In September last year it was revealed the City Rail Link’s cost may have increased from $2.5 billion to $3.4 billion. As much as we have strongly supported CRL over the years, and continue to do so, a $900 million cost increase is massive. In some respects it is surprising there hasn’t been more scrutiny of this cost increase, especially given the CRL team didn’t even tell then Len Brown about it. They also seem to waive away the change by saying that we won’t know what the real cost will be till the tenders come in. For a bit of context, $900 million is more than the entire cost of the AMETI project that will construct a massive new busway from Panmure out to Botany.

While we continue to be strong supporters of CRL, we really do think the project team have made a number of poor decisions as its details have been developed. This includes getting rid of the prominent Beresford Square entrance to K Road, instead focusing on a very hidden away Mercury Lane entrance. It also includes plans for Albert Street post construction and, perhaps most significantly, the proposed operating patterns once CRL opens. In particular, “Purple Line”:

The purple line seems to have emerged because of it seems some people at Auckland Transport as well as the transport models are concerned people travelling on the Western Line to Newmarket and Grafton would lose a “one seat ride” once CRL opens. However, this goes against the entire philosophy of ATs approach to PT service provision that’s outlined in the New PT Network: a move away from many low frequency direct services and towards much higher frequency services with connections:

The Purple Line might look okay on diagram and in a transport but it has a number of factors that make it a poor idea. These include:

The city centre is already the busiest destination on the rail network and will become even more so once the CRL opens. The Purple Line will use up valuable “train slots” that could be allocated to more frequent services on the core blue and red routes shown in the map above.

It will also add a lot of confusion to operating patterns. Instead of just “jumping on the next train”, passengers will need to be careful about what service they take. Ironically, for many people travelling from say the west to Newmarket, it may actually be faster for them to jump on a more frequent “blue line” train and then transfer at K Road. Furthermore, those travelling from past Henderson to those stations would have to transfer anyway.

But not only will the purple line be inefficient, undermine the principles of the new network and potentially be useless to its target market, it is also extremely expensive in terms of requiring extra trains, requiring extra infrastructure at Henderson, Otahuhu and Mt Eden and requiring substantial extra operating expenses. Let’s go through each of these in turn:

  • In terms of required extra trains, Henderson to Otahuhu is 52 minutes by rail, maybe a little faster if AT ever bother to speed up services. This means a two hour round trip with a bit of layover. The plans suggest that at least initially there would be a service every 20 minutes at peak. This would require at six trains, maybe seven if you count spares and so would add up to at least $60 million just for the fleet alone. Obviously it would be even more if any of those services were to run as 6-car trains.
  • At Henderson and Otahuhu extra platforms are be required to terminate the service. The extra Otahuhu platform was built as part of the station upgrade but the Henderson changes will require substantial work, including to the existing council building. Combined I would imagine easily there’s another $20-50 million of additional investment at these two stations for the additional platforms, trackwork etc.

  • At Mt Eden extra track structures are required to fully separate trains travelling from the west and Grafton into the CRL from those continuing between the west and Grafton. Without the Purple Line far fewer trains would travelling between the west and Grafton, likely to only be a few freight trains and empty trains to/from depots. This may not be necessary and could save further millions.

  • Over time, the extra capital costs would all pale in comparison the operating services. Costs such as staff, power and maintenance will quickly add up in to the millions each and every year.

Overall it seems like the Purple Line is a bad idea. Not only does it contradict the approach to PT service provision that Auckland Transport is implementing, it introduces a more confusing and lower frequency rail service and worse, it also pushes up the construction and ongoing operational costs of the CRL project by potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. Given the massive cost increase in recent months for the project as a whole perhaps it’s time Auckland Transport abandoned this silly idea altogether.

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123 comments

  1. Could be interesting to critique both the Mercury Lane entrance and the Beresford Square entrance using the findings of “women-focused” designers. I wonder which one provides for more seamless connections to buses, which one puts the emerging passengers into a space with more people, which one is easier to design for traffic lights where pedestrians don’t have to wait long, etc.

    1. The answer to all of the above is Beresford I’d imagine 🙂

      Whilst I get that the council was trying to encourage development of a rather sad part of town, placing the entry/exit on Mercury Lane will restrict it’s attractiveness. I know that the stats say the incline to K’ Rd isn’t that bad, but try walking it. It’s not that much fun in the summer time for an able bodied person, imagine how unpleasant it would be (season regardless) for a mobility impaired person?

      To place the sole entry/exit at the bottom of a steep rise is socially irresponsible and disadvantages the young/old/impaired.

      1. So then it comes down to needing very clear objectives for accessibility and inclusive design at the concept stage, so those outcomes can’t just be lost in the muddle as soon as they become trickier to achieve.

          1. Until a further “unexpected” budget blowout forces that [and no doubt other “fripperies” to be delayed or cancelled.

            Then what do we have? An inferior outcome for decades.

          2. Making Cross St a shared space is a “nice to have”, no more. Making it a shared space won’t however solve the issue of accessibility. Mobile impaired would have to choose between three steep uphill streets or one set of stairs that is only open during business hours… Ironically, they’d be better off to go from the train station to the car park, use the lift to traverse the sky bridge..

  2. The cost that Councils put forward to get a project approved is always different to what the project will actually cost. One of the skills local government managers learn is how to bullshit people. Some say it is the only skill local government managers learn.

