Could Auckland have had the first section of light rail from the city to the airport up and running in time for the 2021 America’s Cup and APEC Summit? A couple of documents the council surprisingly released yesterday suggest it was possible if all of the stars aligned, but the opportunity to do so now looks to have passed.

The first, and most interesting of the documents is a report from the beginning of October last year looking at the feasibility of building light rail in time for those 2021 events. It was requested by Mayor Phil Goff in July of that year. AT fairly bluntly say that it’s not really practical but then in the next sentence claim they might be able to do it.

The accelerated programme outlined in this report is unprecedented in timescale and scope and involves considerable risks. There are no international examples of LRT being delivered within the proposed timescale that the AT and its advisers are aware of. However, there have been precedents set by Auckland Transport with regard to projects that have been implemented in restricted timeframes and have set international examples of best practice, including HOP card rollout, EMU programme and New Network.

They go on to say that a number of conditions would need to be met and that “Failure to achieve this in the timeframe will remove any chance of delivery“. Those conditions related to

  • Deliverability – Can you physically design and build everything in time?
  • Procurement – for projects like this it usually takes a few years to find the builder/s. Speeding up the procurement can be done but it creates risks
  • Market Capacity – The construction sector is already flat out, do they have the capacity to do the work?
  • Cost/Funding – Will the money even be available, remembering at the time of this report, no one knew who the government would be.
  • Operational Requirements – There needs to be enough time not just to build the system but to test it and get all the necessary sign-offs.

On top of this, they note that there would likely need to be special legislation to speed up the process. They also say legislation changes would be required just for the vehicles to be able to run on the road separated from traffic.

The report suggests breaking light rail from the city to the airport into seven different sections along with an eighth being the proposed bus connection from the airport to Puhinui. The light rail sections are

  1. Wynyard to Civic
  2. Civic to New North Rd
  3. Dominion Rd
  4. Dominion Rd to Onehunga
  5. Manukau Harbour Crossing
  6. Mangere Bridge to the airport
  7. A maintenance depot at Stoddard Rd

To fast track the project the reports focuses on the delivery of sections A, B and H.

To meet this accelerated timetable, the report calls for:

By December 2020, to be in time for the America’s Cup

Section A (2.8km) and most of section H (1.4km) would need to be completed. This would mean we’d have most all Queen St closed to traffic and turned into a mostly pedestrian space in just a few years. For those wondering how light rail vehicles get from the depot at Stoddard Rd to Queen St, the report calls temporary maintenance facility at Wynyard and deeper in the report it states.

It is proposed that bogies are transported by road from the Wynyard Quarter maintenance facility to the depot at Stoddard Road for heavy maintenance. Light maintenance activities will be undertaken at the Wynyard facility.

This stage would require seven vehicles to operate.

By November 2021, in time for APEC

Section B (2.2km) would be completed. This stage includes a number of big infrastructure components, including:

  • an underpass at Karangahape Road, to manage the gradient and to provide for a stop in the vicinity
  • a new bridge in Upper Queen Street over the Central Motorway Junction to connect to Ian McKinnon Drive
  • at-grading of the Dominion Road flyover (pulling it down).

This would need an extra three vehicles, bringing the total to 10.

The total cost of these sections is estimated at $930 million to $1.2 billion.

It would be fantastic to have LRT up and running by the America’s Cup. The report was dated 1 October 2017 and stated that:

  • Detail Design work and Utility design work would have needed to have started in that same month
  • Rolling Stock procurement would have needed to start in December 2017
  • Enabling legislation would needed to have been introduced to parliament and passed by Feb this year
  • Enabling works would need to start no later than the middle of this year.

We seem to have missed the boat for getting the first stages of light rail built by the America’s Cup. It does make me think about what we could have had if the former National government hadn’t dragged its feet on Light Rail for a few years.

The second and third documents related to November last year and are a briefing providing by AT to the NZTA on where things are at with Light Rail. This is notable because the council’s announcement of the documents states “At present work on the delivery of light rail in Auckland is being undertaken by Auckland Council and NZTA“. This suggests that the delivery of light rail has been taken over by the NZTA.

I’ve only skimmed though it but the briefing itself doesn’t seem to contain too much new information. The third document contains some maps, and again, some have been seen before. One of the more interesting though is this one which is meant to show how far you will be able to travel within 45 minutes. More interesting to me are all the red areas which represent Housing NZ redevelopment sites. There are quite a few around the Southern end of Dominion Rd and to the west of it too. When you combine that and the fact there will be a depot on Stoddard Rd, I think it makes the case even stronger for Harriet’s Crosstown Light Rail proposal.

Overall there’s some interesting information in the documents. The reason for the release of the information now seems unclear but it feels like it may have been in response to an information request.

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  1. Probably good for NZTA to take over delivery of light rail. Auckland Transport has farted around with AMETI for nearly a decade now and only progressed one small bit of it.

    1. Agreed. Integrated ticketing took years and that’s just a software or configuration change to a billing system. New bus network years behind and that just needed someone to tell the bus companies the new route and chuck up a few signs.

    2. In defense of AMETI – that was an expensive project the govt never really supported (except the road parts). No wonder u make limited progress when theres no funding…

  2. On the pace of the build (independent of planning, procurement and legislation) delivery would be greatly accelerated if they could built multiple sections in parallel and work 24/7 (or at least long hours) on various key parts. Obviously you need more people (expertise) involved to do this but it is an option.

    1. Its not really an option.
      The bulk of the alignment is in mixed used residential areas. Typical working hours would be 7.00am to 6pm (Monday to Saturday) with exceptions allowed.
      You’d struggle to open up and work on multiple sections because of the wider traffic disruption this would cause.

      You’re example would work in a green fields site however.

  3. I’m not going to hold my breath. If NZTA has taken over, expect the project to somehow turn into a fancy bus lane.

    1. Not quite true.
      I have heard NZTA saw the requirement for heavy rail to serve Mangere and the airport but knew this wouldn’t get past the Nat govt so had to change the requirement to ‘transport corridor’ which became road with buses when passed through the govt.

  4. I thought greater Auckland want light rail to go via royal oak? That would make cross town pretty useless for those state housing areas, to get to city they would have to change at onehunga or Avondale, would be quicker to get a bus.

    1. I understood that post to be more of a discussion starter than the true gospel opinion of Greater Auckland

      1. So would the section from Onehunga to Dominion Road be a duplicate – Airport rail going via Royal Oak and crosstown going via motorway corridor? Or would crosstown also go via Royal Oak?

  5. Ben Ross made the right call build in reverse – start at the airport and build to Onehunga Transport station.
    That will be finished by America’s Cup time.

    Can anyone advise if the gauge for light rail units is the same as heavy rail. If Yes can the units be hauled to Wirir for heavy maintenance? Someone KiwiRail whizz should know.

    1. It is compulsory that any adjacent rail systems have a different gauge and preferably a different current as well. It is kind of like colours of countries on a map. Four different combinations are all you need if you spread them around properly. We will be lucky if they manage to have the same gauge all the way from the airport to Wynyard.

      1. Repeating our narrow gauge would be a mistake. And there is no advantage, and lots of disadvantages, in trying to run both systems on the same track.

        1. You can’t run light rail units on the mainline anyway. They don’t meet the safety standards.

        2. There are definitely advantages – see Stuttgarts tram-trains where light rail uses heavy rail tracks for part of tge route. But the advantages are not so clear that choosing a different gauge is automatically wrong or short sighted.

        3. Standard gauge means we are open to any number of great off the shelf LRVs, comprised of standard parts, from all the leading suppliers worldwide, rather than needing to build bespoke units. The bodies can be wider, so more room internally.

          Because our passenger rail network is 1. at capacity and 2. already shared with much heavier freighters, there is no utility and some considerable difficulty with the idea of of adding 1. any more services and 2. lighter vehicles that wouldn’t comply to crash standards. Or we’ed have to build expensive and inefficient heavy Light Rail vehicles for them to be able to use the network. See the absurdity?

          Also there is considerable resilience in having entirely separate networks; problem on one doesn’t affect the other. Most Tube lines are entirely separate and un-interoperable. Are they doing it wrong too?

        4. Hi Damian.

          Stuttgart doesn’t have tram-trains. Stuttgart has two light rail networks exclusive to each other; A tramway and an exclusive right-of-way light railway (aka Stadtbahn) that is slowly being upgraded to a light metro. Stuttgart also has some funicular’s and an S-bahn (suburban/Commuter rail that uses heavy rail mainline infrastructure) but it uses NO tram-trains.

          Tram-Trains are however used in a few other cities including most famously Karlsruhe (which I suspect you have confused for Stuttgart) where the vehicles can use both heavy rail and light rail infrastructure.
          However tram-trains aren’t really trams nor light rail. Because they conform to mainline crash & safety standards, by definition they cant be “light rail”. If you do a bit more research into it; you’ll see that in their implementation they are limited in any corridors of mixing traffic with automobiles, due to concerns of the effects of their extra weight in any contact with an automobile.
          I know that at first tram-trains might seem like a novel new way of doing things but actually Tram-trains are very much a compromise solution with many drawbacks such as weight inefficiencies, undesirability of tram-style units for long distance journeys, etc. They’re a solution to a problem that nowhere in NZ faces.

        5. Would using standard gauge potentially compromise the system in a “tight corner” situation? I’m thinking of a future line via the hospital and Manukau Road having to make a turn onto and off the Grafton Bridge?

        6. @Pshem:

          Please note that the restrictions of turning curves according to gauge on mainline railways does not apply so much to trams with their different rail and steel tyre profiles.

        7. I think that 10m quoted in that wikipedia page is sufficient for most needs. Not being a mechanical engineer I can only guess that shorter distances must have some disadvantages (beside reducing the speed). I’d suspect in most cases the design tries to avoid tight curves, unless there no other practical solution.

        8. Daniel Eyre: “you’ll see that in their [tramtrain] implementation they are limited in any corridors of mixing traffic with automobiles”. Could you provide your source for this, please? Tramtrains in Karlsruhe seem to share streets with cars just as trams do.

        9. Ummm tram-train fans, could you explain where you intend to run these tram-trains to? Clearly not the CRL, even if that was technically feasible, that will full enough running the regular trains.

        10. I already presented evidence of how Karlsruhe minimises mixing tram-trains with automobiles on one of the Wellington Network article comments sections.

      2. “It is compulsory that any adjacent rail systems have a different gauge and preferably a different current as well. It is kind of like colours of countries on a map.”

        Come again?

    2. Hi Don.

      A new railway system can have any gauge they want. But its pretty much standard for any new urban light rail system with no legacy considerations to save themselves cost and bother by using standard gauge systems.

