A briefing to Councillors (from page 251) included in an attachment for the Council’s Planning Committee meeting for next week says that both the NZTA and Auckland Transport boards have now agreed on a way forward for the city to airport corridor. And that decision will see the route upgraded to light rail, eventually.

The Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) shied away from saying light rail was needed and instead just referred to a number of strategic public transport routes as “Mass Transit”. We know that following ATAP, the NZTA commissioned a study to see if buses could meet the expected demand on the City to Airport route instead of Auckland Transport’s preferred light rail option. This was called the Advanced Bus Study (ABS) – as it happens I have an OIA request in for this report which was due back today but the NZTA have extended it by another 3-weeks. They even went as far as getting overseas consultants to do the study so it was completely independent to AT’s previous investigations on the issue.

The presentation states that like other recent studies, the ABS confirmed the proposed Queen St/Dominion/SH20/SH20A route which has helped “provide confidence and a degree of investment certainty” that they should get on with protecting it for mass transit. They also say it highlighted the need for better PT access from the East.

Here is a map of the route planned by the ABS showing it almost identical to the route AT planned for light rail.

The agreed way forward appears to be sensible. I read it as essentially being to make a range of short term improvements both north to the city and east to Manukau to help buses move around easier, which would likely take some of the current pressure off, while working to protect the route to the city for an eventual upgrade to light rail.

The short term improvements include infrastructure changes and it appears, additional services.

The changes to services are shown on the map below and would entail a number of new routes or changes to existing routes.

One interesting slide shows what the unitary plan allows for development in a rough walking distance around the proposed stations of both the North and East route. One aspect that stands out is the amount of almost white (single house zone) around some of the Dominion Rd stations. There is some mixed use density allowed close to Dominion Rd that is hard to see in these maps but the density does drop of quickly.

Light rail certainly feels like it’s going through the same sort of obstructive process as the CRL did before the government finally agreed to help pay for it and that it’s needed now. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait as long as the CRL did to get to that stage. The biggest unknown of course is the government who have been hostile to the project so far. I can’t understand what they would lose by supporting it, even if it was built in a decade or more, as the numerous reports back up the need for light rail and it’s a project that would be popular with voters.

Overall, it’s good to see there’s progress being made on this project and even better news that modern light rail continues to be the plan.

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257 comments

  1. I’m concerned the LRT to the Airport plan has made its way to the front of the queue despite there being other places in desperate need of LRT as well – the (likely) stonewalling on Govt support on this realistically means any other LRT lines are 20 – 30 years away from even being started. Unless someone from AT wants to jump on here and put me straight…

    1. It is second in the queue, the northwestern is top priority according to the ATAP agreement.
      Curious to hear what you think the other priorities should be though, I have my own ideas but interested to hear other peoples views.

      1. I’ll chime in Nick, and say that the (very) obvious gap in the rail network is the whole of the North Shore. Like you I’d put Northwestern first, but then North Shore. Rail to the airport is of course ideal but not when vast tracts of the city still have no access to rapid transit.

        We need to plan for stations at places like Northcote, Birkenhead, Glenfield, Belmont and Browns Bay, presumably using the current busway corridor as the central spine. All of these are zoned for higher density but AT remains blissfully unaware somehow.

        1. Much of the Shore does have access to rapid transit. What it needs is a bucket load of bus lanes and feeder services (of which the feeders services are mostly coming in the NN) to connect people to the busway.

      2. NW has to be #1. and I don’t know how they’ll get a busway in now without going over reserve land along the casueway (which will get a much bigger fight next time) and without removing yet more housing.

        1. Removing a traffic lane in each direction?

          I can’t see building starting quickly and the service improvements bought about by CRL will focus people on the benefits of Transit.

        2. A business case is (allegedly) coming in April for the NW corridor. Judging by the airport proposal to elevate a significant portion of the route I suspect something similar. There’s virtually no space between Pt Chev and Te Atatu (and can’t be reclaimed further). On the other hand – the buffer in the middle of the motorway is quite wide in places, perhaps if LR was used it would fit in there with minimal changes?

          1. I think you will find that the bus way will be from Westgate to Te Atau. From Te Atau to Pt Chev will use the existing bus shoulder lanes, even though they are not continuous. I told the NZTA guy that I thought that this was substandard.

          2. And that’s a great worry. It’s about 10km from Te Atatu to the CBD and forcing the buses onto the bus shoulders on SH16 and further onto Great North Rd with its myriad of traffic lights and bus stops is unlikely to make any noticeable difference. Unfortunately for AT people can see when infrastructure works for them (like Northern Busway) or not. This sort of smoke and mirror development will rather put people off.

          3. After just reading what we need to do to meet the Paris Agreement to limit warming to <2deg, we should just take two motorway lanes. We really don't need them for cars.

      3. Rapid transit to the northwest and AMETI (as busway or rail) are both needed yesterday. The airport and Dominion Road will probably be timed about right if we start getting on with things now.

        Whereas the North Shore already has rapid transit in the form of the busway, and other than a few tweaks (e.g. Fanshawe Street, extension to Albany, maybe an Onewa Station) will be fine for a few years to come. It’ll need upgrading eventually, but it’s hardly as urgent as those other three projects.

        1. Agreed, rail to the shore will be a response to accommodate increasing demand, on these routes it’s a step change to level of service

    2. Really this above-mentioned announcement in respect of light rail to the airport is pure bullshit.

      Despite having abysmal traffic problems in Auckland in 2017, we have been palmed off with another one of those magical hypothetical pixie dust National Party moments to buy votes that cost them nothing.

      30 years away we MAY get light rail. Meanwhile let’s bury our heads up our arses on global warming, on gridlock traffic and build another motorway.

      Like being pest free by 2050, or having polluted waterways recallibtaed by statistics to be not polluted in 2040, we will get light rail to the airport by 2047.

      Apart from the sheer dishonesty and cynicism of this nothing gesture do they think we’re all retarded?

    3. Traffic to and from the airport is too much of a political issue for the government to ignore. And cynically its an issue that politicians can understand because they are likely to have been affected by it.
      The issue could well get very much worse before it gets better and it will be high end travellers that will be affected. Convention attendees, hotel guests bound for the Wynyard Quarter and the Britomart area will often come from the airport. To have these people stuck in endless traffic will simply be unacceptable. Of course many of these people will never travel by light rail, but the light rail will free the roads for them.

  2. So it sounds like it will be bus first, light rail later. Sounds very sensible. It will be interesting to see what the threshold for uograding will be and whether it can be consistently applied to other routes.

    1. The question is also how good will the ROW be for the bus stage, will it be the same ROW as for the light rail or different. Presumably they wont build a harbour crossing for the bus ROW.

    2. There’s also an interesting economic question of how much you bother investing in bus if you know you need to shift to LRT in the not too distant future. Your return period for the bus investment will be quite short.

      1. Yes, the flipside of that is what investments can you do that will be applicable to both. Also if bus investments allow LRT investments to be pushed further into the future this will be an important part of the equation.

        1. From what I hear, the bus option can mean different things. Stage 1 would just be things like extending existing bus lanes etc. to make buses work better but that to do a bus option long term would basically require building something similar to LRT and not a lot of it would be transferable between the two so if you went to LRT later, you’re basically starting from scratch

          1. My reading of the slides is there are two quite distinct proposals for bus. The first is as you say a short term stage 1 of improving priority etc. For the actual “mass transit” route, the slides say that the route protection and business case will include allowance for transition to LRT. They wouldnt say this if it was just going to be LRT from the start.

          2. Yes two very different bus options, the low cost more of what we have now option as the quick wins and then an alternate bus system, which I understand requires dedicated and unique infrastructure and hardware. My take on it is that you move from Stage 1 to either that Stage 2 bus option or LRT, not Stage 1 bus to Stage 2 bus to LRT.

          3. Point three is the most important there. They’re basically saying they need to look in detail at the practicality and economics of constructing some or all of the bus mass transit system first, then converting it to the light rail mass transit. That looks to be a critical first step, I imagine building one transit system then swapping it to a different one isnt easy.

          4. Yes good point Nick. Point 3 reads that for the mass transit solution bus first with a staged transition to LRT is what is proposed. They are now going to do a detailed feasibility study and business case for that proposal.

            Matt, as above, I am reading it differently to you.

          5. I don’t think it’s all too different, just I probably have a little more understanding of what the Stage 2 option entails (based on conversations I’ve had) and as such I suspect there isn’t an easy upgrade path, but that’s what point 3 is there for, to confirm these details. My understanding of stage 2 being that it is close to light rail without the rails but much of the cost (and potentially some big negatives in turns of number of buses needed and their impact on intersections). The cost to go from that stage to LRT at some point further in the future is probably more than the cost of just going to LRT right from the start

          6. So you are saying they are looking to confirm what they are proposing wont work? That doesnt sound right to me. In my experience you generally go to a feasibility stage with the expectation that your proposed option is more likely than not to stack up.

          7. Conversion from busway to light rail though surely will be time consuming, and the busway would obviously be closed, at least in sections, while it is done?

          8. @Matthew W, that only holds if you don’t stack the analysis to favour a particular option, like we see with a range of projects that make (most) readers of this blog scream at screens

          9. Stage 1 bus sounds like a lot of stuff they need to do on Dominion Rd anyway, which would bring some good incremental improvements, but for stage 2, I can’t see how they could approach LRT performance with buses. There’s just no room in most of that corridor for a fully functioning busway – LRT’s big plus (aside from capacity) is how space-efficient it is.

            (Where are Skybus in all of this? If AT start offering their own bus service down Dom Rd to the airport, let alone LRT, Skybus will scream bloody murder. They must be doing some lobbying against this.)

          10. @ Chris – Skybus are filling a gap in the market at the moment, but surely they don’t have any monopoly on airport transit services? They are wholly commercial aren’t they?

          11. @ Bevan

            Of course they don’t have a monopoly, but any real improvement to subsidised services will put a serious dent in their business model, hence my wondering if lobbying from them is likely to affect AT’s plans. (To be clear, I don’t have any sympathy for Skybus, but I do have a lot of questions about why AT hasn’t already improved frequencies on the 380.)

      2. Yes and no – Once the budget for acquisition and operation of the buses is a done deal, the buses can be re-purposed for other routes for no additional budget. Of course, this creates a perceived financial disincentive towards rail due to additional budget (capex and opex) needing to be assigned. At least this is how government aligned thinking works.

        Of course in reality the capex is a mixture of infrastructure and assets. The infrastructure is largely retained when moving to rail, with the asset cost being borne by the bus companies up front. The buses purchased for the new routes will simply replace aging assets, or allow for those with nation-wide fleets (NZ Bus for example) to redeploy assets elsewhere. So from an operator viewpoint, the only relevance of the capex being upfront, is a juggling of the budget.

        TLDR: Asset cost is inconsequential, cost of unretained infrastructure negligible, opex an open question…

  3. The government needs to get over itself, basically, the is no project that has been more consistently popular in Auckland than getting a rail route to the airport. And there is no kind of PT system as universally popular as modern Light Rail….do we have to wait for a some of the main provincialists leave?

    Matthew there are I think very few routes that share the combination of very high demand and constrained right of way, that Dom/Queen do, to justify going straight to Light Rail. However once this project is underway it there then becomes the obvious opportunity to through-route it across the Shore to expand the capacity of the busway. Essentially the same argument as the CRL; busting through a city terminus….

  4. NZTA don’t support light rail. Why else would they remove the rail underpass on Nielson St in Onehunga? We already have Bus to the airport and that isnt that great.
    I don’t think rail to the airport stacks up as nicely as CRL does.

    1. Ari LR was always going over Neilson st not under. While I still think heavy rail is the better option, going via Onehunga is the worst of the three HR options from a cost/benefit point of view.

    2. Thanks for the correction. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I wasn’t aware they were going to go over Nielson. Seems like another reason for NZTA to say “it’s too hard, buses are fine”.

  5. Quote: he biggest unknown of course is the government who have been hostile to the project so far. I can’t understand what they would lose by supporting it,

    I can when you look at archaic Whale Oil type comments like this:
    Thanks to the lemon that is the CRL the city is essentially unusable already. More bicycles and bike lanes are the last thing it needs!!! Unless of course they are going to all use the pink elephant cycle way which has huge amounts of available space as no one currently uses it. Is it possible perhaps that we could see Council focus on core services and getting the basics right rather than social engineering and providing solutions people don’t want?

