I recently read through the Jacobs prepared alignments for AT for the SMART (South-western Multi-modal Airport Rapid Transit) project. In it contains the proposed alignments for HR (Heavy Rail), BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), LRT (Light Rail Transit), as well as a Hybrid option. I would recommend giving them a look but they’re big files so perhaps not on your phone.

HR alignment

The first thing I noticed was for some reason the line names are wrong, I assume this was a mistake. The other and far more serious observation is the lack of a flying junction at Penrose, anybody who passed through here knows that trains can sometimes be sitting for minutes waiting for a free path. And this is with just 8 trains per hour (TPH) each way. I wouldn’t want to imagine the issues at the Penrose junction if trains are running 12-18tph each way. I assume a flying junction would theoretically be possible, though the Great South Road flyover would mean some serious thought would have to go into it, as well as money.

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SMART HR Penrose

The route from there is basically what you expect, some level crossings are trenched, while others just closed. In a separate, low cost option some level crossings are simply upgraded to be safer rather than removed.

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SMART HR Te Papapa

One important change is the Onehunga Station would be moved between Galway St and Victoria St. After passing through the current station site, the line continues over the overbridge currently being removed, and then under the SH20 Bridge to the western side of SH20.

hr-alignment-onehunga-station

As we’ve discussed in other posts, the trench at Kirkbride is not designed to allow HR at road level due to the grades involved, therefore it must go over the top.

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Kirkbride Grade
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Kirkbride Trench

Towards the end is where the real issue arises however, it requires a long tunnel, under the new proposed runway all the way to an underground station by the terminal. The Airport want to lock their plans in now and would be unlikely to allow the line’s construction after the new runway is built. As such this section would likely need to be built before the actual line was funded, this would create a need to accelerate funding either in part or full, not that building it sooner would be a bad thing.

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SMART HR Tunnel Part 1
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SMART HR Tunnel Part 2 (Potential Business Area Station)
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SMART HR Tunnel Part 3
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SMART HR Airport Station

Compare this to the length of Light Rail tunnel needed

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SMART LRT Tunnel Part 1
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SMART LRT Tunnel Part 2

LRT Route Alignment

Light Rail (LRT) is now AT’s preferred mode, so what does the alignment look like. The first worrying thing about the route is the large park & rides, right next to a rapid transit route on land that could easily handle transit orientated development. The very concerning part is at Denbigh where houses would need to be demolished to build the Park & Ride. Surely stations in areas such as this should be more focused on bus feeder services & active mode improvements to improve catchment rather than Park & Rides. At Mangere surely a more mixed use development could occur by the station.

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Denbigh PnR
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Three Kings PnR
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Mangere PnR

The second worrying part is getting onto SH20, where additional homes would need to be purchased & demolished. There are surely many other ways that we could achieve access to SH20 without requiring the demolishing homes, I am sure a transit engineer among us would be able to draw them.

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SMART LRT Access to SH20

Looking at the alignment down SH20, it looks unlikely that both LRT and the proposed Avondale-Southdown line – which the designation is for – could both fit in. Kiwirail allowing AT to use the designation could be a big sticking point for LRT line. However, this route would not preclude an Mt Roskill spur from being built as LRT is only east of the Dominion Rd flyover.

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SMART LRT SH20 Part 1
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Mt Roskill Spur

The LRT route continues down SH20 onto Princes Street with two potential alignments around the Lagoon.

lrt-alignment-onehunga-reserve

From there it elevates over the top of the existing station at Onehunga, possibly joining with a future line from Manukau Rd.

lrt-alignment-above-rail-station

The LRT route then travels down the old rail corridor towards the port and above the NZTA’s planned roadsfest. Like at Onehunga Lagoon there are two options, one is next to the motorway bridge and it crosses onto the western Side of the Motorway south of the harbour. The second option swoops under the bridge like the Heavy Rail option.

lrt-alignment-manukau-harbour

Apart from that the route is similar to the video posted by Auckland Transport recently on LRT for SMART.

BRT route alignment

Now I give fair warning, the following images may cause distress, face palming & nightmares. The route starts with an underground bus station at Wellesley Street, it then continues to an at grade Symonds Street station. It’s not clear where the portal is but it’s unlikely to be pretty.

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SMART BRT Wellesley Street Station
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SMART BRT Symonds Street Station

From Symonds Street it continues to an at grade Khyber Pass station before an underground bus station on Broadway. Not sure how I feel about an underground bus station at Wellesley & Newmarket to be honest :/ maybe we can rename it from Broadway to Busway 😀

brt-alignment-newmarket

Next down Manukau Rd, Pah Rd, and Queenstown Rd with well-spaced stations at Clovernook, Bracken Rd, Inverary Ave, Greenlane West, Pah Rd & Mt A Rd where it joins parallel SH20 Southbound in a new Busway where in parts it becomes a literal Sky Bus.

