Since our post on Wednesday about NZTA’s briefing to Minister of Transport Phil Twyford on the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing project, most media outlets have covered the report and started exploring the issue. Quite a lot of them have picked up on issues like a new harbour crossing funnelling more traffic into the city centre, or on the pros and cons of different forms of rail for the future rapid transit crossing. But there has been relatively little coverage of what I think is the most startling and compelling finding from the briefing – that the road crossing makes traffic worse. Remember the key graph from the briefing:

The key bars to compare are the left-most green bar with the third and fourth green bars from the left. These show that spending many billions of dollars on a massive new road crossing in addition to a light rail crossing actually slow down (or at the very best doesn’t speed up) traffic speeds across Auckland.

This finding isn’t particularly surprising, as it is entirely consistent with transport modelling undertaken in 2016 as part of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project. This modelling looked at 2046 congestion levels with and without the crossing – and basically found that the new tunnel would be just as congested (if not more so) than the Harbour Bridge would be without the project:

ATAP - Interim Report - AWHC

It’s also worth remembering the huge damage this project would bring. For example the 2010 proposals would see huge cut and cover tunnels underneath Victoria Park – which would likely require the removal of many of the large trees that go around the perimeter of the park, as well as the potential demolition of buildings such as the Air NZ building on Fanshawe St and the historic Victoria Park markets:

There’s no information in the briefings on the project’s likely cost. However work done nine years ago estimated a cost of around $4.8-5.3 billion and for a few reasons it’s likely this might have doubled by now:

  • NZTA is now looking at a much longer tunnel – maybe around 6 km compared to the earlier proposal of around 3.6 km.
  • NZTA accept that the Northern Motorway would need to be widened all the way up to Constellation Dr/State Highway 18, as part of the project.
  • Construction costs have increased a lot over the past decade. The City Rail Link’s estimated cost back in 2012 was around $2 billion, and it’s now rumoured to actually cost about double that amount.

So we have a destructive project that might cost north of $10 billion, that actually makes traffic worse and floods the city centre with cars, completely contradicting all strategic guidance. Yep it’s pretty bad.

It does beg the question of why this is such a bad project – at least from a “why doesn’t a heap more traffic capacity across the harbour help reduce congestion?” perspective. The answer of course is partly to do with the well-discussed phenomenon of induced traffic demand, where additional road capacity encourages people to drive more and clogs up the roads again quickly. But also partly it is because providing extra capacity over the harbour is pretty useless when you don’t have spare motorways and local roads on either side to connect into this new crossing. Ultimately the tunnels just link back into the same motorways and local roads to the north and south, meaning that they don’t actually create a better overall transport network.

Just look in the map below – ultimately the additional crossing (red) is just duplicating a very small part of State Highway 1 (blue). Whatever your thoughts on the Western Ring Route (green) and in particular the Waterview tunnels, at least those projects have delivered a new route that provides additional network connections and resilience.

In some respect I can understand why people like former North Shore City Mayor George Wood push for this project so strongly. Congestion on the Northern Motorway at peak times can be pretty nasty and I think if you’re staring out of your windscreen, there’s a general assumption that building another crossing would fix this problem for good. Unfortunately that seems to simply not be the case and a massively destructive and almost incomprehensibly expensive new motorway tunnel would, if anything, actually make traffic worse.

Congestion on the Northern Motorway is common in both directions in the evening peak
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  1. Need to replace the existing bridge instead, with light rail, busway, traffic lanes.

    Similar to Sydney Harbour Bridge.

    No extra harbour reclamation.

    1. I would argue that a combination of peak hour congestion charges, with a free t3 lane could make a significant difference.

  2. Just think how many more electric buses, feeder buses, scooters, and bus drivers with improved wages you could get for that!

  3. Only a few days ago I arrived back from Sydney, and over the 4 days I was there I rode the bus train and walked over the harbour bridge.
    And still can’t get my head around why we got it so wrong, I know Sydney has a road tunnels. And are about to build another tunnel for their new Metro system.
    Which brings me to think maybe we should be thinking of a driverless Metro rail project like Sydney’s. When you think about spending that kind of money, I think Auckland needs something revolutionary not just a duplicated road crossing.

    1. Of course; we should add what’s missing, not duplicate what’s already there. Especially as what’s already there (over two bridges) is the most spatially inefficient, environmentally destructive, and expensive.

      I am confident our institutions will eventually get to this conclusion, in fact the release of this report is like watching a large ship slowly change direction. Basically NZTA now seem to have seen the iceberg, and are changing course…

  4. I can’t see how spending $10b+ for this project could ever be justified.I can think of a lot better use of the money for transport on the North Shore such as a lot of light rail projects.

      1. Following the UN’s guidelines that 20% of transport budget must be on walking and cycling, I guess this one project would inject half a billion into walking and cycling projects… ha! Oh, for reallocation of funds from roading to all the other more sustainable projects instead of trying to play catch up…

        1. Except we don’t have to follow the UN’s guidelines. The UN doesn’t set our public policy. We should spend 20% of our budget on walking a cycling if there are projects that make sense that cost that amount and providing there are not better projects such as busways or light rail that need the money. The UN is just a scam. It is peopled by a bunch of freeloaders who all get paid American salaries to knock out reports that are intended to shut up some squeaky wheels. Those people then bang on as if the UN reports mattered. They don’t.