      In most nations; standard gauge (1,435 mm or 4 ft 8 1⁄2) is also the gauge of the mainline (as used by “have rail”) hence the name. But NZ is one of a few nations where instead a more narrow gauge called cape gauge (1,067 mm or 3 ft 6 in) is the standard.

      There are a few light railways in the world that use cape gauge for legacy reasons. As far as I know they’re all tramways and all in Japan except for one in one of the Baltic states.

      But it’s a moot point anyway: Light railways are isolated from the mainline. Even if they are both standard gauge; they have entirely different safety standards, signalling, rail profiles, etc. So if Auckland goes through with this; this light railway will have its own dedicated maintenance facilities.

      1. South Africa’s rail network is nearly all Cape gauge (hence the name), and the same applies to other southern African nations, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and Japan, for example. 3’6″ is a lot more widespread than just tramways and NZ!

        And as Karlsruhe, Kassel, Chemnitz, Cologne, Mulhouse etc demonstrate, light rail doesn’t have to be separated from the main line – the differences you cite are not insuperable.

        1. Hi Mike.

          None of your first paragraph contradicts anything I’ve said and without meaning to be rude: I suspect you may not have read my post properly. I never ever claimed that Cape gauge was exclusive to NZ, I stated that NZ is one of a few nations where the mainline uses cape gauge. And for the record; the only tramway in NZ that was ever cape gauge was the original horse-drawn Wellington system that was eventually replaced by a 4ft gauge system upon electrification.

          Karlsruhe, Kassel, Chemnitz, Cologne, Mulhouse etc demonstrate that heavy rail vehicles can use some light rail systems (when built to light rail loading gauges & incorporating other compliances) not the other way around. And within the regulations of Germany & France, not those of New Zealand.

          If any light railways are built in NZ; they will be isolated from the mainline. So this is all pointless to discuss.

        2. Sure light rail can run on the mainline, but in our case that comes with a disadvantage, greatly reduced choice in vehicle supply. As the light rail lines are completely separate from the mainline, why would we take that disadvantage, to gain a theoretical advantage that will never be used in practice?

        3. I’m not saying that we should mix light and heavy rail, just pointing out that “light railways are isolated from the mainline” is by no means necessarily always the case. If we wanted to do it, we could.

          In the same way, inaccurate “facts” about the worldwide extent of our rail gauge just add to the confusion

        4. No Dan C:
          This Mike guy is factually incorrect: Light rail CANNOT run on the mainline in NZ. And they could not if he wanted it to.

          And I was not incorrect. It is a fact that NZ is one of a few nations where i cape gauge is the standard. And really you’re the only one looking bad out of this.

  6. It seems someone in Council and Auckland Transport have panicked and done a document dump. The presser did not make any sense and could have lead down a wrong path if you didnt read the documents closely.

    It is of note that on the 31st of March Minister Twyford announced that Regional Rapid Rail and the Airport to Manukau leg of the Airport to Botany RTN Line (Southern Airport Line) would start this term of Government. I have the tweets embedded here:

    Any how we are attacking the Northern Airport Line all wrong as commented above. Start at the Airport and link up to Onehunga allowing transfers to the existing Onehunga Line and bringing Mangere into the RTN system. That way we have at least plugged one gap as the rest of the Line is built. Wrote on it here:

    1. Generally when projects are broken into parts (like the Waikato Expressway) you do the highest value bits first, in case there is a change in priorities at some point and the rest doesn’t get built.

      I don’t see how Airport to Onehunga LR would be the best use of money. It would be connecting with 20 min frequency trains so there would be little benefit of running higher frequencies on the LR section. We would spend a lot of money on something that wouldn’t even count as rapid transit.

      1. The plan includes double-tracking of the Onehunga Line so services could be much more frequent. Won’t happen until the CRL is finished, because the existing rail network is running at capacity.

      2. There’s not too much wrong with 20min frequency to the airport to be fair. That’s better than most of Auckland has, and it’s only the airport, not a major urban centre.

        1. Not a major urban centre? Well, there are two stations planned in addition to the airport terminal: Mangere Bridge and Mangere.

        2. “not a major urban centre.”

          How is Onehunga not a major urban centre? How is Mangere not a major urban centre? How are the 40,000 proposed jobs at the airport not enough to make it a major urban centre?

        3. OK, I guess you guys are right. To be fair I was looking at the airport as a destination and how frequently services need to arrive there. But Onehunga and Manger definitely need frequent services!

      3. Double-track the Onehunga line and increase the frequencies then.

        However, even if it was to stay the same, it would be much better than building from the city end because I think there would be higher value by bringing Mangere/Mangere Bridge/Airport Oaks industrial zone into the rapid transit system sooner rather than later.

        1. I agree wholeheartedly. Double track the Onehunga Branch and extend it via Mangere Bridge and Mangere to the airport terminal in time for completion of the CRL.

          This should be the next major project. It kills the Mangere suburb and airport links to the rail network with one stone. The Mangere Bridge itself was built especially strengthened for heavy rail; let’s do it. This talk of a LRT up Queen St & out via Dominion Rd to the airport is decades away.

        2. They’re not in the rapid transit system if they have 20 min frequencies. Double tracking from Onehunga to Penrose adds significant cost to this proposal for what is a temporary solution until the rest of the LR line is built.

          Looking at the densities I think the Dominion Rd section will deliver much higher patronage than the section between the Airport and Onehunga so will almost certainly be better value for money. In addition it will begin to help with the bus congestion problem in the CBD.

        3. Double tracking of the Onehunga Branch was budgeted for in the 2010 CRL budget of $2.311 Billion. It’s here on p.49 where it’s listed as “Associated Rail Network Infrastructure works of $100 million”:

          Unfortunately, Appendix F is not available on the page.

          Also, see two posts on Sept 12, 2012 stating that the CRL budget included the double tracking, here:

        4. My understanding of ‘Associated Rail Network Infrastructure works of $100 million’ was that it was for a flying junction at Westfield, extra platforms at Henderson and Otahuhu, and some level crossing removals.

          There is no mention of double tracking Onehunga that I can see in the 2nd link.

          AT are only planning on having 20 min frequencies on the Onehunga line in 2045 so I doubt they are planning on wasting any money on double tracking.

          My understanding is the cost of double tracking Onehunga is quite a bit more than that as it will require property acquisitions.

        5. Ah right, it’s in the comments. One says it has been budgeted for, another says that is not necessarily the case, hardly definitive.

        6. No, the second does not disagree. It says that (even though budgeted) the double tracking might not necessarily be done (until much later).

        7. Including it in a BCR calculation for designation is very different to it being included in the budget. The CRL budget does only includes works that will be undertaken in the initial delivery of the CRL, anything else that could be built at a later date, such as the Beresford Square entrance to K Rd Station is not budgeted for.

        8. Yes it makes sense to me to just extend the Onehunga line to the Airport via Mangere. And if heavier service patterns are needed: double track it.

          This strange promotion from some people in Auckland of bringing rail to the airport via a long light rail that then goes down Dominion road and makes all those light rail stops (after apparently using a rail corridor that will be needed for the future Avondale Southdown heavy link) or gives them the option of an annoying interchange at Onehunga seems to me to run against all common sense. I think this might be more about a few people’s own self-promotion than actually improving Auckland PT.
          It looks to me like all this carry-on will just end up being a spanner in the works, just like those people in Christchurch 5-10 years ago who kept trying to promote a dopey tram-train system and only ended up losing Christchurch an opportunity to bring back passenger rail services after the earthquake.

        9. “seems to me to run against all common sense”

          The cheaper, faster, higher capacity option is not common sense?

        10. Why do you think LR will take longer than HR to get to the CBD? HR will have to travel on the congested set of tracks between Penrose and Britomart including the slow curve outside Vector Arena taking the long way to Aotea.

        11. @SB…. correction the cheaper, slower, lower capacity option…

          Sure as a total LRT system it will have more capacity than an Onehunga-Airport HR line. However removing the City-Onehunga section from it (since that is planned to be built anyway for Dominion Road commuters etc) halves that capacity. The stated capacity involves a lot more people standing than on HR (which is something airport passengers – or anyone on a long train journey does not want to be doing).
          The capacity of LRT along Dom Rd + HR Onehunga (or Otahuhu)-Airport > LRT city-Airport.

          As we have discussed several times it has never been stated that LRT will be faster (the official numbers had it close but not faster and these numbers are bollocks anyway in real world conditions). HR would be faster again still with network improvements such as reduced dwell times, faster acceleration allowances (and approaching stations), along with introducing limited stops services once the 3rd main is built. HR would likely be a good 10+ minutes faster from Britomart or Aotea to the airport.

          In terms of costs the best BCR was for HR. HR from Otahuhu or Puhinui would be cheaper than building LR from the end of Dom Rd to Onehunga and then across the harbour to the airport.

          No problem with LRT (where suitable eg Queen St and Dom Rd, or Botany). Airport (and yes that includes Mangere etc) is not the place for LR as a city-airport transport system.

          Best cost effective option (including other routes) would be to build HR Otahuhu-Airport, LRT city-Dom Rd, LRT Airport-Botany-AMETI.

        12. “However removing the City-Onehunga section from it (since that is planned to be built anyway for Dominion Road commuters etc) halves that capacity.”

          You also need to halve the capacity for HR then as it would go through Onehunga and Penrose or Otahuhu, and the eastern line.

          “The stated capacity involves a lot more people standing than on HR (which is something airport passengers – or anyone on a long train journey does not want to be doing).”

          And you accused me of having not used airport rail as part of international travel?

          “As we have discussed several times it has never been stated that LRT will be faster (the official numbers had it close but not faster”

          Actually, LRT was faster to K Road than HR to Britomart, and both were about the same to Aotea.

          “and these numbers are bollocks anyway in real world conditions).”
          Have you figured out how to describe those conditions yet? You’ve never described how real world condition differ from those proposed.

          “In terms of costs the best BCR was for HR.”

          This is just a lie, not even an error.

          “HR from Otahuhu or Puhinui would be cheaper than building LR from the end of Dom Rd to Onehunga and then across the harbour to the airport.”

          HR from Otahuhu was never priced to the same degree of accuracy, but would require a complex rail junction, tens of millions in property purchase, huge elevated structures on SH20A and huge tunnels in the airport. I will give you that Otahuhu is by far the best option for HR. It’s still a poor option.
          Is your proposal to build an HR double track with flying junction from Otahuhu to the Airport? If so, what service pattern would you operate?

        13. @SB,

          Are you actually involved with LRT? It doesn’t sound like you are, as the comments you’re rebutting are the finer points of detail which many are not across just yet.

