The idea of providing Airport rail through a short spur from Puhinui is one of those ideas that continues to pop up. It emerged again in an opinion piece the NZ Herald ran just over a week ago (which was oddly a repeat of a piece they ran exactly a month earlier). The article is frankly quite embarrassing as it appears that the writer hasn’t even bothered to look at the issue before providing his opinions. But given how frequently similar comments come up in the public realm, it’s worth discussing again.

A light rail line from the airport to the CBD via Dominion Rd is frankly a crackpot idea when there is a shorter, far cheaper and more practical solution possible. That is, of course, running light rail from the airport to the Puhinui rail station on the Southern Line.

The ill-conceived notion supported by the Auckland Council, and offered by the Labour Party at this election, is to somehow incorporate a double-track light rail line up the motorway from the airport through Mangere, then have the tracks cross a new bridge over the Manukau Harbour to Onehunga. From there the line must ascend the very steep hill to Hillsborough Rd, then jostle for several kilometres along already congested Dominion Rd and eventually run down Symonds St and into the city centre.

There is simply not room to squeeze in a double line plus safety zones in the centre of those roads while still having cars and trucks running on either side.

If the only thing we were interested in doing was to provide a rail link between the city centre and the Airport, targeted to airport passengers, then indeed this would probably be the easiest way to do that. That’s not to suggest at all that a Puhinui rail spur would be an easy thing to actually build.

As I discussed a few months back, such a project would run into enormous challenges around how it connects back into the Southern Line, how a station would be provided at the Airport and how you could come up with a decent operating pattern.

Even setting aside all those issues, the real problem with the Puhinui spur idea is that it leaves a whole pile of issues unsolved. Because it would only add an Airport station and only link to the existing southern line and turn towards the city, it actually ignores a whole heap of transport problems facing Auckland. Let’s go through those a bit:

  • You wouldn’t have done anything about the bus congestion problem on Symonds Street and in the city centre, which is driving the need for Dominion Road light-rail.
  • You wouldn’t have improved access to major employment areas for the Mangere area – a part of Auckland with heaps of redevelopment potential on its Housing NZ land and around the town centre.
  • You wouldn’t have connected Onehunga with the Airport via a high quality public transport option, or Onehunga to the Dominion Road corridor.
  • You wouldn’t have improved access to the Airport’s employment area for those coming from the southern isthmus or Mangere, or for those trying to get to the Airport from Manukau, Flat Bush or Botany

What’s revealing about this issue, is how much emphasis commentators tend to place on the “fast Airport to City trip” made by Airport passengers, over these other, arguably more important connections. Sure, Airport passengers are important and there’s a lot of press when trips between the city and the Airport are delayed. But for the vast majority of the population, the number of times they go to the Airport to travel on a plane is vastly outweighed by the number of times they make other trips – like to work, school, shops, to visit other people or whatever else it is they do. There are some exceptions to this rule of course – the comparatively small group of people who travel to and from the Airport extremely frequently. These include:

  • People who make regular business trips… and…
  • Politicians

This isn’t to say that we should ignore the Airport in our transport planning. Far from it, the airport is growing rapidly, both in terms of passenger numbers and as a major employment hub. As a place that tens of thousands of people a day travel to and from, the Airport is clearly a location that needs a lot of transport effort over time. This is especially so because our options for adding further road connections don’t really exist and so most future growth in capacity will need to be through public transport. But serving the Airport is really the icing on the cake of major needed rapid transit lines – not the cake itself. People who talk a lot about the need for a fast trip between the Airport and the city may have, simply because of their particular circumstances, a somewhat skewed view of priorities.

Ultimately, there are two major corridors in this part of Auckland that, over the next 10 or so years, need to be provided with rapid transit. The Airport happens to be at the end of each corridor, which is great as it can act an as excellent anchor and attract fairly strong two-way use of the corridors (this is also why Botany needs to grow as a successful major centre as it can anchor the corridor to the Airport and the AMETI corridor).

Developing both these corridors as strong rapid transit links also provides a variety of options for Airport travellers. If they want to get to the city centre as quickly as possible, they have the choice of

  • A one seat light-rail trip that will take around 42-44 minutes
  • A frequent, high quality bus (maybe light rail in future) to an upgraded Puhinui station where with a simple transfer they can connect to the Southern or Eastern lines in either direction – this may be slightly faster to some parts of the city.

In summary, Auckland simply can’t justify a major investment that’s only about serving a relatively tiny number of “Airport to City” trips. We have way too many other priorities and needs and you simply don’t generate the quantum of benefit to justify what would still be a very tricky project. However, by adding the Airport onto projects that also do a lot of other things we can justify providing excellent quality public transport to the Airport area from both the north and the east. And solve a lot of other problems while we’re at it.

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  1. Providing Airport rail through a short spur from Puhinui to provide a rail link to the Airport could target airport passengers, locals & freight as well. Building the Third/Fourth Mains would allow more freight/passenger capacity for the whole rail network. New Bus Lanes from Onehunga to the Airport via State Highways 20 & 20A would provide a high quality public transport option.

    1. So the bridges over the Southwestern Motorway and the trench running into the airport would have to be built at grades to handle freight trains? That would certainly bump up the cost a bit.

    2. Even if we wanted to mix freight on a rapid transit line, which we should always try to avoid, there simply isn’t that much freight that goes through the airport and even less that would be suitable for rail. Airport freight is generally light but high value goods that are going locally. As a comparison, according to the MoT, about 178k tonnes of freight moved through Auckland Airport, that compares to about 6.9 million tonnes though Ports of Auckland and 18.9m tonnes through Tauranga

      1. There is also rail freight transhipment yards at Wiri and Southdown. Presumably nobody is loading containers onto aircraft, so any airport freight that did come or go by train is transhipped via truck regardless.

  2. Anyone know the rough cost of building the Puhinui Airport link (using route option S1)? A third group of people to consider who travel to the airport frequently besides regular business travellors and politicians is employees who work at or around the airport and there are thousands of these people (I used to work at Wellington Airport myself). I agree the light rail option is the best one but we need to ensure it is compatible with the Puhinui heavy rail link should we like to build it latter (especially if we get 4 tracks Puhinui to Westfield and 3 Westfield to Newmarket we could maybe offer nonstop Airport to Newmarket services which can then go via the CRL to Britomart to provide high speed services linking the city and airport in hopefully around 25 minutes)

      1. Yes it is. That was dealt with in the Smart business case, which is on the AT website. For heavy rail you would either have to tunnel (costly due to low ground and high water table) or elevate the track over roads.

    1. As pointed out in the post above, a heavy rail connection to the Southern Line is not pragmatic.

      We’re talking about a single airport stop at the expense of the reliability of the entire southern line. This is why the Airport-Puhinui connection is addressed as requiring a separate mode. That way there is no negative effect to the southern line. This is currently proposed as a Rapid Bus Line that runs to Botany, with the possibility of light rail in the future.

      We need to take a holistic look at the network, instead of trying to make 1 seat rides between the Airport and everywhere else.

    2. Nicholas, agree workers are a large, arguable primary, target group. But we know the folk who work at the airport tend to live around Mangere and Manukau. So of that was your goal wouldn’t you simply extend the local bus network to anchor at the airport?

  3. Or with the money saved you could still build LR along Queen St + Dom Rd only and have the HR spur. Most of the issues with running patterns related to keeping frequency South past Manukau. With the 3rd main this isn’t going to be an issue. Running pattern? I reckon you could alternate HR via the Southern and Eastern lines 3TPH each way (clockwise/anti-clockwise basically) to give total 6TPH to the airport but only taking up effectively 3x slots through CRL. Would still keep enough frequency South but would either increase or keep the same to Puhinui and doesn’t mess up other running patterns. These trains could even be designed with more seating while the others are likely to go for less seating.
    Failing that you could just have it run as a shuttle back and forth to Manukau via Puhinui in the meantime.

    1. The line will require elevation over the South-western Motorway and either trenching or elevation in the airport precinct. I can’t see this expense being justified for a service that will never exceed 6TPH.

    2. Even that would probably cost more. It may allow a slightly faster trip airport -> city, but it would still mean no decent PT for Mangere / Mangere Bridge / Onehunga

    3. 3rd and 4th mains are great for linear travel. Having a 3rd and 4th main doesn’t help much where lines are still crossing each other at grade.

      Unless we’re going to build 4 platforms at every station, commuter trains still have to make it to specific lines, which means we’re still going to have to cut across the freight lines. Every junction is more delay which there shouldn’t be on a rapid transport line.

      And you’re still missing the fact that there’s 100,000 people in Mangere area that have no Rapid Transport.

  4. A spur line to the airport will also allow for future freight services.
    One argument that keeps coming up against simply adding a spur line is the problem on capacity on the southern and/or eastern lines to add another high frequency service that will effectively duplicate existing services. A simple answer here is you don’t. Instead of adding a duplicate service you look at the idea of extending the Mnukau service and have it reverse out of Manukau, up and over the southern lines, out to the airport. This would in effect create a short shuttle service between Manukau and the Airport, and hopefully, beyond.
    The same approach could be used at the airport to extend the line on to Mangere Bridge and even on to Onehunga.
    This concept works reasonably satisfactory at Newmarket, and I’ve seen it working on major high speed routes in France.
    It just means that the stop at the reversing station is a little longer than at a straight through station.

    1. How much advantage would a short line from Manukau to the Airport have over a bus for most users? I would have thought not much, so I can’t see how it could ever justify the cost of trenching a rail line into the airport.

      1. …methinks you think wrong as there is an overall passenger desire not to have to change mode for a relatively short journey. Trenching costs? Who says an HR line has to be trenched into the airport, can’t it run surface 99% of the way?

        1. Passengers transfer all the time at systems and the world, for example Singapore.

          As for trenching, the airport says so whereas LRT can run down the road separated by a kerb.

        2. There is no way the airport company would ever allow level crossings within the airport area with trains running every 5 mins, and it is something we started avoiding in new line builds in the 1930s. There would be at least 1km of trenching.

        3. “There is no way the airport company would ever allow level crossings within the airport area with trains running every 5 mins”

          – But wouldn’t light rail to the airport at-grade require just that? Level crossings within the airport area? ?

          What is it about LR level crossings that make them acceptable to the airport Co. but HR not?

          What am I missing here?

        4. What you are missing is the weight, length and clearance requirements for light rail vehicles compared to heavy rail vehicles.

        5. Oh Sailor Boy, you are a great one for trite, uninformative one-liners. If all I am “missing” are the factors you state, then you pretty-much confirm that there is no good reason to rule out heavy-rail level crossings in the airport.

          Yes, HR Overhead clearance requirements will be greater, mainly because 25KV overhead wires require more clearance than 750V (or whatever LRT will run on in the airport environment). But the difference is likely to be 1-2m max in wire height. Will this really rule out HR while being not a-problem at all for LR?

          Lateral clearance-difference I can’t see will be an issue, though obviously LR can squeeze around tighter curves. But this is not a relevant factor specific to level crossings?.

          Vehicle lengths affect level-crossing occupation times, but overall these are a function of passenger demand. Which is better? A longer train less-often or a shorter one more-often? If LR level crossings have no barriers/signals and have a much shorter ‘closed’ period then this would differentiate things. However if an intensive light metro operation is what we end up with, it is hard to see un-barriered crossings being feasible.

