There have been some slightly strange conspiracy theories floating around recently about how the City Centre to Mangere light rail project came into existence. I looked at the history recently but thought it would be worthwhile taking a more detailed walk through how the project has evolved over time, what key decisions were made, by who and when. And also to discuss the roles we have, and haven’t played, in where the project has now got to.


In January 2015 Auckland Transport surprised everyone (including the Mayor!) by including plans they’d been working on for a fairly significant isthmus light-rail network within the draft Regional Land Transport Plan. It turned out that Auckland Transport had been looking at options for addressing city centre bus congestion for some time – essentially ever since the 2012 City Centre Future Access Study had concluded the City Rail Link was necessary, but not sufficient, to meet growing travel demand to this highly constrained part of the city.

Projected bus numbers to meet forecast demand, even with CRL in place, were extremely high:


This led to the work initially recommending a four-line light-rail system. Lines would travel along Sandringham, Dominion, Mt Eden and Manukau Roads – eventually converging into Queen Street and Symonds Street.

Draft RLTP LRT Routes

My initial thoughts on this were cautious optimism. The Government of the day had agreed the City Rail Link was needed but didn’t think it was needed till the late 2020’s at the earliest. They didn’t even believe we’d exceed 20 million trips by 2020 (spoiler alert, we reached 20 million in mid-2017), and this seemed to potentially make that conversation a lot more difficult. On the other hand, it was great to finally see Auckland Transport showing some vision for Auckland’s future.

Herald columnist Brian Rudman was a big fan:

The mayor is struggling to put together a budget that will accommodate his magnificent obsession, the $2.5 billion underground City Rail Link (CRL), without triggering a ratepayer revolt, so his testiness over Dr Levy’s light rail proposal is understandable.

But if Mr Brown wants to be remembered as the mayor who solved Auckland’s transport congestion problems, he should be embracing the light rail proposal as though it was his idea.

His single-mindedness over the CRL is admirable. Such projects need a 24-hour-a-day champion. But it shouldn’t blind him to the bigger picture – that the heavy rail network, while vital, is only a small part of the city’s overall transport system, and that regardless of how much money is thrown at roads and buses, which the majority of commuters use, increasing congestion will inevitably induce cardiac arrest.

In February 2015 a few more details about the project emerged. For example, we saw for the first time how the different lines might work in the city centre:

Future City Centre Network

Interestingly, I noted at the time that there was still no real discussion on how this network might end up being funded. There was some early discussion about PPPs, but hopefully as everyone knows by now that’s just a financing method rather than a way to actually fund a project.

By June 2015, Auckland Transport were already beginning to focus on progressing some of the network ahead of other parts, with the initial focus on Queen Street and Dominion Road.

LRT Stage 1.0

Some key facts and figures were also emerging about the project, including some key details which haven’t really changed since – like the vehicle capacity and pedestrianising Queen Street:

LRT Stage 1.1

Overall, the work in 2015 was largely focused on the city centre and the isthmus. It also looked at multiple corridors, although right from the start there seemed to be clear recognition that Dominion Road was the strongest of the corridors and should be “the first” to be turned from bus over to light-rail.

There was, however, some indication that Auckland Transport were already starting to look at extending light-rail right through to the Airport. In August 2015 I reported on some work that had been done comparing the merits of light-rail and heavy rail to the Airport. It’s fair to say I was pretty sceptical of the idea:

I have some serious concerns about this analysis as AT seem infatuated by light rail at the moment so it seems to me they’ve in effect stacked the deck against heavy rail. Here’s why

  • The light rail option is an extension of line that doesn’t even exist yet and there’s no guarantee it ever will.
  • I also wonder how practical that alignment alongside SH20 is. I know Light Rail can climb hills better than Heavy rail can but that route would be one long, steep and slow climb if it’s even possible.
  • When the measurement of success seems to be based on how many people could walk to a station and catch a train then having the heavy rail option with fewer stations it’s no surprise it has a lower result. It seems to me silly not to at least have a heavy rail station around the Montgomerie Rd area which is only about 2km from Mangere and 2.5km from the airport. Other stations may be able to be justified.
  • It’s no surprise that the Light Rail option has more people within walking distance of a station as it travels right through the densest residential area in Auckland – the CBD. I’m not sure if AT’s heard but there’s a heavy rail project which does that too – it’s called the City Rail Link. What’s more AT’s planned operating pattern will see trains from the western line pass through the CRL before heading towards Onehunga. It seems like there’s a bit of gerrymandering going on this. If AT are talking about delivering single seat rides then they should also include all the people next to the western line, even just the people near the inner west and CRL stations add almost an extra 60k to the walking catchment.
  • With a dedicated corridor between Onehunga and the airport the travel time of light and heavy rail is not likely to be all that different. The issue comes in north of Onehunga. AT say above the extension just from Dominion Rd will have 1.9km of slow on street running, what’s not also mentioned is the on street running on the Dominion Rd corridor through to the city. The next slide looks at exactly this issue and it is perhaps the biggest argument against light rail. A 35-38 minute travel time is very competitive with all other modes at all times of the day whereas light rail is barely faster than the existing airport bus. It’s also worth contrasting this approach to what happens elsewhere in transport. As a society seem to be prepared to fork out billions with few questions to obtain a few minutes of travel time saving on roads the same but for rail it’s all about how we can do things on the cheap.


In early 2016 a bit more information started to come out of the work being done to compare light-rail and heavy rail to the Airport. This started to show how difficult and costly extending heavy rail to the Airport from Onehunga was likely to be. Major sections of elevated track would be needed, for example:

Kirkbride Elevated Rail optionHowever, at that stage my preference was still for the heavy rail option, as I noted:

I’ll state upfront that my preference remains that the connection be by heavy rail. I think the time competitiveness it offers is probably being undervalued by AT compared to the other factors. I also see it as a nice balance to the operating patterns proposed post CRL. In effect I see it as completing the heavy rail network.

However, it’s fair to say that the light-rail idea was starting to grow on me. Especially as it became clear the light-rail concept being looked at wasn’t a slow, dinky tram that would stop every couple of hundred metres, but rather something resembling “surface level rapid transit” – much more like what Sydney, Seattle, Calgary and the Gold Coast have been building in recent years.

All of this work led to some big decisions in June 2016, where Auckland Transport and NZTA formally made the decision that light-rail and not heavy rail was the preferred way of serving the Airport with rapid transit. I noted at the time that cost and value for money had been the main factors in this decision:

In the end the biggest nail in the coffin for heavy rail has ended up being the cost which is now estimated at $2.6 to $3 billion. Being even more expensive than the CRL and with fewer benefits – after-all the CRL improves the entire rail network – it is always going to be hard sell and in the end AT and the NZTA have said it simply offered “low value for money” with a Benefit Cost Ratio of 0.37-0.64. As a comparison they estimate LRT could have similar or even greater overall benefits – I’ll get to that soon – but come in at less than half the price at an estimated $1.2-1.3 billion giving it a BCR of 1.11-1.72. That figure seems to be an improvement on earlier information such as the video that was released at the beginning of the year.

