On Monday I blogged about the new rail timetables due out in March but at the same time also made a number of comments in relation to a new rail network map that AT were introducing that among other things, finally included the Northern Busway.

Some of the comments I made were perhaps a little nitpicky but comes from the fact I want to see AT do a good job as even little things can help in getting more people to try and use public transport. Many of the comments also echoed similar ones I’d made on twitter on the weekend.

To the surprise of myself and a to a few others who made comments, AT responded yesterday to say they’d made some changes as a result of the feedback.

Here’s the new version. The changes are subtle and seem to primarily consist of:

  • Changing the walk between Britomart and Lower Albert St – I still think this is unnecessary to even show this as a walk, in many cities overseas transfers between lines can be considerably longer and through a rabbit warren of tunnels
  • Adding the North Shore Hospital
  • Subtle changes to the Onehunga line at Penrose
  • Renaming ‘Bus/Train transport hub’ to just ‘Major transport hub’
Updated version – click to enlarge

As a comparison, this is the previous version looked like

Version released last week – click to enlarge

While the changes might be minor in the overall scheme of things, what impressed me was that AT were responsive and actually made them at all. I think what this also shows is that there are a lot of people in the transport advocacy community that want to help make things better. Perhaps AT should try to harness that a bit more to gather informal feedback for improvements.

And speaking of improvements, here’s another one for them. Why not show some of the future plans on map too, as a way of both highlighting those projects and letting people know that AT have plans to keep improving the network. Given the status of various projects right now, the City Rail Link and possibly the Eastern Busway should be shown – but then given the recent ATAP work perhaps the whole strategic network should be shown. Except for the likes of us and our readers, most Aucklanders probably don’t know many of these plans even exist.

The approach of showing future lines is quite common overseas. For example this is a rail map of Sydney from 2004. At the time the Epping-Chatswood line was under construction and it didn’t open till 2009 but was shown on the rail map so people know it was being built.

So how about it AT, let’s get at least some of those future lines added to maps.

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  1. Maybe it’s just me but the Otahuhu-Puhinui link confuses me as there are three different symbols used across four stations.

    From the map my educated guess is both Eastern & Southern stop at Otahuhu and Puhinui both only the Southern at Middlemore and only the Eastern at Papatoetoe. If that isn’t the case then why do Middlemore and Papatoetoe have different symbols?

    1. The yellow of the Eastern Line makes it hard to see that it has relevant station “ticks” at both Middlemore and Puhi ui. If the yellow line was cased (as I believe the similarly coloured Circle line is in London), the line would stand out more and the “ticks” would be clearer.

  2. It’s good to see AT are listening.
    Their PR people must use every way, in NZs top world ranking, to explain anything.
    A free flow of ideas is a good democracy.

  3. God response from AT!

    A few further points:

    1. Isn’t Hibiscus Coast as significant a transport hub as, say, Pukekohe?
    2. Not sure why Lower Albert St has a unique (and unexplained) symbol – isn’t that a transport hub, too?
    3. Similarly the ferry terminal has an unexplained symbol.
    4. As the Sydney example shows, under-construction projects are often shown by a dashed line. But Pukekohe is already shown like that, which could cause some confusion, so something different is needed.

  4. They also moved the Ferry Terminal out to the side, rather than inline between Britomart and Albert St. I think it was Max that pointed out on Twitter that it looked like you needed to catch a ferry to Albert Street 🙂

    1. I don’t see the need for that extra symbol, I think it adds clutter to an already very full map, very busy especially for such a small network… Interchange is good. People can appreciate scale, I don’t see the need to alert people to bigger stations with another symbol….

      1. Surely you would drop the ‘train line transfer station’ icon though? That literally adds no information, at least the ‘major interchange’ icon tells you where to transfer to other services that *aren’t* shown on this map.

        1. Interchange will do, people understand what that means. There is a world-wide Transit map convention show more significant interchanges with a bigger shape than more minor ones (if for no other reason than they generally have more lines to span), but not a whole new symbol. This map is still too busy and simply doesn’t need some many grades of station indicated.

          There are 4 different ways a station is shown on that map, 6 if you count Albert St and the Ferry Terminal. That’s not helping legibility nor is it best practice. And only one place where walking happens apparently (not to Grafton or NS Hospitals?)….

          1. So we agree that there should only be two marks, now to decide whether Puhinui is more like Britomart or Middlemore.

          2. Why is Puhinui even shown as a “train line transfer station” for example, when you can generally transfer on any intersecting lines (the way my brain would work)? You may want to go to the toilet at Papatoetoe while transferingI think Ellerslie is heard on the train voice thingy to transfer to southern line if going south on the Onehunga one and of course users familiar with the platform layouts know this is easier than Penrose. I guess coming from south it says to use Penrose? – more likely to catch the service coming without a big wait if timing is close…but not if you are real slow walker…so many things to ponder…

          3. anyone travelling from Papakura – Manukau, will transfer at Puhinui. Sure you could travel on further up the southern then transfer at Otahuhu, but then you’d be back-tracking.

  5. The way the green line doubles back at Newmarket is so annoying. Just because it happens in real life doesn’t mean it should happen on the map – what purpose does it serve to show that?

