Welcome to 2020. Following my wrap up of 2019 last week I thought it would be good to look at some of the things we can expect to see in 2020. I think 2020 is very much going to be year where there’s lots of things going on but not necessarily a lot completed as projects race against the approaching timelines of 2021 when Auckland hosts the America’s Cup and APEC. With that in mind, here we go, in no particular order.

City Rail Link

With the main part of the project having kicked off, 2020 will be a year where that becomes more visible. From next week as road closures start to happen and in the middle of the year the Mt Eden Station will close till 2024 when the project is completed. For Western Line users my concern is we’ll see more unreliability creep in to services as it drops down to a single track through the Mt Eden worksite.

As for the early works programme we’ve lived with for the last for years, we should start increasingly see parts completed. I believe the works on Albert St, including the new footpaths and trees etc should be completed by the end of this year and we should at least see large parts of the lower Queen St area outside Britomart near completion – but the entire Britomart section isn’t due for completion till mid-2021.
Downtown Programme

Along with the CRL the downtown programme has been creating a lot of disruption. We’re already seeing a lot of progress on the programme and most of it is expected to be completed by the end of this year in advance of those big events.

City Centre Masterplan and Access for Everyone

The CCMP refresh should hopefully be approved this year and with that I hope we’ll start to see cars kicked out of Queen St. The previous council already unanimously supported the move and wanted it to happen within a year. That obviously didn’t happen so hopefully the new council will push themselves and AT to get this delivered.

We should also see more progress on reclaiming space in streets like High St with quick, lower cost solutions – but that needs to speed up too.

Northern Busway Extension / Northern Corridor

There’s already been a lot of progress on the Northern Corridor project and many of the busway features are already taking shape, such as the bridge to access Albany Station. The overall project isn’t due to be completed till 2022 but during 2020 I expect we’ll see it take a lot more shape, especially the busway.

During the year we should also see the Rosedale Busway station started as well as the upgrade to the Constellation station that will see a new northbound platform built.

Eastern Busway

We won’t see the Eastern busway completed till 2021 but like above, I expect that during 2020 we’ll see a lot of progress on the project including the new busway bridge over the Tamaki River.

I also suspect we’ll hear more about the next stages of the project to extend it to Botany. Although this is likely to include the Reeves Rd flyover, which AT are still trying to pretend will be an interesting urban space.

Puhinui Station Upgrade

The upgraded Puhinui Station is due to open early in 2021 so I expect that by the end of this year it will mostly have taken shape with primarily fit-out work going on.

SH20B widening

Tied to the Puhinui upgrade, just before Christmas the NZTA awarded a contract to Fulton Hogan to upgrade SH20B

The $70 million SH20B Early Improvements project will provide additional bus and high occupancy vehicle lanes and new walking and cycling facilities between Pukaki Creek Bridge and SH20.

The new lanes will support a new bus service every ten minutes between the airport, Puhinui Station and Manukau. Work to upgrade the Puhinui rail and bus interchange is already underway in a separate project led by Auckland Transport.

This is also expected to be completed in 2021.

Extra trains

The first few of the 15 new electric trains we’re getting arrived late last year. The rest should arrive this year and at some point we’ll start to see them go into service. Once all in operation we should see all services, with the exception of those on the Onehunga Line, operating as 6-car trains.

Light Rail

Light Rail will continue to be a big talking point this year and a big moment will come in February when the government decide on the outcome of their bizarre process between the NZTA and the NZ Superfund (and Canadian partners) – although I suspect it could be some time till we hear the outcome of that.

However, the government messaging of late is that this is just choosing a delivery partner not an actual project and if this is true it’s likely we still won’t see a lot of progress on it in 2020.


There are a number of cycling projects now underway. These include:

  • Karangahape Rd streetscape upgrade – is due to be completed by the end of the year.
  • New Lynn to Avondale Shared Path – it’s not entirely clear when this is due to be completed by.
  • Victoria St Cycleway – Due mid-2020
  • Northcote Bridges – two new bridges either side of the Northcote interchange, due by the end of 2020.

On top of these, the extension of the Quay St cycleway along Tamaki Dr us due to start soon and hopefully completed by the end of year.


Building consents surged to all time record levels in 2019 and I expect we’ll see that continue as Auckland continues to grow. We’re sitting at just under 15k annually so one question is, how high could the number go in 2019?

Climate Change

Climate change has been increasingly in the spotlight and throughout 2020 I hope we’ll start to see action to respond to it to become a much larger aspect of decision making.

Last year the Council declared a climate emergency and if they’re to live up to that we’ll need to see them starting to really tackle transport emissions and the sprawl that amplifies the problem.

CCO Review

The Mayor has also already announced a review of the council structure, which is probably appropriate as notches up 10 years this year and has added a new council committee to provide oversight of the CCOs. Will that have any impact in 2020?

Hamilton Trains

In a few months time the first trains on the new trial Hamilton to Auckland service will start rolling. I am concerned about just how successful the trial will be due to the infrequent and slow services and suspect we’ll see those that oppose improving rail services, such as politicians and the likes of the trucking lobby, quickly use it as an argument against the further investment that will be needed to make a more viable service.

There has already been discussion of at least extending the service to Puhinui for connections to Manukau and the airport. My suspicion is the situation described above will quickly see that option become a reality once the Puhinui station upgrade has been completed.

Infrastructure spend up

The government have already announced a massive spend up on infrastructure including $6.8 billion on new transport projects, which they’ve described being both roads and rail. Those projects will be announced this year, possibly even later this month. As I wrote recently this should be focused on investing in projects that will help transition away from fossil fuels but my guesses as to just what projects we’ll see in Auckland include:

  • Penlink
  • Skypath/Seapath
  • Funding for a bunch of infrastructure to support sprawl
  • The third and maybe even fourth main
  • Electrification to Pukekohe
  • Mill Rd
  • SH1 Papakura to Drury widening – the Drury interchange needs to be upgraded to allow electrification to Pukekohe


A huge factor throughout the year will be the election likely to take place near the end of it. I suspect transport going to be an area with a lot of focus on it by both parties with the announcement above part of Labour’s first salvo. We’ll also almost certainly see National step up their campaign for building a bunch more unfunded, uneconomic motorways but will they also promise anything for public transport?

There’s plenty more happening and of course more will happen during the year.

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  1. Grant Robertson has been quite canny with the dollars over the last two years and so has a formidably large war chest in which to initiate spending in NZ in this upcoming election year. Funny that… But so I think there is the chance for quite a bit of big headline grabbing expenditure to be rolled out over the next 9 months, starting with some big headline acts in February as Grant promised.

    So what’s it going to be? Primarily, I’d guess a major statement and direction on the Light Rail. A decision either way. Secondly, I’m expecting a major announcement on Housing, as the Gov need to come back from the Kiwibuild debacle, they can’t just leave it sitting there under the table looking like something the cat dragged in. And thirdly, they have to placate the roads lobby, so JAG will have to swallow a dead rat and order up some roading projects to take the heat off. Not exactly RONS, but some major upgrades under the banner of Safety Improvements….

    1. I actually think Grant has been too clever by half. It is embarrassing that the government has massive surpluses while there is massive need for public spending.

      Labour and Jacinda would have a lot more credibility if Grant had spent his war chest earlier.

      The government had a mandate and democratic obligation to deliver ‘transformational’ projects that address areas of need. Such as, the housing crisis, child poverty and climate change (meaning multimodal transport).

      Election year announcements are flimflam. Voters deserve actual progress not promises…

      1. National could win this next election if they do two things.
        1/ Copy Helen Clark’s pledge card with a very short list of things they will actually do. The country is now ready for a Government that does what it says it will do.
        2/ Rein in the right wingers and get them to stop being dicks. Their petty bullshit just puts of middle New Zealand and it is the middle that decides who wins.

      2. Grant can promise what he likes, he can promise all the tea in China, the 7 seas and the heavens above, but he too must know the trouble for him is Labour have not honoured a single one of their 2017 promises on transport, in the very least.

        And unfortunately they still have to contend with the oppositions best performing MP to drag them under on such promises every step,of the way, none other than Transport Minister himself, and chief non deliverer, Phil Twyford!

        What this equates to must be awfully hard to contemplate for Labours brains trust. When it comes to credibility to back those promises his party have precisely none!

        So what are going to do about that little problem Grant?

        1. Waspman you know you just read as one-eyed raving partisan with your endless evidence-free anti-govt rants here. One counter example to your histrionics: almost all of the projects above, most due to be completed in 2021, are part funded from the Regional fuel Tax, brought in by, yes, your hated new government. Entirely impossible before the change of govt.

          You seem to expect govt ministers to be building things personally, no, they fund things for delivery agencies to deliver, and this govt. is funding good (and poor) transport things all over the country to a record level.

        2. Dude, have drink.

          Before you go into histrionics, check your facts! I refer to this governments promises, not Phil Goffs or Auckland Councils plans, big difference.

          Light rail via fuel tax? Wheres YOUR evidence? By 2021? Even the most optimistic can see that it ain’t happening any time this decade, if ever and not by the Auckland fuel tax.

          CRL via fuel tax? No, its funded by central and local governments, long since locked in.

          3rd and 4th main by 2021? I don’t really think so. Or even funded by the fuel tax? No, not as such.

          Electrification by 2021, funded by the fuel tax? Nope. By 2021? They’d better get a move on. But again, no.

          Hamilton to Auckland passenger rail. Vast majority of funding is via NZTA, the rest split between Waikato and Auckland councils. No mention of the fuel tax from what I have seen.

          But it was supposed to fund increased bus services, of which we cuts in 2019. It is also funding red light cameras, raised traffic crossings and yes some is going into the eastern busway and Puhinui, the benefits of that particular project using multiple modes are yet to be seen.

          Skypath, by 2021? Really. There is no evidence this is going to make it from NZTA’s planning department and definitely not by 2021. And its NOT funded by the fuel tax.

          Housing, come on mate, little to do with fuel tax and a horror story insofar as this government’s major promise went. Best not mentioned really.

