Earlier in the week Mayor Phil Goff and Finance Minister Grant Robertson took a walk through the City Rail Link construction site. There was also some talk about the challenging cost pressures facing this project, with its most recent cost estimate of $3.4 billion now a few years out of date.

The total cost for Auckland’s multi-billion dollar City Rail Link is still up in the air and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Finance Minister Grant Robertson say two contracts for the project are yet to be signed.

The pair went 18m below Albert St today near the Swanson St intersection for their first joint visit to the New Zealand’s biggest rail project, saying more precise figures would be available only once tender prices came in and were evaluated.

“It’s a fast-changing, challenging environment,” Robertson said of the construction sector. “Two more contracts are to be let. We don’t know where they’re going to land yet. But the project is running on time which is good.”

Goff also pointed to the true costs being revealed from the next tender phases: “The costs will come in with the tenders. The construction price index has been going up 7 per cent to 8 per cent a year and that does create cost pressures but we won’t know for sure until we have signed the contract.”

Recent decisions have (rightly) added to the likely cost of CRL, future-proofing Karangahape Road station and also providing the Beresford Square entrance that should never have been cut in the first place.

While City Rail Link is a great project, its planning in recent years has seemed like a series of idiotic decisions. Firstly you had cutbacks to the project where Newton Station was dropped, then the silly decision to not build the Beresford Square entrance to K Road station. Meanwhile the project’s cost kept going up despite these cutbacks.

And then there’s the silly Purple Line. Bizarrely, after spending more than $3 billion on a tunnel that provides much more train capacity into the city centre, the most significant operational change that’s proposed is to immediately send a large number of trains away from the city centre, so that direct trips between the Western Line and Newmarket can be retained. This is the Purple Line:

I ran through the details of why the Purple Line is a dumb idea fairly recently. I’ll get to the cost implications in a minute, but what particularly stood out was how it doesn’t even really achieve its goal of providing a faster trip from the Western Line to Grafton and Newmarket, once you take into account the potential wait times for this train that will only come every 20 minutes:

In terms of the Purple Line’s cost, we don’t know all the details but some rough calculations suggest it could include:

  • At least $54 million for the nine extra trains required to run this service.
  • A few million dollars a year of operating costs for an unnecessary service.
  • Infrastructure upgrade costs at each end of the service, to provide extra platform space at Otahuhu and Henderson.
  • An additional platform and therefore a much larger required station at Mt Eden.

While my fingers are crossed that we don’t see much of an increase to the CRL’s cost, CRL Limited should be running a fine tooth comb over all parts of the project. From my perspective the Purple Line isn’t even a “nice to have” anymore, it’s just a silly idea that should be chopped.

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  1. I get the feeling the full price is going to be much more than expected – not that I’m a naysayer, just because prices have changed so much since 2014. I think there are going to have to be some serious cutbacks. It does feel like it has become “We must do it right regardless of cost” – this normally ends up in not doing it at all.
    I’d say with light rail they should ditch K Road station (as it must be a big cost being so deep), get rid of the purple line, and cut it back to the main benefits – Aotea station and the loop.

  2. Instead of the Purple Line, a way to provide ‘Rapid’ and ‘Express’ services along the combined Western Line-Onehunga Line for example post CRL, should be found.

    Establishing and maintaining rail service simplicity, efficiency and service legibility will be crucial once the CRL is in place.

    Speaking of service legibility, the term ‘Limited Stops’ as currently used on the Onehunga Line, is not a legible service description, especially for those whose first language is not English. ‘Express’ or ‘Rapid’ is far more legible, as that is what the service is in reality, even when it misses out just two stops and only during certain times of the day / evening. For your info, in Japan, services that miss out two or more stops on a route during certain times of the day are called ‘Rapid’ or ‘Commuter Rapid’. Those that miss out two or more stops during daily services hours are called ‘Express’ or ‘Special Express’.

    1. I wouldn’t describe the Onehunga service as either express or rapid, I think Limited Stops is by far the most accurate.

      1. In fact, having the Onehunga Line miss out Parnell, Remuera and Greenlane for all of its scheduled service journeys weekdays and weekends, would be much better – removes the extra naming additions that muddy service legibility. When you have two services (SL and OL) travelling the same 5-station corridor, both of these services don’t have to stop at every station – the Sobu and Chuo Lines in Tokyo are an example – those routes are very service-legible.