          Vehicle weight? Why should this rule out HR level-crossings? Emergency stopping-distances maybe, but this argument carries the assumption that the ‘sudden-stop’ capability of LR is ok to be relied on to make up for a less-protected crossing-environment. Having experienced a few emergency stops in LRVs overseas, I can state that they are not fun for passengers, particularly those not seated. Injuries can easily result as people are thrown around, and this can be worse than in a bus as it is less-expected. Any system should be planned around this happening at an absolute minimum, which again reduces any differential between HR and LR if the latter is properly designed.

          Sailor Boy if you have something informative to add then great. Otherwise don’t bother. Perhaps Jezza can do better, since it was his claim that, “There is no way the airport company would ever allow level crossings within the airport area with trains running every 5 mins”

        6. Ian, I thought the whole idea of LR was to avoid the need for a trench/underground through the airport. If this is to happen for LR on a scale which will eliminate all level crossings, then once again the differential in cost between HR and LR is reduced.

        7. Dave B – my comment was specifically in response to the suggestion the HR line could run at surface 99 % of the way. I doubt this is the case and thus it would be quite expensive for a shuttle line as proposed in the original comment. To my mind buses make the most sense from Puhinui.

          I imagine LR from the north would run in the middle of the road in the airport environs, using traffic lights at intersections to cross roads.

        8. Dave B; from the original Herald article
          “This route, running from a sub-surface station between the domestic and international terminals east to Puhinui”
          I guess it would reduce the cost differential as you say, but as others have pointed out LR can cope with steeper grades and is smaller, so trenching is less of a problem, plus it would seem to be the only realistic way to keep the airport functioning for other modes.

        9. I thought my comment was informative Dave. Please accept my apologies for not precisely describing the implications of the differences between light and heavy rail. I had assumed that people would be insulted if I spelt out every step.

          “What you are missing is the weight, length and clearance requirements for light rail vehicles compared to heavy rail vehicles.”
          Let’s examine this in the health and safety lens of likelihood*severity.

          The weight is important because a heavy rail vehicle will do significantly more damage than an LRT vehicle in a collision with another vehicle. Additionally you can also rely a bit more on the emergency stop function, as unpleasant as this can be. This means that incidents involving LRT vehicles at level crossing are less likely and less severe.

          Length is important more from an operational standpoint. Effectively the vehicle clears the crossing quicker, therefore causing less disruption.

          Because of longer stopping distances, the inability to travel under line of sight, and high potential for damage, trains travel under signals through level crossings. It is necessary to close the junction to other vehicles much earlier for an HR vehicle than for an LRT vehicle (This is the clearance in front of and behind of a moving train). This combined with the longer vehicle length results in the crossing being closed for much longer.

          Additionally to these factors:

          LRT can have less operational impact on intersections as you can run parallel (unopposed) traffic movements at the same time as the LRT vehicles.

          LRT vehicles are designed to be run at street level with multiple road crossings and their design is adjusted accordingly. This can include side under run protection, emergency stop enhancement, and crumple zones.

        10. Plus LRT ‘level crossings’ are just traffic lights, usually with the LRT crossing in the median of a main road on the same phase as the main road going ahead. So very little marginal impact in traffic, pedestrians and cyclists.

        11. OK, Thanks Jezza, Ian and Nick R. And thank you Sailor Boy for elaborating on why you think these are the criteria on which the airport company might disallow HR level crossings but allow LR.

          I suspect myself that when it comes to it, no level crossings of either mode will be tolerated within the airport complex but we will wait and see.

          And Jezza – I agree that HR from Puhinui “running at surface 99% of the way” is unrealistic, wherever that figure came from. 75-90% would be more believable to me, depending on what ruling gradient for HR gets insisted upon.

        12. +1, DaveB. I know that it is AT’s intention, but I think it’s a dumb idea to run the LRT at grade. The whole route will be grade separated from Onehunga to the airport, why you would introduce at grade crossings in the airport itself is beyond me. Especially if the airport is being rebuilt in the next 30 years and we have the once in a lifetime opportunity to grade separate the whole thing.

          Simply put; it’s possible, but dumb.

  5. Dr McDonnell’s suggestion in the article was for *light* rail to Puhunui, which would ease the connection at Puhunui issues because the track wouldn’t have to connect to the main line. It could also form part of the eastern light rail line. It is a light rail version of GA’s own rapid bus to Puhunui idea
    It’s not a great long term solution for other reasons, not least that airport to city passengers would have to change train, but if you’re going to knock someone’s idea it pays to read it first 😉

  6. Matt, you have forgotten about the connection with the Regional Network which is South of Papakura.
    Auckland Airport draws a lot of passengers and workers south of the present network.
    A Puhinui connection to the airport will help reduce connection on the Southern line to the city for those travelling from the south to the airport.
    What we appear to be missing is good survey data on who travels to the airport each day, from where, airport workers versus passengers etc. WIthout that data we cannot make any proper planning decisions.

    Dr McDonnell has identified the problem with Dominion Road – it is very narrow for a double track Light Rail.
    So lets get real, convert Dominion Road now to a busway (no private vehicle traffic) and get used to it before the trams start trundling along at 80 kph.

    1. Those from South of Puhinui would transfer to a frequent connection to the airport, even with HR there wouldn’t be a direct South to airport connection.

      Also Dominion Rd is plenty wide enough, that research has already been done, not to mention that it was originally built with double tracks down it. Further, where do you get the idea that LR will be traveling at 80km/h. It will be max of 50 like it is now and that, plus signal priority will make it plenty fast enough

        1. Convert Dominion Road to buses? It’s already chock full with buses. It’s Auckland’s busiest bus corridor after the Northern Busway.

        2. Completely disagree Heidi. Dominion Road is the obvious route for general traffic that needs to access buildings on Dominion Road. We should however be chopping the perpendicular streets in half for cars to reduce rat running.

      1. One interesting point to note about the Dominion Road section of the Airport Light Rail, is that it will have a maximum frequency of about 15tph. In comparison, the grade separated line will have a maximum frequency of about 30tph.

        Unfortunately, once capacity is reached on the street running sections of LR, there will be very little we can do to to further increase the capacity.

        1. We could build another route down Manukau Road, or to New Lynn, or down Sandrignham Road, or Mt Eden Road. This would double the capacity and not be much slower and open up a whole new line!

        2. 15tph x the planned 66m trains is 6,750 people per hour. That’s about the same as the current capacity of southern and eastern lines put together.

          If that isn’t enough you could add another corridor like Sailor Boy says, or you could make some compromises on traffic singal times and go to 20tph, or build a couple of rail underpasses of the main intersections, or even build a tunnel section. The street bit of Dominion Road is only 5km long. If you are running a jumbo sized LRV every four minutes and they are full, then a tunnel would likely be an economic proposition.

    2. Download the “South-western Multi-Modal Airport Rapid Transport indicative business case (PDF 5.6MB).” found here: page 38 gives rough numbers of “Daily commuter origin-destination patterns for the Airport and surrounding businesses” – some numbers to compare are Manukau 7,350, CBD 3,740, West Auckland 1,310, Papakura 800, South Auckland 570. This study is about a year out of date, but gives you a good idea. There are some other breakdowns in there too.

    3. For good safety reasons most street running LRT or Tram systems run at the same speed as the traffic. So LRT would do 50 kph in Dominion Road, same as the buses. But Dominion Road is only 7km – one third of the distance to the airport – so the LRT speed in the SH20 corridor is the real key to getting a quick trip to the airport.

      1. It’s actually less, the whole of Queen St, Ian McKinnon and Dominion is 7km long. Only 1/3rd of the route is on street, and even then it has full priority so will only stop at stations.

        But the alternative train line isn’t so great anyway. Aotea to Newmarket via Britomart (the green line in the map above) is 4.6km… along a route that currently manages an average speed of 29km/h. All the reckons of how EMUs can do 120km/h are arbitrary, because they actually do far less because of the track alignment and geometry. An LRV can also do 120km/h on the right track.

        So it will take about ten minutes to get from Aotea to Newmarket by train at an average speed of just under 30km/h. That’s basically undisputable fact, you can go out and measure it today.

        But what does that mean going the other way? Well 4.6km out of Aotea by LRT gets you up to K Rd, the length of Ian Mckinnon Drive, down Dominion road, through eden valley and just past Balmoral. The LRT will be pulling in to Mt Roskill before the train has made it to Remuera station. After Mt Roskill its on it’s own alignment and can do more than 100km/h if they want it to.

        So I disagree, the key to the fact that LRT is faster is that the alignment is more direct and the tracks faster getting out of town.

  7. It’s a false dichotomy: build both.. build LR via Mangere (great for commuters working out that way, and along the Dom Road corridor questionable for visitors with baggage and too slow for business people and pollies, and crucially of no use at all to east or south) *and* build HR from Puhinui (direct, fast, limited stops to the CBD = great for pollies and business, more seats, luggage space = great for tourists, and even better for North Shore.. what 20-30 mins from Aotea, either via Eastern or Southern or both.. AKLDUDE makes some good points about running patterns, and of course way better for east and south)

  8. The sooner we start referring to the line as the SouthWest Line or Mangere Line, the better! That people refer to it as the Airport Line is doing the idea a serious disservice and leads to all sorts of uninformed comment by posters who can’t see beyond the airport. I’d speculate that if the air terminals were the only destination then the economics of the line would be as abysmal as one of National’s RONS.

    Thanks, Matt, for bringing the arguments to the fore . . . again. And no credit to the Herald for rehashing arguments which have long been discredited. I sometimes wonder where they find people to write such ill-informed ramblings – not only on this’s issue but on so many others. Brings to mind the phrase “teenage scribblers”, though I suspect they’re not teenagers at all.

    Please, please, please, people: can we start thinking about how a network that served ALL Aucklanders might be created, not react in knee-jerk fashion to how we could provide service to a single new destination at vast cost? Doesn’t help that for their own self-focused reasons totally lacking in critical analysis a couple of prominent politicians have adopted an “airport-focused” approach to the detriment of the huge number of ordinary citizens who live in woefully unserved parts of the city who would be beneficiaries of the current LRT proposals.

    This discussion should be more about mobility for the masses than about the airport.

    1. Your post is actually demonstrating much uninformed opinion. The airport is a valid destination directly connected to existing rapid transport and an HR from Puhinui to Airport is NOT vast cost nor is it to the detriment of anyone let alone some vast number of ordinary citizens.
      A discussion on an Airport RT link should be about an airport link and NOT about mobility for these mythical masses.
      An HR Puhinui-Airport link could probably be constructed within a few years at relatively small cost whereas getting LRT down Dom Rd without considering the DOm Rd to Airport section, will take many years and likely much delaying hearings and legal action before the roads can be dug up for LRT lines – 20 to 30 years away if lucky and NIMBYless progress.

      1. “an HR from Puhinui to Airport is NOT vast cost” – any evidence? I imagine we are talking $2 billion plus? Under-grounding HR throughout the airport with small gradients and turning angles cant be cheap.

        1. Where is the evidence that it would be vast cost? 2billion plus is crazy, its not on the looney scale of the EW road link, look at the cost of building the 3rd Main Wiri to Westfield as an example, The proposd airport link is mostly over farmland, flat, minimum earthworks, one decent bridge to get into airport and maybe a short section of trench for the airport station.
          Does the Airport company not contribute to RTN costs on their property?
          I would be good to see a proper sensible costing for this HR proposal rather than these silly exaggerated ‘costs billions’

        2. The airport end needs to be completely trenched otherwise the rail line would cut the airport in half. The airport station needs to be underground otherwise you couldn’t trench the line. These things aren’t cheap.
          It would be a lot of cost to add one RTN station to the network, compared to LRT which will add a lot of RTN stations to the network.
          And if heavy rail was 6 TPH while light rail was 12 TPH, once you consider the average waiting time for a train, light rail will probably be quicker to the city than heavy rail.

