AT have now put the SMART study documents on their site, here. There’s a lot to review there and this post is not a look at the whole report and its conclusions, but rather is a response to the problem of the length of time this project is likely to take whatever mode is selected.

All of the proposals in the report are capital intensive, without any currently identified funding source, and the timing of the RT route looks likely to be complicated by the Airport’s development plans, particularly those for the second runway, so there is a good case for looking at interim improvements for Airport/RTN interconnection while these bigger decisions are being resolved. I am focussing on the airport because of its fast growth is clearly a major generator of increased traffic congestion for the whole Mangere area.

First some background from the report. Just setting aside travellers for a moment, what about the workforce at and around the Airport, what are their current patterns?:

AIRPORT Commuter movements

So we can see in the above data from the 2013 census that the key connection for workers is east to Manukau area, followed by that to the centre. Furthermore that employee movement is still quite peaky, despite the airport itself obviously being a 24 hour operation:

Airport worker arrivals

So what opportunities are there for a quick and relatively low cost connection between the Airport and the current RTN, particularly with the above information in mind, that could be built while the full Mangere/Airport RT route is being developed, whatever the mode? RTN 2016 AirportThe first and obvious point is that there is already, right now, great service on the spine of the Southern Line relatively close to the Airport, particularly to the City Centre, but also south and across to Manukau City. Where the red and blue lines overlap there are services every five minutes at peak. So there seems to be a clear opportunity to improve connection east from the Airport for its own catchment while that also will connect, via the rail system, the City Centre and anyone who can access a train station.

Currently the connection between rail system and the Airport is very poor, as anyone -like me- who has used it will tell you.

New Network South

The 380 via Papatoetoe station is not a viable option because of three problems [the longer and slower route to Onehunga is even worse, as well leading to an equally low frequency train]:

  • Low frequency: 1/2 hourly service
  • Slow route; the 380 has no priority on its route so therefore is subject to both delay and unreliability caused by other traffic [I have been on this bus stuck in traffic for tens of minutes]
  • The Station/Bus physical connection at Papatoetoe does little to encourage the transfer.

So why not investigate a dedicated shuttle between the even closer Puhinui Station and the Airport on a minimum 10 minute frequency with dedicated lanes on Puhinui Rd and improved passenger interchange at the station, complete with lifts for people with luggage, and all weather cover? Puhinui is currently timetabled at 33-35 minutes from Britomart [this should improve with current work] with a train leaving every 5 mins at the peaks, exactly when traffic congestion is at is most disruptive. With bus lanes on Puhinui Rd the journey to the terminals would be a reliable 10 mins. Including an average wait time of 5 mins that’s a perfectly satisfactory 50 minute journey from Britomart to the Airport. Because this journey time is reliable and not subject to congestion and avoids the time and cost of parking at the Airport it should be competitive enough for a good proportion of travellers and workers. As shown below, there is space to build an interchange and turning space to the west [Airport] side of the station, this would need to be of interchange standard.


The Puhinui Rd/20B road and bridge are due to be upgraded or duplicated soon in the on-going work to increase general traffic access to the Airport [what you feed grows] surely it would be wise to actually include dedicated transit lanes on a bridge in Auckland for once? This is a future RTN route, the route is flat and unconstrained by buildings; these are good practical and cost arguments for bringing this section forward. Shoulder lanes, or better, a dedicated busway and bridge, LRT ready, would be real ‘future-proofing’ [a phrase it is hard not to be cynical about in Auckland as it generally means doing less than nothing in practice].

With this service then it would be viable and essential to brand both the shuttle bus service at the terminals and the Southern and Eastern line services, both of which, with no changes to how they currently run, then become true Airport services.

Of course the transfer is less ideal than a system that takes you on one seat right into the Terminal either as a flyer or an employee there, however we know many travellers currently transfer from their cars to various bus shuttles in order to get cheaper parking, and surely many workers would be happy to not to have to battle increasing congestion with a reliable and cost effective alternative. In other words by optimising the bus connection we will further unlock the value of investments recently made in the rail system. It probably makes sense on those grounds alone.AIRPORT -Puninui

This should not be seen as instead of a north/south pan Mangere RTN, but it would surely make a good start, especially as this is the route for the future Botany-Manukau City-Airport RTN. So it would be even better if it continued to the new interchange at Manukau City, and then on to Botany and AMETI. And ensuring all hard infrastructure is built to be efficiently upgradeable to Light Rail in the longer term. Improving eastern connectivity is completely compatible with the northern Mangere routes discussed in the study, and indeed the current Airbus service, so arguably is an even more urgent direction to improve. There is no duplication in sorting this connection out first.