  3. Disagree completely with this poo pooing of the purple line. It’s a great idea and it would be a more credible case for not having it if the stats were available on passenger numbers from west to Grafton and Newmarket and these proved that even 3 car emus on a 20 min schedule were not viable.
    I suspect that these two stations are very busy especially in peak and shoulder times.
    As for the other sidebar negativity such as commuters confused by different destination trains and not having a simple 10 minute turn up and go concept, this assumes the average commuter is too dumb to simply identify where a train is destined and make sure the correct one is used. As for using up valuable slots this again is nonsense as its the same number of commuters but just spread out over different destination trains. If there proved to be too few using the purple line then that’s the time to reassign resources and adjust train frequency. For commuters beyond Henderson then transfer at Henderson would probably be less arduous compared to CRL stations, again stats on numbers would be useful.

    1. I agree. Also “The extra train slots” would be filled with trains heading into the city so there would be no cost saving as they would still need those trains anyway. When I used the western line a lot of people used Newmarket station so add an extra 15 minutes to travel through the crl or even have lots of people transferring at K road might not be the best idea and may even be a turn off for some people.

    2. +1 David.
      All over the world multiple lines operate on the same tracks.
      In the example of someone travelling from Henderson to Newmarket they would still just get on the first train that arrived and hop off at any of the stations along the way (but most likely Mt Eden) and then get on the next Purple train.
      The CRL is going to become very busy so it is important that we still have services that don’t use up any of that capacity. Services will be frequent enough that people wanting to get into the city won’t be affected. Also as it will take pressure off those Blue and Red line services it will mean more capacity on those services for people using them.
      Another point, it would be short sighted not to build a fully separated junction at Mt Eden otherwise we end up with another Newmarket situation down the track (excuse the pun).
      If there is ever an issue with the CRL (someone selfishly jumping in front of a train, fire, evacuation, other fault) then we are going to need to re-route those services to avoid it – which of course will be easier with a proper junction.
      I do agree that costs need to be contained as much as possible (even if only to keep the government from writing off rail in future due to cost overruns).
      I also think it is very short sighted to be building only 1 entrance at K Rd and am still disappointed at how small the platforms are at Aotea (this will be the busiest station in the network after all). Does anyone know the planned length of the platforms at these 2 stations? It would be a real shame if they only plan on them being the length of a 6-car EMU rather than allowing for up to 8 or 9 in future (yes other platforms on the network would also need to be modified but it is extremely difficult to modify an underground platform after it has been built).

      1. That makes zero sense. Why would someone catch a train down a line, then hop off somewhere in the middle to wait for a following train on the same line?

        There is literally no situation where that saves you any time, or is more convenient.

        If people are willing to change from one train to another, surely they’d catch the next train to K Road, then transfer to the outbound red line running every five to ten minutes to get to Grafton, Newmarket or anywhere south. That would save them 7.5 minutes wait, on average. Why would the transfer to the purple line running every twenty minutes, which also only goes as far at Otahuhu?

        Yes the CRL is going to be very busy, which is why we need to run every train we have into it. THere is never going to be a situation where a train skipping the CRL and veering off into the suburbs at the last minute will carry more people than a train running the main pattern into the CRL then on to the suburbs.

        Maybe the purple line would be useful as a patch up when the CRL is completely full. But until such time as we have every train slot in the tunnel occupied with six car sets, and those sets are all full… running trains that skip the main demand drivers is an incorrect allocation of resources.

        1. Why would they do that rather than taking a train into K Rd station and then waiting there to transfer to another train going the other direction? Maybe they don’t want to be underground, maybe they enjoy the fresh air, or maybe it confuses them (more confusing than waiting for the next train on the exact same platform). At most the next train is going to be 10 minutes away which is the same amount of time they could be waiting at K Rd.
          Harriet then says that it is too confusing for children – are NZ kids not as smart as children around that world that happily use trains everyday?

          1. I don’t think you can really use the argument that a transfer is confusing, while at the same time saying multiple patterns shouldn’t be confusing.

            Also we really shouldn’t be designing our system for the small number of people who want to go from West to Newmarket who don’t like being underground.

          2. I’m not convinced that operating a whole railway line all day every day just to capture passengers who are:

            a) travelling from suburb to suburb, and
            b) terrified of spending a few minutes in an underground train station, and
            c) value their time so poorly that they will skip the frequent connections and wait for one that comes half as regularly

            …is a good strategy for allocating resources on a rail network. Is that really a good way to allocate 1/3rd of the service on the western line?!

        2. You may be assuming that a passenger who wants to go to Grafton or Newmarket will possibly wait 15 or 20 minutes for the next purple line train. Isn’t it more likely they will plan to arrive at their station at a time to catch the appropriate train thus avoiding the long wait?
          I know if I was travelling from Glen Eden to Grafton that I’d prefer a purple rather than a CRL train then faffing about at some other station to get to Grafton.
          Although I tend to agree with you on pushing as much through the CRL as possible I also think that within months the CRL will be maxed out so CRL avoidance routes will become necessary and the purple looks an excellent suggestion.