          I know it doesn’t suit your agenda, but please accept other opinions as they are most likely correct.

        14. @SB
          No, you wouldn’t since HR could instead have both increased train size (6 car instead of the current 3 car to Onehunga), and increased frequency from the current 2 per hour to 6 per hour. With CRL and 3rd main this is entirely possible. Can be run through onto the Western so not necessarily adding too many services to the network but using them better. LR would still be on Dom Rd so as mentioned total capacity would be greater (HR to airport + LR along Dom Rd).

          I mentioned how HR could also be sped up by reducing dwell times (as this blog has been pushing for some time which could save several minutes). Adding in a limited stops service (since we would be adding a few more services anyway would result in further time savings. On the other hand LR will be subject to whatever happens along the route (traffic blocking intersections, people crossing the road, accidents blocking the route, protests on Queen St etc which are real world conditions).

          As for the BCR are you contradicting the assessment summary1 down when airport rail was looked at comparing the various options?
          LRT as is the current plan was option 2 and was given a BCR rating of “Low” and a cost of “high”. The BCR was given as 0.7.
          HR from Puhinui was option 4 and given a BCR or “medium” and a cost of “medium”. The BCR was 1.2 for this (nearly double that of LR).
          Onehunga was given the same as LRT. Otahuhu was given a medium cost but a low BCR.
          Option 1 however (HR all the way from Onehunga to airport to Puhinui) was given the overall best benefits but did have the high cost and low BCR.

          So not only is it not “This is just a lie, not even an error.” it is the opposite of what you said.

          Otahuhu HR would not be more expensive so far as land purchases go for the simple reason that those land purchases could then be redeveloped from current very low density poor quality single dwellings into high density quality housing well connected to a HR line. The flying junction would only have to be for a single track (southbound heading towards the airport as the northbound would be a level junction straight in).
          As mentioned the running pattern would be from the Western Line – eventually the Onehunga line might even be converted into a LRT line for Harriet’s idea of a cross town line freeing up further capacity. There is also no reason why it couldn’t go under the runway (which is yet to be built I might add so it would be VERY easy for the airport to simply add a cut n cover trench before they build the runway over it (in many ways it would probably be cheaper too since it doesn’t take up extra land above ground or involve the extra distance in snaking around the end of the runway).

          Have no problem with a 2nd service to the airport being LRT (good to have something different). The Puhinui option could be quite good for that as it could be Airport-Puhinui-Manukau-Botany (this can be done as seems to be the current plan as a busway to start with then converted later).

        15. AKLDUDE – if you are planning on running it as an extension of the Western line (which makes sense) then I assume it would run via Ellerslie and Parnell as the Western line service does in the proposed AT running pattern?

          If so express services won’t be possible as there will not be enough slots on the double tracked section through Ellerslie.

          Also I’m not sure about you land purchases argument. If the land has development potential then it will already be quite expensive when AT purchases it, they won’t be able to cash in on capital gains.

        16. @AKL_Dude

          I give up trying to rebut you. You can’t claim all of the benefits of every HR proposal all at the same time. I’m talking about an actual LRT proposal, described in detail in the business case report.

          Until you actually tell us what you are proposing it’s impossible to compare. You need to tell us what rail extension you want, what service pattern you want, and any other key infrastructure. At the moment you are talking as if you want to build three heavy rail extensions for over $4b.

        17. @Damage

          I’m not involved in the LRT project. The ‘finer points’ I am discussing are publically available on AT’s page.

          I am not sure how you get the impression that others are most likely right when my opinions are based on by far the most in depth study into LRT. You are saying that the authors most likely got it wrong. That’s an extraordinary claim, it requires extraordinary evidence. My agenda is to serve the SW as best as possible. The report which objectively assesses how best to do that supports my preferred solution in part because it informs my preference.

          P.S. AklDude, you did lie.
          LRT has the best BCR. It also has lower costs and higher benefits than HR.

 (page 8).

        18. @sb
          ‘LRT has the best BCR. It also has lower costs and higher benefits than HR’
          So says AT so it must be gospel. And they published it too.
          Did you also believe NZTA when they proclaimed the gold plated E-W link was necessary?
          After all NZTA also has professionals with centuries of expert knowledge so what they say must be gospel too.

        19. I believed them when they said that their preferred option was objectively the most expensive and objectively delivered less benefits than option B. I didn’t accept them subjectively saying that it was the best option.

          I objected to specific things stated in that report, such as the idea that paving over the Mangere inlet foreshore would improve public assess and that building a motorway interchange over the port would connect it to the town. I made specific objections to subjective calls based on the objective information that the authors provided.

          I objected to their claim that the project would not increase traffic across the network and I found other evidence to show that all new supply in a congested network will increase demand.

          I agree with them that the preferred option is the best fit to the NZ Transport Agency and Ministry of Transport’s old strategies. I disagree with the subjective values embedded in the NZ Transport Agency and Ministry of Transport’s strategies.

          No one has to accept everything in a report. When estimates are prepared by chartered professionals who can face prison time for deliberately providing incorrect information, you need a strong objective basis for any disagreement. When you disagree with the strategic direction of an elected body, you need far less objective evidence.

          Until anyone can provide any objective evidence that the travel time or cost estimates are wrong I will continue to tell them that they are being dishonest.

        20. Sailor Boy, you have over-much faith in a glossy-looking study prepared by professionals who you believe should be trusted because they “can face prison time for deliberately providing incorrect information”.

          I would point you to the Public Transport Spine Study in Wellington, where it appears the professionals were discreetly tasked with recommending BRT and doing a hatchet-job on all rail-based solutions. They did this by selecting inappropriate scenarios for rail on which to do their analysis. To the uninformed, or to those who preferred BRT for reasons of their own – this report became “conclusive evidence”. But to those who could see what had gone on, it was a jack-up.

          I haven’t studied the AK Airport report closely-enough to say that this has definitely happened there also, but the counter-intuitive outcome to me has all the hallmarks of a similar jack-up. As to why this would have happened I cannot say.

          SB, either you are being naïve in believing that such behind-the-scenes agendas don’t go on, or else you have decided to back this report anyway, in full knowledge that its journey-time, capacity and cost comparisons are ringing alarm bells among many who have an understanding of these things.

        21. Dave it’s not primarily about the airport. It’s about developing a new RT route through the isthmus and Mangere to provide quality transit for those newly upzoned suburbs; which conveniently has a big trip-generator in the airport employment zone and, as a bonus, the terminals.

          It is *in addition to* the rapid route via Puhinui, which will shortly be underway and finished in 2020.

          It is also about freeing the inner city from the coming wall of buses, which will not only destroy the appeal of the city streets but also necessitate double bus lanes on many isthmus arterial roads if LRT is not developed. Dominion Rd is already close to capacity and can’t meet today’s PT task let alone the expected population growth.

          Also, as I have mentioned elsewhere on here, this post is primarily about accelerating a high-capacity RT route to cater for the fast-increasing demand between the inner city and Wynyard – not only because of the America’s Cup but also because it is fast developing into a substantial employment and residential zone.

        22. “Dave it’s not primarily about the airport. It’s about developing a new RT route through the isthmus and Mangere to provide quality transit for those newly upzoned suburbs; which conveniently has a big trip-generator in the airport employment zone and, as a bonus, the terminals.”

          Dave – read this. Then read it again. Then read it once more, because it does not seem to be getting through to you what this line is predominantly for. You are being sidetracked by the airport, specifically flyers who, in travelling from point to point, will be the minority of users.

          LRT delivers an entirely new RTN through a massive part of Auckland currently starved of any decent PT.

          But if you want to keep banging on about the report, at least provide some analysis of your own to counter it and support your position, rather than stating you “know about these things”. You are just starting to sound like the crazy old uncle in the corner, waffling on about conspiracy theories…

        23. Lindsay, KLK, I get that there is more to this proposal than just the airport. I fully support Dominion Road LRT and agree it seems logical to extend it to the airport via Mangere, particularly if heavy rail that way has been ruled out. But I suggest this would need to be in addition to an HR airport connection via some other route.

          My concern is over the validity of claims made in regard to the LRT proposal and also in regard to what HR can and can’t do. This is where I and others find difficulties with the report and the strategy which then gets justified based on it.

          As for your assertion KLK that airport patronage “will be the minority of users”, have you looked at the trends in passenger numbers being handled by AK airport and made some deductions as to what proportion it would be prudent to aim to carry by the airport-city RT service? The potential figures are staggering:

          (Read these, then read them again and again)

          If it is true that flyers (plus their meeters and see-off-ers) will represent only a minority of LRT patronage then this would have to be because many are choosing not to use it. This is not a desirable outcome if this is the sole RT airport service, even if it is well-used by non-airport travellers.

        24. It won’t be the “sole” RT service. It will be constructed after the Puhinui link. The latter will (I predict) quickly become extremely well patronised.

        25. I can honestly say;
          If Auckland airport had a direct rail connection to the future CRL: I would use it over a taxi. And I think I speak for most.
          I don’t think I’d bother taking an LRV to the CBD down Dominion Road nor to Onehunga for an interchange.

        26. Ok Dave B, let’s run the numbers. The link says 20m passengers a year at Auckland Airport. That’s about 55,000 a day.

          The airport is 24 hours, but it’s peaky. So a busy hour equates to about 4,000 pair

          Let’s say in the future public transport gets an almighty 50% mode share of air passenger trips. That’s 2,000 passengers an hour.

          Then bearing in mind the other buses and plans for brt to manukau and botany and better local buses. Let’s say our LRT gets half the PT trips.

          So even under those generous conditions that’s 1,000 air travellers an hour to the airport at peak.

          Given that the main rail lines and the northern busway each move around 5 to 6,000 people an hour, we can expect the LRT line to do the same with similar extent and coverage.

          So yes, even if PT gets a 50% modeshare of airport travellers, they’ll still make up less than 1/5th of LRT passengers at peak times.

        27. @Sailor Boy: Firstly I am giving options – I don’t mind which one is implemented so long as there is 1 HR option to the airport and later (or at the same time) a LR option can be built if desired eg HR Otahuhu-Airport and LR Airport-Puhinui-Botany.

          Again no I did not lie and quite frankly you need to apologise.

          That is for the BCRs.

          Then there is
          which gives the expected journey times LR 46-49 minutes. HR 35-38 minutes.

