

    1. Yes and back then we did believe extending the Onehunga line was the best option but we’re open to new evidence and that has helped us change out mind. As for the bridge, yes it was built to take rail but not in a way that was in any way useful (only space for a single track limited to about 25km/h).

      And no, light rail doesn’t close Dominion Rd, it replaces the space taken by the bus lanes

      1. ‘It replaces the space taken by bus lanes’

        ..and the rest
        It leaves just one mixed traffic lane either side of the LRT which means all on street parking is no longer available. Just perfect for all those retail outlets, dairies, fast food places etc, that probably have a portion, maybe significant, of their business from passing traffic on short time street parking
        Major restrictions on right turning traffic or traffic crossing from minor roads
        If LRT speeds are not pedestrian friendly then likely the LRT will be fenced preventing any pedestrian access to other side of Dom Rd unless at widely separated crossings probably at LRT stops.
        Villages effectively cut in half by LRT corridor

        1. There is no fencing requirement; the LVs will be subject to road rules, limited to 50kph on Dom, or whatever the speed limit there is or becomes; do we fence arterials that have huge unguided freight trucks travelling at 80kph or more?

          It seems the rail buffs just can’t get their heads around what LR is: Yes it is rail system, no it is not totally grade separate, no this isn’t a flaw; this is its defining feature.

          This mixture enables some of the best features of a passenger rail system [capacity, spatial economy, frequency, legibility, permanence] combined with unparalleled access to where people are and want to go, and all without the massive costs and intervention that total grade separation requires in cities [underground, elevation]. Yes it is an urban hybrid and probably an uncomfortable idea if your rail ideal is freight systems which of course are best as entirely separate worlds.

          It maybe an innovation now for AKL, but it is common all over the world, it works. And yes the details are important, especially how separate it can run from traffic, to balance that speed/access conflict, but what is publicly available from AT on this proposal looks like pretty much best practice; own RoW in middle of Dom and Queen, fully separate almost everywhere else, a bit of street running in Onehunga…

          No fences down the length of public streets.

        2. Patrick if you go back to the comment by Jono the mention of fences was in relation to the speed, IF it was fenced it would be capable of speeds maybe even up to what is required to reach the travel times AT have supplied or the non fenced option requires slower speeds making the travel time that AT spouts nothing more than a pipe dream.

        3. “It seems the rail buffs just can’t get their heads around what LR is”

          An odd comment, but not at all surprising coming from you.

          I suggest you familiarize yourself with the relevant legislation in New Zealand. It does not make any distinction between trains, trams, or light rail. LR will be governed by the same legislation as HR, and will require a rail license and safety case under the same framework as all other rail operators in New Zealand.

        4. Patrick you are inadvertently highlighting the ridiculous safety-mismatch that occurs between rail and road in general, and perhaps unwittingly justifying ‘unprotected’ LRT as a way round this.

          Heavy rail has not become ring-fenced with onerous safety-requirements without reason. However the tragedy is that all the good work done in making rail *extremely safe* is forever being undermined by the slackness which goes on on the roads.

          Indeed, to be consistent then we definitely should “. . fence arterials that have huge unguided freight trucks travelling at 80kph or more”. It is illogical, absurd and duplicitous that we don’t. So don’t snigger at it.

          With the safety-element becoming ever more paramount in whatever we do or build, it is only a matter of belated time before road transport is forced to clean up its act. And this will very likely mean that NO, You can’t run LRV’s at 50Km/h on an unfenced median down the middle of a residential street.

        5. I hear what you are saying Dave, and do agree that all kinds of vehicle speeds need reducing, but I really do disagree about the likelihood of fences for median running LR. It really is no different than randomly piloted motor vehicles, quieter than some yes, but on an entirely course, and much more certain to stick to the speed limit, so therefore already safer.

        6. ” And this will very likely mean that NO, You can’t run LRV’s at 50Km/h on an unfenced median down the middle of a residential street.”

