Recently I wrote about rethinking how we build light rail across the Manukau Harbour Crossing. While writing it, I also thought about how people have spent a lot of time talking about Onehunga, Dominion Rd, Queen St and the especially the Airport, but hardly any time actually considering how this line benefits the people of Mangere and the broader Southwest part of Auckland.

After all, people travelling between the city and the Airport will be a fairly small minority of overall users of this line – it’s about much more than just getting people to the Koru Lounge as quick as possible.

As a quick recap, my previous post highlighted how a slightly different alignment for light-rail on the Onehunga side, tying Light Rail into the replacement for the Old Mangere Bridge, would mean:

  • One less structure needed over Manukau meaning less cost and environmental effects;
  • Ability for Light Rail to serve Onehunga Wharf, increasing feasible transit orientated development planned by Panuku;
  • Redesign allows for even better cycling/walking components;

However, many people asked about what this would mean for the south side of the crossing. Importantly these benefits are also potentially quite substantial.

A realigned crossing integrated with the replacement of the Old Mangere Bridge would result in the Light Rail being able to directly serve Mangere Bridge Town Centre. That would provide a much larger and therefore more useful catchment rather than being next to the motorway and water, like currently proposed.

Blue – Current expected  alignment and Station, Red – Alternative Alignment

The benefits don’t end there as it also gives us options to serve employment/people between Mangere Bridge and Mangere.

Route Options

The map below shows a bunch of possible route options between Mangere Bridge and Mangere Town Centre:

Yellow = Potential Hastie Ave Station
Orange Alignment

After serving the town centre the Light Rail would turn down Miro Rd connecting back to the motorway alignment continuing on as proposed. However, I would propose investigating a station by Hastie Ave which could serve the catchment just south of Mangere Bridge Town Centre as well as the industrial areas on the eastern side of SH20. The delay would be minor but increase the usefulness of the line filling in the catchment gap between Mangere Bridge and Favona Station at Walmsley Rd, at the end of the day this is about creating a Southwest Rapid Transit solution.

Red Alignment

This is similar to above, but by using Rimu Rd the Light Rail serves the Town Centre with easy access but does not pass through the main strip, allowing more space for placemaking, pedestrian/cycling improvements or parking in the central town centre strip.

Purple Alignment

This option proposes a very different alignment to the currently proposed alignments. Instead of heading back towards SH20, it follows Coronation Rd, Bader Dr to Mangere Town Centre before resuming the alignment towards the Airport as planned. This option would serve much more people and potentially drive more substantial land-use change (because it’s located away from the motorway corridor). However, this would come at the expense of Favona and it may be quite expensive. Many sections of the route would realistically have to be widened.

I personally am quite partial to the red alignment, but completely open to other suggestions.

I think the main thing is recognising that this line is about more than just the Airport. The Airport is an anchor station but only one part of the puzzle we are solving here; we can’t get bogged down obsessing about one station, especially when only around 10% of the demand is estimated for the Airport. Light rail has the potential to be a gamechanger for the Southwest. A rethink of the alignment between Onehunga, Mangere Bridge, and Mangere could make this even better for people.

We also need to have wider discussions about how this line can serve the southwest. It can’t just be about the Airport – this has to be about connecting these communities as well because if anything the latter is much more important.

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  1. Looking at this idea/concept raises the question, at least in my mind, of why don’t we look at the purple alignment and then run a branch line up Mahunga Dr and on through to the Otahuhu Rail Station/interchange.

  2. Having LR in Mangere Bridge Town Centre sounds like a really good idea. I’m just a bit unsure about the width of the roads in the area (Coronation Rd, Miro Rd, Rimu Rd). It’d be critical to ensure that LR has a priority through there. Looking at international examples LR requires at least 8-8.5m for a separate corridor, existing corridors (fence to fence) are 17-23m wide. I think it would be hard to put LR on them in without some land acquisitions. I guess Coronation St could be closed off to cars in the town centre leaving Swanson Rd carpark, so it’s all doable.
    One other thing to to take into consideration is time. Along the original route LR could be running at max speed, through the town centre and along the pedestrian bridge it would have to be 50km/h tops. My rough calculations indicate that the route via Miro St about 500m longer then original alignment, all up this would probably add around 2 minutes (perhaps more if any of the intersections had to be signalised).

  3. This reminds me a little of the suggestions the CRL / city rail link alignment should have been changed to detour through the Wynyard Quarter. Yes it would have been excellent for anyone who works or lives in the new area served (Wynyard Quarter), but would make journeys slower for everybody else. Especially as, in the case of this post, it looks as though it replaces a grade separated possible 100 km/h section with an on road likely 50 km/h plus interaections section.

    1. Agreed. Realigning the light rail line to run up Coronation Road through Mangere Town Centre as proposed will make the proposed light rail service much slower than a heavy rail line to the Airport running from Britomart with a new third main between Parnell and Westfield and double tracking from Penrose to Onehunga, alongside the motorway to the Airport and onwards to Puhinui and Manukau.

      The heavy rail option to the Airport is the much more sensible option as it could carry more people, more quickly and has the potential to be used to move freight as well, particularly if a railfreight hub were to be established in the Airport Oaks area.

      1. I don’t want to start the heavy vs light debate again, but I think it is unlikely to carry more people (it won’t be able to have the same frequency as light rail), unlikely to be much quicker (travel time may be a bit less but wait time a bit longer), and unlikely to be used for much freight.
        Light rail also has the advantage of a potential extension to the nth shore, I can’t see heavy rail ever being feasible to the shore.

