The North Shore Line, The Northern Line, Te Raki Tereina…

NZTA in a recently released report showed that there is some urgency in starting work to replace the Northern Busway with a higher capacity rail system on a new crossing. This is because:

  1. Demand to access the city centre from the Shore is on a sustained growth path with ongoing growth on both sides of the harbour.
  2. Only increased Rapid Transit can meet that demand, no more cars can be squeezed onto city streets and carparks.
  3. Nor can North Shore local roads comfortably accommodate feeding a substantially bigger motorway.
  4. Critically the number buses required at peaks in the city centre is fast becoming unworkable.
  5. The Busway itself will be overcapacity by the mid 2030s at the latest.
  6. A direct Rapid Transit crossing will also increase the attractiveness of that option.
  7. Will free up capacity on the bridge, along with remove the bulk of the buses, this will improve the existing road crossing.
  8. And a new crossing on a separate mode will add resilience to city networks.
  9. A higher quality higher capacity alternative crossing will also more easily enable other volume control measures such as pricing to be added, to keep the traffic lanes efficient for high value service and delivery vehicles.

City Centre access in the morning peak across the harbour has only been possible because of the Northern Busway. Essentially it is now becoming a victim of its own success. NZTA’s Traffic modelling shows adding more traffic lanes is counterproductive in its effects on the wider city’s road networks alone: it would make traffic worse. This is without even considering all the other negative outcomes of increasing traffic volumes economically, environmentally, and in public health, safety, and wellbeing. And of course the enormous cost. Replacing the busway with a high capacity rail system on a new crossing is therefore likely the most cost effective and efficient option for enabling growth in access between the North Shore and the wider city.

The Northern Busway has been one long success story, and a credit to all those who toughed out its delivery in the face of huge resistance (from the usual quarters). The extension to Albany currently underway will only accelerate this growth. And, as an aside, the Eastern Busway is certain to follow the same arc, as it is entering a market with no current Rapid Transit, like the NB did, with resultant high traffic congestion and auto dependency, so the pressure it will add to Panmure Station is likely to be severe. Which reminds us:

It’s all about the Network

As with any route planning it must always take place with an understanding of the whole network. It is essential to put this situation into the context of the multi decade programme of retro-fitting a city wide Rapid Transit Network to Auckland, to complement its extensive road one. Below is a recent version of this constantly evolving plan from an ATAP report in 2018.

Although projects get announced and built separately, the big prize is a complete whole network, like most cities ours will be made up of various but interconnected systems. We have about a third of it in operation already, in red in the map below, yellow indicates the extensions currently underway, blue in planning, and white, well, in further planning, including a future harbour crossing…

We expect the Puhinui link, the 3rd main, and electrification to Pukekohe to shortly move from blue to yellow. Which hopefully will mean funded and underway will this year be:

  1. City Rail Link
  2. Northern Busway extension
  3. Eastern Busway
  4. Puhinui Link and Interchange
  5. 3rd Main
  6. Electrification to Pukekohe

Which is a fantastic list. A sign that ATAP, the Regional Fuel Tax, and our local and central systems are working pretty solidly on this plan. Add to this the additional trains currently being built too.

So about 1/3 done, a 1/3 underway, and 1/3 future.

Just considering the Rapid Transit level, there will still be a lot of buses supporting this network everywhere, each point of the compass will have a Rapid Transit spine:

  • East via Eastern Line and Bus (The Eastern Busway connecting to rail at Panmure)
  • South via Southern Line
  • SouthWest via Mangere Light Rail, and the Southern and Onehunga Lines (through transfers at Ōtāhuhu and Puhinui Stations)
  • Isthmus via Dominion Rd Light Rail
  • West via Western Line
  • NorthWest via NW Light Rail
  • North, currently served by the Northern Busway and Ferries.

Of course we need to improve the ferry services, but even under the most ambitious scenario ferry services cannot meet a meaningful amount of future demand, because, by definition, even with the best wharf connections, they have a structurally limited water edge catchment. So why not just keep adding buses? Well of course we are, the Northern Busway is getting extended right now, which will make it boom even more than it has been. As it is every year more services have needed to be added. There is some future capacity in the Busway, we can make a couple of bridge lanes full bus only, reduce general traffic lanes down to one each way on Fanshawe St, and turn it into a massive bus corridor. But even doing these things, which I assume we’ll have to before a new crossing is built anyway, will just increase bus congestion in the city, to the point of (expensive) operational inefficiency and frustration for users.

As ever, and as the NZTA report confirms, what we build or don’t build shapes what we do and what kind of place our city becomes. If we want ever more buses then build for them, if we think that trying to cram more cars into the city and the Central Motorway Junction is a great way forward, or even spatially possible, add a traffic crossing. But if we would prefer to have more people travelling by electric rail; then we’ll have to supply that. Whatever we feed, in a thriving city, will grow. And that is especially evident over a naturally constrained corridor like the harbour.

After the CRL and the two LR lines are complete adding the conversion of the Northern Busway to rail will mean there will no longer be a major branch of the Rapid Transit Network delivering buses into the city centre. There will still be a lot of buses on city streets, but no major point of the compass generating the very high volumes that a rapid transit line generates. So manageable volumes, rather than impossible ones. This leaves to ask:

What type of train and on what city route?

There are two likely broad route options:

  1. Underground from a station at Wynyard Quarter, continuing below Wellesley St to platforms below the south end of Aotea Station (with possible future potential to extend).
  2. Connecting to the coming Light Rail system probably at surface level at Wynyard Quarter (as indicated on the Network map above).

And roughly three options for system:

  1. Our existing system (route 1)
  2. Extend the coming light rail system (route 1 or 2)
  3. Add a third system (route 1)

As ever there are trade-offs to be made.

Route 1: Considerably more expensive to build because it requires a city side tunnel, but offers high capacity, and the opportunity to introduce a driverless system as the whole route will be grade separate, which means operating cost savings and very high frequencies. Potential for a future extension across the city (a CRL 2) in an east west direction, but at even further considerable cost. Could be Light Metro or our current system. Light Metro would offer considerable cost savings both in construction and operations, and is more likely in my view. The only plausible reason for using current system would if there was an intention to connect to the existing network say at Parnell (as I imagined here in 2012) through the cost and complexities of this I think count it out.

Route 2: Would be considerably cheaper and quicker to build across the harbour and on the busway, and avoids any city tunnelling, at least for a decade or more. And by linking into existing lines immediately offers a through routed service, with one seat rides up Queen St to Mangere and the North West. Albany direct to Airport service for example. But would at some point probably hit capacity limits.

Both options have appeal. A key consideration is closer analysis of the capacity of the Light Rail option, which we will look at in a future post, as well as ways of using this as a means of staging the project over time: Connecting to the coming surface system first and then years later adding an east west tunnel to complement it for destinations beyond the city, which appeals on cost and speed grounds.

This post is intended as an introduction to this issue, despite its length, as there is a great deal of detail to consider. For now, in summary:

The good news…

The Northern Busway is great, but will need superseding.

Auckland’s Rapid Transit Network is currently growing in more directions it may appear.

There are great options for a new RT harbour crossing.


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  1. I think it has been mentioned before, but i think a good starting point for the shore would be to start with a Harbour crossing and spur to Takapuna, to exchange with the Busway at Akoranga. Stage two could then be the conversion of the busway. That way at least you’d have part of the network in place while the masdive disruption of Busway conversion takes place

    1. I agree that the link to Akoranga should be done without disrupting bus service, but does the disruption actually have to be that massive?

      We already know where the utilities are, so we don’t need to find them (and possibly don’t even need to relocate them). The structures and road bed are already built for 1,000 buses a day, so shouldn’t need to be strengthened for LRT. Power supply masts can be installed before the tracks, using night closures as the masts can be attached outside the running lanes. Effectively, construction is excavating and removing the blacktop, laying a concrete slab, then placing precast rails. That could be very fast.

