Since Auckland Transport and NZTA decided in the middle of last year to rule out Heavy Rail as the best way of serving the Airport with rapid transit, there has been a lot of ongoing consternation from many about this decision. The comments threads on posts about this topic are always long, sometimes enlightening, but also a lot of people seemingly talking past each other.

In general, it seems that most people broadly accept that a heavy rail link to the Airport from Onehunga is too expensive and too difficult. There remains some discussion about whether extending rail from Otahuhu is a viable option – Patrick blogged about this once – although many of the cost issues would be similar to the Onehunga option and the impact of such a route on housing in the area seems like it would be very significant. But most of the talk is about whether a route from Puhinui might be the best idea, this is also a common comment we see in other media. This was looked at in earlier phases of the Airport Rail project, with a few different alignments being examined:

As a branch line off the current Southern Line, presumably if you built this option then either some trains that are currently heading south along this line will either head to the Airport instead of their current destinations of Manukau or Papakura, or further services would need be added. This would mean something like what’s shown below:

This option obviously throws up a few questions:

What are the implications of running more trains on the southern line?

This is already the most constrained part of the rail network. Both the southern & eastern lines overlap between the Westfield and Wiri junctions, but these passenger services also overlap with the busiest section in the country for freight trains as there are shuttles from the Port of Auckland to their inland port at Wiri plus longer-distance trains heading to Tauranga or south of Hamilton. Clearly we’re going to need four-tracks along this whole section for this to work.

Furthermore, even taking freight out of the equation (say through dedicated tracks), there is still only so much capacity available across the rail network – CRL can increase this but only to a point. With Manukau already on its own branch line, another branch to the airport will mean we inevitably have to choose between running a limited number of trains to either the Airport, Manukau or Papakura. In effect, do we want three averagely serviced routes or two well serviced routes and with the way ridership continues to increase, we’re going to need all the capacity to Manukau and Papakura we can get in coming years.

How do trains connect with the North Island Main Trunk at Wiri?

Related to the above, this is a very messy area when it comes to railway tracks. There’s a lot going on here with the southern line branching east to Manukau just north of the motorway while immediately south of the motorway we have, the electric train depot to the west of the main line and the Wiri inland port to the east of it.

Auckland rail network is already constrained by the number of flat junctions it has, which makes timetabling services so they don’t suffer significant delays extremely difficult. As it is, the movements around the Wiri junction can cause issues and so adding another junction in so close would only exacerbate the issue further, both locally and across other parts of the network – for example a train held up at Wiri might go on to delay other services at Newmarket and Quay Park. Any additional branch line would almost certainly require significant junction infrastructure in the area to preserve the chance of having any reliability and that won’t come cheap.

How do you provide a heavy rail station within the Airport?

One of the key reasons why Auckland Transport ended up preferring light-rail to heavy rail was because of what happens within the Airport’s boundary itself. The AT Board paper highlighted this issue:

the heavy rail alignment is also significantly different within the airport precinct when compared to other rapid transit options. It requires tunnelling and an underground station to serve the Airport terminal. The different alignments have made the intent of the sub-regional strategy (to progressively develop up to heavy rail) problematic for Auckland International Airport Limited (AIAL) as they now have to hold two different routes over their land holding (one for light rail and one for heavy rail). This has prompted the AIAL to request clarity on the corridor as it impacts their development plans.” 

A number of different heavy rail alignments were looked at as part of the business case work. With the “red” option being the best. A link to Puhinui would probably more closely follow the green alignment, before continuing eastwards to cross the Pukaki Creek. The property impacts of this alignment are pretty obvious in the map below, while the station itself is pretty problematic given AT/NZTA have already let the Airport company know that they prefer light-rail and therefore the Airport no longer is planning its development around providing for a heavy rail corridor.

Even if you “could” build this line, should you?

Hopefully the points above have highlighted that, contrary to popular belief connecting to the heavy rail network at Puhinui isn’t really the “easy option” that it’s often made out to be. There would be extensive tunnelling within the Airport, there would be major and very complex track work around Puhinui to link in with the existing rail network and there would need to be substantial additional track infrastructure on much of the southern line to provide for these extra trains. That all adds up to a lot of money, ultimately for an option which only adds one train station onto the rail network.

One of the big advantages of the light-rail option is that you’re extending rapid transit to a pretty large chunk of Auckland, not just the Airport. Mangere, Mangere Bridge, Onehunga, Hillsborough and Mt Roskill all benefit significantly from the light-rail scheme as they gain access to fast, reliable, congestion free public transport for the wide variety of trips people take – not just for comparatively rare Airport passenger trips.

Ultimately I think the Puhinui option is not a great idea. It’s not as easy as many people think, especially because of the challenge of providing for a heavy rail corridor within the Airport and connecting to the southern line in a very busy and messy part of the rail network. Because it’s not easy, that means it’s likely to be quite a lot more expensive than you might think. But my main problem with this option is that it over-emphasises trying to serve Airport passengers, to the cost of everyone else. Analysis suggests over and over again that most people using rapid transit to the Airport in the future will be workers, not travellers. There wouldn’t be a direct service between the Airport and Manukau, or between Airport and areas to the south of Puhinui (unless you want to end up with really complex and messy, low frequency, service patterns). And huge chunks of southwest Auckland would miss out on gaining access to rapid transit.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t provide a rapid transit link from the Airport heading east. Doing so is clearly a no-brainer, but here it seems a busway through to Puhinui, Manukau, Flat Bush and Botany – with a really good interchange at Puhinui with the rail line – seems like a vastly more sensible option, and one that can be implemented much sooner too.

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  1. Spot on Matt. It’s worth adding that a busway probably serves passengers from the south better too as it allows a transfer to a drawbridge service rather than a transfer to the infrequent service wed manage with a spur line.

  2. Option S2 would be the closest to resembling anything viable although that doesnt preclude it making a rather big mess of the area.

    Option S2 would also knock out those who bus to Manukau and need to get out to the airport given I dont think you would have a Manukau to Airport Heavy Rail run (to inefficient).

    Bus way or LRT from Botany to the Manukau Interchange (rail/bus) to capture the busses then on to Puhinui to capture the Southern and Eastern Lines before finally heading out to the Airport just seems more viable.

    As for Otahuhu – heh that be me mentioning about every 6 weeks (check’s watch)

    1. Option S2 looks the best until you realize it would involve either massive demolitions and making a huge mess or expensive underground tunneling. I think option S1 is the best, which can be done with a huge overground bride/flyover over the Southwestern motorway and Roscommon road (yes, this will be an eyesore but there aren’t any houses here having their views ruined). An interesting possibility worth looking at is extending the Onehunga line south to Papakura by having it go down SH20 but instead of diverting to SH20A to the airport continuing south alongside SH20 to link in with the Puhinui airport option and via option S4 all the way south to Papkura. New stations alongside the SH20/Massey Road intersection and SH20 Tidal road intersection will increase the reach and coverage of the rail network

  3. I don’t think I will ever understand the myopic writing on heavy rail to the airport on this blog.

    If we need rail to the airport we need to look at far more sensible options. Instead of re-inventing the wheel all we need to do it take the airport traffic to the existing rail network. Even New York doesn’t have rail directly to the airport. Passengers disembark and catch a specialist service from the main subway (or intercity in the case of Newark).

    We should be investigating Airtrain or Vancouver style train options to connect the airport to Puhinui, not copying the failed Sydney model (financial failure).

    1. Yay! The monorail again!

      “Even New York”? Cherry picking examples of random major cities is a bit ridiculous. And car-obsessed American cities aren’t really something we’d want to emulate in general. Even London has rail to the airport(s). Even Tokyo has rail to the airport. Even Beijing has rail to the airport etc etc

      But it’s interesting your mention Vancouver’s skytrain, as yes, that also directly connects the airport and the city centre, with no connection onto another network. I believe Brisbane’s Airtrain does the same.

      1. Air train in Brisbane links into the Brisbane suburban network and has stops at most of the major suburban stations. Continues on to the Gold Coast

    2. @ The Real Matthew:
      Sydney’s model was only a “financial failure” because it was implemented as a user-pays PPP, rather then being funded as part of the subsidised Sydney Trains network from the outset. Already the two non-airport stations on the line have been incorporated and “patronage has surged”. Once the deterrent Airport-Surcharge fees are removed altogether, Sydney’s airport connection will thrive as part of the city’s regular heavy-rail network.

      Look here if you want to see it spelled out:

      1. As an aside. Listening to the video in your news link above the train announces which side of the train the doors will open. That’s something that would be good to do on our EMU’s.