        2. Where we don’t follow UN guidelines, we should give a justification. I’m afraid that ‘not having to’ isn’t compelling. With walking and cycling amenity, we have failed so badly – our risk of fatality per unit of distance walked or cycled is very high, and our physical activity levels are so low, giving us a high obesity rate and high public health cost.

          Guidelines like these would dovetail nicely with what we should be doing to reduce our carbon emissions and what we should be doing to increase access and equity…

        3. I wouldn’t ask too closely about the amount of emissions that went into the UN making this decision. That organisation flies a staggering number of people around the world to work on reports that are largely ignored.

  5. I think the main focus should be on heavy rail, not light rail to North Shore. Espcially as we one day want the route to go up past Orewa all the way to Warkworth

    1. I can’t see the route ever reaching Warkworth, it’s not great railway building terrain north of Orewa. Even if it did that doesn’t mean it needs to be heavy rail. Using our existing heavy rail specifications just restricts us to using EMUs that require ramps on the low floor carriages and are limited to two doors per carriage.

      To me the ideal template for North Shore rail is the Sydney or Melbourne metro projects, driverless, running on their own separate network so not restricted by the legacy system and some pretty serious capacity.

      1. When North Shore rail links up in the city with the existing network, how will a mix of light and heavy rail work? Remember, we don’t want North Shore services to terminate at Britomart. They will stop there, then continue on as some other service. Can light rail units accelerate fast enough to keep to timetables when GA is already saying there’s too much dwell time and padding of timetables? Will the heavy trains be forced to slow to the lowest common denominator?

        1. There won’t be a mix of light and heavy rail on the same tracks – not permitted. North Shore light rail will most likely be connected to the Dominion Road -Airport line.

        2. David, cos why would ya? It serves no purpose. An important advantage of adding LR to AKL is to add another and separate railway. For more capacity, different vehicles not bound to existing conditions (eg platform heights), more flexibility (ie street running), and resilience.

          But especially the first; a whole new railway adds much more additional capacity per linear metre than adding to our already very full shared Metro and freight network. Just adding a new branch means all new services have to fit between existing ones, whereas a new separate system can fill it with services without limit from trains already using it.

        3. david L – these are more suited to somewhere with an underutilised heavy rail network that doesn’t connect with the CBD. Auckland’s HR network doesn’t fit this bill, the one place in NZ that might is Christchurch.

        4. Jezza I was looking at one from Papakura [picks up those from Hamilton] thru to Puhinui then via Airport to Wynyard tunnel across the harbour then finishing at Orewa . And this would gives us an amazing cross town trip . And I think the BRAINS at AT would never see it it working as they will want those coming up from the south to use 4 different forms of transport just catch a flight , i.e car , diesel train , EMU and then bus/LRT where as this way you only use 2 forms of transport , i.e car , train and then LRT . The car part is to get to the start of the journey .

        5. Or you could build LRT on that route (as is currently proposed) and just swap trains at Britomart. If you rock up at the station and half of the trains do the airport loop and half go to Britomart, you’d pick whichever came first. There is that little benefit in the loop.

        6. david L – that problem would be much easier solved by running the Waikato trains through to Puhinui, which will happen much sooner than a light rail line from Papakura to Orewa.

        7. I wouldn’t link it with the existing network, in the same way that Sydney and Melbourne metro systems currently under construction won’t actually link with the existing network. I would have it running through to connect with another new metro line such as one from the NW. Just to clarify I’m not talking about Light Rail here.

          It means it can be build without all of the limitations of the current network.

        8. Without any connection to the existing network it will be a waste of time. What use is a North Shore line connecting with the planned Dominion Rd line if I want to go out east to Pakuranga or Howick or Manukau?

        9. And what use is running it out east of you want to go to mount roskill or the airport?

          Obviously you just connect between lines to go east.

          Each line can only run through to one other line, all others must connect. That fact doesn’t change if it is the same mode or different.

        10. I envisage the metro line also having a station under Aotea, provision has been made for that in the CRL design, so you would just change trains there.

          Even if the North Shore line was HR it would still only run through to one destination on the existing network, so transfers would still be needed for all other lines.

        11. Neil,
          By your argument, what use is any service that does not directly connect your origin to your destination?

          (Perfectly obvious that Jezza meant a physical track link to current rail rather than transferring to another service at an interchange station such as Aotea for future North Shore line.)

        12. Light rail can accelerate faster that heavy rail, by the way. They tend to have many more powered axles (ie traction ability) per ton and m of vehicle length.

          An LRV can acellerate and brake much faster than is comfortable for passengers.

    2. LR can also achieve the same purpose. LR has more flexibility than HR, as LR can be used for both street and dedicated/reserved track operation where HR is for dedicated track right of way.

      There is no reason to build a LR route from Orewa to Airport.

    3. If the light rail track north of the city is built to the standard of light metro by making it grade separated, and designing platforms to be lengthened, then it can be upgraded to a driverless light metro system in the future. Driverless light metro would probably provide a higher quality of service to Warkworth than heavy rail, as it can be fully optimised for passenger transport without any concerns for freight.