        3. “look at the cost of building the 3rd Main Wiri to Westfield as an example, The proposd airport link is mostly over farmland, flat, minimum earthworks, one decent bridge to get into airport and maybe a short section of trench for the airport station.”

          I think this line has to be the most succinct summation ever of the general public’s misunderstanding of transport costs. To build a Puhinui spur, you would need, at the vey least;
          A bridge over the SW motorway
          A bridge over SH20B,
          a 300m bridge over the inlet west of the airport,
          a 2km long trenched line or viaduct built in a swamp with groundwater less than 1m deep in places,
          a flying junction on the NIMT,
          and a 10m minimum wide corridor through prime logistics land in southern Auckland.

          The third main is being built entirely within the existing rail corridor, which is of suitable grade and alignment. In most places simply laying ballast, track, and wire is enough.

          That you can’t understand the differences reveals that you are either arguing disingenuously, or completely unqualified to estimate costs.

        4. Ok SB, so if the cost of an HR link is vast because of the bridges and swamps then this would also mean the proposed LRT Airport-Puhinui-onwardsEast will be well over the 2Bn and hence not worth considering.
          Or does LRT have no need for bridges, floats on swamps and doesn’t use your ‘prime logistics land? (whatever that is).
          The relative low cost of the 3rd main, albeit in an existing corridor but with the need for serious station rebuilding (Middlemore) and not insignificant earthworks with perhaps some bridge mods/rebuilds, for the $100m or less looks realistic.
          2Bn for the Puhinui-Airport HR does not. Are you seriously suggesting that this short HR spur would cost similar to the gold plated EW link or are you just being disingenuous in exaggerating costs for a gold plated HR?

        5. “Ok SB, so if the cost of an HR link is vast because of the bridges and swamps then this would also mean the proposed LRT Airport-Puhinui-onwardsEast will be well over the 2Bn and hence not worth considering.
          Or does LRT have no need for bridges, floats on swamps and doesn’t use your ‘prime logistics land? (whatever that is).”

          The bridges are shorter because the gradients can be steeper.
          The swamp is less of a concern because the vehicles are lighter, so the track bed isn’t subjected to as much deformation.
          As the name suggest, prime logistics land is land that is a prime place to run logistics companies, which is evidenced by all of the logistics companies in the area. LRT wouldn’t require this land as it can run in the existing road reserves, or can make much sharper turns to use the motorway alignment.

          I’m not saying $2b, btw. But the original business case had this at half a billion dollars before construction costs went up 30% in the last few years and property prices doubled in this time.

        6. David, I think that’s why you’ll find most people propose a busway for the Airport to Puhinui link.

          But regardless, LRT would be more expensive but not nearly as much as HR because you could run down the middle of Puhinui Road. This allows you to use the existing road underpass of the motorway and various other much cheaper ways of getting rapid transit along the corridor and avoiding the need for any new rail junctions, flying or otherwise. About the only expensive item would be duplicating the bridge over the creek and going over or under Puhinui station.

        7. Nick, I completely agree with the Puhinui airport bus service, this should be implemented immediately. My stance on HR, LR and Bus all comes down to when we could expect these to be constructed and in use.
          For Bus, doing now or within months means top of urgency list
          HR from Puhinui to Airport could be built within the CRL timetable and the 3rd, maybe 4th mains be completed before.
          The LR to Airport was never planned to be even started until the Queen St to Balmoral at end of Dom Rd LR was completed. From everything I have read this at least 10 years away. Then the Airport LR extension construct starts and that will take 5 to 10 years. Then perhaps the Airport-Puhinui LR construction starts, 20 to 25 or more years from now.
          So I’d support getting Bus now, building HR Puhinui to Airport and starting Dom Rd LR asap.

        8. @David, given that LRT is almost entirely within existing transport designations and requires about 3 houses total to be purchased, LRT the whole way from the CBD could be built quicker than a heavy rail link from Puhinui (assuming that we decided today that we were building whichever option and funded it).

          A lot of people don’t realise that designating something as a transport corridor often takes the longest. Plus it has to be supported by good evidence that we would need to go and find.

      2. You’ve correctly identified the key issue: is this an airport rail link or a part of an interconnected region-wide PT network? I suggest it should be the latter. I’d also suggest it’s no accident that AT looked at the options through that lens and came up with LRT via Dominion Rd as the solution. If people want a direct, fast service to and from the airport they need look no further than Skybus . . . or even a taxi. No need to spend gazillions of dollars to service what would be a minority of the potential traffic on a new line.

        1. Also, the suggestion that HR to the airport via Puhinui would not be to the detriment of anyone deserves some scrutiny. We live in a real world where every dollar of PT funding is bitterly contested. To squander it on a Puhinui link would inevitably deprive other parts of the PT. network of those funds. No way should the airport as a single destination predominate over the provision of decent PT elsewhere. That would definitely be to the detriment of the city as a whole. LRT to the airport via Dominion Road is not only a fairer and more equitable use of scarce funds but also stands a chance of being funded, while HR via anywhere is a dead political duck.

        2. “while HR via anywhere is a dead political duck” – not necessarily true – Winnie love heavy rail!

        3. ‘every dollar of PT funding is bitterly contested’ Really, have never seen this contest. PT schemes get evaluated using CBRs and then scheduled/planned from do now to back burner for ever.
          Every way the Airport as a single destination NEEDS to be properly evaluated for an HR spur line. instead of or in addition to a possible, eventual, long away in future LRT or more immediate BUS system

        4. You’d have to be blind Freddy not to see how difficult it is to get PT projects funded. Believe it or not, there isn’t a limitless pile of unallocated money out there waiting for a bright PT idea. The funding shortfall is EXACTLY why we have been having a discussion about alternative funding sources for Auckland infrastructure provision.

          And HR to Puhinui WAS evaluated by AT and rejected in favourite first of HR via Onehunga and then for LR via Dominion Road.

        1. “Mythical masses? ” You know, mythical masses, from that greatest of fables; the 2013 New Zealand Census.

  9. “From there the line must ascend the very steep hill to Hillsborough Rd, then jostle for several kilometres along already congested Dominion Rd and eventually run down Symonds St and into the city centre.”
    A quick google search would show it running down Ian McKinnan not Symonds Street. Obviously the grade isn’t a problem or AT wouldn’t be considering it.

    “There is simply not room to squeeze in a double line plus safety zones in the centre of those roads while still having cars and trucks running on either side”
    Wrong again. Currently there are 2 very wide bus lanes, two traffic lanes and a median strip. Light rail will require much less room than buses do.

    You have to be pretty mentally deranged to think that your non researched assumptions are more correct than AT’s extensive research.

    1. It is frankly embarrassing how this lecturer from Albany could be so wrong about so many things that a casual glance at AT’s website on the LRT can verify. It’s also embarrassing, but not surprising, that The Herald publishes such poorly researched opinion without so much as a fact check.

      The idea that “there is simply no room”… oh thank Christ for the armchair expert from Massey University to set things straight, to think Auckland Transport spent years planning and designing the alignment without checking it was wide enough! All those business cases and reports published on the website must be just made up I guess.

      They are also quite aware of how steep the hills are. Is this seriously the state of urban and transport academia in our city? Such poor understanding and knowledge of the real world of local government that they can actually believe this?

      1. As an aside, I remember that when the New Lynn rail trench and station was dug (perhaps 1 km long?) the cost was $300 million. With construction costs having gone through the roof since then, you can imagine there may be little change from $500 million if constructed now. And for just 1km or thereabouts. Now extrapolate that to a Puhinui link with a longer trench into the airport plus a few km cross-country to get there, plus a bridge at the airport boundary, a BIG bridge over the motorway and a flying junction at the NIMT. I don’t have costings for the whole project but it’s clear to me that HR is not the bargain that some claim it would be.

        Add to that the fact that it adds just one station to the network and doesn’t address the chronic issue of Auckland’s lack of a real PT network at all – I’d suggest that almost anything else apart from a Puhinui link would be preferable.

        1. New Lynn had to done through an already developed business area and dug through volcanic rock all the while maintaining both rail services and the roads above going.
          By contrast a rail trench at the airport could be done with little disruption since most of it would be alongside a road and under a carpark that is due to be redeveloped at some point anyway. No hard rock to dig through either.

        2. “Add to that the fact that it adds just one station to the network and doesn’t address the chronic issue of Auckland’s lack of a real PT network at all – I’d suggest that almost anything else apart from a Puhinui link would be preferable”.

          Sums it up quite nicely I think. I think we should already be planning to press ahead with LRT to everywhere in Auckland that doesn’t have a nearby train station. That would include Mt Roskill and Owairaka, as well as the entire North Shore and Eastern Auckland, East Tamaki and Mangere. But I’m completely opposed to introducing more inequality by providing services to some parts of Auckland and not others – public transport should be for the many, not the few.

  10. Add Simon Bridges to those that don’t get it. He thinks the idea of “trams” stopping every 100 metres all the way up Dominion Road is “fanciful and ridiculous” but that at some stage in the future there’s probably an argument for a dedicated busway using existing roads.

    He thinks HR via Puhinui is the sensible logical and most cost effective option

    Total muppet

    1. I suspect Bridges’ attitude is that he is even more scared of the precedent that could be set by “allowing” Auckland a (first) LR line. Supporting an HR option that can subsequently be shown to be ridiculously expensive and then cancelling that may well be his “best” option. Sounds Macchiavellian? That’s how politics works, alas.

      1. I think that’s it, they are clearly reluctant to support new rapid transit because it will open the flood gates, Wellington will want a line, Christchurch two, Auckland a couple more. Before you know it the ten billion dollar more-RoNS package will be spend on urban transit instead.

        Better to dodge and obsfurcate, its basically concern trolling.

        1. Which is strange, because you’d think their infrastructure construction company friends could make just as much money building railways as roads…

  11. Is the ‘small group of people who travel to and from the airport extremely frequently’ really comparatively small? The examples given doesn’t include all the airport workers who commute 5-6 times a week. 1000’s of cars at Carpark 7 and Park’n’ride who all clog up the motorways each day.

    1. If you look at some of the linked articles, they show that very few of those people are coming from anywhere near the CBD.

  12. Since we’re talking about LRT.

    Not Airport related – Tamaki Drive at Judges Bay outside Mikano/Teal Park – build a straight bridge across the water connecting to Devonport wharf, so LRT can then travel up and down the main street of Devonport which would service Narrow Neck and Takapuna.
    I don’t really know any of the critical aspects but for my 2 cents worth it’s a shorter distance here to build a second crossing for PT.

    This LRT if it runs along Quay Street services PoA/Wharf, Spark Arena, Britomart, can go up from bottom ofQueen St and eventually connect up to proposed Queen St/Dominion Rd LRT going to Onehunga.

    1. It’s to the east of the port so would need a much higher bridge than if it were to run from Wynyard to Northcote Pt to allow for ships to pass under.

      1. I’m actually fine with having that raised bridge since servicing Devonport to Takapuna would probably have a greater effect in reducing the congestion along Narrow Neck, would it not?

        Also, IMO it’s actually a lot tidier to go along this route for LRT instead of Northcote since it’s more or less a long straight stretch of road from Devonport to Takapuna.