          Disagree, this will very likely mean that only guided vehicles with highly trained drivers and frequent safety maintenance will be allowed to travel at 50km/h down the middle of a residential street. Cars on the other hand, being far more dangerous than LRT will not.

        7. Yes, but already we have the paradoxical situation that a heavy rail corridor is now recognised as a legally-prohibited place. No-go for pedestrians except at formal level-crossings. Even if you are legitimately there for work-purposes, you are required to be at least 5 metres clear of the track when a train passes. Contrast this with a main road where the footpath (if there is one) might mean 50-tonne trucks at 90Km/h pass within 1-2m of pedestrians, and cyclists get 1.5m clearance if they are lucky.

          So what is safe?, and what is not?, and why do we insist on greater precautions for a rail-corridor where things behave much more predictably, than on a road where they most definitely do not?

          Very true that an unfenced Light Rail line will be safer than the average highway, but given what has happened to heavy rail corridors in the name of safety, I think it would be reasonable to assume that the same could happen to light rail. Or that it will become heavily speed-restricted in a pedestrian environment.

          Wellington’s “Golden Mile” is now a 30Km/hr zone, principally because pedestrians kept getting hit by buses. Suburban village centres likewise are being restricted to 30Km/hr. I think we can expect to see more of this not less as time goes on. The day may come when higher-speeds are only permitted on restricted highways or motorways. (Or protected rail-corridors)

        8. Like I said Nick, legislation does not make a distinction between rail modes. There is only one Railways Act. There is also only one Rail License. Be it trains, trams, or light rail, they are all governed by the same act, and all require a Rail License.

        9. Wasn’t disputing the need for a license, just pointing out that the requirements to get that license are different (in some cases vastly so) within the text of the act. Specifically about half of it says “this does not apply to light rail”, to oversimplify.

  25. Just coming back to this thread today, there seem to be some people that REALLY hate light rail. It’s interesting and strange that it stirs such passion. I suspect some people must have vested interests in relation to their job etc. Or maybe mikeleeitis is contagious.

    1. Nick it is not that there hate of light rail it is just hate of misleading info about LR comparisons with HR. The introduction of a new (new to New Zealand) rail technology that will be the magic bullet is just plain crap. You have those telling you a 66 metre long LRV (that is two 33 metre LRVs coupled together so four cap areas in that combination) will somehow carry half as many pax again as a 72 metre long EMU (that only has a cab at each end, no intermediates like a double LRV) and that it will out pull an EMU. There are so many more totally unbelievable statements (unbelievable for those that operate in the real world) that are repeated as if they were facts.

      1. Ted. This is getting very childish from you. Please read the user guidelines. Particularly the one about evidence and links. If you are to comment so often and with such certainty you are going to have to bring actual evidence with your claims. Your anonymous reckons are simply insufficient:

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        1. Patrick I did type out a long reply to your comment but for some reason it is not showing up so I will start again but a lot shorter as I can’t be bothered retyping it.

          There is a so called professional public transport planner that has been changing the specs of LRVs every time he is challenged on one part, I would hope this is not typical of the volunteers that run this blog in their spare time or all the good work you are trying to do will be in vane if you become a group that can’t be taken seriously and have to opposite effect you are trying for.

          Auckland needs better overall integrated transport solutions and they don’t only revolve around PT, PT has been underfunded for too long but so have many other sectors to then waste the limited funds available while also trying to steal funds from other high need projects to spend on wonderful fantasy projects is irresponsible and as short-sighted as some past transport projects have been found to be.

        2. He didn’t change the specs once actually, and we linked you actual LRV specs from manufacturers in which after you then try to move the convo, you also avoid every time we ask if you have even read the SMART report because you keep asking questions answered in it.