      1. Indeed and there is the one major disadvantage of a light metro line completely dedicated to passenger movement only. No freight on rails so all freight movements involving container loads will have to continue to move by road. Especially loads working to/from cbd from NS to Warkworth locations. It would at least be possible with HR to have a rail freight distribution location on an NS line AND provide a less circular rail route from north north island through Auckland than the existing NAL via Helensville, Henderson etc.
        A NS LRT pax busy peak hours, other times less busy and more other times of day just not used. Do job properly and make HR line over/under harbour and continue to Warkworth to meet existing NAL.

        1. There will be no freight in the CRL, there will be no rail freight on the line across the harbour. And this is a huge advantage. There is no rail freight task there anyhow. Separate systems is better; right now in AKL both freight and metros are tripping over each other, and this is making increasing both difficult and complicating adding more intercity services or expresses. All the recent HR lines, Onehunga, Manukau, and CRL, are non-freight lines. And the most recent freight spurs have no passenger task either.

          Anyway it’s not HR v LR, it’s LR or buses, or across the harbour LR or LM.

        2. There is no reason to build a LR route from Orewa to Airport as a through route allow street and dedicate track operation.

        3. I wonder if a heavy light rail could take containers from Auckland
          port to some location on the north shore for distribution. It would save them going over the existing road bridge. As long as the tracks is heavy enough to support the train It wouldn’t matter what runs on it although the max gradient would need to be less.
          I suppose it would run at night. So just run some tracks alongside quay street to wherever the light rail is going to start from. Presumably it would be somewhere near Britomart. Maybe there would be light rail tracks along quay street if there was going to be a round the bay line. Sorry I haven’t read the rests of the posts but I don’t suppose there is a consensus as to whether there will be a tunnel or a new bridge. When ever has there ever being a consensus on this web site silly me. Could be quite cool though the express freight to Albany or wherever. They have a freight light rail train in Germany for Volkswagen.

        4. And unless they have lifted them there could still be the old rail lines under Quay Street starting from the eastern side of the intersection across the road from were Countdown is now and the lines extend down to the old lighter basin ,

          I remember when I 1st moved to Auckland in the late 70’s and traveling along Quay street and the bus would have to stop for the trains coming out of the goods yard and then traveling up/down Quay street and heading for the wharves to pick up/drop off the wagons . S the lines should still be there ?.

        5. Where would you put the freight yard? Have a look at a relief map. The only flat land big enough for a freight terminal is Kahikatea Flat which is adjacent to the NAL. or Dairy Flat. Probably something that would happen when the number of trucks on the bridge becomes an issue.

        6. Rail to northland has being pretty stuffed ever since it was not included in the original harbour crossing although where it would of gone is hard to fathom. Its hard to imagine a train running over the Newmarket and Victoria park viaducts and even then it would have bypassed Auckland station
          Maybe there could have being a station near Victoria park it would still be quite central. Boggles the mind really.

        7. I suppose trains could reverse at Remuera Station would have being alright for the fiat railcars back in the 1950’s. Still could be done today if we were crazy enough to really rearrange the motorway.

  6. I was kind of thinking that by now they would be including new “person-trips” in their modelling. But have a look at the dark grey diamonds on that chart. For the ‘with pricing’ scenario, for example, vehicle km travelled barely changes from 7.1m to 7.25m-ish, despite the addition of a new road crossing.

    All the model includes to provide this difference is allowing people to change from one mode to another, one time of day to another, perhaps change the roads they use slightly… there is no actual induced extra travel being modelled here. And that’s just plain wrong.

    We are lucky the model has produced such a bad result for adding a road crossing, because modelled properly, the results would be far, far worse.

    1. Thinking further about the modelling, and how vulnerable we are to having to foot the bill for terribly ill-conceived road projects on the basis of the misapplication of the models, I thought I’d look at the Engineering NZ’s code of ethics. As an engineer you must:

      – ensure that your relevant knowledge and skills are kept up to date

      The models’ level of accuracy gives them a place in working out where traffic is likely to be dispersed under a particular model, but no place in informing the decision around whether a project should be implemented or not. The engineers are either incompetent on this point, or they are having their advice ignored. In which case, this part of the code is relevant too:

      – If you become aware that your professional advice may not be followed, and consider that a failure to observe that advice may have adverse consequences, you must inform the recipient of the advice of those adverse consequences.

      Every transport engineer who is aware of this is also required to do something about it:

      -If you have reasonable grounds to believe that an engineering matter has, or could have, adverse consequences you must bring the matter to the notice of the relevant regulatory body.

      Looking forward to an upheaval in how the models are applied. If it doesn’t happen within the profession, pressure will have to be applied from outside.

      1. Who’d be the regulatory body in this case? Engineering New Zealand? If so, there’s nothing they can do.

        So who else may be the regulatory body? I can only think of NZTA (the client) or the Govt (also the client). In any case, I think it’s reasonable to assume that the engineers report highlighted their concerns. The problem is that the engineers can only make remarks on their reports, which are then ignored until something fails catastrophically. If the client has a desire for a certain outcome, it’s the outcome that they’ll get.

        1. Do you think Engineering NZ requiring an engineer to start following the code of ethics – and kicking them off if they don’t – would have no effect?

          “The problem is that the engineers can only make remarks on their reports”

          Well, I know engineers who have reported the work of other engineers to the professional body, on the basis that if they didn’t, they would be breaching the code of ethics themselves. This was in the UK, but I imagine the same applies here.

