It has been known for a while what the major congestion points for rail that will not be fixed by CRL are:
- Westfield-Wiri where a third main (track) is needed as most Auckland Freight movements, as well as two passenger lines the southern and eastern share limited tracks in this section;
- Westfield Junction which suffers from many of the same issues as the above where a proposed “Westfield Lite” upgrade is proposed. Consisting of an additional running line and crossovers extending from Otahuhu towards Sylvia Park, it will reduce conflicting moves at this critical junction by allowing freight trains running between the Port of Auckland and Westfield to be held clear of the main lines. This is effectively an extension of the 3rd main towards the Port and;
- Quay Park where Port of Auckland freight movements need upgrades such as lengthening the to the Port Arrival Road (Track) to allow longer freight trains.
We have known from AT board reports that KiwiRail has submitted a budget bid for all of the above. However, the question in my opinion if this is enough. Here are some extra rail projects we should be looking at doing in Auckland over the next ten years, especially to support the introduction of Regional Rapid Rail.
The cost of a third main was costed in the business case at between $65 – $80 million while doing both the third and fourth main was costed at between $150 – $200. I wonder if doing them together and biting the bullet on cost would be worth it.
This is because:
- Tying the construction together will be cheaper in long run;
- We know we will need this in the future;
- Be much better for Regional Rapid Rail as well as local shunts and Port of Auckland freight movements. The latter could mean fewer trucks around events such as the Americas Cup etc;
- It means we only do one set of block of lines, instead of having a set now and a set in the future the more work we get done now the fewer disruptions post CRL when I suspect passenger numbers will jump through the roof;
Westfield Flying Junction
The design for Westfield Flying Junction is pure genius allowing all types of necessary freight movements while aiding passenger movements.
For many of the same reasons, we should consider building the full flying junction instead of Westfield Lite. The other big issue is Westfield Lite will act as a sunk cost so, in the long run, we would be better off doing this right. This design will allow the third and fourth main to be fully utilised and solve a major pinch-point in the rail network in the country.
The cost of doing this right doesn’t look like it would much larger either and people wouldn’t think twice of a grade-separated junction if this was a motorway.
All in all, it may be better just to do this right,
Doing the fourth main as well as the third alongside a full Westfield flying junction will make a huge difference to our rail network increasing capacity, allowing services to run faster, allowing more freight, and allowing Regional Rapid Rail to use both third/fourth mains to full effect.
Let’s be a little more ambitious.