        1. It’s great for the very few people who live in Devonport who also rejected intensification. It’s terrible for people who value economic efficiency in transport planning and for the many more people who live west of the motorway and accepted intensification.

        2. It would be great if we had both.

          Two LRT lines – one at Northcote which services those west of the motorway, and the other along the East side running from Devonport.
          Perhaps both running parallel – At Birkenhead running up Glenfield Rd/Albany highway and at Takapuna running up towards East Coast Rd.

          Once it gets up towards Greenhithe the LRT on the left side could turn back along Upper Harbour Highway towards Westgate.

          Of course, it’s all about what $ can afford.

        3. Are you fine with paying for it? I’m not, it would cost significantly more to build a bridge with 40m clearance than 20m clearance, all to send LR up a residential street at 50kmh rather than in a corridor beside the motorway at 100kmh.

        4. I’m fine with paying my share, and it could run further up along the East coast highway and beyond.

        5. Your share is about 100,000. $2b/~20,000 people benefitting. Assuming you live with a partner and two kids, your share is $400,000.

          Are you still happy to pay?

        6. Yes still happy to pay, because your $400,000 is just silly. You assume only 20,000 would be paying for it?
          Heck I don’t even live on North Shore yet I’d still be happy to pay my share.

        7. f course only 20,000 people would be paying for it! Why would anyone not living on the Devonport Peninsula pay for it when they would always be better to go via the Northern Motorway alignment?!

        8. It could extend further north along East Coast Rd to service suburbs further north past Takapuna.
          So no, not just 20,000 people paying for it, I’d be paying as well and I don’t even live on North Shore.

        9. Yes, you could extend a line up East Coast Bays, but the line through Devonport wouldn’t be any use to them; they would take the route down the northern motorway alignment. So the total people paying would be 20,001.

        10. Britomart to Akoranga via Devonport and Lake Road is 50% longer than going via Wynayrd and Northcote Point.

          All else being equal it would be 50% more expensive and 50% slower.

      2. Jezza you would also have to have a higher bridge from Wynyard to Northcote to allow the freghters that go up to the Chelsa sugar refinery also

        1. I don’t believe Chelsea have any particular rights in terms of bridge clearance. More likely they would sell the valuable site and move somewhere else.

        2. From an engineering and social history perspective, that would be a loss. There aren’t many industrial sites of over 130 years operation in Auckland, particularly that look so good from the harbour. So much of the suburb’s history – and the histories of multi-generational families – are tied up with that site.

          We can wipe railways or swathes of suburbs or factories from our maps with careless decisions very easily, and then it takes volunteers to try to piece together vintage railways or museums to try to retain our history. Sad.

  13. how was the heavy rail option from Onehunga allowed to be built over/not provided for when the 2nd motorway bridge was built? Almost seems like it was a deliberate ploy to preclude heavy rail as an option. Now its gone I guess light rail is the best choice.

    1. I think it would have failed anyway for two reasons. Firstly, it would still have hit the CRL capacity problem: in order to get better frequency for the Mangere/Onehunga line frequency would have to be taken off some of the other lines. Secondly, light rail better services South-West Auckland due to where the heavy rail stations can actually be built.

      I think if heavy rail is ever going to go to the Airport it will have to be part of a heavy rail network largely separate to the one we already have.

      1. The capacity issue with the CRL is a bit of a myth. The CFN2 had a green line that would have a train each direction in the CRL every five minutes, that conveniently terminates at Onehunga. On paper that line could easily extend to the airport, there are of course other reasons that make it challenging.

        1. Yes, I forgot the CFN2 has just the two lines (I was thinking of a running pattern I saw somewhere on AT’s website). This is a response to the capacity constraints of the CRL, but obviously means there’s no reason why capacity would have to be reduced on the South/East/Red line.

          Replace with “concerns about the worse servicing of the South-West are compounded by the likelihood of reduced service reliability due to creating a very long line”. I still think that this is a strong argument. Or, rather, that AT really does care about solving transport black holes.

        2. Your correct that AT’s running pattern does not allow for as higher frequency to Onehunga, it effectively has a cap of 6tph.

        3. In practice it wouldn’t be that simple. The Green Line from Onehunga is the counterpeak of the ‘main’ green line in the peak direction from the west. It competes for track access with the peak of the southern line, then again with the peak of the eastern line.

          I think it unlikely that the counterpeak would operate at five minute headways. More likely that it would keep a base ten minute headway (at very best, remember AT plans show only three trains an hour from Onehunga) and the extra slots would be used by peak direction services.

          It’s also unlikely they could run five minute headways. AT have confirmed that the CRL allows for a total of 36 trains an hour, as being designed and built, which allows for six to eight minute headways per line. To get five minute headways requires a whole change of the signalling system and various other track and infrastructure upgrades.

          So whichever way you cut it, the rail network can run 36 trains an hour in the foreseable future. Doing anything more than the 3 trains an hour AT have planned for Onehunga equates to taking capacity away from the three mean lines in the peak direction.

          You could probably justify six trains an hour on an airport line via Onehunga (thats more than it needs for capacity to serve just mangere and the airport), but it is a straight up trade off with running them elsewhere.

          The beauty of an entirely new LRT line is you create entirely new capacity. THe CRL network can still run 36 trains an hour for the existing lines, while the LRT network can run another 30 to 40 trains an hour on top of that for new line/s.

        4. That’s a good point, I haven’t looked into the CFN2 document in detail.

          One thing that concerns me with AT’s 2025 plan is that counterpeak trains run from the west through the CRL to either Newmarket or Onehunga every 10 mins in the evening. The Newmarket services especially will have pretty low loadings, which is a waste of three slots every hour.

        5. The services to Newmarket are effectively just staging runs right? You’d have to do them even if you didn’t put passengers on them. TBH I think the whole thing is a terrible running pattern East to west and Southern to Onehunga with the Southern expressed from Penrose to Newmarket and a potential stop at Ellerslie for SE transfers.

        6. And if there is a points failure at Britomart, LRT line will continue to function. Separate lines adds resilience. Just as Vancouver’s SkyTrain lines do.

        7. And if there is an car accident on Dominion Road intersection blocking the LRT line? Then what?
          It’s not a valid argument to say we need LRT just because there may be some event which impacts on the HR service.

        8. If the Dominion Road section of the line is blocked, then passengers can take Heavy Rail to Onehunga and transfer to Light Rail to complete their journey to the airport.

        9. Sailor boy, you might point Bryce P at that page first…

          And Sam W – if the LRT is blocked on Dom Road, it won’t be magically running a couple of km’s down the line – the trams will be held up until the accident is cleared.

          My point being – Bryce P is advocating for LRT on the basis that HR may fail for some reason – e.g. A points failure at the Brit. But any System is possibly subject to failure. So that in itself is not a reason to argue for LRT to the airport. Either mode could fail.

        10. You must be deliberately missing both points surely?

          With regards to redundancy:
          The argument is that having two separate system increases redundancy because LRT won’t be affected by HR failures and HR won’t be affected by LRT failures. If we run HR on the existing tracks then we don’t gain this redundancy.

          With regards to this “if the LRT is blocked on Dom Road, it won’t be magically running a couple of km’s down the line – the trams will be held up until the accident is cleared.”
          No, they won’t be running magically, they’ll be running in a way entirely explainable by science. Let’s say the LRT is blocked between station 7 and 8. LRT can still run from station 1 to station 7 and from station 8 to the end of the line, even while that section is blocked. HR does this too.

        11. Not really missing either argument.

          Let’s say we build LRT Queen/Dom Rd/Airport and keep the HR network as is. Then let’s say there is an operational issue with LRT. In that circumstance the RTN to the south-west and airport is compromised and there is no backup RTN.

          The same argument applies if we build HR to the airport. If there is an HR operational issue, that too could impact on RTN to the affected area.

          So just by building LRT to the airport, is does not make the city immune to operational disruptions.

          Let’s say we build both LRT and HR connections to the airport. Then, Sailor Boy, you would have redundancy.

          And if there is a blockage between station 7 and 8, expecting the severed two parts to keep shuttling back and forth with whatever vehicles happened to be within each part at a time is something that in theory could work. But, if you look at how AT run our PT systems at the moment, that is never done. The affected line generally shuts, or occasionally will shuttle along one segment, never two. And if a passenger wants to complete a trip, it doesn’t seem that likely that a shuttling service will allow that to be completed in any case, because how will they get to their destination? The stations will be much further apart compared to bus stops, which would make for a long hike from station 7 to 8 if both sides were actually running a shuttling service.

        12. “Let’s say we build LRT Queen/Dom Rd/Airport and keep the HR network as is. Then let’s say there is an operational issue with LRT. In that circumstance the RTN to the south-west and airport is compromised and there is no backup RTN.”

          Yes, you are completely missing the point.

          The point is that with LRT if there is a failure on the HR system there is no service disruption to the LRT system. If there is a disruption on the LRT system, there is no disruption to the HR network because they are completely separate.

          If we build the SW RTN as an HR extension then any failure on shared track affects both routes.

          Since we’re going around in circles, let’s consider three scenarios, all of which have four RTN lines (Eastern, Western, Southern and Southwestern):

          We choose LRT, there is a fault in the CRL, three lines affected.

          We choose LRT, there is a fault on Dominion Road, one line affected.

          We choose HR, there is a fault in the CRL, four lines affected.

          Clearly the LRT scenario is more resilient.

        13. Yes LR is additive while HR is subtractive of both network capacity and systems resilience.

          But also, it isn’t LR or HR. It’s either HR alone or LR and HR. Because the shuttle to/from Puhinui will be the first Rapid Transit route to the airport, making every Southern and Eastern Line train a train to the planes. The Queen/Dom LR line through Mangere anchored at the airport will be additional to that.

          If a branch line is taken from anywhere on the Southern to the airport then a subset of Southern Line services will be ‘trains to the planes’. This is many many fewer services, lower frequency, and lower resilience. And, quite obviously a much poorer choice at a much higher cost.

          Yet some here cling to this irrational choice out of either mode bias, or an obsession with one seat rides.

          We already are building a transfer based integrated PT system and there is nothing extra special about the Airport as a destination that means that people won’t accept a transfer to get there. They already are; everyday many drive almost all the way there then transfer to buses to reach the terminals, and pay a small fortune to do so. So long as the Interchange Station at Puhinui is well designed to facilitate this, and there is no reason to believe it won’t be, I see no good argument against this more integrated, fundable, nearer term, extendable option. For Airport customers and workers and others heading to the expanding business park around the terminals.

          Then the issue of Isthmus and Mangere connectivity both to the Airport and City needs to be added.

        14. ‘Yes LR is additive while HR is subtractive of both network capacity and resilience’
          Only if you are counting the RTN bandwidth but in the real world the LRT is extremely subtractive of existing traffic/commuter corridors. The LRT on Dom is going to have an impact, not always positive, on the lives, employment and movement of non-LRT users and residents on/near Dom Rd.
          Same for LRT Puhiniu-Airport as it uses road space.
          An Airport HR line is in its own corridor with near zero impact on overall non rail traffic.

        15. ‘If a branch line is taken from anywhere on the Southern to the airport then a subset of Southern Line services will be ‘trains to the planes’.’
          Why? Southern line services should be as normal because any additional routes to the airport will be more than covered by paths on the 3rd and 4th mains, more so when the 3rd gets to papakura. the RRR could also have an ‘Airporter express’ using 3rd main and not impacting metro services.