        1. I’m not sure Greenlane and Remuera residents would agree. Once they go down to three trains per hour or sometimes two in the evenings it would be frustrating to see a limited stop service going past.

          It would have to be one of the most absurd limited stop services in the world, the longer route stops at all stations, while the shorter route skips some.

        2. What is frustrating is the almost total lack of express/LS trains on the Auckland network, even at peak times, due to a dogmatic attachment to high frequency at all stations at all times even though it inconveniences the many for the sake of a few and undermines the advantage of trains compared with driving on the motorway.

        3. Zippo: you don’t seem to appreciate that running a mixed stopping/express service on a double-track line reduces capacity significantly. Reducing the number of trains would be much more inconvenient and do more to undermine the advantages of trains than stopping at all stations.

        4. Yes, very often we see claims that CRL will enable express trains, yet sadly all the plans display every line stopping at every station. For CRL to be transformational, Express trains need to part of it. Otherwise the city divide – South AKL / CBD will just continue. Just because you can get train from Papakura to Britomart every 10 or 15 minutes doesn’t help if the travel time is still 60 minutes 🙁 Sadly even on this site only a few recognize it.

        5. Zippo – there are sound reasons behind running ten minute frequencies. Around 90 % of Auckland’s stations provide connections with the bus network, frequency is very important for these connections to work.

          While I agree that express services are ideal, I’m not sure they have a material impact on patronage. When express services were largely removed in 2005 patronage on the Southern line continued to grow.

          Nislav – AT’s proposed running pattern post-CRL has express services from the south.

        6. We’re not talking about running all trains as express/LS, just one or two per day, Monday to Friday, would that really impact massively on bus connections? What is really needed is short runners from Otahuhu, for example, running right behind the express to fill any gap. Make use of that third platform.

        7. Nislav, agree that express trains are needed to Make CRL truly transformational. However, the CRL is still at least 6 years away and maybe further away if costs increase and funding needs stretched out. In meantime, pre-CRL there is need to implement expresses or limited stop trains as the journey times are just discouraging. Increased all stopper frequency does nothing to address this.
          I’m sure that given choice a peak morning Henderson-NewLynn
          Grafton-Britomart express would be extremely popular and six car filled.

        8. I’m not sure one or two express services per day would be worth the hassle, it would only suit those who happen to be able to travel at that particular time, I don’t think you can claim it meets the needs of the many in that case.

          Having a 20 minute gap in the timetable can have a significant impact on connections. What might have been a 5 min wait transferring from a bus to a train can become a 15 min wait.

          This is all to save 5 mins for some people from Papakura who happen to be able to travel at the right time to catch an express. Just out of interest, what stops would you skip with an express?

        9. Jezza, I cant see any ‘hassle’ involved in implementing expresses within the current peak times. Just looking at western line the tracks and signalling are already set for bi directional running on both tracks and modern train scheduling software would easily be capable of slotting in a couple of morning up peak expresses. The stations used by expresses can be evaluated using current hop data but a quick glance would favour a new Lynn to Britomart express with probable stops Henderson and Grafton based on usage figures.
          I have not considered southern line as I seldom use it but the oft touted excuse for not doing anything express, RRR or LS is always the 3rd main (or lack thereof). The few times I travel to Pukekohe it disappoints me to see nothing happening as the section Puhinui to just below Middlemore looks so trivial to lay track plus the track around the emu depot look like a weekend job to complete. Ok, rebuilding Middlemore station is likely a 2 year task but if track there is the only pinch point on 3rd main then why not get the rest done then expresses and RRR can progress.
          This apparent holy grail of 10 minute turn up and go with all station stopping does sound great BUT I’d bet that if commuters at outlier station were consulted then a reduced to cdb journey time would be much preferable to being concerned about the few that need bus connections at less popular stations.

        10. I guess if your more of a “public transport scheduled hyper-planner” sort of person, an express service would be attractive and you could alter a regular commute around it. I think the limited stop services are more of a psychological thing, not having the extra stops once you are on the service even if you had to plan especially around, wait longer for it or turn up to work/study etc earlier as a result.

        11. “This apparent holy grail of 10 minute turn up and go with all station stopping does sound great BUT I’d bet that if commuters at outlier station were consulted then a reduced to cdb journey time would be much preferable to being concerned about the few that need bus connections at less popular stations.”

          We also need to consult with the people who live near to the skipped stations about whether they are happy losing half of their trains for people from Pukekohe to save 4 minutes.

