The first section of the City Rail Link, from Britomart to Wyndham St, is now well under construction. Yesterday Auckland Transport announced the first contract documents for the rest of the project have now gone out to the industry. This is for the all the rail related infrastructure that will eventually go in the tunnels, the filling to the CRL sandwich if you will. The tunnels themselves will go out to tender later as they need the winner of this contract to help finalise the documents for the tunnels to make sure they’ll all work together.
Expressions of Interest are being sought for the design, procurement, installation and commissioning of all tunnel track work and rail systems between Britomart Station and the Western Line at Mt Eden. The work involves the provisioning of track slab, track, overhead line, signalling, control systems, tunnel ventilation, fire strategy and communications system.
The successful contractor will be responsible for the integration of the systems with the existing operations at Britomart and Mt Eden and the new tunnels and stations being built for the CRL.
The documents, the first to be released to build the project past its current Britomart and Albert street sites, have been prepared as a result of the agreement between the Government and Auckland Council to jointly fund the project.
The C7 systems package will be procured using an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) model followed by a Design and Construct contract.
Other packages to be released this year include one for the construction of the CRL tunnels and new city, Karangahape and Mt Eden stations and a further package for a stormwater diversion in Mt Eden.
The various contracts as part of the project are shown below
It’s good that we’ve reached a milestone, and will obviously be even better once these contracts are signed. The graphic below gives an indication of when that will be.
But the purpose of this post isn’t just about some PR fluff. The announcement prompted me to look and see if there was any new information about the project, and I was in luck, finding a number of new presentations on AT’s CRL Procurement page that came from an industry briefing at the end of November.
- CRL Industry Briefing presentation (PDF 4MB – 30 pages)
- CRL Industry Briefing technical presentation (PDF 6MB – 83 pages)
- Industry Briefing information booklet – section 1 and 2(PDF 4MB – 32 pages)
- Industry Briefing information booklet – section 3 (PDF 14MB – 28 pages)
Below are some of the items that caught my attention from the documents.
One of the first things to strike me was this new map showing the rail network with and without the CRL and it raises some concerning questions. These include
- I count seven different service patterns for a what is a fairly basic four track network. This seems focused on running trains rather than making things easier for customers and so all this will do is make things more confusing for passengers when all that is needed is a simple two line network.
- Related to above, why are services shown as terminating still at Britomart and not through routing – which is the entire point of the CRL.
- The map shows most of the Western Line, west of Mt Albert, stuck with no additional frequency to get to the city whilst sending the same number of trains to completely avoid the city centre. The demand to the city will be many many times larger than those wanting to go west-south so what’s the point in investing $billions in infrastructure if we’re not going to use it to improve service for a large section of the rail network.
- The map shows another new service pattern running from Mt Albert to Otahuhu. How’s that going to work, are AT planning on building new platforms at Mt Albert?
- There is also an orange label for extra trains from the south but no line to match it.
You can see a larger version of just the post CRL map here.
Another perhaps clearer version of what is planned is shown in this operations diagram – note to AT: if your operations diagram is easier to understand than a more customer centric map then you’re doing it wrong.
An aspect of both maps that really annoys me personally is that there is no planned change to services past Henderson meaning what exists today is as good as it gets.
A document also contains the outcomes of some of the passenger modelling. The concerning thing here is that they suggest Aotea will only see 6,750 people exiting the station in an AM peak hour and 6,500 at Britomart. We know Britomart already sees over 10k exit over a two hour peak (of which most would be in a single hour) so these numbers seem way too low. I’m guessing this could be another victim of our transport models which like to think no one wants to use trains in Auckland and continually underestimates usage.
One quite concerning slide is this, suggesting the project now won’t be completed till 2024. It would be extremely disappointing if it slipped to then.
Part of the C7 contract will see changes made to the platform layout, making Britomart a four-track station (from five) so bigger platforms can be provided for the CRL though routed lines. As part of the C9 contract (Britomart East), changes will also be made to the station to improve access from the eastern end. I’m sure the design will be refined over time. This isn’t planned to start construction till after the CRL is operational.
Around Mt Eden, two new pedestrian bridges are being built across the network, one at the current level crossing next to the station linking into to Ngahura St (top) and one which will replace the Porters Rd level crossing (which is to be closed).
Speaking of Mt Eden, the project needs a chunk of land near the station to build the project but which can be later developed. This image shows the potential development for that land, adding thousands of new dwellings. It’s also worth noting that the value of this is something not captured in the formal economic case.
Also on development, the Wellesley St (Aotea) and Mercury Lane (K Rd) entrances are being designed to be built over. At the Wellesley St, they have allowed for a 17-24 storey building above and beside the station entrance while at Mercury Lane a 7-8 storey building is possible. I’m sure this image of Aotea is just to show the scale of what’s possible rather than any proposal.
At Aotea, the documents indicate some neighbouring land owners might want direct connections to the station. This includes to the NDG tower proposal (the current vacant site on Elliott St) and a potential link to Skycity. They’re also say this on future proofing for a potential North Shore Line.
The design also provides for future-proofing for the assumed alignment of a North Shore Line in Wellesley Street. It includes an adjustment of the size and location of piles that form part of the station box
There’s also this new image of the entrance on Victoria St. If you look closely you can see they’ve squeezed four lanes of traffic in but one thing that’s notable that’s missing is any cycleway – which is listed as an Urban Cycleway Fund project. See here for more information on why the AT design is poor.
In addition to the CRL itself, some of the wider network works associated with the project include
- adding the connection from west to platform 4 as Newmarket
- provisioning the additional platform at Otahuhu (the platform itself was built as part of the station works).
- additional platforms at Henderson to deal with services terminating there – this is shown below.
Have you had a look at the documents, is there anything else from them that stands out to you?