The future of Auckland’s port has been in the news quite a bit lately.

Port Masterplan

Last week the port released a 30-year masterplan, although given what’s in it, it feels more like a 10-year plan. It’s all part of a push to claim that they’re a reformed organisation, no longer intent on pushing further out into the harbour and working towards creating a land-bridge to Devonport.

Much of the plan seems to be focused on tweaks and changes to improve container operations. This includes finishing off Fergusson Wharf, moving their head office, and automating the container terminal and rail grid. But it’s the non-container plans that look to cause the most concern.

One key project in the plan is targeted at addressing one of the biggest public sore points with the port. That some of the most valuable land in the country is used for a giant carpark. So much so that almost every ounce of space on the western side of the port now appears to be dedicated to the storage of vehicles. This is shown in the satellite image below.

To address this, the port propose to build a huge multi-storey carpark

A hotel is proposed on the Quay Street frontage of Bledisloe Wharf to add city-life to the edge of the port precinct, although it might also house a technology centre.

That building would link to a 1ha park on top of a five-level 2600-space car park building, to help accommodate the flow of light vehicle imports through Bledisloe Wharf.

Any idea what the intention of that rooftop bunker is?

Part of the problem is that this carpark doesn’t actually appear to be about using port space more efficiently. Instead it’s just about increasing the overall capacity. As the image below shows, it appears the rest of Bledisloe Wharf will still be dedicated to the storage of vehicles.

As for the proposed hotel, how quintessentially Auckland to build a ‘waterfront’ hotel that doesn’t have a view of the water. What’s more, one flanked by carparks on either side. On the North by the proposed carpark and to the south it faces Quay St and the Britomart Carpark. This isn’t to mention the absurdity of having a large, tree filled park on the roof. Who would actually use that, especially if only accessed by passing through that hotel.

I’ll come back to the issue of handling cars shortly.

Political Decisions

Also recently in the news has been New Zealand First’s discussion of moving it’s operations to Northport. As part of their coalition agreement, Labour have agreed to investigate it. They also agreed to a $1 billion annual Regional Development Fund which includes “Significant investment in regional rail”. A decent portion of that funding will be used to build the already consented rail link to Northport and to upgrade the existing rail line between Auckland and Whangarei.

To me, it doesn’t seem practical for us to completely shift all of Ports of Auckland operations up to Whangarei. There are a few reasons for that and one of the biggest is the impact of shifting even a significant portion of that by rail to and from Auckland. As we’ve seen from Port of Tauranga’s Metroport operations, it would require trains regularly passing through Auckland throughout the day. With the City Rail Link significantly increasing passenger services, slotting freight trains in will be very difficult. Even the long-proposed Avondale-Southdown Line won’t help as the freight trains would still have to mix between Swanson and Avondale.

However, while moving all port operations to Whangarei seems impractical, perhaps moving a specific part of the port there could work, the cars. Northport has plenty of flat land near the port that could be used to store vehicles while they are processed. Combine that with a fleet of car carrying rail wagons for the upgraded lines and cars could be railed to Auckland.  They could pass through the urban area at night to avoid conflict with passenger services. Even adding an extra $100 or so to cover the cost of transport those cars, it is minor compared to the cost of buying a new car.

An option like this would have many benefits. It would allow the Ports of Auckland to focus their efforts on improving how they handle containers. At the same time also freeing up a lot of their land closest to the city centre. A solution that might be able to keep everyone happy. What’s not to like?

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  1. North Port is a good option. It takes the better part of a day for car carriers to get from there to the docks as they travel down the coast. However I would expect landing fees to drop if they are not sitting on Auckland wharves.

    1. I agree. I have a question though, does the current rail line pass under any bridges or through any tunnels?

      Looking at the example image, it would appear that a car carrier would be higher than a TEU container. I have no idea if that’d be an issue, but looking at how Kiwis have traditionally done things (cut the price as much as you can, unless it’s a road), it does warrant some thought.

      1. Good question about the rail track. I don’t agree about roads – whereever it is obvious they need three lanes plus a bus lane they build two. (Except for near Albany and it is one lane.) Then in the most expensive way possible thay try adding lanes.

    2. I agree. Once we get self driving cars they will be able to release them into the environment at Marsden Point and the autonomous cars will be able to migrate south to Auckland in a swarms.

      1. Whilst I suggest that you may have been tongue in cheek about the cars swarming, I suggest that’s exactly what will happen in the near future. AV manufacturers will learn the lessons that IT network engineers learnt 50+ years ago. You’ll have cars taking multiple routes, moving at different times of day, going in packs and driving much faster (legal framework permitting).

    3. Doesn’t it make sense to ship the incoming goods as close to the market as possible i.e. keep the port as close as possible to Auckland? Aren’t we indulging in unnecessary double handling of goods if we go to Northport?