        2. Actually I was being a little more cynical 🙂

          Consider that the engineers _were_ reporting the adverse effects (the remarks in their reports). They’d be following the code, yet the net result is the same.

          Unless some engineer was comfortable using existing legislation around whistle-blowing, there’s nothing they can do except insulate themselves from future legal actions by listing adverse effects in their (to be ignored) reports.

          RE: The UK – I’d imagine that the same applies here.

        3. I think it’s probably cleaner than all that anyway, Jon, because the engineers are misapplying the models within their own reports, in this way:

          The travel times for any one network scenarios is – conceivably – useful in a point-in-time analysis of that proposed network. For example in seeing which routes, for that network, are most heavily used or congested.

          Instead, the engineers – erroneously, and incompetently, I believe – compare travel times from two disparate project scenarios (project and do-minimum, typically), and by subtracting one from the other, produce a set of travel time savings between scenarios.

          These travel times are, in fact, incomparable, because the number of person-trips are kept constant for both scenarios. Also, the land use is assumed constant for both scenarios. Neither of these assumptions are consistent with reality. A rough estimate of increase in person-trips, applied transparently – and debated within the profession – plus a rough estimate of land use change due to the project, could allow a comparison to be made. But that’s not what is done.

          (I realise you understand this, Jon, but thought I should provide it for new readers. 🙂 )

          I believe a competent professional engineer would refuse to calculate a difference in travel times between such scenarios, and flag any requirements on them to do so.

        4. From my experience many transport planners and modellers are not engineers but rather are mathematicians or geographers etc.

        5. Heidi you would be hard pressed to find an engineer giving any of the advice you suggest. Most of the people doing that type of work are not engineers and those who are usually work for a large company. The only time their own name appears on the report is to sign the silly QA form at the front to say they read it. As for subtracting the time costs, if you have a problem with that then you should raise it with the Government’s own road controlling authority who specifically require that be done. Would you complain about the conduct of a nurse working in a DHB because they are not funded properly and could do a better job potentially?

  7. I disagree peak capacity is years away, its here, now. The Harbour Bridge cannot handle any more traffic either way at peak, i.e. after 0630 to 9.00 am and from 3.00 to 7.00 pm. It’s awful both ways.

    The feeders, south of the bridge in the morning jam up, SH16 to SH1, Fanshawe and Curran Streets jam up as the 3 north bound lanes can’t handle the capacity and its the same at night. Similarly its awful from Northcote Road at least after 3.00 pm. SH16 to SH1 starts to lock up at about 2.45 pm the other way.

    What is truly depressing is that 800 cars are being added to the mix in Auckland every week. AT may add an additional bus every 6 months if we are lucky and if the bus company’s can find an extra bus and worse still a driver to adjust to the extra traffic and yet are proud as to claim ridership is rising.

    Possibly more disturbing is there is all we have is talk about another crossing, let alone the mode that will be used in this fantasy. Talk is talk, in Auckland all it means is more gridlock.

    And has anyone seen Phil Twyford? Last seen at the Skypath announcement several months ago. Should Jacinda file a missing persons report?

    1. ‘And has anyone seen Phil Twyford? Last seen at the Skypath announcement several months ago. Should Jacinda file a missing persons request?’

      She may not be trying that hard to find him…

        1. Pretty busy with Kiwi-build I suspect. Done a lot more than previous government on addressing housing issues. I think things will ramp up as a lot of reports & business cases have been in the works.

        2. He is speaking tomorrow morning at the PrefabNZ CoLab – first thing in the morning. Probably more on Kiwibuild than on Transport.

        3. Point. But he needs to either be more visible or have NZTA stop playing games.

          NZTA isn’t kowtowing to govt or council policy and this needs to be stomped on hard…

  8. Potentially there is no need for any extra harbour crossing. If Fullers can be sidelined and an Amsterdam style fast barge ferry could start zooming back and forth between Northcote and Britomart, then light rail could continue on the northen shores. No extra looming structure, no underwater tunnels, just smart design. Imagine, returning from your winter escape, airport to downtown on LRT, ferry across, LRT back to home to (enter name here) bay. And most people know that ferries (at least in calm waters) are the best public transport for the soul.

    1. I don’t hate the idea as an interim, Hoboken style – but eventually, just as they built the PATH, I think light rail has to reach the isthmus.

      That said, it could be a good way to start – and provide a turning point (which faces north, Takapuna will face the city) – to add frequency, resilience, stock utilization etc – and overall smart connectivity.

    2. You’re absolutely right on the first bit, Fullers should be sidelined and we should be running integrated Ferry fares, but the rest just seems a bit far fetched, especially how busy our harbor is…we heard the stories of peoples ferries but delayed due to Cruise Ships etc.

      LRT with spur to Takapuna is my preferred option…sad thing is, we are still going to be discussing this topic along with best options for the next 10-20 years! It’s scary how far behind we are and how unprepared we have been for growth.

      1. I live in Takapuna and I don’t think a spur is a great option. Takapuna and Milford can have much greater frequency by having a feeder bus approaching Akoranga from Esmonde and another approaching via Anzac. Both will go past significant apartment zoning whereas light rail up the middle won’t be close to much.

        However, light rail to the Shore – start the planning tomorrow- because as NZTA have reported the delivery if we do that will already be too late.