    And

    One trip up Wellesley St, Albert St, etc etc. Dominion Rd has been narrowed as a public thoroughfare. We need to be adding lanes on the motorways and investing in decent roading in suburbs and connections – the work around the tunnel on the northwestern is a good example of sound investment. With technology developments expected to cut congestion by over 65% the not too distant future the answer is roads not rail, mass transport or bicycles.

    That was from a Nat supporting person. Ironically a Nat/ACT person refuted him right off the bat with the CRL and a cycle share scheme.
    So for the Nat’s it is still quite polar split at Auckland level and even a national level if Christchurch is anything to go by

    1. WO is irrelevant in Auckland, even under a Nat government, his views on AKL above are increasingly those of a cranky outlier. There will always be unaware types who cling to the unreal fantasy of just one more lane, but the centre has finally moved on this, so this view increasingly be either from a departing generation (e.g. Brash) or isolated holdouts (Blubbery).

      Wait till he has a Lab/Green government and a final end to last century’s transport priorities at national level to rant about; that’ll be fun!

      1. A “cranky outlier” is the chief strategist for the President of the USA, so we’re better to correct and debate with these people now, rather than let them fester and gain momentum (which would like swell if Labour/Greens get in).

    1. Yes it’s likely that that is there in some of the thinking; they saw what letting AKL improve our trains led to; people using them, wanting more (the horror). They slammed the door on even the tiniest bit of passenger rail in CHCH for this reason; they’ve lost their certainty that it’ll fail. That and it being Brownlee’s personal fiefdom, and he’s one of the most retrograde and ignorant of cities and the urban economy.

      So, Light Rail is breaking out all over the world and not just big cities like Sydney but even sprawler newer places like the Gold Coast, so WGTN and CHCH, even TAU will start formenting for a system too…. a dam could break; what is the world coming too?

      1. Surely there could be economies of scale for other routes too with extra vehicles and parts etc tacked onto the auckland one.

    2. Considering the general hostility towards (and envy of) Auckland by the rest of the country, you may well have hit the nail on the head with a 40lb sledge.

      I can hear the cries from the south now, “Akl sucking up all our money again, we all know nobody in Akl uses their crap public transport, what a waste of money!” Embarrassingly, this appears to be the thinking of non-Aucklanders (and some from here too), Wellington excepted.

      Meanwhile, the poor neglected far north will have yet more reason to feel maligned and Mr Peters will continue laughing and rubbing his hands.

      No matter how much Akl Council money is invested, any money from the public purse is going to trigger calls for the same around the country after the system is built.

      1. > Akl sucking up all our money again

        I think it’s a fair criticism that the rest of the country has, though. Auckland is also richer than the rest of the country, so better able to pay its own way.

        I’d actually like to see Auckland stop getting central funding for capital projects. We would simply keep our proportionate share of normal petrol taxes, bulk-funded so we can spend them on the PT we need, not the roads we don’t need. Then given the power to actually raise money locally (an extra regional fuel tax, betterment levies, road pricing, etc.) that will allow us to fund projects above and beyond that.

        This way the rest of the country doesn’t have to “pay for Auckland’s problems” and Auckland gets more freedom to set its own course.

        1. Stephen, you do realise that Auckland has been subsidising the rest of the country for decades? Auckland does not get anywhere near its share of transport investment.

        2. You did just prove my point…

          FWIW, I used to live south of the Bombays. Used to think the same as you.

          Thinking changes when you hunt out the information from the relevant authorities. Only takes a few minutes.

        3. I wonder which part of the country costs the most for tax revuene generated. A few years ago I would have said Taranaki -with the think big projects. A lot of money went on upgrading infra structure to support building think big projects. Taranaki locals will tell you that there region earns the most export dollar per head of population. Never seen figures to back it up.
          Auckland does not spend more tax dollars than it earns. It is a relatively small area with a large population.

          1. It’s the West Coast for roads, but Northland and Gisborne for overall tax spend, of course roads are paid for by fuel tax not general tax so a more correct assessment would be on the basis of fuel consumption or vehicle kilometers traveled in each region.

        4. i am surprised by the lack of positive comments about this announcement. Is it the perfect solution -no. Is it a way forward? Yes. Is it affordable -yes.
          For me the advantages of light rail is that:
          1) it seems to have cross party support. AT, nzta, Nat and labour.
          2) LRT can be hooked up to the shore in future
          3) trials the technology – so hopefully we will get more
          4) it can service the most important demographic to the airport – the workers. As a business traveller my company pays for the taxi -so I do not care how much it costs. When I am travelling for personal reason a friend or family member drops me at the airport. I am guessing some travellers will use it as a cheap alternative but I suspect those travellers are not that time sensitive. So if LR is faster or slightly slower than HR they do not care.
          5) the reports I have seen indicate that it is cheaper than HR. No matter what option is chosen. It a climate of limit funds it could mean that the overall value for money is better ( more bang for ur bucks).
          6) it adds capacity to our RTN. Using HR may limit slots/ capacity in our rail network. Even after CRL is completed – I have seen AT reports which suggest by 2030 we will need more capacity on the HR (depending on which growth scenario is chosen).
          7) Perhaps later a southern LRT link can be added to botany via manukau.
          8) also in the future maybe a city link to onehunga and airport could be added via manukau road. Not all Aucklanders live in the CBD. I can see the LR system being able to provide a service to a greater number of Aucklanders in the future.

      2. Jon K – I’m from outside of Auckland, and I would dearly love for AKL to get its shit together and have a decent transport system. Happy for my taxes to help pay for it too.
        Auckland is just an embarrassment to the whole country the way it is now. We all want it to work better.

        1. No. The rest of the country is an embarrassment to Auckland.

          Auckland needs to get the power it deserves, and make policies that work for Auckland.

          1. It’s not the fault of the rest of the country that Auckland pursued the wrong transport policies for 50 years. It’s largely the fault of successive National governments (Muldoon’s govt cancelling Robbie’s Rail in the 1970’s, Key’s govt doing its best to thwart CRL and Auckland’s new train purchase, while continuing to prioritise car-dependency. This is why Auckland is an embarrassment, but hopefully it is starting to come right.

    1. Once the first light rail is built, people will want more.

      I think the currently preferred option from the council is though Pakuranga bridge to Panmure

  6. I am very pleased they have opted for the light rail system in the picture that has none of those ugly overhead cables. Imagine that in Dominion Road.

    1. Whats powering it on its trip from Britomart to Mangere, diesel engines? Batteries will not cut it! Or maybe they will by 2150 when its actually built.

        1. Not a bad idea but that explains the limitations of that system especially with drainage and the fatal killer of any project in Auckland, expense.

      1. There are LR systems with batteries and systems with power provided from below and/or a combination of the two. No need for overhead wires anymore.

    2. Didn’t I read somewhere they were looking at wire free in the shopping centres and in town, but wires for the rest of the route?

  7. A lot of inner city suburbs along the route are low density house zone, which needs to be up zoned to mixed use once LRT is approved.

    Also how are they going to make the light rail have dedicate lane in dominion road with traffic light priority? Without this the journey time will be as slow as bus.

    1. “Also how are they going to make the light rail have dedicate lane in dominion road with traffic light priority?”

      Transit already has a dedicated lane on most of the corridor. LRT will simply be raised in the middle of the road and signal priority can be based on timetabling of trains and bluetooth communication to the next set of lights.

    2. Kelvin the vehicle travel time will be shorter because they will get rid of most of the stops. The passenger travel time might not change that much as you will have to walk further.

      1. Based on that map above the mass transit would have half the stops on Dominion Rd as the existing bus route, from fifteen down to eight.

        Given Dominon Rd is 5km long, that means going from a 300m spacing to a 550m spacing. Assuming random distribution of trip origins, the average person will have to walk (550-300)/2 = 75 metres further.

        It takes approximately 45 seconds to walk 75 metres at six kilometres and hour. So on average, people will have to walk 45 seconds longer.

        The question is, will a dedicated mass transit route with eight fewer stops and all the priority and stuff they talk about save more than 45 seconds for the average user? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes, given removing seven stops will save five to ten minutes alone, let along giving it full priority.

        the average person will need to walk 45 seconds further to save about ten minutes on their trip.

        Sounds like a good deal to me.

        1. A 10 minute saving would indeed be a good deal. However a bus ride from 1077 Dominion Road to 75 Dominion Road is currently timetabled as 6 to 7 minutes so a 10 minute time saving seems highly unlikely. Secondly you assume a fast walking speed for city streets where people have to stop and cross roads. Finally you have assumed only half the the disbenefit based on a mean of starting midway but assumed the whole of the benefit ie everyone gets your very generous 10 minutes saving when the mean is half that. Oh and reducing stops also means vehicles have to stop for longer to load. You would be very good in the PR field.

          1. You’re reading that timetable wrong Miffy, the fastest trip in the very early morning between those two stops is 11 minutes, but at 8:00am that trip is timetabled to take 26 minutes. Which kinda proves the point, there is something like 15 minutes of delay in there from traffic congestion, no priority at lights, frequent stops at crowded buses stops. A dedicated rapid transit system (be it light rail or very high quality BRT) without any traffic crap, full priority and a limited number of stops would allow that trip to take ten minutes at all times.

            I’ll also point out few people are travelling from Mt Roskill to View Road. If you look at the trip from that Mt Roskill stop into Queen St it takes 24 minutes in the wee smalls and 33 minutes at peak times (that’s the timetable of course, your results may differ!). The combination of rapid transit system and a more direct alignment straight into town would literally halve that journey time, day or night, peak or off peak.

            Saving ten or fifteen minutes and getting great reliability seems like a very good trade off for walking, at worst, a minute or two further.

  8. Hmmm reading all the above there’s some great points. I stumbled across this little gem, whilst looking for compatible light and heavy rail projects anywhere (it doesn’t happen) But the little LA of the South Pacific tag runs deep with the Nats. This video explains it well LA had a great mass transit system and big oil bought it killed it. As someone who worked in Loco Running Dept many years ago and who now operates long distance buses daily, I still have a bias towards trains or trams as mass people movers. Light rail is just that, light weight and contrary to what I’m hearing (Greens Chris Darby) it cannot be safely mixed with Heavy Rail. The easy solution is connection heavy rail to Puhinui, but it’s so easy there’s other stuff going on and I think the video lays a good foundation for understanding the mind set. PT is Socialist, (and represents dependance on the state) private transport is Capitalist (and represents FREEDOM!! and independance) we all know it’s the reverse but there you go, try to put yourself inside the brain of Whale Oil and Mike Hoskings for a minute…. 🙂

    1. I’ve tried to post a direct link but if you’re interested search this on you tube
      Taken for a Ride – The U.S. History of the Assault on Public Transport in the Last Century
      Well worth a look

    2. Light rail can mix perfectly safely with heavy rail, as demonstrated in places like Karlsruhe, Kassel, Saarbrűcken and Chemnitz. It may not be that easy or appropriate, but it’s certainly possible.

      1. I think LR mixing with HR is the ideal solution in Christchurch. Makes use of the existing under-utilised rail network, but would be able to bring people into the CBD with street running. Not sure how well LR goes with narrow gauge though.

        1. The standard Swiss tram/LR gauge is 1 metre, 67mm narrower than NZ’s railway gauge, as are other tram networks in Europe.

      2. Yeah I was searching for something along those lines. I’d be interested to know the operational parameters and safety standards. I was always led to believe that in order to make light rail crash resistant the extra engineering deemed them almost heavy rail and loss of economy was main concern. Therefore two modes always ran seperately

      3. It’s not quite true to say that light rail can mix perfectly safely with heavy rail in those cities, because they are set up to avoid them really mixing with large time separation between light and heavy.

        For example in Karlsruhe the tram that runs along the regional lines operates at a maximum headway of twenty minutes.

        1. Nick, you appear to be talking about three separate things: the minimum headway, the timetabled headway of just one of the services using a line, and time separation of different types of services.