      1. All goods are effectively double or even triple handled from the time the ship arrives to the goods arriving at the importer. So really there isn’t a lot of difference.

    4. We should be striving for the most efficient, timely, lowest cost to the consumer, best for Auckland option. Seems obvious this is not by subsidising Whangarei port by sending Aucklands freight there. There must be better options within Auckland like howsabout loading the cars off the boats at Auckland onto a train and carting that somewhere in AKL with space to store them (Wiri/ other rail area). Port carpark makes some sense to increase capacity. If the freight is not for AKL or south of Bombays then sure send it to Whangarei.

      But the huge costs with creating high quality rail link to Marsden port plus then shipping freight through Auckland on overcrowded rail lines with all the added cost, tine delay etc makes no sense. Which is why Labour will do the feasibility study to shoot down Winston’s idea in flames and bring sense to the argument. A port study to look at working together on all the upper north island ports to do whats best for the country makes the most sense.

  2. I’ve said this before: it’s important that we don’t prioritise particular bourgeois land-uses e.g. overpriced apartments, hipster parks, coconut oil cafes, in a way that makes the working class e.g. the port invisible. It’s important that Auckland has a working port where people can witness the containers being moved, the wharfies having smoko, etc. I wish we could get the fishing boats back like it was pre 2000 too.

    1. That’s an argument in favour of the container operation staying, but not for the wasteful and very land hungry practice of storing cars. Moving the car storage to Northport or elsewhere e.g. straight to rail car carriers off the board seems beneficial to the city.

      1. +1.

        I echo JDELH’s concern about certain types of working class people becoming invisible. Something that can only end in one way (not a pleasant one). However as jezza pointed out, the port isn’t a place where workers are very visible.

        1. Pretty sure ports nowadays are one of the least labourers-per-square-meter areas of the industrialised world. They are semi-automated storage / handling facilities, not places where lots of people work. That ship sailed ages ago.

    2. It’s pretty much impossible to witness the containers being moved around the wharf and the wharvies having smoko now anyway, unless you have access to the wharves. Doesn’t seem much of a reason to keep the port in the CBD.

    3. I agree that a working port is fascinating to observe. Ships, tugs, pilot boats coming & going, cranes working, etc., etc…. I could watch the activity all day. The (my ) reality is, however, that Auckland’s port will need to keep expanding, port road/rail traffic will continue to increase and recreational/leisure demands on the waterfront for ALL residents & visitors are not going anywhere. Something has to give.

      The port has served its purpose admirably in its present location for the last 150 years or so, but it’s time to move to another location which will serve for the next 150 years. There are many, many examples around the world of cities which have been rejuvenated after relocation of their ports away from their historical central urban locations. Let’s do it!!!

        1. Wikipedia says that Piraeus is located approx 12km from the city centre.
          Perhaps we wouldn’t be having this discussion if the port had been developed around Point England?

    4. You can’t see any of that. It’s all literally behind an electrified, customs-bonded fence. It’s actually illegal for the public to set foot on the port.

    5. I started typing the below – then remembered your funny posts on the Satellite Cities topic and that you are clearly once again taking the piss 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Why is it important to watch wharfies have a smoko other than for some romantised idea that life was much better in the good old days?

      If you could also elaborate on what a hipster park entails and the how cafes made of coconut oil even exist.

      Gentrification exists across the globe, the working class are still visible with or without a wharf, its just that the working class now are you baristas in the Coconut Oil Café or the guy that cleans the bins in these special Hipster Parks.

      1. A “hipster park” is a park where the white-collar middle class parade in the middle of the day while sipping their turmeric latters and twisting the ends of their moustaches, usually accompanied by discussion of the best “fixy” or the wonderful piece of 1970s Kiwiana they found at the Sallies Store.

        Why is it important to watch wharfies to have a smoko? SO you don’t lose touch with the real working class. Like visiting farms.

    6. Yes you’ve expressed this pointless nostalgic truism before, relying on demographic selfconsciousness to let you get away with it. Want to open a coal mine in Queen St too?

  3. To save trans-shipping all these car through the Auckland metro rail network build car city complete with rail marshaling yards, local storage and car retail somewhere between Kumeu and Waitakere.

    1. So we free up land use in the city for parks by building on land that should be available for housing?

      I’m not seeing many people proposing we bowl Grey Lynn villas for car storage. Wonder why.

  4. I hadn’t pickup that the proposed “waterfront” hotel wouldn’t be able to see the harbour. It’s just further proof that the whole proposal is to try and pretend that they are going to do something to improve the downtown wharfs when they really aren’t.
    I believe that Ports of Auckland should take a large holding in each of North Port and Ports of Tauranga and then over several years move most of their operations to each of these ports using rail to transport freight to South Auckland and a new facility in West Auckland.
    The present Auckland wharfs could then be made over to cruise ships and smaller domestic freighters and of course ferry services.