        1. Not sure that I entirely agree. There must be some cool mathematics around that describe how to optimise station locations vs feeder buses.

          Clearly too few stations and you get long feeder bus routes and require oversized platforms due to the higher volume of commuters needing to transfer. The larger catchments are also expensive to service with buses and are discouraging for cycling and walking.

          I think that having North Shore light rail stations located only next to the Northern motorway would be a huge mistake.

          On the other hand too many stations and you end up spending more capital than necessary to install more new lines and stations when a frequent feeder bus would be able to meet local needs with more flexibility and at lower cost. There’s got to be a best balance and I’m sure that someone must have worked it out somewhere.

        2. David B
          I have worked it out. The feeder buses along Anzac come at a frequency of up to 14 minutes. It’s happening now and everything seems fine. The most passengers that I have encountered on a bus is 8 – hardly likely to swamp Akoranga.
          From the opposite direction using Esmonde the current service is at 30 minute frequency for much of the day. Bringing that to 10 minutes would spread the load on Akoranga.
          If you used Akoranga you would realise that there is much spare capacity. It needs to become more busy to become more welcoming at night.
          Once light rail is in place transfers become much quicker as its no longer single door.

          I had the misfortune to work in Lower Hutt for a time. It had a spur line at one end of the suburb and the main line at the other. The spur line had the same poor frequency that we have on the 82. It won’t seem any more frequent just because its light rail.

  9. “which would likely require the removal of many of the large trees that go around the perimeter of the park, as well as the potential demolition of buildings such as the Air NZ building on Fanshawe St and the historic Victoria Park markets”

    And mine and 100 other houses.

    To pump more cars down cook street.

    Beyond the modelling, with Access for Everyone, pedestrianisation etc. none of this is even remotely sensible as there are huge costs for the city for absolutely no gain.

  10. Actually how about we just knock the existing bridge down and reclaim spaghetti junction, the foreshore, Victoria park and t repair the disconnect between Victoria quarter and Freemans bay?

    1. I’d like to see some serious consideration given to this. We need to connect people from the north shore with the isthmus, but the existing severance the motorway causes must be scrutinised. An elegant PT crossing instead would free up a lot of expensive land and meet all the goals of the GPS.

      We’ve just paid mega bucks to enable the trucks to bypass the city. Those truck numbers in this modelling are truly worrying.

    2. So…hugely compromise mobility for the larger part of the City for the almost-exclusive benefit of the well-off inner city areas? Yea man sounds equitable as hell, sign me up

        1. The problem is so is West Auckland, which you will absolutely decimate if you removed the Bridge. But then it’s their problem, right?

        2. Most of the west will be closer to sh 18 and a rail journey would blow past 2030 sh16/bridge traffic anyway. It will even tie into the planned west lrt

          ‘Westie’s love their cars’ we get it, but there’s no reason to continue cutting the actual city apart to cut them through

        3. “Most of the West” is reliant on getting on the motorway at two key onramps, but even the slightest problem at one of them can cause traffic to backspill through entire suburbs.

          But sure, add all the commercial and SH1 northboard traffic in there as well. The fact it can’t cope with existing traffic levels (despite that rail line you mention already being there) should be a pretty good indicator why this is a pretty stupid idea.

          Still, better the poor suburbs than the well-off inner-city ones, right?

        4. No commuter rail to the shore yet which is what the post is about..

          Of course it’s Not likely to make it into cfn 3 or 10year plan but it’s a valid theory highlighting the huge decimation of central Auckland.
          Which again is much more than ‘rich inner suburbs’ and those only got that status after the same motorway mentioned pushed masses of people further out.

        5. So the people further out then get totally isolated by a massive increase traffic, which in turn cuts down their ability to access anything.

          I’m not saying the current situation is fantastic; but let’s not pretend you’d just be shifting the problem somewhere else.

        1. i love that deprivation map. You know that low car ownership is considered a deprivation indicatior. 25% of households in the city centre are carless, though not through poverty, but choice, lack of much use for the things Also dwelling size, ditto…. then add the students will little or no income, and apparently the AKL city centre is a huge slum of deprivation, according to the dimwits who devise these things…

          The view from suburbia solidified into the bureaucracy….

        2. It makes sense though. It is the only place where you can buy a home for less than half a million without going all the way out in the sticks.

  11. The only option to add resilience to the network is for the secondary crossing between Westmere and Birkenhead (Stephen Berry’s plan)

    1. Resilience comes from rebalancing the mix of modes, removing our reliance on imported motor vehicles and imported fossil fuels, and removing our susceptibility to the state of congestion.

  12. The most effective solution for an additional harbour crossing is a rail-only tunnel and converting the Northern busway into a heavy rail line, linking the North Shore with the existing heavy rail network across Auckland.

    Doing this will provide a fast transport option to a far greater number of people across the region than light rail – particularly if a heavy rail line is built to the airport from Onehunga through to Manukau via Puhinui.

    With the CRL tunnel currently being built under the CBD, it makes far more sense to expand this with a tunnel under the harbour, linking to the existing fast congestion-free heavy rail network.

    Operationally the new North Shore line could run into the CBD via the CRL and loop back via Grafton, the direct link at Newmarket and Parnell. The Western Line could be linked together with the Southern Line running via the CRL and Parnell to become one new continuous route running from one side of Auckland to the other. The Eastern Line and Onehunga Line could be linked together to become one through route via the CRL and Grafton – and if linked to the airport from both Onehunga and Manukau, could become a loop route via Manukau covering much of the city along one continuous loop circuit.