      2. Robin – You kind of completely ignored what the post was about didnt you?
        It’s not all about the trip time to the airport!

        1. Wanna bet … If it’s any longer than 25 mins into town forget it…might as well keep the bus service …which is what many will choose … Current proposal for light rail shows a 48 min trip from airport to city …. That’s nuts …who wants to add that to their trip

        2. Then let them choose it Airport demand will only be 10% of the predicted pax anyway so lets just serve Southwest Auckland better.

        3. 10% sounds like a made up figure and quite frankly bollocks! That is unless you intend for airport passengers to take a different route to get to the airport of course.
          Auckland Airport will soon be handling over 20 million non-international transit passengers each year (not including crew and airport workers or workers in the vicinity of the airport or families/friends welcoming/farewelling passengers). If only 25% of passengers took rail to get to the airport then that is 5 million journeys in each direction each year (10 million total – or roughly half what our current HR network carries each year). Even if this LR Line somehow carries 20 million or even 30 million passengers then it would be at the least 33% of LR passengers if not 50%.

        4. Your math might be a bit off there. For a start the 20 million is passenger movements, not passengers. So you shouldn’t double it.

          Secondly you’ve excluded international to international transfers (of which there are few), but haven’t accounted for domestic to international transfers (of which there are many).

          So lets say the near future generates 15 million land transport trips to or from Auckland Airport each year. That’s about 40,000 a day. Even with an ambitious 25% modeshare that becomes 10,000 trips both ways across the day, or 5,000 to or from the airport. Divide that by 24 hours and you are looking at about 200 an hour on average. In reality that would be more like 500 to 1000 at peak times, and 50 to 100 an hour at less busy times.

          While the airport is a big transport demand centre, it’s just not that big. For example the Auckland City Centre generates around 180 million transport movements a year. So logically for every person catching the train to the airport, there will be nine times as many catching it to town.

        5. A large part of the reasoning for the airport lines are not passengers but commuters. In fact if they are taken off the road this frees it for the taxi driven passengers, Skybus, and trucks carrying freight to/from the airport.

        6. Fair enough if you want to say 15 million (although I’m thinking about the medium to long term needs also which would likely double that number within 2 decades). This of course isn’t even counting the workers both at the airport or the surrounding area which is probably about the same amount as passengers (or families and friends farewelling/greeting).

          The LRT system is unlikely to be running 24 hours per day for starters (most likely will run from 5am-1am with buses in between those hours). That means your 200 is more like 240 per hour. AKL does have a peak in the morning and evening but has a fairly steady stream of flights throughout the day so at any one time on the trams there will be a considerable amount of airport passengers on them.
          So 240 per hour (passengers and possibly double that if talking about airport workers etc too) then yes a lot of your LR capacity is going to be made up with Airport users which would easily make it the busiest station bar Queen Street.

          Then you try and say that almost every commuter that works or lives in the city will use a single LR line (when currently they have 3 HR lines and dozens of bus routes). That is just a tad ridiculous…….

          Of course if a connection is built at Puhinui then a lot of people will choose that to save themselves at least 10 minutes over the Dom Road LR line so you might get your wish of saying that the line doesn’t serve many people to the airport.

        7. the new improve special heavy rail transport will do that 24/7 every day and week and u can still charge phone laptops and i pads in the train free WiFi on board till your stops u can’t connect to it from the out side the train if any one leaves trash on the train the train will make them pick it up

  4. I’d say stick with the route that follows the motorway. While it may only be a small increase in travel time it all adds up on a route that already takes quite a long time for the distance it is covering. Looks like it saves 200-300m of walking for anyone west of the town centre so I’m not sure it is worth the impact on the overall journey time.

    There will still be place making benefit to Mangere Bridge as the majority of LR users would still walk past the town centre while walking to/from the station.

    While I can see the logic of the Hastie Ave station, I think a station along the motorway that is attached to Rimy Rd but has walk up access from both sides of Miro Rd would serve this area best.

  5. Looking at the purple line, why not continue running down McKenzie and then Kirkbride, rather than Bader Drive?
    Its more direct and would avoid the expensive bridging required to get through the new Kirkbride interchange

    1. What we have to remember here is that this is NOT the “Airport Line” but the “Southwest Line” and that a significant portion of the patronage is expected to come from Mangere and in particular the Town Centre area. There’s little point advocating for alignments that avoid the key nodes or (like the HR Puhinui proponents) adds just one station to the network (the Airport) at vast expense. The numbers just won’t add up unless there is a really decent catchment.

      1. HR adds one major station (airport) but opens up all Southern and Eastern Auckland bus routes for rail to/from airport. Remember, GA love how the buses all hub in Otahuhu and Panmure stations…and that is what the airport HR services will serve (plus the CBD naturally). All this is 33 minutes or 30 minutes express. The tram is costly, won’t be built for 8 years and does not service Eastern or Southern Auckland.

        If the light numbers of public transport users is a driver for GA to promote building the tram in Southwest Auckland then that is not the best use of our limited transport funds. To promote an even slower route so a tram takes +1 hour to reach the CBD consigns the airport tram plan to Disneyland.

        Fast trains to the airport can be operational within 4 years. But the tram will take years to build after the first line reaches Dominion Road (is that 2023?). Fast trains will provide an optimal alternative between the airport, South, East and CBD (plus Northshore with transfer onto the NEX). The slow trams will take at least 50 minutes, or +1 hour with Harriets suggestions.

