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.

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182 comments

    1. Why the lavish building – isn’t this just a station where you get off a bus and get on a train? And spend an hour getting to town from the airport instead of 20 mins by road?

      Wouldn’t $60M be better spent on the third main line so you run express trains to Pukekohe where the land is cheap for affordable housing?

      1. This will be the interchange point between three rapid transit lines going in six directions covering off most of the major destinations of south and central Auckland.

        When you do run express trains from Pukekohe you will want to stop them here so people from the far south can get to the Airport, Manukau and Botany, and all points in between, as well as just up the line to the CBD.

      2. The 3rd is coming too, fro a different budget. It’s less a lavish building than a future proofed one. It is in fact better value for money to build a public asset like this properly first time, than to have come back and rebuild a new shoddier one every 10 years, or to incur a high maintenance cost every year for decades. In the next stage the the Airport line will go up and over the track to what looks like a balcony. So that isn’t just there for enjoying the view…

      3. Nice exaggeration. Google is showing 27 mins for the drive at the moment and it’s proposed to be 46 mins by bus/train not an hour.

        Also we can have the 3rd main as well, all for less than the cost of the Kirkbride Rd interchange.

        1. Its about 15 mins from the airport and its 34 mins to Britomart. With CRL it’s 40 mins to Britomart. So about 55 mins. Most of the day its about 20 mins to town via Waterview when I go.

          If they make a priority lane it will have to take a traffic lane wont it? Agreed the third main rail would speed it up a bit.

        2. Do you travel in the middle of the night? In that case I agree it will be a lot quicker than the train, which wont be running.

          A quick read of this post will show 10 mins for the bus trip and that priority lanes and being added not taken from existing lanes.

          Why will the trip take longer once CRL opens?

        3. It’s ten minutes from the airport on priority lanes, it’s only 6km with two sets of traffic lights. So 44 mins in vehicle + two or three minutes to transfer. With the CRL it will be exactly the same on the eastern line from Britomart. From Aotea it will be even faster on the southern.

          There is only one traffic lane each way at the moment, so that can’t take a traffic lane. That means shoulder widening to add the priority lanes. The shoulders are pretty wide already so shouldn’t be a huge job.

        4. jezza if you get the Southern Line train it’s 5 mins slower to Britomart with CRL as the train goes the long way round. Eastern line will be the same time as now tho.

          Phil Goff has told the people of South Auckland the train is 10 mins faster from South Auckland with CRL but we all know that’s not true. Even Aotea is 2 mins slower than Britomart is now

        5. I’m not sure what Goff is on about with that claim. There will of course be a peak direction express train once CRL opens, although I think that will only be every 20 mins so you would have to luck in to get the quicker trip.

          Hopefully by then the 3rd main will be functioning which should allow a couple of minutes to be shaved of both Southern and Eastern line services.

        6. Average 5 min transfer off-peak, 2.5 mins at peak. Current train times between Puhinui and Britomart are 32-33 mins, plus a 10 min bus trip.

        7. And wait for the bus at the airport – instead of hopping straight into an Uber. It would be almost impossible to do the PT journey in under an hour – so who will use it for going to town?

        8. ‘It would be almost impossible to do the PT journey in under an hour’ – It would be extremely rare for it to take less than an hour based on the numbers above.

        9. ‘It would be almost impossible to do the PT journey in under an hour’ – It would be extremely rare for it to take more than an hour based on the numbers above.

        10. If the bus leaves every 10 mins then the average wait is 5 mins. Then 10 mins on the bus and the train is every 5 mins at peak I think. So average 3 min wait. So say 2 mins to get off the bus and get to the platform. So 20 mins.

          Then if you luck on an Eastern line train – then 32 mins to Britomart and 35 mins to Aotea. Total 52 to 55 mins. If you get a Southern line train with CRL then its 36 to Aotea and 39 to Britomart. So 56 to 59 mins.

          If you add all those up and average them you would say it’s 56 mins average. Even 46 mins quoted sounds a lot so you just can’t see many people wanting to spend this sort of time getting to town.

          Wouldnt the massive expenditure be better spent on say a free bus to town? Not bashing PT here – but its just so slow on the train.

        11. A lot of people will use it for going to the cbd because it is substantially cheaper than a car, yet still reliable. A lot of people will also use it to go somewhere that is not the cbd

        12. The biggest winners from this interchange will be those coming from the South to the airport as they wont have to go to Papatoetoe anymore and will get a quicker bus trip.

        13. jezza yes. A branch from the north for infrequent downtown express trains does nothing for people further south, nor most on the way. Unlike the Puhinui Interchange, which serves everyone.

        14. I end up waiting often for the Ubers. They usually take at least 5 mins sometimes 10 to get from their waiting zone to pick-up. It’s hard to anticipate when you can call one coming through customs to optimise this. They are expensive but if you want convenience you go taxi.

  1. Fantastic. There are now three Rapid Transit extensions underway simultaneously, and all are further out from the centre (in addition to CRL, of course):
    Northern Busway to Albany
    Eastern Busway Pak to Panmure
    Eastern Busway Airport to Manukau
    Since the launch of AKL’s RTN with start of the NB and Project Dart on the rail network a decade ago, the other lines; East, Northwest, Isthmus + Mangere, have have only been on maps. Now both ends of the Eastern are at last underway, shovels in the ground.
    The other important thing about about the Eastern RT line is that while it’s a bus project (to start) it’s really a rail extension one. Connecting at both Panmure and Puhinui it essentially upgrades access to the rail network for people in the east and south.

    1. I agree it is a start but it would be nice to have the entire A2B built rather than just Airport to Manukau. My hope is that A2B will be light rail and join up to A2M. Any news on A2M project….that seems to disappear into a large black hole at the moment. Does NZTA have a media arm…or does it have an information suppression department?