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SMART BRT Connection to SH20
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LITERAL SKYBUS

Similar to the LRT route, it continues down Princes Street into an Elevated Bus Station above Onehunga Station. Then onto SH20 where it has shoulder bus lanes over the bridge and connects to an elevated Mangere Bridge Bus Station, which if you can look closely doesn’t have any Park & Rides which the LRT had?

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SMART BRT Onehunga

Lastly it follows the LRT route until Kirkbride where it transitions a BRT median down SH20A, which is rerouted around the end of the runway, until it gets to Tom Pearce Drive

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SMART BRT Airport Station

Hybrid Option

The last option which is the Hybrid option, it simply combines the BRT from Onehunga, to an upgraded Onehunga Line, this would thus require transferring to/from HR.

And finally, here are finally “controversial” benefit cost ratio tables from the report, first the main one with Costs & Benefits assuming a 6% discount rate, and the second testing against 4% & 8%

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SMART BCR’S
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SMART BCR’S with Discounts
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102 comments

  1. Surely BRT and LRT would be taking the same route? (i.e. why not BRT down dom road?) Why does LRT need park and rides but not BRT?

    How does LRT be more cost effective buying up all that housing and building park and rides?

    Preliminary thoughts are:
    1. Bus improvements to CBD and manukau rd make it worth doing – adds a ton of value. The Airport termination point is absurd, however.
    2. LRT from wynyard Down to Mt roskill is needed regardless of airport – it seems lazy to demolish houses instead of staying in road after Denbigh road. LRT ends in a weird spot
    3. Connect LRT to New Lynn, onehunga and east(via new lynn to AMETI cross town [insert mode here])
    4. Unclear why each option terminates in different ways, seems arbitrary
    5. All three options should align with SH20 and future proofed so no rushed decision is made

    Overall, each option seems arbitrarily different from the others, so it seems pointless to compare their financial performance as if they were all producing the same outcome

    1. They used manukau road because the base case had dominion road lrt. The end points at the airport are different because of the different requirements for tunneling and turning with each mode. The cbd ends are different because lrt and hr are already built in the base case.

  2. Once again Auckland will miss out on any rail connection to the airport, because as always we go for the most over the top expensive option in planning stages, thereby leaving us open to main criticism “where’s the money coming from?” A heavy rail connection to Puhunui is cheapest option even if you include building of extra freight main Papakura to the port. Light rail for Dominion Road and other parts is another matter altogether and shouldn’t be confused with or be seen as part of the rail to the planes argument.

    1. Why wouldn’t we use Dominion Road though? It’s cheaper, faster, and in Auckland’s specific case has higher potential capacity.

      1. Dominion Rd is only faster (and that is debatable) if you are coming from the CBD, somewhere that very few of the potential passengers and workers will come from.

        1. Or the North Shore, Or the West. Otahuhu is only faster if you are coming from east of Great South Road on the isthmus, Pakuranga and Howick.

          1. Coming from the west you have to go either all the way to Britomart (or Onehunga, Otahuhu is the same distance and time), coming from the shore you need to either transfer to a reasonably spacious HR train or a crammed (going by what has been said by those advocating LR on Dominion Rd) LRV to continue to the airport, again it is debated whether it will actually be faster or not.

          2. “Coming from the west you have to go either all the way to Britomart” Stop lying-K Road station will exist.

            “Coming from the shore you need to either transfer to a reasonably spacious HR train or a crammed (going by [BigTed’s personal Opinion] LR on Dominion Rd) LRV to continue to the airport” Given that LR has a capacity of over 5,000 per hour on this route and over 5,000 on Manukau Road once that is built, which is more than the HR option, surely the HR would be crammed?

            “again it is debated whether it will actually be faster or not.” Debated implies some logical reasoning behind the argument that LR would not be as fast.

          3. So you are going to get off at K rd station with all your luggage (if you are going to the airport as a passenger) then walk down K rd to Queen st to get on a LRV, how is that better than continuing to Britomart where you just need to come up to the LR level?

          4. You’d walk down Cross Street which eliminates all of the grades, mostly because the train to Britomart will take 4-5 minutes and the LRV back up will take 6-8. An extra minute of walking to save 11 minutes travel seems like a good trade off.

  3. Where is the evaluation on heavy rail to Otahuhu? I think this plan was set out so long ago that now no-one is able to reconsider. Otahuhu works. In 20 years Onehunga should be part of the loop not a line to the airport.