    1. I think it is useful to tell people to expect to change direction there. I often see people on the western line getting confused or upset when they think the train is going the wrong way and that they are on the wrong line.

        1. Plus the green line shows it definitely goes to Newmarket station which it wouldnt do if you were following the curve. Back before Newmarket was rebuilt the station for Western line was way over in Kingdon St .

    2. The answer to the question “Why doesn’t the green line stay on the left hand side of the blue line all the way to Bristomart?” (which I agree, it would look cleaner) is because the Western line will stop at Parnell and they need to show the double-line tick there. The Onehunga line won’t stop there so it needs to be on the outside of those two lines.

    1. Yea, this continues to irk me too. It was like that on the old rail only diagram. Platforms shouldn’t be shown on the network diagram, that’s not what they’re their for – use a station map. Plus, we don’t show Newmarket or Britomart with platform details. Consistency is key, lack of it causes confusion.

        1. Yes they should- was thinking that the Monument/Bank interchange symbol would make sense. One question though- is this route signposted clearly? I know there were stickers all over the ground for a while directing people when the bus stops changed down town…

        2. IMHO Penrose doesn’t need platform numbering, or the walkway symbol any more than Newmarket or Papakura do. It’s a well-signed three-platform station with a slight complication that’s an irrelevant complication on a network diagram.

    2. A map shows the Onehunga Penrose platform 125m in a direct line from the other platforms. It could be closer to 150m walking distance. Its probably the only station that has platforms that far apart. A bit like London underground stations which can be adjacent but a fair hike away

  6. Auckland Rapid Transport map display should try use the same line formatting as current Sydney Train Map with the white line in the middle to indicate train stopping at that station. It would make it easier for those looking at the map rather than those tick marks.

    1. A teeny bit of a radius on the blue-line branching off at Penrose. Previously it was a stark right angle. A radius better-reflects the actual curve-off here, as is also shown for the Western Line at Newmarket and the Eastern Line at Westfield Junction.

      Nice ‘feel-good’ from A.T’s responsiveness here. More, like this please guys!

  7. Another minor point: If Fruitvale Rd qualifies as a toilet stop, why doesn’t Mt Albert? Both have toilets just outside the station.

  8. The ‘Northern busway’ line is really the NEX line as they’ve drawn it. Maybe they should just name it as the NEX and then add NEX2 etc later?

    Also, Hibiscus Station is an interchange station. I think the map needs to reflect that.

  9. “Strategic Public Transport (Heavy Rail)” and “Strategic Public Transport” or in plain speak
    Trains and Buses. Wasn’t there some official body formed to make the use of gobbledegook in govt depts less prevalent? Or is NZ an exception where obfuscation is encouraged and easily understood language/titles are not PC?
    Or, as I suspect the hype is to make buses look less pathetic as a serious RT contender.
    FFS are the transport planners so blinkered and cheapskate that the only long term proper solution for a future strategic network, heavy rail, is being deliberately ignored.
    I see the western line for the future terminates at Swanson so that Huapai local board looks like its rail aspirations will be ignored and with the lack of support Jon receives from this blog and more congestionit sure looks like the future for Auckland PT is buses and more buses
    Just MHO.

    1. Why on earth do you want to waste billions of dollars on heavy rail on the northwestern or northern or to airport, or to east Auckland for no advantage whatsoever over light rail or light metro?

      Strategic public transport network is a clear indication of what is meant that even a child could understand.

      1. IMHO “strategic” is much-overused management-speak that few adults actually understand, let alone children – and what has catching a bus or train got to do with strategy, anyway?

        How about “core”, or “key”, or “main”, or some other nice simple world instead of polysyllabic gobbledygook?

        My thoughts, anyway…

        1. “IMHO “strategic” is much-overused management-speak”

          Is also the key word for justification for most RoNS. When NZTA was unable to justify the project on the normal funding criteria they would roll out the ‘strategic alignment’. In other words ‘the government told us to build this.’

      2. @ Sailor Boy
        Here we go again. Anything but more of what we’ve already got, which actually works pretty well in case you hadn’t noticed.

        Cost-savings with light rail will only really materialise if we skimp and shove it down existing streets rather than on its own right-of-way. Segregation is the way to success of a RTN, be it bus, rail or driverless pods. Trams-in-the-street have their place, but not as part of a core RTN.

        So Sailor Boy we will not be “wasting billions” extending heavy rail to the places you mention. Kindly desist from spreading such emotive mis-information. The cost of properly-segregating any sort of rapid transit corridor will likely be similar, be it heavy rail, light rail, light metro, busway or whatever. There is no magic bullet offered by these so-called “light” modes, which somehow gives you something for nothing. You get what you pay for in most cases.

        “Heavy rail” is a misnomer, as we would not be building for 1,000-ton freight trains. I see nothing to indicate that the highly-capable ‘AM’ (“heavy rail”) units would not be able to handle the gradients on the North Shore busway if conversion of this to any sort of rail ever happens.

        1. Who is talking about trams in the street Dave? Light rail is very different from trams. And sorry you are completely wrong on the alignment thing. Light rail on a totally dedicated off-street alignment is far cheaper to build than heavy rail. The design geometry of “what we’ve got” is massively constraining and adds literal billions to the cost of fitting rail to our city. It requires much more structure, more tunnels, more earthworks, more batters and bridges, more property purchase and demolition. You may not like it, but it’s the simple truth.