      It is disappointing that for two key transport projects (A2M and East West Link) there is hardly any information from NZTA

      1. It will all get built, but I get the impatience, I’ve been pushing for this whole network for years, and parts of for much longer. But actually things are moving fast now. The Eastern Link, Panmure to Airport, is being built from two ends now, doing the difficult bits first, the longer middle section will happen more quickly.

        In terms of bus, or tram-like bendy bus, or full Light Rail, a critical time to make that call is when completing the Te Irirangi section. By far the most likely way that upgrade to better technology will happen is through strong uptake of the first two sections. Then the argument to go straight to the longer term, higher cost solution will have more force. Buses do build the case for trains. We’ve seen that on Dom Rd, we’re seeing it on the Shore. Same process here.

      2. Waiting on the Ombudsman with CC2M.

        NZTA is wanting to go LRT for A2B Stage 2 so will see where that lands them.

        1. Hopefully, with loud applause. I have just been in China (Shenzhen) and Melbourne recently and the ease of using the Public transport overseas is a stark contrast with that in Auckland. It is still a hassle trying to link up with trains/buses in Auckland. Jumping on and off the trams in the Melbourne free zone is a great way of seeing the city/shopping/etc or meeting up with friends for a drink.
          We celebrate small wins like Puhipuhi interchange but I feel like our vision for public transport is still very limited (perhaps it is a side effect of having nothing spent like forever on PT in Auckland).
          I can understand Matt enthusiasm for this project but I feel a bit sad that is all that was announced (no news on light rail for A2B…that would have been cause for celebration ….. but NZTA does get it…the will be a major win for Auckland).

        2. I don’t disagree with your sentiment, but in Melbourne the free tram zone covers a tiny area of downtown. In fact the tram and train network only covers a minority area of Melbourne. That city has about 3m people that aren’t within walking distance of a tram or train, and their buses are truly abysmal and thoroughly un-integrated with their rail.

          Melbourne would do well to take a lead from us on this project.

  2. Overall it looks like a good upgrade. I will reserve my judgement until I see how they cater for pedestrian and cycle access. Given there are cycle lanes along Puhinui this should be an easy win. However AT have only in the last couple of months start to enforce the cycle lane (Interesting side effect is now the footpaths get partially blocked). What really concerns me is that AT have out right refused to include pedestrian crossing around the current station. The reason they gave me was it would adversely effect truck movements. And yes I can see that one image has a nice big pedestrian crossing but that is actually a driveway (Where pedestrians already have right of way) the road is to the left with the blue car parked on it.

    1. Thanks, Stephen. We’ll have to work to get that changed. Absolutely fundamental. AT’s top priority is Safety. Their second is Modeshift. And they committed “in full and without question” to not trading off safety for any other consideration such as traffic flow. Trucks can fit in around that.

      This is an example of what AT says and what they do are different things. As for enforcing the cycle lane – and now footpaths – the parking team’s practices don’t align with any of the stated policies on this, so a shake-up has to come.

  3. It used to be that this blog was champion of pushing the one seat train ride to the airport concept, and the biggest protestor of the National government’s desire for a frequent bus service instead. Now you accept that government’s plan, lock stock and barrel. A bit disappointing.

    The station looks great, and the connection is certainly a huge improvement. But it lacks any vision. It’s a service to cater for those who can’t or don’t wish to use cars. It’s not a service with a goal or target in mind to make a sea change in how people travel around Auckland.

    Auckland airport is targeting 40 million travellers (travellers, not workers) by 2030. That’s massive. To put the figure in context, it’s more than Melbourne or Brisbane.

    If AT had real vision, they would push to get PT share of airport travellers up to 30%. That would be 12 million people per year. With airport workers perhaps 15 million. You are NOT going to get those kinds of numbers through this train-bus connection concept at Puhinui. Peak trains will already be largely full, without trying to pick up another full train load at Puhinui.

    Same issue with the trams up Dominion Rd. They will already be full of locals off the previously congested bus network, and are unlikely to have capacity for 12 million airport travellers.

    But why stop at 30%? How about 40%? 16 million airport travellers. That’s real vision.

    The Mangere tram and Puhinui connection options will be fine for lazily accepting non-car users without any real vision. But don’t expect anymore mode share than 5% when the airport hits 40 million travellers.

    There’s a reason Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth have all gone with dedicated heavy rail to the airport. It’s the only option that can handle the numbers to enable real travel culture change. And with Auckland’s decision to mix airport travellers with local services, it means the car will remain dominant for getting to and from the airport.

    1. If airport travellers get on at the airport then how can the light rail already be full of locals?

      Similarly for people travelling to the airport from the city, surely they get on first and will usually be heading counter peak?

    2. Auckland airport shouldn’t be allowed to target 40 million travellers per year by 2030. It’s killing our kids’ future.

        1. Their sole reason for existence is to maximise returns for shareholders and as they are not allowed to put up their prices the only way they can do that is to increase throughput.

          I do feel, however, that they are not revealing what their risk assessments are in the next 11 years, particularly in respect to fuel prices

        2. I wonder if the Commerce Commission’s views on Auckland Airport’s pricing would be different if the State Services Commission had required them to advise that carbon emissions must be reduced. Unfortunately the government hasn’t instructed the State Services Commission to do so.

          I guess the Zero Carbon Act will require these oversights to be sorted before the first emissions budget is set. This is the sort of area we should be able to see big change in.

        1. Yeah, Nah,
          He will be planting a forest full of native trees in NZ to offset his emissions from his flying I am sure. Thats the Green Party way.

          Which to be fair is about 1000% more than most of the millions who fly in and out of NZ internationally every year bother to do.

        2. Does anyone else (aside from Heidi) see the disconnect between Climate Justice and the projections of future carbon use?

          The projected Auckland population cannot be accommodated in single occupancy cars either so there needs to be an even greater emphasis on getting the PT infrastructure to the new SHA’s being developed!