    1. I see the plan as marketing of non-intent.

      They know that nobody would stay in a waterfront hotel without a view of the water. I strongly doubt they have any intention of building it, however if it gets the car park over the line with the RMA folks – Job done.

      Once consented, publish some fluff about the hotel not being viable “in the current economic climate” and forget about it. No hotel also means no green and grassy park, which also means more car parks. Bonus! 😉

      I agree that the port should invest in other port companies, then divest services to them over time. That way we still have the silverware and get the dividends that brings.

  5. Key points include:
    -A specialised Roll on Roll off wharf looks like a straight forward addition to Northport, no new straddle cranes or much new wharf space required; straight to processing and marshalling yard behind the port.
    -Car carriers are specialised vessels, so it wouldn’t be a question of adding a port visit to a ships scheldule but rather substituting a visit to AKL with one to Northport. Efficient.
    -This would be a strategic decision exactly like the one we made years ago to import all liquid fuels through Northport, so how ever the cost shakes down it would be the same for all importers of vehicles.
    -Both with an inland port in the NW, and running the car carriers from Northland to pass through AKL network in evening off peak or overnight to a south AKL dedicated yard there would be no need for additional (and extremely expensive) work on the AKL Network. 2-3 trains a night at current record vehicle volumes.
    – PoAL could still be managing this trade with NorthPort, in a strategic rationalisation of the ownership of Northport to compensate for the loss of this business (PoT sells its share to PoAL, for example). PoAL is a business, there is no reason why it’s operations have to be limited to AKL city sites.
    -with the North AKL Line restored and the link to the port, then other rail freight will become viable in the north, and Tourist services all the way to Opua Wharf in the beautiful Bay of Islands can commence too. Real regional development.

    1. Oh and of course, as Matt says, the cars are the wharf hungry trade in AKL right now, and nor does Tauranga have spare space for them. Additionally they generate huge numbers of car carrying truck movements through the city everyday. Getting them off the wharves west of Ferguson means we can start to deindustrialise the harbour from the city centre moving east, adding new uses, retaining berths on the finger wharves for cruise ships.

      And taking enormous pressure off downtown streets and the urban m’way system by substantially reducing numbers of huge trucks.

      In terms of cost; this systematic reduction of the downtown port location trade removes the hugely expensive and problematic plans for tunneled, trenched, or elevated motorway extensions between Grafton and the port for ever more trucks. And other m’way congestion reduction schemes.

      As PoAL show with their misguided building plans, leaving the port there is nowhere near cost neutral.

      1. Good points. Do you know how many car-carrier truck movements there are on an average day? I know that some days around 08:00 there can be four of them waiting to get onto the motorway @ The Strand (via Beach Rd) in the brief time that I’m there. Makes me wonder how many there’d be in total each day…

      2. “we can start to deindustrialise the harbour from the city centre moving east, adding new uses, retaining berths on the finger wharves for cruise ships”

        And what’s the socio-cultural effect of this? De-industrialisation – let’s call it what it is, “gentrification” alienates the working class from the area. Cruise ships are by and large full of the internationally rich; the net effect is a massive shift in the use of a public resource for those who already have significant privilege.

        And don’t give me any crap about “Paris” or “Berlin”, both these cities are pale shadows of their historical glory. 1870 was the last year Paris was worth anything and there weren’t any fake beaches on the Seine then.

      3. JDELH – what is your point? Cities have been gentrifying for ever and ports are becoming less and less labour intensive. There will hardly be anyone working on the wharves in 30 years for us to watch eat their smoko.

    2. Good points. What’s not to love about moving the car import trade to Northport, from everyone’s perspective, except PoAL? I think structuring it so that PoAL would have an ongoing financial interest and role could appease/convert the likely only significant objector initially and promote more efficient operations going forwards.

  6. Would $100 per car cover it the costs ?

    200k cars are imported to NZ each year $20m a year isn’t going to cover the costs of an upgraded line and additional hardware.

    1. No, the upgrade of the line is funded as regional development. The upgraded asset is of inter generational value. The costs that fall to the trade are the operational ones; the freight service including maintenance. These will be relatively minor and spread across all users of the lines, but do need calculating.

      1. @Jonty You don’t just build a railway line and leave it. It has ongoing maintenance and operational costs. Plus there is the cost of capital in upgrading the thing in the first place.

        There’s clearly a argument for moving the car import business, but the costs need to be considered properly

        1. To be fair, there’s already maintenance on the line (obviously ignoring the extension). The real question is how much of an increase in maintenance is required.