          1. Yes David that’s what I would think. If there was a purple line, some people would chose to try and plan their arrival at the station to suit a once every twenty minute service -the suburban commuter “run your life around the timetable” model. However this is actually a risky strategy. You either expect to time it perfectly, but risk getting there a second too late and have to wait a full twenty minutes, or you have to plan to arrive four or five minutes early to ensure you actually get the specific purple line departure. If you are planning to get to the station several minutes early, you might as well just catch the earlier train and connect. You would get there before waiting for the subsequent train.

            Most people would simply go to the station and catch the next train and connect between the frequent main lines -the metro model. For the record I’m arguing that most people would be happy doing the latter, such that running a whole additional train line for the people who are travelling between suburbs and aren’t happy to connect is a huge waste of resources. This is especially the case when you compare the actual alternatives:

            Option A is to have six trains an hour on the normal main lines (one every 10 mins), and three trains an hour on the sideways crosstown line (one every 20 mins).

            Option B is to have nine trains an hour on the normal main lines (one every 6 or 7 mins).

            In the latter case with the right train coming through every six or seven minutes , the wait time and transfer time is almost neglible, an average of three and a bit minutes.

            …but nobody would do what AKLDUDE is suggesting, which is go to the station, catch the next train, hop of somewhere along the line randomly and then wait there to connect to the next purple line train following sometime behind. That is completely illogical. If you were happy to wait at a station for the purple line, you’d wait at the first station and catch the purple line.

          2. I still use the timetable at 10 min frequency, I know how long it takes to walk to the station and I’d rather unload the dishwasher or something like that than wait on the platform.

            If I lived in New Lynn and worked in Newmarket I would definitely take the purple line (not to say I think it is a good use of our limited resources) I suspect the K Rd transfer is probably adding a good 6 – 8 minutes to the journey.

          3. Personally I can’t rely on the timetable, for me there is such variation in how long the pedestrian crossing of Great North Rd can take to activate that I can be several minutes out.

            But wouldn’t you much rather the train just came every six minutes and you never had to think about it?

          4. No Nick, plenty (read most) people overseas do this.
            Want to know why? It is better to be most of the way to your destination in the event of delays/disruptions. At least then you can either walk/bus/Uber the final bit and probably still make it in time to where you are trying to go. Waiting around at the first station on the other hand means waiting for up to 20 minutes and then finding out there has been a delay/disruption. For that very reason is why on the tube in London they make announcements like “Earl’s Court change here for Edgware Road and Wimbledon Services” there are several stations like this and people do exactly that (or at other stations along the way).
            Other considerations might be that the first train isn’t very full so you have a seat and then just have to stand for the final couple of stops on the next train versus having to stand the whole way.

          5. That’s exactly what I’m saying, people will just take the next train and get underway.

            But when they are underway I don’t see why the would every chose to change to an infrequent line when changing to a frequent line does exactly the same thing (more actually) but gets them there faster with less waiting. It’s entirely illogical.

          6. Nick, I would use it as I know that most days I would successfully catch the purple train and save 6-8 mins on my journey. On the odd day I missed it I would just catch the following train 5 mins later and connect at K Rd.

            I don’t usually have a deadline for when I start and finish work though, once you factor in these people I may well be in the minority. The crosstown would also appeal to me as it will probably have plenty of seats available!

          7. Yes that’s what I think would happen. Many people may aim for the crosstown line, but once at the station would just catch the next train that comes through if they were a bit early, or a bit late.

            So the question is, of the minor proportion of people who *could* use the crosstown line (those not going to the CRL stations or Britomart), how many *would* use it?

    3. So what you’re all saying, then, is that it is inefficient to go in through the cbd if you’re needing to actually end up elsewhere. Even if you’re on rapid transit. So doesn’t that amount to saying that the new PT network is flawed? Certainly there are whole books on the subject of how a grid network is the most intuitive and practical. I thought that might be just for buses and trams, but these comments have me wondering if it is true even for the trains.

      Taking into account the Sunday reading information about women-focused design, women do many more smaller errands; they don’t just go into work and back out. A grid design serves women much better than the central connection idea, and of course this makes sense. If you need to go cross town to a few different locations, why on earth would you want to go into the city and out again each time? The new PT network concept certainly doesn’t meet my needs, which include many suburban destinations, often trying to fit in lots of little trips cross town in one afternoon.

      On the other hand, I think it’s worth pointing out that while commuters will feel very comfortable knowing to check where the next train is going, children don’t. The possibility that he or she might get onto a train going to the wrong destination is the stuff of nightmares for an 11-year-old.

      I would have thought a central system – without the purple line – for trains, and a grid system for buses and light rail would be the best overall design

    4. David, I don’t know the exact number of passengers going to Newmarket on the Western line but I think it is about 25 %, quite a few go to Grafton but they often get on buses to get to mid-town, which will no longer be necessary.

      A three car train travelling to Newmarket would likely have a reasonable number of people on it at peak, but certainly nowhere near full. I imagine it would have very light loadings between Otahuhu and Newmarket, this bit especially seems like a waste of a valuable train.

      1. 8% to Newmarket from the west, 2% to the stations between Otahuhu and Newmarket. Matt posted the table here a while ago.

        It’s all a bit moot, because it would be faster to just catch the normal line and transfer to get to Newmarket anyway (unless you time yourself perfectly).

        Of those 10%, I guess less than half would catch the infrequent crosstown to get there. Most would connect, and remember that all the western line trains would go to Newmarket anyway after the CRL. So instead of waiting for the low frequency crosstown you have the option of catching any train and riding an extra ten mins through the tunnel too.