    3. Why is airport modeshare more important to you than ‘people going about their everyday lives’ modeshare?

      The majority of people don’t go to the airport more than once a year (if that), so what is the opportunity cost of spending all that money to get people to the airport (keeping in mind: climate crisis). What other social outcomes could we be supporting?

    4. I actually agree with you about light rail. The solution is don’t run it to the airport so that there will be a good service for the Dominion Road catchment. Providing for local travel should be a higher priority than providing for long distance travel so run light rail to a terminus at Richardson Road.

        1. Yes and there will always be a conflict between people who have arrived at the airport and have bags to move and people who just want to get to work. Trying to do everything at once usually means doing everything badly.

        2. In what sense is this ‘everything at once’ ? The plan is for two completely different RT routes to the airport, and how on earth do you suppose other airports, or train stations for that matter, cope with people with bags and people without… perfectly well, obviously.

          And for those who can’t cope with the thought of others they can always drive and pay the requisite fortune for the pleasure, but even they will benefit from these routes as not everyone will be also driving….

        3. Um, they cope by providing different systems that work for different types of user. In London you get to choose whether you prefer a 15 minute trip to Paddington or 1 hour on the Picadilly Line. But we all remember how shit it was for travellers and commuters when everyone had to use the tube.
          Just imagine how frustrated people at Valley Road will be when a tram shows up already full because some large planes around the same time. Will it placate them to tell them the whole thing was compromised back at the concept stage?

        4. Wow, you’d think transport agencies had never had to deal with full vehicles before…. AT actually has had to deal with that it its entire existence. Constantly rising ridership is something it actually knows about well. You may recall this March we had the biggest month ever; 10 mil trips for the first time. And guess what? There were no ‘March madness’ panic stories, cos AT were prepared with extra services. Particularly on the Dom Rd route.

          Clearly both vehicle length and frequency are things that can and will increase over time, has been planned for, and will be dynamic in response to ridership. So this idea; there might not be room for me, is one of the least convincing concerns yet for this project.

          Especially as it essentially amounts to; it’ll be too much of a success, better not build it… yeah nah.

        5. Great so they will be able to have both high speed long trips and high capacity frequent short trips. If that exists why don’t we have it already. Tell me more.

    5. Given the basis of the current govt plans is our congestion free network, it would be a bit odd for us to now oppose it simply because the govt are doing it.

      As for overseas airports, Brisbane has a train only every half hour (and costs a lot) so is pointless for most people. Melbourne is talking is spending $5b, are you suggesting that kind of spending too as sounds like you’re suggesting dedicated tracks all the way to the city.

      As for the numbers, let’s do a few quick calculations.
      1. Passengers – let’s assume a 50% PT modeshare. That’s 20m annual trips. That’s about 55k per day but let’s round that up to 60k to account for busy times of the year. Planes arrive at all hours of the day but let’s also assume it happens only within an 18 hour window (5:30am-11:30pm). That’s 3,330 people an hour.
      2. Workers – let’s use your 15m trips and let’s use the same calculation. That’s 2283 per hour.
      Now, let’s look at PT capacity.
      So total a have about 5,600 of demand.
      1. Busway – when complete you could easily run a bus every 2 minutes down it. Let’s say an articulated bus carrying 100 people. That’s 3k per hour per direction but could also easily double that.
      2. Light rail – a train caring 450 every 5 minutes is 5400 per direction.
      So we’ve got capacity for 8,400 per direction or 16,800 in total to cover 5600 of demand. Seems there’s plenty of capacity to me.

    6. Vision is all very well but incrementalism is faster and cheaper. It could take ten years and several billion dollars to add a single seat PT option to the airport. Adding a two seat PT option levering the existing network can be done in a couple of years for a tenth of the cost. That’s years of benefit that the city will get from the quick and cheap option before the slow and expensive option becomes available.

      Note that paragraph is mode-agnostic. It doesn’t matter if you build light rail or heavy rail to the airport, it’ll still take a long time and lots of money to get there. It makes sense to build a BRT-HRT option regardless of future plans for other modes.

      1. Major projects in New Zealand take seven to nine years to go from an initial business case through funding, programming, design and construction to operation. The virtue of this staged approach is they can get the first bit to operational status in a little over two years. To that I say bravo, I look forward to using it soon.

    7. Given the basis of the current govt plans is our congestion free network, it would be a bit odd for us to now oppose it simply because the govt are doing it.

      As for overseas airports, Brisbane has a train only every half hour (and costs a lot) so is pointless for most people. Melbourne is talking is spending $5b, are you suggesting that kind of spending too as sounds like you’re suggesting dedicated tracks all the way to the city.

      As for the numbers, let’s do a few quick calculations.
      1. Passengers – let’s assume a 50% PT modeshare. That’s 20m annual trips. That’s about 55k per day but let’s round that up to 60k to account for busy times of the year. Planes arrive at all hours of the day but let’s also assume it happens only within an 18 hour window (5:30am-11:30pm). That’s 3,330 people an hour.
      2. Workers – let’s use your 15m trips and let’s use the same calculation. That’s 2283 per hour.
      Now, let’s look at PT capacity.
      So total a have about 5,600 of demand.
      1. Busway – when complete you could easily run a bus every 2 minutes down it. Let’s say an articulated bus carrying 100 people. That’s 3k per hour per direction but could also easily double that.
      2. Light rail – a train caring 450 every 5 minutes is 5400 per direction.
      So we’ve got capacity for 8,400 per direction or 16,800 in total to cover 5600 of demand. Seems there’s plenty of capacity to me.

      1. Correction Matt, the $5b is only the federal government contribution to the proposed Melbourne Airport rail link. The current plan has a total estimated cost of $13 billion!

        I say ‘plan’ because they have been talking about a heavy rail link to Melbourne Airport since the late 1960s, but fifty years later it still hasn’t been built. It comes up every five to ten years, and every five to ten years it gets shelved due to the extreme cost. I suppose it is fair to say Melbourne has gone with heavy rail to the airport, indeed they’ve been going” with heavy rail to the airport since steam trains still ran to Spencer Street Station.