          Skip stop services only make sense when you get to truly massive ridership and distances. RRR is the way to achieve that. Hourly or half hourly expresses stopping Pukekohe, Papakura, Puhinui, (maybe Panmure) and Britomart only.

  3. With the recent outcry of the New Central Bus Network (ie. users having to catch two high frequency bus services instead of one single but less frequent service) the media will be onto this like a ton of bricks if AT decides to can this route.
    The evidence. though. definitely doesn’t support the purple line just as much as it doesn’t support long infrequent bus routes with low interconnectivity. I’m pretty sure the number of equivalent journeys as of current would not support it.

    Besides I travel this route frequently, it would be no different to me changing at Newmarket for the Southern Line like I do now, it would just be a change at Karangahape instead. And would still be much quicker and easier to just take the first train rather than waiting every 20 minutes for a direct train.

    1. It is a little different in that there could still be a direct train from west to Britomart, it will just be a few more stops.
      Also if it is a 100 million dollar plus decision, a few bad write ups in the Herald has to be ignored.

    2. You’re effectively assuming the purple line is free and you either have it or you don’t. But it takes trains and costs money.
      What if instead of the purple over the top of the normal line, you had nine trains an hour on the normal west line and nine on the south. That’s about the same cost.

      So you’d wait less to catch the first train and wait less for the transfer. So faster than today. And also the same faster for everyone not transferring too.

        1. The cab changing farce will be gone once the CRL opens, irrespective of whether the purple line is in place or not.

  4. What if the Purple Line was actually also the Express Line ?
    Stopping just at Penrose, Newmarket, Mt Eden, New Lynn as in-between stops?
    What would it take to get that done?

    I’d predict massive amounts of people would opt for it, rather than a car.
    Getting workers to work on time – missing out the rich buggers in Ellerslie and the tossers down in Britomart etc, just targeting the hard workers of Henderson to get to their jobs in Penrose, fast. No messing about.

    I’d go for it !

  5. Hi Matt, Not sure of your logical on this one can you plus explain a bit further.

    The trip along the purple line will be slower when you take into account a frequency of 20 minutes. Are you assuming a person shows up at a station immediately after the train has left and then has to wait 19 minutes for the next train and then adding the travel time along the purple line?

    I routinely have to catch a bus (and transfer to a train) which only runs every 30 minutes at peak times. I simply am aware of the timetable and arrive 5 minutes early. You will plan your time around things and I do not see it is that much of a hardship. Let say you do screw up totally and just miss the train. You still have the option of catching a train to britomart and swapping then.

    I think for the most part it will save time for the Grafton and Newmarket people. Remember UoA is expanding Newmarket campus and as I understand it there are plans for Teachers College/school of education. Grafton is still the best stop for the hospital/St Peters/AGS. There will be plenty of people wanting to go to Newmarket (including AGGS). Plus for a minority go to greenlane/ ellerise and otahuhu.

      1. Apparently being aware of the timetable is out of the question. Just run those trains as often as possible even if it reduces the speed to walking pace.

        1. The primary reason for running high frequency trains at peak is capacity, the benefits of turn up and go is a by-product. Irrespective of people’s ability to read a timetable we will be needing to run trains every 5 mins on most of our lines in the future.

      2. Yes, there’s another way. You just turn up at the station and the train arrives within a few minutes. No need for a timetable. If someting happens and you miss your ‘timetabled’ train – no sweat, another one will be there in a few minutes.
        Already possible on some other services, like NEX.

      3. I think the timetable argument is a red herring. The primary argument against the purple line is likely to be patronage. We know some people will benefit from this service, but we also know that they will still be able to use the rail network to reach their destination without it.

        We also know that from current data it is not a massive number of people, probably not enough to justify running an EMU every 20 mins for. That of course could change in the future.

        1. The purple line to me is a lot like many of the tube lines in London which share track and stations, it works well there so why not in Auckland. Going across town and being able to cut out 4 extra stops would be preferable to having to waste additional time stopping at those 4 additional stops.

          But as what tends to happen is built it and they will come, you might even find the Purple Line proves even more popular than predicted.

        2. It doesn’t bear much resemblance to a London tube line. They all run through the core employment area, while the proposed purple line completely misses Auckland’s busiest employment centre.

          People can already catch trains between destinations along this line with one transfer and 10 min frequencies at peak, the idea patronage is suddenly going to boom when there are 20 min frequencies with no transfer is absurd.