          1. Take a look at that diagram above ‘Proposed future strategic public transport network’ and that connection from Britomart to Mt Roskill. Now, unless that is referring to some unknown off-street alignment, then it sure looks like that proposal to put light rail along Dom Rd. Thats looking way more tram like than a Rapid transport link.
            So the extension to this from Onehunga to the airport gets an off-street alignment and may actually be an RTN but joining it to the Dom Rd tram link and calling it an RTN is fooling nobody. Make all the naysayer comments and fall back on ‘costs billions’ unproven excuses but there is only one proper solution and that will be a heavy rail airport link, or loop, as others have suggested, Onehunga-Airport-Puhinui.

          2. Heavy rail must be a really poor option if it takes as long from Onehunga to Aotea as an LRT system then.

            Tram is a deliberate misnomer used by mode fetishists to diminish LRT.

          3. Yes it is in the road corridor, but that doesn’t mean it is a “street tram” or not an RTN. Could you maybe explain why you think it wouldn’t meet the definition of RTN, or not run like one?

            As for ‘unproven excuses’ that is flat out wrong. There are several detailed engineering designs that have costed the construction of heavy rail and light rail, and heavy rail is more expensive. It is simply more constrained geometry that is harder to build.

            A case in point, say we wanted to build a rail bridge across the waitemata, and we need ship clearance of 45m below the deck of the middle point of the bridge to match the existing bridge. Well with light rail capable of 6% sustained grades, going up and down again requires a bridge of 1,500m long. With heavy rail that is limited to 3% grades, the bridge to go up and down again needs to be three kilometres long. It’s literally twice as much bridge you have to build.

            This same effect is seen at every step along the way, if you want to underpass a road Lrt needs a ramp 83m long each side, heavy rail needs 160m either side. But the problem is you often don’t have space to go up and down all the time, so retrofitting heavy rail to an existing urban area often means just staying in tunnel or staying on a viaduct. Tunnels cost around seven times as much as going on the surface, and viaducts three to four times as much.

            You need a very good reason to build heavy rail, because it’s going to cost at least double. Unless you have a network plan that needs 30,000+ passengers per hour each way then you’re wasting money for no reason.

          4. I completely agree with your bridge and rail gradient example. However you are making some unstated assumptions concerning HR operation if NS HR is built as an RTN. Would KR become owner of the track, OLE etc? WHy would the KR max gradient be implemented on NS HR since there is no need to cater for 1000 tonne, 1000metre long DL hauled freights (or any freight) which would probably never be allowed to traverse a rail tunnel under the harbour and into the CBD.
            An easement of this gradient restriction then opens up the practicality of laying HR without the need for expensive long cuttings, massive earthworks and perhaps bridges and trenches.
            The AM HR emus can certainly cope with steeper gradients than the maximum currently imposed by KR. Sure KR might grumble about non-standard section of HR but that should not be a blocker on getting HR implemented
            So was there some other reason a North Shore Light rail would be better value?

          5. @Nick R. It’s frustrating to have to keep going over the same ground, but your misinformation persists.
            Heavy rail is (shouting) NOT LIMITED TO 3%.


            In New Zealand, 3% happens to be the steepest grade up which we haul 2000 ton coal trains (Otira Tunnel). This has no bearing whatsoever on the gradient-capability of EMU’s. This is largely a function of the proportion of powered wheelsets in the consist, and for the CAF units this is an impressive 67% – not dissimilar to many light rail situations. Given the specification for a live unit to be able to push a fully-laden failed unit up the CRL’s 3.5%, I would be surprised if these units could not easily handle a 6% grade under normal running.


          6. Have I mistakenly thought that a proper RTN would require its own dedicated pathway, like HR or those parts of the Northern Busway that is on its own roadway? So a light rail down the centre of a busy suburban road, an arterial, can be classified as an RTN? The competing traffic on the same pathway, including pedestrians,cyclists etc, enable RAPID light rail to operate safely?
            Or again do I misunderstand and your measure of rapid means the total travel time from Aotea to Airport being equal or better to HR? even though the calculated travel time are nothing more than guesstimates. The last times I saw posted on this blog certainly measured a worst case HR and a very very optimistic bestest (and highly improbable) LR timing from Aotea to Airport.
            Thoese timings also conveniently omitted that HR can do nothing but get better while LR times can just get worse especially on the DOM Rd section.
            Why do you believe a Dom Rd LR qualifies as a RAPID rail system?

          7. “Have I mistakenly thought that a proper RTN would require its own dedicated pathway, like HR or those parts of the Northern Busway that is on its own roadway?” No, you haven’t.

            “So a light rail down the centre of a busy suburban road, an arterial, can be classified as an RTN?” Yes it can.

            “The competing traffic on [an adjacent] pathway, including pedestrians,cyclists etc, enable RAPID light rail to operate safely?” Yes, it does as evidenced by every place that this is already achieved.

            “Or again do I misunderstand and your measure of rapid means the total travel time from Aotea to Airport being equal or better to HR?” No, you do not misunderstand.