        1. As part of the airport line works that will branch off toward the airport in the vicinity of the old rail workshops south of Otahuhu (before following what was once going to be a motorway route that joined SH20 with Otahuhu) the Westfield junction would effectively be moved south.
          The NAL would be extended south, the Otahuhu station would be extended west to five platforms from the current three. from the current Westfield junction to the new south Otahuhu junction there will be five mains (the current two, the third main currently being planned and the two from the NAL that will also form the lines that branch off to the airport) so the southern line trains will share north of Otahuhu with the airport line (trains made up as an alternative other end of the western line to Newmarket and Onehunga) until the southern line re-joins the NIMT south of Otahuhu. The eastern line trains use the current Otahuhu (including the new platform currently under construction) along with the POA shunts that go to and from Wiri and merge back with the southern trains when they re-join the NIMT south of Otahuhu rather than at the Westfield junction as currently happens.

          1. Remember the western trains will not arrive via the western line anymore so won’t need to change ends etc unless they are terminating there. There will be no need for the western trains to terminate at Newmarket if they are continuing to the airport.

          2. Please explain how 12 tph both directions via Grafton and Newmarket will merge onto the two track line South of Newmarket. Show your working.

          3. That is the only issue with this but with decent signalling it should not be an issue, there are currently 14 trains per hour each way (during peak) between Newmarket and Quay junction so if it works there is should be able to be made to work south of Newmarket.

          4. Sailor Boy – 12tph is what currently goes through Westfield Junction, I can’t see why it wouldn’t work in the future at Newmarket when there will no longer be trains turning around there. The issue might come further down the track though when we double the frequency of all lines to 5 mins, which would mean 24tph in each direction at Newmarket. This would require grade separation, which I can’t imagine would be easy.

          5. Maybe I’m missing something, what are the three lines? I would have thought it would have been Airport – Western and Southern – Eastern. In which case that would make it the same number of services as the current Westfield Junction.

          6. So you would have the Western to airport (12 tph) the Southern to Eastern on the Eastern part (12 tph) and the Southern to Eastern on the Southern part (also 12 tph) so 36 tph total.

            Currently we run 6tph on the Eastern and 6 tph on the Southern through there. Post CRL the proposal is to run 12 tph on the Eastern and Southern parts of the Eastern to Southern Line, HR to the airport would add 12 more.

      1. You seem to have a real hang up on the Westfield junction Sailor Boy, it surely isn’t the biggest issue stopping a HR option? Heaps of room there to sort out what is needed.

        1. “You seem to have a real hang up on the Westfield junction Sailor Boy, it surely isn’t the biggest issue stopping a HR option? Heaps of room there to sort out what is needed.”

          Running the service through Westfield or Newmarket is impossible without buying a lot of land and flying junctions. It is the weak point of the entire line. It’s not that I’m hung up on this. It’s that I want rapid transit to the airport and people ignoring the junction to push HR are ruining our chances of actually getting something built.

          1. It is far from impossible and requires no flying junctions and no more land than is already railways owned already around those junctions.

    1. No one is interested in the more logical route via Otahuhu (not only is it more logical cost wise over Onehunga but catchment wise with Otahuhu being easier to transfer from all directions) as there is a fascination with LR so it is compared against the Onehunga route (that doesn’t make sense anyway) to help make the LR option look better. The biggest issue with LR is the number of times transfers are required for those coming from any direction other than the CBD not the fact that transfers will be required. How many everyday Aucklanders going to the airport or workers working at or near the airport are from the CBD? How many of the workers from the Mangere catchment area go to the CBD? The answer to both questions is very little.
      The most sensible route whether it be bus, LR or HR is via the Otahuhu transport hub due to travellers or workers going to (or from) the airport being able to come from (or go to) any direction easily.

  4. Thankyou to Transport Blog and AT for getting this information out. It is a breath of fresh air and a very positive sign of confidence in their preferred mode. These are weighty and technical pieces of analysis which is exactly how it should be. I look forward to going through this in more detail over the weekend.

  5. Paul and Erentz make very valid points. Onehunga HR option always hamstrung by having to upgrade the existing Onehunga line and the costs of building a bridge over the harbour (and made worse the East-West link).
    Puhinui is the obvious first option since it will be the cheapest HR option and is over greenfields whilst providing good connections from all directions (particularly the south and east where most airport workers live). In time an HR loop to Otahuhu could also be built when demand requires it, or even LR.
    The problem with LR is that it is slower, is less suited to longer distance journeys with luggage, and does require the Dom Rd LR to also be built (whenever that may be)… Puhinui HR could be built within 2 years if given the go ahead for less than $1B (probably a whole lot less than $1B!).
    The other problem with LR is that it would have to use the ASD rail designation – something which KR will not want to give up (and which AT can’t force them to give up either).
    People keep arguing that HR to the airport would place strain on the CRL – this is complete nonsense! It would simply replace some existing services (the main demand is between Manukau and the City not further south so when frequencies increase simply send some to the airport with the rest south.