Botany Line

Incidentally this map clearly shows the other areas lacking RTN coverage: the Northwest and Upper Harbour, and the Isthmus and Mangere….

Which is exactly what AT have on their future RTN maps, but far too far into the future in my view. This is still based on last century’s thinking where every road is widened first, leading to the inevitable dysfunction and only then do we try to relieve this adding quality RT alternatives.

To summarise: we already have a high quality Rapid Transit service almost all the way to the airport, it seems to me that the addition of a high quality connection between these points would be a very useful first move in improving connectivity in this important area, especially if taken at least to Manukau City too, and as soon as possible.

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  1. Seems like a no brainer. A future proofed corridor with immediate benefits. I wonder if the bus needs to carry on all the way to the Manukau interchange though to make it a single connection with buses from the east?

  2. Patrick this maybe a dumb but is that yellow Botany line light rail or buses that are upgradable to light rail? My preferred option was a HR extension of the Manukau line but can see this as good fit for LR unlike the main airport link from Britomart.

    1. Interestingly, Ben, living in the south as you do, and as do many employees and travellers heading to the airport too, a transfer and direct service from Puhinui would be almost certainly quicker than heading up to Otahuhu. It was partly the realisation that a train via Onehunga is not a great option for rail users on much of the rail network that got me looking at the Otahuhu option anyway:

      But this Puhinui transfer is just as good if not better for rail users, certainly for those further south. And compared to having to transfer to the Onehunga Line Eastern Line users have a much more direct journey and still with just one transfer. Much the transfer safe, dry, and easy at Puhinui and it is little different form going from one train line to another.

      And under every future population scenario more and more people will be living south of Manukau so getting on with serving this population when there is an available, cheaper, and fundable route already available looks like a no brainer… [almost all of this route, including the expensive bit, the bridge, is on SH20B, a State Highway, therefore fundable from the NLFT through NZTA, given the nutty way these things are currently divided up]

      1. The Botany Line (Airport, Manukau, Botany, Pakuranga, Panmure) would definitely serve Manukau, Homai. Takanini, Papakura (where I am), Drury and Pukekohe better than via Otahuhu. But then again via Otahuhu while called a Universal Connection (as you can transfer from the South to an Airport Train from the north) the Otahuhu connection was more designed for the Isthmus, Eastern Line, Western Line and the North Shore.

        However, if politics was not the problem I would still build the Heavy Rail via Otahuhu to the Airport serving to the north and the Botany Line to serve the South and Howick areas. Why? Capacity and redundancy capacity which Auckland so lacks. Hence I would continue and still continue to advocate for both lines. If it came down to pick one I would end up taking the Botany Line as priority.

        1. If you could get to Otahuhu quickly and congestion free (by whatever mode) that’s by far the best interchange: go everywhere from there.

          Puhinui works only for south and CBD, not for Eastern Line; Onehunga only for CBD.

        2. It definitely works for the Eastern line as well as the Southern – that’s exactly why it was picked.

        3. +1 Ben. Eventually both a line to the North (be it Otahuhu or Onehunga) and to the East will be needed. Onehunga is just too expensive to justify and Otahuhu has better connections anyway.
          Airport HR via Otahuhu could operate 6TPH total (3TPH clockwise via Southern and CRL then via Eastern, and 3TPH in the reverse anti-clockwise direction). The Onehunga service would then change to operate via Grafton to the eventual Roskill spur to serve that cross town movement.
          The South and East can be served by both Otahuhu and Puhinui (which would be good to see extended through to Botany and Pakurana LR).

      2. Puhinui does seem to be the ideal location for interchange in terms of network topology, and it is blessed by a reasonable amount of room to expand.