Light-Heavy rail to Aiport Routes and stats

The biggest issue with the LRT option though is it assumes that LRT will already be in place along Dominion Rd and that this is therefore just an extension. The issue with that is so far there is no agreement from the NZTA or the government that the Dominion Rd route will be supported – although the ATAP report last week seems to confirm something more than just more buses will be needed. But even if the cost of LRT along Dominion Rd (estimated at $1 billion) was included in, it still comes in cheaper than heavy rail and would have even higher benefits.

The “two projects for the price of one” argument – where light-rail along Dominion Road and then out to the Airport was roughly the same cost as heavy rail from Onehunga to the Airport – seemed critical in making this choice. While the costs of light-rail seem to have increased over time (although it’s important to not make a mistake and compare the Mt Roskill to Airport light-rail costs with the entire City Centre to Airport costs), there’s no reason to think that the same wouldn’t have happened for heavy rail as more detailed design work proceeded.

The other key factor in the decision-making seemed to be within the Airport itself, where heavy rail would have required an underground station and very long underground section. Not only were these expensive, but the Airport would have needed the “station box” to be built pretty much straight away to fit in with their terminal upgrade projects:

Light-Heavy rail to Aiport - airport alignment options

This approach was subsequently confirmed through the Auckland Transport Alignment Project, which was approved by both the Government (the previous government) and Auckland Council. It clearly indicates the connection to the Airport as being “not heavy rail” and being an extension from Dominion Road.


So by mid-2016 both Auckland Transport and NZTA had made official decisions to prefer light-rail over heavy rail as the best way of serving the Airport with rapid transit. This decision had been informed by significant analysis, and was subsequently agreed to by Auckland Council and the previous Government through approving ATAP. There was a bit of teeth-gnashing over this, and the government still thought that buses might be better than light-rail for a while yet, but not much.


In early 2017, before we launched our updated Congestion Free Network, things took another step forwards when NZTA formally confirmed they agreed with Auckland Transport’s analysis that light-rail was the best long-term transport solution on the City Centre to Airport corridor.

There was still a bit more work to do in figuring out the best timing but knowing you’ll need the project in the future changes the conversation as there’s little point in investing in expensive infrastructure now if you know it’ll need to be replaced 10-15 years later.

About a month later we picked up on this broad agreement between the transport agencies on the long-term mode for this corridor by including it as light-rail in our Congestion Free Network 2 map. We also included some other light rail lines.

  1. We extended the line to the North Shore to replace the Northern Busway as some separate AT work showed the busway would start seeing capacity issues within a decade. This was unwittingly confirmed earlier this year with the new network rollout.
  2. We included a light rail line to the Northwest instead of a busway. There were a few reasons for this, including:
    • There is significant growth planned for the Northwest and the existing urban areas along the route
    • There remained significant bus capacity constraints in the city centre but there would be capacity on the light rail infrastructure on this section.
    • It was estimated there was twice the demand from the North Shore as from Dominion Rd and so it presented new route opportunities while to help balance the demand without just having to turn half the services around to head back empty.

The Congestion Free Network 2

Later on in 2017, light-rail to the Airport became a key part of the Labour Party’s election campaign – and then after that was incorporated into their confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party. But this was really no surprise at all – given the decisions on mode had been made well over a year before in mid-2016, informed by work by Auckland Transport that went right back another couple of years.

Perhaps it’s the lack of communications about this project over the years by Auckland Transport and now by NZTA which gives the impression that it was “dreamed up” only recently by politicians, or even by advocacy groups like us. In fact, light-rail was actually pretty unusual in its initial development being kept well away from politicians and key decisions over the years about its mode have often been done through a pretty unpopular, but hard-nosed and evidence-based approach.

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  1. I live in Albany. If a get a job a the Airport how long will it take future me to get there on a tram?

    The objection to trams remains: they do not provide a competitive alternative to motorways over typical long distance commutes and as such they will not be transformative. Fully grade separated light (or heavy) rail would.

    Auckland is a labour market. The PT system needs to work for all commuters.

    1. My guess would be 80 mins plus whatever time you need to get to and from the stations at each end. However, full grade separation would probably save 5 mins at most, so it would still be a long trip, I’m not sure the expense is really justified for what is not a common use case.

      1. And if it were fully grade separated heavy rail, there wouldn’t be enough demand to justify a frequency greater than 15 minutes (even London’s Heathrow Express only runs every 15 mins and Heathrow is a considerably bigger airport). So the turn up and go duration may actually be greater with heavy rail because of the wait time.

        1. I agree that it’s better to have a one carriage train every 2 mins than it is to have a 5 carriage train every 10 mins. Unfortunately, failing to fully grade separate limits both the potential size and frequency of trains.

        2. You forgot the Piccadilly Line and Heathrow Connect/TfL Rail services which also go to Heathrow. That works out at a train every few minutes.

        3. Heathrow has two heavy rail and an underground line, plus dozens of different local and long distance bus services. You can’t compare the two airports.

      2. My feeling is that rail on roads can be either fast or safe (but not both). The potential speed will be limited by the frequency of accidents. The Wynyard Q. to Mt. Roskill portion will take a long time. I count 11 stops just going through the city centre.

        1. They will run at the posted road speed limits as they do on other countries. Yes, this will be slower than the top speed of a train, but if you spend anytime on the rail network you will realise the trains don’t spend a lot of the journey at top speed.

          The rail network also has dwell time constraints mainly caused by it being on a freight network, a newly designed LR network will be able to work around this.

        2. David it will be a similar speed to current rail overall, which might surprise you is around 40kph (Western Line from memory). Overall journey time is largely governed by stop spacing and dwell time, not possible running speed.

          Yes it will be slow in Queen St (like in Bourke St in Melb), but other sections, including Dom Rd, while be faster. And some long sections of motorway running at max speed. As the stop spacing looks good, and with all door boarding and HOP card payment dwell time should be snappy, it looks like overall journey time will be fine. Comparable to the existing rail system.

          And compared to current bus services, all the above details plus the fact that the route is very direct, and that LR will have intersection priority at the few places it meets cross roads, it will be a hugely popular and used service.

          Like LR in the Gold Coast, Sydney, and soon to start in Canberra it will quickly become hugely popular and in fact loved. It in fact be problematically popular….

          Aaaaaand, will mean if still prefer to drive across town, it will, along with the rest of the growing Rapid Transit Network, make your drive more functional because of the people it attracts from getting in their cars for every journey.

        3. I think people grossly overestimate how fast transport is, especially the current trains.

          For example Britomart to New Lynn on the train today takes 32 minutes to travel 15km. That’s 28km/h. That’s slower than the proposed LRT on average.

          Right now driving from Albany to the Airport is a 50 minute trip, for 45km. Practically the entire thing on the motorway with no significant traffic, but still the average if 54km/h. I think people assume it’s 100km/h because that’s the speed limit.

        4. Agreed, DavidN. “rail on roads can be either fast or safe (but not both)”.

          The imposition of rapid transit on pedestrian-rich areas doesn’t work. If it is to be safe, it won’t be rapid. The bus system along Wellington’s “Golden Mile” keeps bowling pedestrians even though it has been reduced to 30Km/h. Rapid transit needs to be on its own protected right-of-way. Only slow-transit can mix with peds. Which do we want?