            “even though the calculated travel time are nothing more than [made-up word I am deliberately using as an emotive justification of my case].” LR time projections are no less accurate than HR.

            “The last times I saw posted on this blog certainly measured a worst case HR and a very very optimistic bestest (and highly improbable) LR timing from Aotea to Airport.” Evidence needed; the LRT times have about 5 minutes of slack built in compared to operation at 1m/s.s acceleration and top travel speed no higher than existing speed limit, and 30s of stationary dwell time at each station.

            “Those timings also conveniently omitted that HR can do nothing but get better” Please name the ways in which they could get better.

            “while LR times can just get worse especially on the DOM Rd section.” Please explain how they would become worse over time?

            “Why do you believe a Dom Rd LR qualifies as a RAPID rail system?” High capcity vehicles operating in their own corridor are RTN, the proposed LRT network operates high capcity vehicles in their own corridor.

          8. Dgd, and others who may be interested in getting a realistic picture of just how “Rapid” LRT in Dominion Road is likely to be, have a look at these past arguments if you haven’t seen them already:-


          9. Dave – just out of interest are you saying LRT should not run down Dominion Rd at all or just airport LRT should not run down Dominion Rd? I imagine by the time we are building airport LRT, Dominion Rd LRT will already be in place so we will know how it works.

            Incidentally I don’t think we’ve seen the last of airport HR yet, a lot of water will go under the bridge in the next 20 years and there will probably be another report done before anything is actually built.

          10. “The competing traffic on [an adjacent] pathway, including pedestrians,cyclists etc, enable RAPID light rail to operate safely?” Yes, it does as evidenced by every place that this is already achieved.

            Thanks for that clarification, so the LRT is a distinct pathway separated from ADJACENT pathways on either side of it? So its this distinct separation that allow RAPID speeds on this LR corridor, just like HR with aedquate fences and barriers to prevent peds, cyclists etc from crossing the corridor and no impediment from level crossings where LRT always has priority (like HR) otherwise road bridges or crossing tunnels are used. All H&S approved and fitting in with the proposed ZERO safety strategy
            In effect the LRT corridor on Dom Rd will be almost completely restricting cross road traffic.

            FYI that alleged made up word you try to ridicule….
            Guesstimate is an informal English portmanteau of guess and estimate, first used by American statisticians in 1934 or 1935. It is defined as an estimate made without using adequate or complete information, or, more strongly, as an estimate arrived at by guesswork or conjecture.

          11. Hi Jezza. In answer to your question above, I am all for Dominion Road LRT, but not as the main RTN to the airport. It fulfils a different function. Horses for courses.

          12. One of the famous tram lines in Belgium is the coast tram. It’s a bit similar to our proposed LRT system. From what I gather:
            – It runs mostly along roads, but in its own bedding. I don’t think it has a lot of sections shared with cars.
            – The most recent vehicles on that line are very similar to the vehicles on our proposed system.
            – But over there they’re still generally known as “trams”.
            – 68 km with 69 stops according to Wikipedia.
            – Commercial speed is estimated to be just under 30 km/h by Google maps, which is the same ballpark as our trains.
            – Runs along what’s commonly called — especially by the Dutch — the ugliest coast in the world.
            – Runs through a mix of urban and open spaces.

            In Auckland: I guess for the Dominion Road stretch it will come down to: (1) how much time will it spend crawling through shopping centres like Balmoral? I can’t imagine it safely speeding up to 50 km/h over there, and (2) how good is the signal priority at the traffic lights? If the plan is to have possible transfers with cross-town services it will have to stop fairly close to these large intersections. We’ll see when the plans get more detailed.

          13. David so you claim, however its not me you have to convince. You would need to go to Kiwirail and get them to change their requirements and their policy, and also tell AT why they were wrong wasting so much money on the CRL design when they could have gone to 6%.

            Sorry, but you’re theory is a world apart from the reality of what can get planned and consented in real life here in Auckland. Shouting the same thing louder won’t change that fact.

            Do you not remember when I linked to all the documents and plans showing the heavy rail limit for the CRL etc?

          14. @ Nick R: “Do you not remember when I linked to all the documents and plans showing the heavy rail limit for the CRL etc?”

            I presume you are referring to the exchange we had a few months ago, when you posted this comment:

            The documents you linked to stated, in-a-nutshell:-
            1) That KiwiRail as access-provider cannot steepen-up any existing main lines beyond 1 in 32 without consulting 3rd-party operators (if any) !
            2) That for various reasons a ruling gradient of 3.5% has been chosen for the CRL and that this then influences downstream design-options.
            3) That the need for a steep gradient restricts design-options for the CRL.

            None of these purport to be mandatory design-standards for railway gradients elsewhere in New Zealand. Neither do they go into the various reasons why 3.5% was considered an appropriate maximum in this particularly-specialised underground situation. You are misconstruing what these documents say in claiming them as evidence that “heavy rail that is limited to 3% grades”. This is simply not true!

            Just what is your agenda in repeatedly pushing this false message?