        16. A HR branch to the airport, and beyond, doesn’t need to be a subset of the Southern or Eastern lines if, for example, the Airport service was an extension of the Eastern / Manukau service with the service running to Manukau and the backing out of Manukau and up and over the Puhinui junction.
          I believe that building the southern branch to the airport wold be the quickest way of getting rail there and eventually extending the LR there as well.
          However, if LR is the preferred option then we need to build the Botany the Airport line first as it is going to take many years to get down Dominion Rd and out to the Airport.

        17. “as it is going to take many years to get down Dominion Rd and out to the Airport.”

          Why? The whole route is designated.

        18. Thats a better option, but I’m not sure if it is a good option though. To go in and out via Manukau would add ten minutes to the run, including for anyone transferring to it except at Manukau itself. And each return eastern line train would make four passes through the Manukau Junction. I imagine that would need some flyovers and the like to make that work.

          It might be better if the eastern line went from Papatoetoe to Manukau direct, then stopped at Puhinui as the penultimate stop before the airport (idealling in and underpass or overpass). Then any folks arriving on the Southern Line or a connecting bus get the most direct route from Puhinui to both the Airport and Manukau.

          However, at the end of the day it’s still a good half billion something dollar project to link the rail network to one extra station at the airport. That’s a lot of money to do the job of a half decent shuttle bus.

        19. @ Sailor Boy:
          ““as it is going to take many years to get down Dominion Rd and out to the Airport.”

          Why? The whole route is designated.”

          Got any links to confirmed designation? AFAIK AT/NZTA have LRT as their preferred option, but there is no legal designation on the land required. Dominion Road itself is straightforward, but from the Dom Rd motorway interchange to Onehunga? Doesn’t the old Avondale-Southdown heavy rail designation loop through people’s backyards?

        20. “Got any links to confirmed designation? AFAIK AT/NZTA have LRT as their preferred option, but there is no legal designation on the land required. Dominion Road itself is straightforward, but from the Dom Rd motorway interchange to Onehunga? Doesn’t the old Avondale-Southdown heavy rail designation loop through people’s backyards?”

          If you look at an aerial image you will see that Dominion Road is already a road, therefore, it must have a designation ;). Similarly the section in Onehunga and from the Mangere Bridge to the airport runs on existing road designations. The Avondale Southdown designation may go through people’s backyards, but it is still a designation. Getting a designation is really hard. Using an existing one is less hard.

        21. Pretty much all the property on the Avondale-Southdown link is owned by Kiwirail so it doesn’t even require compulsory purchase, just end all of the tenancies.

          This is a bit academic as the ASL designation leaves the motorway around Hillsborough Rd I think, so most of the airport LR on this section would be following the motorway designation (if there is any left with all the widening) not the ASL designation.

  14. My compliments to Matt L for a well constructed article outlining the real reasons to construct LRT to the airport, which relate to building a sensible PT network to the city, not a single line.

    I appreciate everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I really struggle with Brian McDonnell’s article and why the Herald has reprinted it with nothing extra to say? All the factual claims in the article relating to airport LRT cost (3 billion $?), travel time (90 minutes?) and dimensions (LRVs can fit it a traffic lane and require less safety clearsnce than a bus) are either wrong or contradicted by business case material available on the AT website. Printing articles based on false facts does the Herald editors little credit.

    For that matter, whilst ad hominem attacks are not good refutations, who is Dr Brian McDonnell? The only one I can find online at Massey is a senior lecturer in film at the english and media studies department.

  15. Light rail is not appropriate for the airport link, especially from the city, simply because there would be too many stops. Far better to get the suburban train system to connect into the airport. Ideally via a link that does not make the airport yet another branch-line connection.

    1. So the LRT is as fast, adds more capacity to the network, and gets us ~15 new rapid transit stations more than the HR option and it’s *not* the right choice?

      In what world?

      1. SB stop it with the outright lie that LR will be as fast!
        Even with the current network HR will be faster and once the CRL and 3rd main are built (along with dwell time and line improvements) HR will be faster again still (also chances of limited stop Services would save a further 5 minutes). We know you love LR but please stick to the facts rather than playing loosely with the truth.

        1. Re-read the indicative business case. LRT to Aotea is estimated at 38-41 whereas HR is 41-44. To Britomart flips things, 42-44 versus 39-44. It is entirely reasonable to describe this with “as fast” and I would go as far to say dishonest characterises alternative summaries. Certainly, alternatives are disingenuous.

          Bearing in mind that we should call this the Mangere-Airport Line via Dominion Rd, these are excellent travel times given how fast our HR network goes. If you’re going from town to the Airport it is plenty fast for commuting either way; but remember the Airport’s staff live east, not north, or the Airport, by and large.

        2. +1, AT did a nice whitewash on LRT times compared to HR times. Sadly, their indicative business case has duped so many people who should know better. More sad we will likely have the LRT cdb to airport built before proving the running times were too optimistic

        3. Yep sure, because you’re old man reckons from the armchair are pure truth of course, therefore all the technical work done must be wrong, and part of a conspiracy to dupe the public.

        4. ..if you say so, lrt times must be correct if we accept all AT technical work is good. Maybe the same for NZTA as all their technical work must mean the EW link they want is the best.
          Funny how non supportive opinions concerning airport LRT are disingenuous whereas the supporters of LRT depend on the AT ‘facts’

        5. “SB stop it with the outright lie that LR will be as fast!”

          The outright lie supported by technical analysis? I think you are confusing the word ‘lie’ with the word ‘true statement that I don’t like’

          Also, the E-W link is clearly different. The NZTA’s own modelling doesn’t support their decisionand most people are clearly calling them out for that. Alternatively, where the NZTA are called out for not including induced demand, that is a clearly articulated specific omission from modelling. This is different to saying ‘times are wrong’ with no evidence or justification.

          AT’s modelling supports their decision to use LRT for the airport line and their modelling seems sound. My sanity check resulted in a best possible time that was about 40% quicker.

        6. Do you really think airport services would be given priority for using the 3rd main to run express? I imagine services coming from further afield, such as Papakura and Pukekohe would more likely be running express on this section, along with the freight trains.

        7. I don’t know but neither do you. I imagine that the 3rd and 4th mains will easily permit airport express and I suspect these will be in situ long before the airport LRT

  16. Given that Elon Musk has a near 100% track record of success on his wild projects, and that he plans to build an alternative to long distance travel, why are we even bothering with anything airport related at all? Just put some form of rail in all the major city directions please!

    1. So we should not buid anything with proven existing technology again because of the possibility that some non-existent future tech may work, be appropriate for AKL, and be affordable? So never import another car, train or bike, until we see if the Hyperloop is a better fit for getting to the airport, or the shops?


  17. Saying that HR from Puhinui doesn’t address Symonds Street bus congestion is irrelevant. LRT on Queen/Dominion corridor is required regardless of what connection to the airport is built.
    Build the LRT on Queen/Dom at whatever timeframe that occurs (sooner the better IMHO), but that shouldn’t stop a HR connection to the airport itself. The airport is a major generator of people movement, both in passengers and staff. Linking to the regional HR network should be our aim as it opens up easy movement for the whole city to the airport precinct.

    1. No it doesn’t.

      Hooking the airport into the existing HR network creates easy access for only people who live on Onehunga line stations or Eastern/Southern line stations north of Puhinui. It will probably shaft (non-airport) users of the Southern and Eastern lines due to the hard capacity constraints of the CRL (36 tph) and completely fails to incorporate South West Auckland into Auckland’s rapid transit network.

      HR is the fevered dream of interest groups. A bus route down Dominion Rd the cop-out of National party politicians. Light Rail to the north and LRT/busses through Puhinui & Manukau to Botany the vision of the wider regional picture.

      1. +1, LRT CBD-Airport and a rapid transit line Botany-Airport links the airport to the whole city far better.

      2. Yes, it does. You can transfer to any train to any HR station on the network. If HR came from Onehunga or Otahuhu, it would have stations in the south-west (Mangere, Mangere-Bridge), so it would not completely fail to incorporate RTN to that corner of the city.

        It’s also curious to me that you’d say a priority bus corridor on one route (Dom Road) is a cop-out, while a priority bus corridor on another route (Puhinui-Botany) is a regional vision.

        In my mind, HR from Otahuhu via the rail reserve to the junction of SH20A/SH20 then along the SH20a corridor to the airport and LRT from Botany to airport via Manukau and Puhinui is the way to go for airport and south west access.

        Dom Road/Queen street deserves LRT upgrade, but that project already speaks for itself.

        1. I presumed you excluded transfers because including them says there is no difference between the amount of integration with the existing HR between building some sort of grossly expensive HR to the Airport and spending half as much to extend Dominion Rd LRT to the Airport. If we want to consider transfers, LRT thrashes HR ten ways to Sunday.

          You can choose to incorporate the Southern/Eastern line into the network and not operate rapid transit on the Onehunga line or you can nearly make both rapid. You can only have both if you don’t use the existing HR network for the Airport. My thinking is that there isn’t actually a way of limiting the shafting to just one or the other of the Southern and Eastern lines, but maybe there’s a better way of setting things up. Why you want to bring this up when you favour a route that physically bypasses South Western Auckland escapes me, though.

          I would prefer LRT to Botany. However, unlike Dominion Rd there is no pressing need being generated by existing busses. Hence, it is not a cop out. But in terms of the wider picture, the regional vision is doing both LRT to the Airport via Dominion Rd /and/ some link with Botany, i.e. you shouldn’t really isolate my suggestion for Botany because it’s doesn’t have an independent existence, unlike National’s cop out.

  18. We don’t need new rail from city to airport. Build one from onehunga across the bridge to airport. Run direct service from city to airport – return. It will take years and years just talking about rail to airport. All huge money will be spend on research etc. Some should come out of their baby teeth and face the fact. Every where bus lane is been made. Road getting narrow to one lane. Why would people travel in bus when they have expensive cars to drive around. Grow up people..

    1. “Why would people travel in bus when they have expensive cars to drive around.”
      “Every where bus lane is been made.”

  19. I’d love the Onehunga HR route over the bridge with stations in Mangere, but it doesn’t seem doable. It would need to be 10tph or so, with a million level crossings to close, grade separation at Penrose and the Onehunga station works also. It doesn’t seem to be the one, though.

    Instead – it should be a new LR network. One line from the City down to Airport, through Puhinui, Manukau and up to Botany and Panmure, Ellerslie, Howick or Newmarket. Maybe two?

    It would be run operationally separate lines – with a four platform station at the Airport where lines split (but through running could happen). Puhinui connection would link to HR from north and south – with seamless ticketing.

    And then build upon that network – but on maps, transfers and in ticketing, make it indistinguishable from HR so it’s basically the same RTN network with different rolling stock. No buses.

  20. There is already reasonably fast transport to the airport. Train to Onehunga from the city, then the dedicated airport bus. Totally free as well for gold card holders.
    From Manukau the airport bus or Train to Papatoetoe then the airport bus.
    The sensible option for a train would be to just extend the Onehunga Rail to the airport.

    1. “The sensible option for a train would be to just extend the Onehunga Rail to the airport.”

      Nice refutation to the entire business case. I’m convinced.

  21. Clearly if they can build a motorway for trucks and cars without hindrance, they could build a rail line in the same space, eliminating the need to disrupt cross traffic. Obviously a loop from Onehunga – Airport – Puhinui makes the best sense as far as maximising train frequency (eliminating dead ends and reverses). Light rail is a given, buses on many routes run at capacity at peak hour and I can’t imagine triple deckers any time soon. LR is a just a logical progression (in Auckland’s case a regression also but that shortsightness is just another query in the inbox (letterbox?) of the babyboomer. Massey University looks like a US college so no wonder someone that works there has such a lack of imagination. Every now and again I attempt to read that newspaper but it takes me less than sixty seconds to realise it contains nothing beyond $h!t$ and giggles, principally the former.