          We all know how much you love LR and are it’s biggest cheerleader but you really need to allow others to have their views especially on a public blog like this.
          I would take any report by AT with a huge truckload of salt as they have a long history of going over budget, under delivering, and not getting their numbers right. For example they severely underestimated patronage growth for HR, they also have still not got the EMUs running as fast as the DMU despite them being more powerful and able to operate more quickly. There is next to no chance that they will get LR totally right and myself and many others have serious doubts about the journey times of LR. Even in well established LR operations overseas the impression you get on them (have ridden on many) is that they are not particularly rapid. Sure our HR network is on a permanent go-slow it seems but this has got to change. The HR times we know for fact since it is already operating. The LR times we don’t know but we do know that at a minimum they are only barely close and in reality are likely to be significantly slower (a LR vehicle fully loaded doesn’t accelerate anywhere near the speed of an empty one. Our EMUs by comparison are overpowered due to the CRL gradients so can happily cope with a full load).

        28. @Nick R – 20 million passengers – most of which will return so it is double that 40 million.
          Growth is also going up faster than projected so probably more like 50 million. For roughly every 10 passengers you also have a an airport worker – shops, checkin, baggage handling, maintenance, food, crew, customs, MPI etc) so thats another 10 million (5 million each way).
          60 million means roughly 3x your numbers. Not even including other workers around the airport in the logistics and other businesses.

        29. It’s 20 million passenger movements, so 10 million individuals return if you want to count it that way.

          Absolutely agree on the workers and staff. They will make up the bulk of trips to the airport area. However, they won’t be looking for a fast trip to the CBD like air travellers. They’ll be looking for a line that serves where they live. This is why a route through Mangere, Onehunga, Lynfield and Mt Roskill is a great idea. A lot of airport staff and people that work in the areas nearby live in those suburbs.

          Also why are you linking to a seven year old concept report, and not the business cases that have been done more recently?

        30. I think you need to read (and read again) your own links, Dave B, and apply them in the right context, before insisting others read them.

          Even with some extremely generous assumptions from Nick, your link proves travellers will be the minoriy of users. So I think its a fair approach not to build for them as the priority.

          Daily commuters across that line, and particularly in the SW, will be the bread and butter for this line and who we should be focusing on.

        31. Sorry AklDude, I didn’t realise that you were using the 7 year old, less detailed version of the business case. You are right that using outdate information would result in a better performance for HR.

          Why would someone cherry pick outdated data? Perhaps it is to suit their agenda?

          Also, DaveB, when you say “This is where I and others find difficulties with the report and the strategy which then gets justified based on it.” what are the difficulties? The only one anyone has articulated is using 3% instead of 3.5% for HR ruling grade. That’s a very minor quibble

        32. @SB where is the updated data that compares them then? But thank you for your insincere apology anyway.
          Once LR was chosen everything else was pushed to the side – no Otahuhu, no Onehunga-Airport-Puhinui etc.
          AT has then cherry picked what they wanted to make LR look better. As another poster mentioned the global average speed for LR is 16km/h in urban areas meaning an hour for the journey. Even if you speed that up slightly by faster running from Mangere-Airport (still with 3+ stops) you will still end up with a total journey time about halfway between HR time and an hour.

        33. As stated above, the updated information is here: (page 8).

          “Once LR was chosen everything else was pushed to the side – no Otahuhu, no Onehunga-Airport-Puhinui etc.”

          You clearly haven’t ever read the business case. All of those options were compared, LRT was selected as the best, based on the evaluation in the business case and advanced as the preferred option. Once we compared those and found LRT to be the best fit, we advanced the design. We didn’t advance HR designs as they are far worse value and designs cost ~$5m. The whole point of a business case is to allow us to select the best solutions without completely designing them.

          “AT has then cherry picked what they wanted to make LR look better. As another poster mentioned the global average speed for LR is 16km/h in urban areas meaning an hour for the journey. Even if you speed that up slightly by faster running from Mangere-Airport (still with 3+ stops) you will still end up with a total journey time about halfway between HR time and an hour.”

          Presumably you have some workings for this? The business case developed an alignment with track lengths. Using track lengths, speed limits, a stop time, and an acceleration rate seems far more accurate than plucking a global average out.

          Here are some workings I did to verify the LRT times when they first came out and seemed too good to be true. They show that there is significant slack built into the estimates of 43 minutes to the airport.

        34. Nick R, re your comment above (Apr 13, 7:29am):
          What I was also trying to highlight was the phenomenal growth in air passenger numbers that has been occurring over the last few years, and the likelihood that this will continue.

          As regards your estimate of passengers/hr requiring transport between the city and airport, you are not allowing anything like enough for ‘peakiness’. Sure, the international operation is 24hr, but very little happens Midnight-6am (no departures, only a few international arrivals), and the domestic operation stops between 10pm and 6am. There are peak hours and slack hours during the course of the day also, just as there is with the rail and bus usage now, and just as there will be with the proposed LRT.
          See all flights here at can select international / domestic, arrivals / departures.

          So your estimate that air-traveller patronage will only amount to 1,000/hr at peak (or 1/5th of LRT capacity) doesn’t stand scrutiny. Unless that is, many are choosing to use another mode.

          What seems to be emerging is that rapid transit via Puhinui – albeit with a mode-change – will become the default and promoted choice for City-airport rapid transit, at least in the interim. This will leave the LRT as a secondary airport connection, if/when it finally gets there and it is questionable whether it should even be promoted as ‘airport rapid transit’. It is shaping up to be a separate project altogether.

        35. @ Sailor Boy, I took the liberty of checking your calcs at All looks spot-on, 10/10.
          If everything in reality behaves as you have postulated then mathematically speaking these timings should be achievable (especially given the contingency allowances you have added).

          One small invalidity is your assumption that constant acceleration will be sustained all the way up to 80 or 100Km/h. A typical traction curve has a constant-acceleration portion (say up to 30-40Km/h), and then a constant-power portion where acceleration drops away. However I doubt this will make a big difference, and may not affect deceleration at all.

          Otherwise – I can’t fault you. However I should point out that similar calculations done for heavy rail can also predict promising performance-levels that do not always get delivered in the real world!

        36. Yes Dave B, I accounted for the peakiness of air traveller demand. If I had simply assumed it was evenly distributed across the 24 hours then the estimate would have been no more than a few hundred an hour.

          Indeed the Puhinui link will be the first choice and fastest link for air travellers from the city centre to get to the airport. This has been known and planned for years. The LRT is intended to serve a lot more than air travellers getting from town, in particular workers in the city centre and the airport area, and residents living in the dozen neighbourhoods along the way. It’s not a airport express shuttle and never has been, and folk that complain it’s not fast enough for a once year holiday to fiji with the family and luggage are barking up the wrong tree.

        37. Yes. Properly understood the Wynyard/Queen/Dom/Onehunga/Mangere LR line is a suburban connector that happens to have a great anchor. It is not really an Airport line, or at least it is not THE Airport line. That is the Southern and Eastern lines via Puhinui…

        38. A HR line as originally planned though Onehunga would be quite nice really in lots of ways. The Northern LRT line through Dominion Rd to Onehunga should be done regardless. Double tracking & grade separating the Onehunga line would be needed, gives probably a good simple running pattern post CRL from Swanson. Underground station at the airport – nice and close. If they couldn’t do all the stations as per the LRT route then I wouldn’t even consider it. The main thing against all this is the opportunity cost. Other things are the lack of one seat ride from a future North Shore line & through line to Manukau/Botany via Puhinui (also see my list I posted here somewhere).

        39. Hi Dave, thanks for having a look at my calculations. I initially wrote them to invalidate the LRT times, but quickly ran into the issue that they seemed correct!

          There are definitely some risks in achieving those times. Most of that risk is on Dominion Road itself, where I can see large scale public backlash hampering the LRT priority, with people potentially demanding ‘shared lanes’ off peak to keep parking. I think that this is one key reason we should do the Queen Street sections and the Puhinui to Airport section first. Show everyone what centre running LRT can achieve to get the Dominion Road locals clamouring for it.

      4. I don’t see how any light rail to the airport would be a good usage of money!

        I’ve been over this before: The vast majority of people wanting to take the train from Auckland airport will want to get to the CBD and ASAP. The heavy rail network is already reasonably geographically convenient so why not just use that? Why on earth go for a slower less convenient light rail connection?
        I know you said something about the CRL reaching capacity. I find that hard to believe seeing two-track tunnels (such as the subterranean cut-and-cover loop under central London) handling service frequencies from 4 LU lines far greater than Auckland would see in our lifetimes.

        1. Well the airport line (at least initially) would be an extension of then Onehunga line. For some reason: On that diagram; the Onehunga line has only 3tph but the green coloured western line that appears to connect to it has 6tph.

          So I’ll assume that the Onehunga line extended to become an airport line could have up to 6tph (which would be ample).
          If anything was needed beyond that; another connection to the airport could be made direct from Puhinui; allowing a direct non-stop express to the terminating platforms at Britomart.

        2. The vast majority of people taking the train from the airport (as passengers) will be a tiny minority of total passengers.

          Also, LRT is scheduled to get to the CBD faster than HR via Onehunga.

        3. only if you include the passengers using the LRT on Dom Rd etc. If you are counting rail passengers from the airport station at least half would be airline passengers with the rest being staff (taking into account that for every staff member working at the airport there are dozens of passengers).
          I get the impression that you either don’t travel overseas much Sailor Boy or that you don’t use airport rail when you do. Even Sydney with it’s expensive airport rail prices and multiple alternatives is quite well utilised.
          Skytrain in Vancouver (about a similar distance to the airport as Auckland) has majority of users being airline passengers (except during rush hour when it is about 50:50). Even though this doesn’t run on the main HR network it very much is more like HR than LR.

        4. “only if you include the passengers using the LRT on Dom Rd etc. If you are counting rail passengers from the airport station at least half would be airline passengers with the rest being staff (taking into account that for every staff member working at the airport there are dozens of passengers).”

          Are you saying that my analysis only works if you think about all of the passengers? Is that a criticism? Is your justification for mode selection is based on half of the passengers at one station?

          “I get the impression that you either don’t travel overseas much Sailor Boy or that you don’t use airport rail when you do”

          I haven’t travelled overseas much in the last five years, but travelled 2-3 times a year for the entire decade before that (oh god, the carbon!). I always use airport rail when it’s available.

          However, I recognize that building a whole line for a tiny number of international travelers is really, really stupid. The best airport lines overseas are part of a service pattern that would work without the airport station. This line is about serving the southewest, including the airport. It is not about serving the airport, which is in the southwest.

          Plus the heavy rail option is slower, has lower capacity, and costs more.