          15. Jesus Dave, I’m not pushing an agenda at all. My only agenda is to bloody well get on with building rapid rail in Auckland. I’m just trying to help people understand the trade offs of various modes, like how the big benefits of heavy rail come at a big price. Unfortunately there is a small and noisy bunch of people that for whatever reason demand all public transport must be heavy rail, and claim conspiracy and secret agendas when anyone suggests that maybe a slightly different package of rail technologies might be a better or cheaper option. The same people demand heavy rail, then when they see how much money it actually costs to build heavy rail, claim even greater depths of conspiracy and collusion over the price. Likes there is some anti-heavy rail league of shadows vowed to prevent it at all costs? Why for fucks sakes? What could anyone possible hope to gain by confecting lies about one type of rail system?! Its simply absurd.

            Yes, in Auckland all recent project have had a ruling grade of no more that 3.5%. This is from the CRL to the New Lynn trench to the Manukau extension to the airport line to long term planning for north shore rail any all sorts of things. I don’t actually know exactly why this is the effective limit, but I have questioned it many times and the answer is always the same, that they can’t practically deliver railways in Auckland that run steeper than that.

            This is indeed a problem, it adds huge practicalities and costs of trying to weave rail lines around motorway corridors and existing infrastructure. It is responsible for hundreds of millions of the cost of the CRL, and similar proportions of expense at New Lynn etc. Why would they do this if it wasn’t actually a constraint of the system we have? What is to gain by wasting millions more on our heavy rail projects.

            Have you ever considered that maybe instead of a wide reaching nefarious conspiracy to add huge cost to every Auckland heavy rail we have done so far and are planning for the future… that maybe it actually does have a relatively constrained geometry that causes a lot of difficulties for our applications?

            Note I never said it was a mandatory design standard, I said we can’t build heavy rail to nearly the same grades as light rail. That is a statement of real world practicality. It’s like saying you can’t build a forty story skyscraper out of timber framing. There is no mandatory law that says you can’t do it, it’s just that you can’t practically do it. Now I’m sure you could possibly design something where a timber framed skyscraper would be feasibly buildable, at huge cost and impacts. Or maybe you could find a very niche application where it does pan out, or where someone has tried it. But can we go off tomorrow to start building timber framed skyscrapers in Auckland, no. Can we build steel framed skycrapers, yes. Should we leave the timber framed buildings for the applications where they are the most effective system, yes. Should we demand that all buildings every built in auckland be made of timber, of course not.

            By all means, if you have some evidence to show that is not the case then please let me know how everyone in the industry has been getting it so wrong all the time, and how we can fix it. I would love to have this information, I would be hailed as a hero if I could take this to a client and tell them the way they can shave hundreds of millions off the cost of their projects and deliver them far earlier with less impact. In fact I would probably sell everything I own and put all the money into an infrastructure company specialising in super steep heavy rail lines for urban applications. I would be a multi millionaire in very short order.

            Quite frankly, if you have this information to prove what the entire engineering industry is wrong and you are right, why aren’t you capitalising on it? In fact, you have a moral obligation to share this information asap so we don’t spend more than we need to on the CRL.

          16. Nick, I appreciate your views on HR and the ruling gradients.
            This gradient issue appears to be the main reason for the CAPEX difference between an HR and LR RTN for North Shore.
            Therefore should this not be properly investigated since it would appear that the reasons for the present grade limit is based on data that will likely never apply to a North Shore HR RTN.

          17. OK Nick R.

            I have no problem with you (and Sailor Boy) expressing opinions on which modes you think are most suitable and why you think that is, but I object to you trotting out false statements and claiming them as fact. Such as your insinuation above that heavy rail cannot exceed a 3% grade. This is utterly misleading.

            You ask me for evidence and suggest that I am somehow at odds with the “entire engineering industry”. My evidence is that steeper grades exist in numerous situations elsewhere, and I have given examples several times. The veracity of these can easily be checked if you doubt it.

            You claim to know people (in KiwiRail?) who say it can’t be done in NZ, or that it contravenes some local law of physics? Well perhaps you could cite your sources, and not just link to documents which do not support what you are claiming.

            And you claim that “hundreds of millions” could be shaved from the cost of the CRL if it was made steeper! Where do you get this from? The CRL has to gain a certain elevation over a certain horizontal distance in a bored tunnel, and this has largely determined its gradient. You assume that a steeper alignment would automatically be cheaper. Can you back this up if you are going to keep stating it as fact?

            What I see you trying to do is “prove” (falsely) that a railway alignment suitable for AM-units must automatically be the same as that required for heavy freight trains, and therefore “prove” (without valid evidence) that any further heavy rail will cost “at least double” the equivalent alignment for LRV’s. If it is true that some bizarre edict exists in New Zealand to say that what is done elsewhere can’t be done here, are you yourself not concerned to question it?

          18. David, I literally work on these projects every day. I have heard the CRL engineers griping about the grades and telling me how much of a huge constraint it was on the design. Thats where the comment of “adds hundreds of millions to the cost”… from the people that designed and costed it. No sorry I can’t give you proof of this, there is no published document that says “if the CRL could be built with an impossible ruling grade that we can’t use, it would be a lot cheaper”. However there are documents where the designers note the challenges they had to deal with to build the grade, I have linked those for you already.

            I’ve worked on heavy rail plans for converting the busway, for the airport line, for the northwestern, for the Avondale-Southdown, for just about anywhere you could think of putting one. In some cases it adds a literal billion dollars to the cost due to basically being on or in a structure the whole way.