  22. rail seems to be the favoured transport method for the centre and left parties.

    if the labour and greens get in are we going to see more rail about NZ?

    1. In England the massive Crossrail project is supported and has progressed under a Conservative Government. The real question is which mode is the most cost effective, i.e with the best cost /benefit ratio and is the least destructive of quality of place in its route area. And we need to provide alternative options, to depending solely on motor vehicles, for the reasons that have been noted many times on this website

  23. If current planned LRT is going to run slow at around 50kph due to traffic signals and contains possible risk of pedestrians, why doesn’t AT consider something like Shonan Monorail ( or Tokyo Monorail ( Especially Tokyo Monorail was built in 1964 for the access to Tokyo’s Haneda airport. The fastest service of it currently runs 17.8km in 19 minutes ( My approximation of distance from Queen St to Airport International Terminal and Domestic Terminal was about 23km ( based on the planned route for LRT. If it can come under 30 minutes in total, it will be a huge improvement for airport workers as well as travellers especially during peak hours.

    Also, elevated monorail surely prevents traffic signal issues as well as pedestrian risks. Same idea applies to the eastern area. Te Irirangi Dr already has enough space in the centre that can easily converted to the base for elevated tracks from Manukau. Possibly the elevated airport LRT/monorail line could extend towards Botany/Howick via Manukau and Puhinui. I personally do not understand why it is so hard for AT to realise they can elevate the tracks.

    1. I’ve never understood why monorail and other forms of elevated services such as the skytrain system that was proposed sometime ago have never feature largely if at at with AT

      1. I’m guessing because they are ugly and expensive, because the weight of the trains, ralls, stations etc has to be supported by built structure instead of the ground.

        1. I understand that elevated railways in general can be ugly. But I don’t think AT is able to afford underground HR or LR to all the way to the airport where my suggestion started from.

          Also, if you look at pictures of elevated monorails, they are much better looking as well as much cheaper to build than HR. It could have single track all the way to the airport with passing loop at every station if the cost is the real problem.

          If AT is going to build on the ground (in the middle of the roads) , I don’t think they should waste taxpayer’s money into something that isn’t gonna improve travel time nor passenger capacity.

          Tram is an outdated public transport system throughout the world. Especially in Auckland, it’s probably better to give cars more lanes and trains running above the cars. It may work for cities like Tauranga, with much smaller population, but Auckland is expected to hit 2 million in 2020s. It needs something that isn’t at least going to worsen the current situation.

          I don’t see the point of having rail tracks in between cars with high risk of trains not running to schedule? Might be better to just improve existing bus services.

        2. How would LR worsen the current situation? There is currently one lane in each direction on Dominion Rd for vehicles, after light rail is implemented there will be one lane in each direction on Dominion Rd for vehicles.

    2. Elevating is far more expensive that running at ground level, and it actually takes up a lot of room for the support pylons and offset buffers from traffic. Elevated rail down the likes of Dominion Road would take up about as much space at ground level as LRT for the general running way, and far more space at station locations. Have you seen what an elevated metro or monorail station looks like? Can you imagine how much land/street space is required?


      1) Go sit under the Hobson St ramp or the Victoria Park flyover.
      2) Imagine that they length of Queen St, Dominion Road etc.

      1. I have been on both monorails that I used as examples, myself in Japan early this year. Tokyo monorail can go up to 80km/h, built on top of roads in some parts, built sides of streets and goes underground.
        Also, I do not know if you looked at any of my examples, such as Shonan monorail, it can be placed even on side of the streets ( It cannot take up as much space as ground-level LRT. Even if it does, at least it won’t be affected by any traffic.

        You can look at it with satellite layer ( Hinode station on Yurikamome. It does not take up a lot of space as you think. It can be just built on the top of Dominion Rd.

        As I said above, ground level railway is okay most of the time, just like NIMT. However, if it’s going to be in the middle of the road, Aucklanders are going to complain soon after the completion of construction. There is no way it can be run properly and reliably with the Auckland traffic.

        1. You speak of people complaining, there is absolutely no chance of that monorail in the picture gaining residents approval to run along Dominion Road!

        2. So we build something that will run at maximum 20 kph like the Melbourne trams ( Why don’t we just put bus-only lane all the way to the airport then? Much cheaper, probably faster since buses have higher acceleration speed?
          Elevated track must be taken in to consideration when AT cannot afford to put the whole airport line underground because it *will* affect the residents along the line. However, if AT cannot afford the underground airport line, the only other option is to put the elevated tracks.
          Or do you think car drivers will magically disappear from roads and take trams instead which will be also slow, and more of discomfort since they have to walk? I thought all these Auckland transport plans were to solve problems.

          At this rate, we won’t probably keep up with the demand with everyone complaning and AT not making a decision.

        3. Why would LR run at a maximum speed of 20kmh? In one of your comments above you mention it being restricted to 50kmh, are you just making this stuff up as you go!?

          Also where do you get the idea that buses have faster acceleration than trams? Electric vehicles are generally faster off the mark.

        4. Have you been reading my links to the evidences? Melbourne’s trams, which is known for their extensive tram network in the world, are currently running at 20kph in its CBD. In theory, Auckland’s LRT can go up to maximum of 50 kph, as I mentioned before, the same speed as cars. Correcting previous comment of maximum to average.

          Acceleration, this bus reaches 100km/h in about 20 seconds ( , which gives me about 1.39m/s (please correct me if I’m wrong with the calculations). Melbourne’s E-Class streetcars, brought into the service in 2013, has acceleration speed of 1.3m/s according to wikipedia. You might sat it’s about the same. However, is it worth spending putting down a tram line to the airport spending millions of taxpayer’s money for that 0.something per second higher acceleration even if the buses are slower? Bus only lanes will be more cost-effective if that’s the case.

          You don’t read my comments carefully enough and you are saying I’m making things up. How am I going to talk to someone who doesn’t even try to read to my comments?

        5. “…the actual total cost to install a mile of monorail in Las Vegas right now [ok, article written in 2004] (based on actual project costs) is approximately $141 million a mile – more than four times the price per mile what it has cost so far to build the existing (and rapidly expanding) 45-mile Dallas light rail system, and more than three times what light rail is projected to cost per mile for new-start LRT projects such as the one now underway in Charlotte, NC.”

        6. @lan I understand your point of the construction being 3~4 times more expensive. However, there are possible positive impacts that monorail can give to Auckland.

          Vancouver for example, “SkyTrain has had a significant impact on the development of areas near stations, and has helped to shape urban density in Metro Vancouver. Between 1991 and 2001, the population living within 500 m of SkyTrain increased by 37 per cent, compared to the regional average of 24 per cent.[73] Since SkyTrain opened, the total population of the service area rose from 400,000 to 1.3 million people.[74] According to BC Transit’s document SkyTrain: A catalyst for development, more than $5 billion of private money had been invested within a 10–15 minute walking distance of the SkyTrain and SeaBus. The report claimed that the two modes of transportation were the driving force of the investment, though it did not disaggregate the general growth in that area.[75]” – from Wikipedia.

          Also, AT can rent out some parts of the stations for commercial use, for example a branch of a food franchise like mcdonalds as a kiosk, to boost up the speed of covering up the construction cost like many other countries do. If we can’t afford full underground metro system, the alternative must be something useful, by that means high passenger capacity, completely undisturbed by existing traffic, and something that is *fast* to be attractive to current car drivers in Auckland.

          Daegu Metro Line 3 (, a monorail in a city with a population of 2.45 million, has been having 77,000 ridership on average. Vancouver, with population of 0.65 million (Greater Vancouver area is over 2 million), has had 454,600 total ridership on average of weekdays. “Passengers on SkyTrain made an average of 454,600 entries on weekdays by the end of 2016.[1]” This has been a good example of building elevated tracks instead of trams, the opposite to a small number of Eurpoean countries.

          Considering their network has 3 lines running in total, one line average will be 151,533. Current Auckland’s rail network has ridership of 48,342 on a day (including weekends, based on AT Metro patronage report). This will be a great opportunity of investment for Auckland to boost ridership, which will likely to lead to less traffic congestion on roads as well as more profits to be made from fares.

          I think public transport should make Aucklanders think “it’s much faster and more convenient” so that they leave their cars at home and take public transport. We shouldn’t be leaving something half-done. Current plan of 44 minutes to the airport is not attractive to the general public (also based on

        7. Being picky, Skytrain is not a monorail, it is an elevated light railway, like the Docklands Light Railway in London. The advantage they have over a monorail is they can run at grade where land is available, or even through a tunnel (which both Skytrain and DLR do). A light rail system that could run on elevated tracks or through a tunnel could have advantages in Auckland, I agree. But I agree with @jezza that the chances of anyone agreeing to running an elevated railway of any sort along Dominion road, which is basically a suburban thoroughfare, is zero

        8. H Park – my comment on making things up was the 20kmh maximum speed, apologies if you meant average. Average speed is a completely different thing, Auckland trains currently only have an average speed of around 30kmh depending on the line.

          The advantage trams have over buses is that they can be run in longer vehicles, which means they can get better signal priority and greater capacity, and also take up a bit less road space as they go on a perfect straight line. A bus a minute would likely be required in the future for this route, which would run into serious issues with bunching, which would slow the journey down.

        9. @lan SkyTrain was AGT, I have made a mistake above. I was confused. Thanks for the correction.

          In that case, wouldn’t it be more useful to just draw out bus lanes in the middle of the streets instead of putting down rail tracks? That way, no one is going to complain, cannot cost 1 billion dollars, probably same journey time if priority is given at intersections for the bus lanes like the current plan.

          An example of this would be median bus lanes in Seoul Metropolitan Area. As of this report suggests, “As a result of the introduction of exclusive median bus lanes, the speed of buses has increased by 31.74 percent, and the deviation between average punctuality and headway has decreased to 27.74 percent. Also, the number of bus passengers along exclusive median bus lanes has increased by 26.8 percent, raising the overall transportation efficiency of buses.” (;jsessionid=4A88459F3CE75419AD9AEE9EAA192548?themeSubId=06201607250145484). And separate bus lanes instead of tracks on currently planned route like current Northern busway. It seems like AT is considering bus options too according to their website. “2016 – Develop bus option to compare with light rail.” Because trams, even with dedicated lanes, are not much different from this and take up probably the same space and cost heaps more. For concerns with passenger capacity on buses, it can be improved by using double decker buses, which Auckland currently has got running. And the airport could build an underground/above-ground transport centre instead of the station, connecting to both CBD and Puhinui, as well as regional bus services.

          If we can’t build an LRT underground nor elevated, I think it’s best to save the budget on that and spend on other priorities, such as passing loops at stations on NIMT and North Auckland Line to introduce express services, electrification down south to Pukekohe, new stocks for regional railways to Hamilton and Tauranga, and possibly track upgrades on NIMT to reach 160kph for regional railways.

        10. The Northern Busway is effective because it has room at stations to have two lanes in each direction, which allows buses that are ready to move to pass buses that are still loading. This would not be the case on Dominion Rd as there is not room to have stops and lanes for buses to pass.

          Even then the Northern Busway is likely to run into capacity constraints in around 10 years.

        11. Correction to my calculation regarding ridership of Auckland rail network. As of July 2017, one day average ridership on rail network is 54,016 (incl. weekends, 1674.5/31*1000).