      You would stage the conversion as well:
      Akoranga to Smales: Run all NEX buses in 24/7 bus lanes down Tahoroto Road and Fred Thomas Drive
      Smales Farm to Constellation: Start running LRT services from Smales and run NEX buses Constellation to Akoranga or Smales on the motorway.
      Constellation to Albany: Run NEX buses Albany to Constellation on the motorway and run light rail services from Constellation.

      1. There is also a motorway shoulder that could be used as a diversion for southbound buses. Effectively you could build the southbound rail line with southbound buses using the motorway shoulder. Repave the surface as a road with track in it a diversion for northbound buses while you backtrack and lay he second set of rails, then put up the poles and wires at nights with the whole thing closed. It would be messy but closing the bus way entirely would now be much worse. At peak the busway carries more people than the same width of motorway so you borrow space from there.

      2. I wonder how much you will need to rebuild Akoranga to accommodate LRT either at surface or below it. Even below I can imagine the top would need to be redone.

        1. Build in two halves. Removing car access & run south bound buses temporarily through the small parking/drop off etc area.

      3. The Busway was designed and constructed to allow for future upgrading to LRT. Note that to install heavy rail would require significant sections of reconstruction.

      1. I can think of two good reasons, firstly it would undoubtedly be an extension of the proposed lines south of the harbour, so the first stage would be connected to stabling, depot and power supply so you’d actually be able to commission and run it as a short stage.

        Secondly, the usage of an extension of the airport line to and from takapuna via the Cbd Akoranga would be ten times greater than a orphan train shuttling from Albany to constellation, for example. Why wouldn’t you start with the most useful bit?

        1. Nick
          I take your point about the power. Stabling for a few trains?
          I had thought about an Albany start for the exact opposite of what you thought. The numbers are way smaller and so transfers become much more manageable.
          This approach also doesn’t preclude starting on a bridge tunnel at the same time. I can recall in Salvador seeing pieces of incomplete tainline over many parts of the city.

        2. But that would force a transfer for everyone on the line. If you start in the city there would be no forced transfers at all, just parallel relief to the first part of the busway.

          Being politically pragmatic, a stub line from the outer suburbs to the outer, outer suburbs that almost nobody uses because it suits few trips and forces everyone to change to the busway anyway… that’s a great way to sink a project before it’s finished.

  2. Does anyone know if the gradient for a tunnel under the harbour will likely be less than the harbour bridge?
    Reason I raise is while it seems crazy to increase car capacity, it would be more pleasant for PT to use harbour bridge than a tunnel.

    This could mean tunnel for cars, and bridge for PT.

    1. Road tunnels are massively expensive compared to an electrified public transport tunnel. Fossil fuel burning vehicle provision requires massively more ventilation and fire protection provision

  3. A decision should be made sooner rather than later. At this point it would make sense to begin constructing rail from albany up to the hibiscus coast to coincide with the conversion of the busway. No point building the busway then having to convert it a few years later. Plus it should be in place for all the growth happening in dairy flat (Future Urban) and would guide planning and zoning for the next decade

  4. Number one; the rail link to the Hibiscus Coast MUST happen and quickly.

    The Northern Busway is an absolute success and under the North Shore City Council and under a driven leader, Mayor George Wood, it proved what can be done quickly and if I recall correctly, to budget. But it’s flawed by being very incomplete, the most notable of which is there is no northern access in places especially after Constellation Drive and the use of the breakdown strips are anything but a solution. The pissing about at Esmonde Road for northbound buses handicaps it also. And as it stands is anything but rapid transport if measured by off-peak speeds. These buses still creep along.

    However, if motorway and road building is a perfect definition of insanity when it comes to traffic solutions then bus-based public transport as the alternative is equally mad if we are trying to do something about congestion. According to research, I read last week, 90% of all vehicle movements in Auckland are the private motor vehicle. 5% are public transport. 800 cars are added to Auckland’s fleet every week, how many public transport units (not including taxis), probably count them on one hand.

    We must not accept the lame ( I would be complimenting it to call it even half-arsed) attempt AT make at providing an alternative to cars. Our buses are the reason our roads are clogged. They are supremely unattractive to use and the last resort and them some to getting anywhere. You may want to turn a lane each way of the bridge and most of Fanshawe street into bus lanes but it won’t work, because buses are the reason the private car is so popular.

    AT must not be allowed to try and put out a towering inferno by offering a garden hose as the solution. We Aucklanders need to demand far better, far quicker and the immediate building of a northern and northwestern rail line (light or heavy), in the least, should be non-negotiable.

    1. ‘Our buses are the reason our roads are clogged.’ This really is nonsense. Buses are the main reason our roads move at all. That they are so successful we need to replace and augment them with rail systems, and build them their own Busways, is a sign of their utility and power. Pretty much what the whole post is about.

      1. Even entertaining buses as an ongoing backbone solution is not going change the status quo. They are the absolute least option AT can get away with and are spectacularly unsuccessful if 90% of all vehicle movements are by private car. Hence the questionable taxi service AT are providing in Devonport, it’s the white flag AT are flying to say buses are fricking useless.

        We need genuine rapid transit systems right here right now. Sure buses can feed such systems on short runs, where that mode can work best but do not think buses are a solution unto themselves, they are not. Our congestion has never been worse anecdotally and from research.

        1. Waspy did you read the post, like, at all? It is entirely about the FACT that Auckland is gradually upgrading those booming bus routes to rail. No this can’t happen immediately, but it is happening. Have a read.

        2. My opening line agrees exactly with that. But then you go on about bus lanes on the harbour bridge (pointless as this is not the area where things get held up and it will only exacerbate general congestion) and “reduce general traffic lanes down to one each way on Fanshawe St, and turn it into a massive bus corridor”. It says to me you still see buses as the answer, they are not. Using a problem to fix a problem will fail miserably.

          My frustration is this kind of talk only encourages AT to get away with the same failed model, and frankly times up.

        3. Come on, Waspman… it’s unfair to say he “goes on” about those things. To the contrary, he said: “But even doing these things, which I assume we’ll have to before a new crossing is built anyway, will just increase bus congestion in the city, to the point of (expensive) operational inefficiency and frustration for users.”

          Not happy with your whining, Waspman. Serious discussion about options – and options that I would’ve thought you’d be keen on – shouldn’t be producing this negativity from you.

        4. Buses are a reality in Auckland, a consequence of decisions both predating AT and made higher up above them, often in Wellington. AT are charged with running them more efficiently and that will mean bus lanes on pretty much every arterial and probably the bridge and its approaches, though of course it is nzta’s tarmac, so be sure you direct your emotion in the right direction when and if that happens.

          So it goes.

          A great deal is changing over the years ahead, but can I suggest obsessive bus hate is unlikely to be either successful or helpful in getting the best possible outcomes..

        5. Not here to make you happy Heidi, not “Whinging” either, but could be accused of being negative about the typical situation Auckland is in and why. I think the proposals for this are a brilliant idea.

          But there must have been hundreds (thousands?) of articles and discussions on an alternative to roads to the North Shore since pre-Harbour Bridge days but what have they all resulted in?? Absolutely positively nothing but a jammed up motorway. We always want to compromise, want to cut some slack, give suckers an even break. Hasn’t got us anywhere though.

          Surely someone who matters can lead on this. Albany, Orewa and the Hibiscus Coast are building residential dwellings like never before. I am going to guess the vast majority of the thousands of cars are going to be heading south from those dwellings. Then what?

          The time is now, and given this blog carries some swing with AT how about we stop accepting the crumbs they provide and demand rail now? Not in the never-never.