          Dude, rant, be evidence free all you like, but like it or not, their flag ship transport policy never got off the hustings. That is bullshit and that put them apart from the motorway builders. Their broken promises do not in anyway assist their reelection chances, that’s a fact.

          And I don’t hate them, I voted for them, and they have truly disappointed to be fair.

  2. “A huge factor throughout the year will be the election likely to take place near the end of it.”
    Just before this is misunderstood; the election will be held this year. There is, as always, the chance of there being a snap election anytime (the election would then be early in the year, or mid-year). But the last possible date for the next general election is 21 November 2020 as explained on Wikipedia here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_New_Zealand_general_election#Election_date

  3. I think THE number one event this year will be the general election.

    When voters go into that booth or those who can be bothered to, and in this forum think of Transport and or the environment combined, they will be all too aware that the differences between this government and National are ever so slight. Robertson is announcing RONS but by a different name. The alternatives promised in 2017 by his lot simply never happened and there it’s so much material there for National to hang Labour out to dry for that failing, so much do National may well win. So it’ll be motorways or bust should that happen, from either camp.

    I suspect politicians will take the easy option and see our transport saviour as electric cars, not that they are, and kick the climate change can down the road for another generation to deal with.

    2020 or by the time of the next election is a time for a new political party to come into being that is progressive and mean it but not be saddled by the status quo neo liberal model or identity politics. Here’s hoping anyway.

    1. The political party to watch for this year onwards, will be Sustainable NZ party, being a centralist party, which will push for sustainable environmental friendly transport/urban planning, farming/horticultural , business, energy, defence, etc.

      Planet is warming and as a nation, NZ will have start thinking outside the square and start to plan for the future by adapting to a warming planet and its erratic unpredictable weather patterns and the social, economic and population problems that will be created.

      Unfortunately neoliberal economic policies based on ‘here and now’ personal and corporate greed is not on the warming planet agenda as it is consumption not adaption.

      1. If that party were to achieve anything in 2020, which I doubt it will, it will likely to be stealing votes from the Greens. If this tipped them below the threshold it would allow National to govern without achieving anything for the green movement.

        1. I can’t really see what the Sustainable NZ party will really offer, Greens or at least James Shaw’s Greens pretty much do what the Sustainable NZ party wants to do and the current direction that National are heading under Bridges I can’t see why Vernon Tava would want to work them and if he does want to work with them then I can’t imagine current Greens supporters wanting to vote for them. At most I think he will take some ‘Blue Green’ Nats voters and maybe some Labour but probably at a cost to Nats themselves.

          Who knows, it’s all a bit of a joke really and I don’t hold much hope for anything good to come from our political parties.

        2. MattZ, this isn’t Kiwiblog. Feel free to actually discuss which TRANSPORT and HOUSING policies of the Greens you dislike etc but not just some political flag waving, information-less posts 🙂

        3. @Joe, the problem with the Greens is that their name is pretty much “greenwashing”. They’re more a socialist party than anything else which is why Labour barely tolerates them and why nobody else wants anything to do with them (GA blog admins excepted).

        4. More ‘no-ones’ vote for the Greens than the act party so perhaps your personal view is not so universal as you fantacise.

        5. Joe do you mean in the same way you just discussed their policies in your post? I don’t do ‘some political flag waving’ as I do not support any party in particular and never expressed such support anywhere. I support people and politicians who want to do something good for the greater benefit. Don’t care if they are in Act, Internet Trolls or some other party. As for the Greens. They are in government so I think I’m allowed to express my opinion about their ‘achievements’ or lack of them in this case. Thank you

    2. When National say infrastructure they mean roads. Not all the other things like hospitals, schools, bikeways, railways, Tourism, National parks, business incentives, safety, clean water.
      They will stubornly build the $3 billion E-W highway (including maintenance for 30 years) even if it is a bad investment and which will divide Onehunga from the harbour for ever.

      1. I know it and when you think Pharmac have been operating on a near budget freeze for years to the point of costing people their lives, spending ludicrous sums of money to satisfy the road-building lobby/trucking industry/donors with mindless road building just seems insane.

        But hey, the mirage of better traffic flows wins votes

        1. In a democracy the gvt should listen to the people. Then get managers to make plans and bring together ideas. Then costings, feed back, consulting you know.
          TVNZ survey showed 64% of people want more PT.
          There are many studies showing that roads and sprawl is too costly.
          We put our economy at risk if we make wrong decisions and spend money on poor projects. If there was a jump in oil prices NZ, with its huge dependence on imported oil, would struggle

  4. Will anything be actually finished this year?
    Last time Auckland hosted APEC; it created traffic chaos. I don’t know of that occurring in any other host city. Next year might be not as bad given that in the 22 years; Auckland’s transport infrastructure has greatly improved and people will have means of avoiding the traffic. Not being parochial, but I think it could’ve been hosted in Wellington instead. We’ll have to see if the same shutdown as 1999 occurs again.

    As for the America’s cup; I doubt it will have much if any effect on transport in Auckland. I don’t know of many problems the previous two times Auckland hosted the event. In terms of people involved and directly interested; it’s not actually that big an event. Surely most of the people who come to Auckland for the event will be based in close proximity to the Auckland CBD and will have their own private transport arranged?

    1. Yeah 2021 is really going to be ‘the year of delivery’ for Auckland… but as in the article above a number of things, while not fully completed, will, this year, start to be useable in ways that will begin to show off their transformative shape.

      Commercial Bay retail is still due to open in March, somewhat unbelievably, which means the pavements around the site will be coming into public use again, i guess in stages. It’s going to be huge to have this key area back and so much better… can’t wait to be going in the front entrance of Britomart again too.

      K Rd and Access for Everyone are what I’m personally most excited about, and should be this year.

      But I reckon the big Rapid Transit improvements of 2021 will be city-wide game changes; NB, EB, Puhinui, NW pop-up, more trains, etc. The question is going to be around bus numbers in the city… isn’t this gonna get ugly? Going to need to remove ever more cars to make room for more buses and construction traffic.

    2. I’m not so sure about only Auckland suffering at APEC time – I know that New York suffers every time the UN is in session (thankfully not all the time), so that’s not a problem unique to Auckland. But it is a problem with politicians who think they are big-shots – when really they are just tinpot dictators. Trump caused massive traffic problems in London when he was there recently – with his Beast car being flown in, and cavalcades everywhere etc. Auckland should just get their PT system up and running and tell everyone to catch the train…

  5. The glacial pace of cycling projects needs to change if we are ever going to see a decent modeshift. There should be 100s of them going in all over the place, to form a decent network, not the current 1 or 2 here and there… it’s just ridiculous. The Netherlands easily probably delivers in a week what we do in a year, and they already have a great cycle network…

    1. I would of thought the change of government would of seen to this… but no, bit of funding for skypath/seapath, and a bit of funds for bikes in schools and for government employees to get e-bikes… but both of those things should really come after decent infrastructure, so they can be made proper use of, instead they have gone in a backwards order.

      Furthermore we had the Auckland Council climate emergency, which again seemed like something exciting would finally happen. But nope, no change to change to the pace of cycle infrastructure. No drastic steps have been made despite being titled an “emergency”. Its just a catchy name, its more of a “Climate initiative”, but there is no sense of emergency at all.

    2. A fundamental question I have is how many cyclists currently commute or do business by cycle, and how many cycle as recreation.
      If the majority cycle as recreation, as I suspect is the case, then it seems that many people are paying a lot of money for the recreation of a few. And if thats the case then there are probably very few cars being taken off the roads due to the provision of cycleways.
      I would love to see the statistics of this, and to be proven wrong.

      1. hey good point: let’s also screen every car user and make sure none of them are burning up the biosphere just to get a latte from down the road, or to hook up via grindr, or just do burnouts…

      2. You ‘suspect’ but you haven’t seen any statistics? You know you can listen to Newstalk on a bike, go on give it a whirl!

      3. I see that I am being attacked for having the temerity to ask a question as to who uses cycle-ways. But my question has not been answered.
        Roading, rail, and other projects are reseached to the nth degree to determine their projected economic return before they are started. Has a similar study been done on cycleways.
        I ask again, who uses these things.?

        1. This level of detail isn’t measured for motorway projects in excess of $1 billion so I doubt it is gathered for cycleways costing a fraction of that.

          The best I’ve found is Quay Street numbers by day, which shows similar numbers on weekdays and weekends, suggesting a mixture of commuting and recreational use. Certainly doesn’t suggest the majority of use is recreational.


          I would expect the NW cycleway to be even more commuter focused as it’s not the most scenic ride and funnels cyclists from the suburbs to the CBD.

        2. Many demographics use cycleways, and where they are safe and connected, their patronage is high. Where they are simply dangerous, or safe but not connected to anywhere much, people don’t tend to use them so much.

          Auckland would do well to learn from Paris, which has seen a 54% increase in cycling numbers in one year.

          The better question is to ask why subsequent governments have failed to provide safe cycling. The official strategy under the Nats, even,

          “Cyclists are legally entitled to be on the road. Motorists have a duty to pay for the facilities needed to keep them safe from motor vehicles.”

          They didn’t follow their own strategy, so not only did people die, cycling was suppressed. And still is. We can change that. Yes, there are decades of neglected investment to catch up on and a network to create almost from scratch.

        3. If you want data on cycling then go to the AT website. it has all the counts from the automated counters.
          You can clearly see that the bulk of cycling Monday to Friday is commuters. When a new cycleway is proposed it is very hard to obtain data as until it is built there is no data available. I can assure you from personal experience that once a cycleway is built or upgraded the numbers of commuters, not recreational cyclists goes through the roof. There is a huge amount of latent demand for commuter cycling. Every campaign I have been involved with to get a cycleway built has all the same naysayers saying the same things but every time they are proved wrong. One thing the naysayers have in common is the lack of any research into their pronouncements. A few minutes of googling will find the answers. As I have shown about with the AT info. It is all in the public domain if they could be bothered to look.

