Some great news on Friday with Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Mayor Phil Goff officially kicking off the upgrade to the Puhinui station. When completed it will become one of Auckland’s most important interchange stations, allowing for frequent, simple and reliable congestion free connections to the airport.
A new $60M rail and bus interchange will be built in south Auckland and will be opened in early 2021.
The Puhinui Station Interchange will connect rail and buses to Auckland Airport and Manukau.
The announcement has been made by Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff and Minister of Transport, Phil Twyford.
The Transport Agency is contributing co-investment funding for the project, with the remainder coming from Auckland Council and the Regional Fuel Tax (RFT).
Mr Goff says this project creates a new southern gateway to the city and the station will be a landmark building.
“This project allows for congestion-free travel to the airport and its employment precinct for people across Auckland. It will be welcomed by workers and visitors to the city.
“The impressive new station will mark out the south-western gateway to the city.
“It provides a modern, safe and weather protected environment to allow people easily and conveniently to transition between road and rail services.
We’d seen some earlier concepts for the station upgrade but the new renders for the station look absolutely fantastic.
Here is the upstairs concourse with the central escalators heading down to the train platforms.
Looking down from above
The long term plan is that a busway from the airport, eventually extending all the way to Botany, will cross the rail line here on a new bridge. That will hook directly into the upstairs concourse of this new station building. That would mean heading to the airport you could simply just hop off a train, travel up the escalators and get straight onto a bus for a fast trip to the airport. The press releases suggest it will take 10 minutes from Puhinui to the Airport to given a total travel time from Britomart to the airport of 46 minutes. That might not sound super fast but it will be much more reliable than traffic would be most times of the day. It is also worth remembering that the most frequent users of this new connection won’t be travellers between the airport and the city but airport workers, most of whom live in South Auckland and for who this will finally create a viable PT option for them to use.
Given the Southern and Eastern lines in the future will each be running a minimum of every 10 minutes all day, it means that each way there will be trains between here and the city at least every 5 minutes and even more frequently at peak times after the CRL opens. This will ultimately provide a faster and more frequent connection than even a rail spur, like some have suggested. This is because besides being more difficult and expensive than most assume, services on a spur couldn’t run as frequently unless we also reduced services to Manukau and/or Papakura/Pukekohe. Yet current indications are that we will need all of the additional capacity the CRL and other rail network upgrades will enable just to serve the expected growth on the existing network, especially south of Papakura with all of the new housing that is planned. The new interchange will also make it simple for people travelling on the future Hamilton services to reach the airport.
Construction on the new interchange is due to start in October and be completed within 18 months, before the APEC meeting in November of 2021. AT had been hoping to have the station completed before the America’s Cup at the beginning of 2021. However the station is one of the projects that AT had accused the NZTA of holding up. With the APEC timeframe being mentioned, that delay seems to have been borne out. One positive is that the NZTA are picking up the bulk of the costs, contributing 75% of the budget.
Along with the new station building, the NZTA are currently in the process of procuring an upgrade to SH20B to provide a reliable connection from the station to the airport. A Registration of Interest is currently underway and it notes the following works are included:
The works include the construction of priority lanes on both sides, a shared user path along the whole length (approximately 3.3km), a pedestrian steel bridge, the upgrade and widening of two intersections to signalised intersections, approximately 100,000 cubic metres earthworks, extensive service relocations and protections and have an overall construction cost estimate of $58.59m
I understand there are issues which currently prevent the bridge across to the airport from being duplicated or widened so these works are likely to stop at there but combined with the upgrades the airport are doing within the airport precinct, should provide enough reliability.
It’s good that the AT and the NZTA are getting on with this project however I do think they need to put some effort in to dispelling some of the myths about airport access that exist out there.
With these projects, that makes four major Rapid Transit projects currently under construction in Auckland, the others being the City Rail Link, Eastern Busway and the Northern Busway extension.