          Whilst I initially thought Patrick low-balled the cost of transporting the cars, after looking at your volume I’m warming to his numbers. All we need to look at is the cost of providing that one single aspect of a service, as other services (not car transporting) will also use the line and contribute to its running too. Assuming that you’re not crazy enough to transport a partially filled car carrier, $100/car sounds about right to me as a layman.

        2. Alan we don’t build transport infrastructure in this country on a financial return basis but an economic and public good one. No road returns a financial profit. Rail needs to be understood in the same way. Kiwi Rail is a logistics business, the rail asset is a public one they use, with economic and social costs and benefits. Yes this proposed use of the line will need to be priced to cover operating costs and contribute to maintenance, but not to cover the capital investment of the upgrade.
          Think of it as a road.

    2. $20m a year funds about $330m of capital development depreciated. THat buys a lot of car carrier wagons. But you are only focussing on costs, not savings or new revenue.

      Don’t forget there are existing costs of transhipping those cars to south Auckland for processing, half a dozen at a time on the back of a truck. Those costs are significant, and would no longer be part of the equation.

      And of course there is the value of the port land freed up. For example, the area used to store cars awaiting transshipment by truck currently would be worth a figure in the billions.

  7. Absolutely. The more port that can be moved north, the better. Better for the north, and better for the Auckland Waterfront. We deserve a Waterfront Entertainment district, from the Harbour Bridge through to Judges Bay. Like The Melbourne Docklands, like Amsterdam, like the Sydney Rocks, like Lisbon, like Venice and so many other great cities. Incorporating a big stadium, hotels, restaurants, an amusement park; the potential is only restricted by the imagination. Transformational. With an America’s Cup carrot, let’s move this donkey. Move that damn driverless car park out of our prime land. The entire country needs to be connected by rail anyway, so why not push it along?

  8. DONE:
    OK basic idea for a plan for them and us?

    Please comment or even adjust.

    1.) The idea is the Judges Bay Beach is extended all the way with a beach to the Wharf making a beautiful real inner city beach. The Road (Tamaki Drive) and the Rail is redirected through a tunnel through Parnel hill to come out where shown basically at Vector arena area.

    2.) A new area for car parking / train loading in new reclaimed land in Hobson Bay shown in yellow.

    3.) A new 2 story car park near the East of wharf, current office location- shown in yellow with a 30 story hotel office ON TOP of the car park (which it should be not behind :-/) shown in orange circle.

    4.) A new storage facility under Parnell Hill (Shown in Purple)

    5.) An extension east of wharf shown in grey to allow two more larger ships to doc.

    6.) Removal of one wharf to allow cruise ships with prob another Hotel next to it.

    Idea.. I am amazed there is not more creative ideas for this area…

  9. Oh YEAH also number 8. ) brilliant idea to link to North shore a Heavy rail under to Devonport and then up North… showing in blue..

  10. The opportunity to create a new port is a massive one and we really only get one shot at it. If we do move the port, which is almost certain, then we have to think about the best options overall. Winston is obsessed with regional development in Northland which seems more of hamstringing Auckland. I don’t think we need to get sucked into that but rather we should focus on what’s best for Auckland. That might include moving part of the port to Northland or it might not.A few years ago when the future of the port was investigated a port east of Auckland was the preferred option or at least the one that was the most promising.
    Also, the new port will have to account for the latest technology which will include fully automated ships, cranes, trucks, and trains. This may mean that the port may not have to be as large as it currently is to cop with future demand.

  11. I think that we can safely ignore the hotel aspect and focus on the real intent of their new plan – Digging in.

    The hotel will never happen, it’s just an amenity to get consent to build the car park. They’ll start the car park first, as it’s operationally important. Once the car park construction is advanced, they’ll claim that the hotel isn’t viable “in the current economic climate” and try to get a planning permission to extend the car park into the parcel of land that was to be the hotel. Regardless of them being granted permission or not, the park on top will never happen.

    Once construction on the car park has started, central and local govt will try to respond to public outcry but it’ll be too little too late – Or so the port hopes. Forget about the cost of reclamation and warf construction/demolition, the real fight will be around the cost of demolition of the new (and presumably expensive) buildings. Concessions will be fought for and the port will still be there in some form in 40 years time.

    In short, if we want to claim the waterfront for the people of Auckland (and NZ), we need to stop them putting a spade in the ground for a car park building.

      1. But, but, they’re on record as saying: “We are listening. That’s the new us. We are serious about the way we behave and the way we change” (in the same Herald article that’s headed: “No more cars on Auckland’s downtown wharves”. Surely no one could say that this is just some PR wash to build a giant carpark on Central Auckland’s waterfront, to store more cars and make it harder than ever to reclaim the wharf for the public (or at least some better use)…because then they’ve built a big building between the city and the port? That would be more of the same behaviour from PoAL and wouldn’t be tolerated. But the Herald has lapped it up, because they’ll be different this time, won’t they?