        Given an option between getting on a train that is here now but takes ten minutes longer to get to the destination, and waiting for another train that is supposed to turn up ten minutes later but is quicker, I think people would tend towards the former. Bird in the hand.

        1. Of course that is the current demand. Once the CRL opens with new stations at Karangahape and Aotea we can expect huge patronage growth to the new city stations, while the numbers to Newmarket would track along about the same and Grafton would likely decline (no need to make the transfer to the bus there anymore).

          So as a proportion, that 10% would probably drop considerably.

      2. I thought most Grafton passengers were heading to from Auckland Hospital. I didn’t think most were transiting to mid-town busses but then I’d agree with you that this traffic would reduce/disappear with CRL That could make purple line less viable. AT will, no doubt, realise this and re- evaluate the usefulness of purple.

        1. Why are AT waiting to realise this? Why not realise it why you are planning the running pattern and save all the wasted time and resources?

    5. I would prefer to have a turn up and go 5-10 minutes frequency train than two 10-20 minutes frequency train that I have to check timetable.

    1. ‘Poo-Poohing the Purple Line’ is possibly a book for emergent readers. And ‘People on the Purple Line’ is probably a gritty urban documentary. 🙂

  4. AKLDUDE, I put this in the wrong place sorry.

    Heidi, not Harriet. 🙂 Children using trains every day will be fine. It’s getting the ones who are driven around to multiple activities out of cars and into PT that I’m thinking of. I am actively achieving this with multiple children in addition to my own. For a once a week trip I strongly believe that it is hard for children to feel safe when they have the possibility of getting onto the wrong train; it puts them outside their comfort zones.

    There’s a fundamental scariness for children with trains. They can’t check with the driver. For buses, children can cope with many bus routes using the same bus stop, because there is the human element of being able to talk to the driver. With trains, there’s often no-one to ask.

    1. I think we often underrate children. As a kid living overseas for a bit around that age I remember explaining to my Dad which train to take.

      A child of 11 using the train for the first few times should probably travel with an adult, however they will pick it up pretty quickly. This applies whether the running pattern is simple or more complex.

      1. I can not see it being much of a problem. At Newmarket there are 3 trains going in different directions (Henderson, onehunga and papakura). Most people, most of the time get the correct train. If u make a mistake you either go through Britomart or transfer at Newmarket. With a HOP card there is no problem.

        The issue will be new immigrates with poor English skills rather than 11 years, I think.

    2. Having recently caught a train filled with students from an Auckland school I didn’t detect any sense of fear. In fact it was like being stuck in a small drum surrounded by Chipmunks.

      1. Fear as in they scared of you? Or you scared of them? A drum full of chipmunks could be a very noisy thing…..

  5. The problem I had when I first saw the diagrams of the direct versus connected networks was it ignored the fact that what we had was actual a hybrid of the two. In a lot of cases we had interconnected networks. If you can imagine multiple connected networks connected to each other in some cases by the central point or via one of the outer points. In many cases by moving to the simplified connected model planners have moved a lot of the catchment for services by removing bus routes from streets. For example where I live it it will be problematic next year to get to Green lane unless I change buses twice. It seems to have removed options for cross city travel which is an issue in Auckland due to the shape of the city.

  6. Which station are University Students expected to use when the CRL comes into existence? Grafton or the new K Rd station? If the uni traffic is going to move to K Rd then perhaps we need to look further at the purple line (at this stage I’m in favour).

    I will also add in the analysis above the supposed additional 7 units required are an anomaly. If there was to be no purple line that spot in the timetable would be utilised by a CRL line service. So no difference in the capital or operating cost of each respective option.

    1. University students would use Aotea of course. It’s less than 200m from the closest part of AUT, and at worse 900m away from the farthest part of the U of A campus, with stacks of buses on Wellesley if you want to connect instead of walk.

      K Rd and Grafton would be about 2km away each.

      On the latter point, that depends on their approach. They could not run it and save having to buy extra trains and pay opex, or sure they could still run the trains and get nine trains an hour on the western line, all day. The first is a cost/efficiency improvement, the latter is much better service levels.

    2. Seems stupid to me not to actually have a station that is University. Either Auck or AUT – why put a station 2km away? Needs to be a stop in Symonds St or Wellesley St or Albert Park… and don’t forget Unitect as well…. Planning of this needs to be thought out a lot better….

  7. All these opinions on the desirability or otherwise of the Purple Line are meaningless without an indication of the likely demand for West-Newmarket or West-South travel.

    If demand is low, then sure, an enforced transfer at K-Road can be got away with. However if it is high, then the purple line makes sense.

    A simple rule of public-transport planning is that you don’t inflict interchanges on major passenger flows unless you absolutely have to. This is particularly true if the transfer requires veering-off the desired route then back-tracking, as will be the case here.

    Aside from the personal inconvenience-factor multiplied by the number of passengers forced to do this, it is also undesirable to have large numbers of people: a) occupying seats on a train that is intended to service other demand, and b) interchanging at a station that is likely to be busy-enough with ‘legitimate’ passengers as it is.

    So. . . . . Numbers please, before sounding-off with personal views on this!

