The City Rail Link is a crucial piece of infrastructure for Auckland but it’s not a magic bullet and doesn’t have unlimited capacity.

We’ve been seeing a lot of comments recently, both on the blog and elsewhere, questioning why the City Rail Link (CRL) isn’t being used more, why we’ve suggested a second, complementary network of light rail for some routes. I’ve even seen it suggested that we don’t understand what the CRL is or how important it is strategically – which is frankly hilarious given we’ve written around 500 posts explaining almost every aspect of it.

I suspect that what some people don’t realise is just how much impact the CRL will have.

  • It adds two new stations to the city centre, making the rail network more convenient to a lot more people and therefore significantly growing demand. This includes Aotea, which by virtue of being the closest to the largest and most dense employment, education, entertainment and housing areas in the city, plus by not having half of it’s catchment be water, is expected to become the busiest in the city.

  • In addition to having stations closer to where people want to be, the CRL significantly shortens journey times for those on the western line by cutting out the detour via Newmarket. This will further drive demand from the west.
  • The Unitary Plan that has been adopted will see a lot more people living near close to the rail line, expanding the pool of potential users. One big and likely developments will on the land above the CRL tunnels at Mt Eden

The point of covering these benefits is to remind people that the CRL is going to make the rail network extremely popular and demand to use it will skyrocket. To meet that demand we’re obviously going to have to run more trains to meet that demand. But just how many extra trains can we run?

Our current network runs up to 20 trains per hour (TPH). This is made up of 6TPH on the Western, Southern and Eastern lines and there are 2TPH on the Onehunga Line. Based on our current setup (and assuming we had enough trains), we could transport a maximum of 14,250 people an hour.

According to Auckland Transport, upon opening the CRL will be able to handle 18TPH per direction through the tunnel, or 36TPH in total. That’s up to an extra 12,000 people that can be moved to the city, almost double what could be done today. Both Auckland Transport’s plans and our new Congestion Free Network suggest that services should be through-routed, with the Western and Onehunga lines joined together and the Southern and Eastern lines also joined. Doing this allows us to run an extra 6TPH per direction through the CRL. This could be used to boost the frequency of each line at 9TPH or as AT currently plan, to use this to run additional peak services on the Western and Eastern lines that run through the CRL then terminate. This doesn’t leave any room for additional routes.

AT have also confirmed that with additional investment, the capacity of the CRL could be further increased to 24TPH per direction, or 48TPH in total.  AT say one of the investments needed will be to signalling as we will need automatic train operation. All of this would allow for each of the two lines to be running at 12TPH for five minute frequencies across the network. This would allow for almost another 10,000 people per hour to be moved free of congestion for a total of up to 36,000.

The point of all this is that we’re going to need all the capacity the CRL can deliver just to serve the existing rail network in the future. The CRL opens up a huge amount of capacity for our transport network but that capacity isn’t unlimited and there is also isn’t the capacity for it to be used for a whole network of other lines.

This was also one of the factors as to why we’ve chosen to use light rail to provide some of the new rail lines in our Congestion Free Network 2. With the CRL maxed out in serving the existing rail network, any additional heavy rail routes would require the entire route to be constructed from scratch. While that’s technically possible, our geography and topography means it would be unlikely to be affordable, even if we had a very favourable government.

Of course, building our Congestion Free Network doesn’t mean we couldn’t still build new rail routes in the future and given the amount of capacity CFN has, when we get to the point of needing further investment we’ll know we’re doing well.

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89 comments

  1. In a few months we will know the winner of the CRL project.
    It will be a day to celebrate.
    Possibly the winner might surprise and be able to do the job quicker and cheaper than expected.
    Because of very serious congestion in Auckland we might consider a basic no frills connection rather than the most expensive 5 star option.The billions could quickly add up with delays etc. and then the next project must wait too long to be started.

    1. I’ll be very happy when the first few tenders are announced. Even happier if the contracts are fixed price with penal clauses for failing to meet project milestones. I’d be over the moon if we cost the same costings as Cross Rail in the UK got – 118km for $21B (US) – Works out to $0.6B (US) for our link, except that I don’t know if Cross Rails’ price included trains, as it does here…

      Regarding the option chosen, I can’t agree with you on this – Your argument implicitly suggests that what is planned goes above and beyond, that what is planned now is for the platinum lined infrastructure.