        1. There’s enough bloody announcements already. The display screen has an arrow that points to the door.

        2. Oh really didn’t notice that and judging by all the confused travellers on our weekend train, so haven’t others….comes up when you arrive does it…think I vaguely remember that now, but normally people not looking by then, gathering up their belongings etc.

        3. Yeah, it’s quite subtle. I liked how in Buenos Aires the metro had different symbols for the platforms whether they were island or two separate side platforms.

          The only place in Auckland where there is any doubt as to what platform the doors will open is Newmarket. I suspect anyone who hasn’t noticed which side has a platform and which has a void won’t notice the announcements.

          As a regular passenger I’m sick of being told to press the green button at every station.

        4. Yes you do turn off to them, seems they have cut down on the “please remember to tag off” one from earlier days!

        5. Agreed, the repetitive announcements not to fall between the train and the platform (never thought of that), wait for the green light and make a coffee whilst waiting, etc etc drive me crazy.

          As do passenger operated doors and the middle cars doors that seem to take 10 minutes to open.

          The one good thing about the door slowness is you can be well off the platform and comfortably make the train with time to spare.

    3. Myopia is more cars on more roads. The right of politics is very comfortable with that brain dead idea! And to date there is only talk of a rapid transit link to the Airport and by Nationals standards that is around 2047. Yet we have gridlock now in 2017. I don’t think a rail connection is impossible and honestly we should be expanding the track roads in both directions anyway. They have been at capacity or close to for some time.

      However a direct connection to Puhinui, but only by rapid transit of some form makes complete sense.
      The only issue is Puhinui has more than its fair share of security issues but again that is not insurmountable.

  4. My main issue is this idea is it’s all about the Airport. For me it has always been a SW RTN solution that is needed, the Airport is icing on the cake. The primary needs being:

    a) The people of Mangere/Favona/Mangere Bridge a growing area, who at current have poor connections to jobs/education opportunities.
    b) Workers in the SW employment zone not just the Airport one of the biggest/fastest growing the country.

    1. I agree with you. It is a SW RTN not an airport link. It will be an option for some people going to the airport but it should not be the lines primary or only function. Most business travelers will still use Taxis. There will still be a large number of people travelling to and form the airport from locations which are not served by the RTN. So, just because x number of people use the airport per year there will not be the same number of people willing to switch to the RTN. I feel workers rather than travelers will be the main users of this service.

  5. OK so heavy rail from Puhinui is more complex and expensive than I thought, so this makes me think we should just extend the Onehunga line which is already a separate line which links nicely with the rest of the rail network at Penrose (south) & Newmarket (west).

    I don’t think this statement is true “that most people broadly accept that a heavy rail link to the Airport from Onehunga is too expensive and too difficult.”
    If we can building a motorway to Warkworth or through Transmission Gully we can build a heavy rail line from Onehunga to the Airport.
    I have used both heavy rail and light rail from international airports and light rail is a complete nightmare – it’s slow & very crowded compared to Heavy Rail.

    1. Yeah but its about opportunity costs would you rather a) HR to Airport from Onehunga or b) LRT ext to Airport plus maybe NW LRT.

      I see it the same way I see RONS kinda gold plated.

    2. “the Onehunga line which is already a separate line which links nicely with the rest of the rail network at Penrose (south) & Newmarket (west).”
      It isn’t connected nicely. It has a flat junction that will be almost impossible to grade separate and will be too full from day 1.

      “If we can building a motorway to Warkworth or through Transmission Gully we can build a heavy rail line from Onehunga to the Airport.”
      I agree, these gold plated solutions are both equally poor uses of money.

      “I have used both heavy rail and light rail from international airports and light rail is a complete nightmare – it’s slow & very crowded compared to Heavy Rail.”
      LRT has higher capacity and equivalent speed CBD-airport in our situation.

      1. It doesn’t have higher capacity, HR has higher capacity. It’s also faster, anyone who thinks LR from the airport to Britomart with 20 stops along the way will be fast than 11 stops on a train has rocks in there head. If AT also build the Avondale Southdown line that ad an even great catchment area our West for direct servises to the South terminating at Auckland Airport.

        1. Ya’ll need to stop comparing to some marketing brochure theoretical ideal and actually look at what we would get.

          Have you seen how long our trains take to stop?! Often eighty or ninety seconds per stop. And how long they take to get moving again?

          An LRV with eight double doors down the side, DOO, and perfectly level boarding from all doors would be a quarter of that time.

          Could you please explain how HR could possibly have higher capacity. From what I can see on the service plan they would struggle to route six trains an hour to the line without clogging the entire network. With our stock that is 4,500 people per hour, at best.

    3. Onehunga Line is a bit of a dog. Narrow corridor and plenty of level crossings.

      What could be worth considering for Onehunga is a couple of Melbourne trams from Onehunga LRT interchange to Penrose Station with a passing loop somewhere in the middle. Take it off the HR network.

      1. What difference does it make, to the Onehunga line, if it’s HR or LR. They both still will cross the same number of roads. I do, however, agree about a passing loop so the capacity of the line could be doubled.

        1. Probably enough width for LRT to double track cheaper to up the frequency, and free up southern HR section simplifying the HR running pattern to say Otahuhu consistently instead of splitting to Onehunga & skipping Greenlane & Remuera, also freeing up 2x 3 car EMU sets. If it was the HR airport line you would definitely need to grade separate due to the frequencies you would need to run, whereas converting to a LRT line could just close a few low used roads. Only problem is running pattern, would need to split units from the LRT Dominion Rd line? Could be run as simply a shuttle service though Onehunga to Penrose?

        2. Actually if we are doing 3rd main to Papakura & even 4th mains, would it be better to do south facing link at Penrose and run the Onehunga HR to Papakura. A lot of the industrial workers around Penrose come from the south I’m sure. Move Penrose station further south for the interchange and it also means you get a station closer to Mt Smart Stadium (more than halving the current walking distance)!

        3. Originally TA wanted the Onehunga line to be a bus shuttle to Penrose but public pressure forced them to reopen the Onehungs line. TA were so convinced that the line was going to be a failure they only build the Onehunga platform to service the 2 car ADL’s and not the proposed larger EMU’s and had to lengthen the platform.

        4. OOPS! that should have been AT – Auckland Transport. Fingers hit the keys in the wrong order.

  6. Matt L I disagree.
    I believe we need to get a rail link to the airport asap – not 30 years as proposed by AT and Govt.
    I believe initially a single track heavy rail shuttle from Manukau Station to the Airport would be a step in the right direction. There is more empty land available from the rail depot to link with the airport than at Puhinui.
    If not a shuttle the service can be added to the Eastern line – Airport Manukau Britomart and reverse.

    You state that “…that most people using rapid transit to the Airport in the future will be workers, not travellers.”. That benefit is great as it removes a significant number of workers cars from the existing motorway causing significant congestion at the junction between SW and S motorways.
    Using the Eastern line will also gather in a lot of airport workers from the Eastern suburbs.
    Public transport efficiency is about getting commuters onto other modes of transport.

    Unfortunately airport travellers from the south such as Papakura and or Hamilton if that service is ever started will have to change trains.

    The major result of building an electric rail system with brand new rolling stock has been very successful at growing patronage of the rail system. The CRL will provide the next big boost,
    We need some leadership vision to start providing add on services that will remove folks from their cars and get them on PT.
    Auckland cannot continue to service its international airport solely by road (bus, car and taxi) alone.
    Great idea to setup and get going, needs more thought and planning.

  7. I’ve thought about this a lot (and lead a campaign that raised more than 10,000 signatures in support of rail to the aiport…) and tend to agree. The running pattern required for heavy rail from Puhinui is the real killer here, and in future more people will be coming from the south too.

    Right now my thinking is that a light rail link from the Airport to Puhinui is the most pragmatic option. The combination of HR to Puhinui and then a transfer to the airport just has to be faster than light rail from the CBD via Dominion Rd to the airport.

    Then of course light rail can be extended east of Manukau to Botany too. In fact I see Botany light rail as having an equal priority to Onehunga – Airport light rail, and can probably be completed sooner given there isn’t the difficulty of getting across the Manukau Harbour.

    1. Agreed.
      LRT from AIAL to Puhinui Station should be stage 1,
      then to Manukau,
      then do CBD to Mt Roskil,
      then to Onehunga,
      then close the gap Onehunga to AIAL,
      then extend to Botany.

    2. I think the issue will that personally (They could be completely unfounded) are

      1. If LRT is staged so S1 – Airport – Puhinui, S2 – WQ – Mt Roskill, S3 – Mt Roskill – Airport you will not have synergy benefits you will need two depots, and you can’t easily share the rolling stock.