    1. The CRL is planned to reach capacity at some point with the existing lines on the rail network. Which lines capacity would you remove to allow room for a North Shore line? Also where do you see it connecting with the CRL?

      1. I’ve said this before, that the best place to link North Shore rail to the CRL is in the vicinity of the police station in Cook Street. The tunnel could run under Victoria Park and then under Cook Street. The CRL even has two doglegs in the vicinity of the police station that look like they are made for a T-junction there.

        North Shore services could then travel down the CRL past Aotea to Britomart, then continue east out of Britomart as another service. They could also travel south to Karangahape, then on to Otahuhu or Swanson via Mt Eden.

        Makes no sense to take NS rail direct to Britomart when we can get Aotea too. And this eliminates a transfer at Britomart for those wanting to go to Karangahape and beyond.

        1. Sounds like it would completely stuff up CRL capacity even if physically possible. Doubt the alignment would allow for a grade sep so another flat junction for the Auckland network and all so a few people get a single seat journey.

          Waste of money IMO, better things to spend it on …

        2. Transport networks involve transfers. Spending the extra billions on heavy rail when Light will achieve the same thing is criminal if the only real outcome is ‘some people no longer have to transfer’.

        3. jezza and Buttwizard;
          So the plan is to make North Shore rail terminate at Britomart to avoid impacting on the existing plans for the CRL. So a new platform 6 dedicated to NS services will be needed there and it will have to be squeezed in somehow, right? How will that be done?

        4. The North Shore Line either runs up under Wellesley St to platforms under Aotea Station, perpendicular to the CRL (not joining it), or it connects into the city Light Rail Network at Wynyard.

      2. With automatic train operation the CRL could handle much more than is currently being planned for. However as a single route for the whole network, it would remain a vulnerable point for paralysing breakdowns. Contingency needs to be well thought-out.

        1. Agree, although that has it’s limits and that capacity will probably be needed by the existing HR lines at some point.

          Seems to me to be better have a second route through the CBD for future lines and leave the CRL for existing lines.

      3. I agree that 3 rail lines all joining and traveling through the CRL plus a North shore line is not possible, especially with higher frequencies.
        I did once think that the NS line should be cut covered under fanshawe st and pass under Britomart station and continue as the eastern line.
        So making Britomart and the tunnel going into it double stacked, but I think we should aim for something even better.
        Maybe a new North shore and North western line passing under Aotea station completely seperated from current rail on standard guage and maybe driverless. With trains every 4 minutes.
        Give people something to be hyped about, make PT exciting fast and future proof.

    2. “run into the CBD via the CRL and loop back via Grafton”

      So to get from the Aotea area to the north shore you’d need to get on at Aotea, pass through K Road, Grafton, the Nwmarket junction, Parnell, Britomart then enter the harbour tunnel?

      Seems extremely long and inconvenient diversion.

      1. True..

        Another heavy rail configuration which would work better:

        North Shore Line to Manukau via CRL (harbour tunnel linked into Aotea station), Grafton, Penrose.

        Western Line and Onehunga Line linked together via CRL, Parnell (with extension to airport from Onehunga).

        Eastern Line becomes the Southern Line with the Southern Line re-defined to run from Pukekohe / Papakura via Panmure and into the CBD in a loop circuit via The Strand, Parnell, direct link at Newmarket, Grafton, CRL, Britomart, and return to Papakura / Pukekohe via Panmure.

        The above configuration would have relatively direct through routes with all the above mentioned lines and would be fast and serving more people across more parts of Auckland with single journey runs – making rail a more attractive travel option.

        I don’t think this configuration has ever been considered before? It would work within the capacity constraints of the CRL, together with most services / routes serving all CBD stations.

        1. Wow, brilliant solution!!

          This would actually work really well and should seriously be looked into!

          NZTA, AT, KiwiRail, Twyford, take note of this!!

        2. This isn’t entirely crazy, but it would require a very difficult underground flying junction between Aotea and Britomart. I’m not sure it’s even possible given that aotea station is right near the surface and the line is already at maximum grade.

          Also you end up with three lines running both ways through most of the CRL, both the mt eden and newmarket junctions, and from Newmarket to Penrose. Just running ten minute headways would put all of those at capacity, with 36 trains an hour in total.

        3. I’m not sure that does work with CRL capacity constraints. The full capacity is 24tph in each direction, during the morning peak the Eastern line will take 18tph entering from Quay Park and 6tph from Onehunga.

          This leaves no slots for North Shore trains unless you plan to reduce capacity on one of the existing lines. The Eastern line will need all the capacity it can with the Eastern Busway pumping passengers onto trains at Panmure.

        4. Apparently that full capacity of 24tph is pretty theoretical, and would require a lot of extra investment in signalling, junctions and trackworks to make happen. I heard an cost estimate with a b on the end of it… TBH I think the push for nine car trains was helped in a large part by the realisation that getting more than the planned 18tphph is bordering on fantasy.

        5. 24tph needs upgraded signals. Which will happen in due course. 18tph will be good for a while, but absolutely no slots for North Shore or any other additional branches to be added to this.