        6. Again, forgetting that putting pressure on AT will change absolutely nothing when the real cape decisions are made in Wellington (Cabinet, NZTA, Kiwirail) and around the Council table. Why not back off from AT and troll the organisations that actually provide the capital for these projects instead?

    2. The planning involved in a harbour crossing means even ‘Quickly’ is a long way away. There is no choice but to continue to use buses as a solution in the short term.

      Not sure I agree buses are the main cause of congestion in Auckland, lots of people driving cars on the same road at the same time seems to be the major problem.

      Buses move large numbers of people relatively efficiently on a number of corridors in Auckland, such as Onewa Road, Dominion Rd, Mt Eden Rd and Manukau Rd.

    3. If buses are so damned unattractive to use, then I’m a bit mystified as to why they’re achieving growth rates that most businesses in this country would be very glad of. As a regular PT user who travels literally all over the network I can say that for me, comparing the New Network with what came before is like comparing chalk and cheese. Of course, it’s not perfect (and never will be) but it’s a bit rich to say that it’s a “last resort” when it’s gaining new pax at a faster rate than any time in living memory.

    4. ” Our buses are the reason our roads are clogged. They are supremely unattractive to use and the last resort and them some to getting anywhere. You may want to turn a lane each way of the bridge and most of Fanshawe street into bus lanes but it won’t work, because buses are the reason the private car is so popular.”

      I have seldom read somehting I agree with less. It shows a massive misunderstabding of the history of trasnport in Auckland and how we got here.

  5. The northern busway has been a massive success, yippee, so why are we buying the Eastern Busway as a busway and not as a tram??

      1. No Patrick, the eastern busway is a cheap sop, a decision made by an organisation (AT) that they know they will get away with because no one cares. They know it will be acceptable to the “she’ll be right” Aucklanders who will keep filling the Pakuranga Highway with their cars rather than take the bus.

        It should be rail from the get-go, but we are big on never learning from history in this city.

        1. The Eastern Busway and cycle route should have been reallocated from existing road space – with a few widenings at pinch points – 15 years ago. If that had been done, the level of car dependency out there would be significantly lower, PT patronage would be higher, commutes would be quicker, and public acceptance of PT investment would be higher.

          That didn’t happen, so we have this expensive road project to retain the high levels of car movements that have resulted. It’s the intermingling of politics, investment and behaviour change that is tricky. Each time we fail to take the next logical step away from car dependency and towards real access, there are long-term ramifications. The Eastern Busway is one such example: it would be better if it was not taking so much more space but making more efficient space of the existing corridor by switching modes, BUT the car dependency of the residents seems to preclude their understanding of this. So we are lumped with this huge bill to keep that level of car access while putting in the bus way now.

          What Patrick is discussing here furthers the progress, Waspman. All over the city, we need major reallocation of general traffic lanes to bus lanes. This will improve public understanding of the access PT brings, and lead to more rail and metro solutions.

          We’re all impatient for progress, but I think what you need to think through is the best approach to achieve what we’re wanting – perhaps what you’re writing here is counterproductive.

      2. Are we not in the mess we are in because we’ve been using solutions that will be ‘good for a few decades’?

        Will those articulated style buses that might be planned for Puhini to Airport be able to be used on the Eastern Busway? As much as I like Double Deckers for the fun aspect, they feel anything but Rapid Transit having to try and get off one quickly and tag on.

        As for LR South, Nor West and North, just get them all built now and at the same time.

        1. Articulated buses would be logical on this route, the only reason they have disappeared from Auckland streets is the space they take up in the CBD.

        2. We are in this mess because we did nothing but build m’ways, highways, and roads for cars for 70 years. Until recently the last stretch of railway in AKL was finished in 1930, and that was allowed to decline as a passenger system to near zero. Since then the only piece of dedicated PT infrastructure added was a short section of the Northern Busway and a few stations plus a small downtown train terminus.

          That we have got to where we are today is extremely fortunate, and is hugely down to the success of that hard won Busway and rail upgrades. That our agencies, AT and NZTA, backed by AC and govt., are currently pushing forward the rest of RTN on almost all fronts at once; north, south, east, west, is simply miraculous.

          All of this costs real money and political commitment. And creativity about how to build something almost everywhere, while running a growing thing… Would it better if we could wave a wand and have a Metro lines everywhere? yes. Meanwhile on planet earth, I think back to a decade ago when i started trying to do something about this in AKL; if you offered me where we are now I would have leapt at it.

          An RTN route across the Tāmaki towards my old haunt; the most auto dependent planning fail in AKL: Williamsburg, Quaxland! This is amazing. And the CRL actually being built, LR, finally, coming, serious talk of new rail harbour crossings. Electric rial, e-buses… We have won, are winning. But it’s never finished.

          I get all your frustrations, I have been among the frustrated-in-chief with this city, but if you aren’t aware of just how unlikely this all is, and how lucky we are, and in such a short space of time, then you’re just not facing the front.

        3. Thanks Patrick and the others who entered this fray those years ago.
          Your success was by placing well researched information in front of the public and our politicians. You created and exploited additional channels, such as this blog to bypass conventional media that was, and still is heavily entrenched in promoting and maintaining the status quo powerful commercial and political interests that provide private motoring amenity and the need for it because of the promoted urban sprawl. You have done incredibly well, but the challenge is ongoing. Keep it up.

      3. It looks like a waste of money to me to build as a busway then in a decade or so go back and build it all over again as a tram? It’s not a smart use of taxpayer money.

        1. really? do show your workings, be sure to include the time value of money. But also, as others say above; what’s your Light Rail running pattern, how many transfers do you expect people to make?

    1. There are currently five main bus routes that feed into Panmure from the east – 70, 72M, 72C, 711 and 712. If the Eastern busway was light rail four of these would require a transfer to LR at Pakuranga or somewhere similar. This would mean three trips (two transfers) just to get to the CBD.

      In addition it is likely some services will continue along the EP Highway probably to the CBD as they do now.

      1. Exactly this. The eastern busway is effectively a bus bridge to get a whole lot of feeder routes through to the station at Panmure. The ‘main’ route from Botany to the city is only one part of the system.

        Anyone demanding that something be built at rail from day one should clearly where the rail would run from, and to, and the proposed service pattern.

      2. I would like to see an investigation into upgrading the 711 and/or 712 to frequent routes to coincide with the opening of the first stage of the busway. A small bus only bridge from Hope Farm Ave to La Trobe St would also shorten the route of the 711 significantly.

  6. Thanks Patrick. I’m looking forward to hearing about all the things we can do now to improve access for people while the big new project is under design – whatever that ends up being.

  7. 1/ There is no advantage in making rail to the NorthShore compatible to our existing heavy rail system. Enhanced rail freight provision north is best provided by upgrading the existing North Auckland Branch beyond the electrified section. Eventual peak rail capacity into the CBD, even after the CRL, from the existing network is not too far distant with predicted growth. Blending North Shore running, using the required complex underground grade separated junction would be a diversion of resources away from a much more desirable wider network enlargement.
    2/ For urban transport systems light rail vehicles can accomplish any thing heavy rail vehicles can do but give the additional flexibility of on street running and steeper gradient capability. Fully automated running is dependant on the provision of full grade separation not vehicle type. On street running in the CBD sacrifices some speed but considerably improves commuter access to the vehicles both by enabling more stops and eliminating the access dificulities to underground (or elevated) stations. The downside of on street running is a degradation of general motoring, and pedestrian amenity. Although for pedestrians this amenity degradation is far less then that provided by the number of busses required to acheive the same capacity.

  8. Did a comment related to this in the weekend on the flashback post & did a quick bit of research ‘aka Google’ into the best frequencies you can get out of LRT.