      2. Second concern if National wins again and we do LRT shuttle fear it they will use it in interim to make it look as LRT is gold plated and not needed.

      3. Is LRT overkill for the route, the reason CRL/LRT needed is because 100s of buses an hour on CBD streets, I am mode neutral so if buses can do a great job and deliver great value then support a bus based solution.

      But again m opinion rather than fact on this one

      1. On the depot issue is there room to co-locate a light rail depot next to the heavy rail depot at Wiri? Potentially there is synergy there if maintenance workers can work across HR and LR units.

        Also most airport workers come from the east and not from the north.

        1. Yeah but as I said above for my primary concern is RTN for residents of Mangere, Favona & Mangere Bridge.

        2. single track extension of the onehunga line over the harbour to mangere would be easy enough, they supposedly provided for that in the motorway bridge.

        3. I don’t think single track and RTN really go together. RTN implies 10-minute frequencies, which would be pretty much impossible to maintain with single track, there would be a lot of passing loops.

        4. Interesting idea doing the LRT 1st from Puhinui. Think I agree on Harriet on this one as from there I think proper rapid bus would do fine while LRT developed from WQ. I think long term a depot, certainly stabling, at both ends will be needed but would be expensive and over kill to begin with? Yes we mustn’t forget the CBD bus issue in all this, this is why one of the big reasons the bus solution to the CBD is utter garbage in my opinion unless it was very short term, in that case it would be a real waste of investment & disruption….and even by the time that is done would be not sufficient I suspect.

        5. Doesn’t look like there us room there, at Wiri, for an LR depot.
          Anyway isn’t the HR deport designed for EMU maintenance only with staff from CAF doing the actual maintenance?
          If so then its highly unlikely same staff would be servicing and maintaining both EMUs and LRVs as the LRVs would likely be from a different supplier.

        6. Thats a good idea, perhaps also get them same gauge as HR instead of standard gauge then getting into Wiri depot gets easy

        7. Are CAF doing maintenance for ever or just for a period of time? I had assumed there would be a managed handover to AT/Kiwirail at some point.

  8. Connecting from the airport to the Manukau Branch and creating an interchange station at Wiri would work in terms of number of trains and timetabling. Sure most airport passengers would have to transfer, but its what happens in Singapore so not without precedent.
    One could argue that a connection north of the airport going under the second runway, thus requiring an underground airport terminal station is a good way of maximising surface and above ground space, which is far better used for buildings, and other surface infrastructure. Potentially it would also provide a more direct transfer between train & terminal, assuming a terminal was directly above the station

    1. And an interchange at Wiri allowing Papakura and Pukekohe commuters a one-stop change to get to Manukau City would mean that Manukau would be reasonably accessible from the south, unlike the present ‘going back’ solution.

  9. I don’t disagree with light rail to airport by going down dominion rd as it will rightly extend PT to a greater number.

    However this creates an absurd scenario where people to the east have to travel to Britomart to then catch a light train to the airport, which means going in the totally opposite direction of your intended destination. E.g travel from Panmure station, and dont say catch a bus to Onehunga its not going to happen. Ideally the Puhinui to airport link should loop around to Onehunga and connect back out to the west towards either avondale or Mt Albert along the corridor put aside by the western motorway.

    Thinking of the Puhinui to AIrport line in isolation is a very Auckland way to approach this problem. Its not simply one or the other.

    1. I don’t think we will ever have a line that suits everyone perfectly hence the need for a grid based network of routes & making transfers easy.

      In the case for someone out East like Panmure I think best option as you say would be to have a BRT/LRT system from Puhinui to transfer to.

    2. yes agree with Harriet with regards to developing a network of services rather than focusing on a one-hit wonder rail solution.

      People from east, for example, are much better places catching the rail south to Papatoetoe and then jumping on the 380 Airporter bus (and/or its BRT/LRT equivalent) than using the Dom Rd LRT.

    3. From East Auckland the obvious solution is busing down towards Manukau and then a Manukau-Airport bus.

      For that to work we just need to work on improving East Auckland’s buses, something like the AMETI busway would make sense with essentially a busway “loop” running from Panmure, along Ti Rakau drive (with a spur up Pakuranga Rd) and down to Botany and then a straight run to Manukau.

      The advantage being that it’s very useful for commuters (with very quick access to the city via Panmure and decent riding into Manukau) and links the East with the hub at Manukau for other trips, such as those to the airport.

      1. Basically Ameti sucks.
        It chews up good housing and it is designed for diesel powered buses that are technical dodos.

        Light rail along Te Irirangi with an elevated section through the Te Rakau- Pakuranga Road intersection and a high bridge into Panmure would be a much better long term investment. This could be extended through Manukau to the Airport. Should be started yesterday.

        1. Would the housing still be ‘good housing’ if there was an elevated Light Rail line right outside? Also by making it LR are you asking bus passengers from Howick and Bucklands Beach to transfer to LR at Pakuranga and then transfer again to HR at Panmure?

  10. Do we know that a large chunk of the workers are on the Inner Eastern Catchment?

    I am not sure making it single track makes it that much cheaper, you still have to build an underground station with long tunneled approach at the Airport, have the complicated junction and do the earthworks.

    The reason LRT is going to take 30 years is Govt funding they are not interested in rail based solutions, I doubt Joyce will support a HR Spur, and if you have a different government then the 30 years isn’t an issue.

  11. Recently two major parking buildings were erected in the heart of the airport-complex, adjacent to the domestic terminal. Together, these are of a length (~225m) that would satisfy a station for 6-car emus.
    In width (~55m and 80m) they are wider than what would be required for a 3-track station such as Newmarket (45m). At 3 storeys high, they are significantly higher than would be required for a heavy-rail terminus at first-floor level. There are also many other similar-sized buildings in the airport precinct. And in terms of available land area around the complex, the biggest single usage, a vast area in fact, is given over to out-door carparking.

    There is no reason I can see, why a grade-separated, elevated heavy rail line at 1st/2nd-floor level (say 8m) cannot be brought into the heart of the complex at a fraction of the cost of going underground. Except for lack-of-will and outright obstructiveness, that is.

    Here is what Brisbane has managed to install right next to both of its passenger terminals:

    Why not Auckland?

    Whatever route a potential heavy-rail extension to Auckland Airport might take get there, actually getting it into the airport is a problem invented by opponents and detractors only. Most likely those who prefer supersized parking provision to a compact and efficient rapid-transit connection ,

    1. Yes, why can’t we get rail to the airport using an elevated route instead of an expensive underground tunnel. I think the tunneling cost are the main extra expense for heavy rail over light rail. I fear if we build light rail to the airport we will never get heavy rail to the airport, and light rail won’t provide the needed capacity and travel times. Also we should look more at the blue line option in “alternative heavy rail to airport options” and future proof it, so if light rail is built and say in 2050 we need faster travel times and more capacity we can build it with a 4.5km tunnel under Mangere to Otahuhu and maybe get both light rail via dominion road and heavy rail via Otahuhu in the distant future

    2. Except their future Northern EXTENDED runway plan is really big and right where a HR line would come from say Otahuhu or Onehunga (though not planned until after 2044 If from Puhinui then I guess not so much of a problem, but a HR running pattern from there doesn’t work as discussed above. That old, 2011, study Matt links to suggests best solution is “heavy rail loop from Puhinui to Onehunga via the airport” but at huge cost. I do note the later Jacobs report, comparing with LRT, suggest re-evaluating HR at 3% gradient as it was done based on 2%. LRT certainly would be more flexible & stageable and give a network alternative & considering good connection to East done with LRT too, to me it seems the best option.

  12. Excellent post Matt, what you have just highlighted should make sense to anyone who looks at it properly (I myself were originally a HR via Puhinui advocate).
    The Otahuhu HR option is in my opinion the best option, it still picks up the bulk of the SE suburbs with stations at Favona, Mangere TC and airport oaks before terminating at the airport. Otahuhu has most of the advantages of Onehunga (and LR via Dominion Rd) with the added advantage of being able to go anywhere from the Otahuhu hub (something that Onehunga does not have).
    The Otahuhu option will require extra track work from Westfield junction to Otahuhu station but there is plenty of room now that Westfield station is closed. Alternatively the cheaper option of LR following the same route give all the same advantages while only loosing the single seat to the CBD that HR would maintain.

  13. If you want out there, build a channel between the two runways (existing and planned) for small ferries / hover craft!