        1. 1.
          The Southern Airport route – BRT or maybe straight to LRT – is in GETS at the moment. So a transit route to the airport should be built in the next 4 years.

          The airport have decided against the HRT option.

          Personally I’ve been pushing the Stage 1 as LRT from Onehunga over the New Old Mangere Bridge (Northern Airport) to the airport and then Manukau (Southern Airport).

          I think this would be built faster than the Dominion Road section and certainly could be done within 4 years. This has the benefit of connecting a to the existing HRT network at each end.

          4. Not all passengers go to the CBD. In fact LRT to Manukau with regional buses and trains is also has value for south bound travellers.

  6. The part that is out of place in all of these alignments is the big dog leg across to Dominion Road. Manukau Rd to: Royal Oak, Greenwoods Corner, Epsom, Newmarket and the Hospital makes more sense.

      1. Shorter route so probably cheaper and faster and would serve people who currently don’t use public transport so would could more than just displace some existing bus users. It would also destroy fewer businesses which, given how AT works, they might view that as a disadvantage.

        1. That’s actually almost exactly the same length through to Britomart, but spends more time on street and moving through intersections so it would be much slower. You’re just swapping a dog leg to Mt Roskill (straight run on a grade separated motorway alignment at top speed) for a dog leg through Epsom, Newmarket and Grafton (with six turning movements through congested city intersections).

          Remember that Dominion Road itself is only a 5km straight run between the end of the grade separated route at Mount Roskill to the south, and the start of the Ian McKinnon-Queen Street dedicated LRT section to the north. Your suggesting is 9km along eight different city streets from Onehunga to Queen Street, if I’m understanding it correctly.

          Onehunga Mall, Mt Albert Road, Manukau Road, I suppose they could get the Dominion Road treatment. Then good luck weaving LRT through Broadway, Khyber Pass, Park Road and Grafton Road, K Road or wherever/however you propose to run it into town. Also good luck finding somewhere to run the dozen or so frequent bus routes that already run on the corridor. Do they go back into mixed traffic with the one remaining traffic lane, or do they stack up on the LRT tracks instead?

          I know you are just trolling, but you might want to think again about the level of ‘destroying business’ that a route along Manukau Road, Broadway etc might have.

        2. You just have to remove the bike lanes in Carlton Gore that are hardly used. At least it gives an interchange with heavy rail at Newmarket. Otherwise the first interchange is Aotea. It also puts light rail on a route where there is scope for TOD. As for businesses, Manukau Rd and Broadway are already wide enough except for a short section south of Greenlane Road which is junk shops and residential ripe for knocking over and intensifying.
          The whole argument for Dominion Rd is flawed. It assumes light rail on Dominion Rd to Mt Roskill is a sunk cost but it isn’t.
          The real choice to make is do you want light rail to just replace a few buses or do you want it to trigger land use changes and integrate with a network.

        3. Interchange is at Karangahape, which is most useful as it connects to all the lines of the CRL, including the west and south going straight out. It also connects to the Northwestern corridor.

          Newmarket is a fairly average as it is only good for directly connecting to the southern and onehunga (which is largely parallel with where you just came from), while going west or east requires you to double through town the long way first. And no connection to the Northewest at all.

        4. @mfwic
          Maybe the bike lane isn’t used much at the moment – but considering it is not connected to any other bike lane I don’t think you can insinuate that it is not worthwhile.

        5. To fit light rail into the existing Dominion Rd corridor requires the following assumptions:1/ It is acceptable to block traffic lanes when the light rail stops, 2/ because the stop area is shared with traffic then it is ok to let a traffic queue block light rail, 3/ it is ok to not make any cycle provision, 4/ it is ok to allow pedetrians to cross Dominion Rd across busy traffic lanes and two light rail tracks without any refuge, 5/ if 4 above doesn’t work out then it will be ok to fence the light rail tracks and prevent people crossing the street. Previous plans have all included widening to avoid these issues.
          The big advantage of Manukau Rd is it would serve centres capable of growth and the dog leg section through Newmarket actually goes somewhere people want to travel to.

        6. It is wider through Newmarket and can be made wider elsewhere through taking residential front yards or knocking down old shops that can be rebuilt as TOD. The point is Manukau Rd can be more than it is now. Dominion Rd probably wont be. Manukau Rd would connect centres, Dominion Rd is just a busy corridor. Light rail would have huge potential on Manukau Rd, it will do what buses already do on Dominion except you can’t ride you bike there anymore.

        7. Manukau Road is exactly the same width as Domininon Road, one chain, about 21m. It’s only once it becomes wider once you hit Broadway in Newmarket itself (Dominion becomes wider at the intersection with View Road in comparison)

          So all you’re gripes apply equally to either corridor. Demolishing all the shops and widening into front yards is the same outcome for each corridor, except for the fact that Dominion Road has a widening designation in place already (the front yard bits, but not the shops bits) along most of its length.

          If your idea of a good corridor is an abundance of things to demolish for widening, then Manukau Road is a great idea!

          You get 6km of constrained corridor on the Onehunga Mall-Mt Albert Road-Manukau Road alignment and another 2km on Khyber Pass and Park Road… but only 4.5km of constrained corridor between SH20 and View Road on Domininon Road one.