    1. “The problem with LR is that it is slower” No it’s the same speed or faster from the CBD,

      “is less suited to longer distance journeys with luggage” This is made up; internal configuration and level loading isn’t related to mode choice.

      “and does require the Dom Rd LR to also be built (whenever that may be)” Either LRT to the airport includes all of the costs and benefits or none of the costs and benefits of the Dominion Road section. Deliberately including the costs but not the benefits like you are trying to do is intellectually dishonest.

      “Puhinui HR could be built within 2 years if given the go ahead” So could anything.

      “For less than $1B (probably a whole lot less than $1B!).” Probably not much less, Need a flying junction and multiple long bridges. Puhinui is a great route, but not for HR.

      “People keep arguing that HR to the airport would place strain on the CRL” Westfeild is the more important one. Try and get 26 tph through Westfield both directions to get your trains to AIAL through Otahuhu

    2. I imagine by the time this is being built (20 + years), the ASD designation will be owned by NZTA or some future equivalent as they will likely be given responsibility for rail at some point.

  6. Sailor Boy just argues against anything that is HR for some illogical reason without ever providing any valid reasoning or evidence.

  7. Actually from the West HR would be faster as they can just change at Mt Eden. By light rail they would have to either take a decent walk or take the train right in to the city and take a walk.
    From the North Shore the transfer to HR is just as easy if not easier than to LR (Britomart is right next to the ferry terminal and for NEX users it would be the same).
    Stop making up BS stories Sailor Boy – they’re getting old.

    edit: for some reason my posts aren’t linking in to the reply in the correct place and are ending up at the bottom.

    1. There is no platform at Mt Eden for trains running to the south so it wouldn’t be possible to transfer here to an airport service for passengers travelling from the west.

    2. From the North you would swap to LRT or HR at Aotea, from the West you would swap at K’Road (NW Busway) and run straight through on the rail line. These are all, at best, even between modes, at worst, 5 minutes faster on LRT.

  8. Isn’t one of the large benefits of LR (dominion to the airport) is that it captures a large area of population that currently have no access to mass transit (mangere bridge / mangere area), plus all of the Dominion Road isthmus catchment area?
    And allowing for future extension to Manukau / Botany areas.

    A whole new system means unlocking new capacity. Not being shared with freight and the existing HR trains and limiting potential increases in future services.

  9. Speaking from this side of the Tasman, the big problem as I see it is LR is a late comer to the party, particularly when the heavy rail electrification is now all but complete. Better integration of LR into the existing HR network could have provided other options. For example, would you really want to electrify for Heavy Rail the Onehunga line now that LR is a possibility for such a route?

    Have just ridden the Salt Lake City LR line and this is what I imagine the Auckland line to be (though less hopeful it will be as well executed). The Salt Lake line has heavy rail speeds and standards from the airport across open countryand beside a freeway to the edge of the city, then runs down the median of a wide urban road with not too many stops, before entering the main downtown precinct, again, well segregated from traffic and well presented within the urban environment.

  10. There is supposed to be a service running from Henderson-Otahuhu – people can change at any of the stations between the CRL and Otahuhu onto an airport HR service.

    1. Supposed to be, we will see though with the level crossings which will be an issue holding up capacity as well as extra sets needed to run it if it actually will happen though

    2. Please explain how you will slot those cross town services into the already too full junctions that you are putting the airport line through..

      1. The current Onehunga line trains are a prime candidate for the cross town trains as post CRL they will not (like the western trains) not have a buddy line to continue due to the western line 6EMUs not being able use the Onehunga line.

          1. It puts no more trains through Newmarket than what AT are already planning, western trains will no longer change ends there and the current plan is for the western trains that don’t go Onehunga (every 6EMU) will still go to Newmarket they will just terminate there.
            It will be a very long time before there is 12TPH running, there are not enough trains and AT are reluctant to order any (outside the 20 sets that are meant to be part of the CRL) until they are better utilized.

          2. “It puts no more trains through Newmarket than what AT are already planning” – This is wrong for two reasons:
            1) not all Western Line trains will go to Newmarket.
            2) Trains going to Newmarket will not have to “cross over” Southern Line trains, trains going through Newmarket will.

            “It will be a very long time before there is 12TPH running, there are not enough trains and AT are reluctant to order any (outside the 20 sets that are meant to be part of the CRL) until they are better utilized.” By my estimate, you only need 86 units in operation to operate 12tph on all lines with the post CRL running pattern. AT will have 77 units. Increasing frequency increases demand. With all 6 car sets on all lines and metro seating layouts we still only have 72,000 pax/hour capacity into the CBD I think we will run into that number within 2-3 decades. By adding another HR branch we have to reduce service elsewhere, and perform some magic at either Westfield, Newmarket, or both.