    Seems rail systems max out at around 40 trains per hour per direction. There are some that are more but are normally small low capacity units so bunching isn’t likely to occur.

    Anyway if we run the NW & SW Mangere light rail lines through Queen St & into either one tunnel or bridge, seems we will be pretty right for a while as you could run about 3 lines through it at 12 tph (5 min frequencies) giving you 36 tph total per direction. This could allow say the NW line to run at 24 tph (2.5 min frequencies) with every 2nd one spur to Takapuna say. Run the Mangere LRT at 12 tph.

    36 tph per direction would be a unit every 50 secs down Queen St & through the crossing on average. Certainly would be a problem through the crossing itself & be great for grabbing a ride on Queen.

    1. LR is planned to run at 4mins on each each line making for 2 min frequencies on Queen where they join. Currently assuming 33m singles doubling to 66m LRVs when demand grows. CAF Urbos on the current Sydney Dulwich Line capacities are 206/272 standard and crush respectively for 33m, so 412/544 if doubled to 66m.

      That makes a max capacity of around 500 people every 2mins per direction which is 15k an hour! Which is huge. If through routed across the harbour then in the am peak this could be bringing 30k per hour to the Queen St valley.

      So I see little need for frequencies greater than 2mins there, which is more than manageable. 2mins between machines is a long time, signals will be able to align easily with this kind of frequency. Queen St will feel pedestrianised most of the time, despite the capacity these will bring.

      Remember this means each LRV is the equivalent of 10 double deckers. And with multi door boarding they will load and empty quicker than buses too.

      We will do a full post on various capacities later too.

      1. Thanks, look forward to it.
        Be interesting which corridors end up with the most demand….depends on what we provide as well of course.

  9. The system will need to be tunnelled, likely at least from Onewa to CBD. To keep costs down, the rolling stock should be of a style to fit most efficiently in a round tunnel, i.e. fat and short, like the metro systems that have been installed in China over the last 15 years.

    1. I presume you mean short as from ground level to overhead wire height (or roof level if third rail power feed) rather then short, front to rear?

      1. Yes, low roof and probably 3rd rail powered to keep height down such that the tunnel diameter can be minimised.
        Not LRT rolling stock, so unlikely to run through a shared space like Queen St.
        Similar to overseas, there is a limit to how much surface transport can be retrofitted with tunnelling being the only option.
        The north shore line could easily run via Aotea to alongside the NW motorway or to the south under central Auckland.

  10. Good post by the way, was expecting another depressing “Project X that is already late delayed some more kind of one”.

    I think “Route Option 1” with it’s own system perhaps could come at a later date, especially considering the cost, if it was a spur to Takapuna say. Where would it join an existing main LRT Albany bound route if it was a compatible system?

    1. Yes sort of my current thinking: an LR crossing, hook it into Queen St, and work that for as long as possible. Then eventually as too much demand approaches tunnel to Aotea and send the bulk of service there, keeping the through route to a desirable level. Should have at least a decade in it, no redundancy, spreading the high capital cost of the city tunnel and subterranean station over a much longer time.

      And who knows perhaps by then we could justify building a full east/west CRL2: from the then existing crossing to Wynyard/Aotea/Uni/Hospital ->onward…?

      1. You could even replace the heavy rail lines from Parnell to Otahuhu and Onehunga with light metro (obviously would require Avondale-Southdown for freight). This would eliminate 3/4 of the flat junctions on the heavy rail network, and free up some CRL capacity for more services from the South and West.

  11. I think by the time all the other projects are finished and they move on to this, bus options will have improved a lot. There really shouldn’t be a need to have steel wheels with modern technology.

    1. For all the talk of potential bus guidance technologies, the humble steel rail is an extremely effective vehicle guidance system.

      When it comes to the task of moving a lot of people in a constrained space, there ain’t much better!

    2. A huge advantage of standard gauge LRT is there is a number of suppliers selling ready to go, and inter operable vehicles. There is a massive risk in committing to a first generation single supplier non tracked, guided system, with a proprietary guidance system. It is the simple robustness of flanges wheels on steel rails that has meant they are still the bulk movement transport system of choice for nearly 200 years.

      1. Yes but in 10 years time I doubt it would be first gen. It would be at least 10 years before the rest of Auckland gets PT as good as the shore currently has.

        1. Laser discs were orphaned by DVDs but now even Blueray is in terminal decline but analogue LPs soldier on

  12. I understand that there is a route from Southdown to Avondale via Onehunga that is reserved for rail, I imagine particularly if some port business moves north. Is this a possible passenger route? Given how direct the private motor vehicle connection, and even the bike connection is along most of this route, surely the only missing piece is the train?

  13. Ever thought about connecting Ellerslie to Onehunga and New Lynn to Henderson and creating one huge Busway that connects up the entire Isthumus?

  14. Matt has previously expressed a desire for a bridge rather than a tunnel, to enable PT users to continue with the great view from the current bridge. But, if light rail is to be chosen (though I think heavy rail should be), then why not make the new tunnel road only, say four lanes, then reallocate four lanes on the existing bridge to PT? Two lanes for light rail, and two for buses. Just leave four lanes for road traffic.

    1. Heavy rail would require significant reconstruction of the busway. It was designed and constructed with the future purpose of LRT.

  15. I don’t see the point. Spend many billions building a road tunnel and all the approach motorways, junctions and ramps…and spend plenty more convert a road bridge and it’s approach roads to rail operations. Why not just build a rail bridge. Same or better outcome for billions of dollars less.

  16. I can’t see this Waitemata crossing happen in any form in my professional lifetime.
    We have had 5 years of modelling already, much of which will need to be abandoned.

    Light rail is gone from this term. The current government would need to be re-elected for light rail to even be a possibility at all now.

    The list of funding-confirmed major Auckland public transit projects is indeed impressive, but all of them are between 4 and 5 years from completion even optimistically. That’s an entire generation of High School.

    At some point any Minister with transformative policy goals would have to ask whether several billion long term rail capex would be better transferred to opex and give Aucklanders free public transport now for several years, rather than consign yet another generation of youth to this maximised system.

  17. NZTA wants to build 2 x 6km road tunnels and a tunnel for light rail.
    Any idea what this will cost?
    And who has decided against a bridge instead?
    And does anyone have any idea of what standard the rail line will be built to?
    Ie could the train travel at 100 km/h between stations, will there be platform gaps when boarding and and is this going to be a sitting down or standing only train.
    That question might already be answered if we look at the Busway and and especially the Albany extension, which isn’t built to any rail standard.
    As we all know the Busway was built cheap to get buses off the motorway and it has done its job well.
    The real said thing is that these decisions are made by people who will Neva use the line “the trains are just for public transport users” that’s what our planners will be saying.

    1. The parts of NZTA that are still clinging to traffic lanes across the harbour are facing a leasson from reality. They seem to be slow to alter their thinking but I am confident the institution will get to the evidenced based conclusion, eventually.

      The main risk from here, in my view, is a land greedy road designation restricting rational and valuable land use from continuing on both sides of the harbour and across it.

  18. Patrick, doesn’t this report, outlined in the NZ Herald, say that it is all over as far as a road bridge is concerned?
    “A new official report on Auckland Harbour Bridge traffic has taken the road-only option off the table and replaced it with rail-only.

    It’s a big shift in thinking. The report also says we’re well behind with the planning.

    The Auckland Harbour Bridge will be at full capacity for all transport modes by 2030. But a new Waitematā harbour crossing will take at least 10 years to plan and another five to seven to build.”

    And as last October’s ministerial briefing paper from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) reveals, that’s not the only crisis looming over transport to and from the North Shore.

    1. I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis. Most of the southern motorway looks like it’s already at full capacity but no one is proposing spending $6 billion on it.