          And it should be made clear that the current languid performance of the heavy rail service has more to do with unhelpful decision-making and lack of incentivisation to cut journey-times, rather than any fundamental problem with heavy rail.
          And add to that an almost stifling “safety culture” on rail, which is radically different to anything found on the road, but which may well be applied to “rapid” on-street LRT once the inevitable accidents happen.

          Claims that on-street LR will produce average speeds as fast or faster than HR are glossy-brochure talk. Just like the empty promises of how electrification would speed up the heavy rail service. These claims need to pass through the wringer of reality before they can be taken seriously.

        5. Similarly your taking the best possible view of HR and the worst possible view of LR needs to be subjected to the “wringer of reality”.

          “glossy-brochure talk” is not one sided …

          (And I agree that LR will be slow through an otherwise pedestrianised Queen St – and that this will not be the end of the world.)

        6. Dave, yes it’s a trade-off between access and speed. And LR offers incomparable access, so is worth the compromise on speed on parts of its route. Because the alternative is not, as you like to imagine, full networks of underground railways in every NZ city. They are simply unaffordable. Even Paris only has them in a fraction of their city. We are just getting one small section of underground rail in the very centre of our biggest city, after the biggest fight. So if you insist on railway standard grade separation or nothing. Nothing is what you’ll get.

          Anyway this model of LR works, we know it works, it’s working now in cities nearby:

        7. Since it now looks like LR up Queen Street May be a goer then what do you suggest will be an acceptable or tolerable rate of pedestrian deaths and serious injuries? when related to LRV speed?

        8. gk, I’m not taking the best and worst possible view. I am contrasting HR which already exists (with known shortcomings – i.e. it has already been through the ‘wringer of reality’ if you like) with LR in narrow, high-volume pedestrian streets which currently doesn’t exist in Auckland and is promoted on assumptions not ‘knowns’. And care must be taken in porting-across the performance of LR systems elsewhere, that the environment we will be running in is comparable. Many of the Gold Coast LRT’s streets for instance are a lot less-restrictive than much of Auckland’s Dom Road.

          Patrick – yes, the street-based model of LR works, but in defined contexts only. You will notice a 10Km/h speed limit sign in one of the Bourke Street photos you link to:
 (I presume it applies to trams as these are the only vehicles permitted).
          This is the sort of restriction necessary to assure safety in this type of environment! Is this what we are expecting for Queen St and parts of Dom Road?

          Melbourne’s trams are fantastic, hugely-successful, well-used, but they are not ‘rapid’ and do not purport to be. Their coverage is the inner-suburban area only. If you want to go further out you use the much-faster heavy-rail system.

          I fear LR promoters in AKD are confusing their expectations of what on-street LR will deliver. If that expectation is the speed of Melbourne’s trams over significant portions of the route then fine. Their expectations will be met. But if the expectation is rapid-transit-performance comparable with what HR can do then they have been badly misled.

          By the way, I do not advocate going underground for rapid transit unless it is absolutely unavoidable. But it is essential to have a protected corridor. Where this can be threaded-through at-grade then it should be done. A little-explored but very promising possibility is to build at-grade then cover over with a box-structure and build or landscape over that. Kiwi-ingenuity ought to be out in the fore here, but sadly it is not much in evidence.

        9. Dave – that’s the speed limit for delivery vehicles. From my observations in Melbourne I would expect our trams to be limited to 20kmh on the pedestrianised section of Queen St and the road speed limit in other sections of the on road sections. Yes, a train on designated track would travel faster, but for this to have been at ground level the designations would have had to be made in the 19th century.

          Interestingly despite the lower speed, in many cities LR networks move more people than HR networks as they go to where the people are

          You talk a lot about how we can speed up our trains. The Frankston line in Melbourne takes 64 minutes to travel 42.7km (40.1 kmh), while the Southern line takes 50 minutes to travel 33.1km (39.7 kmh). The Melbourne system is much more mature than ours, yet with no real speed difference I’m not sure how much scope there really is to speed up our trains.

        10. Hi Jezza. Yes, I wondered whether that might be the case for the 10Kmh sign. I will go with 15-20 as a more realistic operating speed in a pedestrianized environment.

          That LR networks often move more people than HR does not indicate greater relative attractiveness of the mode, but different markets for different journey-types. I maintain that Albany-AK Airport is beyond the expectation of street-LR, or that sections of slow-running in an otherwise rapid journey would be detractive. If there really is no alternative then OK, but I think we are too casually opting for the compromise of running so-called rapid transit down pedestrian streets.

          I also think the “access” argument is overblown. A well-placed heavy rail station every Km or so means that access will be no more than 500m (6-7min walk) along the route. And given that many destinations are likely to be off-the-route (for LR as well as HR), some degree of walking is totally accepted. LR proponents in Wellington argue that HR stops with this spacing would be too sparse to succeed, but the reality is that HR currently succeeds with only one, not very conveniently-sited access point at one edge of the CBD! Where it loses out is to CBD destinations greater than 1Km away which is the whole sad story of Wellington’s “broken PT spine”.

          AK’s trains could be significantly sped up by reducing dwell-times to what Wellington achieves (as low as 15 sec), also by reviewing ultra-conservative operating practices in the light of the compromise they are causing, but currently there is little incentive to do this. Compared to many metro networks, AK’s system is positively sluggish.

        11. Dave – completely agree regarding dwell times, they are still pathetic, was on a Wellington train recently and was surprised to see the door close and the train immediately start moving!

          I agree the LR trip from Albany to the Airport wont be appealing, but despite this the route will still likely be a big success because of the access it gives to so many people and works with the designations and money we have available in 2018.

          You are right that HR could have stops every 1km but this would more than double the number of stops on the Southern line, which would bring it’s speed to something we would expect from LR. You can’t have your cake and eat it.

        12. It’s a bit disingenious to say that only slow transit can mix with peds. That might be the case for the 1,100m stretch of Queen Street pedestrian mall, but not for the rest.

          Albany to the airport is 39km. 29.5km of that would be grade separated light railway with speeds up to 110kmh, or more, if they want. 8km of that would be in protected right of way in a street corridor with speeds up to 50km. And only 1.1km at pedestrian speeds on lower Queen Street.

          By comparison, our heavy rail travels further at walking pace between Britomart and Parnell today. That’s 1.9km by rail and it takes five minutes. Which equals 22 km/h.

          It’s not that the claims of LR are overblown, it’s the assumption of HR current performance is. To put it another way, HR currently, and with the CRL, will go little more than jogging pace through the city centre. It’s not hard for LR on dedicated lanes to achieve the same.

        13. Dave – care should also be taken using Melbourne trams network as an example. Although well used, it has many legacy issues including extensive running in general traffic. This is not what is proposed for Auckland. It also extends well out from the city centre (two lines to ~17km & ~19km – funnily enough about the distance from downtown Auckland to the Airport …).