        8. Yes exactly my point, there will either have to be widening or other significant compromises with either.

          But with Dominion Road it’s only a 4.5km section where that is a problem, unlike your proposal where it is at least 8km to widen, squeeze out traffic or otherwise find the space.

        9. Oh and any alternative that avoids the 1 in 10 grade at the top of Queen St will improve the entire system. The two choices if it goes there are accept slow speeds, limited choice of units, and wheels slipping especially on wet days, or alternatively build an ugly tunnel under Karangahape Rd as per the early 1990’s light rail scheme to lower the grades. But then you have to accept the severance on Queen St and upper Queen St.

        10. Yes a portal under K Road is planned, with underground platforms.

          I’d love to hear how you plan to get across Grafton Gully, there’s more than a 1:10 grade there!

        11. Sorry I understand your point now Nick R. I dont think you need to widen the whole way, you only need to widen at stops. On Dominion Road those are specifically the places where the building lines were dropped to protect existing buildings. Manukau Rd doesn’t have that issue. Broadway is wide enough, Manukau already has a build set back at Epsom north of Greenlane Rd, Greenwoods corner would be improved by some demolition and the other bits are residential front yards.

        12. Well the two obvious choices are Grafton Bridge which is flat then down Symonds and Wakefield or go down Grafton Rd which from memory is 7 to 8% then use the Wellesley St Bridge. Both put light rail to the hospital which is one of the larger employers and a major destination for visitors and outpatients and certainly going to be busier than stopping two storeys below Karangahape Rd.

          But I am not sure why we are debating it. there are only two types of ideas, good ideas and AT’s ideas.

        13. Ye olde Grafton Bridge cannot take the weight (despite the claims of ‘future proofing’) so you would need to structurally rebuild it or build a new parallel bridge. Either of those is practically impossible given the heritage impacts.

          Grafton Road is too steep and the corner at the top too tight, then Wellesley Street bridge is a compound curve that appears to be purpose designed to derail LRVs. There’s a hell of a lot of demolition of buildings and realigning roadways required to make that work.

          Believe it or not they have actually looked at all of these alignment options before selecting Ian McKinnon and Dominion, quite extensively actually.

        14. Dom Rd shouldn’t require widening under the current scheme other than a couple of small points outside of the villages. If the scheme proves to be wildly successful (as has been the case in cities such as Dublin where there was widespread opposition to light rail) then I would think there should be potential to eventually take a leg down via Newmarket or Mt Eden. But I wouldn’t expect that overnight…

        15. I think first stage of LRT should be the Dominion Rd corridor, but I am pretty keen on a Grafton-Newmarket-Manukau Rd line some stage in the future. Thanks for the detailed issues on some of this section Nick R. Be interesting if we were to run a line as well or instead along Remuera Rd instead (let’s get these rich (aging so can’t drive soon?) folk using PT!). I see pretty steep sections either way further south east but could it go all the way to Glen Innes or maybe Ellerslie (Ladies Mile pretty steep?) then onto Panmure via EP highway. Perhaps better Remuera Rd-Abbotts Way-Lunn Ave-EP Highway to Panmure. This last section of EP highway looks wide as.

          If too hard then I guess down Gt Sth Rd an interchange at Penrose & then along the existing Onehunga HR line to Onehunga. Problem is the clash with frequent buses from Botany.

        16. More on what I say above: For the city end LRT could go the historic way right up Khyber Pass Rd and down Symonds St giving the forsaken Newton uplift solves the Grafton Bridge problem & leaves more room to Park Rd for buses & cycling etc.

          I also notice with a quick look at the PAUP that the Remuera Rd, Lunn Ave etc sections have probably more THAB etc zones than the EP highway. This is something overlooked by GA’s CFN2 perhaps (ie a void between GI and Newmarket)? So apart from some sections there is quite a bit of route where high frequency buses won’t share the same sections with a LRT route I’m proposing above.

  7. Looking at the routes Harriet suggested I prefer the red one as well. At least it would trigger upzoning in the area as well as expand catchment.

    Remember the Northern and Southern Airport Lines serve two different purposes. The Northern Airport Line is designed to maximise catchment along its entire route. The Southern Airport Line is your line designed for speed to the Airport from Britomart (around 45 minutes, even less if Regional Rapid Rail is operational).

    1. The southern airport line being bus to Puhinui then transfer? I know I would always take a 1 seat option over a transfer option unless there were significant time savings (unlikely), especially if I have bags.

        1. it wont be good rid on light rail then a new improve heavy rail and im not rich and i use the pt system but i have seen where electric trains dont run and the heavy rail the old sa with loco has to run its service that was in wellington and also Auckland ha see what happens when u don”t have that

  8. How about going through Mangere Bridge then turning and following the motorway as far as the Coronation Rd. onramp turning to Coronation Rd.
    Then as per the purple route to Mangare Town Centre.
    Hastie Ave. station would also be possible with this alignment as would the easier and faster portion of motorway alignment.

  9. All good points, but shows I think how Heavy Rail should be a priority to the airport and light rail is just short term thinking with no vision.
    More people and more town centre stops make sense for light rail, but will cause more crowding and delays for those trying to use the rail system to get to the City and around Auckland after / before flight.

    1. To say that light rail lacks vision is plainly ridiculous, when it is planned to eventually service not only the Dominion Road corridor and connect Wynyard Quarter with the rest of the CBD, but also the North Shore and Westgate and who knows where else after that.
      Light rail is passenger-oriented and can be built within existing road corridors, meaning consenting is easier and construction costs are less.
      I am all for upgrading existing heavy rail lines to improve the passenger services on them as well as freight efficiency, but without freight benefits it would be difficult to justify additional heavy rail lines from a benefit vs cost perspective. Although it would still be better than building a new road.