        In the future, we could have a multi platform station here that serves both the suburban heavy rail lines (I.e four routes from Puhinui: south, manukau, city via east, city via Newmarket), plus light rail to the airport and the other way to Botany, plus stops for intercity trains to the Waikato and BoP.

        The one issue is the local buses, having them stop at the end of the Manukau branch isn’t ideal. It would be better if they ran via Puhinui to Manukau and vice versa.

        1. This is exactly how I’d like to see things proceed. The imagery that AT has presented so far raises a few questions about how they propose to get LRT from Puhinui through to Manukau because there’s not all the room that would be required for all these things on the Cavendish Drive rail overbridge, and the drop down to Cavendish Drive is pretty hefty for an LRT flyover. Bulldozing houses on Clendon Ave seems inevitable, especially given AT’s willingness to bowl houses for Park ‘n Rides. The Manukau-south link would free up room for one line over the bridge, though. Trains going from the depot to Manukau or back could go via the south instead of Puhinui. While I’ve got the bulldozer out, I’d flatten Harvey Norman at the Supa Centre and run the LRT line alongside Papakura Stream from Cavendish Drive through to a Ronwood Ave station on the edge of the Manukau CBD and back up Great South Road to Te Irirangi.

        2. It could follow the HR line from from Puhinui to Manukau station then along Manukau station rd over the motorway then along the eastern side before following (probably down the median strip) Te Irirangi drive.

  3. It seems the ideal time to start agitating and get mayoral and council candidates on board. Is the bridge upgrade the main work that would need additional support for buslanes + LRT in future? What do we need to do to get this to happen?

      1. Reagan Rd is the easiest way to cross SH1.
        Anything PT near Redoubt Rd will be suicide in the future.

        You could turn down Lambie Dr and push across H30, but more complex than Reagan Rd.

        If you want to access Manukau you should just transfer at Puhinui – 10min freq; you have to if you want to reach the City / East, South or Botany / Howick so why not Manukau?

        Stage 2 if you run BRT / LRT continuous Airport – Botany / Howick via Puhinui then yes include Manukau from the north side, probably along H30.

  4. Nice post Patrick and really good first step. Puhinui has the advantage of plenty of land around the station building which makes the site a good prospect for a substantial upgrade. This should make for easy and fast entry/exit for buses and seamless transfer to a high frequency airport shuttle…….heck it might even suit an upgrade (sooner than later) to some form of driverless transit as per Helsinki’s mini buses. For a fast journey into the city from Puhinui however, it does require that third main line.

  5. Some very good points here.

    See you at the Airport Trains PUBLIC MEETING tonight 7:30pm. Pearce St Hall, 3 Pearce St, Onehunga. Expecting a very large crowd.
    Last Onehunga train from Britomart to make it in time for the meeting departs 6:49pm. The hall is about a 10 mins (max) walk from Onehunga station.

  6. Great post Patrick. Last Wednesday I arrived back from overseas at the airport at 5.30pm. Was quickly through customs and outside into a wet Auckland evening. Looked at Google maps and the SH20 route was jammed as was Puhinui Road. I thought why spend $18 on the Skybus to sit in traffic to get to midtown Auckland when I want to go to Britomart? Along came the 380 – due at 5.59pm but arrived at 6.07pm because of the traffic. Jumped on and it took nearly 40 minutes to reach Papatoetoe Station because of the crawling traffic. However there was a train heading north immediately and when I got to Britomart a quick walk to Lower Albert Street and there was a NEX double decker waiting to take me to Constellation. With the new fare system this total trip costs $6 with HOP, or if you are 65+ is free. You can see from my experience that the only problem is with the connection from the airport to the rail network. I agree wholeheartedly with your suggestions in this post. I have said it on this blog before as well – increase the frequency, go to Puhinui and put in some bus lanes and we have a great interim measure.

  7. Off topic but from looking at your maps and the train lines, what would happen if you ran the Onehunga line across town to Mt Albert / New Lynn?
    1-3tph plus say a service from Otahuhu, 2-4tph Penrose – Mt Albert / New Lynn via Newmarket & Grafton.

    You could then run the other Western services directly into Britomart bypassing Newmarket; how much time would that save?
    6tph Swanson – Britomart via Grafton, 2-4tph New Lynn / Mt Albert to Onehunga / Otahuhu via Newmarket?