          Careful use the Gold Coast example likely gives a better idea of speeds for an Auckland system. 15 – 20 km/h busy pedestrian areas, otherwise 30 – 35 km/h town centres, 50 km/h kerb separated middle of the road running, 40 km/h school zones.
          Faster on fully separated track.

    2. While it would be great for PT to accomodate all commuters, not everyone will have the same speedy service, as not everyone can live in one spot and work in another. If you were living in Albany and working at the Airport, and not happy with PT or driving, you may need to rethink what you value spending your time on. Perhaps you would need to think of moving to accomodate your job, or changing job to closer to home?

      1. Yes, but if we’re spending billions of dollars building a rail line that runs directly between Albany and the Airport surely it should be suitable for commuters traveling from Albany to the Airport?

        1. A compact city can easily meet the sorts of standards you’re aiming for. Our problem is our sprawl means every solution is compromised somewhat. We should only have to be providing rapid transit routes that are reasonably short in length, given our population.

          If you’re going to start looking at the billions of dollars being spent on transport, I think it would be wise to look at the really damaging projects that are taking the lion’s share of the money while inducing enormous levels of traffic and causing congestion throughout the isthmus. The time has passed for motorway widening and extension. Instead, what motorway we have should be being reallocated to modes that move more people more quickly.

        2. They would likely make up a tiny fraction of users, so no they wouldn’t a group that would be considered heavily during any analysis.

          The largest group of users will be passengers travelling between their homes along the line to their place of work or leisure in or near the CBD, this line will serve this group well.

        3. Exactly, it’s not like the multi billion pound Elizabeth line in London Crossrail is designed with the singular goal of gettind people from Reading to Shenfield.

        4. “Singular goal of getting people from Reading to Shenfield” ?? Er – no Nick, don’t be silly.

          The Elizabeth Line will provide for a vast array of journey-options just like an Albany-Airport line would. The end-to-end function is only a part of that.
          However a rapid cross-city capability is likely to stimulate a whole range of journeys which are currently too awkward to make by PT.

        5. Of course moving between the two termini is an extreme case. But still what about shorter cross-town journeys, like eg. Smales Farm to somewhere on Dominion Road? These trips will benefit if there is a reasonably fast way of crossing the CBD.

        6. It’s not really sensible to judge a transport mode by the extremes of someone’s daily commute from the fartherest points apart – the nature of Auckland is going to make that slow whatever way you go as it’s a spread out city. It’s about connecting all the points along the way to maximise the scope for the majority of usages. Most people are going to be utilising portions of the whole route rather than the whole on a daily basis and this is what it is about. Anybody who works at one end of a network and lives at the other is making a choice and needs to factor that into their decision making rather than expecting a network to magically solve their self-inflicted woes.

        7. That’s like living in The Bronx and working at Coney Island. Sure, there is a Subway line that will take you the whole way – the D line – but that’s not necessarily the point of the line. It’s the stops in-between which the vast majority of people will use.

    3. The only sense in which a PT system can work for all commuters is to provide a useful service for a significant proportion of them, leaving reasonable-cost capacity for less space-efficient modes for others. There is no reasonable cost PT system that would be better than SOV for my own commute, and I’m happy to trade the cost of owning one for the convenience. Bike would be an option if appropriate safety infrastructure was provided, but there is no way I’m using e.g. Neilson St in it’s current state.

      1. Auckland is a labour market and the primary role of a PT system is to allow people to participate in the labour market they serve. Auckland is NZs largest labour market, that’s why people live here in the first place.

        Who was that guy that ran for Mayor that said everyone should just work from home? Sigh.

        1. The PT system will allow people to participate in the labour market. However, if someone lives 44km from their place of work in an urban area it will take a long time to get to and from work, irrespective of what mode they choose.

        2. Auckland is many labour markets. If someone is paying you well enough to be bothered travelling to the airport from Albany then you will do it regardless of what ever type of PT they put on. If they dont pay you enough then future you wont take a job that far from where you live. The idea that your choice to work there will be determined by a marginal change of 5 minutes is crap.

    4. It will be mostly grade separated light rail, don’t listen to the miserable rearguard trying to sell you ‘slow trams’.

      It’s 44km from Albany to the airport. The 8km in the middle from Wynyard to Mount Roskill would be on street, but fully dedicated. The remaining 36km, 82% of the route, would be grade separated, effectively metro rail.

      Fully grade separated heavy rail might raise that to 100%, at the cost of ten billion dollars more. That extra ten billion for basically the same outcome means it would never happen.

    5. I cannot imagine this being a fast commute in a car either.

      You just figured out why it makes sense to have most employment in central locations, and not all over the place.

        1. I am not expecting warehouses and factories. But a common argument is that jobs in general should decentralise.

          Surely our company can move to cheaper offices in Albany. But it would mean we have ‘access’ to a lot less to employees. Such is life on the edge of the city.

          You could also argue for more houses in central areas. Alas, we are both still waiting for that heritage zone and that single house zone in the central suburbs to go away.

        2. Hence the decentralisation that Patrick mentioned. The sooner we overhaul the land use and transport planning methods, the sooner we can design for people and business.

    6. Lets say they build fully grade separated and it cost $40 each way like the Heathrow Express does. Would that get you out of your car?

        1. The cost is due to it being a premium no stops express service, why should the Heathrow Express cost the same as the all-stops tube trip.

        2. 15 mins vs over an hour and both tube and train frequencies are 10 minutes.

          Like David, I’m forced to live far from work (Heathrow) as London is so expensive, even the poorer areas.

          Remember an airport is a noisy place to work so it makes sense not to live close by for one’s own health and well-being.

        3. You don’t have to live in Albany to escape the airport noise, my health and wellbeing is just fine in Panmure

    7. So I regularly use the Skybus From Smales Farm to the Airport which takes 45 minutes and is little different from the time it takes me in a Taxi. To me the point is using PT instead of my own vehicle. The PT mode is irrelevant given the volume of people wanting to do that PT route is easily accommodated by a bus.

        1. It’s only $5 from town if you work at the airport, not sure what it is from the Shore. Despite this discount the Skybus is not overflowing with people.

    8. You would use the tram because it is the environmentally sound option. In a world of rapidly degrading climate all other considerations are secondary.

      1. Yes there are worse things than a leisurely commute by tram – like civilisational collapse and environmental apocalypse.

    9. “The PT system needs to work for all commuters” – with this assertion you have both disenfranchised non-commuters and maximised the build cost. Is Mexico going to pay for it?

  2. From the information above, it would take 42-44 minutes to get from the CBD to the Airport by light rail or 39 – 42 minutes using heavy rail. I am not sure that a possible time saving of 2-3 minutes for heavy rail justifies the enormous cost of heavy rail, particularly when heavy rail to the Airport will still leave significant numbers of people in South Auckland without any decent transport options. Given light rail is likely to connect to the North Shore eventually, if you did get a job at the Airport, you could travel fairly seamlessly to the Airport using light rail. a 42 minute journey to the Airport using light rail seems fairly attractive to me.

    1. Assuming light rail will be much more frequent (because it will have a significantly higher number of users due to having multiple purposes than just the airport), turn up and go duration may actually be shorter with light rail.
      I’m not sure which would cost more – but I sure know which has more benefits.