  6. Honestly, if we’re planning for a train service to run every 20 minutes at peak we simply should not bother. Much easier to transfer onto another high frequency service.

    1. I agreed the resource is a better spend to double the frequency for the blue and red line to serve city instead.

  7. I commute from West Auckland to Ellerslie, no Purple line = no time saving from now. So why should I bother supporting the CRL at all? Why would I agree on my rates being spent on a CRL that has zero impact on commute times for everyone (and that is a lot of commuters) who use the train to get to work from the west to
    the all areas serviced by the Southern line in Ellerslie and Penrose?

    1. For starters there would be no dwelling at Newmarket. Without the Purple line, it would just require a small interchange at Karangahape instead.

      The CRL however does improve frequencies and journey times across the whole network. So in fact it improves your journey regardless of whether the purple line exists or not.

    2. There are loads of people in Auckland that won’t directly benefit from the CRL, that is the same for pretty much anything rates are spent on.

      I wont benefit at all from NW light rail, but I certainly support my taxes and rates being spent on it.

      1. Yes, the reductio ad absurdum is that i don’t benefit from a police presence in Invercargill, so why should i pay for it?

  8. Keep the purple line even if it is only just used during the rush hour period as there will be a large number of school children and others that work at the Hospital that won’t won’t to change at ether Mt Eden or K’rd to get to Grafton if they are coming from the west . And there are a number of people that moan about travel times and this is a direct feed without having to go the long way around to get to different stations , and think of it as an express service .

  9. I assume as part of the blue line it is proposed that the stations on the Onehunga branch, especially Onehunga itself, will be upgraded for 6 and later 9 cars, if not then what is the point of combining Onehunga with the west line.

      1. I cant see why you would send the blue line to Onehunga and the purple to Otahuhu. Swap ‘em round and save upgrading the Onehunga branch – in it’s present arrangement it could not cope with western line frequencies. Blue line then connects West Auckland to regional services terminating at Otahuhu. Panic over; nothing to see here, move on.

        Ask instead, why are AT planning an upgrade to South to East at Strand allegedly to facilitate post CRL running???

      1. So the station will have to snake around the bend? How will it work at Te Papapa? The station is in the middle of two level crossings, and a 6-car train would almost stretch from one to the other

    1. They have already upgraded Penrose platform 3 to six-cars so I won’t be surprised if they do the same at Te Papapa and Onehunga.

  10. Interesting idea Jimbo.

    We should at least discover the actual cost of retaining the heavy rail station at K Road. It may well turn out to be expensive both in construction and in operating costs, and if so will it really be worth it just to save commuters changing to light rail at Mt Eden or Aotea?

    It wouldn’t be all bad for the CRL though – it might mean that we can improve speeds both by having one less stop and also by avoiding the steep climb up to K Road and then back down again. Overall it might then be more efficient to keep the purple line going, even in express form.

  11. Matt L, your idea that less-frequent services (20 min) automatically equate to longer overall journey times is a bit of a fizzer. While turn-up-and-go is great where it can be justified, to claim that a service not frequent-enough for this simply shouldn’t exist is fatuous. Sure, there will be chancers who will arrive just in time to miss a train and will have to wait 20 minutes. But regular users will soon get the hang of it and will make it work for themselves.

    If there is a perceived need for a direct West-South service then it should be provided. It may well turn out to be a huge success in spite of your reservations. On the other hand if it flops then re-deploying of the rolling stock should not be a big deal.

    I fear you are being uncharacteristically narrow-minded in your crusade against the Purple Line.

    1. “If there is a perceived need for a direct West-South service then it should be provided” – only if the need justifies the cost. I think there is a significant capital cost to support trains running in that direction. If that cost could be better used for other PT projects then it should be.

  12. I think that if they drop the purple line, they instead look to implement a Mt Eden “East” platform instead of their stupid Mt Eden West platform which is what is needed for the Purple Line to stop at Mt Eden.

    Whats the Mt Eden “East” platform you ask?

    Well, thats the area slightly north and east of the Mt Eden CRL platforms [in the trench], somewhere between Shaddock and Nikau Streets near where the CRL Lines will branch off the trains going south heading from the CRL [i.e. coming from Aotea/K’rd stations], and also near where the southern CRL line coming from the south will merge to the CRL line from the West when heading into K’Rd/Aotea stations.