          3. 1. Where do the western trains that don’t go to Newmarket go?
            2. It is not as bad as you make it sound, up southern trains use platform 1, down use 3 (I can not remember what why they number so when I say platform 1 it is the platform current western trains use) the down Onehunga and potential airport via Otahuhu use 4 and the up would be on 3 or 4 depending on the frequency. Current peak is 12TPH southern, 12TPH Western and 4TPH Onehunga total 28TPH (14 each way).

            Just by my working on the back of an envelope to use all 6 cars during peak (not including Onehunga) at current frequency will use 70-76 train sets (depending on the allocated turnaround time), so add a few (estimated 4-5 for the cross town route) and allowing for maintenance (currently 3, 54 of 57 sets in service during peak) doesn’t allow for greater frequency without reducing capacity.

          4. 1. Where do the western trains that don’t go to Newmarket go? – Quay Park stabling yards.
            2. It is not as bad as you make it sound, up southern trains use platform 1, down use 3 (I can not remember what why they number so when I say platform 1 it is the platform current western trains use) the down Onehunga and potential airport via Otahuhu use 4 and the up would be on 3 or 4 depending on the frequency. Current peak is 12TPH southern, 12TPH Western and 4TPH Onehunga total 28TPH (14 each way).-You need to express this visually as it is completely lost in all of the words.

            Just by my working on the back of an envelope to use all 6 cars during peak (not including Onehunga) at current frequency will use 70-76 train sets (depending on the allocated turnaround time), so add a few (estimated 4-5 for the cross town route) and allowing for maintenance (currently 3, 54 of 57 sets in service during peak) doesn’t allow for greater frequency without reducing capacity.- Why on earth would you use six car when you could run more frequency with 3 cars with the same number of units? Surely we want a usable service.

          5. Why on earth run more frequency with 3 cars but reduce the capacity of the units? (like what happened on the western line when it went to 10 minute intervals) What does that achieve? Remember there is only 57 sets and once the 20 extras arrive (a three year lead time and no one can confirm they have been ordered yet). There will be times during the peak (about half of the services) when 6EMUs are required. The best you can hope for frequency wise is 8-9TPH on the 3 big lines and 3TPH (up from 2) on the Onehunga line during peak and 4TPH off peak on the three big lines.

            Quay park stabling yards are not a realistic place for Swanson trains as they will actually need to go back to Swanson as 6TPH each unit will need to do two return runs during each peak minimum.

          6. “Why on earth run more frequency with 3 cars but reduce the capacity of the units?”

            Because you want people to ride the train and know that this is one of the most effective ways to achieve that.

          7. So a train will show up every 7 minutes during peak instead of 10 but you will have a greater chance of having to stand, how does this encourage more people to ride the train?

          8. No, a train will turn up every 5 minutes instead of every ten minutes, and you will have the same chance of standing as there will still be the same capacity. Actually, you will be more likely to stand as there will be more passengers overall.

          9. I realise that running a public transport network based on best practice is a dream in Auckland but I live in hope.

          10. You are so funny as it was you that was saying we can’t run 12TPH (6 each way) on a line that currently runs 12TPH (6 each way) to go to the airport but somehow we are going to fit 24TPH each way (between Westfeild and Puhinui) plus freights in an area that already has 5 minute frequency during peak. Five minute frequencies on the three big lines requires 70-76 train sets, that doesn’t include any on Onehunga, the new cross town route AT wants to run or maintenance and we only have 57 sets.

  11. Riccardo – Salt Lake City is only 10km by LR from the city and runs in a fairly straight pattern on wide streets without having to compete with cars etc. Auckland to the airport via Dom Rd is double that and involves narrow roads with cars on them and consequently slower running – it also would have gradients to climb whereas SLC is flat.
    Nothing wrong with LR for short distances up to around 15km. When you are talking about over 20km and not on a dedicated ROW then LR doesn’t stack up.

    1. “Auckland to the airport via Dom Rd is double that and involves narrow roads with cars on them and consequently slower running” All roads have cars on them. By putting the already present bus lanes in the centre of the road and elevating them a little you remove conflict with cars. More importantly this has already been considered in the SMART report, and back of the envelope calculations will confirm that there is a lot of slack built into the airport times.

      “it also would have gradients to climb whereas SLC is flat.” Fairly shallow gradients for LRT, do you have evidence that this would effect running speed and that this hasn’t been considered in SMART?

      “Nothing wrong with LR for short distances up to around 15km. When you are talking about over 20km and not on a dedicated ROW then LR doesn’t stack up.” Why? It’s faster, has higher capacity, and is cheaper. Which part of that doesn’t stack up?

    2. But isn’t the point that they should not have done HR electrification – because then options like using the existing HR corridor to get to Onehunga or Papatoetoe or whatever, with the vehicle then running along a less expensively built LR corridor – would have become feasible.