        4. You are not being attacked, you are being disagreed with.

          The question is of mild interest only, as the economic value of movement is not entirely in commuting to work. All movement has potential economic value.

          Anyway, as I pointed out above, if you are to ask this question it makes no sense to ask it of only one mode. Where is the data on the purpose, or implied value, of journeys across all modes?

        5. Uh I live right next to a train station, cycling is 2x faster than the train on average during peak to perform my 22km commute. Its also 3x faster than the car and 5x faster than the bus. Plus its free (apart from the upfront cost of the e-bike, a tiny bit of electricity and some minor upkeep from time to time).

          For me the other modes are just a joke. Pay to go slower and not door-to-door. Obviously they are still needed; but for capable people doing a commute and do not need to drive their car/van/etc for work, I always shrug why they bother with the slow modes.

          One reason is poor infrastructure probably – doesnt seem safe is something I often hear, the other is a lack of awareness how much faster it actually is. I think I remember something on campbell live back in the day, train vs car vs bike and everyone was shocked how much faster the bike was. Perhaps something AT could do, film people traveling from the same general area by 3 different modes (PT, cycling & car) on the same day to the same sort of area (i.e. Downtown) and showing a comparison and running those online/TV etc.

          With the Councils climate emergency (that they dont really treat as an emergency, just an initiative), we should really be getting on with infrastructure for cycling, its such a clean and time efficient mode. Plus its really cheap compared with other modes to deliver a great network. Roads can mostly be retrofitted with some sort of infrastructure fairly easily too.

        1. Christopher, why do you begrudge people who want to cycle having safe infrastructure? What’s with the miserliness? If transport investment isn’t about building a decent world our kids can be safe in, what on earth is it about?

        2. If you don’t like those pesky cyclists; wouldn’t it make sense to support this? It means they’re removed from bothering you while you drive.

      4. “then it seems that many people are paying a lot of money for the recreation of a few”

        A lot of money?
        As much as this country blows on (for example) that Sport New Zealand or on that institute of sport?

  6. I have a question after the CRL opens in 2024 will AT have to buy more of the CAF units to make up the 9car trains to run over the network ? , or will they break up the existing 6car to make the 9car units , and reduce the services time span .

    And when Puhnui is finally up and running the H2A service stopping there will be ideal as the passengers heading out east will then only have 1 connection to make instead of 2 as there may/are people that work at Manukau that will won’t it .

    As for the H2A service if they advertise it it properly people will then use it , so please Matt don’t be a doomsayer like a lot of the car lovers out there . As the same was said about the Auckland network , and look at it now it is one of the best around . After watching a youtube video showing the way the network was 30yrs ago everyone will think the same ;-

    1. They won’t run 9 car sets when the CRL is open, that won’t be possible until they rebuild the suburban stations for 9 cars. It’s a long term future proof which would have it’s own tranche of new trains.

      “As for the H2A service if they advertise it it properly people will then use it… the same was said about the Auckland network , and look at it now it is one of the best around .”

      That’s BS, advertising won’t fix the fact it only runs in one direction, only has two trains a day, and stops in the far southern suburbs of Auckland an hour away from the city. The Auckland network is an excelent example. Almost nobody used it when the terminal was on the edge of the city, and it didn’t start to work until they built Britomart and ran the trains downtown and didn’t really take off until the trains started running decent frequencies and seven days a week.

      1. It is possible to run trains longer than current station platforms. London Overground does that; there are announcements when approaching a shorter platform that you cannot alight from the rear carriage for example.

        1. Wellington and Sydney run trains longer than some platforms. Passengers choose where they sit according to the platform where they will get off.

        2. That works when you have the occasional short platform and you can walk between carriages.
          In Auckland the platforms are all six cars long except for a handful of places. Nine car trains would mean a whole unit was consistently not at the platform with no doors accessible.

        3. John D , to solve that all they have to do is place the centre 3 cars in the middle of the platform and the 1st and 3rd car will the be in the right position for the 3 doors of each of those cars to open .

      2. When they ran the service last time it was running in the wrong direction , A2H and they also were over charging on the fares and even then there were more from Hamilton working in Auckland than the other way around . the powers that be had set it up to fail from the start and hopefully it won’t this time , and if thinges go right they may have other services running through the day as there are enough Loco’s and carriages to run an extra service . As per this article ;-


        1. Build a station at Pokeno and/or Te Kauwhata and this new train will be full every week day. Then get moving on the long list of improvements necessary to turn it into a modern regional rail service.

        2. Yeah I keep thinking they are getting this wrong. If you can remember back you may recall that Tranz Rail ran a Silver Fern railcar service from Hamilton to Britomart. The train ran almost empty to Pukekohe and then full to Britomart. When Tranzrail canned the service the Hamilton service the railcar began running from Pukekohe. That’s how Pukekohe became the southern terminus of the Auckland train network.
          In the interim my suggestion would be to run a bus service between Papakura and Huntly stopping at Tuakau, Pokeno, Mercer and Tekauwhata and link it into to the proposed Hamilton Auckland service. It could also run off peak when no train are running as it could connect with the regular Hamilton Huntly bus services thus providing a somewhat tortuous Auckland Hamilton route. So at least one early morning service ex Huntly and then 9.00 am 12.00 and 3.00 pm return services ex Papakura. Followed by one or two services from Papakura back to Huntly in the early evening.I can imagine the last bus would connect to the last train at Huntly. Give the driver a hands free cell phone so they can communicate with the train guard.

        3. Here’s how to make it work:

          1) Run the service to The Strand via Otahuhu (until Puhinui and CRL-Britomart are ready for it)
          2) Do return trips: Run the inbound trains back to Hamilton in the mid morning, and vice versa run them up to Auckland in the early afternoon.
          3) Do one or two return trips between the peaks too, and maybe a extra late night one.
          4) Run it seven days a week.
          5) Build those two extra stations and stop there too.

          The first four of those are 100% doable, have 0% capital cost, have pretty minimal opex costs and require no extra train carriages or locomotives over what is planned. The last one has a capex cost but negligible opex impact.

        4. So that seems logical but apparently its not possible. And it still doesn’t address passengers from Tuakau, Pokeno,Mercer and Te Kauwhata at least in the short to medium term.

        5. @Zippo: Building new stations will cost around ~$20million each.
          So I’m afraid that a regular service will need to be established BEFORE that sort of expenditure can be justified.

        6. @Royce; YOur history is a tad off there. The Waikato Connection was canned before Britomart was commissioned, it terminated at the Strand.
          And yes; most of its passengers boarded at Pukekohe and Papakura. But patronage was growing steadily when it was canned and that was then, this is now, almost 20 years later. See how many people are taking it from Hamilton after 5 years.

        7. Yes I wasnt sure of my time line. Anyway we are going to find out if a Hamilton Papakura service will work. Pity I won’t be able to use it I cant workout why I would need or want to spend a night in Hamilton.

        8. @ Royce would say that as with the commuter services to Wellington from the Wairarapa and Manawatu/Horowhenua: It will be mostly one-way traffic at least for its first decade.
          Some people will use it to go the other way. For reasons such as business trips, to visit family, maybe to watch a rugby game, etc.

          I still maintain that it should terminate as close to the CBD though.

        9. Daniel the reason I said it’s a good system is that most networks oversea’s have their own dedicate passenger lines with no freight running on them . Here in Auckland the only dedicated passenger lines are Onehunga and North of the Strand leading into Britomart and possibly the line lading up to New Market . All the rest we have to “fight” the freight trains running through the network .

        10. Zippo , They could possibly build temporary platforms at Pokeno and/or Te Kauwhata and Tauakau with scaffolding like they did at Pukekohe and use the extra DMU’s to run the service from those stops , that’s if they can get funding from the Waikato councils and the NZTA .

      3. John – a correction, passenger volumes in Auckland actually started increasing in the mid 90’s when the ADKs and ADLs were introduced, resulting in improved frequencies. This was well before Britomart.

        One thing I can guarantee, passenger numbers between Hamilton and Auckland will increase with the introduction of the new services and it will be hard to quantify this increase as a percentage in the first year.

      4. “They won’t run 9 car sets when the CRL is open, that won’t be possible until they rebuild the suburban stations for 9 cars. It’s a long term future proof which would have it’s own tranche of new trains.”

        I thought that at least on the southern line; the Auckland network’s platforms can take 9 car sets? I understand if the Onehunga branch only has enough length for 6 cars.

        “The Auckland network is an excelent example. Almost nobody used it when the terminal was on the edge of the city”
        I don’t think that its patronage was that bad before Britomart. Yes Britomart was a shot in the arm, but the DMU’s did get some level of usage.

        1. Onehunga branch only has space for 3 cars. Most stations only have space for 6 cars, there are a few such as New Lynn that have already been future proofed for 9 cars. Even Britomart’s platforms currently can only handle 6-car trains.

        2. No you are step ahead. The network is mostly for six car trains except for the Onehunga branch which is only three cars.
          A few of the recently built stations are long enough for nine, Like New Lynn and Manukau, but most aren’t.

          Patronage was bad, it went from 1m per annum to 2m over the ten years until Britomart opened, when it went from 2m to 16m in the next ten years.

        3. That’s crazy.
          I’m not sure about the Johnsonville line, but all the stations on the Wellington network I’m familiar with can fit 8 cars (and with a little room to spare).

          Looks like another long-term project for Auckland trains: 9-car platforms. Or maybe 12 if possible….

        4. It’s not so crazy, most of the stations have been double tracked, rebuilt or extended in the last two decades and the standard for that was 150m platforms. Going to 225m platforms is a big job as many stations are hard up against level crossing or curves, or buildings etc.

          Bear in mind that a carriage is longer in Auckland than Wellington so they are not directly comparable. A nine car train in Auckland would be the same length as an eleven car train in Wellington.

        5. Manurewa won’t take 9-cars. It only just takes 6. Extension to 9 will be, as they say, interesting

        6. What exactly is stopping it from being extended? Surely any bridges that are in the way are going to have to be demolished anyway when a 3rd and 4th main are build.