    These are planned as cut and cover tunnels here [so are not very deep] – a bit like Aotea is going to be.

    Point is that since Newton station went by the wayside, there is no cross over point for west to south journeys except K’Rd which is 2 minutes each way up the CRL, plus platform crossover and waiting time. Likely 5 minutes minimum to get the purple line equivalent once the purple line goes.

    So my suggestion is that Mt Eden East could be used to provide a “Half Newton” – a cross over platform to complement Mt Eden station that is within the station complex and a reasonable walking distance of it to provide a “cross connection” point for people who want to travel West to South [or v.v.] who would have used the Purple line.

    Coming from the West you’d alight at Mt Eden CRL station,
    They can then walk [via connecting tunnels at the northern end of the Mt Eden CRL station trench] “platform to platform” and staying within the station complex to the other Mt Eden platforms – which could be an Island platform or a pair of side platforms that would effectively be a new “Newton Station” that is reconstituted but is just below or (or actually at) surface level. So is much cheaper to build Yet provides a lot of the same benefits that Newton promised. those from the South heading West alight at Mt Eden East and do the reverse walk to Mt Eden CRL platforms.

    I am sure a lot of folks could manage a 100 m walk from Mt Eden “CRL” platforms to the “Mt Eden East” platforms to catch a south going CRL train instead of staying on the train at Mt Eden [+dwell time waiting for the train to go], then alighting at K’Rd Station, traversing to the other platform at K’Rd, then getting on the next CRL train going south.

    Yes, adding back in a station at Mt Eden East does slow down all Southern (but not Western) CRL users, but we’ve had the same arguments about the Newmarket and bringing back the old Newmarket “West” station thus avoiding the need to have westbound trains drive into, drivers change end then reverse out of Newmarket. Which goes away when CRL opens. So I am sure it can be made to work if the will is there.

    If we had that station in place we wouldn’t need Mt Eden West station or its upgrades [saving money].
    And we could get the Purple line “cross over” equivalent always envisaged as a main purpose for Newton Station, at Mt Eden Station without excessive delays or cost. And with a superior level of train service and no more operational costs of running more trains as we leverage the existing trains already passing. Leaving the trains otherwise used for the purple line available to improve the other lines.

    Even if we don’t actually build it when we do Mt Eden CRL station trench – CRLL should ensure provision is made for preserving the option to be added in the future at some stage. A cut and cover station is always going to be a lot cheaper than some deep bored tunnel and matching stations, so doing it later, while not ideal is an option if you plan for it now. Before the main tenders are let.

    To get some idea of the distances and geography of the area, see this PDF from AT:

    See Page 4 of the PDF for the elevation of the CRL route from Britomart to Mt Eden showing depth of the stations – Mt Eden is of course at surface level. See page 21 of the PDF (labelled as Page 51 in the PDF) shows the area where the eastern portal lines will actually run.

    Note that the incoming line from the south is grade separated from the equivalent CRL line from the West so one passes over the other so there is no cross-over or “flat junction” there anymore.

    1. Sounds like a lot of trouble (& $$$$) to provide an interchange that is worse than K-Rd.

      What’s wrong with staying on the train for cross platform interchange?

      Your suggestion reduces time on the train, and increases walking time/distance (including elevation change to go under/over track to get to/from island platforms).

      Might save a couple of minutes, but at what cost?

        1. and looking at Matts travel times chart, would this extra platform actually make the trip faster than it is currently?

        2. The closest equivalent on the existing network is the changing from south to Onehunga.
          You can change at the recommended station of Penrose and walk to Platform 3, or as I prefer to do continue to Elleslie and simply walk from one side of the platform too the other.
          I know which I prefer, and would almost certainly do the same between Western and Southern lines on the CRL

    2. Absolutely agree. Mt Eden only needs two platforms, they just need to be arranged such that you can transfer west-south, not the current proposal. Total Mt Eden station cost should be similar as its same number of platforms. Getting rid of the purple line gives more frequent services for everyone with the same rolling stock. It still saves the extra platforms at Otahuhu and Henderson, and makes the timetable completely simple. Yes its an extra stop for southern services but its a long way from Grafton to K’Rd, and there will be people wanting to travel to/from Eden Terrace / Newton. An all round winner.

      1. Without the purple line the only trains on this route will be freight. There could be some saving in making this connection past the station single track only. And it wouldn’t necessarily need to be electrified.
        In the justification documentation for the CRL stations there was a map with some catchment circles drawn around the stations. Removing Newton created a hole. I think removing K’Rd would be very short sighted, far worse than making the harbour bridge too narrow.