      1. Light rail is certainly a vision, and is a brilliant vision in a heavy urban environment like up Dominion Road – but it is better for me to say is a poor vision for quick, easy and uncrowded when lagging heavy bags when travelling to a major international airport to the majority of the spines of Auckland (North, South, West, East & City Centre).

        1. “but it is better for me to say is a poor vision for quick, easy and uncrowded when lagging heavy bags when travelling to a major international airport to the majority of the spines of Auckland”

          If we did build a heavy rail connection to the airport and it was uncrowded – then it would be a failure would it not?

          I’ve used the skytrain in vancouver to get all over the show over there, including the airport to downtown and back with a snowboard bag and a suitcase with me. That’s a busy metro system that has suburban stops (sure its almost a blend of both light and heavy rail) with lots of people using it, and I managed just fine with my luggage. That’s not to say everyone will, but it still provided me with a cheaper option than an expensive taxi. Yes the taxi would have quicker (much like if LR gets built to the airport here) – But the fact that the skytrain offered a CHOICE. Auckland doesn’t have that.

        2. I’m interested to see why people think that our EMUs are particularly good for luggage, and why LRT vehicles must necessarily be poor for them?

          Are we assuming that the EMUs would all be retrofitted with luggage racks and no stairs and the door… while it would be illegal to buy any LRVs with luggage facilities?!

          Also not sure why a brand new separate light rail line would be crowded, but a heavy rail line that has to mix in with the southern line and compete for space in the CRL wouldn’t be? Seems back to front to me.

        3. HR advocates seem only focused on the airport, LRT on the greater catchment possible.

          Its in the post – CBD-airport travellers will be the minority on this service, it shouldnt be designed primarily with them in mind.

        4. People will bring their luggage on whether it is designed for it or not. Designing for luggage benefits all users as they will not be trying to get around inconveniently placed suitcases.

        5. My view’s come from having used light rail in Istanbul getting to the airport and it was one of the worse public transport experience’s in my life. In a group of 3 adults (including my mother who’s was 65 and there first time overseas), a baby and a 5 year old and we ended up in two carriages because it was so crowded, luggage in everyone’s way and the baby in the pram really unhappy and scared – not a great star to a month long holiday.
          Peak time down a main street with lots of regular stops in light rail was confusing and simply was not good, compared to Paris or London with dedicated heavy rail where the airport is not just a tack-on and the stops clearly identifiable.

        6. Sounds similar to my experience catching the Piccadilly line to Heathrow, which is heavy rail so I don’t think the type has much to do with it.

          Auckland is not London or Paris, there will never be a dedicated line with an aim to make it as comfortable as possible for people to get from the Airport to the CBD There is simply not the population to make this viable. This will be left to the Airbus Express just as it is in many other cities.

        7. And I had a great experience with the light rail in istanbul, a crowded success yes, but it dropped me exactly where I was staying in Sultanamet, unlike the metro that didn’t go anywhere near there. The mode doesn’t really determine whether it’s going to be crowded and awkward. The worst airport train I can remember was out of London Stansed, a regular National Rail train with narrow door, no luggage racks, suitacases blocking the aisle and packed to the rafters with commuters. The fact it was heavy rail didn’t insulate it from having all manner of problems.

          Who cares quite frankly, big groups of people with luggage catching a plane will be such a small proportion of users it’s almost not work talking about.

          If you have three adults, a child and a baby going to a long haul flight then catch a taxi.It’s going to be the same experience whether it’s light rail or heavy rail.

          Local residents, local workers, airport workers, air travellers alone, in that order.

        8. @Adam W in auto-dependent, user-pays Auckland we simply don’t have the luxury of targeting just one passenger segment like this.

          I see no reason why the service wouldn’t be expected to achieve 50% farebox recovery like everything else. With just 10% of potential catchment we’ll see “Light Rail a money losing failure” headlines. At this point, either the government will get cold feet and cancel all future LR, or premium airport fares would have to be set which would isolate the service from the rest of the network.

          If in future the demand (and funding) is clearly there then an airport service could be looked at, but from where we are now I would be totally ecstatic to have an Istanbul type service in the near future.

        9. Nick, All the concepts for LR have very few seats and mostly standing to allow for greater capacity than an option with more seats. This compared to HR where there are is a greater proportion of seats. The whole vehicle is much larger than LR too meaning that there is more space for luggage than LR.
          Having travelled a lot and on both HR and LR I have yet to find a LR system that has the same level of comfort and space for luggage as our EMUs have (with the exception of a purely airport passenger focused LR which results in much less capacity). I don’t count Skytrain as being LR as it is more like a train.

          The problem is that this proposal is trying to be all things to all people (Jack of all trades master of none).
          LR is wonderful for improving capacity and passenger experience on busy corridors. It is not good for airport passengers. It might be bearable on a short section like Puhinui-Airport but not for nearly an hour from the city.

        10. The locomotives be using is DC and DD40X locomotives with electric train on the back with sa cars

        11. “we ended up in two carriages because it was so crowded, luggage in everyone’s way and the baby in the pram really unhappy and scared – not a great star to a month long holiday.”

          The LRT proposal has more capacity than the HR proposal, so LRT will be better for your concern.