        1. True, they _did_ say they were listening. However they never said that they’d actually act upon what they heard. 🙂

          It’s nice to see more cynics here.

  12. Is there room to move the whole port to Northland? Last time I visited Marsden Point (briefly), there were a couple of log berths, the refinery close southeast and a marina/residential area close northwest. Is there room for a multipurpose port with ancillary service there, or is there another location nearby which wouldn’t need a whole lot of dredging??

    While the rail idea sounds great, I’m guessing that a large proportion of freight will still travel by road and will eventually have to pass through Auckland city to get to the industries in South Auckland.

      1. The Gains are 10 fold:

        1.) We get a cruise ship terminal on current car parking wharf
        2.) We get an actual beach in the city ( Did you look at it)
        3.) Port gets to stay saving billions for next 30 years
        4.) Hotel looks to be next to beach next to CBD lovely place for 1 or more hotels
        5.) Car park for cars is below view shafts below Parnell hill skyline and only few stories high and round looks nice
        6.) Rail under Parnel hill is short tunnel allows more trains and quicker bike to city
        7.) Storage under Parnel hill keep out of site allows port to expand operation
        8.) New train loading area in Hobson Bay ( Yellow)
        9.) A new Extension of marsden wharf east to allow two more large ships to dock ( IN Grey)
        10.) Expand the park around Judges bay (Show in Green)

        please dont make lazy comments like this. Internet if full of things like that

        Cheers happy for real debate.

  13. Do you see the height of the car train. I don’t know if we could stack cars two high on our railway we used too but cars are getting taller. Maybe there could be special wagons designed (Well wagons) which would give more height. Another consideration is these trains will be very light lets assume we can get 6 or 8 cars per wagon so at say 1.5 tonnes each thats only 9 or 12 tonnes. per wagon. There wouldn’t be a need for two bogies per wagon so adjacent wagons could share bogies just like the carriages on the TGV. And so if there were 35 wagons the whole train is only carrying 3 or 4 hundred tonnes. A load that would be easily handled by a single DC locomotives.Another consideration is the Car Carriers (Ships) are used to transport cars and also heavy machinery around the country. I quite often see it parked up by Captain Cook wharf waiting for the next ship.I would imagine this traffic would need to go by road to and from Northport And there are a lot of trucks coming in as well. I expect that importers will just find it too difficult to put these on the rail as well. Or though it probably could be done if it was compulsory. But they would be dropping there lip over that.

    1. I think that coastal shipping would be better than rail. I also wondered about the height of that car carrier, however KR used to have low load type wagons where there was a depressed part of the wagon. The depressed part was down to roughly the level of the hubs on the bogies and 2xTEU long. Not as efficient as the sample image, but if you’re in a bind… That’s assuming that KiwiRail’s standardisation program hasn’t scrapped the wagons.

        1. Well you could use motorized barges and take them up the Tamaki river to Port Otahuhu situated at Seaside park. It would be a tidal port and would need a bit of dredging unless a lock was built at the Penrose bridge and the whole river was permantly flooded to high tide level. Sort of joking here but it could be done. Its the sort of thing they do overseas witness the barges up the Rhine.

        2. There used to be plans to build a canal from the Tamaki river, travelling parallel to Luke St, and across to the Manukau harbour.
          A second canal was also proposed from the Manukau to the Waikato River.
          The idea was for barges to travel from Auckland to Onehunga and on down to Hamilton.
          Donn’t if the old canal designation is still there or not, seem to remember that it was cancelled a few years back.

        3. If the dutch had colonised the country and they had being able to do a deal with Iwi we would probably have the canels linking the Kaipara Waitamata Manukau and the Waikato river and barges running right up to Lake Taupo.

      1. Of course they have scrapped the wagons. How else do you think they can say “No” to every new traffic that is offered them.

    1. I wouldn’t think anyone knows yet. And what about the tunnel at Swanson remove that and we can run EMU’s to Helensville. I wonder how long the up grade of the NAL and the new line to Northport will take. If the crews who are finishing off the Kaikoura rebuild could be shifted after Christmas maybe it could be all done in a couple of years.

  14. Are there any numbers available regarding where the cars go after being processed on the wharves in Auckland? The question being, why do these vehicles have to be unloaded in Auckland rather than any other port in New Zealand?

    Unless hundreds of thousands of cars are needed every year in Auckland alone then why not simply ship them directly to the regions where they will be sold?