        5. So LR will be faster to the airport than HR, because it is scheduled that way! Excuse me for thinking ‘Yer dreamin mate’ We keep being informed that HR can and will run much faster as crossing are removed, etcs is tuned to remove crawling from stations and someone finally figures out how to get emu doors opening and closing more speedily.
          Of course none of these issue will ever appear with LR, they will swish through traffic light controlled junctions, have priority everywhere, stop for mere seconds at stations and AT will get it all right first time.

        6. ‘Heavy rail option is slower, has lower capacity and costs more’
          None of these are true. They are all conjecture and there is no proof that your assertions are correct.

        7. “there is no proof that your assertions are correct.”

          There is a 400 page report developed by transport professionals with centuries of combined experience, citing precedent from overseas systems, construction, implementation, and procurement, which has been peer reviewed externally and by AT itself and was separately reviewed by the NZTA.

          What proof is there that your assertions are correct?

        8. I have reviewed the original AT documents concerning the cbd to airport rapid transport link and was far from assured that the final outcome in favour of an LR was the correct conclusion
          If you do a review, especially of the costs and how bcr was arrived at then its clear an awful lot of uncertainty exists and guesstimates are prevalent.
          You may indeed depend on the combined centuries of AT planners experience and selected overseas cities examples BUT these NZ professionals have limited to zero light rail design build or operational experience.
          Yet you appear to take their proclamtions as gospel.
          Thankfully there are many people who question this LR viability and question if its the correct future for Auckland’s PT.
          Remember these are the same people in AT that we know just did everything perfectly with the HR metro that has turned out perfect and problem free, hasn’t it

        9. “You may indeed depend on the combined centuries of AT planners experience and selected overseas cities examples BUT these NZ professionals have limited to zero light rail design build or operational experience.”

          Well, the planners weren’t from AT, some of them weren’t based in New Zealand, and some of them had light rail experience, but other than that I guess that you are right.

          “Remember these are the same people in AT that we know just did everything perfectly with the HR metro that has turned out perfect and problem free, hasn’t it”

          The same people at AT who had to work with Veiola, CAF, Kiwirail, and the NZTA? While that is certainly worthy of criticism, it isn’t particularly relevant.

          “If you do a review, especially of the costs and how bcr was arrived at then its clear an awful lot of uncertainty exists and guesstimates are prevalent”

          There is always uncertainty with any project, of an scale and any complexity. What you consider to be a guesstimate is almost certainly based on comparison to projects LRT all over the world and infrastructure costs from comparable projects. This criticism could only be made by someone with no experience in the industry, as those of us actually involved are aware of how estimating works and aware that spending $50m to refine cost estimates is a bit pointless.
          Could you perhaps give a specific example of an estimate that you consider to be guesswork?
          Good on you for still being critical, but that would make you an extreme outlier as many of us who were very, very strongly in support of heavy rail changed our minds on the back of this. From what I understand, the authors of the report were originally very strongly in favour of heavy rail before they did the analysis!

    2. We could start at Onehunga station heading for the airport on the old rail alignment to the port. Build the bridge and have a line to at least Mangere town center relatively quickly. It would give a section of track to shakedown the rolling stock. And start the Manukau Puhinui Airport busway of course.
      The other section which could be done in time for the America cup would be Wynard to Britomart. We could run the old trams until the rest of the line is up and running.

    3. That’s not what he’s saying at all.

      What Twyford has said is that he INTENDS to begin the regional rapid rail project during the first term and that he’s working on it. It’s a typical vague politicians response. He hasn’t actually committed anything.

        1. Do we know what these tenders are actually for as there was an awful lot of ‘needs doing’ just to get a basic RRR service up and going

        2. Ah no. He only said INTENDS. Verbatim.

          Have you got any evidence of these alleged tenders?

  7. If AT say it’s too late already, it’s definitely too late. Very high risk and would end up with a mess of construction in the middle of the events. Could it be in time for APEC though? I think they could do the Puhinui bus route in time for both surely.

  8. Another case of Auckland Council and AT centric thinking, that Auckland Central is the centre of the universe and not the rest of Auckland…..getting sick of it.

    1. Sydney’s CDB light rail is now looking like it will cost the thick end of $3 billion for 24km, and there are all sorts of allegations about this being the result of a compressed timeframe,

      I think Auckland Transport should take a deep breath and admit it will not have light rail for the Americas cup nor for APEC, and then proceed from there,

      The CRL tunnelling and station building will be well underway by then, trying to manage multiple multi billion transport contracts all centred on central Auckland is probably an invitation for trouble…

      1. Tend to agree, but at the same time, how do you quicken the pace of a behemoth? For example, the AT board was told in October that the Transport Design Manual was to be available on the website in November… it’s still not up 5 months later. Are the relevant teams not given the funding required to deliver?

  9. More speed, less haste, I imagine. And would haste for the America’s Cup result in stagnation for the NWLR?

  10. I think both of these events will go just fine without LR to the airport. Neither are going to be bringing in the number of visitors we had for the Rugby World Cup or even the Cricket World Cup for that matter.

    Lets get these projects right rather than rushing them through.

    1. Yes I agree.

      It’s not like Auckland is hosting an Olympiad or anything. I doubt many yachting fans who are wealthy enough to come all the way to Auckland would be using public transport much if at all anyway.

  11. What is the reason for a depot at Stoddard Rd? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to buy some land nearer the airport where they could have a depot beside the rail rather than build a spur just for maintenance?

    1. I was wondering that too. I guess the idea is to get the Dominion road section going well before the airport section.

      1. Some of those hectares of carparking around the airport could be re-purposed for a maintenance yard as will no longer be required once high frequency Transit in place.
        Pity about AIA’s P’nL though, where 35% of current income comes from carparking. Ever wondered why they don’t want good transit to the Airport?

        1. You have to see the funny side. That poor land around the airport. Developed – without PT – into a logistics area for all the freight arriving to the port. So the resulting trucks on the road and thousands of workers together cause congestion that delays passengers, as well as giving the workers themselves awful commute times. Development F**kup 101. Now we’re having to foot the bill for the PT the developer should have paid for, and even have to provide a spur to a depot elsewhere because there’s no land at the airport. Laugh? Somebody’s laughing.

        2. Interesting point you make about all the freight and hence trucks at the airport. Is this not a good reason the Puhibui to Airport link should be not just for passengers but also suitable for freight? And only heavy rail can do that

        3. Yes you’re right, Royce, I meant “unfortunate” when I said “poor”, not infertile.

          Just think what permeable and fertile land, complete with pockets of biodiversity, we would have retained had someone with backbone demanded good planning around ports and logistics… yet the AUP is still allowing greefields development.

          Definition of insanity…

          Bogle, about HR with passenger and freight: The logistics companies’ model would have to change radically. I’m all for radical ideas. 🙂

        4. There is practically no freight going through the airport that is containerised or bulk in a way that moving via rail make sense. What is more useful is probably inland rail terminals near the airport and logistics companies, which is effectively what we have already.

        5. The Airport is adjacent to the industrial zone in Mangere East, which could take advantage of a heavy rail connection.

      2. Perhaps Dr Rot could use his contacts from when he chaired all the health boards to find some land closer to the line where all they would have to do is close a clinic or medical centre or some other essential service.

    2. I just presumed they planned on using the old bus depot at Stoddard Road ???
      But yes, having the depot near the airport sounds like a good idea. Last ride terminates at the airport (late flights) first ride starts at the airport (early flights).
      Seems logical/economical?

      Also – even more logical if your are going to give up on the crazy idea of building the LR line from the city first (because how do you get to the depot?) and instead start from the airport and build progressively towards the city.

  12. If the airport wants a Light Rail, they should pay for it themselves. If you want a light rail, you should pay for it yourself, and lastly if you want to ride on a light rail, you should pay for the full costs in ticket price. And also, since road users paid for the roads your light rail is going on, you should pay to buy the 8Kilometers or whatever of housing that is required to widen the roads, and also pay for the widening of the roads, so that no roading capcity is stolen from the road tax payers who paid for that…

    Also if you are going to be on the roads, and I do not want to give the impression that I am against this, I think as long as it is done on an equaly lawful basis, a user pays basis, and not to the detriment of road users it is fine… But if this happeneds, as long as the trams are operating on public roads, even if their is a rail line on the road, the trams need to meet all safety, crash, emissions, weight restrictions and breaking requirements of a car!

    Unless we don’t believe in property rights here on this blog. Also I have no problem if someone wants to spend an hour mucking around getting from the airport to the tram, waiting for the tram, catching the tram, walking to a taxi stand, waiting for a taxi stand, then another 30 minutes+ because now you are catching a taxi because your destination is like 35 minutes walking and you don’t want to arrive a sweaty filthy mess because you aren’t a savage, and you had to arrive early for your appointment or whatever….

    So if you want to do that, and pay the $200 or whatever it will cost to go through that hell and actually, y’know pay for the fair cost of it all go ahead.. But don’t put artificially low speeds on our few excellent roads and motorways, and phase the traffic lights to 30Kph just to make your mode of transit appear artificially competitive when in reality it is just beyond terrible… I will take my car, or a rental car, or a taxi from the airport to the CBD in like 15 minutes thanks…

    1. By all means lets do that, it would be fantastic to go user pays on all transport.

      But of course that means going user pays on roads too, which you might not like the implications of. That means removing the 50% road funding that comes from ratepayers land taxes. So doubling fuel tax should cover that, or a similar charge.

      It also means any more billion dollar RoNS style motorway are going to come with a very large toll attached.

      1. That sounds fantastic, and y’know what, while we are at it with this user pays thing, we should remove the subsidies for Hospitals and Schools and Pensioners in the form of GST on roading and transport (which if it were any other business expense would rightfully be deductible anyway), bring in tolls on new motorway builds, express lanes, and ensure that funding from the Land-transport-fund is distributed to the regions in line with the rate at which it is raised….

        Auckland will receive a far larger share of funding if we get back what we pay out, and if we end the welfarist job creationism aspect of road building (no more people standing around doing nothing, clocking hours and collecting pay), and bring in modern machinery, and work it 24/7 with migrant labourers who are willing to work hard for fair internationaly comparable wages, we would have the best roading in asia.

      2. Right. Tolls are expensive in cities. True user pays for roads would probably mean most of the rural RoNS motorways would never be built. They are not close to self funding. We know many of them have BCRs below 1 even without a toll. Add a toll and the demand would drop, making it even harder to recoup cots from the traffic volume remaining. Imagine the toll you would need to pay off a scheme like Puhoi to Warkworth (>$1 billion) with a daily volume of 10,000? (Try around $30 per trip). The toll for heavy trucks on low volume Northlands roads would be politically untenable.

      1. That would be the ideal case, then at least businesses could turn around and say, “we may not get protection from criminals from the police, but at least 1 or 2% of our taxes goes towards the roads that we depend on to make money” unfortunately its the other way around.