          The minimum headway is generally based on the time trains to take to get through block sections, and this is obviously dependent on the speed of the type of train, but there’s no extra separation because a train happens to be a light rail vehicle; the service headway obviously has to be greater than the minimum headway, but is otherwise independent – it tells us nothing about the characteristics of the train; and time separation generally means blocking out whole periods for different types of train (eg overnight freight trains on an otherwise light-rail route).

          So LR can (and does) mix with HR, just as passenger and freight do.

          1. Yes I am talking about the time separation, the do so much share the line as alternate use of it with some pretty broad time blocks.

          2. Sorry, Nick, but that’s the way neither time segregation nor the Karlsruhe Model work. Each tram train occupies just one path, not the multiple paths that your suggestion would take – and don’t forget that several of the Karlsruhe routes follow what is one of the busiest main lines in Europe (the line to Basel and beyond), where capacity is at a premium for both passenger and freight trains. DB would never allow such an extravagant use of such a valuable commodity – and even if they did, KVV could never have have afforded it all those surplus paths. The Karlsruhe Model would never have happened in the way that it has.

            There may be all sorts of reasons why LR and HR may not mix in a particular environment, but, given the types of signalling and train-protection systems that exist in the examples I’ve quoted (and incidentally in Auckland, with ETCS), the sort of time segregation that you’re suggesting is not one of them

  9. I agree with many sentiments here but Light Rail is THE slow boat to China. Heavy rail could so easily connect from Puhinui and then be traversed at real speed, not a stately 70-80 km/hr in the open sections and stopping at every street corner and traffic light along the way at sub 45 km/hr.

    This is NOT the solution, not even close although I won’t get worked up about that so much because unless there is a change of government and from there on in a change of attitude to transport this is not going to happen for generations anyway.

    1. I too would prefer HR from Puhinui. They are talking about route protection from Puhinui however if LR is already to the airport from the North then they probably won’t want to invest in HR so it will end up as a lowly bus route or maybe a LR link if it carries through to Botany perhaps.
      I’d still rather have an HR link as it has much greater capacity for airport passengers (the argument that LR carries almost the same is invalid since that doesn’t take into account luggage) and provides a better link to the South (possibly an eventual Hamilton-Airport route).

      1. Heavy rail via Puhinui would be a completely useless waste of time and money. Seriously, you’d end up with one lame branch to one extra station at the airport. What good is that, one train station?

        Look at the map above, they’re planning a mass transit line through more than a dozen neighbourhoods with about fifteen new stations. That would be useful!

        Oh and capacity wise, I don’t see why you think it would have much capacity at all. If you tried to run another line down the southern and into the CRL you’d be lucky to run six trains an hour on it, about 4,000 people an hour. Even with the CRL we don’t have capacity for new lines with lots of trains.

        With a new mass transit line you get the whole capacity of a new line, like twenty an hour. Even if those have half the occupancy each of an EMU you’re still looking at double the capacity overall.

        1. “Heavy rail via Puhinui would be a completely useless waste of time and money. Seriously, you’d end up with one lame branch to one extra station at the airport. What good is that, one train station?” – Would end up being probably the 3rd busiest station on the network after Aotea and Britomart. The airport and businesses in the vicinity are a huge location for rail passengers. Most airports around the world have one branch and one more station.

          “Look at the map above, they’re planning a mass transit line through more than a dozen neighbourhoods with about fifteen new stations. That would be useful!” Most of that is going to be built anyway along Dom Road (where most of the passengers will be) the addition from Dom Rd down to Onehunga doesn’t really add much (since Onehunga already has HR) so that is a substantial cost and then building a whole new bridge across the harbour and along a long route to the airport isn’t exactly cheap. Even with double or even triple LR you are going to run into capacity issues with LR especially during peak as you mix airport passengers with commuters. Having just the Dom Rd line adds a huge amount of capacity to Auckland – sharing that with the airport line reduces that capacity.

          “Oh and capacity wise, I don’t see why you think it would have much capacity at all. If you tried to run another line down the southern and into the CRL you’d be lucky to run six trains an hour on it, about 4,000 people an hour. Even with the CRL we don’t have capacity for new lines with lots of trains.” The 3rd main and eventual 4th main are planned to be built so won’t be a capacity issue there. Airport services would replace some Manukau services (although there would be some additional services in total boosting the capacity and frequency on those lines). Can be split to go Southern and Eastern so doesn’t cause a capacity issue. 4000 (actual capacity for 6x 6car EMU is 4476pph) people per hour should be plenty to service the airport (then eventually either another HR link from Otahuhu/Onehunga could be built or LR).

          “With a new mass transit line you get the whole capacity of a new line, like twenty an hour. Even if those have half the occupancy each of an EMU you’re still looking at double the capacity overall.” As mentioned most of that capacity will be taken up by passengers along Dom Rd. LR is slower to the airport and the capacity numbers don’t allow for people to have luggage, so with luggage that drops significantly (and since they are narrower and more confined than EMU travelling with luggage is a pain). Better to let Dom Rd have it’s increases capacity and let airport passengers have a proper HR link that is faster and more suited to their needs.

          Truth be told the airport is probably going to need both links in the future however it will be much harder to build HR in the future if there is already a LR line. Conversely adding a LR line later is much easier.

          1. Taking trains away from the southern and eastern doesn’t add capacity, it just moves it around. We are going to be short of eastern capacity as it is.

            LRT adds about 10k + per hour, even if a third of that is used on dominion that’s still up to twice as much for the airport corridor as you get out of EMUs running into the CRL.

            Not sure why LRT can’t have luggage space while EMUs can. Our EMUs don’t have luggage racks or anything, but in either case you could specify your new vehicles to suit.

          2. It adds capacity when they get upgraded from 3-car to 6-car units for the extra passengers – doesn’t increase the numbers of services in that case. There is still capacity to add additional services as well once CRL is completed and the 3rd main is finished. Since the airport operates pretty much 24/7 it also provides a good baseload/critical mass to those other services in off-peak times (the rest of the rail network is pretty quiet outside of peak periods. While it is 24/7 there aren’t many people actually arriving/departing the airport between midnight and 5am which conveniently matches up with the hours of operation for the rail network closely).

            “Even if a third” Dominion Rd LR is going to take up pretty much all the capacity you can throw at it by itself! Forget 1/3 more like 2/3 or 3/4 which doesn’t leave much capacity for airport passengers. Yes it is possible to configure LR with luggage space etc however that also reduces it’s capacity. Our EMUs are designed in a more spacious layout which has greater capacity for luggage.They can also be reconfigured if need’s be to have more space for luggage. With network improvements and reductions in dwell times etc HR is only going to get faster compared to LR especially if that spur to the airport can be built straight to allow 110km/h. LR still doesn’t help people to the South and East of the city (who make up the vast majority of airport workers). So that will involve a costly bus route to the airport from Puhinui as well.

            Put it another way – the cost of LR Auckland-Airport via Onehunga+busway/lanes from Puhinui is going to cost considerably more than HR Puhinui-Airport+LR on Dominion Rd. The only losers in the HR+LR option are the residents of Mangere. There is nothing to stop AT from adding bus lanes from Mangere to Otahuhu or on the existing underutilized Manukau Harbour Bridge to Onehunga along with bus lanes along local roads to Kirkbride Rd then along the road to the airport if they wanted. That would still cost less than the airport LR option.
            The money saved from this could be used for countless other projects.

          3. Jon, do you really suggest that Dominion Rd alone will generate 10,000 passengers per hour? That’s more than all four of our current heavy rail lines put together.

            The CRL capacity is the capacity of the rail network. Running airport trains into the CRL doesn’t increase capacity on the CRL, it just takes capacity away from the other lines. Building a new light rail line however will provide about as much capacity as the CRL again.

      2. Ridiculous idea to have light rail.
        The Onehunga Line should have been double tracked when it was rebuilt and carried across the Mangere Bridge as the piers have been designed to carry trains.
        The line could more easily be connected to the Manukau Line than Puhinui.
        This could be done far more quickly than waiting for a whole new transport system.
        Can’t carry freight on a LRT line.

        1. Agreed on your first and fifth point.
          Disagree with everything else.
          The airport line whether it is heavy or light (my preference in Heavy) rail should from Otahuhu as it is already a major hub and you can go anywhere from there, options that are not available from Onehunga and going all the way to the CBD to then go south or east is a joke.
          Where do you intend to hook into the Manukau line if not at Puhinui (the Manukau line runs from Puhinui to Manukau CBD).
          Why would you be carrying rail freight to the airport?

          The only advantage of the line joining north and south of the airport is it becomes an alternative route to the congested Wiri to Westfield section, that is also why I support heavy rail in the eastern suburbs linking Panmure and Manukau stations.

    2. “I agree with many sentiments here but Light Rail is THE slow boat to China. Heavy rail could so easily connect from Puhinui and then be traversed at real speed, not a stately 70-80 km/hr in the open sections and stopping at every street corner and traffic light along the way at sub 45 km/hr.”

      Heavy rail has the crawl through Parnell, Newmarket, and Penrose to Onehunga, all very slow. That’s why it was no faster than LRT in the business case. Light Rail is not restricted to 70-80km/h, the Seattle system goes as fast as our heavy rail trains can. Much of the benefit of LRT over existing buses is that they don’t stop at every traffic light like buses do; they don’t stop at any lights, because with fewer vehicles full signal preemption can be implemented.

      “the argument that LR carries almost the same is invalid since that doesn’t take into account luggage”

      Yes it does. HR has some capacity, LR has some capacity, both are reduced by the same proportion if some number of passengers have luggage. HR isn’t a TARDIS, luggage still takes up space.

      “and provides a better link to the South (possibly an eventual Hamilton-Airport route).”

      Actually, it is the alignment, not the mode that gives the better link. Running LRT here instead of HR improved the link to the South as you can keep high frequencies on the Southern and Eastern lines and add really high frequency on the East-West airport LR link.

      1. I wouldn’t say heavy rail crawls through the areas most of the time where you say it does albeit there are curve speed restrictions but any mode is going to strike that. But in any case catch a bus from Newmarket or a train, the train is probably 2-3 times faster, curve speeds included. And our current EMU’s are capable of far higher speeds than they are currently limited to. The other thing is the connection is so much easier to put in versus digging up streets. And have you noticed the sheer slowness in which council run street upgrades?

        And who says Trams will get the right of way like they did in the 50’s? You are up against some very powerful lobbies who expect their vehicles to not be held up by anything.

        I’m not against LR but I just think this is not the solution for the airport connection.

        1. Our trains are limited to 110km/h which is their designed speed limit. Probably not much change is required to up this to 130km/h, but where would you reach this speed in Auckland?

          Why do you think the trains are “currently [speed] limited”, other than for obvious reasons like curve speed limits? (Excluding the slow approaches to level crossings (mostly on Western line) which aren’t relevant to airport rail discussion)

          1. To state the obvious from the Airport to Puhinui the track could easily be straight or built with relatively easy curves meaning the first leg would be very fast. Do you think trams will not stop at all stops currently served by Metro buses on the Dominion Rd route? Of course they will. This will not be a limited stop priority trip owing to the sheer expence of laying down the route and the need to recover costs. The temptation to use this infrastructure to kill as many birds with one stone/trip will offer AT the opportunity to roll several bus routes into one.

          2. “Do you think trams will not stop at all stops currently served by Metro buses on the Dominion Rd route? Of course they will. ”

            I’ve actually read the business case, stops are being rationalised.

          3. Trundler our trains are limited to 110km/h due to our track conditions, there are very few places where 110km/h is possible. Given ideal track conditions these EMUs are capable of up to three times the current limit but there is no point having them do anywhere near that speed with so many stops on a mixed network that is somewhere between the equivalent of overseas regional and metro networks.

          4. Sorry Bigted – are you claiming our EMUs are actually capable of 3 times the current 110km/h limit? 330km/h sounds a bit optimistic to me.

        1. But it’s a rubbish argument. You say LR will have restrictions, I say so does HR. They achieve the same speed airport to CBD; LR can be more frequent; LR opens up a new part of parallel grid in the RTN network; I struggle to think of one point on which HR is a better option for the airport.