        3. Harriet yes the specs were read and that is why the questions got asked to get the ‘self proclaimed professional’ (no offence to the person referred to) to accurately compare the two rail modes. 500 ‘easily’, ‘routinely’, ‘all the time’ or what ever other terms were used is very different where we finally got at 241 ‘at the crush’ per unit (66 metre LRV is two units) 482 ‘at the crush’, compared to a 3EMU that seats 234, can comfortably stand another 100 and has a ‘at the crush’ capacity of around 400 (there are routinely up to 800pax on a 6EMU for special events between Eden Park and Britomart).

    2. Nick, for me it is not a dislike for LRT. I think this is the perfect solution for the Isthmus and the inner North shore, however for longer distances, when you have HR network so close to the airport, it makes far less sense. There may be some here that don’t like LRT, but please don’t paint us all with the same brush. Some of us are just concerned that we smell a rat with some of the promises being made around suitability and speed of the service, while ignoring other opportunities such as semi-fast HR services which could be so much better for the airport and still also serve a large area of housing currently not served by mass transport (if HR taken from Otahuhu).

      If speed isn’t such a consideration, and we should all be encouraged to connect between services/modes, then I would ask what the timing to the airport would be like with a decent priority bus from Papatoetoe meeting every train service from the city. Surely that would be close to 43mins from Britomart for far less cost.

    3. Nick, People just don’t want to see another short-sighted “solution” foisted on Auckland (like the harbour bridge built with only 4 lanes and no rail capability, like the Strand Train Station not being in the city centre, etc). We have witnessed the rejuvenation of rail in Auckland and have finally got the CRL being built and now they don’t want to captilise on this with airport HR but want to build a LR line along a busy street to the airport instead? A line that doesn’t even serve most of the airport workers (who live South and East mostly), let alone any future rail service to Hamilton or Tauranga?
      Even West Auckland proper and the North Shore are disadvantaged by LR (at least until it has multiple lines connecting with a Roskill HR spur) – North Shore by the slow LR trip up Queen St, West by not just transferring to an HR Airport train at Mt Eden so having to travel into K Rd and walking to LR then back again on LR.

      1. Bruce, a quick note on the harbour bridge. It cost less overall to build a four lane bridge and widen it to eight lanes ten years later, than it would have cost for them to borrow more money up front to build the planned six lane bridge in the first place. They saved not only the initial extra capital but also ten years of interest payments on the extra amount, the total savings being more than the clip ons cost to build.

        So actually, we ended up with an eight lane bridge for cheaper than a six lane one.

        People like to use the harbour bridge as an example of poor foresight, but actually its an example of very prudent infrastructure investment!

        1. The *only* reason that is true for the AHB is because the technology used for the clipons is not the same as the base bridge.
          AND the base bridge was built as 4 lanes but the bridge footings and butresses were designed and built to carry 8 lanes [well 6 lanes plus PT] from the get go.

          So that meant the option of much cheaper [new fangled] box girder construction was even possible.

          If the original bridge hadn’t been built to carry 8 lanes on a heavier bridge design the extra 4 clipon lanes would have cost a lot more than the savings made by deferring the purchase.

          So be careful when you compare options that you are comparing apples with apples.

          And also note, the clips on have had several sets of remedial repairs made to them to deal with design flaws of that design, which should be considered as part of the cost of that option.
          As even though these issues weren’t foreseen, the cheaper clipon option invariably had some real trade offs and required a different maintenance regime than the original “centre lanes” did.

          I’d say that the clipons are like KiwiRail going for cheaper Chinese locos – initially the overall price seems a lot lower so why not? – but after 25 years the price advantage has vanished because of the downstream consequences of the inferior design.

          And in a NZ context we have a habit of taking the cheapest option and not even allowing for the ability to add more lanes on to the original design.

          Mangere bridge was a classic example – designed for 4 lanes,but to add more lanes required a whole second 4 lane bridge be built.

        2. As well as being able to use box girders the design loads were reduced changed. Early in my career one of the guys involved told me the clip-ons were designed for regular traffic including loaded trucks but the original bridge was designed for nose to tail columns of main battle tanks. Part of the cold war thinking.