    1. Gary I added the numbers in a comment below. They arrive in AKL because we have currently no ports strategy. The strategy since the neoliberal reforms has been to not have one. This means instead we have the ‘3 kittens in a sack’ model for determining what trade goes where.

      The theory is that not making any decision means we gain the efficiency of the free market, but as port and transport infrastructure is all publicly funded in practice there are no efficiencies at all from this, instead we have the scheming and lobbying of public servants like PoAL to retain the benefit of unconscious strategy and subsidy from funding things like motorway, which suit their position, but not railways, which would suit other locations.

      Actually this ‘free market’ entirely follows public infrastructure investment decisions. There really is no way to avoid making strategic decisions around ports in a island nation, no matter how much our governments try to fool themselves and the public that they aren’t making them….!

    2. We get cars imported into Wellington as well, and then they are put on a truck and taken out, north, for storage up the coast. Not much car storage in Wellington. As far as I know, they don’t offload cars in Taranaki or Napier.

        1. OK – let me rephrase that – in Napier, there is very little cars imported into that port, and if/when they do, they are not stored on site but promptly moved out. Similar story in Wellington – they import quite a few cars there, but ship them out quite quickly to places north.

          Auckland obviously has the biggest appetite for cars, but it also likes to store them on site – and that’s the big problem. It would be a shocking shame for Auckland if that monster car park building for cars in PoAL’s video was actually built there.

          Of course, they could always apply for Resource Consent to put the car parking in a building Underground….

        2. The issue with Auckland is the unload pretty much a whole ship load in one go, and often two or three ships in the same 48 hour period, but there isn’t the capacity in the road transport system to immediately clear it all.

          That’s why the storage is needed, 1000 cars needs 120 to 130 full transporters truck movements to clear at about eight cars per truck. That can take days with dozens of transporters working back and forth.

          FYI you can’t build underground parking on a wharf, and it’s hugely expensive to do so on reclamation.

  15. Shifting the Ports of Auckland to NorthPort is the only realistic sensible practical option compared to the alternative options. It is common sense and needs to happen.

    With new Minister of Infrastructure Shane Jones recently announcing $800m to upgrade the North Auckland Line and to build the long planned branch line to NorthPort at Marsden Point, railing port traffic between Whangarei and Auckland will be possible. With $800m of funding allocated, this will likely include building the already surveyed Makarau deviation (surveyed in 1979) and widening or daylighting the Waitakere Tunnel, along with installing signalling between Waitakere and Whangarei, significantly upgrading the track and possibly increasing the line speed, building more crossing loops and possibly extending the double tracking and electrification to Kumeu to enable Western Line EMU services to be extended to the major growth area around Kumeu.

    Regarding solutions to the issue of accommodating freight trains on the Western Line, there is still capacity on this line, but ideally the long proposed and designated Avondale-Southdown line would need to be built to avoid the more congested section of line between Newmarket and Penrose.

    Another solution would be to build a new inland port in the Kumeu area, similar to that at Wiri, meaning not as many freight trains would need to continue onwards into the Auckland urban area from Whangarei.

    1. It does sound like a good idea. But I wonder, if it is common sense, shouldn’t the port do it on their own accord? If the value of the land is greater than the value of storing cars, shouldn’t the port decide to get out of the car business (or buy shares in Northport and move that business there)?

      1. I can’t see the PoAL deciding to shift by themselves, especially when the cost of creating more land by reclamation is ralatively cheap.
        Auckland Council needs to direct them to divest their investment in the Auckland area and to directly invest in NorthPort and PoT.
        Having a working port in the heart of a city, while romantic, is never going to work especially as the city expands and squeezes industry to it’s outer areas.
        We need to look to the future and stop looking backwards and accept that industry is going to be better served with inland ports to the north and south of the city where the industry is moving to.

        1. But PoAL is 50% owned by AC, not by NZ Gov, right? So – its an AKL decision. After all, you wouldn’t want those pollies in Wellington to be telling you what to do, would you?

        2. Robert, you’re absolutely right – ARC sold their share, and so now its all AC owned. So, i would have thought, totally out of control by central Gov, and totally in control of Auckland Council.

        1. In my view that neither fits nor suits. But Northport certainly has a role to play:
          -in regional development
          -for resilience (earthquake or other disaster could take out both AKL and TAU, for example)
          -and for serving specialist vessel trade such as it does now, with liquid fuels.

      1. Jimbo,

        Just remember ports are a 100 year type investment thing.

        Importing oil and fossil fuels, which is currently Northports raison d’être will mostly go away in the next 30-40 years [i.e. by 2050 or earlier].

        So either Northport has no future, or we [as a country] decide to give it one beyond its current one dimensional purpose.

        Moving vehicle imports there is a win/win for Auckland and Northport. If we put the infrastructure around that to make it so.