      Whilst we shouldn’t be spending money where it makes no sense, we also have to keep in mind that this tunnel will be used for _well_ over a hundred years and needs to be constructed in a way that will be able to last that long, as well as support infrastructure upgrades.

      Also, any substantial changes to the design now would create months of delay, in itself increasing the cost by hundreds of thousands of dollars…

      1. I used to agree with you, saying that the CRL will be used for a hundred years and needs to be extendable and upgradable. But I’ve changed my mind. Still in use in a hundred years yes, but I don’t think we should be clamouring to make it extendable for that time. Better to right size it for the current task and allow another separate link to be built in the future.
        So I think the approach they have taken is right, make some small allowances for a second CRL (i.e. Allowance for perpendicular platforms to be built later at Aotea) but not wring hands over it.
        Let’s get this one done properly and soon, and then move on to the next thing.

        1. Hi Nick – You’re right and I should have explained what I meant by infrastructure. My IT & system design background bit me on the behind 🙂

          London’s NW wasn’t designed to have the electrics upgraded or mobile coverage installed. Our network _should_ be designed to allow changes in technology to be implemented without massive rework.

          We don’t want to be unable to install 8G coverage in 20 years because we didn’t think of how that would go. FWIW, Huawei offered to donate 4G infrastructure to London well before the olympics. Unfortunately the install cost would have still been in the millions.

    2. The Victoria Park Tunnel cost $1m a metre, a single one way, 3-lane, cut and cover road tunnel with no stations etc. If the CRL, a much much more complicated project, is around that, it will be huge value for money, after all its capacity is the equivalent of 18 m’way lanes, 6 times as many….

      1. Yes if you assume that every train seat and standing space is occupied and you also assume that each car only carries one person. If you are comparing maximum possible capacity then you might include the other 4 seats in each car.

        1. Yeah sure, however we do experience full trains every peak, and full traffic lanes, but never full cars in those lanes. So, my comparison really reflects reality better than yours. Yours is only ‘theoretical capacity’, mine is ‘revealed peak capacity’.

          And, I can tell you, at every transport conference I have been to, some mathy person stands on the stage and says he (always a he) can solve all transport problems tomorrow without building another thing: Just fill those empty car seats and halve the number of cars; brilliant!

          Hasn’t happened yet. Driving remains an under-priced good, so we sort it Soviet bread-shop styles. And there’s a cultural component here; cars are an extension of private space, people don’t like strangers in there, PT is public space you expect to share.

          Those expecting Apps to suddenly make ride-share a thing, need to think more about this than they have been… they need a few more people with Humanities backgrounds on their crew…

    1. Well 7.5m frequencies will be a significant improvement on today’s 10m ones, but only a 50% one. Which will be great for a while, but will soon become insufficient at the peaks. Because of the huge utility of this new link. Ridership has doubled in the last five years or so, and will certainly double again, and more.

      And remember overseas cities often have whole networks; we have two track system with one line through the city. A few more CRLs maybe!?

      Which brings us to why we advocate for the Light Rail network as well. This does essentially add a second CRL, another two track line through the huge demand centre of the city and out to areas currently served by buses, and where, again, demand growth (if we plan for it) means we need more capacity.

      An additional surface system delivers more capacity and reach for the money. I have in the past looked hard at how to grow the current system next and quite soon we end up with needing a CRL 2. And we could do that, but to fund that and the lines out to the underserved areas is unlikely to be possible.

      For example, see here, from 5 years ago: https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2012/04/20/the-cross-future-pattern-for-auckland-rail/

        1. I’m thinking 9tph, per line per direction, which is a 50% increase over the current 6tph. And which is the opening capacity of the CRL @36tph total.

          Great but likely to be soon be insufficient.

    1. Making the platforms longer is actually harder than it seems and is very expensive. Some stations would require complete relocation to make work.

    2. My understanding is that the six carriage long platforms are already a tight squeeze for the CRL (and Britomart). Going to eight or nine could be downright infeasible at any cost.

      One of the benefits of a new system that stays at ground level, it’s probably that much easier to lengthen platforms and station.

    3. Longer trains perhaps in small increments. Since the trend is to now have 6 car emus by joining two 3 car emus, its likely the next tranche ordered would be 6 car by design. This would increase capacity by another 16 or so seats.
      A possibility is 7 cars since it appears most stations, surface ones anyway, could be easily extended the few metres to cope with 7 cars.