        3. Also just pre-computer calculate-a-number and double it engineering standards; Sydney Harbour Bridge is massively over engineered. And lovely. Unlike our sad version.

        4. Nick, that is the first I have heard that and I find it very hard to believe especially considering the high rates of inflation at the time (maybe it was cheaper in 1969 dollars but not in 1959 dollars). Also if it had have been built larger in the first place it likely would have been build with pedestrian and maybe even rail provision. Further the clip-ons have needed extensive work over the years to strengthen them at considerable cost.

          – Edit: Greg beat me to it!

  26. Gosh, great post till it all started to get ugly over the last hour or two.
    IMO – in favour of light rail – whole new patronage base due to fundamental different corridors operational characteristics away from our heavy rail network, a way to add those 3rd and 4th, or should that be 4th and 5th tracks that we need to boost capacity of our isthmus/south rapid transit network. I like the potential connectivity with a North Shore light rail line added to the busway. I also like that at worst case we can run light rail over the harbour bridge while waiting for the tunnel to be built.

    The big risk for me is that Dominion Road corridor. There is a long history of various bus/light rail priority options being proposed and soundly rejected by the local communities there. The Transport Blog authors should be painfully aware after the Unitary Plan saga on the potential for well organised local lobby groups to hobble regional plans. I think there are some valid concerns raised over the physical design of the light rail tracks along Dominion Road required to achieve desired outcomes.

    For that reason, I think foolish not to retain at minimum a fall-back heavy rail option. Onehunga is now gone, so the options are via Otahuhu or Puhinui. In time both heavy and light rail modes may find complimentary roles serving the airport. In short – happy for light rail to be the first choice pending confirmed resolution of Dominion Road. Traffic engineers and planners, I would start modelling and designing with urgency.

  27. Ted. Ha challenged, yeah right. You’ve yet to present a single piece of evidence, fact, example or even logic to support your ‘challenges’. Yes specs for LRT can change because there are dozens of vehicle types and suppliers you can chose from. If you want a 114m long double consist that can hold 1000 people, Alstrom will build you one. If you want a 20m unit that seats 100, you can order one of those too. AT have said they plan to order 66m pairs that hold 450, just like Sydney has ordered.

    1. Que what? Post mis-placed? Certainly not ‘challenging’ the rolling stock in my post above yours.
      I just want to see how those clever clogs make Dominion Road work, having hopefully been allocated real budget to produce real live fair dinkum corka plans 😉

        1. No worries bro. Yes, the rolling stock are very much just the widgets in this sort of thing. The design is all about the integration into the urban fabric and traffic planning. Do AT have detailed drawings and cross sections on how Light Rail will work down Dominion Rd in a manner and form which supports their timetable speed ambitions?

          The politics may be about selling the regional benefits (transport link and huge urban rejuvenation) with a story that is attractive, clear and loud enough to the region…..hopefully this then reduces the impact of the inevitable local noise when the local dairy gets told that granny and grandpa smith can’t park right outside their dairy anymore….though they can catch the tram there!

          Win the region over with a demonstrable vision and then you’re in a much better space to combat the various usual recalcitrant senior roading engineers and treasury bureaucrats.

        2. Yes, AT have done full corridor designs, operating plans and business cases for the options. They wouldn’t have make a decision without that information.

  28. Wow. 232 comments so far. Wish I had time to read them all and comment, though it seems like Bruce, Trundler and a few others have stated the case as well if not more-capably than I could.

    That is what I like about this blog. It allows for ‘robust debate’. And no, the blog’s main contributors are not always right, but they do allow us to tell them so!

    1. Cheers Dave B. Yes it can be quite hard to read through it all sometimes with different conversations heading off in multiple directions and a lot to read through!

  29. One argument worth considering:
    Lots of people say “take PT because you can take a seat, read a book, relax” – but if the light rail is standing room only – then those benefits don’t accrue.

    What are you supposed to do for 45 minutes standing up? Listen to music?

    I always feel grumpy when I don’t get a seat on the bus home, as I always have a book to read.