      1. Agree, that congestion results when everyone tries to drive at once is not a crisis in the sense that more road lanes must be built, because of course that doesn’t work, can’t work, now.

      2. Jimbo
        I am sure that no one is proposing spending $6b on the Southern motorway because that problem could be eased if more people could take the train and won’t that happen when the new train sets arrive?

  19. Can’t see why the same trains that come into Britomart shouldn’t continue to the North Shore. Many people on the North Shore work in places like Otahuhu or Penrose. Why can’t they get the train to work without having to change train types in the city?

    1. Design a junction for the heavy rail lines in the city centre. Once you have solved that almost intractable problem, we can discuss all of the other reasons it is a bad idea.

    2. I don’t see what the problem is. To get to virtually anywhere on Hong Kong Island from Kowloon or the New Territories requires a change. It doesn’t seem to hurt them.
      The Tsukuba Express in Tokyo terminates at Akihabara Station. It doesn’t feed into the Yamanote or another metro line.
      The idea that all lines have to connect to all other other lines is not best practice overseas so why should we adopt it here?

  20. SB, I don’t see why the junction from NS HR lines into the CRL lines is a problem. It is if you envisage two Y junctions as originally proposed for under commercial bay building. Since we are dealing with a loop line with CRL then both up and down NS HR lines only need connecting with separate staggered junctions to the one CRL loop line. If it’s the outer line running clockwise then NS down line has east facing junction under bottom of Albert St. The NS up line leaves the CRL outer loop line via a west facing junction further up Albert
    No crossovers or flying junction needed.
    NS to Britomart direct then on out via eastern line to wherever or southern or western. Aotea to NS direct which means into Auckland eastern, southern or Western line service

    1. You are proposing to have a North Shore Line only link to the western tunnel?

      I mean, sure, it’s a ‘solution’ for the otherwise tricky junction, but it *really* magnifies the impact on other lines!

      1. Impact on other peak time services would be interesting but not IMO a deal breaker. Peak inbound from NS would compete for Britomart slots with western and southern services but since these would have largely offloaded pax at Aotea then I’d suggest using another Britomart platform with a line branching just outside tunnel exiting PO building.
        Can’t see an evening peak issue as southern and western are busy on inner CRL loop leaving outer loop to get busy with NS bound peak traffic.
        Anyway, I have confidence that good traffic management and scheduling software with ETCS 4 will run this easy
        and speedy. Some EF locos in CRL could shift freight too at unbusy time to NS

      2. Actually there would be no need to do anything at Britomart to accomodate NS trains as some of the trains to Aotea from Southern and Western drop pax at Aotea then proceed up junction to NS. Thereby making pathways to Britomart for inbound NS trains.

        1. I haven’t yet looked to find the proposed tph services but 12tph from both southern and western to give 24tph through CRL to Aotea and Britomart could fit in if 6tph from south and west went to NS for 12tph back inbound NS to Britomart for total of 24tph through Britomart.

        2. 1. There are no spare train slots in the CRL for a branch from anywhere, let alone from somewhere as big as the the Shore.
          2. Urban passenger systems work best when connected by transfer, not by interlining, unlike road networks or national railways: eg LND, Paris etc. sure there’s more interlining in NY, but then they have 4 track routes for that.
          3. In Melbourne they are now unpicking their over complicated City Loop, with its confusing running patterns, congealed train opps. That is a perfect example of railway (ie not Metro) thinking creating a cluttered, restrictive, and expensive infrastructure, now being worked round.
          4. The CRL is already carrying 3 lines on 2 tracks. It’s full. And with signals upgrades etc it will accomodate more trains in the future, but by then it will need to from those 3 lines.

          The idea that we should only extend our current railway is in large part a failure to understand the difference between urban passenger only systems, Metros, and mix use freight and long haul passenger rail. Mixed with a similar failure to accept that AKL is a city, with urban transportation needs, and not a stop on an old main truck line….

          Rail fans that don’t understand different types of rail…

        3. But Patrick, if there is passenger-demand for through-services say from the North Shore to South Auckland, how are you going to provide it? It doesn’t matter whether you build a separate light-metro line and force passengers to interchange with the existing system, or whether you extend the existing system and run trains through. Either way, the existing system will have to accommodate the extra patronage and that will mean more trains. Don’t just assume that transferring patronage from a new stub-end line will magically mingle into spare seats on the CRL with no extra trains provided.

          And you are not right that there will be no spare capacity in the CRL. There will be, however using it up will lessen the ability to recover from delays. This may be an acceptable trade-off if the rest of the timetable is planned with this in mind. And consider also, that forcing an arterial flow of passengers to interchange at a single point undesirably stresses the system at that point. Interchanging rule 1.01: You don’t force transfers on an arterial flow!

          The alternative is to build a new line all the way to wherever the arterial demand requires it, but the step from zero to this is much greater than an extension to the existing system which will be usable in the interim while duplication of existing routes is considered. Extending the system we have preserves flexibility. Building something new and non-interoperable locks us into a separate way of doing things from Day1. This may turn out fine, but we had better be sure.

        4. Dave – even if you are correct that there is more capacity in the CRL at best you are probably talking 6tph, this won’t be enough to meet demand from the North Shore.

          Also I can’t see any route option that allows NS trains to go through all of Britomart, Aotea and Karangahape. This means any services from the South or West that run through to the NS will miss at least one of these stations. This seems like a very poor outcome for the investment we are putting into the CRL.

          I assume the trade-off for increasing capacity in the CRL is to add more fat into the timetable across the rest of the network, ie. slower trains. Again this seems a very poor outcome for the investment we are putting into the CRL.

    2. I think I understand what your proposing can you draw a picture. Would it mean if you came to work in the CDB from the Northshore you would go to Britormart but coming home you would leave from Aotea. Presumably you could go home from Britomart but you would have to travel right round the loop Parnell Newmarket Aotea etc. So instead of the Central Rail Link we would go back to having a Central Rail Loop.

      1. In reality people would board an Western line train at Britomart and transfer to a NS line train at Aotea, causing severe crowding as people try and chop and change between the trains.

        1. Jezza, we simply have no idea if that would be the case. I suspect the vast majority of cbd to west pax will embark at Aotea. This means thewestern train running from Britomat to Aotea will very likely easily cope with NS pax doing the short journey to change for NS train at Aotea.

        2. Of course it would be the case, people aren’t going to go for a long ride around a loop if there is a quicker option.

          I agree there would be room on the trains between Britomart and Aotea, my concern would be the sheer number of people getting on and off at Aotea, a station with finite platform room.

        3. We can have popular and successful PT without having a running pattern that encourages a whole lot of short transfers on the CRL.

      2. This shows the folly of such a system, trying to connect all lines instead of transfers. Aotea is going to be maxed out even with 9 car sets if you ask me with all the shift in PT to central Auckland and surrounds + new local residence there.

        1. Sorry Grant, I just cannot see that would be the case or understand where the folly is. I think its a stretch to insist the best for Auckland is a transfer based system where there is a workable alternate using connectivity.
          I may be completely wrong and maybe the farther future when PT lines are at capacity then a transfer system will be better.

      3. Royce, I just dont how to post a diagram here otherwise I’d do that. In fact I’d like to analyse the whole concept of running a NS HR lines into the existing HR network and figure out how there could be successful train patterns. I do not see this as a replacement for a proper NS LR system but I have no doubt a future time will come when both or many are needed. This post about a harbour crossing is an opportunity I think should be a future proofed rail bridge with track room for both LR and HR lines.

        1. Agree Bogle. We need to preserve flexibility and not close off options unless we are very sure of what the future may hold.