        Whether its money pilfered from the NLTF to be spent of ‘public transit’ or bicycle lanes or other such nonsense, or the subsidization of WINZ by creating jobs for low skilled people from south auckland, that involve standing or sitting arround and doing not much, or whether its the charging of GST on fuel and cars, and roading, which if it were any other business expense, and if individuals had the rights in their PAYE to deduct such expenses, would be nationally speaking 100% deductable.

        But it isn’t, and billions of dollars are raised through the charging of GST thrice, first on the fuel, then on the fuel tax, then on anything the NLTF funds. Then the companies have to inflate their pricing, to get their required rate of return, whilst covering the taxes levied on those business by the government, on behalf of the ~50% of people who are net-tax receivers…

        At least in the days of Fuedalism you could mostly count on your despotic robberbarren to maintain the roading, and provide for security, not much nowadays unless you are a beneficairy, state worker, or you use public transport….

    2. Given the central isthmus roads were originally built off the back of trams being extended and there was no payment for them by road users when the tracks were ripped out, I’m sure we can forgo any payment 🙂

      And how about road users start paying the full cost of the roads they use, such as the $4b+ annually the economy loses from road deaths and injuries, not to mention the impact on the environment etc. Given fuel taxes etc, raise about $3.5b, them some hefty increases you’ll be paying

      1. No, the roads were built, then rail based trolly busses i.e. trams were put on them, then the automobile came into mass production and the Tram Companies ripped out the lines and converted to Rubber Whelled Trolley buses nowadays refered to as Busses i.e. bus companies…

        You see the benefit of a Trolley Bus is that it’s cheaper to produce than a Rail Based Trolley Bus, Cheaper to operate, it goes faster, doesn’t need tracks, oh and did I mention it doesn’t need tracks, that means it can go down litterally any road in Auckland. And it’s cheaper. They can even go on motorways, I believe at speeds of upto 90Kph….

        And just like trams went the way of the dinosaur, so to will busses go the way of trams, when in 10-20 years time they get this self-driving vehicle sorted to the point where it is sufficently cheap, reliable and capable. Then you will have true distributed Point-to-Point ride sharing vehicles, that can drive in Autonomous vehicle lanes sub 1 second maybe sub .5 second follow distances, and can pickup say 2 or 3 people in the morning and drive them to work, in almost the same amount of time as directly, because you have a computer that works out the most optimal root, to move the largest amount of people, as quickly and cheaply as possible….

        And you can have small vehicles, smaller than the Toyota Yaris, designed to fit one person comfortably, and it can be used by 1,000 people, these vehicles could even theoretically be sized to fit in a motorbike lane (cutting roading costs by 1/3rd), and so too personal cars will go the way of trams…. We also have aerial based taxis being trialed in middle eastern cities, once battery technology improves i.e. density increases and cost comes down, they will be mass produced and require no roads, and cruise reliably at speeds in excess of >200kph….

        The point is technology marches constantly forward, and going against the flow of that is stupid, at best you can delay it… Yesterday trolley busses went the way of dinosaurs, before that trains, and before that horses, busses have long since worn out their usefull lifetime (since the advent of affordable cars) and tomorrow cars will be gone too, replaced by ever better technology!

        1. Holly, the decision to rip up the tram lines, which were around since the 19th century by the way, has created the mess Auckland is in now.

          What have all your motorways got you in 50 years of disastrous planning decisions? The most congested basket case of a city. Auckland is a joke when it comes to congestion.

          I suggest you go and study what Perth did in the early 1990s when they grew some brains and invested in rail. Perth was a car-city just like Auckland is now. However, after rail came in, rail patronage skyrocketed. Roads did not stop being built (including large projects like the Graham Farmer freeway tunnel) but ….. and this is the point…. Perth now has a much more balanced transport system consisting of roads, rail, buses, not so much ferries given ferries are not really needed in that river city. If Auckland were to have a more balanced transport system, it would have ferries as well.

        2. Actually hovercrafts are science-fiction, I wouldn’t be placing money on them as the future of transport, autonomous vehicles and ride sharing services however are real and currently being developed, and within 20 years will likely displace the personal automobile as the fastest, easiest and most cost effective form of mass and individual transit.

          Flying vehicles are also real, under active trials and development (see source below), the main impediments are Air Control, Pilot Certification and power density. But the advent of electric motors, deep learning AI and modern sensors is changing all of that. The biggest impediment for electric vehicles, energy density, and the cost of the batteries are the biggest advantage to air-travel over land-travel for an electric vehicle, as air-vehicles use less energy per passenger mile.

          There is a very realistic probabilty that within 25 years, as battery prices come down, density increases, and artificial intelligence and sensors improve, that mass produced autonomou aerial passenger vehicles will approach the price of say maybe not a Toyota Corrolla, but an upper end Toyota Camry for an entry version.

          And actually there is signficant cost advantages on the side of the aerial vehicle, for one, little fixed infrastructure is needed, the transit capacity issue is solved, the speed is realistically far higher than is practicable on land, and the operating costs are lower.

        3. As for flying taxis, that will be an interesting one to watch, i struggle to see how they will work as mass transit rather than something for the top 0.1% to get around in.

          “The company announced plans with Dubai’s Road & Transportation Agency in 2017 to launch an autonomous flying-taxi service starting in the summer of 2017,[2][3] though as of November of 2017 there have been no news about such launch”

        4. Holly, any thoughts on where those thousands of autonomous aerial vehicles might land? Will they fit in a standard parking space?

        5. “No, the roads were built, then rail based trolley busses i.e. trams were put on them, then the automobile came into mass production and the Tram Companies ripped out the lines and converted to Rubber Whelled Trolley buses nowadays refered to as Busses i.e. bus companies…”

          I assumed your comments were satire, but it appears that they are ignorance. The roads were built by development companies for trams, so that residents of the developed land could then travel to the city. Dominion Road was built for trams and car drivers stole it.

          I am happy for your proposal to stop ‘wasting the NLTF’ on cycleways and public transport as long as we don’t have to waste rates money on roads, waste healthcare money on pollution, inactivity, and crash costs from driving, or insurance money on climate change’s storms, floods, droughts, and wind. Your driving would get very, very expensive indeed.

        6. She is correct.
          “In the late 1870’s public transport began in the form of horse-buses … along Dominion Rd, known then as the Mt Roskill Rd”
          “By the late 1880’s residents … began putting pressure on the Road Board to get rid of Redshaw’s Boiling-down Factory, situated in the vicinity of Bellwood Ave and Dominion Rd”
          “In 1902 Electric trams were introduced into Auckland and the Auckland Tram Company constructed [the tramway] on Dominion Rd”

        7. Those ‘roads’ were empty horseways of dirt between buildings. They had no pavement, no drainage, no footpaths etc. The trams were initially on rails sitting on sleepers in the dirt/mud. Bear in mind this was in the 1880s before cars were even invented.

        8. Holly, just go to France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, not to mention the whole eastern bloc, and you will see umpteen tram and trolleybus systems, old and new, which definitely haven’t gone the way of the dinosaur.

          I think you need to look outside New Zealand a bit more, before you make judgements that come across as very ignorant and poorly-informed.

        9. No thank you, half the places you mention are technically slave states as the definition of slavery is being compelled to work for no compensation, and half of those states confiscate by force over half of their ‘peoples’ incomes. Then there is the lost generation, and decades of growth, stagnation, terrorism, no-go zones etc..etc…

          Italy for instance is the litteral definition of a failed state, it has had nearly exactly a Government a year since the end of WW2, they have 32% unemplotyment and their economy, banks and businesses are insolvent, their government bankrupt. Why you would wish anyone to have to go to or visit or god forbid live in such a place, its not a very nice thing too sugest…

          Besides all those places you mentioned pretty much without exception have their capital cities on flat areas, and were designed and built before the advent of automobiles. Even so, many of their townships and stuff have far better and more roading than auckland per capita, tomtom released a reporting show we had one of the lowest amounts of roading per capita of a european city…

          But I am well aware at how effective subways are, one of the fastest lines (london metro) moves at 33kph, motorways are safe easily at 120kph, then you have to walk to the subway, the only subway network in europe with spacing that makes sense for people walking to and from the subways is Paris which has spacing of 600meters, londons is about double that, and Moscows almost tripple it…

          Even with Paris’es spacing you are looking at a max commuting distance of 7KM vs near 60KM in 1/2hr via car with proper infrastructure….

        10. Heaven forbid anyone wish a trip to Italy on somebody. Oh the humanity.

          Auckland was designed and built before the advent of the automobile.

        11. Hi Dave.

          Not just that; Holly could also look even closer to Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore or what’s even emerge in the PRC…

        12. Another thing Holly:

          52.4 Million people visit Italy a year compared to about 2.5 million people visiting New Zealand. I laugh imaging what world you must live in not being aware of that why anyone would visit Italy.

          Italy offers just about everything for any visitors. It’s got fantastic nightlife in even its medium sized cities. It’s got very interesting variations in culture and history across its regions. It’s got history galore cross those regions from the Ancient era through the medieval era and renaissance right up into the modern era. There are so many old castles, citadels museums all with their own unique character to see, Italy is one of the important roots of much of our modern western culture. It’s a great holiday destination in both its cities and its countryside. And the cuisine and standard of (mostly affordable) hospitality is beyond the imagination of NZ.
          It’s also one of the most beautiful nations on earth with marked variations in that scenery across those regions. It has fantastic beaches, fantastic mountains & hills, lovely rivers and it’s hinterlands are great for hiking hunting and fishing. It offers EVERYTHING NZ offers and all that more.

          I’ve been to Italy three times and I feel that I only scratched the surface.

          “Why you would wish anyone to have to go to or visit or god forbid live in such a place, its not a very nice thing too sugest”
          I can only laugh imagining the sort of narrow, clueless world you must live in.

        13. Yes Daniel, I was going to mention Japan and China but I thought they might be just too different from the cultures Holly appears to feel comfortable with in order for her to rate them as valid comparisons. But I see now that she writes off half of Western Europe as well.

          Holly you certainly know how to produce a great rant, even if much of it is claptrap. I’m wondering if maybe you’re doing it just for fun – you know, to spice up the dry old discussions that we tend to have here, and get us all biting back. Looks like it’s working, so Jolly Good Sport!! Perhaps you don’t actually believe the stuff you write yourself?

          Are you a devotee of Ayn Rand by any chance?

    3. Holly, your roads are subsidised. I wish you would pay the full cost of them but you don’t.

      I wish ideological road zealots realise that better public transport means less congestion on the roads for entitled users like Holly. It isn’t a zero sum game. Roads, rail, buses, ferry, they all go together to form a better transport system overall.