        12. If we simply put it, we build the same route and same layout, but buses instead of trams, with a proper schedule. The example in Seoul also has passing lanes at each stop. If we don’t have enough space for passing lanes, it should be fine also. As long as the cars won’t interrupt the bus lanes (cameras should be in place to check and fine the vehicles that come on bus lanes), it should work too. The only change needs to be made for buses is that cash tickets must be purchased at the stop rather than on the buses, which I think is currently the biggest cause for current buses to slow down.

        13. So you want to spend even more money to have buses on the route instead of LRT?

          Why? Buses require us to purchase lane, LRT doesn’t, buses also have a higher operating cost for the same capacity, and we can’t fit any more buses into the CBD.

        14. How is it more expensive than putting down wires, tracks, signal systems altogether for trams to draw out lanes and build new bus stops? Do you realise how much a set of trains cost?

          Also, how does a median bus dedicated lane require AT to purchase a lane when it’s just basically same layout and route but buses instead of trams? In addition, we can put down and remove 2 lanes in CBD for trams but cannot use those 2 lanes for buses is not understandable to me. Sorry, no offence, but I actually cannot understand what you are trying to say on this.

          If you are trying to say fuel cost can be expensive, we are fortunately living in 21C where there are electricity battery-powered buses running all around the world. Similar to the replacements of trolley buses in Wellington. I’ve seen and been on electricity powered buses in South Korea and it’s really quiet that you can’t hear a bus passing by in front of you on sidewalk. No exaggeration. It’s really comfortable too.

        15. H Park – see my comment above at 12:46 as to why BRT would require extra land. There is no way with buses running every minute we would be able to maintain a service of the same quality as LR, without the ability for buses to pass each other. Also signal priority becomes ineffective with this level of frequency, it means a bus passing through an intersection every 30 seconds on average.

        16. Sorry, you are quite right. Buses are cheaper but not by much, here’s why:

          On Dominion Road, in order to achieve kerb separation bus lanes need to be 3.5m and have a minimum 0.3m separator each way. Total width 7.6m. An LRT can use 6.6m to achieve the same because an LRT vehicle can’t fall off of a kerbed road. This extra metre simply isn’t available on a fair bit of Dominion Road.

          On the motorway alignment sections, the entire carriageway is 15% wider to accommodate this, and the surface has to be surfaced with the highest grade of asphalt instead of bare concrete. Bridge clearances also have to be higher to accommodate a 4.2m bus. Because the surface is wider, stormwater requirements are also greater.

          You say trains are expensive; each LRT vehicle is 500pax capacity, equivalent to 5 double decker buses, which cost a million dollars each. Our heavy rail passenger trains are less than ten million each and we would only need about 12 to achieve 10 minute headways on this route; any savings are less than $60m.

          We can fit bus lanes on Queen Street, however, our bus terminals are at capacity. There is nowhere left to turn them around. the City Centre Future Access Study was very clear on this, please have a read of it. LRT overcomes this by allowing turnaround on a much smaller footprint as the driver can simply walk from one end to the other.

        17. Yes, the bus terminals are at their capacity. As well as for regional services, people waiting outside of SkyCity is just horrible right now. Maybe we need to make a proper transport centre where the temporary Britomart is at right now when CRL construction finishes.

          I’ve read the link. However, this suggests that the buses are going to be switched over to electric fully in 2036 which could be done right now like in other countries and cost calculation is based on that. The YouTube link I posted, that bus can charge fully in 15 minutes and can travel around 110-120kms.

          And no, you can make the platforms not facing right together to save up the space. And since it’s going to be in the middle of the street, it doesn’t need the width for cyclists. Lanes 2.8*2+0.3+1.0=6.9m for median bus lanes. Dominion Rd is about 13 to 14m, which gives enough room for one lane each way for general traffic.

          Let’s say buses come every 2 minutes including other existing suburb services on Dominion Rd. That’s 30 buses in one hour. That’s not a lot if you think of it. It won’t affect private cars too other than priority signal system (which LRT also has problems with).

          In terms of price, there’s an example of Melbourne E-Class tram. “A total of 20 E-2-class trams were ordered at a cost of $274 million, with late model E-class trams also being retrofitted with the new safety features.[35]” The cost is 13.7 million each set with “64 (Seated) and 146 (Standing)”. Austrailian government may have been ripped off by Bombardier but yeah. It’s certainly not 1 million each.

        18. There is nowhere near enough room for a trurnaround facility in the cuurent Britomart entrance, it wouldn’t even fit the turning circle.

          “And no, you can make the platforms not facing right together to save up the space” I never spoke about platforms for buses.

          “And since it’s going to be in the middle of the street, it doesn’t need the width for cyclists. Lanes 2.8*2+0.3+1.0=6.9m for median bus lanes. Dominion Rd is about 13 to 14m, which gives enough room for one lane each way for general traffic.”

          There is no way you can have two oncoming buses in a 5.6m carriageway. You need 3.5m because the buses are head on. If you wanted to accommodate cyclists they need to be 4.2m lanes. So basically every number in your statement is wrong.

          “Let’s say buses come every 2 minutes including other existing suburb services on Dominion Rd. That’s 30 buses in one hour. That’s not a lot if you think of it. It won’t affect private cars too other than priority signal system (which LRT also has problems with).”

          LRT’s 12 vehicles have a lot less effect than 60 buses!

          “In terms of price, there’s an example of Melbourne E-Class tram. “A total of 20 E-2-class trams were ordered at a cost of $274 million, with late model E-class trams also being retrofitted with the new safety features.[35]” The cost is 13.7 million each set with “64 (Seated) and 146 (Standing)”. Austrailian government may have been ripped off by Bombardier but yeah. It’s certainly not 1 million each”

          I said buses were $1m each and that our EMUs are less than $10m here is proof on the EMUs

          Melbourne paid $300m for 50 trams and many others have paid less.

          Zurich paid 4m Euro per tram

          I think you need to go and read a lot more information on this topic as your reasoning is sound, but a lot of your information is wrong.

        19. Regarding passenger capacity, the ‘entire heavy rail network’ has passenger of 54,016 a day. “As of July 2017, one day average ridership on rail network is 54,016 (incl. weekends, 1674.5/31*1000).” You seem to love LRT’s huge capacity, but do we need that much? As I said above regarding NEX, It currently has 25.64% of ridership compared to the entire rail network (1674.5 and 429.4 (thousand)). BRT can provide enough capacity for that region unless we are making fully-underground metro line to the airport which will be fast for airport workers and passengers but very costly.

          Also, the article you have linked says “Each tram will cost $6 million”. Considering this fully-electric bus ( costs only 395,000 SGD (553,376.40 NZD), WOW! We can buy 11 buses with each range of 250km!

          In addition, there is not enough demand for buses running at frequency of every 2 minutes to/from Auckland airport of course. My statement was including currently running bus services running through Dominion Rd which won’t be taken into account in this case. I was saying, no passing lane will be enough for now. Even American cities with bigger population do not have that high demand.

          Let’s say airport services run at frequency of 6 minutes and currently existing 12 services an hour at peak hours (based on stop 8415, 445 Dominion Rd). That’s 10 services + 12 services = 22 services. Now, will this make the BRT lanes congested? Each bus has around 2-3 minutes boarding time. No, it’s not likely. Let’s assume the BRT line takes 40 minutes from/to the airport. When the 4th bus departs the airport, it will be at Britomart. So it needs 7 buses + spare buses of 3 make up 5.5m, cost of one set of trams. It may cost more and may need more buses so I will say it will cost about the same as two sets of trams. Isn’t that millions of saving and AT gets the opportunity to fix the bus turning around problem in CBD?

          Are they aliens driving buses on BRT lanes in South Korea ( I didn’t realise South Korea was located on the Mars 🙂 Let’s say each bus lane require 3m each lane then (even though it seems to work in Korea with Volvo double deckers on a 2.8~2.9m lane). Still, won’t make a huge difference since most trams are about 2.6m in width on standard gauge. The fact that it’s cheaper to build BRT than LRT doesn’t change. Also, the sidewalk improvement can be done to give more room for the platform as well as for the cyclists. If not, we can give the cyclists a bypass route instead of Dominion Rd.

          Regarding the transport centre, I mean something like this ( or this ( Obviously Britomart doesn’t have that much space like the second example so it may have to be somewhere else but it will be needed to be done at some point if it’s at capacity as you are saying. So, we could build that with the money saved by not purchasing trams.

          I strongly suggest you to look at what other countries are doing, and criticise yourself before you do others 🙂

        20. Shonan Monorail station:

          According to Wikipedia it covers 6.6km in 14 minutes, which is 28km/h. Headway is one monorail every eight minutes. 228 passengers per vehicle.

          Gold Coast light rail station:

          According to Wikipedia it covers 13km in 34 minutes, which is 23km/h. Headway is one LRV every 7.5 minutes. 309 passengers per vehicle.

          I’m failing to see any particular advantage of the monorail. Why we would spend 3 to 4 times as much and build huge elevated stations to achieve transit that is basically the same, slightly faster but slightly less capacity.

        21. I never mentioned Shonan Monorail being fast. Shonan Monorail is indeed slow. I only suggested Shonan monorail because it can – to a some degree – minimise the affect on sunlight to the residents along the line. It’s built with SAFEGE technology ( in 1970, as well as it has a single track all the way with passing loops only at its stations. However, if you look at the area it’s serving, Kamakura-shi, it has a population of 173,019 as of 2015 and it probably has a declining population. Shonan Monorail is a private company as well, it won’t make the speed faster which will attract higher maintenance cost for its operation. There are huge gaps of Japan’s infrastructure between metropolitan areas and regions, because of its falling birth rate and declining population.

          Let me add a picture of one of Tokyo Monorail’s station : ( Fully equipped with safety doors for passenger’s safety.

          Now, as I mentioned above, we can look at Tokyo Monorail which is the same concept of Auckland – connecting Tokyo’s one of business districts to its airport. Tokyo Monorail currently offers an express service from/to airport. For its 17.8km length, it only takes 19 minutes (Haneda Airport Domestic Terminal 2 ~ Hamamatsucho). It gives me 56.21km/h of scheduled average speed.

          The other option for the same airport, Keikyu Airport Line (standard gauge heavy rail), for its 14.5km length, it takes 14 minutes (Haneda Airport Domestic Terminal to Keikyu Shinagawa) which gives me scheduled average speed of 62.14km/h.

          If we compare that, heavy rail is obviously the fastest. However, on the other hand, heavy rail is going to be expensive. That’s why I proposed elevated monorail or LRT to the airport as an alternative – which is completely separated from car traffic, can be run much faster, better quality of service and will be cheaper than heavy rail. Not mentioning parts of stations can be rented out for commercial purposes.

          I only proposed elevated railway/monorail, because fully underground railway is much more expensive, probably won’t be able to afford that. However, doing something like on-road LRT, is actually throwing money into the sea. If we are investing in something, it has to be spent on the right plans, and something that is durable. I still think LRT underground to Onehunga and elevated from Mangere bridge and underground station at the airport is the best idea. I’m not against LRT as a whole – on-road idea is simply not good enough with Auckland’s population doubling soon. It’s just leaving the problem solved half-done.

          That’s why I also mentioned, if we really have that much demand *for now*, BRT is probably better since it’s much cheaper. By the time it reaches maximum capacity, we probably can build underground railway/heavy railway to the airport.