        If POAL was smart[er] they’d buy Northport [or as much of it as they can get given POT owns a chunk of it now], then offer ship owners like Maersk a two-for-one berthage deal [e.g. call at both ports, pay one lot of berth and handling fees] which helps encourages efficient (for NZ) use of both POAL and Northport for the benefit or importers and exporters.

        Neither port will go away on their own, we either let them fight it out until one or both die.

        Or we decide how and when and where our ports will be located and used, and plan to make that future happen for once, instead of letting the market dictate our decisions. While we play forever catchup.

    1. Yeah, naaa. If you have a car yard in Auckland (dunno where – Great South Road? Newmarket? Barry’s Point?) and a car yard in Marsden Point (140km away….) then guess where your average car-seeking Auckland will be going?

      People will NOT be going to pick their cars up in Whangerai. Believe it or not, Mfwic actually has the best answer – let the cars drive themselves.

        1. They should just be making all driverless cars as amphibious. Then they can autonomously leave the factory in Japan and just come ashore in whatever coastal NZ town the owner lives in. No need for huge ships, rail or truck transporting.

        2. Maybe they could harvest plastic as they come and burn it as fuel? Oh no, that’s right. They’re electric.

    2. That is what the major German car companies do , and they could add a free train trip to Marsden Point on the price of the Car so that they then can see what PT feels like

  16. The port will move as soon as they pay market rent for the land, or sell the land and use the money to relocate somewhere cheaper.

    The problem is the port don’t pay any land cost.

  17. You guys have gotta have a better angle than “we hate cars”. Just saying “we don’t want our wharf full of them so push them out of sight, out of mind” is so puerile.

  18. Whichever option avoids dredging gets my approval. Dredging can be destructive to the environment.

    Either have a decent railway from Hamilton-Auckland-Whangarei or dig it up. The current line is a joke. And when they decide don’t do it based on cars only – think of commuters, logs, containers, tourists too. Build it and they will come.

    1. Yes the North AKL line either needs serious investment or be abandoned; there is no midpoint now, it’s in a close to useless state. Happily it has serious funds allocated to it in the coalition agreement.

      1. Considering that KiwiRail has basically done this already and has fixed a similar length of track [from Oaro – south of Kaikoura all the way to Ward near Blenheim] in just under a year since the Kaikoura earthquake.

        And in most difficult circumstances [e.g. repairing/reconstructing the road beside it as well/at the same time].

        So I think that the Auckland to Whangarei line can be brought up to modern standard pretty quickly.
        Including sorting out the tunnels that need fixing along the way, and doing it all within a couple of years. If the resources are put to doing so.

        And also while adding more passing loops to suit the likely demands.

        If this Government is smart they will ensure the KiwiRail repair crews and associated resources are moved on to this job as soon as Kaikoura line repair work is completed.

        And if they have to stop a few trains using the Auckland/Whangarei track to do so, that will be a small price to pay for the decades worth of benefits it will bring.

        And they need to make sure they do a proper job when they do it, as this line will become very popular again I am sure for freight operations and longer term, tourist trains. It is likely that container traffic between Northland and POAL via train would increase markedly if the track was improved so the transit times were reduced to a more competitive comparison with road transport.

        All I’d ask [as a taxpayer] is that when they are upgrading the line, they ensure that they plan for eventual electrification of the line at the same time [i.e. make sure the tunnels and bridges have sufficient clearance for the overhead wires electrification would need].

        So even if we don’t install that now, we don’t preclude it being easily do-able in the future.

  19. Last year a record near 300k vehicles were imported at Akl by PoAL.
    if evenly spread through the years: 822 vehicles a day
    at say 8 vehicles per transporter that is
    103 trucks leaving the port daily, or
    206 port generated vehicle transporter trips through the city and m’way daily…

    Or 3 trains running overnight through AKL to the distribution centres in south AKL.

    1. Lets say, we can get 8 vehicles per specialist carrying wagon on our railway, so thats 284 “wagon loads” of vehicles a day. And assume we put 60 wagons per train, at an average of 2.5 tonnes a vehicle, thats 20 tonnes of “weight” per wagon. Not going to exceed KR’s low axle weight limits.

      [KR regularly does 50+ 40 foot container wagons now, each up to 30+ tonnes per container so a 60 wagon vehicle carrier train is no stretch].

      So we get 5-6 train loads per day each way.
      [each full train needs another empty train going north to keep suffcient wagons in Northport].

      Thats easily do-able overnight. So empties arrive overnight, 6 trains are loaded at Northport in the day, and head south overnight to pass through when the Auckland tracks are free.

      Cars come off the train the next day, in South Auckland or wherever they go now.
      Empty trains go back north overnight.

      Way fewer transport trucks in Auckland.