        With a $13b price tag on the latest iteration, I won’t be surprised if it gets shelved again.

        1. Oddly, there is a tram line to within about 3km of Melbourne airport. quite a bit of it already runs in dedicated tracks. They could install dedicated lanes on the existing mixed sections with kerbs alone, extend the stops to allow 100m units, and extend the line to the airport and have a fairly good service at a very low price. This would ony work because the existing line is a low patronage streetcar type service. Upgrading it to LRT and cranking the frequency would be a game changer.

        2. Not grand and expensive enough for Melbourne. Everything has gigantism over there… roads, rail, well everything except buses and trams. Capture by industry is what it looks like. They could optimise what they have, not build the terrible proposed massive traffic inducing roads, and have so much spare cash to fix anything… Metro 1 + 2 etc…

        3. There is also an okish bus from the airport to that tram, and another one to Broademadows train station

        1. That timetable has a lot of short runners a lot of the time & if you were to go all the way to the Gold Coast transferring to LRT at Helensvale Station it really only provides 30min service (the LRT end has a lot more frequency though).

    8. Geoff.
      1. There will be direct ‘one-seat rides’ to the Airport. From East and South Auckland where we know many airport staff live. And from Mangere (ditto), all through the Isthmus and the city. These are the one seat rides to prioritise. Not just for downtown suits.
      2. If you really understood line capacity you would know it is vehicle capacity x frequency. So a bigger vehicle on a lower frequency, like a 20 min or 30 frequency train can easily have its line capacity matched or surpassed by a smaller more frequent one.
      3. Anyway, if it’s capacity you are fretting about you have it all backwards. The transfer model makes a full 2/3 of all rail services ‘trains to the planes’ every train on the southern and eastern lines of every capacity heads to Puhinui. No capacity fears there either. A busway can very quickly increase frequency as we have seen on the Northern Busway where frequencies as now every couple of minutes.
      4. AND journey time length: Anyone starting at Britomart who can catch any train to Puhinui for Airport has an average wait time of 2.5mins (50% x 5m frequency), Trip of ~30min, another 2.5min transfer, then 10 min bus. However with a direct service, which could only be every 20mins at best, average wait 10mins, say 36min journey. At best it’s a dead heat.
      5. BUT in reality you’ll be waiting 10 years for it to be built, and anyway it won’t be, as it would lead to an entirely imbalanced and unworkable network, with too many branching services off the southern line.
      6. It is no simple build. Please show your junction design. It would cost way more than 10 x this project, and all for direct rides to one additional stop . Much more valuable things to do with rail funding than this.
      In conclusion this complaint is too obsessed with type of machine, too obsessed with one-seat rides, and too obsessed with the Airport as a destination over its role as one part of the full network.

      1. Patrick in railway terms line capacity if the number of trains that the signalling system can handle, also called headway. When Operation Dart was planned the headway was 5 minutes. Where mixed fleet (freight and EMU) is using the line the headway is reduced due to the differing braking characteristics. Obviously slow speed junctions (40kph or less) reduces the headway as well. Heavy rail would work to the airport but some really intelligent planning would be required to sort out the junctions particularly as the NIMT trains are already held too long at Wiri North because the Manukau Jn is too close to Puhinui.

        A better option would be one that was canvassed on here (or it may have been on Ben Ross’ site) some time ago and that was to run the airport line off at Otahuhu then via Favona, Mangere and the freight precinct.

        1. Yes that was an old suggestion of mine. Agree it would a better plan than from Puhinui, which is a terribly difficult place to branch from, both to build and to operate. Which the rail buffs that promote it ought to understand….

          However, that was before I fully understood the network issues that would result from any additional branch from the southern line. It just isn’t a good idea. Aside from the cost and difficulty of pushing a line through Mangere housing on that alignment (demolishing homes, really?), connecting the rail system by transfer is by far the better way forward.

          And that, via Puhinui, is by far the best, most cost effective, and quickest solution. It means we are now adding the beginning of a vital eastern link; Panmure, Pakuranga, Botany, Manukau, Puhinui, Airport, from both ends simultaneously.

          The handful of rail buffs that obsess about their favourite mode are just that. There is no live option they are waving there little cardboard signs about. They, and it, are an irrelevance.

        2. Patrick your vituperative tone does not become you, however angry and frustrated you may feel that not everyone sees things as you do.
          My hunch: Heavy rail to the airport is not dead yet.

          Don’t bother replying. I’m just an irrelevance, remember.

        3. Patrick “an irrelevance”?

          Pot…..black?

          Some would say that the anti car, pro LR stance of this blog is “an irrelevance”

        4. But then they learn about the climate crisis, the safety crisis, the ecological crisis and the way planning for cars has created such poor urban form, which affects our lifestyles in so many ways…

        5. “Anti-car..”

          What a stellar retort. Keep it up.

          In the meantime, the current govt has adopted this blog’s CFN as a big part of its transport plans for the city.

          So yeah, irrelevant. Unlike HR conspiracy theories and “hunches”….

        6. “Some would say that the anti car, pro LR stance of this blog is “an irrelevance””

          Some would do well to remember that the government got elected after basically taking this blog’s policies.

          Glad to see Dave B finally realise that flogging the dead horse of airport heavy rail in Auckland makes him an irrelevance. Perhaps now we can have a discussion about something that wasn’t settled three years ago.

    9. Brisbane’s airport line carries 8 % of travellers through the airport. It’s all good to have a vision but a dose of reality is always handy. Airport travellers are going in all different directions, therefore Auckland’s plan of having to RTN lines out of the airport that connect with the wider network in different directions will offer better access to the airport.

      Also it’s worth noting passengers come and go throughout the day, I don’t think your peak issue is as big as you are making it out to be.