  14. What route would you guys expect to make the most logical sense from Botany to Manukau?

    From Botany Town Centre running straight down the middle of Te Iririangi Drive, across the motorway bridge all the way to AUT South , turn left at Window Washer corner up Gt South Rd then towards Rainbows End corner, connecting up to MIT/Manukau station?

      1. Hi Ben,
        Long time no see, remember me from school? 🙂

        I can see that one of the lines only goes up to Hollyford Dr. Wouldn’t it be more practical for it to go further up Redoubt Rd and connect to the other end of Flat Bush at Murphys road, cutting back through Ormiston town centre?

        And again, I keep spamming these links below, but I reckon Highbrook, Sylvia Park and SE highway could have some additional routes extended onto these routes you’ve provided link for.
        Pedestrian/PT bridge along Panama Rd connecting across the water to the main Highbrook road – To connect Sylvia Park to Highbrook.
        Link this up to Allens Rd/East Tamaki Rd.

        Sylvia Park still has room to become a larger multi-level transport hub.

      2. Ben,
        Could your option 1 example go further up Redoubt Rd past Hollyford Drive up towards Murphy’s Rd, coming back down towards Flat Bush through Stancombe Rd/Jeffs Rd and turn right up towards Chapel Rd again?
        Future provisions for all the new development happening around Murphys Rd/Ormiston town centre – If it’s just coming down Hollyford Dr then you’re immediately leaving out all the residents along the Eastern side of the map of those new development areas.

        1. Best way to do it is get some large interchanges at Botany Junction (Ormiston Rd/Te Irirangi) and at Smales Road with secondary interchanges at Ormiston Town Centre itself and run busses between those three interchanges creating a feeder pattern into the LRT Line. Similar to what South Auckland has now with Manukau Bus/Rail Station and Otahuhu Station

  15. It has already been identified that the NIMT needs triple and soon after quadruple tracking. This is going to happen airport rail or not. So no it doesn’t add to the cost of HR to the airport. I struggle to imagine a situation where a quad track doesn’t have enough capacity for our needs.
    The way the lines work can be adjusted… One example might be extend the Henderson-Otahuhu cross-town line to Manukau (people can change at any of the stations along with the way if the city is their destination). For the other lines can alternate the airport line trains via the Eastern or Southern so that they each get 3TPH. Remember that most passengers heading South from the city get off before Manukau.
    Another HR option would be to have 3TPH into the city and 3TPH operating as a shuttle service to Manukau (passengers can transfer at Puhinui or Manukau. In fact this could be another option if they linked Manukau to the South. Airport-Puhinui-Manukau-Pukekohe Run that 4TPH and have 3TPH city-airport meaning 8.5 minutes wait per service from Airport to the NIMT, and 15 minutes at Pukekohe).
    Is the planned LR going under the runway or around it? If under then that’s the same for HR, if around then your argument about distance and land-use etc is void since LR would be doing that anyway.
    We aren’t talking about TBM tunnels either. Airport Rail (or either form) would be cut n cover (and shallow at that since it isn’t in the CBD like the CRL is).
    Other points about how the council has told AIAL that LR is the method still at this point don’t matter since AIAL isn’t building their new runway for a while yet (or other buildings that would interfere with either option). Also at some point a 2nd option is going to be needed as well so is this typical NZ mentality of not planning for the future and reserving space for it? So assuming they take the green option for LR then that is the route for HR… yet HR has to be underground but LR doesn’t? I’d imagine that the airport company want’s to keep their valuable land for development etc thanks so subsurface running for both = virtually same cost.
    Yes most of the airport workers are to the East and South of the airport and they can still use an HR link from Puhinui – it is more important for passengers with bags to have a 1 seat ride than workers who don’t have bags (just as it is in most cities).
    Numbers…. Auckland Airport is growing rapidly. As it is if even half the workers and passengers took rail you would need 6TPH of 3-car HR from about 5am-10pm (averaged). Now imagine in 20 years time when numbers have doubled – what then? How is LR going to work with it sharing capacity with commuters along Dom Rd considering that LR has a lower capacity to start with?

    So to summarise: NIMT improvements can’t be added to the cost of HR since they are going to be needed and built anyway (and at 6TPH a flying junction wouldn’t be needed).
    So HR from Puhinui is still FAR cheaper than LR via Dom Road. In fact you could build HR option AND build LR up Queen St and along Dom Rd for less money than LR city-airport via Dom Rd. That is a saving of hundred’s of millions of dollars – If someone came up to you and said “hey what PT could Auckland build for $400m?” your answer would be any number of great things – so this needs to be kept in mind (how about LR from Manukau-Botany?, half the NW busway? extend the NEX busway to Orewa? All of which would be more important and worthy than giving one suburb (Mangere) access to a fancy LR option (when they are already located close to the airport for an easy bus ride or close to Otahuhu again an easy bus ride to the HR station there, or another easy busride over the bridge to Onehunga, that’s all by bus (or even a cycle/walk for Onehunga), not too mention good motorway access and relatively un-congested local roads).

    1. Manukau is scheduled for huge amounts of growth though – Why o why would you want to limit it to 3tph?
      3 trains per hour is certainly not future proofing anything for growth or increased services.

      1. Because 1 seat trips heavy rail trips to the Koru Lounge for middle class people are the most important thing, not workers or the people of Mangere

      2. It wouldn’t be limited to 3TPH Anthony. It would have 3TPH through to Henderson. It would still have services on the existing route (which would be increasing in number once CRL is completed anyway).
        Harriet however knows this and is just being factious. In cities all around the world they offer direct rail service to airports as it is precisely the type of journey that best suits rail (lots of visitors with no cars, or people going away for longer periods so why leave a car parked up at the airport, time reliability etc). It is also well known that a good experience on PT has a halo effect on PT usage – that is to say that people (particularly middle class as Harriet puts it) who might not normally take PT because they think it is Poor Transport rather than Public Transport give it a go on a nice train and realise it’s actually pretty good. Next week they give it a go to work and boom you have more people out of their cars and taking PT. HR via Puhinui is certainly better for the majority of airport workers (not that many live in Mangere, most live in places like Manurewa). From an overall point of view Auckland would benefit more from HR Puhinui Option+LR QueenSt-Dom Rd than it would from focusing on one suburb – Mangere (which happens to already be quite well connected).

        1. Most people in Auckland don’t live in the CBD, so a one seat ride to the CBD is somewhat irrelevant for locals.

        2. That may be true now Jezza, however the CBD is the fastest growing population in the country and has been for some time now. The CBD is also where the majority of hotels are and where most corporate offices are. All of those people could take the train. For everyone else sure they would have to take a train or bus or ferry to get to the city/along the airport line but once there they would be one seat to the airport so 2 seat journey in total. If the airport line was a 2 seat journey then that would become a 3 seat journey.

          The thing is the airport line doesn’t have to be all things for all people. It just has to do the job of getting people (be they passengers or workers) to the airport quickly, reliably and cheaply. The airport precinct by itself could provide a solid load of around 300+ passengers per train for most of the day. That works out to be around 10 million passengers each year (or about 1/2 what our current HR network does). Put it another way it will serve far more people than the Onehunga line does but you don’t hear people complaining that it only serves one suburb!

        3. AKLDUDE – those numbers sound impressive, is there anything to back up that we would actually get these numbers at an airport station? It’s probably not far off what Britomart gets now, which is what makes me suspicious.

          Personally I would prefer HR via Onehunga as it balances the Western line nicely so there is no issue with capacity. However, if this is indeed too expensive then I think LR via Dominion Rd is a close second, with either BRT or LR to Puhinui and on to Botany.

          While I think it would be a bit slower to the CBD than HR this gives a one seat ride to the CBD for travellers and business travellers if they think it is better than a taxi. This in my opinion would likely give the highest proportion of airport users – visitors, travelling locals, business people and most importantly workers a two seat ride.

        4. unfortunately Jezza, without a RT service in operation it is hard to say exactly what sort of numbers would use the service.
          All we know is that there are approximately 20,000 people per day working in the airport precinct and this number is growing quickly along with 18m+ non-transit airline passengers annually that is also growing rapidly. So in total that is around 25m people annually with these numbers forecast to double in the next 10 years.
          So 50m people divided by 365 = 137,000 per day further divided by 18 hours (when most people are there) = 7600 per hour. So if half of those used PT then that would be 3800 per hour. Even if it was only 25% then that would be 1900 per hour divided by 6TPH = 316 per train (or if it was 50% then 633 per train – pretty much a full 6-car EMU).