          1. Why have heavy rail now in that case? Go on catch the bus from Onehunga to Britomart rather than the train, see how long it takes you. That may answer your rubbish arguement statement!

          2. “Why have heavy rail now in that case? Go on catch the bus from Onehunga to Britomart rather than the train, see how long it takes you. That may answer your rubbish arguement statement!”

            How is the existing bus time relevant to a discussion about a proposed LRT time? It’s almost like you’re just throwing out words in the hope that they form a cohesive argument. The business case showed that times would be similar. If you want to challenge that then the burden of proof is on you.

          3. I could be absolutely wrong, not reading the business plan, but trams by and large still use public roads as their track bed. And although that gives a certainty as per a bus lane it does not give them right of way through the million and one intersections, pedestrian crossings, or to emergency vehicles they will encounter. You are dreaming if you think trams will get the green light any where any time. There are far too many persons, cyclists, cars, buses and trucks most especially who use our roads who at some point or another will be turning or crossing such intersections or lanes to get to somewhere. Does that not make you think that trams have to battle with non tram traffic where as heavy rail does not. It sure does elsewhere!

            And just as a guide it is in most cases quicker to take the train from Onehunga to Britomart than it is to drive a car, much less use any other form of public transport because it uses its own road, it stops at far fewer stations and it is far more direct! In fact it was consistently 25 minutes by DMU and it was Transdev’s most consistent time keeper.And I suspect with the limited stops now for EMU Onehunga trains that time may be almost matched.

            Its just an example of an advantage heavy rail has.

          4. “And although that gives a certainty as per a bus lane” You can actually grade separate an LRT line in a much narrower corridor than bus lanes though, so there is much less lateral intrusion.

            “it does not give them right of way through the million and one intersections, pedestrian crossings” buses already have priortiy at most of theseintersections and pedestrian crossing points, it’s not clear how you anticipate that would change for LRT vehicles?

            “or to emergency vehicles they will encounter.” I’m quite happy for the one emergency vehicle conflict a week to delay one LRT vehicle per week by 15 seconds.

            “You are dreaming if you think trams will get the green light any where any time. There are far too many persons, cyclists, cars, buses and trucks most especially who use our roads who at some point or another will be turning or crossing such intersections or lanes to get to somewhere” If only there were some sort of signal that we could use to prevent all of these forms of traffic crossing the LRT tracks when an LRT vehicle is approaching. Perhaps we could also run these on schedules that fully anticipate approaching traffic. Perhaps we could base them on the hundreds of such existing intersections in Auckland.

            “Does that not make you think that trams have to battle with non tram traffic where as heavy rail does not. It sure does elsewhere!” http://www.calgary.ca/Transportation/Roads/Pages/Traffic/West-LRT-traffic-signal-adjustment-FAQs.aspx#q1 http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Light-Rail-In-Gold-Coast.jpg
            No one else has ever figured out how to keep median LRT free of vehicles or preempt signals, ever, anywhere in the world. This is a world first so smart that no one else has even though of it, let alone succeeded at it. /sarc

          5. Sailor Boy while you may think it has priority the Gold coast LRVs stop frequently for traffic signals.

          6. You are absolutely wrong and should read the business case Waspman! It is on the AT website. This reveals that the plan is to provide permanent LRT only lanes, with full priority at signalised intersections and restrictions on traffic turning across the LRT. Sounds like what the have planned looks like this example from the Gold Coast (maybe without the garden!): https://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=imgres&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiE0uywne7SAhXFzVQKHSmaDYUQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.goldcoastlightrail.com.au%2Fgold-coast-light-rail-route%2F&psig=AFQjCNGyVl9KEcl9r4OwAcgsauSCvxdkjg&ust=1490413577492348

            Or here: https://www.mcconnelldowell.com/images/gclr/130705_RYN0294_web.jpg

            A couple of excerpts:

            In this option Queen Street becomes effectively pedestrianised (north of the Town Hall) except for the LRT
            services (with three stations) and limited servicing (e.g. at night).

            Dominion Road and then the other corridors
            would be subject to strong controls on on-street parking along their full lengths (compared to the intermittent bus
            lanes currently in place), with centre road running of the LRT and widely spaced ‘67m long stations’ rather than
            the present frequent ‘stops’. Vehicles are assumed to be 33m long, capable of being coupled to form 66m trains.

            Pedestrian facility upgrades in addition to those in Option 1 would be targeted at providing better linkages to the
            LRT stations. Cycle parking would be expected to be introduced at the suburban LRT stations.

            Full traffic signal prioritisation would be implemented along with limiting right turning options on the arterial roads
            which accommodate the LRT routes.

        2. Given our heavy rail averages about 40km/h its a bit of a moot point, clearly theoretical top speed doesn’t mean much in practice.

          1. That is because HR is currently an “all stops” service and the dwells are very long. LR will have to be all stops and why would its dwells be any shorter, surely the same safety requirements with door controls and train managers will apply and if not, then the HR dwells can be sped up too.

          2. LR dwells will be much shorter, as they would have low floor level boarding with about twice as many doors per metre of length than our heavy rail. All that business with train mangers and stuff doesn’t apply to LRT, they’ll be driver only operation.

            The two modes are covered by separate parts of legislation, heavy rail comes under the railways act, while LRT has a whole lot of exclusions of things that doesn’t apply. So yes in short LRT is a lot easier to run, faster dwell, less time consuming BS.

          3. Nick R – all rail operations come under the Railways Act. Whether the operation is light or heavy makes no difference to the legislative framework.

          4. Mike if you actually read the railways act you’ll see it specifically excludes light rail from most of the requirements that apply to heavy rail. Same act, different rules.

          5. Thanks, Nick, but I have read the Railways Act – otherwise I wouldn’t be commenting it. I was just pointing out that your comment that HR being covered by the Railways Act is not relevant to the (ongoing!) HR/LR debate since all rail, light and heavy, is covered by that act.

            Light rail does get different treatment but the only significant differences are with respect to street-running LR not having the same right of way over road traffic as HR has, and with respect to level crossings. Otherwise, rail of whatever sort is treated basically the same – nowhere in the act is light rail said to be excluded from most of heavy rail’s requirements.

          6. I would suggest that rather than the railways act, probably more relevant is the latest Health and Safety laws which will apply to those decision makers responsible for configuring both HR and LR dwell processes. So we should assume that if short dwells can be made safe for LR, that the HR EMUs can also be retrofitted with the same process/systems. Therefore, you can chop about 20s per stop off the EMU travel time to the airport (i.e. 1 min saved per 3 stations!). Also post CRL they are already planning for semi-fast services on the via Tamaki heading south, so imagine how fast they would get to airport if maybe only stopped at Panmure, Otahuhu and then all stops to airport via a new line.

            PS: EMUs have level boarding too.

            I think what is slightly frustrating to me and some others on here, is that AT don’t seem to be comparing apples with apples when it comes to journey time, which may not matter for commuters on most of the LR route, but will make it a pretty crappy airport link.

      2. Sensible HR to the airport would run fast from CRL via Tamaki with limited stops and then ideally on a new branch from Otahuhu to the airport. Winding the way around the Vector arena and Newmarket is not relevant to Airport services. For most of the direct route to Otahuhu the HR speed limit is 100-110km/h. You would probably need some 3 or even 4 tracking for overtaking stoppers, but this sounds a lot cheaper than building a whole new LR system and would allow more fast services from south Auckland.

        Nobody travelling from an airport to the city (in any country) wants to go on a LRT with 20 stops in between. For example (Sydney ~3 stops, London HEX no stops, Brisbane (not many stops?)

        1. “London HEX no stops,” Well yes if you want to spend the cost of your flight on a train trip but for me and many others it is 15/20 stops on the Piccadilly Line! It’s perfectly fine.

          1. or you can take the Heathrow Connect which is half the price and has 2 stops along the way and saves you about 45 minutes compared to the tube.

          2. I’m a regular Piccadilly Line user to/from Heathrow when in UK – most recently last month. In a couple of years the Heathrow Connect will be replaced by CrossRail (Elizabeth Line) trains linking right across London at much improved speeds to the Piccadilly Line. And cost will be on your Oyster card just the same as the Piccadilly Line. So while LR down Dominion Road to the airport will be a good link through the suburbs it will be some years away. We also need a link to our RTN now. This is easiest at Puhinui. Can be done now (ie. during 2017!) with buses and priority lanes on SH20B. Then later upgraded to LR with link to eastern suburbs (Botany etc) to cater for people in this PT deprived area.

          3. Conan, I said the Heathrow Connect service (the limited stop one) will be replaced by the Elizabeth Line. HEX will continue to operate to Paddington as you say but once you start changing to something there (and pay again) the new service might be more popular and time effective as well as certainly being more cost effective. I know which service I would be taking to get to Tottenham Court Road!

          1. From the point of view of a User of the HEX – its just fine. Much appreciated to have no stops. So it costs 15 pounds or whatever, who cares. Just want to get to / from the airport and get on with life.

        1. I would seriously doubt it,

          I fact it is clear that this service is being designed for “local” traffic, rather than being a quick way form the City to the AIrport,
          Given that the Onehunga HR runs a 22-25 minute service to Britomart, I think its safe to say that and a transfer to the LRT at Onehunga would be a faster trip than this going all the way down Dominion Road,

          Also I’m thinking that the Airbus might look at non-stop services via Waterview and the Northwestern (whenever that becomes possible)

          1. Yes, HR is about 2 minutes faster to that edge of the CBD, LR is two minutes faster to the other edge at K Rd, and they are about the same to the centre of the CBD at Aotea.

          2. Thats one of the benefits of building a new transit line that connects to an existing one, rather than extending the existing one. If you want a fast trip through to Mt Roskill, Balmoral, K Rd or Aotea you can take the LRT line. If you want to get to Ellerslie or Newmaket or Parnell, you can change at Onehunga. If you only do the existing like, you only have the option of the side with Ellerslie or Newmarket or Parnell.

  10. Airport needs heavy rail. Dominion and Mt Eden rd needs light rail. AT keep trying to kill 2 birds with one stone. The two DO NOT WORK as one. Airport via mt eden/dominion too slow and wont cope with numbers.

    1. That’s correct Grant. LRT is slower Mass Transit and the boffins want to push RTN users onto for a tedious 25km journey of which at least 2/3 will be at 50kmph.

      Heavy rail has many obvious benefits – the network is already constructed and only 6.8kms from the airport at the shortest point.

      Heavy rail allows for fast point to point inter-regional rail services to the airport from Tauranga, Hamilton, Huntly and South Auckland.

      Remember, AT has NOT commissioned and unbiased report about heavy rail. All I am hoping for is a change of Govt which throws a bunch of ATAP out the door, including this slow, tedious mass transit LRT idea from CBD to the airport.

      1. “That’s correct Grant. LRT is slower Mass Transit” No it isn’t, top speed and accelaration are the same, journey speed depends on corridor.

        “and the boffins want to push RTN users onto for a tedious 25km journey of which at least 2/3 will be at 50kmph.” It’s actually only 21km with about 9km, or less than half on 50km/h or lower roads.

        “Heavy rail has many obvious benefits – the network is already constructed and only 6.8kms from the airport at the shortest point.” Yet, it is still more expensive than LRT

        “Heavy rail allows for fast point to point inter-regional rail services to the airport from Tauranga, Hamilton, Huntly and South Auckland.” Laying the tracks makes it physically possible, running other services makes it all but impossible, and more importantly; undesirable. Running twice as many regional trains to the CBD and 36 LRT per hour from Puhinui to the airport is clearly a better service.

        “Remember, AT has NOT commissioned and unbiased report about heavy rail.” This is libel and a serious allegation of fraud.

        There is exactly one honest statement in your entire comment. The rest of us come here for evidence based commentary on transport.

        1. LRT has only been priced from Onehunga but HR (via Onehunga) has been priced from Penrose and for some reason requires many extras once across the harbour that LR doesn’t for some reason.

        2. As what appears to be a poster boy for LRT you are incredibly incorrect. You claim Rapid Transit ” it is still more expensive than LRT” . Oh yes, show me the business case for LRT to the airport. Prove it Sailor Boy.