      1. 4 minute frequency according to the Regional Public Transport Plan.

        Which of course means the effective journey time is faster than some other system at a lower frequency even if it has a faster journey time.

        But the opponents of the Rapid Transit Network don’t understand how PT systems work so can’t even comprehend the value of frequency. Instead they obsess about one-seat express rides from a single departure point.

  3. 2012: “the City Rail Link was necessary, but not sufficient, to meet growing travel demand to this highly constrained part of the city”. Yet they continued to widen the motorways, contributing even more SOVs and congestion to the highly constrained part of the city. Work that didn’t reduce travel times, just increased traffic numbers.

    2015: The bus numbers on the arrows were a concern, so an important appropriate response would have been to substantially reduce general traffic from those roads.

    The absence of any substantial buslanes on our arterial roads has prolonged our problems, and it appears there has been a complete lack of consideration of the best use of our motorway infrastructure, which should be able to move many more people than it does, for the investment we have made in it.

  4. A useful summary of the last few years but does not cover the period 2001-2002 when light rail was under serious discussion and was actually formally adopted by the region in 2001 as the preferred mode for the whole suburban rail network, with a new light rail line running from the yet to be built Britomart up Queen Street and past the Universities and Hospital to join the existing Western rail line at Grafton. Then Banksie got elected Mayor in late 2001 and tried to close all the suburban rail lines and have them converted to busways. Fortunately he was out numbered by the other Councils and failed to get the rail lines closed but he succeeded in ditching light rail which was not seriously discussed again for over 13 years.

    1. Yes Graeme that’s true, this earlier Light Rail plan (and other ones) championed by ARC members Mike Lee, Christine Rose, and Joel Cayford all weirdly and misleadingly now involved in attacking the current Light Rail programme….. go figure.

  5. @Matt, many of your original concerns still remain valid.
    The main question I still have is regarding the costing for heavy rail.
    LR is indicated as being surface running through the airport, whilst HR must be built underground? Yes LR can run in mixed traffic but I can’t imagine AAL wanting to give up valuable real estate for this. Then they have HR running a huge dog leg before entering a long (expensive) tunnel to the terminal. The alternative is a tunnel bore underneath the future runway… why a tunnel bore? That adds HUGELY to the price (especially for a short distance). There is zero reason why this couldn’t be a covered trench (especially considering the runway hasn’t been built and won’t be for some time. Straight away you’ve saved yourself about 1km of track (and time) while shaving about $400m off the project cost (shorter distance, no TBM/shallower underground). There is no reason why the runway can’t be built over a trench (this is done around the world at multiple airports. Some examples include Sydney, Heathrow, Wellington, LAX. Trench building through green/brownfields is relatively cheap especially since there is little to no services to be redirected etc there.

    A bridge over the harbour from Onehunga is going to cost the same for HR as LR. Could of course go from Otahuhu instead to avoid the harbour crossing (and Onehunga Line could be converted to LR if desired). Yes due to AC/AT/NZTA incompetence the new interchange on the motorway isn’t compatible with HR going underneath, but a flyover isn’t that expensive.

    It may be that overall LR is cheaper (assuming no cost blow outs) and I don’t think anyone here isn’t arguing against Dom Rd LR. I do just think that to this day HR costs etc are being treated with a bit of “It seems like there’s a bit of gerrymandering going on this.” as you say.

    1. The Airport has designated it as such, is my understanding. The land required above ground would be enormous for a rail corridor at surface level. Someone with an engineering background will be able to tell you how deep a trench would need to be below any runway in the future, but the requirements for a surface LRT terminus and a rail terminus are massively different.

      I’m also not sure why HR advocates insist that there might be blow-outs on the LRT option, but totally discount the potential for blowouts of Heavy Rail?

      1. once nzta failed to futureproof the new mangere bridge it killed off heavy rail as a viable option really. A seperate spur just takes paths on the existing network away from other lines.

      2. HR and LR take up the same amount of space (LR slightly more as it will be on Standard gauge rather than Narrow gauge). Only difference being if they intent to run LR mixed with traffic or not. If mixed with traffic then it is going to be slower (limited to 50 and timings for intersections etc).

        As I have already said a trench under a runway doesn’t need to be deep (runways are typically shallower than 2m including sub surface strata and services) so you’re talking about a New Lynn type trench pretty much with a stronger ceiling on it. Note also that the ground is soft there so is much easier to dig than New Lynn with its volcanic rock.

        1. I wouldn’t describe the soft ground around the airport as easy for trenching. There is a reason the Kirkbride Rd interchange cost the same amount as the Hillsborough to Maioro St extension of SH20.

        2. Kirkbride road cost a lot for several reasons: Closer to the volcanic areas so different subsurface type.
          Existing motorway and arterial road needing to remain open involving effectively building the road twice.
          Kirkbride Road is about 3x the scale of an under runway rail trench.
          Kirkbride Road has additional constraints placed on it to accommodate LR.
          Additionally I suspect Kirkbride Road involved a large amount of ticket clipping. There’s no way it should have cost that much or taken that long to build.

        3. My understanding is that the gauge currently in use allows for tighter bends and steeper gradients than standard gauge but still allows the use of standard gauge sized rolling stock.

        4. Our narrow gauge heavy rail can take tighter curves (but slower) but it doesn’t change the steepness of grade possible. It’s also less stable at higher speeds. The loading gauge and size of the vehicles isn’t directly related.

          Anyway that’s neither here nor there. Light rail has totally different rail profile and track systems to heavy rail.

          Standard gauge light rail can take curves and grades about three times tighter and steeper than our narrow gauge heavy rail.

          There is no reason not to use standard gauge LRT, and doing so would mean non standard track and vehicles systems. While you can get narrow gauge LRT, not every model and manufacturer does it so you’d limit your suppliers and end up spending more, for poorer ride quality.

    2. Dude in Auckland: Agreed – there is no physical reason why a tunnel bore would have to be used in preference to a cut and cover trench – it will make no difference to quality of the runway overhead. I suspect that it is merely a question of convenience – if they are to cut and cover, then they have to make a decision and start to spend money now, whereas if they leave it up to “later” then it is someone else’s problem to fix. Less cynically, it is also probably something to do with the other businesses etc that it would have to slice through on the surface – again, tunnelling underground means that can all be solved by others, at a later stage, rather than trenching now.

      Incidentally…. When Heathrow Express tunnel was getting excavated in London in the 90s, they decided to tunnel their way there, as there was a large car parking building in the way. They were using a road-header rather than a TBM, and shotcrete using the “New Austrian Tunnelling Method” (NATM) and discovered the hard way why Austrian methods don’t work so well in London shingle soils. Inevitably, the tunnel collapsed while under construction and the entire carpark building started falling into the hole. The only way to stop the carpark building collapsing more was to pour masses of quickset concrete into the hole, which now meant that you had a hole, plugged with concrete, with a collapsed car parking building imploded in the centre.

      Made it a lot harder to get the tunnel done after all that….