            I always ask why it is so expensive, why do you have to be on a viaduct here or in such a long tunnel there. The answer is almost always the grade (including the compensated grade with curvature). Often you get awful trade offs like either a viaduct 30m in the air, or a tunnel 3km long just to pass a motorway diamond that is on a hill.

            Again I’m not a design engineer so I don’t know all the minute details, however I do work constantly with these engineers and I have to trust that all these people working on these projects who say the same thing actually know what they are talking about.

            Anyway, I don’t have to back up these claims, I’m not the one making any claims, I’m just outlining what actually happens in the industry right now. You are the one claiming that everyone in the rail engineering profession in Australasia is wrong.

          19. Nick R – you’re not making any claims? Sorry, but your whole series of posts appears to be in support of your claims that the CRL is costing too much because of the gradient (which you’re not able to substantiate, apparently), and that heavy rail inherently has a much greater gradient restraint than light rail (debunked by Dave B (W)).

            But I think you’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick. The true comparison is not between light rail and heavy rail, but between an all-purpose national network and a dedicated passenger line. The CRL is an extension of the NIMT, the Manukau Branch a ashort branch off the NIMT, the the New Lynn trench part of the NAL and the Avondale-Southdown Line a proposed link between the NAL and the NIMT, so it’s entirely reasonable that KiwiRail should apply their normal standards to these lines – to do otherwise would be the opposite of the future-proofing that most people now embrace. But for a new passenger-only line (say across the Waitemata) there’s no paricular reason that different, tailored standards should not apply – and it’s certainly not impossible that if AT took full project responsibilty KR would have little say in its design (even if the line is ultimately connected to the KR network – plenty of similar examples exist round the world).

          20. No I’m not making claims, I’m outlining the issues as I’ve had them explained to me. Dave is the one making the claim that all the work being done is wrong.

            But I do agree with you mike. You could have a special specification of rail system, with different vehicles and track geometries, different power systems, make it standard gauge or whatever is required. Sure, but that wouldn’t really be heavy rail, not in the sense of extending the network we have and crucially not allowing inter operation and through routing between the existing and new lines (which is one of the only reasons why you would do it).

            Sure we can have an entirely new and incompatible system for passenger only urban operations, I would tend to call that metro, or perhaps in some cases a light railway. We have looked at options like that for sure. Indeed when I say these things about heavy rail it is referring to extending the heavy rail that we do have. If it doesn’t have to be compatible with the heavy rail we do have there are a whole suite of light rail and metro systems to chose from that could do the job.

        2. As I have repeatedly requested every single time that you have slandered whichever consultant did SMART by suggesting that they deliberately cooked their figures: if you want to dispute their findings then you need to dispute some part of the method. Until you do this you will continue to have zero credibility in this conversation.

          1. Not to mention the city rail link design. Why then did they limit themselves to 3.5% and end up with stations mined out 40m underground? That’s actually an accusation of gross professional negligence, you are alleging they spent hundreds of millions extra on an unnecessarily flat alignment, when they could have gone twice as steep and build cheap stations by cut and cover?

          2. “Why then did they limit themselves to 3.5% and end up with stations mined out 40m underground?”

            As explained to you previously, they decided not to have a level crossing on the CMJ.

          3. IIRC, they want completely level platforms at stations but due to the grades needed they’ve had to put the K Rd one on a slight incline. If it was possible to build steeper they would have just to address that issue

            In addition, the recent report we posted about level crossing removal stated the maximum allowed for freight was 2.8% while if they didn’t have to accommodate that they could do 3.5% which would have made things much easier.

          4. There was no point in having the CRL at a steeper gradient to then level out (or even drop back down to clear the CMJ) from K Rd to Mt Eden.

          5. No issue was getting up to K Rd and then from K Rd up to Mt Eden, Motorway wasn’t the issue. As I said, if grades aren’t the issue like some are claiming, then why were AT having to put the platforms on an incline just so they could get the trains out of the tunnel at Mt Eden.

            Another thing to remember, the trains might be possible of slightly higher grades on their own but a fully laden 3-car unit has to be able to pull another, fully laden, dead unit out of the tunnel for safety purposes.

          6. Ted, the point would be not having to build K Road station as twelve storey underground building. That station alone is costing as much as the entire northern busway cost to build.

            Coming up steeper and then running flat would have been perfect, the station could have been half as deep and half the size.

          7. Nick R – I count that as two more claims coming from you. Can you provide evidence for either of them, or are they as unverifiable (and therefore dubious) as your other other ones?

          8. Mike and Dave, the suggestion Nick is taking part in some sort of conspiracy to prevent heavy rail is getting boring and frankly, if it continues we’ll have to take action. The restrictions Nick mentions aren’t just for the sake of it, they’re what has come from people within the rail industry and if anyone can be accused of not providing evidence to back up their claims it is you two.

            As mentioned earlier, AT have said in the past they want stations to have level platforms, understandably for accessibility reasons. However the grades as they are, are such that they can’t even do that otherwise the track won’t be able to rise high enough to get out at Mt Eden. I’m not an engineer but there are complex curves going on there with both horizontal and vertical movement so I wonder if that may have an impact. You can see from the long sections that they can’t even get K Rd level, if steeper grades were possible they would do

          9. So if I’m right from what I’ve read a maximum gradient of 3.5 % is needed to allow a fully laden train to be pulled out of the tunnels by another unit for safety reasons, which is fair enough. However, is this also a requirement for above ground sections of track, such as the Airport and North Shore lines?