    Too many services on the Western line? Not enough on the Southern heading to Britomart?

    1. The major issue with that route is the gradient – between Onehunga and bottom of Hillsborough. Almost 40m to climb over relatively short distance.

      1. I think John is actually talking about running the Onehunga services via Grafton and through the Western line rather than building AS line.

    2. Most of that route already exists for the Avondale-Southdown link but that is post 2040 project. Although if Winston is kingmaker then bribery may get the NAL serious investment and the A-S link constructed soooner

      1. We can only hope! Would be great to see NZF get in and direct funds into rail in NZ! They seem to be the only party serious about rail (along with the Greens) so a potential Labour/Greens+NZF coalition might be the first government in many decades that is serious about rail in NZ.

        1. It won’t matter who leads up the next government unless there is a major NZF influence there will be no changes to rail investment. What did the last Labour/Green government do for rail investment?

        2. There’s never been a Labour/Green government in New Zealand. The closest was between 1999 and 2002, when the Greens had a confidence and supply agreement with the Labour/Alliance government.

        3. Err? Project DART, setting the scene for electrification; public purchase of KiwiRail; and for the record the Northern Busway.

          Also why assume that the next Lab/Green gov would mean time travel back to a government that started in the 1990s? In fact it is when in opposition that political parties change the most. It is much more likely that a Lab/Green gov [with Julie-Ann Genter as most likely Transport Minister] would be very good for PT and all forms of alternative and electric transport. Not least because it would the first government to actually be focussed on Climate Change mitigation, which actually builds the economic case.

          NZF, will indeed be more pro-rail, but like the Nats are mode favouritsts, sure it’s a better mode, but it’s still a poor way to decide transport investment. Helpful but also possibly will want to invest in daft things without strong economic basis….

        1. Maybe you should tell that to Winston and NZF, so he’s just dreaming when he thinks the northern freight port expansion and NAL upgrading for WH-AK freight is worth considering.
          Or do you see the post crl western line/newmarket junction/southern line to Southdown able to deal with increased freight? Maybe the midnight to 5am timeslot will be sufficient?

        2. Kiwirail have said they will not allow anything to be built on that corridor (they own the corridor) that will block future HR being built.

        3. Bigted Kiwirail is short of cash and needs the third main desperately. NZTA and AT likely to do a trade third main funding for the corridor

        4. Harriet if AT actually built the Mt Roskill spur like has been recently reported that puts HR on the bulk of the corridor anyway so allows for it still to become a future freight line but I don’t think it will ever become one just like Patrick has said. Patrick has said it is more likely to end up with a MT Roskill to Onehunga LR line but surely that would depend on being able to link into the proposed LR network so it would require the HR spur line to stop short of Dominion rd or as a best case option have a joint transfer station at the end of Dominion rd.

        5. Harriet, Now that would be one massive shortsighted error and seriously damage any medium to long term strategic planning for NAL development.
          The 3rd main on southern line appears essential if further rail RTN expansion, especially towards Puke is considered so its funding becomes an AT, AK city, govt concern and suggesting KR alone needs to fund it, or horsetrade A-S route to get funding, is looney tune logic.

        6. Well I do think Winston is playing with politics rather than reality with any idea that the NAL is the answer to AKL port issues. There are many more problems with this idea than just bypassing Newmarket. Marsden is sufficiently far away and wrong side of AKL for freight that trans-shipping looks like a better means of distributing increases in imports there than rail or road.

        7. Patrick, as I understand it the plan is to spilt PoA operations between Northport and Tauranga. Northport would take all the car imports and some logging that sort of thing. Tauranga would take the huge new container ships and logging etc.
          PoA would only remain so far as Cruise ships and some local shipping (basically no more big container or car carrying ships).
          By upgrading the NAL and building ASL rail freight can move almost everything from Northport down to Auckland and on to the rest of the country from there. As a side benefit Auckland could also use the ASL for some commuter services as well as out to Kumeu etc and the likelihood of NIMT electrification means intercity trains to Hamilton and Tauranga could also be on the cards.