    10. AIA is 20 million PAX at the moment. I’ve asked them how many of those trips are transit/transfer. If you have that specific number, it would be good.

      Assuming 50% transit, 25% arriving and 25% departing and average daily spread. That is 13.7k passengers per day arriving or departing.

      If AIA do get to 40 million PAX, with the same ratios. Lets worse case say 30k arrivals/departures per day.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_rail#Capacity

      “Light rail vehicles can travel in multi-car trains carrying a theoretical ridership up to 20,000 passengers per hour”. Per hour!

      The next limiting factor could be Puhinui station transfers – 1. Main passengers will not be going to downtown. In fact many might be heading south via RRR; 2. Locals coming from domestic flights will likely connect to the CFN network and head to all point; 3. LRT will also head north via Mangere/Onehunga. 4. The station could be upgraded again if the travel numbers indicate a need – Puhinui could be an equivalent of Kowloon station.

      More study would be needed, but I don’t think Puhinui station will be a limiting factor.

    11. Geoff, you are absolutely right that the airports planning is wrong. They say a 42% increase in cars. That is an absolute disgrace. They might think that they have a protected position because they are the country’s biggest export earner, but this shouldn’t be so. Once people get here let’s put them on trams, buses and trains like happens elsewhere.
      So yes this is a project completely lacking in ambition if mode share to and from the airport is to be slashed. And people wonder why young people are protesting.

    12. You realise A2B is designed around the Airport worker and the visitor to the Airport complex right?

      Travellers are there sure but they are just part of those who would use it.

  4. Given this is a Phil Twyford announcement, infamous for the non delivery of Kiwibuild, Skypath and Light rail, what’s the chances?

    1. Given the companies that are involved in the design (completed) and the construction (contract now awarded) of the rapid bus service Airport-Puhinui, the SH20B works and the new Puhinui Interchange, it will all be completed in time for APEC in 2021 and it will be done well.

    2. Given there is a contract already signed maybe it is you that is wrong about Twyford, not Twyford is wrong about delivering projects.

      1. Yep, maybe it’s just me and Phil’s a genius and it’s all a clever illusion.

        Skypath was essentially ready to go until NZTA stopped things. And short of a forthcoming protest no one is likely to walk or cycle across lawfully in the near to distant future.

        1. “Skypath was essentially ready to go until NZTA stopped things”

          Ready to go *into detailed design*. It didn’t even have building consent.

        2. It’s life imitating drink drive commercials..

          …But Phil, you know I can’t ride your ghost…..(use your imagination) trams, Skypath, etc, etc, etc.

  5. Would someone care to elaborate on the ‘issues’ that prevent the widening or duplication of the bridge on Puhiui Road/20B?

    1. Basically local iwi were promised in writing years ago that there would never be another or wider crossing of the inlet which has cultural significance for them. Ignoring that would have significant ramifications for relationships not to mention have a hard time getting consent.

        1. Money can sometimes be put to good use to provide a different benefit that mitigates the issue, but a history of broken commitments shouldn’t be paving the way for more. Some attempt at understanding the sorry history of colonialism would go a long way. Your comment was facetious. Mindless submission to the mythical Goddess Flo’ in our transport planning is destructive and commonplace, whereas the only times I’ve seen Maori traditional myths used to help shape plans have been nature-conserving and progressive.

          Cultural opposition to widening a road is something we’ll eventually welcome as forward thinking. Road reallocation to sustainable modes is the policy. Seems to be taking a while to become the practice.

        2. So Heidi please do enlighten us as to how you get a busway or LR across the estuary without another bridge? The existing one is only wide enough for 1 lane in each direction and is completely necessary with no viable alternative.
          And no, shutting down the airport to meet your Green agenda isn’t an answer.

        3. Doesnt that bridge traffic get pretty congested in peak times? Merging the bus back into that traffic will surely impact the quoted 10 minute bus journey time, even if the bus lanes recommence on Airport side of bridge.
          Widening the bridge is the only practical solution so iwi consultation is necessary and whatever financial compensation they require becomes part of the project capex

        4. If it is a problem you can install a traffic light either side of the bridge and hold the traffic for 30 seconds for the bus every five or ten minutes when the bus comes through. Actually introducing a break in the traffic like that would probably help all the downstream intersections function better.

      1. So if not wider then how about higher? The busway could cross the inlet above the existing roadway, then continue above the existing roading and parking to enter the airport terminal at first floor level. More expensive, but more direct and with lower impact on other land uses within the airport precinct.

        1. I had to laugh when first reading this comment, but maybe is could be a serious consideration. Not sure how that would fit with the spirit of the agreement with the local iwi though. If the outcome of a wider bridge with bus lanes were to reduce the environmental effects of all the vehicles sitting there idling away while in congestion, then it surely could be a good thing to widen it.

  6. All the people pushing for heavy rail need to realise:

    1. The cost of providing heavy rail is more expensive that its expect returns are less than its investment. There is a considerable cost in building rail on airport land as well as a terminus for the airport. There is a considerable cost in adding a siding on the NIMT to provide an airport spur and would also add significant cost to the station upgrade. There is also close to a 1km directly of built up area between the line and the South Western Motorway which would require major demolition to clear a path for a rail line.
    2. It’s not all about passengers and tourists, there are thousands of workers who travel to and from the two airport terminals and there is a considerable number of commercial and industrial businesses in the surrounding area.
    3. It’s not all about getting people to the CBD. This provides an effective transfer to the Southern and Eastern lines to travel not only to the CBD but all across the rail network (including West Auckland/Papakura).
    4. The busway is part of a rapid transit link from Botany and may be upgraded to light rail in the future. This will also be complemented by light rail via Mangere when it is built in the next decade.
    5. People will use it if it is built!