          “compared to Paris or London with dedicated heavy rail where the airport is not just a tack-on and the stops clearly identifiable.”

          Ironically, the HR stop at Heathrow is a tack on to an existing line, just like HR via Puhinui would be. LRT via Dominion ROad would be a line designed with serving the airport as the primary goal, which also achieved a heap of other benefits.

          @AklDude, try the Gold Coast light rail, just as comfortable as our EMUs and that was carrying a 30 kg bodyboard bag.

          Internal layout is a choice of internal layout, not a product of mode choice. It’s disingenuous for people to keep making that argument.

        12. this new improve heavy rail can do more then 30 kg bags it has ultimate kg rate and carry a lot more people then it used to it gets full but never packed so doors well clear from every one coming out and in the train

        13. @ Sailor Boy. You state that,

          “The LRT proposal has more capacity than the HR proposal, so LRT will be better for your concern.”

          But then you also state that “Internal layout is a choice of internal layout, not a product of mode choice. It’s disingenuous for people to keep making that argument.”

          So some bright spark has chosen to make the LRT proposal with smaller trains, appear to be higher-capacity than the HR with larger trains, simply by providing fewer seats. Surely it is disingenuous for people to then claim that the LRT proposal has higher capacity and is therefore a better mode-choice.

        14. no it wont this new improve heavy rail train has lot more seats then light rail and they so good u wont able to count them all and also it comes with upgrade card that beater then hop card u can use it all public transport and taxi and flights with top of the range rewards like free top ups and free pick prize and pays for every ones power for free

        15. and also this new improve heavy rail is much more brighter spark then light rail ever be also it has to much capacity and the mode it has is it’s out off the planet and out of space it has loco on the front and electric train at the back and if u take the locomotive off then u turn that into light rail ha

        16. You’ve not been to Portland or Seattle then?

          Our emus have no space for luggage, your choice is block the aisle in the end cars or block the aisle in the middle bit. Probably the middle because the rest has stairs.

          The ratio of seats to standing and provision for luggage has nothing to do with whether it’s light rail or heavy. Singapore’s heavy rail metro line to the airport has hardly any seats at all and you have to stick bags on the floor, Seattle’s airport light rail is about 50% seated and has luggage racks.

  10. Maybe you could have LRT via dominion Rd and later have an elevated HR to mangere TC then airport later (if required). LR can be built faster I understand and if the process can get underway ASAP then there is less chance of it be killed later by a change in Government.

    The SW needs something soon and it needs to be affordable. We also need to reduce the amount of buses in the CBD. There is not unlimited funding and getting a good enough solution now is better than prefect later.

    Reminder the light rail link also allows us a southern link which can be extended to botany. Something that is more difficult with HR (and more expensive). (There is also the possibility of LR from Albany to airport by 2040- I know it is aspirational rather than a real project but an expanded LR network is potentially affordable for Auckland).

    I think that some kinda of realignment via onehunga wharf/ Mangere bridge is an good option if the alignment to the airport can be made to work. I suspect non airport users will be more mportant than airport users on this line in the future. Especially with further intensification along the corridor.

    1. What over 2000000 cars on new improve heavy rail u might take this train then Nick it’s best then Poland trains and other trains

  11. Firstly, the tangata of Tāmaki Makaurau deserve a full restoration of the tram network as pictured here Secondly a heavy rail line from Avondale to Onehunga to connect up the loose ends of the tramways. From Onehunga a connection through to the airport, via Mangere etc. With this network, access to the airport will be more direct from more angles, and the trams can do what they do most efficiently, go in straightish lines. This of couse in conjunction with a line from the airport to Puhinui to ensure that the South of the city has easy access to the airport also. With the rail only tunnel that is to be built from Judges Bay to Devenport, and the light rail from the Strand to through to Takapuna, Milford and the bays above; everybody will be able to get to the airport on public transport. As Enrique Peñalosa so famously said, “An advanced city is not a place where the poor move about in cars, rather it’s where even the rich use public transportation”. We just need someone to convince the bureaucrats!

  12. I’m strongly in favour of the idea of using the Old Manage Bridge for the LRT crossing.

    I think a large part of the advantage of this as alignment on the Mangere side of the harbour.

    I’ve made a request to NZTA and also collected some information. I’d been happy to consolidate and collaborate with other people.

    Note there is a copy of the RC Decision on the last link.

  13. Actually a more sensible option is the Northern Airport Line (LRT) from Onehunga connects though the Airport to the Southern Airport Line (LRT). This then connects to the HRT network at Puhinui. and Manukau.

  14. The post is yet another version of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    The line’s primary competition will be against the dedicated airport bus service, and if it can’t compete for time because it’s meandering all over the show like a drunk dog then it is going to have to compete on price. The bus is $18, goes 24 hours a day and seven days a week, with wifi and air conditioning and really nice seats.

    Stop with the too-late suggestions, and start the direct pressuring for the government to get the construction contract signed before November 2020. This is a fragile coalition, and if the other lot get in, this project is dead.

    1. Except 90% of the predicted demand is for stations other than the Airport, and b) a big chunk of the people who will be accessing the Airport are workers who are mainly from the South who will be using Eastern Access Mass Transit.

      Its not a too late suggestion because they are still working on the final alignment which will be released towards the end of the year.

      The real issue is people who think that the Airport is this be all end all.