    2. I know you guys like to claim LRT has lower capacity, but that is demonstrably not true.

      AT’s website and various other sources show they are planning for 67m long vehicles with capacity for 450 people each. At two minute headways (bear in mind I’m being conservative, Melbourne runs one minute headways in places) this is 13,500 people per hour per direction. That is about double the capacity of *all* of the lines leading to Britomart today.

      Or put it another way, given our EMUs can hold 750 people each in full six-car configuration, that 13,500 people an hour is 18 full size trains per hour each way. Please explain how any heavy rail airport linke could achieve anything close to that, the only way I can see it is by building a second CRL. Even if you manage to get six, six-car trains an hour threaded into the first CRL along with the rest of the network, that’s only one third the capacity of a light rail line.

      The simple fact is the CRL and a new LRT line would have about the same capacity, CRL can probably stretch further with a lot of investment in a new signalling system and grade separating all the junctions.

      But the difference is a new LRT adds all that capacity in addition to the existing network, while a new heavy rail line would be just one of four lines splitting the capacity of the existing network. Heavy rail is a zero sum game with new lines, unless you are proposing a second CRL to go with it.

      1. Sorry to clarify it’s about double the capacity of Britomart if you count both ways, or about the same capacity if you count only one way.

      2. Nick – HR via Onehunga or even Otahuhu would be the other half of a Western line service pattern so shouldn’t be an issue for capacity.

        While I understand the concerns around cost for Onehunga, there still seems to be unanswered questions around maximum gradients. Kiwirail have some clear protocols in place around maximum gradients for the CRL, which makes sense when it is underground. However, what is hard to tell with other lines such as airport and NS is whether these are being applied just because that is what the rules are currently in NZ. Have Kiwirail been pressed on this issue at all for commuter only lines that are above ground?

        I personally don’t think HR via Onehunga is dead yet, given this is not likely to happen for another 20 years.

        1. Jezza, that’s not quite right. It’s actually only the counterpeak of the western line (i.e. the base pattern), so only six trains an hour at best. Note that the plan runs much more peak service than counterpeak service using both ends of the tunnel.
          The peak capacity from the southern side is taken up by the southern and eastern lines. If you want to run more than the counterpeak western you would need to take slots away from the peak southern (or possible eastern) runs.
          Anyway, it is others claiming it is better because it has more capacity, which in the first case it doesn’t, and in the second we may not need it anyway. But the point stands, running a new branch off our existing heavy rail network would have only a fraction of the capacity of a new LRT line.

          AKLDUDE, not that is at rated capacity with 4 passengers per m2. Same rating as an EMU with 750 people. At crush capacity it would be closer to 600 people per vehicle, while an EMU would be more like 900.
          I don’t understand why you are talking about only Dominion Rd, I’m talking about a southwest line between the city and the airport via Balmoral, Mount Roskill, Onehunga, Mangere Bridge etc.
          By the way it is cheaper to run LRT, they have driver only operation and the drivers are paid about the same as a bus driver. Heavy rail requires a locomotive engineer, which get paid about double an LRT driver, and at present at least one Train Manger too. The staffing costs per train are about triple that of LRT, while the power consumption is similar. A six car EMU weighs 260 tonnes empty. A 67m Light rail consist weighs about 90 tonnes, so one third the mass to move around.
          So you can run three LRV consists for the same opex as one EMU consist. But three LRVs has 1.8 times the capacity as one EMU, so basically EMUS cost 1.8 times as much to run per passenger.

        2. I’ve had a look back at the running pattern and I can see what you are saying. It’s very complicated, I would have thought with an airport line we could have four lines running through the CRL (Western/Southern/Eastern/Airport) at a 5 min frequency.

          I acknowledge though this would make it hard to run express services through the inner eastern line and also the short run Mt Albert to Sylvia Park they appear to be planning.

          I’m not against LR to the airport it just appears the modelling has been based on circular references like there are only so many slots in the network we designed without airport rail, and current state assumptions on Train Managers, driver pay and maximum gradients. LR appears to be assessed on future state assumptions.

        3. Still, I think both sides using biased figures to win their arguments it seems? The SMART study has: “In practice it would be possible to increase LRT frequency to 1 service per 5 minutes (12 / hr) doubling capacity to 5000 passengers/hr/direction if required. Heavy rail could increase capacity by introducing 6 car sets – doubling its capacity to 5,400 passengers/hr/direction.” Interesting they use probably crush loading for HR, though 50% more seated still, but LRT 5 min headways.
          Can someone paste a link to the post CRL HR running pattern AT are actually thinking of running, are we even all looking at the same one?! I have several unclear variants mixed in with this blogs CFN ones.

        4. Jezza thats the one. Look at the CRL, 24 trains each way, 48 in total.

          So disregard the purple crosstown line, and add up all the other starts. You’ll see the sum to 48, i.e. All slots are used.

          So you can extend the newmarket and onehunga ends of the western to the airport, and that gives you 6tph each way. THose are the only ones that can go further. But more than that and you need to take a train path away from one of the other lines.

          So yes you could run four lines at five minute headways, however they want to run the main lines at better than five minutes at peak. Again you don’t have to do that, you could take some of those train slots off the southern and western to give to the airport if you wanted to, but thats not extra capacity.

          Ergo, linking a fourth line into the exiting network lets you use six trains an hour before you’re full, while an entirely new line would have its full allocation of capacity (and leave a couple extras in the CRL for further growth).

        5. Yes, I get that it is full with that running pattern, however it is a messy pattern. My solution would be to terminate the express services from the south at Britomart (reddy brown I think). Then make the light green Henderson line a both directions line and continue it to the airport.

          LR may still be a better option, especially cost wise, however it is certainly possible to run heavy rail at 5 min frequencies, without significant impact on other lines.

        6. Hmm don’t think that works Jezza. Terminating the redbrown line at britomart still occupies CRL slots on the way in and out. You’d have to terminate it before quay park junction if you wanted to use the slots for extra airport trains, so your still stuck with taking capacity away from the other lines to run more than a basic airport service.

        7. Good point, it would mean there would be more than 24 tph each direction in the tunnel east of Britomart.

          This would basically mean it is not possible to use the centre platforms at Britomart during peak hour, which basically knocks Hamilton services on the head.

          I guess this tunnel may end up being widened at some point or fitted out with advanced signalling?

        8. Yes that is an issue, although a decent Hamilton service would be two trains an hour at peak, while four an hour would be amazing service. So thats an easier proposition than a suburban line with six or more.

          That would probably be ok in early days when they might not run the full gamut of peak service. In the long term maybe a little signalling witchcraft on the short section between Quay Park junction and the Britomart crossovers could release a few extra peak slots.

          Widening the existing tunnel seems infeasible, but maybe an extra single track tunnel could be threaded out under Quay St from the outbound CRL track to the junction. That would give you a CRL track in each direction while the current outbound track could be used bidirectionally to access the middle terminal platforms.

      3. LR is 450 pax at crush capacity. In reality it is more like 350 pax max and even less if you are talking about an airport service with passengers that have bags.
        This is also almost all standing compared to HR where a good percentage is seated with space for bags.
        There is no way we would have 1 minute let alone 2 minute headways in Auckland with only Dominion Road. If they added on the other isthmus routes then yes you could have those sorts of headways from Onehunga to Airport (although that itself would cost about $500m per route) but each of those individual isthmus routes would likely be limited to minimum 3 minute headways since they are running on the road with priority over traffic. It is also expensive to operate those sort of frequencies which is why most countries have HR for high capacity routes and particularly for airport routes.

        I don’t think anybody is suggesting LR along Queen St and Dominion Road isn’t a good idea – it would be fantastic. What people are however saying is that LR isn’t a long term (or a good solution) for a longer distance journey to the airport, especially when it would cost considerably more to do than to have an HR line from Puhinui+LR on Dom Rd/Queen St.
        Hell you could probably have a 2nd isthmus LR line built with the change!
        Then if eventually it is needed you could then extend it to the airport to supplement the HR line and to add that connectivity to Mangere.

        1. “LR is 450 pax at crush capacity. In reality it is more like 350 pax max and even less if you are talking about an airport service with passengers that have bags.”

          Those scaling factors also apply to HR, it is disingenuous for you to only ever talk about this effect with regards to LRT.

          “especially when it would cost considerably more to do than to have an HR line from Puhinui+LR on Dom Rd/Queen St.”

          It would cost considerably more, it would also be considerably better. A 3rd branch off of the Southern line is just a terrible, terrible running pattern.

          “but each of those individual isthmus routes would likely be limited to minimum 3 minute headways since they are running on the road with priority over traffic”

          So Manukau Road and Dominion Road give 40 tph by your calculations. or 18,000 pax per hour each direction. That will probably do us for several decades.