  7. Something that’s worth remarking on.

    When I started involvement with this blog around a decade ago, almost all arguments in the comments were about how we were dreaming, and motorways and cars were obviously the only transport answer to any question…. There would never be any money for any change…no one want stopping ride a train or bus or ride a bike etc etc

    People still love to complain in the comments of course, but now its all that the change is taking too long, not big enough, where’s MY train, etc etc.

    And it’s not that we’ve simply narrowed down to a core of fellow travellers; the average post consistently gets around 6000 page views from around 3000 unique users per day. And we know these include key influencers and decision makers.

    No, what’s happened is, in a relatively short space of time, the entire conception of the city, and what’s possible has changed. It’s been a great ride, and it’s really launching to a new level now. This (with CRL) is the the RTN 2.0 underway, spades are in the ground all over AKL.

    Just need NZTA to get off the pot on Light Rail and SkyPath and we can all retire… (not really)….. worth keeping a bit of perspective on how far AKL has come, and how much further its going…

    1. Ka Pai Patrick

      A2B is another feather to cap of achievements
      Yes we have Stage 2 to get locked in but that work itself through.

      Things have come a long way in Auckland since 2008 so yep, good to take a moment, reflect, raise the coffee mug in salute and go progress.

  8. Good to see this getting started and hopefully it will run to schedule. I hope that all bus stops in the Airport prescient currently serviced by the 380 bus will be retained by the new service. These stops are well used by Airport workers.
    If it was light rail it would take another 5 years and heavy would take 10 years much better to get something up and running relatively quickly.
    The pedestrian situation around the station is not good so hopefully they will fix that up. Also the cycle lanes on Puhinui road are not good and not well used. If your driving on a wet night you can’t see them. But presumably the new bus lanes will help differentiate things a bit better and cycling numbers will improve.
    And there is quite a bit of truck traffic coming from the container yards on Massey road. They come along Greys Avenue and through Station Road Papatoetoe then down Kenderdine street before joining Puhinui road at Bridge street right by the station. There destination is mainly the Wuri industrial area although some are heading for Roscommon road and furthur afield. Not to sure what we could do about it though as it is the most direct route. I suppose they could be forced to travel on state highway 20 but that’s often at a standstill. I think they try to time their trips to the middle of the day to avoid congestion.

        1. Or a Broadacre City. We don’t need an airport when we all have our own helicopter pad.

  9. I’m pleased to see bus lanes and a cracking interchange station for the short term. However, this line *needs* to be LRT as soon as they build it through Manukau. The absolute last thing the Manukau city centre needs is an at grade busway through it. LRT would allow you to buy much less land on Te Iriangi Drive (between Boundary Road and the motorway) and LRT would actually fit in the grassed median from Boundary Road to Botany Downs.

    1. I’d say busway would be better as it would allow two running patterns, one that goes through Manukau City Centre and one that skips the dogleg and goes straight to Te Irirangi Drive.

    2. That at-grade busway through Manukau would have exactly the same footprint at LRT. We’re not talking about the northern busway here with double bypass bays, huge stations, grade separation etc.

      1. It wouldn’t have the same footprint. Buses and LRT units are the same width, but buses are unguided so they need a larger dynamic envelope. Then you need a vertical kerb and comfort separation to a cycle Landor general traffic lane so you end up with an actual median strip. A bus way and two general lanes needs a 7m carriageway for both and a 1m strip in between. LRT would need a 6.6m trackbed and 7m carriageway with no separation strip: 1.4m narrower.

        More importantly, an LRT unit every 5 minutes would replace a bus every 65s. The impact would be far lower.

        1. In the context of the Manukau area an extra 1.4m is inconsequential, the roads are enormous already. A bit of extra median breaking up the width is a good thing, especially if it can be planted like a boulevard and/or allow people to break up a mid block crossing.

          The second point is nub of if the difference on this corridor compared to some of the others slated for LRT. On this one you’re not going to need a bus every 65s, not for service quality nor capacity. That’s 5,000 to 6,000 passenger per hour per direction at any given point. Ok I might be pleasantly surprised, but that’s about what Britomart does today with all four rail lines put together.

          A high capacity bus every five minutes is probably well sufficient here. So the comparison is actually between a bus every five minutes, or an LRV every twenty to thirty minutes. Hence BRT is a better fit for this corridor.

          LRT has a good fit on some corridors, but those would be ones with two or three times the peak capacity requirement and/or highly constrained corridors. WIthout those conditions you risk overcapitalising a corridor, making it hard to fund and actually build, and very hard to stage so you need much more capital in the budget up front… then if you do build it you’ll have opex pressures pushing you from buying a large fleet and running frequent service. It’s easy to justify the per-service-hour operating cost of LRT being three times as much as BRT if each vehicle is carrying four or five times as many passengers. But it’s very hard if they are less than a quarter full at a decent peak headway.

        2. “A high capacity bus every five minutes is probably well sufficient here. So the comparison is actually between a bus every five minutes, or an LRV every twenty to thirty minutes. Hence BRT is a better fit for this corridor”

          I thought we learned our lesson after the Northen Busway, but apparently we need to try again. Demand will always be far higher than predicted in Auckland.

          Most of the cost of building a tramway is the trackbed and stations. If you are building a busway, you have to build the trackbed and stations anyway. So, just like on the NW motorway, there is very little saving by building a busway instead. The only saving using a busway is in staging where buses can run the whole route on road, but this stub service to Puhinui is the only stage that makes sense.

        3. It also feeds into Mangere LRT. Linking a (heavy) depot in Wiri to the LRT network via Mangere/Onehunga seems logically.

          It would also be stupid to have both BRT and LRT both terminate at the airport. Just build the later.

          Mangere is essentially a township with 30,000+ jobs and a major HNZ node. It’s insane we aren’t digging the route for LRT right now.

        4. Have to agree with Nick on this one. This is basically a crosstown route with an airport and a suburban city centre on it, I’d be pretty confident it still wouldn’t have the patronage to justify LR in 50 years.