  13. The purple line is dominating the conversation.
    Is that the diversion that CRL want? Discussion over a service that may only be short term.

    The biggest issue in Matt’s story above is that two major contracts have not been signed to date.
    “Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Finance Minister Grant Robertson say two contracts for the project are yet to be signed”.

    I believe one is for the tunnelling and the other for the completion costs.
    This will be one of the largest cost over runs you have ever seen.
    It will make Auckland’s CRL HUGE again!
    And our rates will jump another 10% next year.

  14. I wonder if the Purple Line was to run between New Lynn and Penrose would it be more acceptable and effective.

  15. I like the purple line and think labelling a ‘silly purple line’ is going 0 to 100 a bit too fast.
    However this article and the “Raining: does make some good points.

    – Transfer from West to Newmarket (& south) would require a transfer at the Krd station adding additional time (if not mental time to the journey).

    – Doesn’t appear to include any thoughts regarding the catchment of people and future growth (currently 24% [or 21% depending on figures] to just both Grafton and Newmarket, not counting south) to Grafton & New Market (Hospital workers, St P, AGS, UOA Medical & Engineering campuses, Carlton Gore Rd businesses strip, as well as New Market business and retail strip). This is expected to grow as the Grafton Campus continues to be developed, and the development of 277 and condensing of Newmarket)

    – Doesn’t touch on people coming from west to events at the Domain (maybe special event trains?)

    – Reduced services doesn’t equal longer trip times, but if impacts resources/frequency on Britomart than maybe.

    1. You seem to be getting quite mixed reactions from readers on the blog and readers on your blog aren’t a cross section of the population.
      So I think axing the line will or direct access from West to Newmarket could impact the support of the project. If you start making journeys harder (even if mentally) using a transfer I think the support will drop.

  16. Don’t be a typical short sighted Auckland planner, purple line gives you options, ie blockage in tunnel, train fault, points failure. This is the britomart solution/saga all over again, Plan big cut it to bear bones close to completion!

    1. Agreed. There will be accidents and failures closing the tunnels, so there needs to be a default service pattern. The purple line route could be one of those.

  17. Couldn’t the two current platforms at Mt Eden be used for future Regional Rail?
    The 2 new platforms service the Western line Swanson to the CRL / Onehunga.
    With Regional Rail you could have stops at Puhinui and Mt Eden.
    For destinations Newmarket / Grafton and south, Airport and Howick, and the Southern line east use Puhinui.
    For destinations CBD / CRL and Parnell, and the Western line west use Mt Eden.

    1. Also, what would be the pros and cons of a shorter Purple line?
      Rather than a line it is a connection ‘shuttle.’
      Mt Eden to Newmarket, one stop Grafton.
      Mt Eden will have 4 platforms and Newmarket has 3.
      At 6tph every second Western line train from Swanson could read ‘Onehunga / Newmarket connection’ (off peak.)
      These trains would have a waiting Mt Eden – Newmarket shuttle / transfer on platforms 3/4.
      Due to the Southern line running pattern via Grafton / K’Rd this shuttle would only need to run west to east and could return immediately ‘out of service’ to Mt Eden to free up Newmarket platforms.
      You could run the shuttle with x2 3 car trains.
      At morning peak you could run a 3 car train Newmarket shuttle after every Western line train.
      Mt Eden platforms 3/4 used for Regional Rail and ‘Newmarket connection.’

  18. The tone of this article is quite immature and pointed compared to historical ones. And the comments show less of a unanimous take among even us pro-transit folk. Interesting to observe an occasion when groupthink is pitched and missed.

    This is a network, not a commuter service. Large cities have options other than in and out peak-dominated services. Look at Melbourne’s radial plans this week! And if it is 3tph, people will follow a timetable, same as they manage to in Tokyo and London for the less frequent services.

    The purple line does not need too much infrastructure, and if operationally, other patterns are adopted in future, nothing is lost. So let the market decide perhaps.

    Auckland is characterised by having a lot of non-CBD employment, unlike Wellington which is very CBD-dominated, and so the purple line supports this. It will also hit Light Rail at a more southerly point, compared to K Road, again, the network.

    Auckland needs more platforms for short turns such as at Henderson and Otahuhu regardless – these facilitate future expresses, resilience, event specials, shuttles etc and even passing at said stations. The same is touted for Plimmerton and Porirua – this is best practice and not attributable as CapEx for the purple line alone! Petty.