          The important question in HR versus LRT for capacity is ‘In the next 100 years are we likely to have more spare capacity on two isthmus lines with 20 LRT/hour each or in the CRL with a realistic maximum of 40 tph?’. I think the answer is very obviously LRT, especially when you consider that extending the LRT to Puhinui will also allow you to use all of the HR capacity too in a way that isn’t possible in the HR option.

          Plus the running pattern is so much more sensible.

        2. Because HR has more seating capacity it means that there is more space between seated passengers for baggage (between legs, on lap) versus LR where if it is on the floor it is taking space that someone else standing would take up or if it is carried then the same thing.
          So yes they are different when it comes to airport passengers.
          How does a slower less comfortable service jammed in with commuters equal a better???
          The running pattern would only be terrible if changes weren’t made to other patterns. There are ways to do this especially once the 3rd main is built.
          Dominion Road AND Manukau Road would give more capacity yes. Manukau Road is unlikely to be built anytime soon and certainly not before Dominion Road. There won’t be money for Manukau Road to be built because of the expensive LR Dominion Road-Airport option. However with the money saved by axing that part of the route and having HR (or even LR) from Puhinui plus Queen St&Dom Rd would be about the same price – so for the same amount of money you get a superior airport link, and 2x LR isthmus lines plus Queen St LR. Then nothing to stop it being extended in future.

        1. Actually they haven’t, but they have written off heavy rail too due to capacity constraints. They’ve just said they won’t have capacity on their not yet built Melbourne Metro heavy rail tunnel to put an airport line into it. They don’t want to use capacity for airport trains because they need to use it for the existing lines. Sound familiar?

  16. I wonder what the costings would be to run LR from Wiri to AIAL.

    Like some of the other commentators, I wonder if this could be pushed as a quick solution that puts pressure on the government due to it’s patronage and speed. It should go without saying that such a short link to Wiri should be designed to integrate properly with the LR solution that goes along Dom Rd…

    I love the idea of (in addition to serving east and south) giving riders the option to travel in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction.

    1. What is at Wiri that needs to get to the Airport? And if you want quick, and i think we should, then a bus link between Puhinui Station and the Airport area will surely be the quickest and most easily funded. While the whole Mangere Rapid Transit, including Airport, route is planned, funded, and built.

      1. Patrick there is nothing at Wiri that needs to get to the airport that can’t get there on a bus. Agreed build the busway from Puhinui but then built rail (heavy or light, my preference for heavy) from Otahuhu.

  17. I agree. Just build a slow and torturous light rail route that happens to end at the airport and most of us will continue to drive our cars out there. At least that way a few extra suburbs will get light rail.

  18. I would be very surprised if regular users of the Southern Line believe in any connection involving the Southern Line (except as a transfer from a nearby LR station).

    As things stand, one waits at Wiri for junctions and train manages. One waits at Penrose for Onehunga and faces the absurdity of the longest section of track being one of the slowest parts of the journey. One sometimes, even now, waits going back from Britomart at “Westfield” for a junction. The only place the Southern Line gets any sort of priority is Newmarket, and you want to add more trains???

    I stand by my comments section call for a Light Rail L, from town, through Dominion Road to the Airport and then out to Botany via Manukau. It makes sense. It has a catchy name. It looks more like a U. All that remains is a practical consideration…

    May dreams of HR to the airport rest solely on an entirely new set of tracks that do not connect with any current line associated with the Southern Line. Or, better yet, die.

    1. I understand the frustration and annoyance with train delays.
      However, using line capacity measured in TPH, based on the present performance of the signalling system, ETCS, emu speed etc as a yardstick for future network capability and performance is just plain crazy. Because it takes no account that capacity can be significantly increased by upgrading the ETCS to level 2 and eventually level 3 where line signalling is no longer necessary and at ETCS 3 train spacing can be measured in train lengths and not time. Think 30 to 60 tph being feasible. This does not cost $bns
      All to often we see posts here that tell us the HR line capacity will not cope with any further extensions to the HR network. Usually accompanied by some comment on CRL helping but for a limited time.
      I particularily dislike this being used to somehow justify LR in preference to HR.
      HR capacity can only grow, speeds increase. LR on Dom will be a creepy crawlie,
      Tune the traffic lights however you want, compared to HR to airport it will be a dog and lemon.
      However, i think as a Dom rd only, foget extension to airport, LR would be preferable to super buses.

      1. I agree Dgd. There are lots of bogus, unsupported claims made by people pushing barrows on this subject. Particularly those wanting to talk-down heavy-rail.

        1. But it seems you are assuming support for LR, or buses, on some routes is some sort of attack on rail. Mosts cities have all sorts of systems and I don’t get that seeing value in adding LR to AKL’s mix, or a bus shuttle between a Station and an airport, is some kind of assault on rail. Quite the reverse, certainly in my case, I can see how with a cheap and easy to get funded shuttle from Puhinui we can turn 2/3 of the current rail service into Airport Lines. Huge win.

          And LR is the right technology for Queen St and Dom Rd, and worth also getting the designation in for all the way to the airport too. But all these suggestions have no current source of funding under this government…

    2. Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur come to mind as airports that have one or two stop trip to the centre of the city from the airport. KL airport is about 80km out of town, A dedicated line from the Auckland CBD to the airport looks like easy peasy compared to the KL line!

  19. So Puhinui is a very messy area when it comes to railway tracks?
    Have you ever travelled on a train through Puhinui and on to WIri depot? There certainly is no mess of tracks, the wiri depot is accessed by one line that extends right up to Puhinui complete with OLE, its probably going to be a section of 3rd main in the near future. The wiri freight depot is nowhere near Puhinui so would have negligible impact and there is a well defined gap to the Manakau junction. Plenty of room for a track points and crossovers to a Puhinui airport spur plus the appropiate signalling.
    So why is it a mess? Looks quite normal to me. There is even the opportunity to extend the 3rd main from where it abrupty ends just north of Puhinui on towards Papatoetoe to create a long merge line before airport trains have to get ontto NIMT.

    1. I spent 6 months travelling Croydon to Waterloo every work day. If the Brits csan do all the connections they have in that distance surely NZ can connect another line in somewhere?

  20. Matt, I think this post proves that there’s still too much disagreement around key issues, and too much disingenuous rhetoric being deployed (not by you, competing interests).

    You state that “In general, it seems that most people broadly accept that a heavy rail link to the Airport from Onehunga is too expensive and too difficult.” But then, in literally the very next line you state “although many of the cost issues (for Puhinuhi) would be similar to the Onehunga option and the impact of such a route on housing in the area seems like it would be very significant.” This is contradictory, and although NZTA have pre-decided that they don’t want to invest in HR, we all know that would have been a highly subjective and politically biased decision.

    You’re attempting to demonstrate that LR is best. That may be, but I’m yet to be convinced that a HR crossing over the harbour and continuing on, would have to be significantly different. More expensive yes, but not prohibitively if properly managed.

    Full disclosure: I live in Onehunga, so I’d be very happy to have a LR line come in from Dominion Rd… BUT I still believe that extending the HR to the Airport is preferable. So you could LR from Dom Rd and transfer, or single-seat HR from britomart.

    I accept that I’m in the minority, but I honestly don’t think you can prove it’s not the best/equal best option – all things being considered. No option is going to be cheap – we need political pressure on central government to start investing in a long-term PT vision.

    1. The real killer is the running pattern problem. You never design hardware without a great service pattern to use it, and there just isn’t via Puhinui. With three branches to get decent levels of service to each one leads to a huge imbalance of service and congestion problems on inner sections. I guess you could run all southern line trains as expresses till Homai, but then we don’t have the track for such variable patterns and so many trains, as you’d still have 3/4 of all the trains serving between Britomart and Puhinui, plus Onehunga line…? Seriously imbalanced. Also you’re not serving the south and anywhere east of the Tamaki River… Better to add a new route that runs south east and cross and picks up all that rail ridership by transfer, and, if its by transfer then it can be any technology.Botany, Howick, MC, Puhinui Station, and Airport and environs….

      Leaving the NIMT to do its current and growing passenger work, and all the growing freight too. Oh, and, we hope new Intercity services too.

      1. Therefore, a bit more thought has to go into the pattern. I don’t see this as an issue as all. Of course, the best would be to connect airport by rail both south and north, which would give you a good network pattern (can’t attach graphic, it seems). Biggest problem would be junctions at Penrose and Wiri, which would require quite some infrastructure work.

        1. What so people from say Papakura have to deviate through Mangere? Or at least every second train does? Ripping frequency out of the network for the bigger demand direction.