    1. Consider what proportion of the trip the carriages are actually likely to be full to standing though. Almost no one will stand for 45 minutes unless they go CBD to airport on the busiest through trip of the year.

      1. Passengers with bags getting on in the CBD will be beaten to the seats by commuters who don’t have bags to drag on. Since they will be the one’s travelling the entire distance – standing won’t be much fun! They will likely be able to get a seat after perhaps Onehunga. Compare that to HR where they are likely to have a seat for the entire journey.
        Even commuters don’t enjoy standing for long periods (especially since the stops will be further spread out on LR vs buses).

        1. And why would it be different with HR? Commuters are still going to take seats that people hauling luggage might miss out on, except with HR its even harder to get on the train in the first place given the steps, low number of doors, narrow vestibules and aisles etc.

        2. It is different on HR since there are far more seats (both in numbers and as a proportion of capacity) on HR than LR.
          I can’t remember the exact number of seats etc for both modes but say that 1/2 the capacity on HR is seated while only 1/4 of a lower total capacity is seated on LR… Simple maths means you are more likely to get a seat on HR than on LR.

        3. There is plenty of room in the centre T car where the bicycles, wheelchairs and mobility scooters go, it is also level with the platform.

        4. It’s worth noting that by the time airport rail is implemented (HR or LR) the HR network may well be a lot more metro-like than it is now, with sideways facing rather than forward facing seats. Either way this will ultimately be a commuter line that terminates at the airport.

    2. I don’t think anyone will be standing for the full 45 minutes as most rapid transit only tend to be full for some of the journey. However, I think your point is still very valid, if there is going to be a relatively low percentage of seating, then a lot of people will have a significant journey, maybe 20-30 mins standing, which isn’t that appealing.

    3. Light rail isn’t standing room only, with the same sort of operating costs its got more seats than buses and about the same as heavy rail… it just has a hell of a lot more standing room too.

      Nobody would stand for 45 minutes, unless you are suggesting that everyone on the whole line is all allways going to the airport and nobody uses any other station.

      1. You can’t have it both ways Nick… either it is seat heavy or mostly standing room only if you want capacity. Compared to a DD bus it will have less seats but more standing capacity. Compared to HR it will have less seating and lower total capacity but will have more standing room (which is fine for short trips but isn’t much fun over longer journeys).

        1. As someone who has travelled a fair bit, almost entirely car less, standing for 20 minutes with a bag (Britomart to Mt Roskill for LRT) is not challenging at all. Most of the world over people who struggle to stand get given seats by able bodied passengers and this is even more true if they have baggage/children.

        2. You can Bruce, because with a new LRT line you can run two or three times as many trains as you would running airport HR through the CRL. Consider this:

          Six-car EMUs at 8 per hour (Auckland AM class) @ 230 seats + 143 standing each = 1,840 seats and 1,144 standees per hour (2,984 passengers per hour total).

          66m LRVs at 20 per hour (doubled Melbourne E class as an example) @128 seats + 292 standing each = 2,560 seats and 5,840 standees per hour (8,400 passengers total).

          So light rail has 40% more seating capacity, and three times the total capacity.

          And before anyone asks, the cost to operate 20 LRVs and hour will be about the same as 8 EMUs an hour, and likewise the cost of buying the fleet will be about the same, because HR is a lot more expensive to buy and run.

          In each case you might get a bit more frequency, but the comparison stays the same. With HR you could eventually stretch to 12 trains an hour, but likewise with LRT you could also stretch to 30 LRVs and hour.

        3. 2,984 passengers per hour total sounds like only a tiny capacity for a rail line. That’s barely more than the capacity of a single highway lane for cars.

        4. roeland it is just under 6000 pax per hour running at 8TPH (6 car EMUs), to run more than that becomes a stretch for the network but is probably more than enough anyway.

        5. 20 LRVs per hour and maybe up to 30?
          Is this frequency in each direction?
          I can just envisage the effect on Dominion Road especially where traffic lights control cross traffic flow and LRVs have priority. Would there ever be any chance of other vehicles moving in peak traffic times?