          “Remember, AT has NOT commissioned and unbiased report about heavy rail.” This is libel and a serious allegation of fraud. – OK, PROVE IT. We all saw the massive mistakes in the AT fast rapid transit report last year. If you didn’t you probably should not be commenting on transport. Or you can contact the Campaign For Better Transport or Cr Mike Lee to know the BS in that report.

          1. You’ve seen the business case JR, it’s published online.

            And you’re accusing staff at AT of a crime, it’s on you to produce evidence not me.

            And don’t give me this poster boy rubbish. I want the best link to the airport; you want heavy rail.

    2. Correct. And the result will always be what happens when you go for the option that tries to satisfy two vastly different use-cases – a compromise that satisfies neither.

    3. Grant – we don’t have enough population to get two. We will be extremely lucky if we just get one. So – given that – which one do you support?

  11. $2.4 billion for a slow light rail trip from the CBD to the Airport. No thanks. Faster rapid transit heavy rail makes sense, but AT presented that flawed anti – heavy rail report last year.

    Puhinui to the airport is the obvious first 6.8kms of rapid transit heavy rail that needs to be built. Faster than waiting for 25kms of slower LRT to be funded and built from the CBD.

  12. Seems to me that there is a bit of thinking that has not been joined up yet, in relation to Auckland Airport.

    Q: Who are the users? A: Well, they’re not all Aucklanders! Is 50% from out of town a reasonable assumption?

    Q: How do people get there? A: While Auckland folk might (MIGHT) get there by car (and park it somewhere? Where?) most people from out of town don’t have a car sitting there, don’t want to hire a car if they have just got to go into town for business, and just want a trouble free day with no hassles over traffic and parking. It leaves us out-of-towners with only two real options: Taxi or Bus (and the 3rd option, of LRT, will be most welcome).

    Q: Who wants to pay $100 for a taxi each time that goes as slowly as the rest of the screwed up traffic? A: No one, but as many travel for work, then work picks up the tab.

    Q: Would you take a faster, safer, smoother, more reliable method of transport at a better price than a taxi? A: Every time, baby. Every. Single. Time.

    1. So who would support it?
      Taxi companies? No – it would obviously eat their share – but do I care?
      Bus companies? If it is set up in Opposition, then No – if it work together, then yes.
      Parking building owners? Ha! No. Therefore, as Auckland Airport own the car parking, that probably means No.
      Auckland Airport? Despite the line above, I’m still hoping Yes.
      Out of owners? Hell Yes!
      Aucklanders? I dunno – you tell me.
      Aucklanders who love their cars and can’t be bothered to take a Light Rail to the airport? No.
      Aucklanders who love their city and don’t like it ruined by cars? Hopefully: Hell Yes!

      1. The bulk of the traffic on this will be people who work at the airport and the surrounding industrial areas. We need both a northern and eastern connections to the airport. The eastern path is probably more important as that’s where the bulk of teh workers come from

        1. Really? There are more people who work at the airport than who go there to take a plane? I really don’t think that is true.

          1. Today, there are more than 900 businesses in the vicinity of the airport, employing 20,000 people With the ongoing development in the area this number is expected to increase rapidly.

          2. The airport warehouse and industrial zone starts approximately 1.2km in a straight line from where an eventual airport station might be located and stretches to some 3.5km away. Having a single station on a HR line from Manukau in the east is not going to help any one that works there a great deal. Better to have LR going through the guts of it with a close by station.

          3. Yeah Nick because there aren’t these wonderful inventions known as legs, bikes, or buses….
            specifically the whole airport area could be served by a link bus (the terminals won’t need it between them soon since the domestic will be moving next to the international). Seriously think next time.

          4. I don’t think it is currently true either- 48,947 passengers on an average day through the airport (excluding pure transit passengers). Note sure how many of these jump straight onto a plane out though (eg- arrive on international flight and transfer to domestic flight to Wellington- and would therefore be counted twice).

            But the airport area is a key employment growth area and I’m sure that will balance out in the reasonably near future.

            Numbers here: https://corporate.aucklandairport.co.nz/news/publications/monthly-traffic-updates

  13. If you are focused on this being a line mainly to service the Airport, then you probably favour HR via Puinui.

    But this is a new SW transit line servicing an entire region, including the airport, which just happens to be at one end. Airport travelers and workers will probably be in the minority compared to regular commuters somewhere in between the airport and the CBD. So its LR linking with Dominion Rd for me.

    1. Exactly. This is the Piccadilly Line, not the Heathrow Express. I doubt we currently have the market for the later.

      1. Based on the severe traffic congestion on both roads into the Airport I beg to differ. The market is ready and there for it now.

        Name me one other centre with 17 million passengers flying in an out annually and growing a 1 million p.a. and this is EXCLUDING anyone driving to the airport to take friends and family or workers in the extensive area.

        Fast heavy rail (RAPID TRANSIT) from Puhinui 6.8kms or pipe dreams which will simply deliver buses for decades more?

        1. Heathrow has 75m passengers a year and has two, about to be 3 mass transit routes. Auckland with 17m is currently served by no mass transit at all.

          I’m not sure what your question is here.

    1. Yup so the plan is to have Light Rail to the airport in 30…. f**king years…. !!!! what an absolute joke!
      Assuming that the main stumbling block is cost. $2.4B or whatever it is for LR…. or $1B for an HR spur from Puhinui that can easily and quickly be built. HR can be done cheaper, more quickly and is future proofed for more capacity. Is a no-brainer.
      LR can then be built along Dom Rd whenever the council gets around to it and you get 2 big gains in a shorter space of time than trying to get 2 sortof big gains in 30 years!

      1. Why on earth would you build HR from Puhinui to airport as $1b stop gap, when the long tern solution is an LRT line along that corridor.

        1. One billion for a one station spur, that is completely insane. The whole Wynyard – Queen St – Dominion Rd line with like a dozen new stations costs that much. And the extension with eight stations across Onehunga, Mangere and the Airport costs that much. Seems like incredibly poor value for a billion dollars.

          1. HR isn’t a stop gap. It has more capacity than LR. If anything it is LR that is the stop gap except that it won’t be built for 30 years due to cost. If it is costing $1B for Don Rd and CBD that means it is costing $1.4B+ for the rest to the airport… $400m MORE than an HR spur would be. $400m would extend the NEX all the way to Orewa! Or it would build most of AMETI or it would build the 3rd and 4th main and electrify to Pukekohe. Or it would pay for LR from Manukau to Botany. So many better uses for $400m than to build another bridge over the Manukau literally to serve one suburb (Mangere).
            Not too mention it will take 30 F**KING YEARS! That $400m saving could easily be the difference between having this built anytime soon and the 30 years. I know you love your little toy trams but there is a reason why almost all 1 million+ cities have a HR link to their airports. Perth is the city we most like to use as a comparison to Auckland for PT… guess what they are building? That’s right – HR.

          2. You’re losing it Jon, got all shouty about heavy rail and started talking about people having emotional attachment to particular transit modes it the same breath!

    2. Shades of CRL 2.0 really; this is just the govt. inching towards agreeing to the LRT solution. This is all great news, reading between the tea leaves the most likely path from here for any govt is the realisation that as we’re doing Light Rail, we might as well get on with it… this is just some message management; covering up for their years of opposing it and saying buses can do everything, and taking ownership of it without conceding that AT and AC are right and they’ve been all wrong about Auckland…. Managing a a transition in the messaging.

      The daft thing politically is that it still leaves a big gap for opposition parties to campaign on, but then it seems everything now with this government is to arrive in 30 years. That really is a very strange platform I can’t help think; very hard to sell to an impatient electorate, an increasing chunk of whom don’t have 30 left to wait….

    3. There philosophy is ‘if they want plucic transport, just stick them on buses’ It’s disdain and disrespect for PT users.

  14. What a load of BS, lots of glitzy diagrams, lots of talk and it all shakes down to buses and more buses and some road improvements. Then there is the lip service to Light Rail, sorry, God forbid, we can’t use the word rail, must use Mass Transit..
    NZTA has succeeded in making idiots of AT and perhaps AC, fooling them into sharing this scam for a transport proposal to the airport.
    Shame on you AT and NZTA upholds its reputation as completely unaccountable for its unprofessional behaviour and continued wasting of taxpayers money.

    1. Totally agree. Buses will be the only winners here. 25 kms on a slow, tedious light rail service after a 34 hour flight to London or Europe.. yeah right. Last thing you want. No one who calls themselves an open minded transport supporter can claim LRT for the airport is the best solution now or in 30 years time.

      LRT CBD to Dom Rd – YES (build asap)
      Fast Rapid Trains to the Airport to provide International Standards of public transport. – YES. (build asap from Puhinui).

      Advantage of Airport rail is interregional rail can operate to the airport, as the CRL / Britomart could be too congested for masses of interregional trains now or in 30 years time.

      In any case, I’m not worried about ATAP being re-arranged or scrapped with a new Govt. It is only a political agreement, thus valid as long as the current National Govt has control of the transport funding purse strings.

      1. I don’t think we should be designing our transit system based on the specific preferences of long haul air travellers.

      2. “25 kms on a slow, tedious light rail service after a 34 hour flight to London or Europe.. yeah right. Last thing you want”

        What’s the time it would take to go end-to-end on the LRT route vs. end-to-end via Puhinui HR?

        Regardless, I think you have an airport-traveler bias. Only a fraction will be going end-to-end. Most users (workers, commuters) will be boarding and alighting somewhere in the middle. Probably a lot of travelers too, particularly domestic ones.

        1. Well AT have claimed 45 minutes from the airport to Aotea. That seems fair (perhaps a little slow even) to cover the 22km distance. Seattle’s Link Light Rail does SeaTac Airport to Pioneer Square Station in 32 minutes to cover 21km. Seattle also has a significant chunk in the median of a street corridor on Rainer Ave and Martin Luther King Way, 7.4km of it. That’s about the same length as Dominion Rd and Queen St. In fact spelling that out shows Seattle is an almost perfect example to copy. About 1/3rd on street, 2/3rd off street out to the airport. About 22km overall, and fast speeds.

          Britomart to Puhinui is currently 33 minutes. Add on another two minutes to get to Aotea, and six minutes to get from Puhinui to the airport at an average of 80km/h (assuming there are a couple of slow juction curves with a long fast bit in the middle). So about 40 minutes.

          1. Nick R, HR new line from Puhinui would be built as straight as possible so would be capable of 110km/h so make that 6 minutes. AT recently announced a speeding up of journey times and there are several other things to be sped up including dwell times. Even some of those measures would reduce that 33mins below 30 mins. So 2 mins + 29 mins + 7 = 38 mins vs 45 mins (and again I think 45 mins is optimistic). This could be sped up even further if a limited stops service operated.

          2. Nick R, slow junction curves can be upgraded to high speed junction curves in many places. This would speed up all trains including Airport Trains.

            Have you got a price for constructing Puhinui to the Airport for Rapid Transit (HR)? Last I have seen Auckland Transport has NEVER priced this option. Should we not be looking at all options rather than mode biased and supporting a slow, mass transit journey to the city (which for 30 years will be buses)?

            As a transport boffin, should you not be open minded? Why the closed mind on this?

            By the way, anyone who celebrates a decision which won’t be constructed for 15, 20 or 30 years is foolish.

          3. Jon, I’m meaning the new junction you would have to build to branch off the NIMT to make a Puhinui spur. If you’ve got a scheme for where you can fit in a high speed junction in that area I’d be interested to see it.

            And please, calling me closed minded and mode biased. Are you taking the piss?!

            Coming from the guy who started a club to campaign that heavy rail trains are the only option anywhere ever. I think heavy rail is the best option for the City Rail Link and Pukekohe, but light rail is best for Mangere and the airport, while a busway is best for Westgate and Kumeu. What’s your open minded view? Heavy rail, heavy rail and heavy rail. Anyone who doesn’t agree with your dogma is corrupt and in league with the secret society of rail hatersm clearly. Bitch please.