      1. There are no road zealots, just the vast majority of the population, 85% for that matter that have the wherewithall to recognize the supremacy of the Automobile over all other forms of transit, and a minority of 15% whom aren’t willing to pay any more than 1/3rd of the operating costs of their bus services, and 0% of the capital costs of their trains…

        The fact that it is not even remotely popular with massive subsidies, and that only 1/6 people will use it, and only with 2/3rds of the cost paid by someone else shows how poor of a competitor it is to roading. I mean you almost have to pay people to use these busses, that is how unpopular, outmoded and obsolete they are…

        And I can’t blame anyone, it would take me 3 hours of commuting each day to get to work and back, at least, and roughly an hour otherwise at a nice, slow relaxed pace by car… Really it should only take me half an hour or less, but our roads have been underfunded, and underinvested, and neglected and now we have this big mess!

        1. Still ignoring that cars are massively subsidized too. Convenient.

          And if you prioritise regional coverage for roads and ignore PT for 50yrs, then you are going to get an 85%/15% split. Would be daft to think otherwise.

          Your trolling needs work.

  13. If it really is too late and if it is the America’s cup they are after, they would probably get more benefit from extending the northern busway all the way to Orewa given the North Shore is the heartland of yachting in Auckland.

    Doing the busway from the Airport to Puhinui should also be able to be done in time. Turn Puhinui into a proper transport hub.

    1. Tamaki Drive has several yacht clubs along it which would gladly argue that point in favour of Central-East Auckland. I note there is no flash busway along Tamaki Drive yet. Maybe we could give other areas a look-in before the Shore pushes its way to the front of the queue again.

      1. We can do both. There’s no need for one part of Auckland to be favoured over others, and there’s no queue that means one must be done before the other.

        The urgent need is to leave no part of Auckland stranded without frequent public transport, so that our awful carbon pollution numbers can be reversed and the city can become a safer and more pleasant place to live.

        1. I pretty sure budget constraints and industry capacity mean it is not possible to do every project now. Prioritisation is a reality of life.

        2. Yes it’s a reality but we surely have to do better. One prioritisation could be public transport over private vehicles – the slower we build out our rapid transit network, the more we prioritise private vehicles as our preferred mode of transit for much of Auckland.

          The overall capital and operating cost of purchasing and maintaining private vehicles for millions of commuter trips is really high – much higher than the equivalent for public transport. In principle there ought to be an increasing positive economic return in switching to public transport rather than a constraint. That return will benefit NZ in many ways, not just financial.

          I would like to see the climate crisis tackled head on by an ambitious government-led programme in much the same way that the government invested hugely to reduce our dependence on imported fuels back in the 80’s. To me, the climate change problems that we face today are way more dangerous, and more pressing, than the fuel dependency problem ever was back in the day.

  14. Bearing in mind how slow AT has been with the Eastern Busway I’m glad it NZTA doing it, not AT.

    I do wonder what is envisaged for connectivity between the Western Line and the Airport line. Walk at K’rd from the train station to the LR stop?

    1. Walk from Queen to Mercury lane is the transfer. The streetscape upgrade on that block of K’rd are being kept temporary in anticipation of massive volumes of people transferring between LRT and train.

    2. You can’t build a busway without someone being prepared to fork out the money for it. Easy to blame AT, but AT doesn’t raise its own revenue.

      1. I think you’re right on that one. But a number of other projects (like Te Atatu Rd upgrade) they’ve taken a lot of time to deliver.

  15. I’m sure Phil Goff won’t show any favouritism to a Chinese bid for the LRT despite a group of Chinese businessman donating $250,000 to his election campaign. LOL.

  16. “there have been precedents set by Auckland Transport with regard to projects that have been implemented in restricted timeframes and have set international examples of best practice, including HOP card rollout,”


    1. I assumed that reference to the HOP Card implementation didn’t include the time wasted on dealing with the childish whinging from Snapper after their bid for the contract was not accepted.

      1. And of course while it’s hard to stomach the words “best practice” associated with the HOP card, I assume that reference was only regarding the rollout time; nothing to do with user experience.

  17. PLease: Why is it too late? 2.) why is there need a At-grade change at Dominion road and New North Road :-)? Is this needed for some technical reason? make the tram fit etc? also why can we not use heavy rail to get by all these issues of law change etc…

    1. We can’t use heavy rail because money doesn’t grow on trees. It costs the same to do LRT on the whole route as it would to do HR from Onehunga to the airport.

    2. All the bridges would require strengthening otherwise, which costs more than turning it into a normal intersection.

      1. I have noticed that every time the light rail to airport is discussed that the question of heavy rail instead is raised. Not always by the same people either. Does this indicate there are many that just do not believe light rail is the best solution? The same ardent LR supporters repeat the same ‘costs too much’ mantra in response but yet it never seems to convince everyone or settle the issue.
        Is this because the capital expenditure for both as assessed by AT is not believed or may have credibility issues ie expensive exaggerations vs deliberate underestimates to make one scheme look more favourable than the other?
        At one time Transport blog was encouraging further heavy rail routes and investment. Then what seems like a sudden about turn occurred and now GA’s shining star is light rail and heavy rail often gets poo pooed.

        1. I think the change started to happen as everyone started to understand the limitations of our HR network. Particularly the capacity constraints – available slots for train movements. Resilience (as in having a separate network) was probably a factor too. I also think that this project is seen as a gateway project to address poor PT experience in other areas (like along SH16, or Ti Irirangi Dr, between Manuaku and towards Howick or even along Dominion Rd or Mt Eden Rd).

        2. I think part of the issue is that many people have a romanticism for heavy rail. After decades of tiny cuts at the HR network destroyed our infra, largely on the basis of false, misleading, and biased reports, extreme skepticism of time, cost, and capacity estimates is understandable but , in this case, unfounded. A good indicator of this is that critics can almost never point to specific examples of incorrect methodology in the LRT assessment, they just know it is wrong.

          I think your statement that “now GA’s shining star is light rail and heavy rail often gets poo pooed.” is bullshit:
          GA proposed $2b of investment in HR for Regional Rapid Rail and are proposing extensions to electrification, quadruple tracking, new stations, and service improvements for heavy rail. GA just recognizes that, looking at it objectively, there are no new routes where HR performs better than LRT.

        3. @ Mike P,
          “Does this indicate there are many that just do not believe light rail is the best solution?”.

          Yes. For various reasons, including the ones you give.

        4. No. Heavy rail to the airport will be in service by end 2020 via Puhinui. Every single eastern and southern line train will be a ‘train to the planes’. Assuming the interchange itself (under/over) and the shuttle service frequency and span are of high standard, this will be a really great option. And will only get better as express and intercity trains start to call there too.

          This will be the fastest choice for anyone near those lines, especially from the city centre. I already take the suboptimal current version of this, the 380 via Papatoetoe and can’t wait for the massive upgrade that the Puhinui interchange will be.

          So the LR line, through the dense Isthmus, and neglected Mangere is an additional access, especially for those catchments, and others further west. Together (remember the Puhinui link will reach far into the east) these two systems will provide long term high capacity and efficient connection to the Airport and it’s growing employment area, and all along their routes, for decades and decades. Done.

        5. What happened is that about five years ago Auckland Transport and NZTA started to do a lot of buisiness cases for rapid transit, which required them to design and cost the systems and work out how they would operate. That developed an evidence base around costs, constructability, operability, capacity, performance, programming, risks, funding impacts, land requirement etc.

          So five years back it was all lines on a map and wahoo, of course trains should go everywhere, and of course those trains should all be exactly the same specification of heavy rail as our legacy network. But now we actually have the evidence of how much things will cost, how well they will perform and the impacts on the network and operations. This shows that some routes are best as heavy rail, others as light rail, others as busways and several just not worth doing at all.

          Most of the folk at Greater Auckland looked at the evidence and changed their minds on a number of things based on better evidence. I was like that, I was fully in favour of the heavy rail to the airport option, but that was based on overestimating what heavy rail could deliver and not really understanding what light rail is (I used to think it was the same as trams). When I started to understand that heavy rail is in reality an expensive and lower capacity option for that particular line, while the light rail performs a lot better than I had previously though, I changed my mind.

          Of course transport blog/Greater Auckland isn’t a thing, it’s just a bunch of different people who don’t always agree. But generally being able to change your position when better information tells you something else is a good thing.

          Unfortunately there are many people who haven’t read the reports or understand the evidence, or otherwise chose to just stick with the “wahoo heavy rail is the only option and its best everywhere” line. Many of them allege collusion, deliberate underestimates and favouritism when their ideological position isn’t supported by others. That’s pretty funny if you think about it, stubbornly refusing to be anything but one mode, while accusing everyone else of being biased to other modes.

        6. _”Does this indicate there are many that just do not believe light rail is the best solution?”_

          I for one believe that light rail is nowhere near the best solution for a railway connection to Auckland airport. I instead believe that by far the best solution for a railway connection to Auckland airport is to extend the existing heavy rail lines instead. I am VERY sceptical of the report by Auckland Transport favouring a light rail and suspect that it’s more about the wishes of some civic bureaucrats (and possibly even conflicting with Kiwirail) than what’s best for the public.

          Not only do I think that a light rail would offer a much poorer & less attractive service for airport and Mangere commuters; I do not believe that it would end-up being any less expensive.

          And my opinion is totally objective without any bias. I am also in favour of eventually transforming the northern busway to some form of light rail instead of any heavy rail as often mooted on here.

        7. “I think…” “I believe….” “I suspect…”

          That’s the very definition of bias, believing something in the absence of any evidence or logic.

        8. I think the (completely uncalled for) rudeness of the reply of the first two replies warrants some dispensing of niceties in return.

          I don’t know what some people think logic is; but in expressing your opinion in terms such as “I think…” “I believe….” “I suspect…” has nothing logically do with whether your opinion was formed with evidence and/or logic nor does it mean it is biased. It just means that it is your opinion.
          And like most normal people; I do not form my opinions on anything without some basis of evidence and/or logic.

          Whether you like it or not: The fact is that I support the northern busway being converted to some form of light rail (at some stage) instead of heavy rail and also support (if only in concept) trams returning to Christchurch and Wellington continues to destroy any accusations that may be levelled at me of being biased against light rail per se.

          As for the evidence that supports my opinion:

          We see figures in the summary of total expenditures and BCR’s. And yet we see no proper breakdown of how these totals were obtained. We have to get to section 10.1 before there’s a broad breakdown and its only for the light rail and Bus rapid transit options.
          We’re supposed to just take it for granted:
          1) that a light railway all the way from the CBD to the airport will only cost 1.2-1.3 billion NZ$
          2) that extending the heavy rail from Onehunga (or Puhinui) will be in excess of 2 billion.
          3) The quoted transit times of being only slightly better for heavy rail.