          Advocating infrequent one-seat rides on a much more expensive system to build and run, over more frequent, direct, and legible services connected by transfer?

          It is a trade off, of course, all things being equal a one-seat ride on your journey is better, but to do that to all over frequency and legibility is reduced.

          So we are much more likely to be able to deliver a better outcome for more people on more journeys by building a network of highly legible and direct high frequency services with many other destinations available via a single transfer. Than waiting to be able to justify a direct route to everywhere, especially with Heavy Rail, or indeed light Rail, or Busways.

          I would rather have a train every 10 or 5 mins that gets me to a huge range of destinations via a transfer at the same frequency, than watch 3 trains go by to other places for 1/2 hour while i wait for my specific train.

        2. That’s what I would want, too. And it is totally feasible. You would probably rip into any alternative proposed network, but there are many options, all with their advantages and disadvantages.
          We shouldn’t necessarily assume that all people will be on a train from end to end, but rather route a train line so that it allows the greatest range of journeys, particularly in conjunction with transfers.

  21. I saw this thread developing but I was too busy at work to get involved. One idea I like is to extend the single track Onehunga line to Mangere Bridge and Mangere town center. My idea when the Onehunga line was rebuilt was to have a station at the Onehunga wharf. Unfortunately every one thought I was a nutter and now the road overbridge at Neiison street has being trashed and the so called east west link is going to make thins harder. Not to matter we could still have a bridge across the harbour and a line to Mangere town centre.
    The second idea which I like is the light rail from Manukau to the Airport. I am wondering if it could actually run into Manukau station itself. We could sacrifice one of the heavy rail lines which already run there. I could imagine some kind of flying junction at Puhinui or Wiri over the main trunk and then use one of the two lines so Manukau would be the exchange point for travellers to the city and ethier Wiri or Puhinui would be the exchange point for travellers heading south. Some sort of barrier could be used between the light rail and the heavy rail line for safety. And think of this the powers that be do not want the southern link so why do we need two lines into Manukau station. I cant see the frequency of Eastern line services being increased there is just not enough capacity or demand between Otahuhu and Puhinui anyway. Most Eastern line services are pretty empty past Otahuhu. More frequent trains between Britomart and Otahuhu would still be an option.
    As for the 30 year time frame or whatever for the Dominion line LRT well a great big raspberry for that.

  22. Ditch the East West Link and use the $1.85bn in savings to double track the Onehunga branch line and extend heavy rail to the airport. And also use it for the freight that would have gone on the east west link. Heavy rail option to the airport was about $1bn more than the light rail option so you’d save $.85bn.

    1. Freight to the airport!? To justify spending this money on HR you would need passenger frequencies that make running freight pretty much impossible. Also I imagine most of this freight is short run, going all over the city, so rail wouldn’t be much use for this.

      1. Funny how the Government can somehow justify $1.85bn for a road link for freight (still waiting for the cost benefit btw) but not for rail…
        And not freight to the airport, freight to Onehunga/Penrose/Mt Wellington inc Port of Tauranga terminal.

        1. I believe the freight companies want it because it would take traffic out of Neilson St, but yes it is a massive waste of money. Personally I would rather it was used to bring PT projects forward rather than an upgrade of airport rail.

          The obvious candidates to me would be the NW busway and Puhinui – Airport busway. Although this would of course free up future funding for other projects to happen quicker.

  23. Forget HR & LR, in the short term I’d be ecstatic if we could have nothing more than a connector bus and some priority lanes between Puhinui and the terminals. AT could price a return service at a premium – say $17 – and it would still massively undercut Skybus for a similar trip duration. Backpackers would flock to it. I can only assume this hasn’t happened because the airport has vetoed it to protect the fat tariffs they collect from Skybus.

  24. Look at the run patterns and ask yourself what you are trying to achieve.

    Bus or Light Rail from Manukau to Puhinui and out to the Airport captures two main passenger loadings:
    1) Manukau Bus Station is main nexus point for South Auckland bus routes. One way or the other you are heading to or from Manukau Bus Station (especially on the 33 Great South Road and whatever the future Botany to Manukau route is) so your first transfer is from there for an airport run.

    2) Puhinui captures the Southern and Eastern Line passengers. Your bus from Manukau stops at Puhinui then heads out to the airport.

    So two major interchanges serving two very different catchments. Heavy rail from Puhinui misses all those coming into Manukau by unless Option S2 was used and a very inefficient Manukau to Airport you either miss Puhinui or have double transfers and back tracking (bad enough without the Manukau South Link).

    If heavy rail was ever to go to the airport it would be from Otahuhu but still got a bus way from Manukau to the Airport happening to capture Botany and those coming to Manukau by bus

  25. Have not seen a route plan for an Otahuhu to Airport HR. But just south of Otahuhu station on up side there is plently of rail sidings and one in particular I often see is off at 90degrees and heads into the west Otahuhu distance. Maybe a few Ks already there towards the Airport

  26. Perhaps I am missing something here, but why not take the Yellow Route (S3, SH20b on the first map). It is dead straight, through farmland which must be able to be bought off the farmer at a minimal cost, connects straight to Puhinui going under existing overpasses etc – all that is needed is to build a decent transfer station with Puhinui rail line. Seems incredibly obvious but you’re all ignoring it. What is wrong with it as a route?

    1. It faces the wrong way. Surely no one wants to spend this significant sum on a one station HR spur line that wouldn’t even give a one seat to the CBD.

  27. I’m definitely still a fan of the Otahuhu option. The designation of land exists. More homes could be constructed with higher density properties around the Robertson Road and Mangere Town centre stations with upzoning than would be lost with the line construction. The line could even be trenched to minimise the community division and allow connections over it. Run all the trains that are destined to terminate at Otahuhu post-CRL to the airport instead so you’d have q10 minutely trains running 7am-7pm 7 days as envisaged, plus lower frequency outside that.
    Quad track the Otahuhu to Westfield junction section and have a flying ramp/grade separated junction immediately south of Otahuhu for the spur to come off without impacting on train movements on the southern line.
    Makes so much sense to me.
    The Puhinui corridor should be LRT from Eastern suburbs, Manukau, Puhinui, Airport. Easily stageable if necessary.

  28. Start with the longer term corridor protection for Airport > Flat Bush > Botany, etc & around to Panmure. This could be via either Puhinui or Manukau stations or, to make things simple and cheaper, it could be a very simple over/under crossing of separate lines at a transfer station. Instead of compromising scheduling of what is going to ‘branch off’ to Manukau or the Airport, every train can run north/south from the city to where ever the southern end of the line ends up – ideally Hamilton. Anyone wanting the Airport, Manukau or other points to the east can change trains at the junction.
    In most other cities I lived in during my 15 years abroad, I had to change trains/modes to get across town or to the airport, so why do we have to complicate things by having lots of little things trying to tick every box?
    With stage 1 (Airport to Manukau and route protection further east) we could run a dedicated shuttle train (light or heavy) back and forth between Airport and Manukau, stopping at ‘the junction’ for the north/south passenger transfers.
    Stage 2 will be gradually pushing this further and further east.
    A later stage would then bring Onehunga over to Mangere and on towards the airport.
    Dominion Rd has to be mass transit for commuters, with lots of stops or else the commuters will give up on it. If you try and use a Dominion Rd system to get out to the airport, it will either be hopelessly slow, or it will have chopped out most of the stops that the city commuters need.
    The Dominion Rd light rail/tram/whatever variant, can cross over an Onehunga / Mt Albert (or avondale?) line (route protected 70 years ago?!) which would also pick up Mt Eden Rd, Sandringham Rd & New North Rd routes eventually.
    Either way, whilst supposed PTs supporters squabble over various versions of Nirvana, everything gets progressively built out, doubling the cost of future actions.
    Route protection now can be mode agnostic. And route protection must be now.

  29. Agree with the LR to Puhinui/Manukau designation.

    Details about through services or two separate lines at the Airport can be thrashed out and changed in future. It just needs that flexibility and a decent 3-4 through platform LR station at the Airport to cover all options.

    Dom Road, Mangere etc need LR. So does Botany and so forth to Manukau. Connections there or at Puhinui (and Onehunga, and Panmure) to rail are great. And it should be integrated with the Rail network in terms of maps and ticketing, so that there is no psychological barrier to connecting and changing – and create a true RTN network (just with different rolling stock) in the way that bus and rail don’t do quite so seamlessly.

    Airport being the terminus of both is incidental and convenient – but also provides a lot of great options for workers and travellers.

    And rail frequencies can stay high throughout the Southern line.