      1. How about different types of trains for different lines. For example, luggage areas for airport trans and subway style seating for busy services

  2. I agree, but with one exception. The running pattern proposed in your CFN2 still allows for airport HR via Onehunga. There are of course other implications with this, but given your proposal deals with improving the existing Onehunga branch for 12tph anyway, it may be the cost difference would be quite a bit smaller.

  3. Right the comment again with the proper link -_-
    s the CRL actually maxed out or is Auckland Transport much to be desired in serving run patterns stitching up the sub-regions and the interchanges at the Metropolitan Centres.

    This is what I came up with: https://voakl.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/crl-post-ops-mk2-my-version.png
    Yes I have factored in a certain Airport Line and Manukau South Link to boot.

    None the less I got 18 trains per hour leaving room for an extra 6TPH down the CRL if we move to rolling block signals or fully automatic EMUs.

    If you are wondering why I have a direct South to West? The Waterview Tunnel via SH20. If the West is coming down the tunnel to work at the Airport Complex or even the Southdown industrial complex then a W-S route skipping the CRL would assist in there.

    But again has AT optimised run patterns? Nope

    1. That’s a very poor service pattern through Ellerslie, with only 3tph to Aotea and Britomart, and 6tph going to Mt Eden for transfers.

      I struggle to see what the benefit of this running pattern over ATs proposed pattern would be. Can you elaborate?

          1. But, if you were to do the same running pattern, but take the trains that went to mt Roskill to Henderson, or New lynn instead then it is a far better pattern IMHO.

          2. Hmm I wonder if CFN 2 the risk of keeping to timetable harder with the HUGE MNK to PAP/PUK loop, it also assumes Onehunga line upgrade (or would it just terminate Penrose if not done & not be a problem?)

      1. Is it, or have I responded to load changing given what were Southern passengers heading to the City are now on the Eastern Line freeing up capacity for Ellersile.

        I would argue Ellersile gets a better deal from this pattern through the rerouting of former Southern Line city passengers

        1. I’m not sure how you figure that half as much service and a forced transfer to anywhere in South Auckland is actually more service?

          1. South of Otahuhu actually gains.
            The current Southern Line to Britomart goes back on what was the old Eastern Line to Britomart backed up by Manukau to Britomart.

            North of Otahuhu they still get at least 6TPH especially if the Airport Line is built

        2. I’d rather a train every 5 – 10 ten minutes to the city that I have to stand on than a train every 20 mins to the city that I can get a seat on.

    2. Hmmm, that’s pretty odd Ben; do you really think Pukehkohe needs the same level of service as Aotea? The Southern Line entirely bypassing the city? And that you’re leaving 3tph available through the CRL unfilled? Don’t think that is an improvement on AT current plan:

      1. Southern Line bypasses the City because the Eastern Line takes it place from Papakura. As for Pukekohe I havent differentiated terminating some services past Papakura due to 55,000 homes and 35,000 jobs coming through the Southern Auckland Future Urban Zones over the life of the Unitary Plan (most likely the next decade). However, for now assume I have terminated 50% of Pukekohe to Britomart services but maintained 100% of Pukekohe to Manukau.

        As for spare TPH well I can bring the Southern Line back through via the CRL if and until the Airport Line was brought online. That said all 4 lines at 6TPH (given Ive closed Onehunga) gives me 24TPH via the CRL or max capacity.

    1. Agree, I noticed that the most recent tranche of trains in Sydney were 8 car units rather than 2 x 4 car. I also noticed in Melbourne all trains were 6-car now, so they may well do the same thing for their next order.

    2. Yes Luke and Dgd. Internationally it is now quite common to have pure 6-car EMUs rather than 2x 3-car EMUs since you gain the extra capacity of not having the drivers station at each end of the join as well as the lost space of the join itself. Adds up to about an extra 15% capacity. Might be possible to add in an extra car as well to make it a 7-car EMU. Might be a bit too long for some platforms however some reconfiguration could be made (let them stop an extra few metres further forward and have the last door automatically not open on platforms that aren’t long enough – as happens overseas). Passengers are advised at the previous stop to move forward in the rear car for the next exit. You would then gain 18% extra capacity from the extra EMU and the extra 15% from the single train set config making about 33% total extra capacity per train.
      So far as the CRL is concerned for future proof reasons it really should be built long enough for 7 or 8 car EMU length now since it is such a long term piece of infrastructure. Cheaper to do it now than later.