    2. I had to agree that the contract for the whole South Western Light Rail line plus vehicles needs o be signed long before the 2020 election on the, hopefully, unlikely event we end up with that other lot again.
      We also need to have the contracts signed for the North Western line on the same basis.

    3. @Ad I agree about perfect being the enemy of the good, but flip your spectacles and you’ll be able to see that it’s the perfect airport line that’s the enemy of a good-enough general purpose service.

  15. I’m a bit 50/50 on the red vs blue. Would be interesting to know cost and time differences.
    Definitely not in favour of the purple, looks awfully slow. I liken it to changing the northern busway to instead just be bus lanes on existing roads to serve much more people. That would suck.

      1. It goes up the motorway to Silverdale doesn’t it? Wouldn’t be able to travel any faster on a busway, in fact could well have an 80kmh limit if that were the case. Quite different to a suburban 50kmh ramble down Coronation Drive.

        If LR takes all the street routes being proposed in this post and Matt’s previous post about the Royal Oak deviation then I think critics will be well within their rights to call it a tram system.

  16. Surely the elephant in the room is what the train to the airport will cost? Because it is so relatively expensive in Sydney ($17.60) many people who are travelling at least in pairs tend to Uber for a comparable cost.(about $35 from Kings Cross)
    While getting the 22,000 who work in the rail corridor is important, the 52,000 odd visitors who arrive each day is a number that cannot be ignored. With the current bus service only running at 10 minute intervals it is obvious that only a very small proportion of that number travel by Skybus.

    1. My guess is if it is publicly built then it will be part of the standard zone based fare system. Sydney’s airport line was built by a private company, which is where the gate charge comes from.

        1. the new improve heavy rail is publicly built and excellent built if any one thinks there’s a week spot on that train guess what there’s not á single week spot on it or inside it

        2. It all depends on how the contract is structured. For example, what revenue guarantees would be in place for the private investors? There have been plenty of examples worldwide of public agencies being outmanoeuvred in PPP or similar contract negotiations.

          Even if they want to hold fares consistent with the current zonal structure, are Auckland Transport experienced enough to avoid a situation where fares have to rise to cover revenue guarantees etc.? The logical path to avoid this would surely be 100% public funding, principally from central government.

          But whatever arrangements are decided on, the pressure needs to be kept on AT. Too much is at stake.

        3. this new improve heavy rail do have cheap fair price on every travel and u can top up on board and each ticket will have transfers on it it have every choice of transfers need and all so it can tell how much is left on the card and only way u take pic of the train is by the station it wont work if its on the move and u cant go over speed limit to think u going pass it because the train be watching for any thing or any one this is more then a HR train then once been into workshop it be good thing for it but time for each stop is every 0 seconds when it come out off the work shop now tell me how meany public transport do that

    2. While the LRT will benefit travellers, workers every day have to be the main target. I don’t know if surveys have been done, but I would imagine many passengers (overseas visitors in particular) arrive and depart the airport on tour buses, whereas given the current dire state of airport PT, I imagine many workers travel in SOVs, which take up much more road space per person.

      Have there been airport access surveys published? I’d be fascinated to see the data…

      1. Airport public transport has improved with the 380 going to 15 min frequency. I catch it much more to get flights (almost never used to in the past) and plenty of workers from mangere and manukau use it.

        Credit where credit is due.

        1. Peter, indeed yes, the 380 (belatedly) going to 15 minute frequencies makes it more usable. AT have earned credit for that much.

          But there are no significant bus lanes on the way into the airport, so the 380 gets stuck in the same congestion that cars do. This decreases it’s effectiveness and attractiveness.

          LRT will have no such drawbacks -one of its many advantages 🙂

      2. “While the LRT will benefit travellers, workers every day have to be the main target”

        Under the LRT plans, they are. Under the HR proposal, they are not.

        Almost every single comment comment in every post supporting HR and trashing LRT is based on a quicker, one-seat ride between the CBD and the Airport. Not only is that focused almost entirely on travelers, its a small number of overall users.

        Again; this is a new South Western RTN line, it just happens to have the airport at one end and the CBD at the other.

        1. Nicely summarised KLK, it’s almost worth thinking of airport access from the CBD as a bonus.

          Improving transport access for an area which has been sadly neglected in the past is the main priority. We need to keep this uppermost in mind.

  17. “Harriet” after reading your 2015 post who originaly decided to discontinued the old tramway system was it Auckland transport board , the council of the day or the Government of the time ? If it was the Government they should be the ones fronting up with all the costs .

  18. they need to rename this project. every person you speak to in the street thinks this will is supposed to be a proper link to the airport like you get in other countries. as most people who know about such things agree this couldn’t be further from the truth, not least due to likely cost, space for luggage, duration, infrequency particularly at night and not actually going to the airport proper.

    the new government have spun this project into something it isn’t and everybody else is jumping on the band wagon in saying that is a rail link to the airport to hoodwink joe public to vote and push for it. if and when it gets built there will be a lot of unhappy people.

    if as some on here say that it is supposed to suit the airport area workers will this be running from 4 in the morning and through to 1 in the morning at regular intervals?

    AT were correct in pushing this link down the priority list. They are obviously starting to realise how much damage this will do to Dominion Road by trying to shoehorn into a corridor that isn’t suitable.

    1. Building a link to the airport from the CBD for 1-2 billion JUST for passengers is a very poor investment.

      I get your point about perception, but ultimately the two airport LRT lines will terminate at the airport so it’s unavoidable. The northern airport line could be call the SW Line – linked to the SW motorway.