  30. Why limit the option of HR via Wiri/Puhinui to just going to the airport? Why not bring the HR line though the airport to Mangere?

    There is a large amount of job creation occurring in the airport area. A lot of these workers will be coming from the East. As people say above, it’s stupid to go into town just to get to the airport.

    1. That would definitely make it slower from Mangere to the CBD than LR going via Dominion Rd. It’s an unnecessarily circuitous route.

  31. High speed rail junctions (fly overs or underpasses) as never seen or used in NZ could be built at Westfield junction at a Puhinui Junction to enable rapid heavy rail trains to traverse the lines with minimal, if any, impact on other services. Sure a 3rd and 4th line are required, these are going to be needed in any case.

    In many cases l found this post to be think relatively within a box. We need to think out of the box for solutions which reduce the need for private vehicles in Auckland and those entering from the Waikato. Rapid rail via Puhinui will enable rail services direct to the airport from Hamilton and Tauranga. One day possibly even from Rotorua again.

  32. Having recently travelled from Heathrow to London CBD we decided on the slower Piccadilly line as it gave us a one seat trip.

    We travelled across Europe by rail and where we had to change trains this caused problems with moving suitcases from one train to the next, especially where changing platforms was involved.

    I’ve been reading the arguments here between HR v LR to the airport, and I have to say I was being tempted to side with the LR option to Puhinui, but then thought back to my own experience with London and have to say the HR option has to be the long term best option for travellers.

    All too often Auckland has taken the cheapest option and has to return to the better dearer option usually within a short period of time.

    The Airport line needs to be planned for the future with potential services to Hamilton, Tauranga, Whangarei and even Rotorua.

    Sure add, and design for, a LR system via Dominion Rd in the future, but put a HR line in from Puhinui first, and have the station and approach line elevated.

  33. This article now needs to be updated to include for the recent report, and political party acceptance of a 3rd & 4 additional main trunk rail line to alleviate congestion. The dynamics of this significantly reduce the problems described above.
    Also, instead of assuming trains running from the city directly to the airport, requiring a messy interchange in a congested area, it should be an under/over crossing of the lines at Wiri (or Puhinui) with the airport trains continuing east out through Flat Bush, Botany, et al, and back around to Panmure.
    Thirdly, both the Dominion Rd route and the extension of the Onehunga line can equally service all of the areas from Mangere Bridge south as the route and stops can be the same for either line.
    Forthly, Dominion Rd LRT services will already be maxed out with the current city commuters, leaving precious little room for additional people to head further south/east than Roskill South.
    But most importantly, please do allow yourself to modify your position as and when new information comes to hand. Too many already think you’re wed-locked to LRT come hell or high water

    1. I agree with most of what Russell says. With the 3rd and probably 4th main at Puhinui the vast amount of problems that is being envisaged will disappear. However his idea of taking the scenic route through Botany and Panmure I’d suggest would kill the Airport traffic as it would add far too much time to the trip.
      Having recently travelled from Heathrow to central London we looked at the option of catching the express and then changing to a commuter tube to get to our destination but decided to go with the Piccadilly line as that would take us directly to our destination rather than having to change at a busy station with our luggage and in fact worked quicker.
      While the LR option via Dominion Rd on paper would be a direct option as Russell has pointed out it will, even if it was an express, would get over crowded because of the high traffic already along this route which will end up making the airport option less used. No one going to he airport with their luggage want to be crushed in trying to get there.
      There’s probably even an argument for having a light rail line to Onehunga and a heavy rail line from Puhinui via the airport to Mangere Bridge with a bus service that allowed a connection over the harbour between the two terminals until a crossing is finally built. This would save the expense of building the crossing in the initial stages.

  34. I was sitting thinking about the idea of heavy rail from Puhinui to the airport and on to Mangere Bridge and how this might cause problems with the traffic through the Puhinui / Wiri area and how an extra branch line off the Southern line could mean having to reduce service times on the Papakura/Pukekohe and Manukau lines when it occurred to me there was another option that wouldn’t cause anything like those problems.

    As a curved ball suggestion, the service from Britomart to Manukau heads in to Manukau and after a short stop so the driver can walk to the other end the train then heads back towards Puhinui but changes to an elevated line that crosses over the present, and proposed 3rd and 4th main, then continues out to the airport and then on down to Mangere Bridge.

    What this does is a) removes the Airport line from actually joining in to the main north/south mainlines b) provides a Manukau / airport service c) provides a much needed service in the Mangere / Mangere Bridge areas.

    While no an ideal concept, but as Manukau is already a terminal station, the stop and reverse out option would work, as can be seen from the Western line reverse shunt at Newmarket, and would not put any extra loading on the existing Southern and Eastern lines.

    1. One aspect of the HR options, as I understand it from the studies, is you can’t get a station at Favona or Ascot that you do with LRT due not enough distance to up and down in time with the more limited gradients. Perhaps you can but at much larger cost/difficulty. The other thing is the HR underground station necessary (due to gradients again) would be done at very high risk (financially could blow out and/or physical risk or flooding) due to it been so close to sea level etc. You can’t go over either due to runway extensions planned eventually.

  35. It’s clear that Rapid Transit only offered by heavy rail is the winner. 3rd track from Glen Innes to Westfield to connect to the now politically accepted 3rd and 4th lines south allows for express airport trains to operate with stops at high patronage transport centres at Panmure and Otahuhu to provide a 30 minute transit time CBD-Airport. This leaves Labour and Greens slow, windy tram service in the Dominion Road dust.

    The Puhinui link also allows for direct services to the airport from South Auckland including Papakura and slated high growth areas of Drury, Paerata, Pukekohe, Tuakau, Pokeno, Hamilton and Tauranga.

    Freight trains will also be able to deliver freight to an airport logistics terminal servicing the large number of warehouses and industry in the airport area.

    Labour/greens light rail trams are going to be slower, take a minimum 6 to 7 years to build and cost a whopping $2.5 to $3 billion. This proposal, with a 7 km rail link, even with some trenching won’t come anywhere near that cost (look at the cost of trenching New Lynn for example with a train station in it).

    I agree, trams to Dominion Rd are good, but not to the airport. Heavy rail trains serve so many more people, serve larger areas including beyond just Auckland, allow railfreight to the airport logistics and warehouses and costs a lot less than the alternative.

    Thanks New Zealand First for common sense when the others are in “group think” mode and stuck in a box.

      1. Is your “rapid light rail” 49 minutes CBD – Airport?
        Rapid transit with Heavy Rail CBD – Airport in just 30 minutes is superior.

        1. 41 minutes Aotea to the Airport according to AT, the same as heavy rail.

          Let me guess, a flawed consultants report full of holes. Or is it the line about AT cooking the books? Or the great cabal of nefarious heavy rail haters conspiring to hate heavy rail because they hate heavy rail? Or something.

          Not sure where you’re getting 30 minutes from, 30 minutes only gets you to middlemore. Guess you are just making stuff up now?

        2. Oh sorry I didn’t read the above properly, I see you are just making stuff up. Ok cool while we’re just making up infrastructure without cost or feasibility, I’ll have a third LRT track from Eden Terrace to Mount Roskill please, that’ll get the LRT down to 28 minutes. Cheers.

  36. I believe a light rail link from Puhunui (or is it Manukau?) is being considered. Why not have a freight link to the Airport Freight Terminal and other freight areas in the Airport? That could be used for passenger trains too. Remember it would link to the NIMT, a key freight corridor, so maybe the 3rd main could be extended to meet it if it doesn’t already. Maybe a 3rd main would be needed on that line. I reckon the best name for it would be the Auckland Airport Branch.

    1. The airport themselves have ruled out the heavy rail option. ie. no heavy rail station.

      To service cargo freight you would also need to add a cargo depot with cranes, etc. Marginal CAPEX benefit.

      Better would be to upgrade the Wiri port. Use trucks for the last mile. The volume of air cargo is not low, but the sea cargo volume is much higher.

  37. At SFO you catch a light rail to the nearest BART station and change.
    You could do this in AKL and go to Puhinui and use heavy rail to the city.
    Saves destroying Dominion road and saves megabucks

    1. This is what already happens. The Airport link bus runs from Puhinui to the Airport every 10 minutes all day, mostly in its own T3 lanes. It’s even an electric bus.

      It’s just not a big shiny project and is easily forgotten. To the point this news article all about airport bus services didn’t mention it and later had to do an update / correction:

    2. “….destroying Dominion road”. The surface light rail would make that road and the surrounds so much better.

      And light rail on that route is actually little about getting to the airport.

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