    3. Yep – all the major cities in Australia now ordering either 6,7 or 8 car sets as standard. Those cabs take up a lot of room and when dealing with the size limitations of existing networks, removing the cabs is one of the few ways left to increase capacity.

        1. Exactly, my understanding is that provision to go to partial or full metro seating configuration which is all longitudinal is being designed into all recent single deck Australian EMUs. Auckland is no different to any of the big Australasian cities in facing major physical infrastructure growth constraints in the heavy rail network over the coming decades.

      1. Since CAPEX always seems to be an issue I have wondered if CAF would have an upgrade package for the 3 car emus to extend to 6 or 7 cars. The logic being that we probably have sufficient cars with driving cabs so adding 4 cars to an existing 3 car emu. So needed would be 4 standard seating cars, two that are trailers, one with traction motors and one with traction motors and pantograph.

  4. Thanks again Matt you are managing to keep churning out posts on a daily (sometimes more than one a day) that keeps the site fresh.

    One thing I’m not sure you have looked at is that HR routes that do not use the CRL do not cause the issue you are highlighting. Eg a NW line that joins the existing Western line has no effect on the CRL (currently Onehunga can’t take 6EMUs or 6TPH so does not make a good partner to the Western line), if the new NW line was to enter the CRL at Mt Eden and partner up with the existing western line but bypassing Newmarket (there will be ample chances for those going to Newmarket to transfer) there is no extra CRL traffic but a huge extra catchment (there is still the provision for the extra peak services too). The looser is the Onehunga line (2TPH) that could terminate on one of the two spare platforms at Britomart, at Newmarket or worst case (if there was also an airport line added via Otahuhu) a shuttle service to an upgraded (to a proper interchange) Penrose station. There are already platforms on either side of Britomart one set was for a future NS link and the other was to extend Britomart, so NS HR does not need the CRL it could be accommodated next to Britomart and even link to the eastern line allowing extra capacity or a possible future line from Panmure to the east.

    These do away with the need for ATs planned cross town and any planned short runners.

    1. The problem I see with that is that passengers from the NW will have a circuitous route to the main station of Aotea. They may be able to transfer at Mt Eden in the early days but once all the services get reasonably full it would not be possible for those passengers to transfer onto a already full Western line service.

      TBH if light rail can follow the motorway into Newton then it would likely be quicker to Aotea than HR.

      1. Or they could transfer at Grafton or they could just wait an extra few minutes and that is if they actually want to go to Aotea.

        Transfers are a part of life as one seat journeys can not be provided for everyone. Anyone south of Penrose can’t get a one seat journey to Onehunga, anyone south of Puhinui can’t get a one seat journey to Manukau or Panmure and anyone west of Newmarket can’t get a one seat journey to anywhere outside the western line etc.

        1. There will be literally a hundred times more people wanting to go to Aotea than Onehunga however. You don’t force a transfer to your primary destination.

          1. No argument there Nick but unlike the places I pointed out there would not be a forced transfer just it would be an option for those in a hurry. Post CRL the time to Britomart from the southern line is increased as it assumed everyone that currently goes to Britomart will want to go to Aotea.

          2. Aotea is central to many more people than Britomart is. I’d say a huge number currently using Britomart are likely to switch to Aotea immediately upon the CRL opening

        2. I agree that transfers are part of life, and an important part of a good network. However, Aotea will be the most popular destination and I’m concerned there will be for a large proportion of a peak hour train to transfer to another probably full peak hour train.

          You say they could wait a few minutes to go all the way around the loop to Aotea, which is true. But it then asks the question – why not build light rail that can take a quicker route to Aotea, and still allow transfers at K Rd for those wanting to go elsewhere.

  5. I’m thinking there will also be more demand from the north:

    – a bus to Aotea is faster than a bus to Britomart
    – no detour via Parnell / Newmarket.

    This would cut at least 20 minutes from any journey between the north shore and the western line.

  6. Trams in Melbourne runs toe to toe with frequency measured in seconds.

    I don’t understand why heavy rail can’t operate in the similar manner to light rail.

    Heavy rail has conservative rules that requires 1km distance between trains.

    Now days a lot of cars has advance cruise control that can sense how far the car ahead and their speed. If the car in front slows, the curise control can also slows to prevent collision.