        8. Yes I am familiar with that idea; but how much is it a plan, and how much is it a pipe dream? Car imports via Marsden looks unlikely to me, no small cost moving them to the southern side of AKL, where the balance of demand is, that just looks so inefficient. And fraught with infra challenges and conflicts; the whole western line is constrained and busy now, bypassing Newmarket doesn’t solve that; what about New Lynn? Let alone the entire Northland route?

          There is insufficient information about what it would take. Rebuild the NAL, add the port link, then run car carriers [which KR don’t currently have] all night through AKL when the EMUs are sleeping? What is the cost per car of this programme; capex and opex? Is there sufficient port side land for the cars and berthage at Marsden for car carriers?

          Lord know we would all love to see the cars gone from AKL’s wharves? Can it be done; has it been costed?

        9. To add to that Patrick most car import brokers only pay $30-40 per car delivered to compliance centres so can’t see them wanting to pay Kiwirail much to transport them to Auckland, making the payback time on these new wagons required not quick enough to warrant the investment and that is before they still have to go on trucks for the final delivery.

          One more Question for Bruce, where do this train loads of cars that will arrive overnight (the only time there is sufficient spare capacity on the network) get unloaded and stored before the trucks can start delivering them? Note the compliance centres are only open in the daytime and very few are even open weekends.

        10. I can’t see any reason for the Avondale – Southdown line when capacity between Swanson and Avondale will restrict operations to when the network is at it’s quietest, which means freight could just travel all the way to Southdown on the existing network. Then the debate will begin regarding running freight trains at night when we are trying to increase density around the rail lines.

        11. So then freight traffic would have no path on Auckland NAL day or night because of RTN during day and people in the new high density housing near railway need their sleep at night.
          The NAL beyond Swanson or Helensville could be closed, several more billion invested in motorways north to enable road freight that solves the PoA relocation

        12. Dgd – yes, it’s certainly a risk. It’s this reason I am doubtful Northport will ever become a major part of Auckland’s freight task, as there is no way a viable amount could ever be moved by road. This along with the fact it is on the wrong side of Auckland and that it doesn’t have the export backload advantage that Tauranga has. The combined money from selling Port of Auckland and what would need to be spent on the NAL anyway would likely build a pretty decent port in the Firth of Thames at some point in the future.

        13. and it is efficient to have prime real estate in Auckland waterfront clogged up with cars?
          Many countries around the world transport cars by train – or are they just doing it wrong? Some even do it inside standard containers meaning they can be loaded up with goods on the return journey.
          KR is always having to buy new carriages don’t see how buying car carrying one’s is any different in that regard.
          As for the Western Line West of Avondale – is it really that congested? 6TPH in Peak and 3TPH off peak? Sure in future this will likely increase 8TPH – that’s one train every 7.5 minutes… But you couldn’t fit a single freight train per hour into that? Remember that the main demand is going to be between the inner West and the CBD and not so much out past that so not all services will have to carry on past Avondale (a circular route -Onehunga-Mt Roskill, Western line to Grafton, Penrose and back to Onehunga) could operate to service much of that inner West demand.

        14. The issue with freight is that the train has completely different speed and acceleration characteristics to an EMU. Even with only 7.5min headway that’s unlikely to work and fit between the EMUs. Not to mention the fact that the there is awfully high failure ratio with those trains (which effectively blocks the line).

        15. Interesting but minutiae. Any line capacity issue with freight sharing RTN between Swanson to Avondale junction could probably be resolved with a passing loop or two. I seem to remember some previous discussion about a 3rd main on the NAL from somewhere west to Avondale (looks like this was maybe planned for with that road overbridge just past Avondale station) and isn’t there already a long loop at Henderson?
          Its surprising that some see the ASL as a non starter, maybe just heavy rail Mt Roskill stub as part of the RTN, then the rest of the ASL written off and the Airport LRT using it where needed. So it appears a cost of this Dom Rd/Airport LRT may be writing off the NAL for freight use beyond the reach of the western RTN. Also making Northport, if it expands to handle some PoA business, more dependant on increased road traffic with bigger motorways etc..
          Please don’t write off the ASL.