        7. Looking at these stations across Auckland via satellite images; It appears to me that it wouldn’t be too difficult to increase platform lengths by another 1/2 to 225m on the Southern and Eastern Lines. Obviously: It would cost a lot of money, but it’s definitely do-able without having to realign the lines much (if at all) or demolish anything adjacent.

          However, it looks like increasing platform lengths to 225m on the Western Line would be a lot more problematic, there would need to be some realignment of lines and grade separation from intersections.
          This would probably be best tied-in with future projects of grade separation of the western line.

          Increasing these platform lengths would also require increasing station access points. Many Auckland stations appear to have only one entry point and this would need to be increased with overbridges, etc at the new ends of the platforms.

          Looks like this should be in the long-term basket. Maybe a gradual on-going one over a few years.

    2. “As the same was said about the Auckland network, and look at it now it is one of the best around”

      I don’t mean to be a dick, but that’s a gross exaggeration there. Auckland’s train network $ services is pretty stock-standard average by world standards and will still be after the CRL comes into service, it’ll be about as good as Brisbane’s.
      If you compare it to many of the rail services & wider PT networks that cities with more than 1 million population in Asia or Europe have and Auckland’s doesn’t look great at all.

    3. Thanks for video link David L, don’t’ think I’d seen this. Auckland network & stations sure have improved on that.

      For those interested, it’s around 1990/91, check out this shortcut to 9 mins in. People walking near the track in the ugly area just before the train comes into the Newmarket station stop. Also showing some board with a bike.

      1. Grant , the pieces I liked were the passenger at Newmarket getting off the train on the wrong side and the shunter’s assistant at Glenbrook just jumping of the moving coal train , and did you notice not a single high viz in sight . And around the Auckland platforms not a single security in sight telling bystanders to get off the tracks .

  7. Thanks for posting this video
    I think it’s very optimistic to expect the CRL to become fully operational in early 2024. I’m no pessimist BUT the track record don’t look good so far with a one billion $ blowout already and completion date slipped from 2023 to 2024, yet the main station construction and tunnelling has barely or not started.
    Other major rail projects overseas have always suffered massive cost blowouts and years of delay. What makes the CRL any different so that we can expect a timely completion within budget?
    My optimistic guess is another, at least, 1.5 to 2 billion cost blowout AND at least another year to two years delay to opening although this may happen as a series of smaller time increments as unforeseen problems or acts of god occur.
    God I pray I am wrong else Pity the Auckland ratepayers.

    1. There has been no ‘blowout’ on CRL, that’s just lazy language, there’s been a really valuable increase in scope, including the future-proofing for 9-car sets, for example, and an increased contingency. And it may increase again, I guess. But ‘blow-out’ is silly talk. Across the board all major infrastructure projects are coming in more expensive than early estimates, including all the current state highway projects started under the previous government.

      1. Eh? Definition from Collins English Dictionary
        “a blowout in an amount or price is a sudden increase in it”
        Are you saying that didn’t occur and the $1m blowout was planned or expected? And will occur again?

        1. I’m saying that ‘blowout’ is a lazy and emotional word more at home in sensationalist rags like the herald, than in mature discussion.

          Here is the cost increase itemised from a previous post:

          “The country’s biggest transport project got a billion dollars bigger this year as a result future-proofing for 9-car trains ($250m), increased contingency costs ($310m), increased construction costs ($327m) and other increases, such as property purchases ($152m).”

          Only 1/3 of the increase is an increase in construction cost, and 327m of 4.4b is less than 10% so hardly a ‘blowout’ in anyone’s language, and is hardly sudden: The move from estimated costs to actual ones always involves an adjustment.

          What’s your point, anyhow? It should be abandoned? I thought we might be escaping the timidity and dullness of this sort of handwringing.

        2. It depends what you take as the original cost. The capital cost in the 2015 business case on the CRL website https://www.cityraillink.co.nz/crl-business-case lists the cost at that time as $2.5b. The increase from $2.5b to $4.4b looks like a bona fide large blowout to me.

          “Only 1/3 of the increase is an increase in construction cost, and 327m of 4.4b is less than 10% so hardly a ‘blowout’”

          As far as I can tell all but the 9-car trains ($250m) relate to the original scope and should have been in the original estimate and so should be counted as part of the blowout.

          I heard Sean Sweeney a few months back, on RNZ’s The Detail I think, saying that he thought the risk of further cost increases is 50:50.

    2. “Other major rail projects overseas have always suffered massive cost blowouts and years of delay.”
      Which ones are you talking about?
      Let’s go through some I know of:
      Conversion of former East London line to London Overground operation: Within budget and finished well before schedule.
      The various Thameslink projects: All within budget and within schedule.
      Sydney Metro North West: Finished 500m under budget and on schedule.
      Redcliffe Peninsula line: Finished within budget and within schedule.
      Gotthard base tunnel: Finished within schedule and on-budget.
      Crossrail: I concede, that has been a disaster in terms of blowout and schedule.

      So yes some major railway projects have suffered blowouts and delays but most do not. This is no different from any other kind of civil engineering project whether it be major roads, buildings, bridges, airports, etc. So why single out railroads?

      1. Transmission Gully project in Wellington (4 lanes of cars, no train tracks) has “blown out” by at least a year in delays and a 50% increase in the amount of dirt that has had to be shifted – I think we can assume there will be a commensurate minimum 50% increase in costs there too, from $1billion to at least $1.5 billion. But then again – the way the PPP is structured, it will cost the taxpayers over a hundred million each year anyway. My point is: its not just rail projects that end up costing more.

  8. Ok, I take your point that the word gets used in a derogatory manner by the press. My point is that the CRL going to happen but we should be prepared for more significant cost increases so is it likely this will affect the financing for other projects?

    1. So Christine should we continue to build endless motorways just as we are currently and ignore the climate crisis?
      I see that Auckland still hasn’t reached peak carbon and if we do this year it will be despite the inaction of government, national and local.

      1. Why do you conflate road and motorway construction with climate crisis? When the actual issue is the internal combustion engined vehicles that transit those motorways and roads?
        As someone else said this and future governments are likely to look to electric propulsion vehicles to reduce if not resolve climate pollution from road vehicles.
        There will still be a need for motorways.

        1. There are some very simple reasons that I link motorways and carbon emissions.
          Currently NZ doesn’t have surplus renewable electricity to charge EVs. Currently Huntly supplies about 15% of our power and more when there is an issue with renewable generation such as there last was at the end of 2018.
          There are no major power station builds planned to replace Huntly. So Huntly that was due to close in 2018 is now scheduled for 2022, but it seems that the date is 2030. This is despite power companies making super profits over the last few years and instead of investing in new assets have paid great dividends and special dividends – look at the share price appreciation since these companies have listed.
          So put very simply, if you buy an EV you may be charging it with dirty Genesis power. And will be for at least the near future.
          Forget surplus power from Tiwai – we don’t have the lines to bring it to the North Island.
          In the foreseeable future there simply isn’t enough stock of EVs available to NZ, and it is not at a price that the bulk of the market is prepared to pay. For second hand vehicles Japan was simply not making enough EVs seven years ago to supply our current annual demand.
          New EVs are about twice the price of their fossil fueled sisters e.g. look at a Hyundai Kona. It is hard to find economic rationale to buy the EV model.
          The MoT modelling that accompanied the feebate scheme acknowledged that we are most likely to undershoot the needed uptake of EVs by 2030, a very critical date in reducing emissions.
          How are the countries who make EVs going to make their emission targets if they produce the same number, or even more EVs? Where is the method to produce steel without coal? Where is the supply of lithium, among other things?
          I also have been led to my view of the writings of the C40 Cities organisation. That organisation very much focuses on public transport and active modes as the way to reduce emissions.
          There is also the practical learnings from other countries. Germany has just been through a process of interlinking much of the country by high speed rail. Much of Europe has recognised the benefit of this form of travel. At the level of the city, as close as Sydney, they are furiously building light rail. Sydney is one of only two Australasian C40 cities that have reached peak emissions.
          Transport writings suggests more roads induces demand.
          And then there are the economic arguments. What if our motorways were priced correctly? (Even Chris Bishop has introduced this position in the National transport policy, although it looks so watered down as to be unhelpful.) There would probably be less demand and therefore the premise that we need to build more is likely to be wrong.
          So yes I do link motorways and emissions. We are in an emissions crisis and the world is destroying itself. You just have to turn on the evening news to see Australia burning uncontrollably – too emotive? – that’s what the fire fighters are saying, we don’t have a huge number of fires under control. And the world hasn’t even reached peak emissions. So what will the fire season look like next year? Or the year after? Will Nelson have another fire this year? The social and economic costs of these events is not sustainable.
          Why would we even be contemplating building more motorways when the scientific opinion is that we should be reducing annual emissions by 5-6%, and that cut is sure as hell not going to come from agriculture because sadly it is legislated that way.
          As much as many people want to believe that life will go on just as it always has, but in an EV, it won’t, and the sooner NZ adapts to that the better off we will be.

        2. By Christine R:
          “As someone else said this and future governments are likely to look to electric propulsion vehicles to reduce if not resolve climate pollution from road vehicles.”

          I remember over ten years ago when the then-new National government came out with how it was okay to build more roads because NZ would also soon embrace electric cars and power them with renewable energy (along with how they would build a national cycleway).

          As I predicted: It never happened. Will you and your ilk still be believing this nonsense in another decade’s time?

        3. Christine, in this day and age, anyone working in the transport field is required to keep abreast of developments. That traffic is induced from motorway and road construction is well established. I can link information on this if you like. Do you prefer research or articles written for a more general audience? Or are you good with google yourself?

          Perhaps instead, you accept the induced traffic from motorway and road construction but think we can tackle our rising transport emissions through electrification alone? That’s quite unrealistic. John’s points above are all good. Let us know if you have any more stumbling blocks to understanding this.