    I think the same technology and sensors can be applied to heavy rail, in that case we no longer need the 1km safety distance. That way heavy rail can operate with the same way as bus and trams.

    1. Stopping distances. Melbourne trams are a lot slower than our trains, and I would guess a lot lighter. It’s probably possible to reduce the headway with more advanced ETC systems and better grade separation to reduce surprises, but they’re still heavy objects going fast on steel rails.

    2. Take a look at ETCS (google) Heavy rail metro trains could run vary close together with ETCS 3. To implement this would probably need a separate freight rail track(s) especially on Southern line, hence the need for 3rd and possibly 4th main.
      Running a freight rail system within a metro rail system hinders the metro system from developing from an LE/visual signalling control to an automated control using train location data and comms to determine train spacing and hence frequency.

      1. Ergo: lifting train capacity on the existing rail network post CRL is no simple thing. It surely will be done over time, but that doesn’t extend the network to those areas currently not covered, an additional network, as we have described allows us to get on with both tasks at once.

        Work the CRL as hard as possible to improve frequency and capacity to the areas it reaches, expand catchment of existing lines with feeder buses, Interchanges and station focussed improved cycling and walking networks. And build new Busway and Light Rail lines to other areas. Boom! The CFN.

      2. Separation of passengers and freight is definitely part of the solution. Victoria is in a situation where for once the gauge difference between standard and broad gauge for once plays in its favour. Freight is tending to concentrate on standard gauge with passengers on broad gauge. I suspect that Melbourne’s new HCMT have been designed from the outside for rapid conversion to some form of driverless operation. The train control systems that are part of that process will in turn enable the further notching up of frequency. In Melbourne as in Auckland, frequency is also limited by level crossings – being dealt with or will be dealt with in both cities.

        1. Quad tracking to Westfield junction is pretty straight forward. And building a 3rd from there to GI too. But a dedicated freight line to the port from GI will be both expensive and problematic. I suspect the burgers of Hobson Bay may object… And if ETCS x requires no shared track with freighters -> that’ll be required…

          But even with four tracks on the spine of the NIMT some interlining will have to occur, I’m not in anyway all over the finer points of this, but no doubt some of you here are…

      3. ETCS L3 is still a theoretical concept at present with no applications in commercial service. There are quite a lot of metro lines running moving block signalling using various proprietary Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) technologies. CrossRail is using such a system within the tunnels to achieve the 24TPH throughput but then changing to ETCS L2 on the suburban lines on either side of London.

        1. Hopefully by the time the CRL comes online in 7 years there will be more advanced control to achieve that 24tph. ETRS3 systems will develop from that and maybe in 20 to 30 years it will be in use at Auckland Metro.
          Discussions here that often use the limitation of the current TPH maximum to stifle consideration of extensions to the HR metro rail system as just unrealistic. Worse still its used to propose other modes as better options to HR.
          Extensions to HR should still be considered and planned. There was a NS HR AWHC and CRL2 discussion that seems to have been forgotten in the rush to find a use for LR.

          1. I still haven’t had an answer to the question of why extending a current network is a priori better than adding a new one to work along side it? It maybe, but I’ve yet to see the case made. It just seems to be an assumption. Plenty of cities have multiple networks, and many cities run very similar systems with no interlining. There are obvious advantages in selecting different things for different occasions so I don’t see why all options shouldn’t be considered (as we have done) and decisions made accordingly.

            Sydney is adding both more surface Light Rail and a new and incompatible Metro system to its mix. They obviously considered extending their current passenger rail network for these extensions but chose to go to other systems, despite what is an amazing wealth of track and platforms on their much bigger legacy network.

            I can only assume that they went through a similar analysis as we did. Concluding that more can be delivered for less with other systems, and that the current network can do more in its current role without the pressure of having to serve more areas.

          2. Patrick, the Sydney NW metro and its incompatibility with the existing system was (still is?) highly controversial and I believe was essentially a political decision rather than the best from a transport network perspective.

            I suggest it is not a good idea to cite this project as somehow justifying multiple and incompatible networks within a city.

          3. It was controversial for the same reason LRT to the airport is controversial here. The controversy is unrelated to how fit or otherwise for purpose the proposal is, the controversy is that it isn’t heavy rail and some people love heavy rail.