        6. The city loop in Melbourne handles 24tph on each line with them approaching from multiple different directions so I imagine it would be viable to do the same in Auckland.

        7. Actually I’m pretty certain the city loop runs 20 trains an hour, 3 minute headways, per line. But perhaps they’ve improved things since I worked there.

          However, a couple things to note, firstly all City Loop entrance and exit tracks are grade separated, there are huge banks of portals near Southern Cross, Richmond and Jolimont. Secondly, there are also large multi track yards at each of these points (well, only three tracks at Jolimont, but up to ten at Richmond) where trains routinely sit full of people waiting for their specific signal.

          So that is probably a good example of what Auckland would need to do, grade separate all the approach junctions (i.e. Quay Park and Newmarket… no mean feat!) and/or have multitrack portal approaches where more than one train can stack up waiting for an exact slot. I have heard, someone may correct me, that the majority of the signal block lengths in Auckland are arranged for four minute headways with issues around sight lines to line side signals. Presumably going beyond that means installing an in-cab signalling system?

        8. You must be right Nick, they haven’t added any new trains to the fleet recently so I doubt frequencies have increased since you were working there.

          Does anyone know if the CRL business case is based on 24tph or 18tph? If the benefits are less than initially claimed then this seems to be a significant failing.

          I’m not sure Newmarket would need grade separation, the 2045 running pattern has less conflicting movements than there are currently.

    3. Just light rail underground station at Wynyard, continues to the queen st, dominion Rd and airport line. Alternative more expensive version is continue underground to parallel box next to Aotea station. That option is better for connecting to the “existing” HR line. Operationally could alternate between queen st & an aotea terminating station.

    1. my anecdotal observations from sydneys goerge st which was closed to traffic to put light rail is the traffic doesnt seem any worse, and even as a construction zone its more pleasant than it ever was a traffic sewer. We should be copying this.

      1. We are in effect. Huge swathes of Albert Street and nearby intersections have been closed to traffic, and Quay is down to one lane each way… and according to the monitoring reports traffic in the city is actually a little better than it was before.

    2. Dave B – That was a cheap fix using the route of the planned 4 lane inner city bypass of State Highway 1 as out lined in De Leuw Cather 1963 Report.

  13. For sure the best idea is a rail tunnel connecting the north shore and the city. However, for a small additional cost, we should also build it with an integrated road tunnel. Then we could knock down the ugly bridge and get our natural harbour back.
    It wont be cheap, but it can be amortised over 60 years

    1. The best idea is a simply light rail bridge with a similar alignment to the existing bridge and enough space for a decent walking and cycling facility. I can assure you it will be literally half the price of a tunnel.

      1. +1 especially if the costs of propose Skypath are baked in…only problem is that we need cycle and ped acces (and LR) tomorrow and not 30 years time.

        1. Or the crown bridges plan in Helsinki. A longer Harbour Bridge for LRT walking and cycling. And it looks nicer.

      2. The best option, indeed the only option that should be considered at all, would cut VKT for internal-combustion-engined vehicles to under 2.5 million by 2030, and to practically nil by 2050.

        There is capacity for millions more Human Kilometres Travelled over the bridge each year, deploying readily available, cheaper technology. I don’t know what converting the middle two lanes of the existing bridge to light rail would cost, but vastly billions less than building a new tunnel or a new bridge.

  14. …”it is because providing extra capacity over the harbour is”… …”useless when you don’t have spare motorways and local roads on either side to connect into this new crossing. Ultimately the tunnels just link back into the same motorways and local roads to the north and south, meaning that they don’t actually create a better overall transport network.”


    Its pretty clear from the map that a true eastern through traffic route is the only link that provides spatial separation & resilience & that doesn’t continue to funnel traffic most of the traffic past the edge of the CBD. However given the opposition to such a link, it would have to be tunneled over long portions to work & thus be too expensive.

    Leaves road pricing to manage peak demand & a rapid transit rail link to the Northshore

    1. Dare I say it, I think if the wanted to make this work they should go back to the drawing board.

      For example now that a 6km tunnel is on the cards, why wouldn’t you run the southern motorway into it in grafton gully and bypass spaghetti junction and the city entirely.

      The Harbour Bridge could remain as the route from the shore to the city and northwestern only. Half the lanes could be removed from the middle and sold for development.

      1. This could work with the port gone; currently Grafton Gully busy is with port traffic, traffic that the port wants to double, or more.

        But is certainly better than the current plan, something to do once the rapid transit network complete, and when we’re so rich we can waste public money like an Australian city!

        1. I don’t think that’s actually right Patrick. Grafton gully has only slightly more heavy vehicle traffic than the average state highway. It’s busy, mostly, with car traffic from the east side of the central area and from the suburbs along Tamaki drive and Ngapipi Road

        2. That’s what the counts say, that’s not what’s it’s like; 18 wheelers are not the same as a car, but anyway, my point stands; it’s not sitting there empty waiting for six lanes of traffic to be added… without port traffic that plan would be more possible.

        3. Grafton Gully is literally at a standstill during rush hours. It could not possibly be any busier than it is.

  15. I don’t think any Ausy city has ever wasted public money.
    I think we have wasted more trying to do everything on the cheap, and possibly that will include North shore light rail.
    When I was in Sydney last week I was going to jump off at Central station just to try out the light rail just to convince myself of its use for dominion road.
    But unfortunately ran out of time.
    I did ride on a new Waratah emu which is very nice.