        6. lets assume it’s 30 each way, so that’s 30 heading into town in the morning peak hour, or one every two minutes. Given traffic signals currently change every two minutes, I don’t see a reduction in cross town throughput there. I guess the opposite direction could not have signal priority and just queue if it gets a red. In the afternoon the signal priority would reverse to trams heading out of town.

          One every two minutes is about the same as the current bus frequency on peak. The timetabled busses are a bit less than every 2 mins, but in experience they come more like every 1-2 mins, at least north of mt albert rd where some extra on-peak services start their run.

        7. That sort of makes sense if there is a morning and evening peak in different directions but from earlier posts it appears airport arrivals are significant in the morning peak times so perhaps similar passenger numbers in both directions.
          One direction queueing at traffic lights? Is that feasible for any rail type corridor and could there be LRV bunching on Dominion Rd = LRV congestion

        8. Nick the figures for 8TPH 6-Car EMU is actually 3680 seated and 2288 standing giving a total of 5968 per hour in a much more comfortable configuration.

        9. Yep sorry got that wrong, was using the 3-car figures instead of doubling it for 6-car figures.

          Regardless I think the point still stands that the higher frequency of vehicle with a new LRT line, as opposed to HR that is effectively a branch of the CRL, can deliver a lot of seats, and a lot of capacity. Looks like it works out to somewhat fewer seats, but one and a half times the overall capacity.

          Although that is using a standard Melbourne tram as the example. It might be that AT decide to procure light rail vehicles with more seats and more focus on longer trips. That would increase the seating capacity at the expense over overall capacity, but you still perform at least as well as the HR extension.

        10. A critical issue that the LR sceptics seem to miss here is that this system will be additional to the post CRL current system. So with it we get both sets of capacities, and additional rail catchments. Nick’s point is that every new branch or extension to the current system must squeeze through the two track network and pinch points of the current system. And while this will be bigger post CRL it is still limited.

          Building the LR system, or any other separate additional system, like a Light Metro say, enables our current system to grow frequencies and capacity on its current, or rather post CRL, routes.

          More is more, basically.

          It is certainly my view that we will need an additional rail network to complement the current one to service SW, the Shore, and SE and NW too. Some here seem to start from an assumption that must be better to extend the current system than to add to it. It seems clear to me that is shortsighted thinking and will mean hitting service level limits earlier than necessary.

          There is nothing about this thinking that involves an abandonment of the current reborn system, or its downgrading, quite the reverse in fact, as every new area served by high quality Transit grows use everywhere else too.

    4. For people with two hands, reading a novel whilst standing on PT is not a problem. Reading a paper can get a bit challenging as you have to let go to turn the pages. At crush capacity, getting a seat is the only way you are going to read, but you can fit quite allot of standees in before it gets impossible to find room for your book.

      Additionally it will be very rare to have to stand a the whole way. At the moment the buses at peak leave CBD at capacity, but by the time you hit Balmoral you’ll often be sitting.

  30. Yes..i made those comments yesterday regarding light rail..but i’m certainly no*against* or *hate* the idea at all.

    Light rail is absolutely fantastic…look at melbourne or those european cities or sanfran or portland…

    It seems to me that light rail seems a great swap for buses..particularly in places where buses may seem inappropriate.

    i’m certainly open to the idea of light rail…of course trams ran up many roads like the Dom back in the fifties.

    but since the “already good enuff” bus infrastructure is already there…why waste money duplicating it?

    (I’ve always dreamed of a cool LOOP for CBD ..Krd..victoria..past the uni…along part of queen..britomart…then to ponsonby krd again..for a tram)

    I just think it’s advantages don’t outweigh the advantages HR brings to the table in terms of connecting the whole network.

    for example…let’s say you are an airport worker who lives in pakuranga…in an HR network I can drive (or walk,bus whatever)

    to the nearest park n ride station..and then get the scheduled train straight to the terminal!…

    same thing if i lived out west.