          4. Don’t be obtuse Sailor Boy. Sydney’s NW metro is heavy rail. All on its own right-of-way, much of it in tunnel and capable of accommodating 8-car EMUs. The controversy was over whether or not to build it to the double-deck profile of the whole of the rest of Sydney’s extensive network. They chose not to and many consider this to be a mistake.

            Your fixation with LRT is acknowledged, but this project has absolutely nothing to do with LRT. OK.

    1. No, the grade separated tracks approaching from the west and east will still be joining from different levels in the location Newton was going to be. Also it is very close to Mt Eden so it would be two very close stations.

  7. While I support the crl and can’t wait for it to be completed it still looks like only one new decent station with the bodge job on K Rd and no Newton. Doesn’t seem like good value for money to me.

    Liked the stop at Parnell on the western line on Tuesday evening. Seemed like further development and maturation of our network.

  8. 24 kph each direction should be the goal for CRL to get to very soon after it opens, so the correct signalling and comms for that (and future=proofed for more) should be installed during the build, so no retro-fitting is required. (Crossrail will have 24 kph, and that’s with multiple branches joining from the west and east.)

    I think there will be an explosion of train patronage soon after the CRL opens, so AT really need to have provision for getting well ahead of the curve on this.

  9. I think having more networks is a great idea. Why can a new rail line to NW and to NS not be HR? I have not seen enough evidence to show why LR is more suitable for longer distance metro services. Sure Dom Rd and other bus congested arteries would be ideal fit for LR to replace buses.
    I would agree that loading more HR lines to use the CRL would be a capacity problem. An HR NW/NS line with its own deep Aotea station, University, Wynyard etc looked a good future HR service largely independant of existing HR metro perhaps with an interchange somewhere at Parnell.
    Anyway just IMHO

    1. Why can’t new Transit routes everywhere be HR? Cost mainly. HR has to be entirely grade seperate, which makes for very expensive right of ways. Tunnelled or elevated often. Worth doing (CRL) where there’s an existing system to unlock, especially right at the centre of the systems’ value.

      But once you look at completing a full network for AKL, as we have, it quickly becomes clear that every possible technology must be considered, and considered as part of a whole.

      Network thinking is the key here, along with realism about cost, and therefore opportunity cost.

      1. It’s about as simple as that. We know the CRL is costing around $2.5b dollars. So if you want to do like you say you have to start with a second CRL of another $2.5b. That’s before you’ve started on the actual lines, say $2.5b again for the NW, $2b for a harbour tunnel and another $2.5b for the North SHore.

        WHay can a new rail line to the NW and to NS not be HR, well it can, but it would cost $9.5 billion dollars or there abouts. So more realistically, you might get half of one line built for say four billion before they pulled the plug.

        Meanwhile the airport LRT line costs less that the CRL for the whole thing, including the city link, Dominion Rd and the airport. For your four billion you could build the whole thing north and south.

        1. So you are saying that the two new LR lines to the NW and the NS are going to cost a fraction of the cost of an HR system?
          Why don’t I believe that?
          Your concern about such projects being cancelled has nothing to do with HR. Has not the govt already tried to replace the CBD, Dom Rd to Airport LR with busses?
          You sure they would not again try to cheapskate NW and NS HR or LR with more and more busses too?

          1. Yes, I am saying that, in Auckland on the same corridors with about the same capacity, light rail will cost about a third to a half of heavy rail to build.

            This is based on the costings from real life. Look at the airport LRT line, About $2.2b for 24km from Wynyard to the airport, *including the link through the city centre* and all the route. That is $92m per kilometre.

            Compare the City Rail Link, that is 2.8km for about $2.8b. So $1,000m per kilometre *just for the link through the city centre*. Sure the CRL is an extreme example in the middle of downtown, but note that you are suggesting a network that needs a second CRL to get started, costing at least that much, if not more.

            The CRL makes a huge amount of sense and creates massive benefits, because it’s a relatively short tunnel that unlocks a hundred kilometres of existing network with 40 stations on it. The cost per-km of the tunnel is worth it because of the network wide gains. But if you look at an entirely new line where there is no existing network to unleash, there is no such benefit. So why would any government spend billions more for something that does the same thing?

            My concern about projects being cancelled, or not even started in the first place, has everything to do with it. If you have project A that costs about two billion dollars and project B that costs about five billion dollars, which do you think is least likely to be delivered?