  8. Yes I agree with Alan about the networks. The more I read about it, the more I think they should have made a third diagram, based on a rough grid. With a grid, you should only need one transfer, which is OK as long as the wait time is small. I’ve found two earlier posts that refer to this.

    https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2010/02/24/squaresville-and-the-network-effect/

    https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2012/01/22/guest-post-review-human-transit/

    I was really surprised to see AT’s new network, it seemed a step in the wrong direction.

  9. Isn’t the other issue that without a significant amount of work to the Onehunga Branch the Blue Line is going to be limited to 3Tph.

    1. I don’t like the red line either – ‘This is a red line train from Pukekohe to Manukau’ – seems a bit weird doesn’t it…

      I’d join the southern and western, not sure about the rest…

      1. I agree with the oddity of this route in terms of where it starts and finishes, but I think it is the right running pattern. This means that all three main lines enter the CRL without having to go round the slow curve outside Vector (sorry Spark) Arena.

  10. I’m going to file this post under “Yeah-Nah”. If SH20 and Waterview can show so much demand for crosstown, inner-west and inner-south trips, there must be some value in providing an alternative equivalent on the rail network. Expecting that to be undertaken by transfer (which we know the average citizen hates more than traffic congestion), at a station that doesn’t appear to have a great deal of platform area for the projected volume of arriving, departing and now transferring people, I think is far from ideal. Farther by far, than the proposed purple line scenario.

    As noted elsewhere above, I think the extra costs attributed to the purple line are overstated, in that most of them would still occur with other arrangements. That applies to the Henderson rebuild as much as the fleet and Mt Eden capex. These are things that offer resilience and flexibility when a morning’s operations inevitably go wrong. They also offer targeted capacity boosts. As much as some would like to see Sturges Road to Swanson get doubled frequency, the likely demand is dwarfed by that of inner-west stations, west-Newmarket and west-south. West-Newmarket is already a popular run, as is south-Newmarket. To suggest that these services would be underutilised in five years time is a damning assertion to the value of the same units serving almost our entire network right now.

    1. What makes you think K Rd station doesn’t have enough platform space?

      I agree with you regarding Capex, I think it is the Opex that makes this purple line not a wise idea, it will likely be running with low loadings even in the middle of it’s journey.

      1. The renderings and specs published: https://at.govt.nz/media/1541448/city-rail-link-designs-karangahape-station-platform-view.jpg?width=1083

        The platforms are only 4.5m wide, only about 3.5m of which are between the yellow line and the wall/seats/stuff. There are going to be times when the volume of people spilling from the train to the exit (or vice-versa) will make it difficult and/or unpleasant to go against or across the flow. Imagine trying to get to or wait on a platform where a 6-car train with a terminal fault has just unloaded all its passengers to return to the depot. Or during a special event like a parade on K-Road.

        Even now at Britomart they have to avoid simultaneously berthing two six-car trains on adjacent platforms in the morning because the combined passenger numbers can exceed the allowable capacity of the platforms.

        1. Sounds like a pretty typical experience of using many metro systems overseas to me. If there was a festival on K Rd, then it is probably not peak hour so you could just go to Aotea if K Rd looks a bit difficult.

          4.5m (even 3.5m) is still wider than the train that pulls up by the platform. Given I doubt during peak hour K Rd passengers would even make up a third of the train with Aotea and Britomart likely to be busier. Therefore it would be very rare for K Rd to be overcrowded.

          Not sure of your point regarding Britomart platforms. You are talking about two trains at once, this wont happen on a single 4.5 m platform at K Rd, there is another 4.5 m platform on the other side for trains in the other direction.

  11. Increase in CRL constructon costs are in-line with the increased private school tuition fees for the families of those that will be project managing the CRL ….. 😛

  12. Not persuaded by the Purple Line naysayers. I understand the arguments, but I think they’re all easily countered. What I like is that the Henderson-Mt Eden-Newmarket-Otahuhu connection adds capacity to the network without requiring trains to go around the congested CRL (12 tph peak between K Road and Britomart), by using the Mt Eden-Newmarket link which is currently only planned to be 6 tph peak, bringing that up to 9 tph. That seems to me to be an efficient use of resources.

    I just don’t buy the idea that having two lines use the same piece of track between Henderson and Mount Eden is going to be confusing for passengers. It’s no more confusing (in fact, I’d suggest less confusing) than having the Eastern and Southern lines share the same track between Puhinui and Otahuhu as happens now and as is proposed to continue when the CRL is complete. As for the suggestion that it would be a “waste of resources” – that’s completely illogical unless the sole focus of the rail network was the inner city. There are many, many passengers who commute shorter distances on the Western Line between Mt Eden and Henderson and points in-between (I used to be one of them), and likewise between Otahuhu and Newmarket (and there are many times I’ve made just this trip as well). This service will be used by them and this will relieve the CRL-bound trains and create capacity that can be taken up by CRL-bound passengers..

    I do understand the desire to keep the rail network simple, but this line doesn’t complicate the network to any significant extent. Indeed, if we wanted to keep the network simple, why wouldn’t we change the present proposed operating pattern for one which joins the Eastern and Onehunga lines, and the Western and Southern lines? That way we wouldn’t have the two branches of the Southern/Eastern lines using the same track and being to my view infinitely more confusing for pax than the proposed Purple Line.

    1. I agree regarding complexity, it’s not really an issue. The question is whether it is a good use of resources running trains on this route – ie. how full will they be.