      I disagree that Dominion Road will be damaged. Less cars, yes. More people, certainly. Should mean more business. For example, consider a CBD worker taking the LRT home to Mangere Bridge and stopping anywhere along to way for dinner or some other activity.

      Alternatively a day traveller might from the airport might want to have a meeting in Dominion Road dumpling place and their local partner would also travel out to from the CBD via the LRT.

      1. Nicholas makes a great point, that the speed and flexibility that travel from the airport via LRT opens up a lot of possibilities. Consider transiting passengers, of which there are plenty due to AKL’s hub status. At the moment, many would be loathe to leave the airport and check out any part of the city due to the risk of getting stuck in traffic and missing a flight. (Think of what you can do when transiting overseas hub airports e.g. ducking into the city in the MRT for a gourmet feast during a short transit in Singapore).

        But a reliable 15 minutes max to Mangere/Mangere Bridge/Onehunga etc. means a pleasant side trip to check out the local colour becomes easy and very appealing, much more so than killing time at the airport. Everyone wins.

        It’s a little thing, but also yet another way in which quality rapid transit makes a better city for everyone.

        1. This is pretty much the definition of good public transit.

          At the moment IMO the rail network is viewed mainly as a tool for removing commuters from the roads and special events.

          Consider that a real transit system also allows ad-hoc trips and consolidation around transit hubs.

        2. Exactly Nicholas, good PT provides unparalleled freedom.
          SB – hopefully the attitude will change soon, and be backed up by the infrastructure it needs 🙂

  19. Not sure either way with these options or the previous Royal Oak deviation but the whole Nothern airport line needs to be crafted with a careful balance between speed vs place making, cost & catchment.

    1. well people take the new improve heavy rail and see i doubt that you’s don’t know much about it and no surveys on this one and the math for this one not off at all its got excellent in balance and speed and catchment and can’t get away from any thing it sees it even inside the passenger cars and can’t sneak on or go Thu drivers cab and go Thu staff only doors and it will shock u if u try and hold on at the back even on side while train moving because its running on all electric till no over head thing and if power out and if over thing has a fault it run on fuel so wont be out of service even thunder wont stop it from running not even mud or flood

      1. I don’t suppose you can sneak a ride by tying yourself to the underside of the carriages either? That’s how my grandfather travelled across Canada as a 16-year-old.

        1. u cant sneak underside of the carriage either or on the roof and u cant try pull the doors open because it will slam shut faster then u can pull and if any one push in the Que then they end at the back of the Que so it knows where there are in the Que and u cant try and have fake money because it will know u cant trick this train and u can’t try and go around the barriers at the crossings before train come it will catch u out and yes if any thing gets stuck the train auto stops safe and when clear it will still be on time

    1. u know the new improve heavy rail all ways win no matter what any one thought or throw at it and light rail be big bust up in no time

    2. If getting to the airport as fast as possible is

      i) really that desirable
      ii) really facilitated by a heavy rail option
      iii) a heavy rail option doesn’t cripple service to the existing lines

      then heavy rail to the Airport is coming regardless of what happens with the construction of the Southwestern Line. It will happen eventually… not soon, but eventually the money will be found. In fifty years it would be like Robbie’s Rail is today, I mean.

      Of course, (i) is wrong, (ii) doesn’t stack up in the modelling and (iii) is wrong but if we lived in some alternative reality where things were otherwise, the logic for Airport Rail would still be there. It has to be. After all, the logic for Airport Rail has nothing to do with why a line terminating at the Airport is going to be built seeing as how the latter manages the remarkably difficult task of being grounded in reality… Airport Rail, in the world we inhabit, is a Road of National Significance.

      1. the new improve heavy rail will pay it back and it don’t really cripple any lines or service and yes its desirable and it has facilitated by all rail options and course any one don’t have its modelling at all that’s whey and money it be in before 50 years tops it take for this train to do that in 1 week to pay it its like a fast atm train

  20. It be good for the locomotives that be used for the new improve heavy rail it be DC and electric car on the back as SD car and DDA40X locomotive and redone DFT 7200 and DFT 7104 locomotive

    1. the new improve heavy rail can do express run if there no stop along the way like it used to it still u got lo’s of room for every thing and every one

      1. I’m not going to bite on your trolling.

        I will note however that the Airport Express system in HK is on a grade separated HR line. I’m not really asking as a point to support either HRT or LRT.

    2. 🙂 Then would they take the luggage by truck on the roads?

      More seriously, nothing worse than having children and luggage and doors only open for a short time. I hope we’ll have nice long times with the doors open at each station. 🙂

      1. the doors controlled by the train crew and the camera that’s whey it has a train crew the normal close be like the old sa shutting doors with no more faults in them it shuts faster if some one try pulls them open

        1. Back in the 80’s Air New Zealand had a check in at the corner of Albert & Quay St’s across the road from the Downtown shopping centre . You could only use them if you were flying with them . Otherwise you just hopped on the bus and the Driver put your luggage in the back for you . Then you then then went out the back to the old brown Airport Bus and Air NZ got your bags on the bus for you . But in this day and age it might not work cause of all the security involve with the airlines . And the hours seemed to be 9-5 , Mon – Fri

        2. You’s wanting faster services and trains so don’t complne about how fast the new improve heavy rail is then

        3. there be a new system where people just have to drop off bag area by the train and it just goes in to the check in area before u get there also it can drop it back off at the train spend less time caring bags around

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