        5. Trackbed, stations, tracks, power supply, power supply substations, the fleet, the depot, and tracks linking the line to the depot.

          The difference isn’t so much that you need these things, it’s that you need every single one of these things fully funded and built before you can run a single service for passengers on day one.

          The first three years of the busway ran from just two stations and the existing motorway shoulders. It used standard buses from the existing fleet for the first ten years. Here we have the first part to Puhinui opening in two years… otherwise we could still be waiting ten years from now for three billion dollar commitment for capex and fleet to run the first LRV.

          I understand where you are coming from but I think this is very much a ‘pick the right tool for the job’ situation.

  10. What’s the thing coloured baby pink, blue and white that’s maybe leaning on the stub wall in the fourth picture?

    1. I think it’s supposed to be that child’s helium balloon. Which ironically are banned from train stations because of the risk of contacting the overhead power supply.

  11. The bus drop off point in the 3rd picture looked rather small and tight. Look like a potential bottle neck if more than 3 buses turn up.

  12. The article mentions connection for future Hamilton/Intercity services, is the design future proofed enough to allow for the 4th main to be built without a major rebuild of the station and it’s surrounds.

    1. Yes, it’s designed for four tracks, although not the optimal design of two island platforms though. It will have one island and two side platforms.

      1. Should probably be for 6 tracks since all 4 could potentially be used for both commuter and intercity trains (especially if they are terminating there) blocking it up for freight trains (which is the whole point of the 3rd and 4th main)

  13. The best way to get from Britomart to the Airport is not via Puhinui. It is via light rail on Mt Eden Road that goes down SH20 to the Airport.

      1. The staff will be lugging their bags on the bus and train, sure. The VIPs however will be chauffered along the Steven Joyce memorial tunnel route to their CBD hotels. Although I don’t know how security folk would feel about that, so maybe not. Roads and airspace will be shut down for them, in any case.

    1. So that the disruption, like last time will have an alternative, sort of like a mini congestion free network, in places, with patchy frequency.

    2. I thought you meant ‘why Apec’ like why Romeo. The best I can make out is Apec exists to serve as a gravy train for politicians who want to look important without running the risk of doing something important.

  14. In the 4th image just above the coffee vendor tuctuc there are two tunnel portals that run below the building. Are each of these for two rail lines, total 4 lines being spanned by the station?
    It’s also a bit confusing showing the south end of 3rd line entering station but not coming out north end. There also appears no evidence of a side platform for the existing 3rd or anything for future 4th line, certainly no escalators either.

    1. Renders are not a good source of detailed fact. We have it on good authority that the station is future proofed for a great deal more than the 3 tracks currently there.

      Considering every Intercity, Express, and Metro heeding south will stop here, and most freighters on the AKL network will pass through, it should likely get up to at least 6 tracks, over time, of which at least four would need to be platform adjacent…

      And for once there’s still a bit of land available.

    2. This is a render of what they plan to have operational within two years, it’s not the final station design.

      That third track is a depot backshunt that doesn’t go past Puhinui station, so they are just showing the existing track arrangement in the render.

  15. I hate to be the voice of negativity.
    But catching a bus from Auckland Airport to Puhinui for 10 minutes then having to transfer for a train (with a probable wait time and some degree of crowding) has as little appeal as taking a bus from Melbourne Tullamarine to Broadmeadows station.

    Money poorly spent.

    1. That’s really a big exaggeration. I’ve used that Melbourne bus and the 380 to Papatoetoe. The worst things about the Mel bus is going all the way to the city centre is it gets stuck in traffic, is a long rammed ride, and only has one destination, downtown.

      In AKL the current 380 also can get stuck on the way to the station, esp getting into Papatoetoe, the station transfer is long and exposed, and it’s too infrequent. All of these things will be sorted with the new shuttle.

      And that’s all it is. A shuttle to the train. The kind of thing you take between terminals at bigger airports. A turn up and go, direct, no additional cost, lots of luggage racks, legible, 10 min trip, in priority lanes, trip to an easy transfer to high frequency trains in three directions to many different destinations.

      Not a long congestion affected bus ride to only one place.

      1. I wasn’t talking about any bus that goes from Tullamarine to the Melbourne CBD. I’m talking about the one the goes from Tullamarine to Broadmeadows station. That bus sees even less traffic than a bus from Auckland airport to Puhinui station would.

        1. So that would make it… …as unappealing as taking a bus from Melbourne Tullamarine to Broadmeadows station. AKA the budget backpacker option.

    2. If the station was being built purely to get everyone travelling between the airport and the CBD to take the bus/train then I would agree with you, but that’s not the case.

      It is about a high quality transfer station between Southern and Eastern line trains and the Airport, and in the future Manukau and Botany as well. It might apply to someone travelling from say Papakura to the Airport.

        1. Not at the moment, the road that runs into Puhinui Station from the west is a dead end cul-de-sac, so you can’t get buses close to the station.

        2. But would constructing a driveway for the buses and a bus stop really need this sort of investment?

          We’ve been told that there isn’t enough money to reinstate a station at Drury. Nor for providing rail to Helensville.
          But there’s money to chuck at this?

        3. Daniel Eyre – Rail development in Auckland is not about connecting the affordable satellite towns like Helensville to the city. Its about increased densification close in. Chris Darby on the Council has vowed to fight any development outside the rural boundary – the RUB must be defended at all costs. So we get sky high house prices and traffic congestion. Its worth reading the business case for the CRL – the congestion benefits are non-existent and the train travel time savings are totally fudged. Then 90% of the document is about property development. We’re being gamed by the property elite as usual

        4. Haven’t any of these real estate developers seen any potential in developing an intensified village in Drury or Helensville?

          But yes; Auckland once again blindly copying a mistake being made by Australian cities; in this case bending over to cater for the money of property developers, is a sad indictment upon the nation.