      1. Interesting story Guy! Cheers.
        Wouldn’t be buildings etc in the way in Auckland. Only green fields and surface level carparks.

      2. Cut and cover tunneling at the airport would require dewatering due to the high groundwater table in the area. Dewatering creates a drawdown effect that results in settlement around the tunnel, which may impact the existing runway. So to counter this there is a need to put in wells all the way around the excavation that water is then pumped into the ground to prevent settlement (other options such as ground freezing are typically much more expensive). This of course contributes to the groundwater that you’re dewatering. Alternate options such as use of sheet piles to isolate the site from groundwater may be viable, but this then introduces large cranes that would potentially have significant impact on runway and aircraft operations, and could cause ground condition issues.
        The approach of using a TBM (probably slurry shield but maybe earth pressure balance) is to use a methodology that has very minimal impact to the groundwater table and airport operations. This, I suspect (without having access to the geotechnical reports and operation manuals of the airport), is why TBM would be used over cut and cover tunneling.
        With regards to NATM, it has been around since the 1960s. It was used on the Waterloo and London Bridge stations on the Jubilee Line Extension of London’s Underground, so proven to be successful in London. The failure at Heathrow was not due to the method being inappropriate, but the workmanship/design not being adequate:
        “Prosecution and the HSE in its report “Safety of NATM with particular reference to London Clay” stated that NATM is a safe and appropriate tunnelling method in London Clay “providing enough care is taken” –

        1. The tunnel wouldn’t be anywhere near the existing runway. The existing runway is on reclaimed land to the south of the terminal building. The tunnel would be coming from the north and finishing at the terminal.
          The new runway would then be built above the tunnel at some future stage. It is in effect an oversized culvert.

    1. No transit line will ever work in Auckland doing just one thing. In fact even two things. Transit by the very definition is the sharing of a vehicle and corridor by all sorts of people on all sorts of journeys between all sorts of places. Transit that attempts to specialize to one thing will fail. It’s just fantasy from uninformed people who drive but don’t understand transit planning, who think that transit can do individualized point to point travel.

      TLDR: an express train to Auckland airport will never work. If you want that get a taxi and hop on the motorway with everyone else.

      1. Exactly – those who complain that LR will not be fast enough to get them to the airport should continue doing what they do now – take a taxi.

        1. I wonder how much of the opposition to LR/HR comes from the taxi companies?

          Many years ago I lived for a time on the island of St Maarten in the West Indies. The local taxi association was so powerful they were able to forbid any other public transport options to the airport. You couldn’t even get a hire car and drive it from the airport to your hotel. It was take a taxi or walk.

      2. So wouldn’t the best rail solution for NS be one that is not only pax transit but also freight? This would encourage industry along the rail route and provide a more direct route north south for freight transfer. It could also remove all heavy freight road traffic from the harbour bridge.

        1. I’m sure there’ll be a thousand reasons why not. But in a sane world, that’s exactly what would happen.

        2. What freight would be carried? Are you suggesting cargo from a warehouse in Favona going to a supermarket in Browns Bay gets trucked to the nearest rail line, railed over the harbour and then trucked again to the supermarket?

          Freight would put some significant limitations on the gradient of a tunnel and would pretty much rule out a bridge, for very debatable benefit.

        3. Containerised freight from manufacturing or distribution companies to and from ports. That would replace those hgv trucks shifting containers and other bulk goods over the bridge. If the rail was in situ then that may encourage industry to NS and use rail freight.
          This business could grow into timeslots when pax transit didn’t need full rail capacity.
          Rail gradients are a non issue with proper train management and suitably powered electric locomotivese

        4. What manufacturing companies are currently adjacent to the busway where are future rail line would run? I can’t think of any, even if there were one or two it wouldn’t make it a viable freight line. If they are not by the line they will need to use a truck for part of the journey, easier to just use one for the whole journey.

          Dominion Rd LR will have a train every 8 mins off-peak so if this frequency is used on the North Shore then the only real opportunity for freight would be between midnight and 6am. I can’t see many companies bothering using rail with these constraints.

          Gradients are very much an issue, doesn’t matter how powerful the engines are if they can’t get traction.

        5. No freight line tho through the NS to Albanyb, Silverdale etc to meet the NAL. In fact the existing NAL is only useful for freight that goes beyond greater Auckland.

        6. I commented a similar suggestion a while back with regards to this.

          Perhaps trial some buses to be fitted out with spare freight/cargo capacity for smaller parcel deliveries around the city, seeing as some buses are half empty anyway.
          Buses become hybrid passenger/freight transport, smaller parcels can be picked up and unloaded at specific pickup/dropoff points – Say Britomart, Albany, Constipation Station, Manukau, Puhinui, Penrose etc.

          Leave the courier vans to larger deliveries that involve more than one person to carry.

        7. “Masterchief” NZR Road services use to have half passenger half freight buses that use to do that sort of thing . I remember during the 70’s going north in the early hours they carried the likes of the Hearld post and parcels and then dropped them from Warkworth and and small places on the wy to Whangarei then transfered to other buses to go to different centres further north

  6. Whilst I am a LR supporter, building a LR system from scratch that is being proposed is expensive compared to a network of dedicated bus lanes and busways to supplement the HR rail network which would be half the cost and quicker to build.

    1. But what if capital cost is not the only constraint? In other words there are a multitude of issues that have to be traded off against each other. Vehicle volumes in the city centre is one, and having machines with 400 rather than 40 people on board does have its advantages on important corridors like Queen/Dom.

      We never start with the vehicle in thinking about how to solve a transport/place issue, the type of vehicle is the last consideration, the network, the right of way, the need, the existing and the possible future urban form, the existing opportunities, all precede decisions about mode.

      So our proposed network has trains, buses, ferries, light rail vehicles… its horses for courses. Once the course is first set.

      1. Quite right, Patrick. Too many responses here try to fit the mode solution to the problem whether it be HR, LR or Autonomous Vehicles. As they say if your preferred solution is always a hammer every problem can be made to look like a nail.

      2. Patrick – I know that you are an avid LR supporter but have you taken account some of the operational aspects of LR, like disruption in ongoing track maintenance, break downs, etc plus the major disruption in initial track laying to business, traffic, pedestrians, especially along Dom road, etc?

        Upgrading Dom road and other streets plus private right of ways on the proposed city to airport and city to the north west LR routes still can be achieved by using rapid bus dedicated bus lanes like along Dom road to busways like the northern bus way, the new Botany to city busway and the proposed Botany to airport route using the BRT Standard guidelines.

        Bus construction and motive power technology for BRT operation has improved to carry up to 300 passengers operating on high frequency services.

        I do agree that BRT buses only have life span of 20 years compared to 30-40 years for LR vehicles.

        1. What makes you think high capacity buses will require less in the way of road upgrades than light rail will? Both need a dedicated right of way to achieve high frequency and travel time reliability. Both need structural improvements to be made to the road to support the heavier vehicles. This work will be disruptive to the community regardless of the vehicle used in the end.