          4. @JR, there is a old June 2011 study pricing it at $690M – “Auckland Transport, the New Zealand Transport Agency, Auckland Council, Kiwi Rail and Auckland International Airport South-Western Airport Multi-Modal Corridor Project Scoping Report”. A heavy rail branch line connected to the existing rail network in the vicinity of Puhinui running to the airport operating standard EMU’s as used elsewhere on the Auckland rail network. It was one of 7 packages looked at, Package 7 is the Otahuhu one as a comparison priced at $1,080M. Comparison to Package 2 A light rail line running from the airport to Onehunga $1,200, Package 3 was busway doing the same thing priced at $1,270. Seems these rough cost comparisons don’t include anything much beyond what in theory connects to it…not sure to me its ambiguous with a quick read.

          5. @NickR
            ‘while a busway is best for Kumeu’
            Where did this genius idea spring from? Certainly not from NZTA who made zero allowance for busway or bus lanes in recent road upgrades to Kumeu.
            The local board certainly prefer the extant heavy rail link as the preferred RT mode to Kumeu. Using those ADL DMUs is the ideal solution.
            Why are you so anti heavy rail even where it is the obvious solution?

          6. Oh please, I love heavy rail, use it daily and am a huge advocate for it in Auckland, but I realise it’s not always the one answer to anything.

            The busway plan comes from AT and NZTA: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/supporting-growth-delivering-transport-networks/supporting-growth-in-the-north-west/#map

            If they local board really want to run it, let them spend their budget on it. Local boards have local budgets for local projects, if they want it so bad and it’s such a good idea, and such great value as you suggest, why don’t the fund it themselves?

  15. It will be interesting to review the results of the study compared to the SMART study. One big hole in that study I thought was a bus solution along the Dom Rd corridor, or to the end of the corridor if assuming LRT was already in place. It seems like the new study has honed in on exactly these options – bus to the city first and then bus /LRT then full LRT. It was weird the other study never looked at this.

  16. Would it be too hard to extend the LRT east to Puhinui at the same time, so travellers have two direction options and make it easier to link up with regional trains services?

      1. I agree 100%. Have been saying this on this blog for some time and yet AT refuse to even increase the frequency of the 380 service let alone make it direct to the nearest station (Puhinui) and then straight to Manukau City to connect with the long distance buses.

      2. Agree with you 100%. I wonder how expensive would it be to extend that to botany as well. I understand that te irianga was design to have a PT transit lane down the centre. I think a southern east-west link would be good. Especially considering more daily commuters to the airport live in this area cf the CBD

        1. Yes to Man City then Botany to join AMETI; all obvious and urgent. But really urgent is Puhinui to airport because that effectively connects the existing flourishing rail network with the increasingly flourishing Airport. Two system with millions of current users not in their cars. And without diminishing the rail network by adding a new branch, or costing billions and taking years. Also being a road route it is easier get round the absurd mode based funding barriers the government insists on.

          With this in place, then the issue of adding high quality transit system to both the central isthmus and Mangere can be undertaken with the Airport treated as the great anchor to this line as it will be and the be-all and end all of transport planning.

          http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2016/08/30/airport-rtn-a-quick-first-step/

  17. And here’s the Mayor, and damn right:

    “Bus lanes are consistent with later conversion to a light rail service. However if light rail is needed within just a few years, there is a question as to why we shouldn’t just move immediately to that solution. Secondly, bringing forward a mass transit route to the airport adds urgency to the need to find new revenue streams to fund it,” Phil Goff said.

  18. I would love to understand how the conversion from bus way to light rail would work in practice. Once the bus way / bus lanes are at capacity where do all these users go whilst the route is closed for conversion (1 – 2 years based on experience elsewhere)?

    1. By simple planning with the busway/busways. We could have the buses run in peak direction on the busways and counter peak on bus lanes tacked on the motorways, rails replacing only one direction with double tracks at stations. Once the rails are ready the trains/LRVs run with peak direction having right of way and counter peak services giving way by waiting at stations until the second line has replaced the other side of the busway.

      Dominion rd is a whole different story with either buses sharing with general lanes or trying something similar to the busways by building one side at a time.

  19. Have yet to read all the above comments (our favourite TB topic once again), but surely the rapid bus idea what ever form has the problem of TOO MANY BUSES in the CBD regardless of the other areas and benefits! If not, then huge expensive tunnels/underground stations etc,which makes very expensive.

    1. Am reading the bus study now, and you are right; it simply cannot work in the city. It just glosses over the constraints. Rules out any under grounding but talks about a Britomart Terminus. Where is that? It seems to use whole streets that are already committed with both buses and general traffic; Customs, Albert, Quay: with 18m 100 passenger articulated buses at the rate of one a minute… neither desirable nor possible, well not without every other bus service just disappearing….

      Really: Get an immediate Airport/ Business Park/ Puhinui shuttle and Station upgrade going -> and straight to planning LRT. Construction to follow.

      1. It’s an interesting report. Certainly shows the SMART report up as giving the “appearance” of considering a bus option (not a surprise as it was hosted on a section of the AT website called airport rail). Also picks up on most of the obvious logical lapses around the LRT discussion from AT. E.g. If you can put the LRT on Queen St, why not the busses?? Some good stuff around platooning, role of ITS, corridor width requirements etc.

        1. E.g. If you can put the LRT on Queen St, why not the busses?? ”

          Two main reasons. Because you need four times as many articulated buses to meet the same demand, requiring one bus every 60 seconds instead of one LRV every four to five minutes. Having buses at twice the signal cycle rate makes it impossible to give them signal priority, limiting reliability, which means stops need to throughput two or three buses at a time with lumpy arrivals. Meanwhile light rail every second or third light cycle can be given total priority and can guarantee only a single stop required at a time.

          Also buses need to turn around and make a timekeeping stop, which isn’t as easy as you might think when you are talking about an articulated bus every sixty seconds, each of which needs to make six turning movements through intersections minimum to turn around back to Queen street, and at some point on the loop stop for at least five minutes according to PTOM to prevent bunching cascading schedule delay. That requires a perfectly reliable turning loop around downtown somewhere including six artic sized bus layover bays… all in addition to the existing bus and traffic infrastructure downtown. Meanwhile LRT is double ended so doesn’t need to turn, and at five minute headways can do timekeeping at regular two track stop.

          The advanced bus study basically magicked those things away by ignoring actual Auckland constraints and spruiking fictional future tech system. Indeed if you ignore all the reasons why adding a bus a minute more to downtown doesnt work, it works very well indeed.

          1. The report discussed platooning. I don’t see much disbenefit from requiring 2-3 bus stops vs single LRT stops if the LRT is 4 or 5 times the length of a bus. Turning around is an issue – is it insurmountable? They have proposed a solution with very limited infra. Other options on private property or underground could exist. I think it’s worth remembering that 60 buses an hour is a scenario at the peak time of day in 2046 to put an upper bound on capacity. We could start this option tomorrow (not quite) based on current patronage and fleet and go from there. If this solution cost $1b and as a worst case had to be converted to $2b LRT in 10 years with 80% of the original investment written off, its break even in terms of NPV vs implementing LRT straight away. Any more time between changeover or less initial investment etc and it’s a benefit.

          2. Yes the report discusses platooning by saying “we’ll do platooning at it will work”, rather than actually saying how.
            The problem with 2 to 3 buses per stop per cycle is a trade off. If you want simple, space efficient inline stops like LRT has you end up having a serial system which requires perfect co-ordination between three drivers but also results in the dwell time for all three vehicles to be constrained by the worst of the three. So you effectively multiply you risk of delays, and compound the effects of delays, but being a serial inline arrangement there is no way to recover from delays. With a bus every 60 seconds, it takes only a minute of delay along the whole route for a bus to affect the next one, and so on. It has to be perfect, all the time. The end result is that in practice, after the first ten or so cycles you’ve had a cascade of small compounding delays and you have a bunch of articulated buses ten buses long crawling down Queen St. Their proposal would work fine at 20 buses an hour, but not 60.
            So otherwise the solution is to not have a serial system, and let buses stop independently. But that blow out your stops hugely, the length doubles so that they can pull in and out independent of each other. So one bus stop ends up longer than some city blocks. You also need bus stopping bays separate to the running lanes, so your Queen St busway needs to be four lanes wide. But these are large articulated buses, so those lanes need to be a bit wider than the existing ones, so we’re actually cutting back footpaths to make the lanes fit, then adding shelters and stop infrastructure after that… all at the same time we are adding thousands of new users to an already oversubscribed footpath. So sure we might be able to do that, but at what cost and impact?
            Turning around might not be insurmountable, you can do anything with enough cost and impacts, but it is very difficult. Believe it or not AT actually spent a long time trying to solve these problems but they are legitimately running out of space after thirty years of just putting on more buses in the same place. They have likewise looked at options for private property, but where exactly? Which skyscraper site do we occupy for the new bus station, because that is basically the trade off in the CBD. Also don’t underestimate the space required to turn and position buses, it takes about a 40m diameter circle to turn a bus 180 degrees, before you even start to talk about lining up with the platforms themselves. Likewise underground, AT have looked at several designs already, but they are hugely difficult and expensive. Consider the cost of building underground in the CBD. The CRL stations are about a half billion each and a bus station would need to be larger and more complex with access ramps, turning paths etc. Brisbane has one and Perth is planning one, but consider building the same in downtown Auckland. You could easily spend a billion dollars trying to build a station to terminate 60 buses an hour under downtown streets.
            I would disagree that 60 buses an hour is some future peak end state, I would disagree it is even achievable as they have described. Auckland has consistently under modelled everything related to PT. Where is the robustness to faster than expected growth? What if the demand is double the thirty-year project after ten years, like we saw on the northern busway? With LRT doubling from five minute headways to two or three minutes is an option, that’s still only one train every cycle or two. But can you go from 60 buses an hour to 120? That’s four to six articulated buses in a row every time the light goes green.
            Oh on you’re NPV, you are light on the capital cost of the advanced bus system (you need to add on buying that skyscraper site or digging tunnels for a terminus), you haven’t accounted for higher operating costs (three to four times the staffing with buses, which is about 50% of the opex on any transit system), nor the cost and lost benefits of shutting down the corridor for two years to demolish the bus stations and running way and replace them with a different system.

          3. They say it can be done with ITS to allow coordination and have examples of platooning buses. The comparison to LRT is – each third of an LRT vehicle is held up by delays in the other two thirds compounding risks of delay to each third etc. You would be amazed what people can design if they put their minds to it. Writing things off as not possible is a very common defence tactic in projects to avoid innovation and going outside of comfort zones.

            Neither you or I know the relative costs and timings of LRT vs bus then LRT. The example was just to illustrate how a bus first option may stand a very good chance of being better from an economic point of view. Which could mean getting this high quality transit line everyone now agrees on earlier and/or having more of them (eg AART+).

          4. I know what they say. Saying technology will replace fundamental physics and create new geometry is a surprisingly common thing, but like all the people that promote flying cars and the like there are some thing that technology can’t change. Their examples come from systems that either have full grade separate busways (yes, we know those work), or where they run compact on street profiles they run at no more than 8 buses per hour (we know that can work too!). They have taken the example with 8 buses an hour and said an undefined ITS solution will make it work with 60 buses an hour.

            Betting the house on some potential “we’re sure to crack this if we put our mind to it” solution is a mugs game, Auckland doesn’t need halo tech or fetishism for ‘advanced solutions’. It just needs to do what we already know will work very well, we just need to do established tried and proven outcomes. Auckland should not be the test case for anything, we don’t have the money or time to risk it.

            You’ve missed out the critical difference, with LRT you have one vehicle every five minutes so you have a lot of scope for recovery, there is one vehicle passing through every two or three signal cycles. So for every one with a vehicle, there is one to two to catch up. With a vehicle every sixty seconds, you actually have at least two vehicles at every signal cycle, an no opportunity for recovery.

            Actually I do know those things Matthew, having worked on the business case for exactly that. Like I said previously, it’s not as if they have’t been working on this issue for three years already. I agree a bus first solution is the way to go, but that is hardly surprising because we’ve been running the first bus solution since the 1950s already. They question is do we remove our bus first solution, spend two years installing a completely different second bus based rapid transit system (yes different runningway, different intersections, different stations, different vehicles, different network model, different routing) complete with new terminals etc, then once that no longer works rip it all out and spend another two years installing a third system that costs about as much as the second system did but has three times the capacity and less impacts.