      At the moment you have the devil’s choice – continue to build expensive HR standard corridors, or effectively duplicate the function of existing HR lines, but in LR, to get to the south western part of Auckland that then minimises the length of new built corridor to the airport itself.

      Same argument I would make in Wellington. Particularly poor outcome to expect HR to serve Melling or Johnsonville efficiently or effectively as both could have then had street-running extensions built.

      1. No, crl and electrification make sense. They optimised the existing networks which has seen great growth at low cost. New lines make sense to be lrt as we can’t get anymore heavy rail in.

  12. Has anyone picked up why they didnt look at a BRT LRT hybrid? A lot of BRT hybrid option costs were HR upgrades and lower benefits due to non Dom Rd route. A big hole in the study as far as I can see.

    1. Matthew LR BRT hybrid? You mean LR down Dom then bus to Airport? Well why would you do that? Only reason would be if you could just the buses on the existing motorway thereby saving building a line to the Airport? Except of course a bus on a motorway is not BRT. Sooooo, you’re suggesting building a Busway from the bottom of Dom alongside SH20 to the Airport like the proposed LR line. Three problems with this as opposed to just continuing the LR line, Busways are wider, and space is tight, and likely no cheaper than an LR line, and you’re forcing a transfer which will slow and complicate all journeys.

      Anyway there ought to be a Rapid Bus transfer available from Puhinui operating before any Mangere line is built, so for a transfer based Rapid Transit to the Airport [but not Mangere] an HR/BRT option should be functioning in the next few years… without building any new rail line, heavy or light.

      1. They looked at Bus HR hybrid. It was cheaper than LRT even when including what was a large proportion of total costs for upgrading HR. So based on SMART no doubt it would be significantly cheaper than LRT bus not assessed for some reason. they happily looked at BRT HR hybrid option so its nt like a hybrid option was ruled out on principle. It may or may not be a good idea to have a BRT LRT hybrid option, but based on the studies own parameters and outputs it is not clear why it wasnt included as an option but BRT HR hybrid was.

        Agreed with Puhinui as a short term option.

  13. “Auckland to the airport via Dom Rd is double that and involves narrow roads with cars on them and consequently slower running” All roads have cars on them. By putting the already present bus lanes in the centre of the road and elevating them a little you remove conflict with cars. More importantly this has already been considered in the SMART report, and back of the envelope calculations will confirm that there is a lot of slack built into the airport times.”
    Have you ever been to SLC Sailor Boy? I have multiple times and they have wide open, flat, fast roads – with plenty of space for their LR to run unobstructed at speed and over a much shorter distance. Dominion Road will be restricted to maximum 50km/h and in reality with multiple intersections and stops it is going to mean that the average speed along that stretch is likely to be half that. So a 20km+ trip to the airport is going to be very slow running for half it’s long journey compared to SLC where it’s 10km trip is run at a fairly high speed all the way except for stops.

    “it also would have gradients to climb whereas SLC is flat.” Fairly shallow gradients for LRT, do you have evidence that this would effect running speed and that this hasn’t been considered in SMART?”
    Simple physics – LR will operate more slowly on a gradient than it will on the flat – unless gravity doesn’t exist anymore!

    “Nothing wrong with LR for short distances up to around 15km. When you are talking about over 20km and not on a dedicated ROW then LR doesn’t stack up.” Why? It’s faster, has higher capacity, and is cheaper. Which part of that doesn’t stack up?”. Except it isn’t faster. These are very optimistic numbers put out by AT to discredit HR. As mentioned above half the LR journey will be at slow speeds likely to average around 25km/h once you take into account stops etc. HR is on a dedicated RoW – is capable of higher top speeds (which it would likely run at on a new stretch of rail to the airport), and improvements are being made to the speeds of the EMUs and to the tracks etc. CRL will speed this up further. You are living in dream land drinking the koolaid if you seriously think that LR along Dom Rd to the airport will be faster from the city than HR via Otahuhu or Puhinui.

    1. Not technically true, the HR wont be able to run close to top speed due to the geometry of the line. The OBL & the NBL are not very quick either.

      The speeds were working on around a 25km/h average so not sure if AT have overestimated as much as you think they have.

      I am happy to be convinced that AT put over optimistic numbers however, could you please provide a rebuttal of their methodology?

      Even if the speeds from Puhinui were better, this would not meet 2/3 objectives of the SMART project which was an RTN for the people of Mangere & Favona & better connections to the large employment centre which is growing North of the Airport.

      Wiri junction would also need a lot of work & thinking to make it perform well.

      1. AKLDUDE I agree with Harriet about the speeds of HR but I thought it was a touch over 30kph average speed so AT hasn’t overestimated the HR time, they may have underestimated LR for the very reasons you have mentioned. As Harriet has said Puhinui (I was initially a supporter of this route) doesn’t give the connections to the south western suburbs like the others including the Otahuhu option that seems to be getting ignored.