    LR up dominion rd seems to assume we all want to go CBD after getting off a plane..and this could be nothing further from the truth
    in terms of true PT networks that really work….unless of course your proposing a whole new +more+ LR network too.

    I mean…look at melbourne…is their a tram to tullamarine? a train? ..

    in our part of the world eg perth, sydney….from the google maps i’ve been looking at HR to the airport is the go.

    but again…lets focus on auckland…and AKL we already have multiple modes happening with ferries and buses..LR would give us the “grand slam”…is this really necessary..particularly considering we already have enough issues with mode changes.

    ON to some MAIN POINTS.

    A) people want COLD, HARD evidence HR to the airport is NOT Doable…and why not.

    Once we have ONENEWS with a story of having at least 2 independent reports stating HR has been *properly looked at* and
    that there are Serious obstacles to it happening.

    it seems many posters here feel that HR hasn’t been fully considered before being shuffled away and suddenly LR is thrown at us.

    BTW..I’m fully for a total independent report on LR to the airport too…but surely the default should be HR first particularly when u are building a $2b + CRL
    which…last time I checked…was HR.

    B)assuming an HR is built.. the whole deal regarding how “often” the train runs is a red herring…you could reduce the amounts of trains going up the southern line eg past papatoe…between say 10am and 3pm..and increase the amount of trains going manakau-airport-onehunga-back onto the southern line…during the day. after all..people
    are generally already at work during that time but the Airport is crazy busy during this time.
    secondly….timetable anyway….

    C) HR means jump laptop…listen to Pink Floyd’s “Sheep” ..whatvea….LR could mean Gropers. LOL… LR is less relaxing than HR

    D) the HR to the Shore flaw has HUGE MERIT,,,but u could do LR there…a mode change is ok if coming over the harbour possibly..i mean many people take the bus or ferry

    E) otherwise just leave the shore as is…y does the city hav to expand that way anyway? i think out west is beta.

    it’s great there has been so much discussion on this….but I really want AT to look at all options..because i’m scared if they throw at thier weight behind
    LR (beta that than nothing) …but then 5 years later then say that “now LR is too expensive and hassle in mt eden)..then we’ll really get nothing at all.

    ( a little bit like the Stadium debate when Eden park propaganda took over and Carlaw park was sidelined)

  31. Can the moderators please start deleting comments from BigTed and Geoff Blackmore repeating arguments without any supporting evidence, despite being provided with evidence to the contrary?

        1. Stop trying to be the censor nazi Sailor Boy. Just because others don’t agree with your particular view of the world doesn’t mean you are right and they are wrong or that they should be censored. This is a blog with a comment forum for people to put forward their views. It is not a University with a requirement for people to constantly provide references for everything. Some people are so sensitive these days.

        2. Of the small number of posts I’ve made here, they have mostly been about a different aspect each time, or elaborating on a reply. Like I said, you’re responsible for what you choose to read. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. I haven’t breached any guidelines.

        3. Sailor boy as I have not read all of Geoff’s comments I would not know what he has or has not said already, like I think he would not have read mine. I have had some heated debates with Geoff on some other forums and definitely don’t see eye to eye with him on many things. Having a preference to HR to the airport is not unique to the two of us.
          I have seen plenty of related information that I can’t repeat here (also the reason I don’t use my real name, having got in trouble in the past for my opinion being seen as my employers opinion), Matt himself has also said there is stuff Transport blog have access to information that is not in the public domain that sways opinions.

        4. As a recent arrival to this blog I was surprised to read there was info not made public that made this ‘secret info’ a support plank to somehow validate LR to the airport
          This lack of transparency certainly does not encourage support for an LR over a possible HR or HR/bus link to airport
          So Matt, please reveal this crucial info and give the rest of us the opportunity to arrive at the same conclusions you have regarding LR to airport (or Dominion Road LR) or whatever..

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