        4. John – do you know whether it is the City of Sydney or greater Sydney that is a member of C40? My guess is it would be the former and this would have a significant impact.

          The City of Sydney is a relatively small but densly populated part of greater Sydney including the CBD. It would not be surprising that emissions there have peaked, we would probably get the same result if a similar area of Auckland was measured.

          Greater Sydney is a sprawling metropolis and I would be very surprised if emissions have peaked there.

        5. @johnwood. Thanks for your long detailed reply.
          Interesting views you have but you make several assertions that look suspect to me.
          I’ll address the EV situation and electricity supply.
          You say forget Tiwai Pt. When this aluminium smelter closes there will be significant available electricity and if you argument is it cannot be used due to lack of transmission lines then the simple solution is – Build more Transmission lines – small price to pay to reduce
          Vehicle pollution. Also solid fuel power generation not needed.
          Other means of electric generation are becoming reality, for example people are already enquiring if EV battery storage is viable to use as a backup power source where homes have solar panels (PVs). A few homes in Auckland I’m aware of with EVs also use PVs on roof to charge EV during day.
          I’d agree EVs are expensive but I also expect that as uptake increases then prices will drop. The dependancy NZ has on cheap ice cars imported from Japan is a concern but does anyone have a solution for this? The only suggestion I would make is to at least ban diesel powered vehicles at some near future date.
          I wouldn’t be concerned about lithium supply. Battery technology is evolving, the future is not locked into rare metal supplies.
          I agree we are in a climate crisis but ceasing motorway and road construction as a measure to limit road use hence reduce pollution still seems to me to be addressing the pollution issue from the wrong direction.
          People need a viable PT alternative, get the rail system sorted, Light rail underway and busways construction started.
          If these can’t be done then road improvements continue

        6. @heidi. You are completely correct concerning inducing traffic with more road construction.
          Is this not a feature of any resource that people want to use? A bad feature when you want to reduce road traffic but a wonderful praiseworthy feature when PT improvements result in more PT users.
          Although I appreciate your concern with increasing road traffic I am of opinion that without meaningful alternates there is no easy solution.
          Stop motorway construction and road improvements may work somewhat but is that really what the public (voters) want? I suppose we shall see soon enough with upcoming election but I won’t be surprised, not happy though, if NATs become government.
          I work with colleagues who commute from NW and listening to their disappointment with this govt’s transport policies and lack of action on climate emergency is not looking good for this govt’s second term

        7. People have said in Council consultation that they want alternatives to driving and want investment in public transport. Council is also required under the local government act, to plan for future generations. Central government have similar legal requirements. And of course, we have signed international agreements to reduce our emissions, which will be impossible without curtailing our vkt.

          Given all this, continuing to build and widen motorways, which induce traffic, is irresponsible and ultimately, could result in legal action against particular agency boards.

          The problem with requiring meaningful alternatives to be in place before stopping road expansion plans, is that the very money required for implementing the meaningful alternatives is still being channelled to road building. Additionally, the sprawl created when more roads are built provide households that have next to no choice other than being car dependent. Also, road widening within the urban areas is taking space required for other modes, and often at huge property cost.

          In short, the days of road building should be over. The enormous subsidy given to driving cannot be justified any longer. A new era has arrived, and while New Zealand dinosaurs are still dragging their feet on changing, there is no evidence to justify their doing so or to justify arguing on their behalf.

        8. This is a misunderstanding of what induced demand means. It means what we build shapes demand. It doesn’t mean that people want one thing only, it means people want good effective, affordable systems, and will use what’s provided so long as it approaches this.

          It is absolutely proven that whatever we invest in now in Akl we attract users. The old and fully discredited idea that people only want to drive was always simply a function of that being the only we built for.

          I am astounded to see this tired old traffic building argument still being trotted out in 2020!

        9. “There will still be a need for motorways” – hmmmm, Christine, I’m not sure that will carry forth into the future. For instance, in London, which has grown from 6 million to 8 or 9 million, but as far as I can see, that growth has been accomplished via new rail routes, new underground tube lines, increased bus patronage, and brand new cycling “superhighways”. Nobody is singing out for more roads and highways there – I think they realise that is not the answer to anyone’s problems.

          Does anyone seriously think that vehicle usage is not directly linked to excess carbon in the atmosphere? I think it is responsible for around 40% of the world’s excess CO2 production so, yes, more motorways = more traffic = more pollution = more CO2 = increased global temperatures = more global warming.

    2. I assume you expect airport heavy rail will blowout as well if it is ever built or do you expect it will magically come in on budget?

      1. I don’t think that the mode of public transport is relevant because experience shows a feature of any transport project is that cost blowouts always occur. I can’t identify any transport projects in NZ that stayed within budget.

        1. There’s plenty:

          Tauranga Eastern Motorway
          SH20 Mt Roskill extension
          SH18 Westgate to Upper Harbour Bridge
          Victoria Park Tunnel

        2. I never heard of Project DART and the electrification nor the purchase of EMU’s blowing out in budget.
          Nor the extension of Wellington’s electrification to Waikanae and the purchase of Matangi replacement EMU’s.

          Christine R: Admitting you’re wrong is not a sign of weakness.

        3. Sorry, I didn’t make it clear enough, I was referring to Public Transport.
          Although its interesting you highlighted roading projects as staying within budget.

        4. Actually Christine roading projects go over-budget too. Take a look at Transmission gully.

        5. Christine there’s plenty of PT projects that have stayed in budget too:

          Double tracking of the Western Line
          New Lynn Trench
          Newmarket Station
          Manukau Branch

        6. @Daniel Eyre
          The purchase of emus for Auckland and Wellington were agreed price product purchases and contracts signed with suppliers. Unless included in contract any cost over runs were the manufacturers problem.
          DART costs:
          This looks like a significant cost increase over original cost projections.
          Don’t know about Wellington electrification so will have to take your word on that
          Thanks for your counsel on weakness, my self-identity is stable and I don’t find self-criticism justified

        7. Christine – I can’t see anywhere in that article that shows cost blowouts in Project DART, which are the specific figures you are referring to?

        8. Ah but Christine; the EMU’s would’ve still been given an estimated cost and allocated a budget prior to the tendering to suppliers. So the returned price from the supplier could’ve still blown the budget.

          Can you quote where in that article you’ve linked anything about this “significant cost increase over original cost projections” you’re alleging to see?

          Your idea that rail projects all blow their budgets (and roading projects somehow don’t) has been torn about by how many people now? And most people also consider “Self-criticism” to be a virtue. So is there any reason why you’re still maintaining this?

        9. Daniel and Jezza: I’m happy to leave this blowout discussion and wait to see what happens with CRL costs. I want CRL to stay within budget and open in early 2024, but I still think that’s wishful thinking.

        10. @Daniel
          ‘Self-criticism involves how an individual evaluates oneself. Self-criticism in psychology is typically studied and discussed as a negative personality trait in which a person has a disrupted self-identity.’
          I’m quite satisfied with my self identity, are you?

          You also attribute to me things I did not say.
          I never said roading projects don’t suffer cost blowouts and my views on PT cost blowouts are based on the many projects I have researched.
          However, I’m happy to defer to your greater expertise in matters public transport and psychology.

          However, I defer to your greater intelligence and expertise in transport project

      2. Daniel
        I suspect that EVs will become the answer about the same time that scientists discover a commercially feasible way to stop cows emitting carbon; and Donald Trump finds a cure for cancer.
        Did the world start looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions before, or after the Rio Earth Summit?

        1. What made me laugh it off a decade ago was (and still is) the fact that if not most then close to half of the automobiles in NZ are imported second-hand Japanese vehicles. Because our macroeconomy can’t afford this level of automobile dependency with new automobiles (and EV’s are more expensive than internal combustion engine cars).

          So for this to happen; most of those said Japanese imports would have to also become EV’s. And from what I’ve been told; EV’s, or at least their batteries, don’t last very long. Very few people sell them or buy them second-hand.

        2. I think the outlook for EVs a lot better than it was 10 years ago. Batteries are better with lower costs, petrol prices are higher and more people are climate conscious. They are saying it may only be five years before the upfront costs for EVs match petrol cars, while electricity charging is already cheaper than petrol.

          If battery costs keep on falling, or if household tariffs are adjusted to be time sensitive, so that people pay the real low cost of overnight electricity supply, or if increases in the carbon price in the ETS really push up the price of fuel, then EV usage could take off. Its becoming common to forecast optimistic EV scenarios even in countries with less responsible climate policies e.g. https://www.forbes.com/sites/energyinnovation/2017/09/14/the-future-of-electric-vehicles-in-the-u-s-part-1-65-75-new-light-duty-vehicle-sales-by-2050/#37c8f40ee289

          But even under favourable scenarios for EVs, range and charging time issues might prevent wholesale electrification of the light vehicle fleet. And there is still the problem of heavy vehicles, with little prospect that they will ever be able to run on batteries.

          So we may need to establish a hydrogen refuelling network to handle heavy vehicles and those light vehicles which need to be long range or be in near-continuous use. The government is starting to look into this: https://www.mbie.govt.nz/dmsdocument/6798-a-vision-for-hydrogen-in-new-zealand-green-paper

        3. Yes, some good points there; it seems crazy that household tariffs haven’t been adjusted to incentivise shifting power useage to offpeak more than has been done.

          “They are saying it may only be five years before the upfront costs for EVs match petrol cars,” … I’m wondering how long it’ll take car buyers to stop comparing upfront prices for EV and petrol cars. Anecdotally, they don’t seem to be considering the operating costs, which is a bit mad, considering how different they are.

          Obviously, the sooner our fleet is electrified, the better. On so many fronts, including political. The politics of oil is one ugly beast.

          But if upfront costs are matched in five years’ time, that leaves only 5 years to replace the fleet… not going to happen fast enough to reduce carbon emissions to where we need to be at by 2030.

          So we’re going to need massive travel demand reduction through intensification and modeshift. Even without the likely uptick in immigration from Australia, if our conservatively estimated population growth is accommodated centrally, not peripherally, we’ll see a very different city in 2030 than we have now.