      Looking at the stats around 10 % of Western Line traffic would take this route. When you consider it runs at 20 min frequencies, some people out of necessity will take a transferring service anyway, it really doesn’t justify taking 1/4 of peak hour slots on the Western Line. Especially when the CRL won’t be full when it opens anyway.

      It’s possible in 20-30 years time this might be a vital service for taking people who are not travelling to the CBD off CRL trains, but not when CRL opens.

      1. If it is about ‘how full they are’ then why do we run Onehunga trains, there would be more people going west to Grafton, Newmarket or south (and vice versa) that there would be using Te Papapa and Onehunga stations but there is no one saying we should be reallocating those resources.

        The Onehunga trains could be rerouted now to run between Onehunga and Henderson, cutting 3TPH out of Britomart (and Quay junction), giving the cross town service and allowing the western line to cut out Newmarket for a quicker trip and also increasing capacity on the western line between Henderson and Newmarket.

          1. At the cost of a one seat ride for ‘a few’ from Onehunga, remember the Purple line gives a one seat ride for those wanting to west to south (and vice versa) and those people probably exceed the numbers wanting a one seat ride from Onehunga.

            I’m not say cancel the Onehunga trains and run a cross town service, I’m just pointing out when it was mentioned there would not be big demand for the purple line but no one cares that even less people use the Onehunga line (other then the part that picks up off the southern line by running ahead of the southern train).

        1. I agree the Onehunga line messes up the running pattern through Newmarket and Britomart. However, once the CRL opens it will have a place so it’s worth persevering in the next few years.

          Either way I’d be confident an Onehunga train would have more people on board approaching Britomart at present than the West-South train will have after the CRL opens.

          1. I’m not so confident the Onehunga line has a place post CRL as it is still limited to 3TPH and only fits 3 cars (without an expensive upgrade and I don’t think that is money well spent for the limit patronage) so it doesn’t make a good ‘mate’ for the western line like the eastern and southern line will work.
            The bulk of these on the Onehunga line trains are from the southern line so the same result could have been achieved with a short runner to Penrose. The Onehunga line is there now so that argument is no longer relevant but there are many places money should be spent before sinking any more into Onehunga unless it becomes the HR route to the airport.
            Note while I prefer HR for the airport I don’t think Onehunga is the best option, I prefer Otahuhu.

          2. That’s a good point regarding 6-car trains. However, I think it will be worth the investment in the long term as it will be a useful connection with the Airport/Dom Rd LR.

          3. The cost of lengthening the platforms is pretty minimal compared to other network developments proposed. I imagine it will happen for the CRL.

        2. Onehunga platform is lined from end to end with passengers every morning for the peak services. The park ‘n ride fills up every day. For a low frequency, single line, 3-car only, station skipping service it is doing very well.

          1. 200 people twice a day, 100 four or five times and the rest struggling to reach 50 is not a great number of people really.

          2. Ted that is arbitrarily focusing on only two stations of the five/seven on the line. The branch doesn’t exist alone, its the service pattern you should be concerned with.

            Remember they used to run those two trains an hour as short runners to Otahuhu anyway, they are picking up demands at Ellerslie and Newmarket that would otherwise cram onto southern line trains at the peak load point.

      1. Others are suggesting that additional capacity should be directed at the CRL; I’m suggesting that if there is additional capacity to be provided, it could be taken up by the Purple Line.

    2. Surely the pinchpoint then becomes the section between Newmarket and Penrose, where you’re running all three lines. You’ll be trying to run 15 tph; is that possible?

          1. Yep. There has been a more detailed running pattern released since that diagram, but I can’t find the link to it.

          2. I think if you google post crl running pattern on an image search you get some good results. From memory a herald article one is quite good. They hard to understand I find as show terminations everywhere.

  13. You look at Melbourne and take the hint Auckland, I lived in Henderson most of my life, used the western line a lot, I guess im on the fence about the purple line, I might be living near Homai station soon which could make it easier for me to go to Henderson to see the old man

    1. Purple line doesn’t go to Homai. So you’d still just catch the normal red line up to K Road then the blue line out to Henderson.

    2. You wouldn’t want to take your lead from Melbourne, the only things less reliable that the trains are the buses.

  14. For cost overrun and project management there is a lession.

    International experiences tells us it is better to have one good experience main contractor than council itself managing many smaller contractors.

    Macau light rail lesson is council try to self manage sub contractors and ends up cost overrun and the project fails totally (subcontractors blaming each other and many legal cases). It ends up the project have to restart and re tender to HK MTR which is far more experienced.

  15. In Tokyo, although all train services are timetabled, they work on a turn up and go system with multiple service transfer points, matching service demand with the time of day/night. Where there two differently named train services running on the same tracks, either one service stops at less stations than the other, or there are four tracks along the entire line length to allow each service to run independently of the other.

    As Auckland’s bus New Network is turn up and go and works on efficient service transfer points and service frequency, my understanding is that the train service pre-CRL completion will also be turn up and go and its timetable tightly integrated in with arriving and departing bus services at rail-bus transfer points (Papakura, Manurewa, Manukau, Papatoetoe, Otahuhu, Onehunga, Sylvia Park, Panmure, Glen Innes, Britomart, Newmarket, Mount Albert, New Lynn and Henderson) by the time the New Network roll out is complete at the end of 2018.