        16. Need to expand this discussion some; it isn’t a zero sum game between road and rail freight, especially for Northport:

          I still doubt, however, that Marsden is the best place for vehicle imports, though that doesn’t mean that the port or the rail line are redundant.

          Yes passing loops where economical on the western line and maybe a distribution centre [Inland Port] north of Swanson [Kumeu; right on SH16 and close to SH18?] along with the Northland MP’s desire for investment in the NAL north of Akl may work…?

          Though all that ought to be subject to a proper BCA process compared to other possible rail freight supporting investments and not just be the result of one MP’s likely leverage, no?

        17. East of Henderson I would expect in the future there to be 12tph at peak and 6tph, possibly even more with crosstown services. It’s not going to be viable to have reduced services west of Avondale as that would cut out New Lynn – the 3rd busiest station on the network. Basically that would require a 3rd line, not sure if there is land allocated for that or not.

          Bruce – there is no reason cars can’t be carried by train in NZ. I’m just not sure bringing them in through a port well north of where almost all of them are destined will ever be viable though.

        18. Currently KR have no car carriers, so an investment would need to be made in these, and of course in loading and unloading facilities… KR is, as we know, strapped for cash. Does anyone think shipping cars by rail would be a money spinner for KR?

        19. Northport is never going to permanently take over from the POAL and neither is Tauranga and neither will the two of them combined – but whether POAL moves sooner or later or not at all, it will have to come up with interim arrangements to manage the transition from the facilities as they stand to whatever comes to pass in the future. Despite the debate tending to consist of absolute “will never happen” and “has to happen” stances, the cars-to-Northport idea is one that has been raised in that most recent POAL report and by the Northport leadership, who said something along the lines of “yes, please” to taking car traffic in the interim. In the context of the kind of cash and time that will have to flow to get POAL to where it needs to be, and the kind of cash and volumes involved in vehicle import, providing a wagon fleet, sidings and relocated distribution yards for a decade or more is probably well worth the consideration of a joint venture between the ports, KR, regional councils and the vehicle import trade.

        20. I think you are right about Avondale to Southdown. My plan is to wait until that designation is 100 years old and apply to Heritage NZ to have the empty designation listed. I think it is in the late 2040’s. To have a blighted strip of land up for heritage protection would be fantastic.

    3. I am not thinking of a new line.
      Rather running the cross town line before CRL, as it is basically planned to run after CRL.

      The service pattern seems to be 6tph Southern + 3tph Onehunga and 6tph Western – Britomart.
      Run 6 Southern + 1-2 Onehunga and 6 Western direct with no Newmarket – Britomart.
      Run 1-2 Onehunga and 1-2 Otahuhu (3tph) across town via Newmarket / Grafton – Mt Albert / New Lynn.

      This cross town service could be run 2min after every second train going to Britomart on the Western and Southern lines.
      The transfer time would then be 2-12min.

      The huge percentage of Western line commuters who don’t want to go to Newmarket have no transfer and a shorter journey.
      The small percentage of Western line commuters who want to go cross town can now transfer (2-12min) New Lynn – Grafton to reach Newmarket – Penrose, Onehunga / Otahuhu.

      1. Visual:

        Eastern 6tph Manukau – Britomart
        Southern 6tph Papakura – Britomart (11tph Penrose – Newmarket)
        Western 6tph Swanson – Britomart (9tph New Lynn / Mt Albert to Grafton)

        Cross Town 3tph New Lynn / Mt Albert via Newmarket – Onehunga (1) / Otahuhu (2)
        Onehunga 2tph Onehunga – Britomart

        Cross Town 2min after every second Southern / Western service (2-12min transfer)

        Would seem like some large time savings for the Western going direct, Grafton – Britomart
        Still 8tph Penrose – Britomart and 3tph from Onehunga, 2 direct to Britomart and 1 Cross Town

  8. Once the airport has set the shuttle access charge sufficiently high to prevent cannibalisation of Skybus, we’re looking at $10 one way for the 10 min journey. Unless they’re over a barrel politically, the airport will continue to obstruct cheap fast access to the airport while supporting massive transport projects that they know will either struggle to secure funding or postpone access for decades

    1. I’ve always wanted to know what the Airport company would charge for any access to a Transit station, even one they didn’t have to build or fund, as I’m expecting they’ll delay as long as practical to force others to fund it.