  19. The line must remain in place for the freight services from Northland. These are not allowed to pass through Britomart so the only way through is via Grafton. So if the line’s there why not use it?

  20. Also, a huge number of passengers come from West Auckland and get off at Grafton Station – they would have to take two trains if the purple line was taken away.

  21. I understand that some 25% of passengers from the West going beyond Mt Eden currently do not want to go to Britomart. As well as inconveniencing this significant flow of passengers, not providing the Purple Line also potentially forces them to go part-way down the CRL and back out again, needlessly chewing-into CRL capacity.
    It may be that the cost of *not* providing the Purple Line could be greater than the cost of providing it.

    1. A couple of points on that. Some of that 25 % will be currently going to Grafton and then catching a bus down Symonds St to get to midtown, in the future they will just use the CRL.

      Also those that go south currently have one transfer, post-CRL without the purple line they will still have just the one transfer.

      I agree with you at some point we will need to purple line to relieve capacity on CRL trains but this wont be day one (or we will have a serious problem!).

      1. We will have a serious problem, especially with the Western line. Patronage esp in peak morning will almost instantly, in weeks, need 6car 12tph. The shorter commute times and central cbd delivery at Aotea, worsening motorway gridlock, bunched up buses not having dedicated road lanes and row, and still no nw LR will push rail metro to new heights of popularity.

        1. AT only plan to have 9tph on the Western line once the CRL opens, so if you are correct then we will have a serious problem even with the purple line. It is basically your word against AT’s.

  22. OK I am going to raise again the idea of implementing the Purple line now. What is stopping it?

    I wrote a couple of years ago about bringing in that running pattern for all West/South trains. Then just operate shuttle trains from Newmarket to Britomart where you only have to cross the platform to get on the shuttle. It would mean West/South trains could have any frequency you want (subject to train availability) because the Britomart bottleneck would be gone.

    That would then mean only Eastern line trains and the Newmarket/Britomart shuttle trains would go into Britomart. I understand Britomart can handle 18 trains per hour. So that is 6 trains per hour for the Eastern line (for 10 min frequencies) and 12 trains an hour (for 5 min frequencies) for the Newmarket/Britomart shuttle trains.

    In the past I understood there were two objections:

    1. People wouldn’t want to change at Newmarket. I suggest once people realise how frequent the Newmarket/Britomart shuttle trains were, this would cease to be a problem. Also, we are implementing a bus network based on frequency over directness. Doesn’t the same apply here?

    2. The running pattern is not possible because of Newmarket’s layout. But the Purple line seems to suggest that running pattern is possible. If some work is required to to the tracks, then get that work done. It must be minor in the context of the CRL works.

    I am not suggesting this as an alternative to the CRL (which is obviously about 30 years overdue) but a holding pattern to keep increasing patronage – especially considering growth is starting to drop because of capacity issues.

    What is stopping this happening from a practical point of view? It seems to offer a huge increase in capacity for minimum spend.

    1. Didn’t the NZR when they ran the system run a similar train many years ago that was running West to South as this purple line idea ?

        1. Yes a tidy train pattern, but not workable because the city centre, Britomart, is the overwhelming destination on out network.

          Basic rule of transfer systems is run to main routes with the greatest demand direct, and keep the transfers to the lower demand movements as much as possible. Transferring can be made easy through service and station design but it is still best reduced wherever possible.

          This idea where you are expecting the vast majority of riders to change, all at once, just two stops from their destination and leaving a minority on board with the one seat ride, is far from ideal. Additionally the narrowness of the Newmarket platforms would make this even more chaotic, even dangerous.

          So in the am peak, with almost every rider heading to Britomart, it could be common to get both a full train from the west and another from the south, arrive together emptying 1000 people each onto platforms trying to get into a city shuttle with only half that capacity…. not gonna work

        2. 10 minute all day frequencies would help. We know they have the trains, as they deliver this schedule at the peaks. We know the network can handle it, ditto.

          And, if demand is still too peaky, causing overcrowding beyond capacity, let’s discount off peak. Let’s try that. Or target specific groups, students, the young, low income, beneficiaries, with cheap, even free, off peak gold-card type programme.

          Ask govt to fund through fare-box recovery target change.