    Post-CRL completion, to continue the core tenets of the New Network – turn up and go services and bus-rail service transfer efficiency, where there are two differently named train lines traversing the same set of tracks, one of those lines would stop at a quarter to half the number of stations from first to last service daily. Already the Onehunga Line in 2017 is a limited stop (aka express) service during the day and it could easily become an express service both during the day and on evenings / weekends.

    In summary, as AT Metro’s New Network turn up and go and service transfer design will be in place before end 2018, logic dictates that post-CRL completion, the New Network service patterns are continued and underpinned such that where there are two differently named train services running on the same tracks, one of those named services stops at less stations than the other during both daylight and nightime hours on weekdays and on weekends – this continues the core tenets of turn up and go and efficient service transfer whilst providing choice to the customer – around the speed in which they wish to reach a certain destination, including a service transfer point.

    1. The Onehunga express is a waste of time, it spends most of its time crawling along as it is too close to the preceding all stops service. I don’t think we want to be messing around with express services unless there are extra dedicated tracks.

      1. The OBL services in missing out Remuera and Greenlane, run faster now because they are no longer crawling behind Southern Line services nor holding up following services like they were before. Express services dont have to have dedicated tracks to work efficiently. There are many services in Japan where Express and Local trains share the same double tracks. Its the timing of the services that is key.

        1. I can assure you as a regular passenger they crawl behind Southern line services on a daily basis. They are quicker as they don’t have to dwell for 50 seconds at each station, but they travel very slowly.

          In the evening the Onehunga service leaves Britomart six minutes after the Southern line service. We often get to travel at full speed through Remuera station but slow to a crawl soon after, which continues until Ellerslie, as we have clearly caught up with the preceding train.

          If it doesn’t work now there is no hope of this being successful with CRL level timetables.

          Also the express service should be the longer of the two services (ie. Papakura not Onehunga). This is clearly about the absurd situation that since the electrics came in it is no longer possible for a single unit to complete a return trip from Britomart to Onehunga in an hour, meaning it required three trains to run the service.

          1. The whole and only point of the onhunga express is to be able to run the line within 60 minutes return including turnaround. This allows them to do half hourly headways with two trains, rather than the three previously required when the turnaround was just over 60 minutes.

            I.e. it’s just to squeeze a little efficiency to free up a unit for capacity elsewhere, time saving isn’t the goal. The fact that you catch up with a train that left six minutes ahead suggest it is saving several minutes anyway.

          2. Agree. My point was regarding Rob suggesting we can run express and all-stops services on sections of double track. I’ve seen no evidence of that working since the Onehunga line went to being express.

            Freeing up a train was a worthy objective, however it is absurd that this line used to run with two trains in the diesel days but then required three once the quicker electrics arrived.

          3. On a side note I saw a classic AT absurdity last week when the rail network was delayed by a couple of incidents.

            With frequencies reduced to 20 mins a crammed 3-car set pulled into Ellerslie heading for Britomart. Some people got off so some were able to board, I waited. Three minutes later the service from Onehunga arrived so the rest of us got on this.

            This service crawled through Greenlane and even stopped briefly at Remuera but didn’t pick up stranded passengers at these stations even though we were only half full. It then proceeded to spend about 5 mins waiting for a signal at Newmarket. Surely in this situation it could open it’s doors at these stations.

          4. The 60 minute turnaround isn’t the only point of skipping those two stations. It is as much about keeping the crossing Onehunga services from delaying the peak Papakura services through Penrose junction and vice versa. This used to be a regular and significant impediment, but now is rarely so. As we know, the off peak Onehunga services still manage the 60 minute turnaround without skipping Greenlane and Remuera, because the space between them and the next Papakura service is so much wider, removing the potential conflict. This is the same reason that DMUs were able to run to a 60 minute turnaround (along with faster doors and many fewer passengers). Increased frequency eats up all the leeway and massively magnifies conflicts and delays.

          5. I’ve been catching regularly over the last few weeks either the 17:12 or the 17:42 OBL service from Britomart and I have yet to experience the train crawling through Greenlane to Ellerslie on those services.

  16. Regarding children… most of the ones you see without adults and with other pupils, especially if in uniform, are experienced and frequently hardcore commuters (i.e. several fare stages). I don’t think anyone is suggesting that “everyday” trips will suddenly become too confusing, but rather that children should be able to effectively catch trains. Look at Digimon (and presumably other anime)… the main cast are practically in and out of trains that they don’t normally catch. That’s the relevant typology.

    As to the purple line itself… what happened to the AT that killed the one seat Orakei/Papakura trip? Or do we believe that this one station (Grafton) receives more traffic than all the Eastern only stations do from all the Southern-only stations? It sounds implausible but I guess it’s possible given some of those stations aren’t particularly utilised and the Western line is generally busy. Sure, for certain passengers you might improve frequencies at the right time but if it comes at the cost of the wider system… one assumes we do not have a dedicated third/fourth track that works like Onehunga now or the Pukekohe shuttle, more like the latter in that the train just bounces from terminal stop to terminal stop otherwise isolated…

    1. Also cuts out several stops, making west-south journeys more time-efficient. Back of the envelope: via the Purple Line – one stop between Mt Eden and Newmarket. Via the CRL, four intermediate stops. Three stops saved, approx 9 min time saving. Alternatively, with a change at K Road, two stops saved, but allow perhaps three minutes for the change, minimum, plus whatever waiting time (average five minutes?) for the next service.Time saving over travelling the full CRL: 3 min + 3 min – 3 min – 5 min (ie two minutes slower). In other words, it’s probably a little faster to stay on board a CRL train and travel the whole loop than to change at K Road. But it’s significantly faster to take the Purple Line than to stay on the CRL.