          5. Sounds like the evidence for the airport light rail is strong – well done to all who have worked on the business case. I am aware of a several “pet” advanced bus schemes in a handful of European cities. Basically they are bespoke technology in almost every case with a capital cost generally higher than off the shelf light rail technology, and with often protracted teething troubles helping to contribute to a operating cost higher than an equivalent light rail system. In short these so-called advanced bus schemes show all the hall-marks of a scheme devised by backers determined to try to avoid Light Rail at any cost……

          6. The idea that we should ignore technology trends when making long lived multi billion dollar investment desicions is totally irresponsible. That appears to be what was been happening in this space.

          7. Technology trends indeed. Fads even. What if our predecessors had spent billions on the latest trends, we could have dumped a billion into monorail development, or into PRT pods and come out with nothing to show for it. Remember only four or five years ago when PRT was the latest technology that was going to render all other public transport irrelevant? Or maybe its driverless cars, the current tech trend. Lets just spend all the money on that and see if maybe the latest technology trend pans out? What were you saying about irresponsible again?

  20. Can I encourage all those in favour of a airport link to Puhinui Station to have a look at Google Maps. It won’t work.
    Connecting through to the Manukau Line will work.
    Putt a LRT line from Botany to Manaukau Station would be easier in the short term.

    1. I will try my post again but without the embarrassing typos! I would love to understand how the conversion from bus way to light rail would work in practice. Once the bus way / bus lanes are at capacity where do all these users go whilst the route is closed for conversion (1 or 2 years based on experience elsewhere)?

    2. I will try my post again but without the embarrassing typos. I would love to understand how the conversion from bus way to light rail would work in practice. Once the bus way / bus lanes are at capacity where do all these users go whilst the route is closed for conversion (1 or 2 years based on experience elsewhere)?

    3. Vance can you explain why Puhinui to the airport won’t work but Manukau to the airport will? I looked at google maps as you suggested but you must be seeing something no one else is.
      Note while I once supported the Puhinui rail link I now prefer the Otahuhu option as it is still cheaper then Onehunga with as much benefit.

    4. Not too sure why you think it wouldn’t work Vance.
      Plenty of space at Puhinui. Almost entirely greenfield to the airport with just a few changes needed at the Puhinui end to reach the greenfields.
      Of all the rail options it is actually the easiest to do and the cheapest (well LR from Puhinui would be slightly cheaper but might as well do it properly with HR since HR is already there and provides better future proofing).

      1. Those advocating heavy rail interchange at Puhinui – would you actually have to change trains there? Or would you be able to go straight through to downtown Auckland? Cos if you have to change, you’ve lost me right there.

        1. Would be a one seat ride through to the city.
          Or if for some reason they couldn’t make that work for all services they could have every 2nd service just operate as a shuttle back and forth. You would be aiming for a service every 10 mins (6TPH) service on the Southern line through Puhinui will be even more frequent than that so even if every 2nd service is a shuttle it would be an easy connection (and would be on the same platform). With the 3rd main and CRL however there is no reason why you couldn’t have 6TPH to the city for a one seat ride.

        2. Guy I think there is a very good example of people being much less resistant to transfers than you think, right here at AKL Airport. Currently thousands of people drive through horrible Auckland traffic to get almost all the way to the airport, and then pay not inconsiderable sums of money to park and get a shuttle bus to the terminals.

          If the transfer at Puhinui is easy, safe, all weather, and the shuttle frequent and direct, and all within the HOP regime, I see those same travellers, who are currently putting up with transfers but still paying heaps for the privilege will be more than happy to do the same from Puhinui. As will the growing work-force in the area. Remove the time/reliability problems, add quality, and very cheap price, and there’s a congestion avoiding winner.

          1. Patrick, I agree 100%. Transfers do work. The shuttle bus to the Park and Ride is every 15 minutes. People use it or use shuttles to the various other carparks outside the airport precinct and then transfer to cars. A direct shuttle bus (the 380 re-routed) to Puhinui at a 10 to 15 minute frequency would be no less convenient and as part of the HOP fares system would provide through fares to anywhere on the AT network, not just a trip to CBD which so many are fixated on. An increased frequency was promised in 2014 and not delivered on by AT. Now we have a “maybe” 30 years away. What a joke.

      2. I agree with your comments AKLDUDE. While I love the prospect of light rail to deal with the Dominion Road (I live off it) transport corridor taking it all the way to the airport is probably the most short-sighted idea I have seen in Auckland since Britomart was built with only two rails lines and a four-laned harbour bridge. Having lived in the Docklands in London when its DLR system was put in place I saw first hand the issue of scaling such a system. For Auckland as a region to be better connected to its airport surely, we must be able to move people both at speed over a decent distance and with an ability to grow volume. Expecting someone to travel from Albany or Orewa by express bus in the city to then have to slow Tram/LRT it to the airport is no encouragement to avoid using a car. The government/Auckland Council saying it will cost $2B is a joke, Brisbane had a similar challenge and came up with a simple system over similar geographies than Auckland that was nowhere near that cost Puhinui provides a practical route that could be easily utilised. I am also worried that because we as Aucklanders are so starved by good public transport offerings we are trying to solve multiple transport issues with a “Jack of all Trades” solution, these are very different needs (Dom Rd, Mangere & Airport). Melbourne leads the region with its LRT/Tram system, but you do not see them extending an LRT line to the airport it is planned to be HR.

  21. What I like about the LR route is that it will be built in stages and therefore will be valuable long before it reaches the airport. Also if you are hoping for multiple routes to the airport I think this is more likely with LR with lines eventually serving centres in the south. this would make the airport service a proper part of the RTN. I think the crucial point will be where transfer points are along the route. If there was a regional and inter-regional rail network (including North Shore) then I could see the case for a HR connection being better, but even then I think demand would be met by effective transfers.

  22. Am I missing something. Why don’t they extend in current train line from Onehunga to the airport in the first stage and then connect the airport to manakau in the second stage. Once the loop is connected you can have an effectively a southern circle line. The Auckland light rail solution is a good solution for many suburbs in Auckland central but it will be far too slow to get to the airport. You dont want to build something at great cost that is slower than driving to the airport. It defeats the purpose. On the current plan there is 19 stations that will mean well over and hour on a good day. AT need to look at one train line in the UK for ideas. The Richmond overland to Waterloo station. It’s about 19km and the fast train takes about 32mins and the slow train (stops at every station) 1hrs 5mins. Surely this can be done on the current line where the slow train goes into the way lane (Parnell, Newmarket and Penrose have the ability to to this. Something tells me this is more of a political game by both parties here being election year influencing decision to go with light rail. On another topic I live in the Auckland CBD and the amount of trucks on Beach Rd and The Strand between 7am – 9am is ridiculous. Surely AT could come up with some rules to not have trucks in Auckland CBD between 730am and 930am. It would elevate so much traffic in the morning while commuters are getting into work. After 930am until midday there is far less traffic on the road and I would say a perfect time for the trucks to be moving. Also there needs to be a camera on beach road as I have seen a number of trucks run red lights on this road. It is only a matter of time until we have a cyclist or person walking killed because of this reckless behavior.johny

    1. You are correct when you talk about doing rail to the airport in stages.
      I would have carried the line across Manukau Harbour when the Onehunga Line was rebuilt and had a station at Mangere Bridge.
      From there I would have gone to Mangere. Then Ascot while the new motorway underpass is being built then onto the airport.
      Having heavy rail is preferable to light as it would enable freight to be carried.

      1. I understand the manakau bridge was only designed to take a single track but extending the onehunga line to mangere town seems like a good way to extend the heavy rail catchment without requiring extra slots on the network.

    2. JK – trucks aren’t going to obey rules like that. They have their own rules – like, when they leave from their origin sets the time to the destination. And when ships arrive or leave. Inconvenient facts of life like cyclists in Parnell, they don’t give a fig about….

    3. …because double tracking and level crossing removals on the Onehunga line is really expensive (probably putting the line in a trench a lot of the way), plus need new heavy duty bridge over the harbour.

  23. Yawn. I yearn for the day when we just get on with supporting the chosen mode (ie LR) instead of endlessly relitigating the decision. Seems to me that people are also fixated on this new link being the “Airport Rail” link, while in reality, it’s the “Mt Roskill, South-western Suburbs AND Airport Line”. If it were just about the airport, I doubt there would be a chance of getting it approved, let alone funded.

    As for all the options that are put up as alternates – these have been thoroughly explored by AT and NZTA over a period of years, literally, and what we see now is the culmination of that process. Other options were shown to be less advantageous or non-starters for various reasons. It’s very easy as “armchair analysts” to trash the final choice and proclaim other options are better, faster, whatever, but we are all doing so based on extremely limited information. This is a NETWORK development, and to my mind, the LR link via Dominion Road gives far more bang for network buck than any other option. I understand that there are some (thinking of you, Mike Lee) who are upset that their political legacy will be diminished if the Onehunga Line isn’t extended to the Airport, but honestly, it’s time to get over that and move on.

    If people really want to do something positive about this it would be to vote in the politicians who would deliver this soonest and also commit to extensions north to cover the Northern busway. You have your chance later this year . . .

  24. There’s a lot of freight that goes to and from Auckland Airport. You can’t move that on light rail.
    There should be a freight hub within the airport area that can be serviced by heavy rail.

    1. There is already a freight hub in Onehunga, it services the whole of Auckland so why have another one a few ks down the road?

  25. Why don’t they just get the Chinese build it. would done in a year with their mathematical and industrial might. Never mind 30 years.that’s just a way for national to pretend to commit to something.

    1. Or call it a RoNS and it would start tomorrow. Sure its not a road, but at least its of national significance which is way way more than many of the projects that have been built or about to be built.
      I loved the post on the ghost Tauraunga highway. Its a real shame that it couldn’t have been sealed with ghost chips to at least save some cost.

    2. The Chinese have built dozens of light-rail and metro systems over the past decade or so, LR to the airport would take them no time at all. Just have to keep an eye on quality control. The 30-year timeframe is just a rerun of the govt’s no CRL start till 2020.

  26. Just thinking outside the square a little. Perhaps rapid busway in meantime (I like the idea in top map of skipping stations with say every 2nd bus as an express, I guess not easily done with LRT?). Then do the Mt Eden Rd line LRT from Wynyard/Britomart up Symonds St, Mt Eden Rd, Three Kings 2nd rather than upgrade busway. You could then continue the LRT later to SH20 (terrain a problem between Three Kings & SH20?), then upgrade busway to LRT to the airport in stages. That way you have the rapid bus in good use for the city-isthmus section & perhaps at the airport end while it gets upgraded to LRT (from at interchange at SH20/Hillsborough onwards) & you have LRT on Symonds St reducing buses big time.

    1. ..further on this: Alternatively do a/the Manukau Rd line….which then handles the Park Rd, Newmarket etc bits…this is probably a better idea as further from Dominion Rd line.

  27. The thing about putting in a busway now, vs putting in a set of tracks for LRT later, is the construction of the track. From what I know, some overseas busways build special concrete tracks to take the load of the buses – but I’m sure that is not intended here. Some also have concrete upstand walls to help guide the buses – again, I’m sure that is not what is intended here. I’m presuming that all the buses will just be standard diesel powered, and that there is no need for electric charging points or overhead lines? And that they will stay on their routes using nothing much more than white paint on tarmac.

    But the building of a track for Light Rail is likely to be very different. Nearly all the track systems for rail have to have a concrete sub base, to support the continuous steel rail, and the rail needs to be put in right or it will squeal and grind. Apparently there is quite a science to getting it right, especially with the tighter radius capable with LRT. And it will need a source for the power – normally overhead wires are used, but people are working up systems with buried or invisible power supplies. And of course, you need to make sure you have all the services already in the road out of the way, before you pour concrete slab on top and bury them forever below the tracks.

    So there is a massive clash between having a busway and having trams or LRT. It is just not something you could simply switch over in a few weeks – there would be months and months and probably years of work in getting an LRT track down. Even worse nightmare if you have a fully functioning busway there, and you need to rip that out and replace it with tracks (and trackbed etc) for rail. You would either have to completely stop the busway for a couple of years, or find an alternative route while you do it – effectively meaning you would have to build two busways and one rail route to get there. Nightmare! It would just be so much better and simpler and in the end, actually cheaper, to build the rail now, do it once, do it right, and move on.