          The great thing is that this can deliver us some fantastic urban outcomes.

        4. Emissions from the light vehicle fleet are only around 13% of our total emissions. So, I think conversion of most of the light vehicle fleet by 2050 would be good enough to achieve the 2050 targets in the net zero legislation if there is even still a reasonable amount of forestry offset to emissions.

          But if we did decide that we want to reduce light vehicle emissions to near zero, we could always pass legislation about 2040 or so phasing out fossil fuel vehicles over the following ten years.

          Accommodating some population growth centrally through intensification helps, but even if all growth was centralised it would only limit travel demand growth, it wouldn’t reduce travel demand.

          Mode shift has a role to play, but I think there is also a limit to what it can realistically achieve and there is a question of how much it makes sense to provide compared to other emissions abatement options. Even if you did ATAP many times over, there would still be a reasonable proportion of light vehicle journeys that you wouldn’t avoid. I would be interested to see some number crunching for how the cost of abatement for something like that would stack up against just banning fossil fuel vehicles. My guess is though you would be better off just banning fossil fuel vehicles.

        5. “Accommodating some population growth centrally through intensification helps, but even if all growth was centralised it would only limit travel demand growth, it wouldn’t reduce travel demand.”

          It can. Intensification can mean existing residents don’t have to travel so far for social contact, recreation, basic shopping, jobs, etc.

          “Mode shift has a role to play, but I think there is also a limit to what it can realistically achieve”

          What we’re seeing with the latest studies is that we’ve had a very poor understanding of what the limits to modeshift are. We need to erase them and start approaching modeshift as the inevitable process of restoration. Limits in mindset are unhelpful.

          Realistically, we know that cars are not space efficient and only “worked” as an urban transportation system for a few decades, ruining urban form in the process. This is a mere blip in time, and we’re seeing that where modeshift is allowed, cities regenerate and access is restored.

        6. I don’t think we’re going to see the demise of cars anytime soon. In some contexts people will continue to use cars, as much as in other contexts people will mode shift if they have the choice. A lot of it will depend on where people are going, what they are transporting, how fast they want to get there and what the costs are.

          On reducing emissions through intensification, my point was that even if you centralised all growth, you would still have all the travel demand from the people already living out in the suburbs. Yes, you would get some reduction for people living in the city, but I think the reduction would be pretty minor, though I’m happy to read any evidence saying otherwise. My main point though is that you would still have all the emissions from those people still living in the suburbs, so centralising growth in the city won’t do that much to limit emissions by itself.

          Mode shift can help too, but I’m not yet convinced that it will stack up as a cost effective means of extensive emission reduction. For instance, if electric cars become cheaper than petrol ones, the only cost of abatement is the costs of providing more emissions free energy, which is becoming very cheap.

          But the scales may tip a lot more in favour of mode shift if electric vehicle uptake is held back by range and charging time issues, hydrogen powered vehicle use isn’t enabled and fossil fuel vehicles are either banned or the petrol price is ramped well up through the ETS.

        7. “I don’t think we’re going to see the demise of cars anytime soon.”

          Neither do I, but I do expect to see their demise as the dominant mode in urban transport systems – particularly in those places that have plans in place to do so. And there are plenty that do.

          The Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans of European cities use direct targets of reduction in vehicle numbers, in vkt, in driving amenity and in road funding, while planning on radical modeshift and investment in public transport.

          And they’re working. I hope we will blog about a few of these this year.

          “On reducing emissions through intensification, my point was that even if you centralised all growth, you would still have all the travel demand from the people already living out in the suburbs.” My point is that the travel demand from the people already living out in the suburbs can indeed reduce – and the vkt can reduce radically if all levers are pulled. Indeed, that’s what we’re seeing with the low traffic neighbourhoods projects.

          Auckland can formulate a plan taking the most recent modeshift information from different places and tailor it to our city. Paris didn’t get a 54% increase in cycling in one year without planning. Our car dependency and sprawl can be seen as a limiter. More positively, it should be seen as giving us huge opportunity for improvement, with many, many low-hanging modeshift fruit.

          For some inspiration, Sherwood, imagine our current suburbia relieved from car dependency by being criss-crossed with rapid transit corridors (mainly busways with priority for now) and cycling highways, and between those, a circulation plan that keeps ratrunners out of every neighbourhood. These neighbourhoods would have lower speeds and simple cheap changes to street layout, that prioritise and make safe walking and cycling.

          In this way, everyone is close to both rapid transit and a cycling network and they are the faster, cheaper and more enjoyable modes to move around.

          Then picture all our growth as mixed amenity, and happening along these rapid transit corridors. Proximity to amenity will vastly increase for everyone – including those in suburbia.

          All of this is doable. All of it is cheaper than
          – trying to retain a car dominated system, which can only fit more cars in with wider roads and more carparks and more motorways
          – building more sprawl, with all the additional infrastructure it’s creating that future generations will have to maintain,
          – trying to make safe our existing car dominated transport network when it, fundamentally, needs a driving culture overhaul.

        8. Yes, if it’s going to work ultimately we’d probably need fast links across the city rather than just a hub and spokes arrangement.

          But I don’t think an interlocking network of light metro, light rail and busways will stack up economically in the next few decades, which was the timeframe we were originally talking about for climate change mitigation.

          Are your objections to the modelling just the usual suspects like induced demand and analysis timeframes? If not, you should explain your objections more fully and how you think it means the cost-benefit assessments are well out, or point me to any previous comments you’ve made doing that.

        9. My objections to the modelling start with those usual complaints. 🙂 But my objections to the planning go further. I don’t think it’s being led with consistency of vision. I’m seeing decisions on transport undermined by decisions on land use, and vice versa, and resources being squandered.

          Examples of the problems we’re seeing:
          – barriers to placemaking, modeshift and intensification along the key transport corridors,
          – continued development of land into car infrastructure, even in pretty central locations,
          – no rapid transit in place before greenfields development,
          – infill development in existing suburbs still involving low rise townhouses or MacMansions with garaging and driveways that result in the permeable land coverage guidelines being ignored.

          The vision in the European plans I’ve been looking at starts with far bolder targets. This is a chart from the European SUMP guidelines that compares traditional transport planning with sustainable urban mobility planning: https://i.imgur.com/I8OSdB2.png

      3. Jezza, originally to be a member of the C40 the city had to be a mega city and so I assume (and assumption is a dangerous thing) it is not the City of Sydney.

        This may help. “Sydney, whose greenhouse emission has dropped by 20 per cent since it reached its peak in 2007, is optimising energy use in buildings. Reduced energy use from the building sector, which contributes to over 80 per cent of the city’s emissions, has cut down emissions drastically.” https://www.ecosia.org/search?q=c40+city+members&addon=chrome&addonversion=2.1.0

        Auckland was invited to join the C40 cities because we are an innovator city – it is not certain what we are an innovator at- certainly not in reducing emissions.

        As a sideline when I was in New Plymouth recently I noticed that they charged for parking at the boat ramp. Unbelievable! Who could possibly think of charging for such an environmentally unfriendly activity as a boat ramp? It wouldn’t work here of course, because there is always a free verge somewhere.

      4. “People need a viable PT alternative, get the rail system sorted, Light rail underway and busways construction started.”
        Yes we are on the same page in this respect. This is what much of Europe is doing, recognising that we need to act now with technology that we have now.
        Let me give you a local example that I am familiar with, the North Shore busway. It is very successful, but mostly so for shorter stage journeys i.e. patronage drops off for longer stage trips. Given the known success of the busway Auckland had at least three alternatives open to it:
        1) extend the busway only – cost $300 million
        2) extend the Northern motorway only – cost $700 million
        3) extend both – cost $1 billion

        By choosing option 3 Auckland is denied $700 million that would have been a great start for light rail somewhere; or what portion of a North Western busway? Why did NZTA not try a bus way extension first to see if this was an adequate fix?
        With only finite resources far too much money is being apportioned to roads when this solution has not and does not work (history being the evidence.) Roads cause more roads. About 15 year ago the catch cry was, Auckland only needs one more road to complete the network. What nonsense that was. Building more roads in the absence of a better plan is madness. Replacing every single vehicle with an EV is not a sensible option on any level because we will have the same level of congestion.

        Have a look at the Productivity Commission report on solutions to reduce emissions. The extension of the electricity grid is anything but cheap.

        I looked through what I had written – while these are my thoughts they are a distillation of what experts have written. I struggle to find assumptions and certainly no guesses, such as, that there will be a battery that will solve all EV battery issues.

        I have been lucky enough to see many of the cities of Europe that have year in, year out invested significant amounts in PT infrastructure (and opex). As a consequence they have PT options that connect the city, and for those that still drive congestion free options. Auckland should be doing the same.

        I appreciate that for many NZers they cannot see that they can do other than drive. Would they have the same perspective if they paid the true cost of the roads? What if on the journey to Whangerei every piece of the journey you had to pay $2.30 as you do with the Northern Gateway toll, as you do in Italy, about $11 per 100km. (I reference the work of the Productivity Commission on the cost of roads).

        NZ’s obsession with building roads is also putting real pressure on other parts of the economy such as Pharmac as someone referred to above.

  9. yeah it looks like after one poor year of delivery and planning we are getting another poor one. Looks like the AKL-HAM train will be the only completed (or just tested) project plus some cycleways. For the government and council (from essentially the same political camp so should cooperate quite smoothly) that was promising so much about public transport that is just ridiculous. I feel like even National would do more even by accident…

    1. National’s list of achievements in 2011, the year they faced their first attempt at re-election wasn’t very spectacular either in terms of transport delivery.

      1. yeah Im not saying they achieved much that particular year but I wonder how much they promised to achieve? because Labour promised quite a lot.

        1. This is really the point isn’t it. Expectation. Many here seem angry that the new govt hasn’t magically rained down a shopping list of projects immediately. And fair enough some pretty bold claims were made on timelines, which have turned out to be unrealistic.