          10. Matt, I’m not sure why you’ve addressed this to me – I’ve made no allegations about any conspiracy, and I’ve made no claims.

            All I’m asking of Nick that he backs up his statements that the CRL is costing much more than it would have done if the gradient had been steeper, and most recently that K Rd station is costing as much as the Northern Busway to build, and that a steep gradient (how steep?) up to K Rd then level to Mt Eden would be a “perfect” alignment. (Incidentally, there’s been no mention of the extra costs imposed by a steeper gradient in respect of things like power rating and consumption, braking ability, stopping distances, speed limits, heat generation, risk management, track and vehicle maintenance etc.)

            These claims may or may not be true, and surely it’s up to Nick to justify them? I for one am really interested, and it would be unfortunate if what in the absence of supporting evidence are just opinions become accepted as fact.

          11. Mike, to be honest I can’t be bothered doing this for the umpteenth time. I’ve linked all the papers from the engineers but each time Dave or someone else claims they don’t count or they are wrong or its some cover up of the protocols of the elders of zion. See the links here if you must http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2016/10/20/does-crl-complete-aucklands-heavy-rail-network/#comment-224102

            It’s pretty self evident that building a station 12 storeys down from the surface costs a lot more than building one only 3 storeys down. Or maybe it isn’t to you, but it should be.

            The busway cost just under $300m to build, you can google that yourself. The CRL is costing $3.4 billion dollars for the tunnel and two stations. You do the math. Actually don’t do the math, just google it. Or whatever, don’t. Moaning that heavy rail is being secretly constrained for no go reason by the engineers designing the project isn’t going to change the reality that its actually quite expensive to build heavy rail lines through a city.

          12. [1/2] Hate to add fuel to the fire in this off topic conversation re gradient limits etc, but someone may know the quick/easy answer to this one to satisfy my own curiosity if anything regarding rail to the airport. NB I’m actually pretty much thinking LRT would be the way to go for a number of reasons (vs using our current EMU HR): 1. Network resilience (as shown by the Britomart track fault this morning). 2. Stageability. 3. Running pattern/frequency issues/limitations regardless of the HR route (without huge cost). 4. (related to 3) Newmarket/Westfield junction issues/costs, 5. Urban integration, 6. High risk factors (cost & physical, presumably) regarding underground stations/tunnels at the airport end. I’ve been reading the Jacobs reports a bit from here: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/airport-and-mangere-rail/#details & not sure if they are the latest ones etc, but (finally) MY Question is WAS THERE ACTUALLY a BCR done based on at least a 3% (gradient or even more??), as from what I can tell it was done based on a 2% one in the “Appendix I. Auckland Airport Rail Alignment Challenge Workshop Report” dated 2/6/16. “Reconsider heavy rail alignments with 3% vertical grade.” Yet the AT Board Meeting 27 June 2016 that decided to drop it seems close to this date, so was it done (& properly)? Seems to me this would shift things quite significantly as two complete stations (Ascot & Favona) are dropped possibly as a result of & I’m sure millions added in general to the cost based on a limited 2% gradient.

          13. [2/2] Quote from the workshop report: “It had previously been assumed that the maximum grade for heavy rail for the purposes of alignment design would be 2%. However, it was confirmed during the workshop that 3% was an acceptable maximum gradient that should be used for the alignment design of options ….assumes the live load be for passenger trains only, with no heavy freight.”. Also of curiosity is the lumping of all LRT “stops” under a general and small $20.6M figure, yet the HR stations are itemised, totalling $123M.

      3. In the case of the airport; why do we need a whole new transport system when we already have heavy rail to Onehunga which could then link in to the line at Wiri?

        1. We’ll because that while new rapid transit system costs the same as just extending and upgrading the Onehunga branch… and you get a whole new rapid transit system, covering new areas rather than running through ones that already have train stations, and providing about three times as much new capacity as if you ran the line into the CRL.

        2. For the same reason that I need a drop saw to build a greenhouse even though I already have a handsaw. The handsaw is great at certain tasks, but the task at hand is more suited to another tool.

  10. Many of us on the Shore are saying that rail is an imperative. Whichever way you look at the NEX service it is second rate Yes it has very good frequency at peak and acceptable frequency at off-peak; the buses are good, but sadly that’s just about where it stops. Very poor connector services diminish its appeal. That so much of its length is not dedicated bus lanes means that it struggles to qualify as rapid transit.
    What might passenger numbers be with a complete system?
    And Dave B you are right that if there is a rail system it needs to be grade seperated.

    1. The next crossing (after SkyPath) will be a dedicated Transit crossing, and once that decision is made, and it is the only possible rational one, then it also follows that that crossing will be an electric rail one.

      ATAP made that brilliantly clear, there is less than no value in another road crossing, it has negative congestion benefits, all the value is in a dedicated Rapid Transit one, and buses are simply cost and quality prohibitive.