      2. Yes, top speed (above about 80m/h) doesn’t mean much in an urban network. Our heavy rail trains could be designed to do 300km/h but they’d be no faster in reality than they are already

        Also Akldude, SLC isn’t the only example of light rail working we can look at. I’ve looked at Seattle before as perhaps a better example. Their current LRT line runs for 30km and is almost exactly the same distance from the airport to the centre of the city. The vehicles run at up to 105km/h, only just a fraction slower than our EMUs. As of now their single LRT line is carrying more people than the entire Auckland rail network so has plenty of capacity.

        All of this suggests that the speeds AT suggest are possible with LRT are reasonable
        http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2016/08/10/lrt-the-seattle-example/

    2. ‘Simple physics – LR will operate more slowly on a gradient than it will on the flat – unless gravity doesn’t exist anymore!’

      I can still do 90kmh with a trailer on behind my car coming up the Bombay Hills, same as it does on the flat, a hill doesn’t automatically mean slowing down, it all depends on the power and torque of the LR vehicle.

    3. My back of the envelope calculations had Britomart to Mt Roskill slower than 25k average and still 5 minutes quicker to the airport than HR.

      Do the maths, show us your working, and you will be approaching a credible argument.

  14. They are improving the geometry of the HR lines all the time Harriet and removing many of the artificial speed restrictions.
    Even the latest Melbourne LR doesn’t run that fast on average in any built up areas (often with dedicated large medians for LR) and they are very used to them there – Auckland isn’t.

    SMART objectives can be achieved in many other ways – a lick of paint and you have bus lanes over the Manukau Harbour to link into the Onehunga HR line – add bus lanes into Mangere and through to Otahuhu with some decent service and that will have much greater coverage than LR there ever will.
    Likewise for the airport they should have a link type very regular bus service operating around the entire airport precinct. Add in better service to Mangere and that kills 2 birds.

    Wiri junction is going to have to be worked in any case for the 3rd/4th main etc so is a bit of a red herring.

        1. Well the St Kilda and Port Melbourne lines count on their trunks, although they are run with pretty small vehicles and suffer from tram style conditions at either end (shared lanes, no signal priority). The through routing of those to streetcar style lines limits them.

          Not sure the outer suburban extensions count either as they likewise have shared sections and ad hoc signals.

          So it might be fair to say Melbourne has a couple of short sections of light rail on its tram lines.

  15. Can we build the hybrid BRT now, and then build the light rail latter? Also we should look at the benefits of the Wellesley street and Broadway bus tunnel and stations on their own (without the rest of the airport route) as they will prove useful to numerous buses from other parts of the city

  16. Any time you see the word SMART in front of anything it is code for ‘we only really looked properly at the cheapest option the client wanted’ . Think Smart growth or SMART criteria in management or Smartcar. It is like Euro in front of anything means cheap and nasty: Euromusic, Eurobonds, Eurolaw, Europlonk.

  17. and what size is that trailer Jezza and what size engine do you have? Do you stop on the Bombays and then start off again? – Takes a long time to get back up to speed.
    A LR vehicle will have hundreds of people on board and is steel on steel by comparison.

  18. “the trench at Kirkbride is not designed to allow HR at road level due to the grades involved”

    Auckland’s EMU’s would not even notice it. It would be a complete non-issue.

    The real issue is that they insist the grade must be such that a fully laden freight train can make a standing start on it!

    1. I believe the bigger issue are the grades further back. To pass over the motorway they can’t get the tracks down to ground level before Bader Dr so why they proposed that elevated station at Mangere (I actually like that station better than the proposed LR station, I wonder if they can use it for LR too). Being elevated over Bader Dr there then isn’t enough space to get it down to ground level and under Kirkbride.

  19. Good post thanks Harriet. Seems out of this if LRT was chosen, a pity the Onehunga branch wouldn’t get the double tracking & level crossing done for ever or a very long time. It’s interesting to see what how they would deal with the level crossings along the route, doesn’t look all “that hard” with the 4 of the 8 level crossing being dealt with by simply closing the crossing. Seems to me that trenching would be prettier & cheaper than elevating. One downside to doing the HR option through Onehunga is having to move the station east along Princess St, further from the town & bus interchange to accommodate the 6 car set trains. Cheapest cost, trench version was estimated to be around $500M (from SMART Workshop 1: Onehunga Branch Line document, based on 2014 investigation). Either case or LRT or HR has the Neilson St Bridge removed & road regraded under rail. Another interesting point in that OBL document is that since the original study, the closing of Captain Springs Rd wouldn’t be so desirable with the proposed East-West-Connection….grrr

    1. The closing of Captain Springs Rd wouldn’t be so desirable even without the proposed East-West-Connection, granted Captain Springs rd would become a feeder to the east west connection closing it would chock Onehunga’s traffic more than it is now and strengthen the case for the east west connection.