        5. There is work going on in Drury and Paerata nr Pukekohe – but all the land is in control of only a couple of developers. The whole area should be a free to build zone. Out west there is almost nothing – prices are crazy. Zero interest in the extension of electrification or level crossing work to get out there. Its all about the central city. Its such a shame as commuter towns in the UK are great. A waste of a resource

        6. They also have commuter towns all over the world, including even Australia.
          People commute from satellite towns into Melbourne such as Sunbury, Warragul, Pakenham, etc.
          And Hornsby (actually quite built-up in its own right these days) was long a commuter town for Sydney. Woy woy and Gosford still are.

        7. You’re getting a bit conspiratorial here Daniel.

          If you’ve “been told that there isn’t enough money to reinstate a station at Drury. “, then you’ve been lied to. It’s in ATAP and TFUG as a short term project as part of electrification of the line to Pukekohe. Plus of course “these real estate developers [have] seen any potential in developing an intensified village in Drury”. That’s why they fought to get high density zoning around the stations.

          And Graeme, if “Rail development in Auckland is not about connecting the affordable satellite towns like Helensville to the city. Its about increased densification close in.”, then how do you explaing the extension of electrification to Pukekohe and the commitments in ATAP to rail to Waimauku and Orewa? If council are opposed to sprawl, why have they expanded the urban footprint to allow almos half a million people to live outdise the existing urban areas?

        8. Yes Daniel it would be ideal for Auckland. Hamburg is worth looking at – lots of villages and towns fed by circular motorways and hub and spoke rail. Plenty of green space between. Hamburg is the same size as Auckland. But instead we want to use rail as a sort of poor mans Tube train. Long trips are fine by train as stable and smooth so it extends your work day. And eventually the city last mile will be AV’s. Getting to the station or park and ride is much easier in the fringes. And the rail can serve employment areas in the satellite towns. But instead it been hi-jacked by the instensification lobby – and all the benefits become wealth transfers by commuters and rate/taxpayers to a very few property owners.

        9. Sailor Boy – try taking away the RUB and get rid of zoning and you would see where people would want to live – and it wont be on top of each other in a sunless $800K shoe box in Mt Eden.

          The compact city movement has created the twin miseries of world beating traffic congestion and some of the least affordable housing on the planet. Can you let me know how doubling down on it will somehow solve this?

        10. @Graeme: There are plenty of people who prefer to live in apartments.
          Because they’re convenient and low maintenance. And because let’s face it; if you’re not going to raise a family (and make usage of the land; a detached house for a lot of people is more like a burden than an asset these days.

          Horses for courses. Not everyone wants the same things and has the same tastes in this world.

        11. One difference I spot between Hamburg and Auckland is that you won’t find kilometres and kilometres of freestanding houses on large lots in central areas in Hamburg.

          Auckland doesn’t have a compact city movement. Those “victorian villas” would be long gone by now otherwise.

  16. Really don’t understand why this isn’t being designed with two island platforms and four tracks for a good stretch either side – so much more efficient for interchanging, station facilities/maintenance and turning trains/passing as needed.

    Even before regional rail is matured, it’d allow options to improve service (e.g. Hamilton/Puke to Puhinui extra services?) to build the market up.

    And agree on light rail – it is ‘ecosystem in mind’ – the interworking and possibilities with the Mangere line (and future ones) could lead to all sorts of interesting service patterns in future, and more one-seat options.

    1. I was thinking that too. It would probably have needed the whole building shifted eastwards leaving the existing section of 3rd main going around west side of station. Then two new lines with island between them and escalators up to concourse. That would be 5 lines in total, 4 under station sharing 2 island platforms and 3rd for freight movement.
      That way plenty of platforms for various metros, expresses and regional trains. It will be interesting to see the detailed station and track plans when available

    2. A central island and two sides is better in one way. Southern line northbound can stop on the west of the island, with eastern line southbound on the other side to allow seamless transfers from the south to Manukau station. This would also be reversed for the return journey.

      Two island platforms would be better for transfers between regional/express and stopping services.

      Either way is a trade off, but purely in terms of user experience, two islands seems better.

  17. This station is great, love how they staging it to get things done quicker. Public realm and such all great from what I can see. Having done the 380 bus, train, bus to home combo just after the Central New Network & new 380 frequency was bought in, I’m looking forward to see the difference in going on this new system.

  18. Do we know if homes will give up road frontage for the Puhinui Rd busway between SH20 and Kenderdine?
    And if any homes will be demolished around where Puhinui Station will be built?
    And finally..if the 2 lane bridge on Puhinui at the Airport end will be left as is will there be priority lights for express shuttle busses?

    1. I don’t think that section will be effected, but the south side of Puhinui Road will taken for the BRT or LRT lanes.

  19. I have been using the orange airport bus (380) from st George Street, Papatoetoe for travel to the airport for both work and leisure purposes for a few years. Current fare $1.95 and service is reliable. Bottleneck is around Papatoetoe railway station. How will routing of 380 airport bus change?
    Which side of new station at puhinui will buses leave and arrive?

    1. The Manukau side of the 380 route will be replaced by the new A2P route. The 380 from Onehunga will terminate at the airport until the CC2M is completed.

      See my link above, but the LRT/BRT line will cross via a bridge over the rail line. With a elevated platform at the station.

      1. Presumably the 380 will run along Lambie Drive and then Puhinui Road so customers on Carruth road will have to walk to Puhinui Road. A pity because there is a steady stream of them going both directions. Unless the 313 is rerouted to run along there but then it misses out Wuri Station road and Plunket Avenue. Also Wylie road will miss out as well but 313 already run down there for some distance from St George St. Also the 31 brings passengers from both Mangere and Otara to Papatoetoe Station were they change onto the 380 for the Airport. So Auckland transport will need to have a rethink of bus routes in the area.

        1. They have. Believe it or not AT aren’t proposing to majorly change things without considering the bus network.

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