  11. Patrick, I wish I could share your confidence. I often hear talk over here that we need a second road crossing and logic doesn’t have much to do with it. Can I explain that by offering a comparison -its amazing how many families feel that after having bought a BMW the next most important thing is to have a second one for the wife.
    We have also seen the government’s attitude that a road doesn’t have to make financial sense to be built e.g. RoNS

  12. I dont share your confidence that a harbour tunnel will be an electric rail one. Simply because of the extra cost

    The Transport Sydney blog and author bambulshakibaei have used figures publicly available to give ball park figures for each part of an bored tunnel heavy rail metro system as is being built in Sydney
    Tunnels $77mil per km
    laying rail line with signals , catenary power supply etc $190mil per km.
    Stations $500mil per station
    Rolling stock $4.5m per carriage
    Using buses with some sort of automation to allow autonomous operation during tunnel run means you get an extra transit connection direct to the CBD for maybe 40% of the cost of the full metro system. ( Its around 5.5km from Customs St to Akoranga Station)
    Phil Goff has to think about what the costs are as hes not Ramses II

    1. So you need a higher radius tunnel and ventilation for buses, please remember to add this in and then see that it’s no cheaper than rail.

      1. The train is the one with a higher radius and more gradual incline.. Do Train passengers not breathe while in tunnel ? ventilation would be doable as the crown of the circular bored tunnel is available for ducting, a shaft to the surface near Bayswater Pt and either end. But of course we have electric buses especially the hybrid models would be ideal for this route.

        1. Please explain how a 4.2m tall non guided vehicle can safely travel at the same speed as a 4.2m tall guided vehicle in a narrower tunnel.

    2. Couple of questions, largely because you’re citing someones back of the envelope assumptions based on various sources.

      $500m per station seems a little high (the CRL stations are more like $300m each), but you would need at least the same size station for buses and you would for metros. Actually the bus station would likely be quite a bit bigger and more complex.

      $190m/km for track and signalling is far far too high, your authors method of taking everything left over and calling it track costs obviously was wrong. In fact it’s about double the international benchmark for building an entire surface railway line, including track, signals, power, land, structures, stations etc.

      Auckland electrified and completely signaled its network for $6m per kilometre as an indication.

      Rolling stock at $4.5m per carriage is also high, the Auckland EMUs were $2m per carriage for example. The question again is what a bus fleet of equivalent capacity would cost. Given that a train carriage can hold two to three times as many people as a bus, the answer is about the same.

      1. $4.5 for Sydney trains is about right as they have twin decks for passengers. For our calculations we should probably use the Auckland EMU costs.

        The inflate cost of signaling for Sydney is probably to do with the rebuild of the traction system, primarily to increase the available power for more trains, almost all of the trains now having air conditioning and a maintenance backlog.

  13. I think that the map needs to outline more visually the stations that the western and onehunga lines don’t usually stop at. Maybe they should use a completely different symbol to the lines that always stop at those stations.

    1. Walking to Waitakere Hospital is easier from Sturges Rd vs Henderson (no hill to walk up), however takes 18 mins from either, I would suggest a bus icon instead as its easier to just jump onto a 090/130/135/136 etc (or under New Network the frequent 14t/14w route) and it won’t cost any extra thanks to simplified fares (assuming HOP).

      The toilets icon has disappeared from Papakura on your edit also.

      Also not sure about “interchange with more than 1 mode of transit”, the busway hubs are bus-to-bus.

  14. So, here’s a better model, simpler, more legible, less cluttered. Note: one way of indicating a station, but scaled to reflect number of lines covered. The biggest Light Rail network in the UK, in Manchester:

    1. Not sure how you can claim that there is only one way to represent a station there. There are clearly two station markers; consider navigation Road vs Altrincham.

          1. It looks like Manchester is getting good value out of modern Light Rail, I’ve yet to visit and check it out, but the combination of on-street centre city running with traffic removed or restricted, and separate outer corridors is something Light Rail is uniquely suited to deliver and at capex costs many times lower than fully grade separate underground or elevated rail systems. And with great to-the-front-door access in dense centres.

            Here the outer corridors are largely old railway corridors, something UK cities have plenty of, but in Auckland the combo of a car-free Queen St, plus separate centre-running on Dom Rd and then separate by-the-m’way corridors through Mangere and on the North Shore (with new Transit only crossing) offers the same pattern. And up the North Western too.



        1. There a fewer station symbols on the Manchester map because they use additional symbols against the station name to indicate non-tram interchanges.

          The original outer corridors replaced existing railway lines (only the later East Didsbury line was on a disused railway) but the newer Eccles, Airport and Ashton lines (and the recently approved Trafford Park line) are corridors new to rail, all with significant stretches of street running – there are driver’s-eye-view videos on YouTube that show how the lines have been fitted into the existing urban and suburban fabric.

          1. ‘There a fewer station symbols on the Manchester map because they use additional symbols against the station name to indicate non-tram interchanges.’
            Yes which is standard Transit map practice, and better and clearer than AT innovation, in my view.

            Interesting about the Manchester system, ridership is not wildly impressive, but consistently growing, and it is credited with reviving the city centre. Looking at maps Manchester seems to have far too much city land given over to car parking; it’s almost like an American city. shame they were unable to get road pricing through, that would help improve land use…

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