          For a whole list of reasons it turns out changing (improving!) course with big civil engineering projects isn’t simple.

          For example it appears KR had done no detailed work on possible projects while in the Siberian wilderness under the previous government, so they haven’t been ‘shovel ready’. The mysterious malaise AT have had with cycleways only now seems to be lifting, NZTA decided (rightly it seems) to take SkyPath back to a blank sheet and start again. The private sector have just moaned about not having an endless supply of low value high cost rural motorways to build, instead of adapting. All of these issues look like they are to be finally sorted this year, and a record spend in every mode, is ahead, actually funded.

          Light Rail, or whatever that is to be now, is the one issue that does seem to be in a government led quagmire… but even then I think the next level of Rapid Transit in Akl ought to be decided on soberly and properly…. if that’s what’s to happen? I guess we’ll soon find out.

          In many ways this highlights just how smart Len Brown was in just beginning the first stage of CRL; forced it happen, and meant the years of prep for the main works went on while there is action on the ground, instead of that necessary work looking like nothing is happening to the public.

        2. Yup. expectation. based on the promises they made to get a vote. People voted on those promises. People didn’t vote so Twyford and the rest can sit there and just do the bare minimum for the media coverage. They voted to see Light Rail (well among other things of course) So it shouldn’t come as a surprise if people gonna vote them out this time angry about empty promises. And Labour can blame only themselves for that.
          And I agree about Len Brown. That was pretty smart. And wish current government would do the same thing so at least one line of Light Rail could have been done in the future.

        3. “so Twyford and the rest can sit there and just do the bare minimum”

          There are things they’ve done wrong. But you should actually track the positive changes they have made. Safety improvements, public transport actually having its own performance measures, new activity classes and a better spread of funding across them. These changes will make big differences. The NZTA dinosaurs are pushing back and finding ways to get around the changes, but the NZTA progressives are much more empowered. The slow job of paring back the rot has started and is well under way.

          We shouldn’t underestimate how difficult it is to stand up to the road construction, automotive industry and their supporters.

  10. National’s “infrastructure” investment in election year is ROADS, ROADS, ROADS. Nothing else but roads. They will delay or kill off the auckland light rail. Simon Bridges himself was Transport Minister when the National govt put it back by 30 years and only promised a busway instead of light rail.

    While Twyford has been a walking bomb with kiwibuild and tragically slow on light rail, there is really no other alternative for public transport other than Labour and the Greens. That new sustainability party is nothing more than a National party pet project. Vernon Tava left the greens and joined the Nats because he is really a Nat in disguise. Anyway, James Shaw is the centrist that Vernon Tava will never be. Tava would fold like a deck chair in a National govt. James Shaw has worked across the aisle all term but doesn’t fold to the Nats like Tava would.

    1. You have applied more scrutiny to a new political party yet to contest an election than you have to the ones in power and who actually control what happens and when. The Greens will have been criminally silent over the botched Light Rail project in Auckland. But then again, actual scrutiny is hard. Imagine what NZ could achieve if Greens supporters held their own Government to account with the intensity they want to forensically talk smack about National and their satellite parties.

      1. Buttman – “The Greens will have been criminally silent over the botched Light Rail project in Auckland. But then again, actual scrutiny is hard.”

        Hmmmm. I’m fairly sure they are fairly vocal about this to Labour behind closed Beehive doors. But they know not to air dirty laundry in public, and they signed a MOU with Labour to not rock the boat. So, criminally silent? I think not.

    2. JBM, you left one question unanswered for me, and that is whether when the deckchair folds Tava has the adroitness to ensure that his fingers aren’t caught?

    3. “We shouldn’t underestimate how difficult it is to stand up to the road construction, automotive industry and their supporters.”
      It’s so much wider than that. Add in the transport industry, cars sales firms, rental car firms, the advertising industry and media firms (flogging cars), economists and advisors (who peddle a story of growth based on the status quo) and that’s just a start. There is a whole chunk of the unproductive sector of our economy who relies on things being just like they have always been.

      Meanwhile other sectors of our economy adapt. There is a quiet revolution in the grocery industry where workers are being displaced by us checking out our own groceries (well by you because if I wanted to scan my own groceries then I would work there, or at least expect cheaper groceries.) We will likely see the same thing in the petrol retail industry as reforms kick in. (It seems hard to believe that a Labour government would want to destroy margins so that wages will be put under pressure, or jobs will be lost. Auckland bus driver rates all over again?

      Yes some of the easier stuff has been achieved. It’s hard to argue, or at least with much chance of sympathy that we should carry on with road design that maims and kills people; although most likely the most cost effective way would be to put people on buses and trains where that outcome is less likely and the decongested roads again make accidents less likely.

      And then there is the exception who sees speed as a great thing!

  11. Manurewa won’t take 9-cars. It only just takes 6. Extension to 9 will be, as they say, interesting

    1. Roger all platforms on the network excluding the Onehunga line s should/could be able to take 9 car trains it’s just a matter of putting a 6car sign up fuirther along the track and then teaching the drivers to pullup at it , so the 1st car has 3 doors on the platform , 2ndcar has 6 doors on the platform and the 3rd car then has also 3 doors on the platform . And with the Onehunga line a 6car train doing the same , with the platform at Onehunga just get the train to move closer to the Buffer so they an use either the 1st or 2nd doors off the front 3car unit .

      The easiest way to look at is like a seesaw in a playground the centre of that is the centre of the platform and as the kids on it move in they then keep the balance right .

      1. Or we could just do the job properly and lengthen the bloody platforms. The years of tight budgets in rail has seeped through to an endless search by railfans for workaround solutions.

        If patronage demands 9-car trains the last thing we need is all these passengers squeezing through an even smaller number of doors, it would be dreadful for dwell times.

      2. Or David L: How about NOT resort to mickey-mouse solutions (unless out of complete necessity) and actually do it properly?

      3. Daniel the reason I mention the idea is that all Island platforms on the network will have to have many Millions more spent on them than all the other platforms that are on the sides of the tracks . i.e all the gantrys will have to move outwards , the tracks widen to accommidate the lengthening of the platforms and finally the closing of the lines while the major work is carried out .

        1. What you’re proposing would at best be an interim solution.
          It would increase station dwell times and is likely to cause accidents.

  12. Could someone actually ask AT why over a year after moving the dominion road valley road bus stop the GPS tracker and bus seat are still in the old position
    Impossible to see from the actual stop

  13. Running 9 car EMUs doesn’t mean that all platforms on the Auckland suburban rail network need to be extended to 9 cars in length. There has been planning within AT and KiwiRail to run 9 car express EMU services from Pukekohe through the CRL using the Third Main once the CRL, third main and electrification to Pukekohe are completed. The only stops are planned to be at Papakura (by removing the dock Platform 4 and extending Platform 3 into a 9 car platform), Otahuhu (with extending the new platform currently under construction on the bus terminal side into a 9 car platform) and the new CRL stations which are being built as 9 car platforms from the outset.

    Pukekohe station is planned to be completely rebuilt with a large new EMU stabling depot at the south end of the old Pukekohe station yard site, together with a new island platform between the present Up Main track and a new loop track. This will remove having terminating suburban metro services occupying the main line and will free up the main lines for freight and new inter-regional services.

    The proposed new Waikato service from Hamilton could also potentially terminate at Pukekohe, with passengers transferring onto the new 9 car EMU express services.

    Running 9 car EMU express services from Pukekohe into the CBD will make the option of commuting by train very appealing to new residents moving into all the large new growth suburbs being developed in Franklin and North Waikato region, particularly if the service were to include a new station with a large park and ride next to the motorway and Great South Road at Drury.

    In the interim, for the new Waikato service from Hamilton to have the greatest chance of success, the following needs to happen:

    1. New stations need to be built ASAP in the large new growth areas at Drury, Tuakau, Pokeno and Te Kauwhata. These need to be funded by the Government / NZTA as Government infrastructure projects this year.

    2. Run the two Waikato service trains express from Papakura through to the new third platform at Otahuhu, instead of the current plan to terminate the services at Papakura and run empty to Westfield yard (and vice versa in the afternoon). Otahuhu is a major bus-train interchange and is serviced by both the Southern Line and Eastern Line trains and bus routes running to many parts of Auckland – much more user-friendly and appealing to use. An additional stop could be made at Puhinui once the station rebuild here is completed.

    3. Have the first Waikato service train coming through from Hamilton in the morning return to Hamilton from Otahuhu to run a commuter service in the opposite direction to Hamilton. This would enable those people who live in the same Waikato towns to be served by the new Waikato rail service and work / go to uni in Hamilton, to commute by rail to Hamilton, and would also enable people from Auckland to have a day out in Hamilton and travel by train. The train could return from Hamilton to Otahuhu in the late afternoon to run the second evening service from Otahuhu to Hamilton. Doing this would make be making far better use of the resources being put into building the trains and stations for this new service and would actually provide a proper, decent practical service which will be of use to far more people.

    Doing all the above would also be a tangible example the Government can point to during election year this year, of something which is helping to reduce traffic congestion, carbon emissions and improve road safety, which people can actually see and use.

    1. Waikato train needs to stop at the new Puhinui interchange too; to become an Airport and Manukau City optimised service too.

    2. The fact that these ideas mesh well together and would work brilliantly are reasons we wont see any of them adopted. Extra stations in the North Waikato and at least running trains to Hamilton for a midday service back to Auckland are the things that have been clearly lacking in the plans for this service since it was announced. Simple changes that overseas would be operational considerations seem to take on huge proportions here in NZ.

    3. I’m not sure Pukekohe and Papakura alone would provide enough patronage to fill a nine car train. That’s 4.5 cars per station, which is a huge number of people boarding a single service.

      Running express from Papakura will also likely to see any benefits being impacted by getting stuck behind all stops services.

      I agree 9-car trains don’t have to stop everywhere but they would need a few more stations to make them viable.