    2. I’m hearing that the airport are wanting to crack on with rail actually. While they will always have high value long stay business and holiday parking, they probably realize that staff parking is a dead loss. Likewise with their development plans they no doubt realize that acres of parking for offices and shops limits the ability to build offices and shops.
      If I were running the airport I would be lobbying hard for the city to build a mega capacity rail link into my business and commercial development precinct, who wouldn’t?!

      1. Agree, the area is zoned primed for development which they want. The key for them is disruption they don’t want someone cutting and covering through there developments mainly the new runway this is why they want any tunnelling done I presume during.

        This is easy for LRT due to only a short tunnel under runway that could be easily future proofed during build, a bit harder for HR which requires a long tunnel to the terminal and an underground station AT doesn’t have that kind of upfront CAPEX

        1. If I heard the AIA spokesman correctly at last nights meeting there will not be a requirement for cut and cover as the existing road will remain and the runway will be built above it creating road tunnels so why can’t the rail (light or heavy) just follow the road. I’m sure that was what he said and didn’t get the chance to ask the question to verify that they were building the runway over the road as opposed to cutting the road in first.

        2. I’d assume it’s something to do with getting an alignment that suits the proposed sites for the Airport Business area station. I mean if the rail followed the road, they’d probably have to put the station in the Warehouse/Countdown carpark (and as we all know carparks are sacred ground and must never ever be developed ever 😉 )

        3. Actually there does seem to be space for a light rail station to be placed by the KFC, but the preference is for one on John Goulter Drive (closer to the school of tourism I guess?).

          Heavy Rail does require larger curve radii and would be underground in the airport precinct anyway, hence why that follows a different alignment from road.

        4. Dion I think you missed the point, there is no need to have the expensive tunnel/trench as if the runway is being built above the existing road it would be built above rail built at the same level. There would be no need to tunnel or elevate until you get near to where AIA would want the terminal station as there would need to be no level crossings.

        5. Bigted – I’m not up with the current plans, but that doesn’t sound quite right. To do that they would have to have the whole 3.5 km runway raised 5 + metres above the existing road, which would be hugely expensive and also put it significantly higher than the taxiways and existing runways. They surely must be tunnelling the road under the runway, but I wasn’t at the meeting last night.

        6. jezza the AIA spokes person last night at the public meeting in Onehunga said (I think I heard correctly and did ask if anyone else heard it too) that the runway would be built above the current road without lowering it, if they are doing that with the road they can do it with the rail. HR would need to loop behind the retail area and LR would presumably follow the road but if what he said was heard correctly it will be at the current level and not restricting HR as there would be no issues with excessive gradient.

        7. Not doubting what you heard at all but I’d be a bit suspicious of that being correct as the road where it passes over the future runway designation is already higher than the current runway so I can’t see they would want the new runway any higher. Someone with more knowledge of the airports plans, or the topography could correct me on that though.

  9. What about building bus and ped/cycle only bridge over puhinui station, with stairs/elevators down to platforms? Be a bit like Panmure in that respect.

    Then of course you’d need priority to west and east to ensure reliable service. But certainly something that could be staged.

    1. The gap in Puhinui Road always makes me wonder what they had planned for that location. Had there ever been a bridge or level crossing there before? Was there supposed to be? The bridge being on Bridge Street makes it seem like that was always the case, but Puhinui Road extending both sides of the station obviously raises similar questions. Perhaps the LRT prospects intend to capitalise on this gap? If that is the case, a PT/Active bridge future proofed for LRT must rank pretty highly in the good sense column.

      1. The gap was created the same way that many others were with bridges being built to the side of a level crossing before diverting traffic onto the bridge and removing the level crossing, modern builders would have moved the level crossing then built the bridge in its place. This has happens in a lot of places, most have realigned the approach roads or built newer bridges where the old level crossing once were.

    2. Yes Stu, clearly that would be the plan, and eventually as Nick outlines above- intercity trains from the south should stop here too for Airport access and transfers to local networks. Key thing is to get a quality service up and running soon. Extended or eatable to MC, and easily switchable to Light Rail too.