        2. Okay Bogle as I said I think I know what your suggesting and its worth analysing. A heavy rail line will be only needed if its going to connect to the NAL somewhere past Walkworth. Otherwise road transport can do the delivery job for freight and I expect light rail could handle any passenger needs for the North Shore. I would like to see space allocated for a least one heavy rail track from Northcote right through to a possible junction with the NAL somewhere between Walkford and Wellford. We might never need it but it then again we might.

    3. Why unnecessarily complicate things? Two decades ago Auckland was suffering an ongoing decline in public transport patronage in spite of ongoing above inflation rises in subsidies. Why? Because an extremely well connected investment company that had purchased the formerly Council owned bus services in Auckland and Wellington, because of their lucrative subsidy income, had successfully persuaded the government of the day that patrons wanted one vehicle, end to end, services that only buses could provide. It has taken Auckland two decades to unravel most of the damage and create an integrated multimodal system with transfers an integral part. The Greater Auckland Congestion Free Network 2 design provides a far more elegant high capacity solution to North Shore using a staged upgrade of the existing busway connecting with the already accepted NW and Central Isthmus Rapid Network Light Rail lines then any heavy rail solution tabled so far. Whilst a heavy rail interconnection would serve some North Shore travellers better, others would lose the benefits of through running to destinations on the Light Rail routes south of the harbour.

  21. I think you need to look at your services in a lot more detail. Especially as every north Shore train effectively has to go the whole way through the loop and you seem to have forgotten the eastern line.

    1. Yea you are probably right. The eastern line peak morning runs into the inner CRL loop line so is not an issue with NS junctions on outer CRL loop.
      I don’t know why every NS train needs to go through whole loop although if it’s just NS in same train NS out then it will go right through. I’d send 6tph NS south and 6tph NS west
      This scheme would effectively turn Britomart mainly into the NS rail Auckland cbd station whereas Aotea will be main station for other lines. That fits nicely in with CRL completion and pax loading

      1. Oh, you are proposing a *completely* different running pattern to what AT are proposing then? You are proposing to run:
        12 eastern line trains into Britomart, then anti-clockwise around the loop and back out east;
        6 Western line trains in to Mt Eden, clockwise around the whole loop, and then back out west;
        6southern line trains into Newmarket, clockwise around the whole loop and back out west;
        6 trains Swanson to Albany via Aotea;
        6 trains Albany to Swanson via Parnell;
        6 trains Albany to Pukekohe via Parnell; and
        6 trains Pukekohe to Albany via Aotea.

        That seems insanely complicated. Both Melbourne and Sydney are building new tunnels to move *away* from that running pattern.

        1. As I said that’s nothing that modern scheduling and routing software couldn’t handle. Put ETCS lvl4 in place to get signalling sorted out in CRL or wider then you will have an integrated HR system.
          Just imagine through one seat metro trains from Pukekohe to Albany, Swanson to Albany and the rest of the network with one transfer within Aotea station.

        2. Just transfer, it’s much more fun anyway….yes new users especially will lose time trying to figure out which train to catch with a one seat complicated ride.

        3. I didn’t mean it was complex for train operators. It’s difficult for passengers! If you’re at Britomart and want to get to Meadowbank, it will take you like 40 minutes and you have to go through Mt Eden and Newmarket. If you are at Aotea and want to go to Kingsland, you have to go through Parnell.

        4. SB, eh? If you are at Britomart and you want to travel to Meadowband you get an outbound eastern train
          If you are at Aotea and you want to go to Kingland you get on Western outbound train that goes up CRL to Mt Eden then proceed onto outbound western line to Kinsgsland.
          Neither of these necessitate travel via Parnell.

        5. Those trains don’t exist in your running pattern. You have underestimated the number of trains needed by a factor of 2.

        6. Just out of interest why is a single seat ride between Pukekohe and Albany important? You can probably count on one hand how many people make that trip each day.

          In contrast you are forcing the thousands a day who will travel between Britomart and Panmure to go the long way via Mt Eden and Parnell.

          This is the kind of plan someone might come up with on a model railway, not on an actual metro system.

        7. A single seat ride pukekohe to albany is not important. It just happens that the train pattern allows this to happen. Also do we really have any slightest idea how many pax there would be if such a pattern existed. I suspect Albany and all NS stations would bring the NS closer to the rest of Auckland.

        8. We have a pretty good idea from the census journey to work, the household travel survey, and the strategic transport model. It’s pretty negligible end to end, a lot more to and from various points along the way however.

        9. It’s also worth noting that the CRL running pattern proposes 18tph on the inner Western and Eastern lines in the future, so your plan still steals capacity from these lines.

  22. SB, it would be interesting to see what running patterns AT would propose if this NS HR line was constructed. No doubt they would differ greatly from patterns currently planned post CRL.

    1. Not really that different conceptually, the last proposal just pulled the southern line out of the CRL and ran it through to the north, while the western and eastern were run through via the CRL at high frequency.

      No loops, no alternating patterns, no split this way and that…

  23. PR, I’m not suggesting we only extend our current railway. I simply responded to SB’s comment that pysically connecting a NS HR line to existing CRL was an almost intractable problem. I proved it was not with a possible connection scheme. Then when SB asked proposed services I made more suggestions.
    Im certainly no expert in determining which rail scheme would be best for NS. I just dont like that any suggestion for HR seems to attract a well worn set of blockers which IMO are not insurmountable.
    Basically you are telling me that my first suggestion for a running pattern is too complicated? As SB asserts not for train management but for pax understanding. I tend to believe pax soon get to learn where trains go and when necessary select the correct train. Not complicated at all.
    I think I would actually prefer a soon built LR to SW, NW and NS but as others have opined the lack of LR progress doesn’t look hopeful

      1. No. My real fear concerning LR is not that its the best NS rail solution but that nothing is underway construction wise and there exists a real chance it will all be cancelled if the next election fails to return a labour or labour coalition govt.
        Because of that possibility, no matter how remote some think it will be, I think the next fallback design for NS rail should be a heavy rail one. We need rail PT to NS. If not the preferred LR then HR. Prepare for this as an option and hope its not needed in near future.

        1. Who’s the option for though? If National comes in they are not going to fund HR to the Shore.

        2. So you believe it has to be NS LR or no rail at all? I do remember Nat saying they would cancel LR. They have somewhat begrudgingly supported HR so we have no way of knowing if they would oppose HR to NS.

        3. The problem here is this weird mode focus. The Nats have to be forced into any major transport investment that isn’t a state highway. Like other rail fans, you seem to think there’s a Heavy v Light Rail contest out there for funding. There isn’t. There’s a highway versus any sort rail/BRT contest. With the phrase: ‘buses need roads too’ as the public transport get out of jail free card…

          You may remember Simon Bridges conceding Dom Rd needs LR, but ‘not for 30 years’, and that’s not cos he’s busy investing in HR as urban transport, but cos he promised a bunch of duplicate 4 lane highways in the countryside and the world’s most expensive highway in Onehunga…. and no regional fuel tax so none of this was even funded…

        4. I’d say HR would be much better than no rail at all, but even if we went with HR, which I don’t think is the best option I wouldn’t plug it into the CRL for reasons I’ve explained in other comments.

          While you are right we don’t know what National wants, I doubt the current leaders will still be involved next time they are in government, I can’t see them saying it must be this mode or that. It’s more likely they will be a traditional National government and just bed in all the change Labour have implemented.

        5. If National is the next govt I do hope you are correct and new MPs will see the sense of continuing with LR.

        6. If National gets in in 2020 then LR could well be cancelled but it is getting less and less likely they will get back in.

          It’s more likely they are back in in 2023 or 2026.

        7. My view, for what it’s worth, is that Jacinda has as much of her prime in the Beehive as she is prepared to sacrifice. And knowing her, she will give all of herself, which breaks my heart more than a little. However, I still don’t see this as the major issue for AKL and transport.