  16. I know you ones are pretty keen on your light rail but one option would be to have an electric bus tunnel. Possibly it could be used by other electric freight vehicles. You could even ban ICE freight vehicles from the existing bridge. The advantage would be you only require minimal ventilation. I would still like to have freight from the port to have access other electric trucks could have some kind of flying junction to get too or from the motorway . As there is no overhead required the height may not be too much higher than with a light rail tunnel.

      1. Is it a big a problem as you try to make out. After all it seems to me that cars are effectively going to be banned in the CDB if people on this site gets their way which will leave room for buses. Actually it could just as easily be a bridge as a tunnel.

        1. There has been plenty of work done by AT on bus capacity constraints in the CBD, if you don’t believe this evidence then I doubt anything I say will convince you.

          There are no plans to ban cars from the CBD and there probably never will be.

        2. In the CBD road carriage way is already being reallocated away from the spatially very inefficient cars, in favour of the more spatially efficient buses, cycles, and pedestrian facilities. Likewise car storage provision is being lost as commercial land owners seek better returns. There is no requirement or desire to ban cars. It is simply progress towards greater efficiency and quality of life, changes priorities, away from the status quo of so much CBD space allocated to the inefficient, and quality of life degrading, car travel privalege

  17. There has been plenty of work done by AT on bus capacity constraints in the CBD, if you don’t believe this evidence then I doubt anything I say will convince you.

    There are no plans to ban cars from the CBD and there probably never will be.

    1. Its not me you need to convince its NZTA and probably the national party. And if the airport light rail fails there won’t be much appetite to try another light rail project.And a bus and electric truck freight tunnel will be a much easier solution for NZTA as the don’t seem to know how to buid light rail. And the project will have a better return than light rail.

      1. Electric busses are a bit of a fantasy in Auckland. EHGV even more so. AT can use electric busses in the CBD, where routes are static and quite short. This allows recharging time. For routes that are longer, with more hills and where more flexibility is needed, the busses will have to be either Euro6 diesel, LNG, Bio fuel or hydrogen.

        1. You might think all this, but thats really it, just your thoughts. The political party you theorise might come to power, as far as Im aware at least haven’t made a Business Case for your theory or have it in their really at this stage it’s just one mans wishes vs the Government in offices policy and pending Business Case

        2. @ Joe – 5-10 years sounds right to me.
          Ref: – “An industry group composed of BMW, Porsche, Siemens, Allego and Phoenix-Contact recently demonstrated an ultra-fast charging station capable of delivering enough juice for a midrange EV to travel 62 miles, all in less than three minutes — about as quick as a gas station fill-up — thanks to a 450 kW capacity”

          They’re not the only group interested and new battery developments (including active cooling) make the feasibility better all the time.

        3. Joe yes these are my thoughts. My view is we as a country should act quickly to cut our transport emissions. Technology is changing quickly and light rail is about to be left behind. According to the IPCC we only have10 years to save the planet so a light rail scheme in distant future is only sucking oxygen away from what we need to do today. The need is too put in place a renew ably powered public transport network in Auckland within the next 5 years. We already have plenty of roads to run this network on. So bring on the bus lane which will be needed and expand the easy rail projects and put the electric buses and trains into service. I expect there will be further climate shocks in the next few years which will wake up the general public to the fact that they will need to leave their car at home and get on board the buses and trains. Once we have falling traffic volumes then the whole thing just becomes easier as buses, trains and cycleways will move more quickly.

        4. Royce – I completely agree with you regarding climate change. However, as the article mentions with all the planning involved we are at least 10 years away from building the next crossing, whether it is rail or electric bus.

          The same things holding up light rail are just as likely to hold up any bus solution.

          The Northern busway is going reach capacity by the time this is built anyway so we will be needing some sort of guided bus system to allow buses to follow closer together. As far as I’m aware the cheapest guidance system is still a steel rail, not sure I agree LR is about to be left behind as a technology.

        5. Exactly. And as a result the Board requested plans to accelerate the transition to a 100% e-bus fleet. This is already the strategy, but now looking at ways of getting there faster…

          Reality has overtaken these reckons; the future is arriving faster.

  18. What’s so scary about putting heavy rail across. How about both? Heavy rail would provide a much more direct route for trains heading up to Northport.

    1. True, it would. It would also result in contention on an already constrained rail network.

      Even routing via the west (current approach) is going to run into capacity constraints and that’s just one source of passengers – Adding this extra demand to a line serving three passenger sources and forecast doubling of service…

      That’s just ignoring cost. HR has a place, but I’m struggling to see how sharing freight and passengers on the same line makes sense. Ignoring the additional spanner that KiwiRail has no budget to acquire new EF-equivalent locos and electrify large sections of track (all the way to Northport). Also, how much freight would still be banned from the tunnel, due to it being hazardous?

      I think it’d be better to run another line along the west coast to segregate freight from the north, instead of running it on the existing track.

    2. Cost!. How many billions do you think we have down the back of the couch?
      We’ll get to build one rail crossing for the next 30+ years. This is also why the road crossing needs to be not be next; we’ve got a whole rapid transit network to complete, 2x the length of what we currently have. And we need to upgrade the Freight + InterCity Railway throughout the whole nation…

      There’s a lot to do.

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