      1. Yes I think HR going via Onehunga stacks it greatly towards using LRT due costs of sorting Onehunga. What are coatings of doing via Otahuhu, don’t think this beeem done properly recently has it?

        1. I don’t think they have been done. To do it properly the NAL needs to be extended south so effectively 5 mains from Westfeild junction to just south of Otahuhu (there are already plans for three mains around towards the port on the NIMT) but from there it is roughly the same amount of track and no expensive harbour crossing.

  20. Good post and the case for light rail looks strong. It perhaps should be noted that the original Airport Max proposal by CBT featured Light Rail from Albany to the Airport.

    The challenge remains the safe and speedy navigation down Dominion Road. There are several ROWs in Melbourne along the outer tram/light rail corridors and the roads are definitely wider than Dom Road. Also if I recall correctly, no parking along these Melbourne arterials.

    If Dom Road can be resolved, light rail will be in a better position than buses. If I were the network designer, I’d make the trams the narrowest standard model – typically 2.3m, up to 72m long with 80 kph max operating speed according to one of the mainstream manufacturers. I’m sure that if desired, the design can be double coupled to 144m.

    Operate the trams at closest practical distance between each track. A bus to my knowledge is almost always 2.5m across. Even if operating under a still very unproven autonomous mode of operation, a bi direction bus corridor is still going to be at minimum 400mm wider than a double track tram corridor. That matters on Dominion Rd. Given the bigger infrastructure needed for what will be smaller capacity buses, light rail wins.

    1. ” Even if operating under a still very unproven autonomous mode of operation, a bi direction bus corridor is still going to be at minimum 400mm wider than a double track tram corridor. ”

      Based on international precedents that is not correct unless it is intended to run the vehicles doen Dom Rd st >>50kph.

      Edit. You are assuming trams are narrower vehicles than buses. If you can get narrow trams, its hard to see why you couldnt get narrow buses. In either case I dont actually think you need to for Dom Rd.

      1. All about industry standards. Take a look at the Alexander Dennis site – the Enviro200 is 2.44 wide – the single decker now in widespread use in Auckland. The Enviro500 double decker is available at 2.5, 2.45 and 2.55 wide. It is likely; but needing to be confirmed; that NZ has ordered the 2.5m wide version as this is what the law requires as a maximum.

        Trams or Light Rail are available off the shelf right now in 2.3m width and hundreds are in service.

        Yes there are fancy schamncy guided buses available now that could offer a bespoke solution (shorter in width, longer in length, able to stick to the narrow parameters of a guided corridor). But in all likelihood these cost as much as a comparable light rail vehicles without the proven in service case history……I don’t mean one or two “pet” schemes as in France and Einthoven in the Netherlands. I mean international track record.

        Given the diagrams I have seen of Dominion Road, 400mm or greater reduced width needed for light rail compared to buses does matter. If there are to be ambitions to have dual tram-lines, plus tram stops and platforms, general traffic lanes, turning lanes at intersections, retain any sort of on-road parking, and/or a bike lanes, and footpaths, then every mm will need to be carefully rationed out down the length of Dominion Rd.

        1. Well it would interesting to see if a corridor of less than 6m is possible with LRT, I have never seen that. With LRT you of course need to put the OLE pylons somewhere.

          1. Please show me an operating system anywhere in the world with Class B buses operating at 50km/h with less than 6.6m of width as per the light rail corridor in Nantes.

          2. I don’t know where my comment just went so I will just summarize it.
            Matthew to add to Sailor Boy’s comment you would be looking at nothing under 7 metres (3.5 metres is the standard lane and that is for traffic traveling in the same direction), Buses are 2.3 metres, the new DD are 2.45 both plus mirrors etc, so two buses side by side are up to 5.7 metres by the time you give the driver some clearance given they are traveling at 50kph towards each other (100kph impact speed) you would need a minimum of 7 metres (in my opinion).
            We get away with narrow road side bus lanes now due to them being well clear of opposing traffic.

          3. Sailor boy you are right the minimum I have seen is Eindhoven. Note that while Eindhoven includes magnetically guided buses, ordinary unguided buses also run on it. It actually goes up to 70kph. I have only seen less in terms of recommended minima.

          4. Kent Lundberg just pointed this out to me:

            mobile.twitter.com/AsEasyAsRiding/status/775033552106823680

            Ill admit – thats tight!

  21. as another thought what if they extended the rail from manukau station out west crossing at puhunini heading straight onto the airport running express services from britomart to compensate for time lost also the service would get heeps of use being the main terminus for regional transport and cost less than a link from onehunga

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