          It isn’t a mode issue, it’s an urban form one. Whoever is in govt come the end of next year, and whoever is in city hall later this one, will have to deliver on ATAP, if not accelerate it, or they risk fucking up the thriving urban services economy in our only city of scale, and therefore the nation… HR expansion, new trains, CRL, will continue, LR on Queen and Dom will continue, there are no other options. The Puhinui bus shuttle and interchange will be underway, ditto the Eastern Busway, the Northern Busway extension…

          Even if some crazy gesture may be entertained by a blowhard to stop LR at Onehunga or Mt Roskill, then under review that won’t last… all of these projects take so much longer than election cycles, it’s best to focus on their core value or otherwise, than on the comings and goings in corridors or elected office….

      1. Well it sort of is an intractable problem. An intractable problem in mathematics is a problem that can only be solved by solving smaller problems, which are also intractable. Given that Bogle’s junction creates an intractable routing and scheduling programme, he hasn’t demonstrated that the problem isn’t intractable.

        1. SB, your word playing here. We are not dealing with a mathematical problem rather a simple issue of connecting railway lines to avoid complex junctions and flyovers.
          My junction does not create an intractable routing and scheduling programme, you have not proven this.
          My connection suggestion for NS rail to CRL has proven the problem isn’t intractable and could simply be achieved.

        2. Here’s the thing; there will never be another junction to the CRL. There is a possibility of current rail heading over the Shore with a connection, by transfer, at Aotea Station below and perpendicular to the CRL platforms under Wellesley St end. However, as stated in the post above, that is still less likely than a different more flexible train technology on the same route.

          So this is all academic, but still SB is correct; the CRL will be full serving the current lines; forgettaboutit.

        3. It was all just an academic exercise to prove that a working junction could be made between CRL and NS HR lines. I seriously did not think it was an alternative to a separate line whether LR or HR. However, I would never say never as there appears right now to be nothing definite decided in what a NS rail PT will look like. The only definite I would like to see is a rail bridge over the Waitemata that has two LR lines and designed for two future HR lines.

        4. In terms of possible HR to the Shore, my view is that’s more likely in a few decades, probably tunnelled, and rather like the RER in Paris; a later addition to relieve busy city networks and connect outer parts of the city and beyond; a higher speed, fewer stations, long distance connecter. Pukekohe-City-Orewa; hitting a few key interchanges along the way…

          Leaving whatever we build next to be the Metro more local access distributor.

  24. Another possible operating configuration for a North Shore heavy rail line linking into the existing network could be:

    1. Link the Southern Line and Eastern Line together with services running from Pukekohe / Papakura in a return loop pattern alternating between via Newmarket / Grafton (and returning via Panmure) and via Panmure (and returning via Grafton / Newmarket) – similar to the old Southern Line service pattern before the Manukau Line and Britomart opened. (Manukau would be served by a new route below).

    This avoids the need for as much transferring between the current Eastern and Southern Lines and both routes run the full length south between the city and Pukekohe.

    2. Extend the Western Line to Manukau running via the CRL, Parnell and Penrose.

    This would create a relatively direct West to South service covering most of Auckland along one line – particularly if extended west to Kumeu.

    3. Link the North Shore Line to the Onehunga Line via Grafton and extend the Onehunga Line to the airport.

    This creates a relatively direct north-south aeterial through route covering most of Auckland along one line.

    With the above configuration, you have three lines each serving most of the CBD / CRL stations and covering large amounts of the city along one route, meaning more one seat journeys and less transfers – meaning less dwell time delays. These routes run in this manner would be less confusing and with running relatively direct routes along fast heavy rail lines, would be more attractive to more people compared to driving along heavily congested routes, particularly during peak periods – or at most times of the day on any day in Auckland now.

    The heavy rail network needs to be supported with new large park and rides with new stations on the outskirts of the city where the State Highways and railway lines into Auckland intersect at Kumeu and Drury. These need to be built now as a priority and served initially with ADL DMUs until electrification is extended.

    1. If I’m reading this correctly trains from the NS and the Airport don’t run through Britomart, not sure how this could possibly mean more one seat journeys.

      Also what frequency are you planning on running on the Eastern line? Bear in mind the Eastern busway will be bringing large numbers of passengers to Panmure, so 6tph isn’t going to cut it.

      1. This network plan, if I understand it properly, puts three main lines through the CRL and the stretch of track between Newmarket and Penrose. So running each of those at the fairly basic ten minute headways would mean 36 trains an hour in total on both those chunks (6tph x 3 lines x 2 directions). That’s reportedly the maximum capacity of the CRL as it is being built, so no improvement in headway on any of the existing lines, except the short bit where they overlap where the headway gets tripled!

        1. Interesting pattern I thought, reasonable simple, but yeah nah, the spread is wrong, though would suit me personally fine.

      2. Exploring this, see comments below. Britomart won’t overly get a connection from NS light rail anyway would it? Would go via Customs, stations before and up Queen a bit, with general traffic crossing EastWest? Britomart will be the old centre of the city anyway once Aotea takes over.

        1. It will still be the second biggest station, I don’t think any proposal that sees a reduction in frequency at Britomart is a good idea.

          LR will likely have a stop at the corner of Queen and Customs St very close to Britomart.

  25. Another slight variant for a possible operating configuration for a North Shore heavy rail link:

    1. Southern Line from Pukekohe / Papakura connects with the Eastern Line to Manukau via Newmarket / Grafton / CRL (as per current proposed operating model for Southern Line & Eastern Line with CRL).

    2. North Shore Line connects with Onehunga Line via Grafton and extend the Onehunga Line to the airport.

    3. Western Line runs to Otahuhu via CRL, Parnell and Penrose.

    The only down side to this operating configuration compared to the last option suggested, is more changing would be required between lines from more stations.

    1. Why not run the Western via Panmure instead to Otahuhu (probably not all way to Manukau as double track dead end station couldn’t cope with 2 services terminating there). This means not so much overload on the Newmarket-Penrose section.

      1. hmmm Then Parnell gets nothing, lol. But if we didn’t do the NS line HR at all the current pattern of the Onehunga line at 3 tph could do this.

        1. You could potentially run the Western Line to Manukau via Panmure linking the Eastern Line together.

          The Southern Line could run from Pukekohe / Papakura to Newmarket and then run in a clockwise loop via Grafton, CRL, Parnell and returning to Papakura / Pukekohe.

          The disadvantage of this option is no one seat journey for Western Line passengers to Newmarket, and the route via the Eastern Line is not as direct as going via Newmarket / Penrose to Otahuhu / Manukau. The travel time would probably be similar though as the Eastern Line (NIMT) has a higher line speed than the Auckland-Newmarket Line and NAL.

        2. Correction to last post, the Southern Line would have to run in an alternating pattern via both Grafton and Parnell through the CRL in for there to be a service in both directions through Parnell.

        3. Exactly as I was thinking later in the day. Running 10 tphpd say to Papakura, but less say 6 tphpd to Pukekohe. Same with any other end points on the West-Eastern line, could be reduced if too many & run shorter runners. How many ph can Manukau take?

        4. It would be a legibility nightmare running the Southern line in both directions. Make the southern line Pukekohe to Otahuhu via Grafton and Parnell and combine the Eastern and Western to Manukau to Swanson. 2 lines, high frequency, very simple. You’re designing a system to minimize transfers, we should be designing a system to *ease* transfers. 5 minute all day frequencies, cross platform transfers at Puhinui, Otahuhu, Newmarket, Britomart, and K Road achieves that.

        5. Good point re legibility Sailor Boy. Agree just run southern to Ōtāhuhu but go via CRL & Panmure the more popular section of line. Just let the Onehunga line take care of Parnell at 3tph. ie so GI/panmure Sylvia/Ōtāhuhu gets double frequency.