        22. Fucking hell! You want to put those stations on Queen Street and Eden Valley and Balmoral, etc?

          Look at the size of that thing, the size of the pillars?! Compare the station to the two lane road next to it. Yeesh!

    1. If the total duration between signal changes stays the same, one green light will be able to let a smaller number of cars go through the intersections. The other way, if the duration stays the same and 2-3 seconds priority is added for trams, still, the cars will have to wait longer.

      We need something that is durable that can keep up demand for years and years, by making a right decision (investment) like Vancouver’s SkyTrain.

        1. I understand the idea that trams have dedicated lanes. But wouldn’t it add the waiting time for cars coming from vertical direction to the tram line? For example, (,+Mount+Eden,+Auckland+1024/@-36.8870679,174.7468871,19z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x6d0d464953bcdeb5:0x1300ef6106dd73a1!8m2!3d-36.8870679!4d174.7474343). If the priority was given to the trams running on Dominion Rd, cars on Balmoral Rd will have to wait longer though unless the duration of green light for Dominion Rd is shortened by the amount of time that is allocated for Dominion Rd, which would cause more traffic congestion also.

        2. There would be no change to the overall allocation of time to each direction but some individual phases could be longer or shorter than planned, but this can be made up for pretty quickly.

          You are a correct that it could add waiting time in a particular instance, however a tram with 300 people on board should always have priority over say 30 cars with say 35 people in them.

        3. I agree that the trams should have priority over cars.

          My whole point was that if we can’t afford a fully underground metro/LRT line to the airport (which won’t upset the residents along the line), there is barely any point of spending a billion dollar in the project because 44 minutes to CBD is simply too long to be attractive for the general public to get off their cars.

          Please refer to my comment above that I wrote to lan. In addition to that, in terms of passenger capacity of buses, NEX on northern busway alone is serving 25.64% of total passengers (1674.5 and 429.4 (thousand)) on the entire rail network currently has 4 lines running (as of July 2017). So buses can take quite a lot of passengers.

        4. H Park. As a user I prefer trains over buses anytime, especially in cities with which I am not familiar. Bus routes frequently wander all over the place and one can become uncertain where one is going to end up.
          If you make a mistake on a railed system, it is usually very simple to cross over to the other side and make your way back to where you came from.

          Altogether much more user friendly!

        5. Also a user that uses public transport every day here. I prefer trains over buses all the time also. Have you been on a NEX service? It’s very convenient and user-friendly. It’s one of the best BRT system in the world. It’s so good that it seems like the existing infrastructure can be easily converted into LRT even right now. You can just go to the other side of the platform at busway stations and take bus to the other direction. This is similar to the idea that I’m proposing.

          Same as trains, the buses going to the airport will obviously need voice guidance for stops, just like trains and current City Link services. My idea was that we have buses running instead of trams to save the costs for construction which will allow us to invest in other areas where needed. If the airport route has a special name for it like NEX, and always stays on the same route and terminals, it won’t be as confusing as the current buses.

          It will just buses running on the dedicated lanes instead of trams on the dedicated lanes which costs more.

          I agree with you that current buses are really confusing for passengers since it doesn’t have voice announcements where the stops are or clear explanation of where it’s headed to. Especially for people who are not familiar with the area. This is something where AT can improve on and could be applied to all the buses running around Auckalnd in the future.

        6. @ H Park – Replying in here but probably not relevant to this particular thread so much, but anyway I don’t think it was mentioned: With buses you have higher running costs due to driver wages per pax compared to a LRT solution.

  24. OMG! Dom Rd BRT instead of LRT, isn’t that what Nats wanted and wasn’t there a study done on the BRT feasibility?

    1. When it’s going to be about the same speed, why throw more taxpayer’s money away? Currently buses to CBD take 45 minutes off-peak. LRT is expected to take 44 minutes confirmed by AT. Why do we need to spend 1 billion on that? If higher frequency and more capacity are needed, even for peak-hours, BRT can keep up with the demand.

      LRT on ground is such a bad idea for 20km long distance despite the fact that a lot of other coutries are investing into underground metros or elevated tracks, not trams. LRT could have been nice if it was elevated or built underground since it’s not going to affect or be affected by car traffic.

      Mentioned above, Tokyo Monorail only takes around 20 minutes for its 18km route. From the same airport, Tokyo Haneda, Keikyu (Heavy Rail) takes 15 minutes for its 14.5 km length.

      1 billion is quite a huge amount if you think of how many houses you can buy in Auckland with that. 🙂

      1. One reason for going elevated is it then leaves the streets below for cars etc and keeps the rail option on it’s own unimpeaded right of way.

      2. You would still need to build the BRT route from Mt Roskill to the Airport along the same alignment of the LR, which wont be cheap and you still have to figure out what to do with the buses in the CBD. I’m personally not a fan of a bus a minute on Queen St.

  25. The main problem with running an all bus system is the chaos it will cause at the CBD terminus. Just imagine the number of buses coming in from all points to the CBD even if we move to an all double decker service. One Double deck bus about 105 pax, one Light rail train about 450 pax, so that’s slightly over 4 buses per light rail.

    1. Is this chaoes because a BRT terminus in the CBD has to have a bus turn around capability whereas LRT multi car vehicles can have driving cabs at bot ends?.
      So where could the BRT terminus be located? Perhaps there is some way those other non-backfilled levels of the CRL tunnel on Albert St could be utilised.

      1. If we use a full heavy rail train as an example, that’s 750 plus pax. Convert that to double decker bus we would need 7 – 8 of them. Now if we have that many buses for just one route how many would we need for all the routes that would terminate in the CBD. The number of buses will be mind blowing as well as road clogging.

        1. That’s maximum capacity though, 100 passengers every 6 minutes => 600 passengers an hour * 17 hours => 10,200 passengers a day. Monthly maximum of 316,200. That’s about 19% of what the Auckland’s entire rail network currently take. Do you really think 400-500 passengers will be filled up in the LRT every time when the train comes?

          As I calculated above, at 6 minutes frequency, it will only add about 10 more buses in CBD in total. Possibly 15 at 5 minutes frequency. Is that even a great number compared to 43,000 more cars in Auckland last year? I don’t think so. Especially they will always, only stay on the dedicated lines provided – which means it’s not contributing to traffic congestion. As DgD said, the non-used spaced could be utilised for a transport centre in CBD or the space that current LRT plan is to use as its terminal, could be used for both NEX and airport BRT possibly.

          Still, dedicated railway to the airport is the best option I can think of, either above-ground or underground.

        2. The Eastern, Western and Southern lines all move more the 3000 passengers during the two hour morning and evening peaks, so at least 1500 per hour and that is current demand, not future demand. 600 per hour just wont cut it. It would be madness not to plan an airport route for much greater demand than we receive presently.

          There is a reason the airport BRT study planned for a bus a minute during peak hour in the future.

        3. Maybe something like this ( would work? Capacity of 230 seems pretty decent to me ( 230*12=2,760 passengers per hour. It states that it’s much cheaper to build than LRT and lower maintenance cost. I guess, for an airport, something like this may be enough.

          In the end, I just wish AT and the government decided to build an underground + elevated LRT/Monorail/AGT to the airport so this discussion of BRT or on-road LRT won’t even be in place in the future. All I hope is that they don’t build LRT as proposed right now. If that happens, there would be at least no complaints of being overcrowded and slow for at least half a century.

        4. They’ve got something like that in Bogota also. Don’t know how the Istanbul one compares, but Bogota is turning into a victim of its own success. Major capacity issues at peak times. Should have been a rail system (as earlier planned) but they opted for this cheaper alternative and are now reaping the consequences.

        5. Yeah. Bogota and Auckland has almost 6.5 million population difference, that might work different here though. I agree that BRT may be congested if the demand in Auckland rises too fast.

          That’s why I’ve been saying completely separated underground/elevated LRT/monorail/AGT will be the best option. Or a proper metro will be even better. With Auckland’s population growing at this rate, Dominion Rd will need to be widened, as well as redevelopment of surrounding areas of CBD for higher density housing at some point. If we have on-road LRT, it will just turn out to be an obstruction which will lead us to spend more money into widening the road. This applies to my idea of BRT too.

          It was just that, with this limited budget, we’d be better off saving on spending on other areas with temporary (which will likely to be used for decades) BRT solution to the airport for now. Because on-road LRT doesn’t seem to be a good $1+ bn investment in terms of speed and future development since it won’t be much faster. And we can’t be planning this for like another decade and start digging in our next generation.

          ++ Yeah. I’m more used to taking trains to airports around the world too. Especially in South Korea and Japan, where all the motorways are toll roads, it works out to be a much cheaper option to take trains (mostly heavy rail and high speed rail), not mentioning the parking cost. It will be nice to see AT introducing a better solution like many parts of the world.

        6. ‘Still, dedicated railway to the airport is the best option I can think of, either above-ground or underground.’
          Is the important aspect of an airport rapid transport that it should be running in its own dedicated unshared pathway? you suggest tunnel or elevated but surface should be good if not shared with other modes.
          If there is to be a separate path then it may as well be HR.

        7. Yes, surface should be good. Much cheaper, less pressure for weight and height restrictions, etc.

          But as you know, there is barely any room for new tracks around Dominion Rd unless elevated on top of the street or underground. We can ditch the idea of building LRT and decide to build HR from Onehunga/Otahuhu/Puhinui which I think is a great idea also in terms of future investment.

          LRT between CBD and Onehunga via Dominion Rd and HR extension from Onehunga to the airport will work out I guess. At least this won’t affect the travel time of passengers whom wanting to go into CBD. People wanting to go to Dominion Rd can just transfer at Onehunga.

  26. After reading all these idea’s it seem’s that the only ones that may using this service will be a small number of out of towners and overseas tourists .
    I remember when my sister went back to the States there where a large number of people that came from all around the Auckland and Northland area to see Her off . they came from Whangarei , Portland , Warkworth . North Shore , Waiheke and Manuwrea .And I was the only one that used PT late day as I didn’t want to use the car ferry to get of Waiheke . That is why excess Busses and LRT won’t be needed because most people don’t like trying to find parking in an area where they don’t know or trust . They just go to the Airport for a couple of hours max then disappear back to where they came from

  27. If pubic transport to the airport is efficient and easy-to-use, then see-er-off-ers will use it. Or else say goodbye at the metro station instead.

    A few years ago my wife and I arrived in Stuttgart and found our hosts had come to the airport to meet us – by train! Probably a lot easier for them than driving. That’s the way people choose to do things when the service provided is good.

    And since by the end of our visit we had got the system worked out, they simply saw us off at the local station not far from their home, which was again easier for them and just as good a place to say Auf Wiedersehen.

  28. Actually, I’m not so sure that the LR to the airport is going to be that much of a starter. Remember that NZF are currently in negotiations to be part of the next government, and they are pushing for HR from the south as the airport connection, and both major parties are likely to agree as a way of getting them to favour them to form the next government.

    1. I think you are correct. When you can see that projects identified as high priority, such as the NW busway, are being ignored then I think really there is little hope for an airport LR, even in the medium term 10-20 years. Moreso since its dependant on the Queen Dom Rd LR being completed first and I can’t imagine that will be anytime soon, then 30 years or further away might be the time. But its great to be optimistic and hope a govt will start construction soon(ish).
      Talking about priority projects I can’t understand why the 3rd main is not being sorted out NOW,money is promised and KR has enough to at least get underway.

    2. We don’t really have a clue what concessions NZ First have won, they only have 7 % of the vote so it certainly won’t be all of them.

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