            Yes the government will always try and cheapskate and not spending anything on transit. But if you have two projects that do the same thing and one costs billions more, they’ll simply not go for it in the first place.

      2. Patrick, I don’t disagree with anything you have said. None of these rail tansport systems will be cheap But why is cost the issue when it should be fitness for purpose. This seems to have been completely bypassed by the govt/NZTA pushing for the cheapest solution despite mega problems with its FFP.
        This is why I see little sense in trying for a slightly lower cost solution by using LRT for long(ish) distance RTN. I believe a proper detailed CBR needs to be done for both LR and HR systems covering the areas the CFN2 has suggested.
        One little niggle I can’t resolve is that a NS line will need a separate pathway whether LR or HR since routing LR along the northern busway will surely be a logistical nightmare during LR construction. Also this grade issue with HR seems a non issue since it will not be a freight line hence the easy grades not essential. There are man y other (non) issues that have been discussed in TransportBlog yet there is nothing that critically rules out HR for new lines or hinders the additional of some spurs to the existing HR metro system.
        From reading the many responses to CFN2 I don’t see wholehearted support for these LR based systems, Rather than fall in line with AT’s LR scheme why not support a fuller analysis of realistic costings for the various mode solutions to NW and NS RTN systems.

          1. It is slower and despite what some tell you it has less capacity. The advantages are shorter curves and on street running but the more on street running you have the slower (and cheaper) it becomes.

          2. Matt priority or not on street running is limited to the speed limit of that road (mostly 50kph but more and more as low as 30kph). HR is less restrictive, the current EMUs are capable of three times the current limit given appropriate track conditions, complete new lines like the NW would be basically dead straight and could be built to allow higher speeds.

          3. Sure and no one is suggesting that LRT would be faster than speed limits but just do a few quick calculations. At an average of just 30kph (assuming slightly lower in city centre but 50kph limit on Dominion Rd) it would take LRT 15 minutes to reach from Britomart to SH20 along Dominion Rd, 25 mins to reach Onehunga (faster than the current Onehunga Line) and 46 mins to get to the Airport – about what AT suggest. New dedicated LRT lines, like we suggest are capable of the same top speeds as our EMUs are. Speaking of HR, of course it’s capable of a lot higher tops end speeds but not on a network like ours with frequent stops meaning there are very few places they can truely stretch their legs.

          4. Matt from my knowledge LRVs are not capable of anywhere near the speeds the current EMUs are capable of. Note we are not talking about the current Onehunga line but a new line NW that would be straight and allowing the EMUs to get up to speeds they are capable of not what they are currently limited to due to the tracks they run on.

          5. Our EMUs have a top rated speed in service of 110km/h – although I was on a test run where they pushed it to about 120 km/h and I think they once got one to about 125km/h. Our EMUs are not optimised for faster than that. I understand Seattle’s LRT line is capable of up to 105km/h (although have heard some conflicting info suggesting top speed of 90km/h). However, Dallas’ light rail network is also capable of 110km/h and have way faster acceleration than what our EMUs have. In reality in an urban environment with relatively close stations like we have, there’s not all that often where there’s the opportunity to get above about 80-90km/h and even when there is, the extra 10-20km only saves a few seconds at best. Accelerate is far more important and in that regard, LRT is often far superior and so gets up to speed faster.

          6. Matt our EMUs are only limited to 110kph by the existing tracks, given the right track conditions they are capable of nearly 3 times that fast. Given that a new NW line would be built from scratch in basically a straight line the tracks will be able to to built for higher speeds.

          7. Lol, you’re really trying to claim our EMUs are capable of 330km/h. They’re not, no matter how good the tracks might be. And regardless, what’s the point of that speed in a city if you never need it because you’re stopping every few km

          8. Luuuulz, 320km/h from Morningside to Kingsland, ha!

            I’ve been timing my train trips recently using a GPS logger. The western line between New Lynn and Britomart spends about 10% of it’s time moving faster than 50km/h. Top speed is irellevant, you never get there!

  10. A good way to increase capacity would be to introduce 7 car sets. You can do this when new capacity is ordered by eliminating the cab cars in the middle of the 6 car sets and slotting in 3 what are currently middle cars in the 3 car sets. The cab cars that are cut out, can then be used for other car sets – in other words what you are ordering are middle cars, some of which will need to be powered. Station platform lengths shouldn’t be a problem as all you would do is not open the doors right at the end of the 7 car set.

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