  26. Since NZTA is now favoring that any harbour tunnel should be more focus for rail, so this opens up the possibility of Auckland developing a comprehensive LR network as Auckland’s second rail network backed up with dedicated bus busways that could be converted into LR in the future.

    The advantage of building at least 4 route LR system, as LR is more flexible due to street and dedicated right of way operation compared to HR. Currently HR is restricted to its existing corridors

    The rolling stock for a comprehensive LR system can be either tram or tram/train construction.

  27. The clip-on replacing tunnels that the more than million dollar study recommended over a decade ago now also had a clear provision for dedicated public transport, most likely light rail.

    For roading it will only provide an extra one lane in each direction. But for PT; it will be the second biggest boost Auckland would’ve ever see after the CRL.

    Why people who claim to be pro-PT are so against sticking with the tunnel option I can only put down to effected biases….

      1. LOL “saving billions of dollars” by building an extremely expensive bridge? y continuing to maintain the decrepit clip-on’s?

  28. Solution for a heavy rail link to North Shore and Auckland Airport with four simple routes:

    1. North Shore line links with Southern Line to become one north-south line via harbour tunnel linking with CRL tunnel at Aotea station and continuing on to Pukekohe via Grafton / Newmarket / Penrose.

    2. Western Line connects with the Eastern Line to become one east-west line from Kumeu to Manukau via CRL tunnel / Britomart.

    3. Onehunga Line runs from Britomart terminus platform to Onehunga and Auckland Airport via Parnell / Newmarket.

    4. Henderson to Otahuhu direct via Grafton / Newmarket / Penrose.

    These four simple routes are the most direct north-south, east-west, CBD-Airport heavy rail routes and would enable one seat journeys from one side of the city to the other.

    1. That sounds like an efficient and effective pattern. Basically converting the rail system into a metro: each section has only one or two lines that connect to the others and could each have heaps of capacity and frequency.

      Only problem is that you’d need to build a second CRL, an under harbour tunnel, and a new northern HR line (probably all tunnelled) to run it.

      1. I have looked into this interesting configuration and believe it would actually work well. In fact I don’t think you would need the Henderson-Otahuhu direct route service via Newmarket, as with linking the Eastern and Western together this would run through Otahuhu anyway. Anyone wishing to travel from the west to stations between Grafton and Otahuhu via Newmarket could just transfer at Mt Eden onto a Southern Line service. I think the reason AT are intending to have a Otahuhu-Henderson direct service is due to the current proposed CRL operating configuration, the Western Line will run to Onehunga via the CRL and thus will not run to Otahuhu. Better to keep the network simple with just three frequent running cross-town routes (North Shore-Southern via Grafton, East-West via CRL and Britomart-Onehunga/Airport via Parnell).

        The third platform at Otahuhu could instead be used for the proposed new Waikato commuter service and any other new inter-regional service, as well as possibly the Northern Explorer. The soon-to-be-built additional platform at Henderson could be used by a Henderson-Huapai DMU shuttle (DMU shuttle running express between Henderson and Swanson).

        You wouldn’t need a Second CRL for this configuration to work as you would still have the same number of train movements passing through the CRL tunnel as currently proposed (Southern linked with Eastern and Western linked with Onehunga). The only difference would be Southern running to the North Shore via a new rail-only tunnel and converting the Northern Busway into a heavy rail line. The Western would link to the eastern.

        The ‘extra’ train movements from introducing a heavy rail link to the North Shore, would be transferred to the Onehunga Line route which would not run through the CRL, instead running via Parnell and terminating at one of the dock platforms in Britomart. This would therefore not impact on the capacity of the CRL as the bulk of movements in the CRL with this operating configuration would be in the section between Aotea and Karangahape, not Aotea-Britomart.

        Even if the Onehunga Line didn’t get extended to the airport, this configuration would still work as the reduced frequency of the Onehunga Line service as it current is running via Parnell, would not affect the capacity of the CRL with the other proposed routes linked together running through the CRL.

        This would work – both operationally and practically for PT travel. It should be seriously looked into.

        1. Err this is unworkably unbalanced. And would limit the frequency on every line to a very poor level because every train is competing for a slot at Aotea and K Rd, so those two tracks plus the north Shore Aotea junction (which is where exactly?) put a terminal limit on service levels. Except of course for the western line trains that avoid the city all together!

          Also under this scheme every train passes through the Newmarket junction, so there’s your other critical limit on services.

          We know the north will have high demand, cos it already does, so it needs to come to the CRL for connections but not into it to clog it up. It really will require a 2nd CRL, or another network, as it will with Light Rail.

          There is no additional junction being planned into the CRL for this reason. To get the maximum utility out of the investment it is better to have it evenly full of trains from current lines.

          I know it may be boring for people to accept that the experts have thought this through and got it right, but there it is….

        2. Think you misunderstood his pattern as the Western goes to Eastern via CRL but not through New Market.

          The post-CRL running pattern without north shore line is a bit off-topic I guess but it could possible be a good pattern (without the North Shore bit or airport included). ie Onehunga just to Britomart 20 min freq. Problem is freight slots, I can imagine, competing on the Eastern section.

        3. Patrick – I think you have mis-read / misunderstood. The Western and Eastern Lines would be linked together as one route via Britomart and Panmure, not via Newmarket.

          Future service frequency levels would not be reduced or impeded, as all this proposal does is just re-routes four routes into two (North-South, East-West), along with the Onehunga Line running separately via Parnell and terminating at Britomart and not running through the CRL.

          Building a third main between Westfield and Newmarket would make more sense as there is room in the current corridor to do this as much of this section of the rail corridor previously had freight loop tracks at stations as well as long sidings in between in a number of locations serving factories. This could be done much more easily to provide effective additional capacity to accommodate a high frequency double-track Onehunga / Airport line and Southern Line (North-South Line) all the way to Newmarket where there already is three tracks between the platforms.

          A third main along this section, together with four mains between Westfield and Papakura would then enable new express services to run south of Newmarket, basically all the way from the CBD to Papakura.

        4. Robin – are you sure this is the case?

          ‘Future service frequency levels would not be reduced or impeded’

          The future CRL running pattern has 18tph at peak on the Eastern and Western lines, this leaves just 6tph for the North/South line. There is no way 6tph is sufficient for the North Shore .

    2. How frequent are you thinking the East/West trains would be?

      They will need to be frequent enough to handle all of the demand that the Eastern Busway will create at Panmure and also the extra demand people transferring from your airport line at Britomart will create between Britomart and Aotea.

  29. Third tracks will help, but that won’t help flat junctions like NM, nor the CRL.

    The point is that we are investing all this money in order to increase service, not maintain it at the current sorry levels, and some (unbuildably expensive) junction into the CRL will absolutely limit each lines capacity as the CRL cannot be triple-, or quad- tracked.

    Look at it like this. A Shore line that terminates at Aotea on its on line will have the volume of trains only limited by its own traffic. ie it will be able to run at the absolute maximum frequency signalling allows. But if it joins another two track line that will immediately half its capacity, assuming the other line is more than a trivial branch. In your model above it has to merge with entire eastern line traffic. So we would be building a new crossing that could only run at half capacity. And that’s not all, it would also critically limit the capacity of the other services in the CRL.

    If, instead, you took your Shore line and continued it under Aotea Station (with platforms there and across the city to the Southern line somewhere (an east/west CRL 2) then it could do the job you want of both running at full capacity and taking pressure off the CRL.

    This is the difference between building a Metro and building an interconnected railway. I can see why this is hard to get people to understand because we have no Metro in NZ, only railways; both our extant urban rail systems currently end in terminuses more like inter-city systems than intra-city ones. That’s the change that’s underway in AKL. We are adding an urban Rapid Transit Network, not just extending a mixed use low frequency railway….

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