      Whats not to like.

      And it has room to grow. At peak times, I am sure we can double that frequency to clear any backlogs of vehicles out of Northland.

      1. I’m not sure about a reduction in trucks on the road in Auckland. They currently disperse pretty much as soon as they leave the wharf, often going directly to the dealer or a testing station (or sometimes a paint and panel shop!).

        1. From the last time this came up, I recall the figures quoted then showed it is mostly South Auckland, thats where the processing centres are and thats where POAL’s own analysis showed they mainly go.

  20. “if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain”

    Simply, make all Car Sales yards move to Whangerei. You want a car? Then head to Whangerei. This free’s up valuable land on Great North Road for more 6 level apartments.

      1. Yeah, central to this idea is to take traffic off the roads, not add more. This is a rail/port plan. Not a highway/port one. Anyway, they’d all be stuck on the bridge; why would you do that?

        And car yards locate with the market, not the source. So not an option.

        1. Around 300,000 vehicles are imported into Auckland a year. In addition to this a number of vehicles are traded within Auckland each year. People also test drive cars they don’t end up buying, there are going to be a shitload of trips to Whangarei and back to shop for cars each weekend. Even just dividing 300,000 by the number of weekends a year gives nearly 6000 trips each weekend.

          Also if old cars are traded in Whangarei they will either need to be transported back to wreckers in Auckland or even more absurdly people would have to trek to Whangarei every time they wanted parts for their car.

          I’d say location is reasonably important.

  21. I would like to see part of the upgrade to the North railway line as a diversion directly from Kaiwaka to Oakleigh. This would follow one of the proposed road realignments around the Brynderwyn Hill to the west along flat land. How ingenious to build a combined rail and roadway at the same time and save costs! It would shorten a winding and flood prone line through nowhere by about 30km.

  22. OK – what about some real discussion on Port of Auckland’s future – let’s put the current port to one side for a moment, and imagine that land and those wharves without any ships or containers or shiny new cars. What would the best use of the land be for Auckland? If you’re annoyed by not being able to see out over it at present, then wouldn’t it be worse if it was covered in housing? Or apartments i.e. medium density? Or high rise e.g. Canary Wharf? or should it just be a park, all green and rolling tussock?

    What would you suggest for Auckland’s former Port?

    1. It it were built with housing or buildings or pretty much anything you’d be able to go there, be there and enjoy the view. The problem isn’t containers or cranes, its the electric fence blocking off the waterfront.

    2. A plan doesn’t have to be a straight jacket. A few basics and then the mix of high and medium housing with lots of variations to fit whatever the requirements are in future. It is likely to remain a berth for cruise liners so adjustments for that.

  23. Hi guys. Here’s another angle. Railways used to carry cars by rail, on DD wagons. So plainly no probs with clearances in the loading gauge, ie tunnels, curved structures. This trade was lost because specks from the brake blocks, as they wore off, blew rearwards and on to the car bodywork, burning in. Distributors ran out of patience.
    So whats new with the picture up above ? well I’d bet my left one that those wagons have disc brakes, same as the Auckland electrics.
    Point being, do it right and yes they can distribute cars by rail ex Marsden Point, without pissing off the dealers.

      1. Glass wagons for cars, are you kidding?

        I’ve seen cars being transported by train in Europe and they are just on open wagons. Why would a glass cage be necessary over here?

        1. Where did I say anything about glass?
          Google “NZ GT class rail wagon”.
          Fully enclosed meant cars arrived in better condition (and better than by truck where there can chip damage, etc). Also protection from vandals …

  24. There are big parking areas for new cars being constructed at Wiri at present so maybe they will take some of the pressure of vehicle parking off the wharves. By the way, did you know that Hyundais are made in the Czech Republic as well as Korea?
    If the north line is upgraded to take 9ft 6in high containers, (there are only two tunnels involved, Waitakere and Makarau), there there is no reason why the cars can’t come down from Northport in enclosed containers mounted on container flats.

  25. The other interesting aspect about increasing freight shifting through the city is that I think Auckland Transport has it’s eyes on the Avondale-Southdown corridor to run it’s trams. I understand the corridor north of the Dominion Road junction is where the stabling/workshops are going to be and from Dom Road to Onehunga is where that section of the city to airport route will run.

    Not sure the corridor has enough space for double tracked HR lines as well as double tracked LRT lines?

      1. I doubt it, for a freight line of that length you’d need to be running something like four or five trains an hour to need double tracking.

        1. Do you know if there’s enough space for triple track along the ~2km where the routes coincide? Or would the corridor need to be widened on that section (Dominion Rd -Hillsborough Rd)

      2. It would be cheaper to double track the line now than later as all the ballast and lines can be installed without any disruption if they did it later

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