        2. I am not sure where you are coming from. Buses are already uses roads.

          What I was saying, the proposed LR line down Dom road would require the road to be dug up, moving any water/sewerage piping, etc and relaid with track. If buses is are used, there is no requirement to dig up the road only the 2 roads lanes that would have carried LR track with dedicated bus lanes, which would be less disrupted to businesses, traffic and pedestrians and cheaper the laying LR tracks.

        3. Digging up roads is a non-catastrophic event. We do it every day. LR catastrophists need to settle and simmer, where does this panic come from? This is a current, proven, highly successful technology in operation all over the world, and being installed anew all over the world right now too.

          Are you seriously trotting out the ‘buses use roads too’ argument? Buses using roads _as they are_ are standard in-traffic buses, not Rapid Transit. And are already on these routes, and too full. To make them true Rapid Transit buses would still require the digging up of roads to build a dedicated RoW.

          I guess it’s fear of the new, new for AKL at least, all these sorts of anxieties were used before the busway, before electrification, before Britomart… If the last 15 years of PT improvement in AKL have proven anything at all, it’s that there’s an enormous latent demand for quality transit routes and experiences. The new trains, double deckers, cycleways, scooters…

          And modern Light Rail Vehicles are loved, seriously loved, the world over. The existing route in Sydney has a capacity issues cos demand is so strong, Gold Coast is ahead of projections.

          I’m more than happy to predict huge positive response to these when they are finally running. I know it. Then add how fast the route will be compared to today’s buses, and how handy to be already in Queen St. Everyone along this route will be so spoilt.

          Big problem is going to be the clamour from all over the rest of city and the country for their ones too… the m’way obsessives biggest fear… it’s a-coming.

        4. With “Bus construction and motive power technology for BRT operation has improved to carry up to 300 passengers operating on high frequency services.” you seem to be describing much bigger buses. Bigger buses are heavier buses. Heavier buses wear out roads faster. Roads that wear out too fast need to be dug up down to foundation level and rebuilt… This is similar to the level of disruption of laying light rail tracks (except without utilities relocation).

        5. I thought 300 passengers was a typo. But is this what you’re referring to, Kris?:

          And on only 4 axles. So logarithmicbear has a valid point. I just didn’t imagine anyone would be considering anything close to something like this for Auckland. Why would you when they just look like something that could so easily take a different path to what the driver intended, and make hell for any vulnerable users or drivers in nearby lanes? Give me LR, keeping to its tracks, any day over something like that. Unless you’re talking about on reallocated motorway lanes. Could work there? Maybe?

        6. You probably would have to relocate the utilities for a BRT system like that. A 300 seater mega bus will need a concrete slab running way, which means a solid concrete slab over your services instead of track slab… either way it makes your services very hard to maintain or repair.

        7. Patrick R – It clearly shows, that your caught up in the hype that LR is the best thing since sliced bread and have very little knowledge in the day to day operation of a LR system.

          In Melbourne, the tram tracks are laid for a life span 18 to 25 years depending of traffic frequency and whether the track is laid in the road or on reserve track. Track laid in the road and the length of track that needs to replaced, can be replaced from 3 to 7 days to lift and relayed. Reserve track is quicker. Tram service disruptions whether its track renewal, breakdowns or emergencies are keep to minimal due to emergency track route network, especially in the CBD and the network of depots.

          Since Auckland is going to be initially a 2 route network with major depot, doesn’t have the luxury of minimize any service disruptions due to track renewal, breakdowns or emergencies. At least with BRT network can keep service disruptions to a minimum as buses are more flexible than LR.

          With regards to your comment ‘The existing route in Sydney has a capacity issues cos demand is so strong’ are you referring to Sydney Central Railway Station to Dulwich Hill Line? If so, 10% of the line is street operation the rest is on rebuilt former HR line, which totally different what is being proposed for the Auckland city to airport LR line, which will be nearly 60% will be street operation with the remaining 40% on reserve track operation.

          As I see it, Auckland is more suited to a BRT network considering the routes being planned to a more rigid LR system, which is successful of reserve track.

        8. Heidi – The link in your comments is for a bi-articulated bus which could work in there was a dedicated busways like from airport to the northwest or airport to north shore using the northern busway as through services but since terminating in Auckland, bi-articulated buses won’t work due to their length. I was thinking of articulated or bendi buses similar to ones that where used by Auckland Regional Council/Yellow Bus/Stagecoach but using modern bus building and motive technology.

          For further information concerning bi-articulated buses –

        9. Kris. In fact AKL’s proposed network will be more grade separated than Melbourne’s with long sections completely off road, and on own RoW when in carriageway. The NW route will be entirely off road after Queen St, the IaM Line largely so after Dom, and on own RoW on Dom. No mixed suburban street running like Brunswick St.

          There is absolutely no reason to believe it will be anything other than a huge ridership success, like the Dulwich Hill line once they actually took it somewhere. It is worth noting that our routes are to be much more direct than the Dulwich line, the first part of which is wiggly mess, which just goes to show how even poorly designed lines can succeed if there is enough good about them.

          Happily AKL’s system is looking like it will avoid these mistakes.

          Your knowledge of various facts about Melbourne’s maintenance programme is impressive, indeed, but largely irrelevant.

        10. If they are going to put down Dom Rd will it be the centre or like this in Sydney by Randwick Race course and if you loook at the footpath running alond side it shows a centre line for both Bikes and pedestrians which could make “Heidi” happy

        11. BRT vehicles seem remarkably similar to LRT vehicles except for a couple of major disadvantages. Both need a substantial structural road bed to distribute concentrated high frequency loads well above normal hrv vehicle loads. However for a LRV roadbed the actual steel track significantly contributes to load distribution therefore making a lighter roadbed possible. Secondly BRT vehicles require a yet unproved sophisticated guidance system that is an unnecessary expense and complication compared the simple and proven system of flanged steel wheels running on steel rails.

    2. I’m a big advocate for buses.

      In this corridor, however, LRT offers some decent benefits. Pedestrian amenity along queen st and dom rd and higher capacity, to name just two.

      To get same benefits with bus you’d have to run electric articulated buses, which are more expensive than standard buses and somewhat unproven technology.

      I do wonder about staged options that combine lrt with buses. For example, start by building lrt to mt roskill and then run express skybus to airport via waterview, connecting with lrt at mt roskill.

      Then extend lrt from roskill to airport as part of a subsequent stage when demand/funds permit.

      I’m sure lots of people at AT and NZTA are pondering similar issues as we speak …

      1. Stu Donovan – I agree with you. If the proposed LR routes where built to to be BRT Standard compliant and using hydrogen/battery motive power similar to Alstrom Coradia iLint regional train, then Auckland will have a good BRT network as a supplement to the HR rail network back up with normal bus services.

  7. Good summary. It’s quite ite clear to me that a city LRT Dominion Rd route & on to the airport, then eventually beyond is the best option for helping with various problems. CBD bus congestion, Dominion Rd, South West rapid transit, Airport access.

    Funny to see the problems problems some people still banging on about, Matt originally raised but has since changed position on.

    1. yes, in their bizarre rush to embrace conspiracy theories and question people’s integrity, heavy rail advocates have overlooked the fact that many people, such as Matt, who now support LRT are on the record as originally supporting HR. I am another.