      1. No one doubts the Purple line gives a quicker trip. The question is whether the number of people using it would justify the running costs. It would be quicker to get from Manukau to Onehunga using one train but no one is proposing that.

        1. I doubt it even gives a quicker trip, once you factor in the extra waiting time for a infrequent service. Yes you might be able to perfectly time your departure from home, but equally you may not be able to decide when you leave work/your meeting/doctors appointment/movie/whatever it is you are doing.

          1. Agree, I was thinking of the train journey. It’s work remembering that many of us in Auckland on the Western line and inner Southern line through Ellerslie are used to working around a 15 – 20 min schedule up until relatively recently!

          2. I must admit I have been spoiled, I previously lived on the NEX then moved west after the train headways went to ten minutes… I’ve not had to deal with terrrible headways and long wait times for a long time now (and don’t plan on going back!)

  17. Overseas underground stations commonly have 4-8 entrances distributed between each end of station box and opposite sides of roads / intersections.
    K‘Rd should at least have entrances on both sides of Pitt St, and Mercury lane. Given the depth, a level connection to Myers park should also be possible.
    I‘d also say build the purple line now. Its needed for freight and would cost a lot to rebuild in future.

  18. When CRL is here then purple line or not its likely the mid-inner western line will be very busy. This may mean that NAL freight pathways have problems so that the Avondale Southdown line becomes necessary 🙂

      1. Why would there still only be two trains a day on the NAL five or more years from now? My client alone could push that to five trains a day each way if the port in Auckland has to move or is not allowed to expand.

        1. IF the port is moved or IF there was to be a rail link to Northport and then that is only IF the NAL could handle too many more slow moving trains.

    1. I wonder if one of the reasons they want the purple line is to get in more capacity but avoiding the Eastern line where most of the freight will be running on during (esp. during the day) (assuming there will be no 3rd main for a long time). I can see real issues with the sloppy reality of Auckland’s mistimed trains without big effort to get things more timed nicely, upgraded signaling systems etc. We will better off without purple line with upping frequency on the main simple routes. Seen several times, weekday morning just after peak finishes, Eastern line hold ups when the first freight train comes through it seems.

  19. The Purple Line wouldn’t have been needed if Newton Station wasn’t removed from the CRL plans. Previously anyone traveling between West and South would have been able to transfer here to avoid going all the way to K Road, meaning only a couple of minutes extra compared to the proposed Purple Line.

    Instead of doubling the wait for a Western Line train with a Purple Line, and since Newton Station won’t be there for transfers, what should be proposed is a Mount Eden East station.

    That way, anyone wanting to go to the CBD from West stays onboard, and anyone wanting to go South can alight at Mount Eden West, walk a few minutes to Mount Eden East, then get on the next southbound Red Line train.

    1. K Rd station performs exactly the same role as Newton would have; an all weather and island platform, offering a very convenient short level walk for transfers between west and south to services running the full lengths of those lines.

      1. Don’t underestimate how much people hate backtracking, it might only add 3-4 mins to the journey but it makes it feel like you live further away than you do.

      1. Yes, this revised arrangement is vastly superior than the original design with the Newton station. With grade separation already built in at the Mt Eden end, the opportunity now exists to boost CRL capacity to 48 and maaaaaaybe 60 tph by later grade separating the other end. With the Newton station version, that wouldn’t have been possible without enormous cost and compromise.

  20. Did the Govt ever do the business case they promised when they announced support for the CRL? A $900m increase in costs could easily have pushed the project into negative net benefit territory (if it wasn’t there already). Although we know this government cares little about whether it is pissing money up against a wall or not when it comes to transport.

    1. Given the abysmal projections of usage used at the time and the growth in patronage, population and city employment since, I’m sure the BCR would only go up. Cost up 1/3rd, benefits up 3/3rds?

      Remember it wasn’t long ago the gov set a supposedly impossible target of twenty million trips in 2020 to defer investment. We’re on track to exceed that this year.

  21. Has anyone followed Perth’s underground link through the airport, 7 km of twin tunnels and 3 cut-and-cover stations for a project price of AUD 1.8 billion, of which AUD 1.1 billion is tunnel construction and 10 years of maintenance. Somehow Perth manages to procure excellent value, and much lower build prices than most other places in Australasia. Is there something about their procurement model that Auckland could learn from? There must surely be value in the CRL team visiting Perth for the tips and perspectives that don’t get posted on the internet.

    1. In 2012 rail operator Keio Corporation along with construction companies Taisei, Obayashi, Kajima and Shimizu undergrounded three stations on the Keio Main Line (incl a major interchange station) while maintaining normal service running above ground. A number of new technologies and construction methods were used and the project was completed well under budget I’m told. Could be worth the CRL people talking to Keio and also to Taisei as Taisei went on to successfully construct the rail tunnels under the Bosphorus Strait the following year.

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