      1. Yes. They ran east to south and south to east through he old station. People demanded it be kept with Britomart, because of how such a big proportion of eastern line passengers went to Newmarket… which they did at the time because the trains was shit to anywhere else.

        After three months of Britomart being opened they cancelled it, realising that they were wasting trains running sideways away from town with hardly anyone on it, even thought hey had just opened a brand new terminal downtown.

        This is exactly the same as the purple line, its just plain dumb to build extra platforms and buy trains to start running crosstown the second you open an new city tunnel!

    2. I don’t believe Newmarket would have the capacity to have your west/south line running at any more than 6tph, so your proposal would achieve nothing while forcing the majority instead of the minority to transfer.

      Even if you could run more frequent trains west to south, it wouldn’t really do much for capacity as Britomart is the busiest station on the network for passenger numbers. It would just cost a whole lot more to run more frequent services with little benefit.

  23. The vast majoriy who get off at Grafton don’t catch a Symonds Street bus (Symonds Street is a very long walk from Grafton). They go to work at Auckland Hospital, go to the University of Auckland site, St. Peter’s College (huge number) and any of the many businesses down in Carlton Gore Road. It would be madness to take that link away when it is so well used.

    1. Erm, Grafton station is literally beside a set of bus stops on Park Road, where about half of Symonds Street’s bus routes pass.

      1. None of those buses come from the west, though, and transferring at Symonds St is a right pain due to the sprints across roads and around corners required to reach the correct stops. I know this because I have to do this every time the trains are down. Khyber Pass buses are also nearly always running late due to the heavy traffic they encounter when leaving the city.

        1. Why does it matter which direction the buses come from? The point is people who work in midtown (the densest employment area in the country) and travel on the western line have two options.

          Get off the train at Grafton and catch one of the frequent routes along Park Rd and down Symonds St getting off at Wellersley.

          Or continue on the train to Britomart taking another 14 mins and then a longer walk back up to midtown.

          There is hop data to show a significant number take the top option, especially in the morning. It makes sense when you see how long the train takes to get from Grafton to Britomart.

        2. Yes HOP data shows a considerable numbers do both, in a pattern called downhilling. Off at Grafton to travel downhill in the morning and continuing downhill to get on at Britomart to head home.

      2. Regardless of whether people do or don’t, you yourself said that only 25% of Grafton users do this, which leaves the other 75% left high and dry if you don’t do it. That’s a lot of people that will be forced back onto overcrowded buses or into cars.

        1. No one is left high and dry, it will still be possible to get to Grafton from all western line stations using the rail network.

          It’s worth noting that even with the purple line these passengers will get an inferior service to what they currently have, there will inevitably be some eggs broken with the new running pattern.

          Not sure where I said that 25 % of Grafton users caught buses to the CBD.

          The purple line shouldn’t be operated just to appease some passengers that are worse off, it should only be run if volumes justify the expense of buying the extra trains and the cost of running them.

    1. That’s an interesting link and it sure looks like the purple line is happening.
      Those images of Otahuhu platform 3 show an interesting layout with shelters in front of a ticketing/hop gated entrance area linking directly to bus platforms. Couldn’t immediately see why a new footbridge from P3 to P1/P2 is needed at northern end of P3 when the overbridge exists at southern end of platforms where there are also lifts. It appears to do with positioning of hop gates to avoid tag off then tag on if continuing south on Southern line.
      Also interesting that completion is 2020 some 4 years before CRL opens.
      Is this to allow purple line service to commence before CRL opens

    2. Maybe the purple line should be the Onehunga line but rather than going into Britomart it goes via Grafton to New Lynn.
      This would mean that people travelling from Onehunga would be inconvenienced as they would have to change to get to Britomart or the CRL stations.

      1. I think it is more for operational flexibility.

        There was a breakdown a few weeks ago that caused major disruption. The effects would have been alleviated if Otahuhu loop was available.

        On a slightly different tack how about extending the loop right back to Westfield Jn?

        1. Agree, an extra platform at Henderson will be used anyway for extra peak services once the CRL opens, while and extra platform at Otahuhu could well be used by regional trains.

          The purple line debate is relatively simple – will it have enough patronage to justify the capital cost of extra EMUs and the operational cost of running them.

        2. Extra platform at Otahuhu is all but built already, just needs track and overhead, and will be used as terminus for western line trains via CRL and Parnell…

  24. Has anyone provided the project’s costs in 2018 dollars, not future ones, before we get panicked into slashing components?

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