  10. Nice to see the airport made $52.1 million last year from parking with total turn over of $550 odd million. Do they want fast, modern trains? It will be interesting to hear what they have to say tonight at the public meeting.

    1. The lack of bus lanes on key routes throughout Auckland is frustrating. This again highlights a quick and relatively cheap option to provide reliable services to a key employment area that should have been provided for years ago.

      1. The issue is that AT don’t want to upset ppl that drive. There is number of arterial routes out there that should have had that treatment long time ago, but all we can see is complete lack of courage to change the status quo.

        1. Actually I think it’s a parking thing AT are scared of residents and business owners who park in front of house/shop

    2. I think if that question was asked 5 – 10 years ago the answer would have been no. However, the airport company is finding increasing demand for its land from more valuable uses, including a second runway. I think it is now well aware that not having rapid transit in 20 years time would impact on the number of people who can get in and out of the airport and thus would make a competitor such as Whenuapai a lot more viable.

    1. As far as I’m aware that’s pretty much the sole purpose of the RTN, I’ve even heard it will be branded mfwic in your honour (or memory given how long it will probably take) once it is completed.

  11. Perhaps it is time we ask Auckland Airport to pay a large portion of an airport train line? After all, it is their business operations which cause the issues. They make what could be considered “superprofits”, why socialise the costs of moving people to the airport? Should Govt legisation be put in place to ensure they significantly contribute to the costs of transport infrastructure their business requires to succeed and grow?

    1. Why socialise the costs of getting to the airport? Indeed, but apply the same logic to roading which has huge subsidies, hundreds of millions going into grade separating an intersection right now for example.
      We need a rail link and we have the money for one, the issue is the complete hostility to rail from the National Party in central government. The money flows when it comes to expanding roading access to anything.

    2. Auckland Airport should be paying for any cost above what it would cost for a straight surface line on undeveloped land on their land. In other words the costs of undergrounding and providing land for any surface section.

  12. Hmm….what is housing like around Puhinui? Don’t know the area.

    Thinking ahead, that will be a pretty good interchange station: easy to airport, the east and Manukau, direct line into CBD, etc.

    Could see a bit of intensification above the station in future but, right now, maybe some (relative) bargains on stand alone houses?

    1. It’s on a direct line to the runway and not far away. It will never be a prime area for redevelopment for that reason. Though sound proofing in modern housing would be a vast improvement on what is likely to be the case with the present stock.

    1. My grandfather refused to come and visit when I lived in Ponsonby. Dangerous area apparently. Places, it would seem, can change.

  13. Exactly why it should have done money spent on it for better facilities. A few more people there, lights, cctv upgrades etc will go a long way.

    1. I guess because it had two terms of reference that this doesn’t meet:

      1. ‘A one-seat ride from the CBD to the airport’
      2. Address the severance and lack of connectivity in wider Mangere

      The first I think is a bit arbitrary, but the second is valid. Mangere suffers from terrible motorway severance; community dislocation and disconnectivity that a well designed RTN would line go some way to ameliorate.

  14. Sounds great, funnily enough visited Puhinui the other day & took some pics of the area. The real interim “budget” version is to simply increase the frequency of the new network route 30 (current 380) that goes to Papatoetoe until the station is upgraded etc. Probably, break it into two for the Onehunga to airport end so more reliable. Out of interest, is there much of a traffic issue running that bit more to Papatoetoe rather than Puhinui? I guess the Papatoetoe to Manukau bit could be problematic.

  15. I like this.

    It matures into the RTN to Manukau and Botany, while the door remains open for light rail or Otahuhu heavy from the CBD direct – both of which address the Mangere issues better.

    It seems an extension of Onehunga is a no-go, which is a shame but there you have it.

    This is a great stop-gap because of the connectivity with Manukau, the South and both Eastern and Western lines. Cheap too… single ticket, branding and a nice place to wait – with timed connections with less frequent/off peak trains. Easy.

  16. The flat land around Puhinui station is courtesy of the WW2 when the Americans had a camp there – it’s all recorded on a special little stone plaque on the corner. Do away with that stupid kink in Puhunui Road and put in a Panmure type of interchange and a busway to the airport- great idea.

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