      The simple fact is that, as more information has come to light, the technical case for LRT has become more compelling than the case for HR.

      I guess you can disagree with that interpretation, but what I don’t understand is why some HR advocates have taken such a personal approach?

      One has to suspect it’s about their personal ego and/or political interests.

      1. Fix that for you.
        ‘Yes, in their bizarre rush to embrace conspiracy theories and question people’s integrity, light rail advocates have overlooked the fact that many people, such as Matt, who now support LRT are on the record as originally supporting HR’
        We all understand that people can change their minds. The fact that the core GA posters changed their collective mind is ok. However, many many others have not followed this change and the LR vs HR debate has been one of the most controversial on GA.
        I cant help thinking that it must be a personal disappointment for you, Matt, et al that this LRT is not widely supported, even the airport suggestion according to that Herald poll was 84% in favour of HR.
        Despite many posts on GA to push the LR case, people are just not being convinced.
        Why do yous think that is the case?
        Although I personally support both HR and LR, I do wish confrontational msgs such as yours didnt happen and we could address more urgent and important issues such as road building insanity, safety and pollution and what we should be doing about them.
        The LRT is betterer than HR argument is now boring.

        1. Light Rail has plenty of support. That opt-in poll has no credibility. The nonsense whipped up by 3 wrong-headed HR obsessives amounts to little. Even when co-opted and amplified by Nat Party transit haters. It will all fade in exactly the same way CRL hate has faded. These are very good projects.

          So AKL will have two railways, each moving 40m or passengers a year, they will be loved by citizens, and will, with the BRT network, the (hopefully much improved) ferries, and the cycleway network mean that in 15 years or so this will be an entirely transformed city. ~30 years from the opening of Britomart, one generation.

          That’s what this is; a city transformation project. That’s what I’m focused on. Mode squabbles are silly and forgettable, and will be forgotten.

        2. And, at the risk of repetition, we do need two railways. The current one will be great post CRL, but is not expandable to the size and reach we need it to be. And we can’t do the rest of the work all with buses, they just can’t fit in the city. Those two observations are basically it, from the high altitude view….

  8. All the comparisons seem to be with HR via Onehunga. If it was directly out to Wiri (with the third rail) and via Panmure with stops only at Papatoetoe, Otahuhu and Panmure and timed to be just ahead of a Manukau-Akld train, then this would truly be a rapid rail exercise. This would also allow trains from the Waikato to get to the airport. A better northern route would be from Otahuhu, which would be a lot cheaper than from Onehunga. Using both routes would enable through trains and almost complete the Auckland HR system. The other section would be the Avondale to Southdown route for freight from the north, but also for West Ak HR trains to the airport. LR should be built along the Ak isthmus roads as previously planned. That does make sense.

    1. To build HR via Wiri, you would have to justify why spending $1 billion or more on a single station branch is better use of money than having a bus interchange at Puhinui, and bus priority to the Airport.

      Also if there were express services these would more likely be from Pukekohe given the distance involved with the Airport trains being all stops to pick up stations skipped by Pukekohe trains.

      1. No Jezza, he would not have justify a billion+ cost to get HR to the airport. This old chestnut exaggerated guessitmate cost is wheeled out with regularity as a blocker to any suggestion concerning Airport HR.
        The truth is we have never seen a detailed costing so really have no idea.
        Looks like we will get the Puhinui bus to Airport scheme but even after the Mangere LR is done, I’d bet there will still be plenty of support for extending HR to Airport perhaps via a Puhinui to Otahuhu loop.

        1. Agree, there has been no detailed costing. However, the $1 billion I chose is the lower end of the estimates and has come from the group promoting this project, I can’t see it being lower than this as generally detailed costing has only seen an increase in price with infrastructure projects.

          I agree there will be continued support, but I really can’t see this ever stacking up economically, especially if there were already two transit connections into the airport.

  9. There are still no connections to the south, which will become more important as Hamilton trains develop. HR has great connections to all parts of Auckland so may be serving a wider area. There can be connections made at Otahuhu and Panmure for the Ak isthmus and eastern suburbs respectively, and certainly a better service for the south. Also a quick connection to the North Shore at Britomart. With the Avondale – Southdown connection, then a good connection to the west as well. It may also be feasible to put HR down the middle of a road near the terminal and avoid all the underground expense. This needs to be looked at. But the real doozie with the LR option is that the LR option is neither fish nor foul. It purports to be “rapid”, but LR seldom is, as well as purporting to be urban mass transport for the folks along Dom Rd and the good people of Mangere. It cannot be the latter if they decommission half the bus/tram stops along Dom Rd and it cannot be the former if they don’t. I still believe that it cannot be rapid along Dom Rd and onto Queen St anyway due to traffic, intersections, speed limits and stops. LR has its place where originally planned on the Ak isthmus and probably under the harbour and up to Silverdale, but not to the airport.

  10. Just to add to the above. To make it truly ‘rapid’ I would propose going via Panmure to Britomart, timed just ahead of an ex Manukau City train. Limited stops at Papatoetoe, Otahuhu and Panmure for connections, making the trip from the airport to the city in around 30-35 minutes. Makes it the fastest option.

    1. Then write a post detailing your proposal and convince us that a limited stops service adding one station to the network and robbing places further south of train capacity is worth over $1b.

      People were paid a lot of money to take an objective look at this and examined dozens of options. Convince us that they got it wrong.

      1. Agreed! To me getting to the airport 10 minutes faster is just nowhere near a high priority. Not when over a million Aucklanders have no nearby access to frequent public transport.

        Fix public transport availability across the city, make the roads safe and reduce our carbon emissions. Thn maybe a look at how fast people are getting to the airport might become significant in the scheme of things.

  11. For a start if the line could go along Tom Pearce Drive, etc as mentioned, then $1 billion is not the number. It doesn’t rob places further south as they are already factored in as soon there will be a third freight line which will take the airport train out of the way. Currently, the line has the capacity without the third line. I would suggest that the mere 10 minutes savings is based on a very optimistic LR trip via Dom Rd and would suggest that the time savings would be far greater. It has yet to be proven to me that light rail can get to Akld in the time promoted by the planners. I would suggest that the the time savings could be as much as twenty minutes. Also, what has happened to the other real LR proposals down the trunk roads of the Ak isthmus. That is where you will save on the emissions, reduce car usage and prevent bus congestion in the city. In the meantime, a short spur from Wiri might be a lot cheaper than suggested and be suitable for the said job of getting airport travelers to the city and around Auckland with the unique connections this route would enable, not to mention the opportunities for those south of Auckland. As I have said, there is a lot of broad political support for LR, but that does not mean it is the best option, and most people I know don’t see the benefits. Yes, a lot of people were paid a lot of money to look at the options, but what was their brief? Scrap the Dom Rd to the airport part and build the other isthmus projects instead.

    1. It’s been 100 years since a level crossing was built in an urban area in NZ, I can’t see the busy intersections along Tom Pearce Drive being the places where they will return to be honest. There is zero chance of HR coming into the airport at surface level.

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