          Well I offer no apology to whom might clearly get further upset when I say that I find this total for 20km of light rail completely out of the box and needing both its own dedicated bridge between Mangere & Onehunga and to transit some CBD streets (thus causing disruptions that will need paid compensations for) to be completely unbelievable.
          Sydney’s new tramway of 12km is now costing more than 3.2b AU$. The 2.7km of tramway in Newcastle NSW has blown out to more than 290 million AU$ (so far). It cost Gold Coast city 1.6 billion AU$ to build the G-link. So why would it be cheaper in NZ with our weaker currency?

          If Auckland Airport was more geographically isolated from heavy rail then I might think that light rail was a better option, albeit without too many tips in between. But it’s not really at all; it’s conveniently close enough to the mainline at both Puhinui and Onehunga to warrant either an extension or a spur from that mainline. Light rail makes much more sense for the northern busway because it’s not convenient to connect to the mainline.

          I also highly question the transit times calculated for a light rail that would have to go down Dominion road and then into the CBD (presumably with some sections of street-running if only in the CBD) and be subject to the effects of automobile traffic.

          And the other fact I have is that light rail isn’t exactly spacious and built for long transits like heavy rail is. It’s great for short hops but to carry your suitcase from the airport?!
          And no; having to transfer to Onehunga station is not ver attractive either.
          A rail link to Auckland airport should be aimed at the business travellers market. Why would they take having to sit on a tram and then get off and wait for a train at Onehunga over taking a taxi?

          And the other (completely ignored) issue is how is it going to get from the end of Dominion Road/Mt Roskill to Onehunga? I know some of you have talked about using the safeguarded corridor, but that will be needed for the Avondale-Southdown link (which would really be of benefit to Auckland suburban rail).

        9. I agree Daniel.
          The detail for LRT is slowly being unravelled now and from what I’ve seen the case is not stacking up as it used too.
          The whole premise around City to Airport is flawed in that it will be slow, upwards of 65 mins on a good day, where as going via Puhunui will be ball park 45min and can be done for the AC

        10. “The whole premise around City to Airport is flawed…”

          If that is your premise, then yes indeed. This is a SW transit line.

          “upwards of 65 mins on a good day”

          Citation please?

        11. “The whole premise around City to Airport is flawed in that it will be slow, upwards of 65 mins on a good day, where as going via Puhunui will be ball park 45min and can be done for the AC”

          Your line via Puhinui will take 45 minutes? LRT will be 41 from Aotea.

        12. Globally, the average LRT speed in urban areas is 16k per hour.
          The route from the Airport to City is roughly 16 kilometres.
          Do the math

        13. @Damage;

          I think the route they’re promoting is more like 20km+ than 16km!

          Although it will also be travelling faster than 16km/h between the airport and where it joins Dominion Road.

        14. Are you being facetious or do you actually think that a global average is relevant to a line that is has over 50% of it’s length on a fully separated corridor? You realise that the estimates in the report are based on internationally observed speed limits, acceleration rates, and loading rates , and actual distances, right? They spent a little more time than you and it sort of shows.

        15. Daniel – The Avondale-Southdown corridor leaves motorway corridor near Mt Roskill and sidles down the hill through suburban properties to Southdown from there so it wont be an issue.

          LR rail plans to use part of the motorway corridor.

          Damage – do you have a source for the 16kmh average speed?

        16. Seems a bit hard to believe there Jezza.

          Unless the motorway is about to lose some lanes…

        17. HR would NOT need the Stoddard Road and Wynyard Depots. Is Auckland big enough for all of the extra spares and trained staff for yet another transport vehicle? Also think of the land costs.

        18. There are many cities in this world smaller than Auckland that have public transport served by railroads that use both the mainline heavy rail network and a light rail network of separate standards.

        19. Depots confuse me. Why can’t we build on them. What says they have to be open air? Can’t we give them the Grey Lynn apartment treatment?

        20. I made up this list a few months back after looking into the documents that I could find & reading pretty much all of the posts & comments on this blog concerning the issue or LR vs HR airport lines. There is a number of factors & did this for myself or others as often just one point or another is debated – here it is, I may fine tune it over time:

          *** Reasons against HR to airport line via Onehunga instead of LRT:
          1. Cost & hence opportunity cost for other projects including LRT to Botany via Puhinui & Manukau for example
          2. Impossibility/cost or cost risk of providing equivalent stations: Ascot (near Montgomerie Rd) & Airport Business District (John Goulter Dr)
          3. Favona Station (Walmsley Rd) could be added in my mind but was dropped from SMART study so as to keep the travel time nearer to the LRT route (says at grade in preliminary plans – also in the HR one interestingly but video shows as elevated?!)
          3. Extra tunnelling required under future runways & airport station itself = high cost risk due flooding
          4. High cost of upgrading Onehunga line (double tracking, closing level crossings, considering the lines value in itself?
          5. Onehunga HR station will be moved further from the town & main bus terminal (so can take longer trains)
          6. Likely or more cheaper to provide higher fequency on the LRT line.
          7. Not as resilient as a whole new LRT line

          *** Reasons against HR to airport line via Puhinui instead of LRT:
          1. Running pattern doesn’t work nicely = slow frequency, cost of junction etc upgrades and/or confusing timetable etc
          2. Lost chance of LRT on same basic route?
          3. Lost chance of getting LRT north line done?
          4. Don’t get all the other station catchments north
          5. Still have the tunneling/station issues in the low site of the airport itself see above (6-8M agove sea level)
          6. Not as resilient as a whole new LRT line

          *** Reasons against LRT northern line:
          1. Travel time reliability risk through village centres
          2. Less seating for full length trip?
          3. Ultimately long term less capacity especially if consider very long LRV through Queen St/Dominion Rd, though this is debateable. (eg another corridor could be added etc).
          4. Lost chance of upgrading Onehunga line (safety/speed/frequency) & providing better station location for Mt Smart Stadium?

          *** Reasons against LRT southern line (via Puhinui, Manukau, then Botany) :
          1. None really, but probably best a busway first.

          Make your own conclusions, could add other line options perhaps but these seem to be the main ones.

        21. A good summary, covers the key comparisons well, I think the comparison of LRT or HR via Onehunga can be a bit misleading as many people don’t understand the opportunity cost of HR.

          My question to people new to the discussion is always:
          ‘Do you want LRT extended from Mt Roskill to Onehunga, Mangere, Airport, Puhinui, Manukau, and Botany, or HR extended from Penrose to Onehunga, Mangere, and the airport at the same speed’

          People usually accept that if the premises are true, then LRT is the better option and the only quibbles are whether cost estimates and time estimates are correct.

        22. Yes and I think the resilience and choice of a whole new line & hence new network to build on is a very strong factor above some of the other more minor factors.

        23. Agreed, independence of vehucles is a massive bonus, sadly it is often conflated to be an independence of systems for passengers.

  18. Please make sure to make the carriage more luxury and relaxing, so people can have a nice ride all the way to the airport before the long journey in the air, thank you and speed up the process please, chur~~

  19. I have serious doubts about AT’s ability to deliver any transport project quickly. Putting aside the length of time they take to get a project to the start of construction, the actual construction times themselves seem to take an inordinately long time.

    Two examples I encounter regularly, both roundabouts are:

    Franklin Road – the roundabout at the Wellington St intersection started on 8 January and is not expected to be completed until late April. 3.5 months for a roundabout!

    Auckland Airport – the roundabout at the Verissimo Drive/The Landing intersection has been under construction for ever (well, it feels like it). This continues to be the major cause for congestion at the airport. Why is it not being worked on 24/7 to minimise the congestion? This is an industrial/commercial area, so zero noise sensitivity issues.

    AT come in for significant criticism for the disruption caused by the works they undertake. Often this feels quite justified given the lack of speed when construction is under way.

    Surely there’s a way these projects can be delivered more quickly in the construction phase?

      1. Looking on Streetview history the SH20A ends sign is located 230m north of the Verissimo Dr roundabout so is the roundabout NZTA or AIA’s?

    1. Franklin Road could be done much quicker, if…
      1. Residents didn’t exist
      2. Road closures and traffic management issues didn’t exist
      3. Tree roots could be dug through
      4. Endless pots of cash to make it happen quicker.

      See its easy

    1. If you’d have had enough money a few years ago when the old Wellington DM units were retired; you could’ve.

    2. My in laws own a bach in a holiday park and one of their neighbours there lives in a refitted 1920s tram, it’s gorgeous.

  20. I would love to see light rail in Auckland, and Wellington. I hate to be pessimistic but I doubt it will ever happen, and if it does happen, it won’t be in my lifetime – look how long it took for the CRL to be built.

    1. The problem with bringing trams back to Wellington is that the NZTA changed the laws a few years ago making any new road-sharing tramlines in NZ impossible. This meant that the proposed light rail scheme for Wellington had be entirely in its own corridors and not sharing with automobile traffic, which required extensive extra works and pushed the price up.

      This government needs to change those regulations back.

      But I am confident that the Northern Busway to Auckland’s North shore will be upgraded to some form of light rail in my lifetime.

    2. To be fair, it only took about three years from the point of the council, AT and government agreeing on the CRL to the construction starting.

      We now have the council, AT and government in agreement on the airport to city LRT line, so indeed lets look at how long it took the CRL to be built… and hope this happens as quickly!

  21. The comment thread is overwhelmingly about the airport; but the actual report in the post is about the feasibility of accelerating Wynyard to Civic in time for Americas Cup – which is just possibly feasible but with high risks.


    1. probably not doable in time
    2. but Mayor & council want high capacity and fast route from CBD to Wynyard to cater for the crowds

    1. Since the LRT project will require pedestrianising Queen Street shortly thereafter anyway, why not do it now?
    2. That will free the street (+ Fanshawe, + Daldy) to allow double or treble the frequency of the new electric city link buses as an interim measure – using the same number of buses and drivers as at present
    3. Will also result in a huge increase in number of people biking

    1. Even though individual components can be accelerated, until there is a continuous line between the depot and Wynyard quarters – not much can be done there. The trams have to be stabled somewhere overnight, mainted etc.

    2. Taking private vehicles out of Queen St should have been done 5yrs ago. Its beyond belief.

      Free it up for unimpeded buses, trade/delivery vehicles (during set hours) and of course, cycling.

      There is literally nowhere on Queen St for cars to go or to park. They are just funneling through.

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