    1. Preparing track formation, laying heavy rail track panels and sorting out OLE is looking a less bothersome task. Especially for a 6.8 km Puhinui to airport line.

    2. 1. Rapid Bus, min 10 freq: Airport, Airport Biz area, Puhinui Station, Manukau City. Puhinui upgraded to Interchange status, all weather safe and optimised for transfers. There are already 5min train frequencies here, both ways at peaks, which is when traffic is worst in Airport area. That is a train in one direction or other every 2.5minutes! Other than the station, no other investment required for 2/3 of the rail system to become ‘Train to the Planes’. ASAP <2018
      http://greaterakl.wpengine.com/2016/08/30/airport-rtn-a-quick-first-step/

      Optimise existing bus routes on Dom Rd while designing and planing Light Rail system

      2. Construct LR as planned Queen, Dom, Onehunga, Mangere, Airport. <2025 Extend Rapid Bus East to Botany to connect with AMETI

      3. Rapid bus could become converted to LR if justified, certainly cheaper and easier with LR at Airport already; becomes an extension or overlapping route; Airport no longer a terminus.

      Multiple routes and modes to and through Airport, Isthmus, South West, and East. All staged, and nothing built twice, each part accumulative and mutually supporting, nothing redundant.

      Through-routing and choice, a one seat ride on LR through a dense part of city all the way through the City Centre's spine to the big Transit interchange at Downtown. With options to transfer to Rail network at Onehunga, K Rd, Aotea, and Britomart. Ferries at Britomart. But also an efficient option east either all the way into the south-eastern heart land or again to transfer to two rail lines at Puhinui for South, North, and inner Eastern destinations.

      4. Intercity Trains from Tauranga and Hamilton stop at Puhinui too, and offer express service from Britomart for airport travellers, via transfer at Puhinui.

      Done.

      1. Patrick, you’re absolutely right. Certainly makes a lot of sense – and looking at the aerial map, it seems as though Puhinui Road has been laid out already with that aim of connecting to the station, direct from the airport to the rail line. Farm land either side of the road too, so it should not be hard to widen the road if needed.

        I’m curious then, about two things: firstly, why has AC / AT / AAL not done this before now?
        And secondly, one of the commenters above (Vance) has said that a connection to Puhinui can not be done – he says look at google maps. Well, i’m looking, but can’t see why not. Looks totally feasible and very very simple – which should also mean cheap. What’s not to like?

        1. What can’t be done at Puhinui, or at least not without enormous expense and disruption, far beyond its value, is to branch the line from the north there to the airport. Transfer is the way to do it, but it must be made attractive and efficient.

          The quickest way to do it is to simply extend the current inter-terminal bus to also go via the business centre and a new interchange on the west side of Puhinui Station, with the station upgraded to improve shelter and safety, and to aid baggage etc. Have the bus bounce back between those four points on a ten minute rotation, add bus shoulders on SH20B and lanes on Puhinui Rd west. Integrate with HOP.

          Later build a bridge over the station so the service also proceeds to Manukau City and eventually Botany, integrate bridge with lifts etc for the transfers.

          1. Re Puhinui to Airport.
            What enormous expense? An HR line to the airport would be no more and probably less CAPEX than an LR line and not much different from a dedicated busway. Same land used beside sh20. And who says transfer is the way to do it? Given choice what airport traveller would not prefer an emu single seat journey to an interchange or the cbd? No baggage transfer either.
            And before the ‘no pathway’ on existing southern services is proffered, the bus transfer just puts more passengers on existing southern line services AND the third main is soon going to be completed, its already is in situ at Puhinui to Wiri, which would provide extra paths for emus to/from airport.
            There is also significant air freight transfer at the airport, minor extension of HR to Airport Oaks would remove much of that from roads

          2. Puhinui to Airport requires a underground station & tunnel under Airport land as they want to use it to that station as the Airport wont accept anything else, so right off the bat you have to add around 150-200m which you don’t need for LRT or Bus.

          3. This may be a dumb question Harriet but why does a HR station need to be under ground when a LR one can be at ground level?

          4. Wow that’s just nonsense DGD. A bus shuttle using an existing bridge, shoulders on an existing highway and existing roads at Airport and through suburban Puhinui cost the same as a heavy rail line; what you smoking braj? Also it would have to be a flying junction to work, be elevated or tunnelled through the burbs, and has to cross both a motorway and a river….

            Anyway, there is no good running pattern that doesn’t steal capacity from existing routes. Branching another line off the southern to a terminus is a terrible idea, there are already 3 directions, 4 would mean much less capacity further south.

            I say transfer is by far rthe best way to go. If you want to die in a ditch for a one-set train ride you’ll get nothing. As I explained above people already transfer from their cars for a bus shuttle at considerable expense, they will from a train too, if made easy and convenient.

          5. Harriet, On the original airport layout for a tunnell this was necessary to get under the runway or the planned new runway. This looked pretty obvious because the HR line was coming into airport from north. A Puhinui HR is coming from east so why would it need to use a circuitious route in a tunnel to avoid a runway? It could get into terminals from southeast. I dont have permissions to include airport-Puhinui map or google map in this reply but it looks very easy to find an HR path thats over agricultural land
            In any case is the airport authority not responsible for CAPEX of station on their land? why would AT/AC (taxpayers or ratepayers) have to pay for PT station at air terminus owned by a private company?

          6. The more important question is why would you expect a private company pay $3-$400 million for a heavy rail station? Especially on a branch line that would work worse than the alternatives costing a fraction of the price? I take it you’re not in business yourself…

          7. Patrick, it sure is NOT nonsense as we are talking about an initial lowish cost busway BUT designed for upgrade to LR? Are you seriously saying the cost of a LR puhinui to airport will be any significant lower cost than an HR line?
            A flying junction if dual track north and south HR up and down connections. Would a better place to start be a 2 track line with surface crossovers until such time as the traffic and frequency justified looking at flying junction?
            I cannot understand why there is such vehment negativity concerning an HR Puhinui-Airport link. Seriously busses, road shoulders, transfers and the absolute chaos of converting a busway to LR is a better solution to doing the job properly anf doing that 8km HR link?.
            By all means do the busway stuff but start the HR construction, we will probably need both anyway in the not too distant future.

          8. Nick R, I take it then you must be an Auckland Airport shareholder? Dont want to pay for infrastructure that improves airport amenity?
            So the airport now dictates transport policy in Auckland?
            You have some real reasons why busses and LR are better for a Puhinui-airport link?

          9. DGD; what frequency will your branch line have? Which destination Manukau City or Papakura/Pukekohe will have its frequency reduced? So if 6tph to the airport is that instead of any services to Manukau City or shall we just abandon all stations south of Puhinui? Any less than 6tph would be hopeless, and not Rapid. You know that there is very little scope for additional services further north to run a whole new service, none actually till post CRL and third main, but then those slots will be required on existing services, that’s certainly the current planning…. Arguably with a third and fourth main perhaps that batty proposed direct west/south service could go through your eye-waveringly expensive junction and branch to the Airport. But then, guess what; to get to the city people would still have to transfer! We are building a transfer based Metro model in AKL, not a one-seat ride commuter one, transferring is not a bug but a feature of this system. No need to fear the transfer. Anyway, if determined to have a one seat ride; they’ll be the Light Rail option through Mangere, Onehunga, and the Isthmus.

            (with a different government) I think the ideal is to use those extra slots in Britomart for an Intercity service to Ham/Tau, and to take advantage of the new Interchange Station at Puhinui as one of the few Akl stops on the way, so people from both AKL and those southern cities can get an express train to the Airport transfer. Big comfortable express dual electric/diesels with full seating and more space for luggage. Lots of options.

            Here’s a primer on branching: http://humantransit.org/2011/02/basics-branching-or-how-transit-is-like-a-river.html

          10. DGD – how would you deal with road crossings in the Airport precinct. We don’t build new railway lines with level crossings anymore, at very least it would need to be trenched in the airport precinct.

          11. It has nothing to do with the runway, it is to do with Auckland Airport wanting to maximise there land use. They have said they will not accept a surface station, or a heavy rail line cutting through. Therefore you have to tunnel it into an underground station.

          12. ‘eye wateringly expensive junction’ where is that? Puhinui junction to Airport same as junction to Manakau off nimt. So a normal set of junction turnouts and crossovers with appropriate signalling is not suitable? Maybe when the south junction is installed to the Manakau line then a similar south junction could be added to the airport junction.
            As for branch TPH.
            Your 10 minute busses are going to unload several hundred passengers per hour at Puhinui station so you must be sure the existing southern trains have the capacity to cope.
            so could some souhern trains originate at the airport instead? I would expect there are operational researchers at AT who could easily ascertain the needed emu seats for the southern line south of Puhinui and calculate a tph for that section and fit in a suitable tph for the Airport branch? Don’t you think they are capable of doing this?
            There is nothing wrong in implementing one seat rides where possible. OTOH transfers are not user friendly when they can be avoided.

          13. Jezza, doesn’t matter, The Airport Company should be largely funding the station whether its surface, trenched or underground. Unless you think they should be dictating RT mode that can used to the airport so they can minimise their costs by having it use existing road space.

          14. Harriet,
            Ok so Auckland Airport have more important things to do with their land so that making space for a rail station is not acceptable. Sure looks like the tail is wagging the dog here if the Airport company can refuse an HR RTN because they dont want to either find the space for or pay for a station.
            Accepting a bus solution or a 30+year LR solution shows what little regard they have for their customers

          15. Well according to them yes, you can disagree with there logic but doesn’t change the fact. And so your solution is to just have the Airport to pay for everything ok then.

          16. Well no, not pay for everything but surely some reasonable proportion of the infractructure needed for RTN on their property. Or are you suggesting AC/AT pay for everything?

          17. I imagine if the airport company were to pay for the works within the airport perimeter they would probably want to have a gate charge similar to what happens in Sydney and Brisbane. Personally I don’t want to go down that route. I assume the airport company pays a significant amount in rates? If so then this would improve the value of the airport meaning rates go up, similar to buildings in the CBD around the CRL.

          18. To those saying that an HR link would require an expensive underground station…. how is that any different to LR? Do you think Auckland airport want a bunch of trams running around on their streets? Underground would be preferable anyway (means can run it straight for faster speed). It would only be a cut n cover tunnel so not particularly expensive and then overground for most of it’s length.
            No need for a flying junction at this stage.
            The 3rd main is going to be built anyway so will be capacity there – yes it will take away some services that might have otherwise gone to Manukau however as the number of services are increasing post-CRL it isn’t an issue (and most of the passengers on that service are going to other stops along the way anyway so for most of the line an airport service would increase the capacity). Yes to 6TPH.
            As for the West-South service – no reason why the Manukau services couldn’t be the one that went out West. People can transfer all along the way more easily than someone with luggage. Could even build the Mt Roskill HR Spur to meet up with the Dom Rd LR too to provide a transfer station

          19. @ AKLDUDE – “To those saying that an HR link would require an expensive underground station…. how is that any different to LR?”. The ability of LRT to turn sharper curves means a tunnel will be a lot shorter to get under the proposed future runway. The LRT station option chosen was on the West elevated (it can be elevated above the main road in etc). Check out the “appendix I – Auckland airport rail alignment challenge workshop report (PDF 1.1MB).” from here: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/airport-and-mangere-rail/

          20. But to be fair, in that report (and I’ve asked this before on the blog somewhere) it seems was done at a 2% gradient design/costing: “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 within the business case. This assumes the live load be for passenger trains only, with no heavy freight.”
            – Table 6.1 Summary of actions from the workshop: “Reconsider heavy rail alignments with 3% vertical grade.”
            In saying that I see there is significant risks (cost/physical) with tunnelling underground with “…given the topography of the site, typically 6 to 8 m
            above sea level, and poor drainage.” There is also issues with station box etc etc.

          21. AKLDUDE – the third main is needed for a number of purposes, allowing freight trains to run, having express services to Pukekohe and probably Hamilton trains at some stage. It will also only be able to handle trains one direction at a time so the trains will still have to return on the main lines.

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