      1. I think you are looking at boardings at Pukekohe and Papakura based on what they are at the moment. There is a massive amount of growth planned for around Pukekohe, Paerata, Karaka, Drury and Takanini over the next 30 years, which has already started. New stations need to be built at Walters Road, Drury and Paerata now.

        If the express 9 car EMU services were to stop at Drury with a large park and ride beside the Southern Motorway, there would be a very large amount of patronage from here and Pukekohe and Papakura. An Express rail service running via a Third Main will be very appealing, just as the previous express services were many years ago, and there would be even greater demand for them with traffic congestion and population growth in the years since express services last ran.

        Even as it is now, the Pukekohe rail services have had the greatest percentage increase in patronage on Auckland’s rail services in recent years – and that’s with them being run with DMUs. Could also be that people prefer the DMUs over the EMUs?!

        1. No, it has nothing to do with existing patronage. Even our busiest stations Panmure and New Lynn wouldn’t go close to filling 4.5 carriages of a train on their own and they have an existing catchment much larger than Pukekohe. A full train service requires a number of different stations to fill it.

          I agree that things could be very different in 30 years, but your comment specifically referred to the CRL opening, which is more like five years away. Pukekohe and Papakura won’t have done enough growing to justify a 9-car express by then.

          Also the third main is only going to be on part of the line, express trains will be unreliable until there is a third main from Papakura to Britomart, which is a long way away.

  14. Also, if more Waikato services were to run (which they should and probably will to service all the growing satelite towns in the North Waikato) and if these were to terminate at Pukekohe and connect with express EMU services, this would fill them up a bit.

  15. @Robin:
    It seemed obvious to me years ago that an express commuter service to Pukekohe and the patronage it would generate would be an excellent springboard for a Waikato commuter service. It would start from Mercer, then to Pukekohe and then express to terminate at Britomart with a few en-route stops (Newmarket, etc). Once it was established, funding to re-establish stations between Pukekohe & Papakura (eg. Drury) and between Mercer & Pukekohe (Tuakau, Buckland, etc) could be found over a few years. Then it could be extended southwards by each location/station towards Hamilton. At some stage; it wouldn’t need the Pukekohe springboard anymore, the Pukekohe-Papakura stretch could be electrified join the Auckland network as an extension of the Southern line service, and this service could become a true Waikato-Auckland commuter service. The service would justify finding into curve easements (to increase running speeds), re-establishing stations (including the problematic re-establishment of a station at Huntly) until it eventually reached Hamilton (and beyond to Te Awamutu), could be electrified, could be the nucleus for the Waikato’s own local rail, etc.
    Of course; this would have to happen over the course of years. Even basic stations cost millions to build. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    But it looks like some bright spark bureaucrat has decided that suddenly, somehow rolling stock with diesel tanks can only sit in underground stations like Britomart with prohibitively expensive fire safety precautions. So that’s put a stop to that. Such a commuter service, which would require diesel-fuelled rolling stock to get established, could at best terminate at the Strand (and Frankton Junction). Yay.
    And it looks like there’s a gung-ho drive to electrify and extend the South line to Pukekohe ASAP despite the CBR not (yet) being greater than 1. Because Pukekohe is part of the Auckland region. Never mind that so is Helensville which people seem gung-ho against providing any passenger rail to.

    Instead; there’s going to be a risky service that starts-off going all the way to Hamilton and then terminating well before the Auckland CBD. It will not be able to do the trip in good time with the current alignments and it will make the painful stop at Huntly’s replacement station. I can only guess that people expect the many millions to improve the network enough to make the service attractive to somehow become available all at once which we know is near-impossible in NZ. I really hope that this degree of poor conception doesn’t kill what could be a success with some investment over the years and which could reap so many positive rewards if it’s a success and set back interurban rail from Auckland even more.

    1. Daniel, on your Helensville comment: the answer is simple.

      Pukekohe is 20km from the electric network, it has 30,000 residents and the growth plans will take the area to almost 100,000.

      Helensville is 35km from the electric network, but it has only 2,500 residents and growth is going backwards.

      Pukekohe makes sense in the electric network, Helensville doesn’t.

      Also your ‘bright spark bureaucrat’ was actually a whole of government response to a workplace accident where 26 people died. This changed things for all kinds of facilities and industries, not Just trains.

      1. Oh yes, because a coal mine with a coal face that’s inherently leaking methane and which had an explosion that was due to existing safety protocols for coal mines not being followed (and in which having fire safety equipment would not make a lick of difference) is analogous to trains in subterranean tunnels (en sarc).

        Maybe you should be asking; why is it that in an era where the population of the Auckland region is growing; Helensville’s is “going backward” and why is it that they’re trying to cram more people into Pukekohe instead of into Helensville?

        1. Agree more of Auckland’s population growth should be concentrated into the Helenville area and expand Auckland suburban rail services there, rather than the current ridiculous short-sighted plan with allowing residential development growth on the prime fertile market garden growing soils around Pukekohe which is just madness.

          Keep the fertile soils for growing vegetables to feed Auckland’s population and build housing elsewhere where there are rail lines, such as Helensville.

        2. Agree about the fertile soil! But good PT to Helensville won’t prevent development there meaning people will just drive, and drive long distances, too.

          The answer is neither Pukekohe nor Helensville should be developed for Auckland’s housing, and we should be regenerating our existing suburbs for the required dwellings. Lord knows they need regeneration.

          Housing at a distance puts more traffic through our suburbs and continues to ruin them; housing within our suburbs provides dwellings with proximity and supports amenities and public transport for the residents already there.

        3. @Heidi; I still think that some places (adjacent to PT) should be developed as Commuter towns. Especially for people who want to raise young families, are being priced-out of the property market closer to Auckland and who want a small community and to be closer to the countryside.
          Please note: Commuter towns don’t need to be more sprawl of cul-de-sac’s of detached housing. Look at the compact commuter towns in Europe and Japan of villages of 2-4 story buildings.

        4. Why, because Helensville is an old forestry port with no forestry industry and no port, miles from anywhere.

          They’re not trying to ‘cram’ people into Pukekohe, they’re trying to manage the demand from people who want to live between Papakura and Pukekohe already.

          The real question to ask is why would you try and force residents into a place that has no economic basis, that people are leaving already because they don’t want to live there, that is not on the way to anywhere but the sea. Then you would ask how you’d actually force people to move to a place they don’t want to live, instead of the one where they do.

          An old freight line that ran via an old barge port doesn’t make a good transit route or a good growth area, just because there happens to be a set of old tracks still in the ground.

        5. @Riccardo

          If you imagine that they’re opening up Pukekohe for development purely in response to a surge of people wanting to live there and not because it’s merely being opened-up for development in a scarce market where people are desperate to live anywhere; I honestly don’t know how to describe that opinion without breaking the user guidelines.

          It’s almost as stupid as this idea that people will only live in a place because of local employment. Do you really imagine that many of these people who will move to these residential developments in Pukekophe will actually work locally in the town or Franklin instead of commuting to a workplace somewhere far away?
          Do you also imagine that the people who live in Tawa/Porirua and the Hutt Valley all work locally and that none of them commute to their jobs in Wellington or somewhere else in the region)?

          There’s as little local economic basis for people to move to Pukekohe as there is in Helensville, it’s being developed for people to buy some more affordable housing stock and commute to work somewhere else. And a big part of that justification is the fact there’s, as you put it: “Tracks in the ground” in Pukekohe. Because both Paerata/Karaka Road and the Pukekohe East Road that feed Pukekohe are pretty far from capable of handling much more traffic.

          People are so desperate for affordable housing in any convenient proximity/connection to Auckland that they’ll clearly move anywhere that meets that criteria. If Helensville was made more convenient and opened up for development; people would move there as happily as they are to Pukekohe. It is after-all in a more attractive part of the country…

        6. A couple of other advantages Pukekohe has over Helensville are there is a lot more employment in the vicinity of Manukau than there is in the vicnity of say Henderson.

          Also the commute time by train from Pukekohe to the CBD is a bit quicker than from Helensville and with a greater scope to make services express.

        7. I’m not disputing any of that Jezza.

          But does that really justify this claimed increasing Pukekohe’s population from 30,000 to 100,000?
          Why not spread the growth of Auckland amongst intensification within the existing urban boundaries and amongst towns (along the railway and major highways) both southward (like Pukekohe) and north-westward?
          As Robin has pointed out; they’re developing land (for more land-demanding cul-de-sac detached house suburbs) that is ideal for agriculture.

        8. Daniel, you are clearly not familiar with Auckland or the scale of its growth, which is happening all over.

          The fact is the growth is being spread around, with about half going into intensification and half into in three sprawl areas around the city edge.

          One is in the south, but it’s not the town of Pukekohe that is growing to 100k, it’s the stretch of land between Papakura and Pukekohe. This area is bigger than the Hutt valley.

          Another growth area of over 100k is planned in the northwest between westgate and whenuapai, and the the third area of yet another 100k is in the north around dairy flat, silverdale and Orewa.

        9. Daniel – the growth is being spread around. There is another big chunk planned for the northwest as well, just closer to the CBD than Helensville.

        10. By Riccardo:
          “Another growth area of over 100k is planned in the northwest between westgate and whenuapai,”

          So *ahem* why isn’t anyone pushing for the train line to be electrified to there?
          Which by the way; was my original point.

          “not familiar with Auckland”
          Oh, you’re too funny. Are you SURE you knew the difference between Helensville and Kumeu?

        11. Jezza and Riccardo, the arguments against Helensville growing to provide housing for Aucklanders are strong. But you’re not honestly suggesting that the growth between Papakura and Pukekohe is a good idea do you, even if growth is being “spread around”?

          All three of you know the barriers to intensification that need to be lifted. That’s the work to be done, not justifying this southern growth in fertile soil.

          Daniel, can you imagine NZ managing to build PT-based commuter towns that are socially healthy, with:
          – kids growing up seeing a full range of sectors, industries, career options, role models. This is possible in the mixed-amenity intensification will bring to Auckland. It’s not possible in our low-access-for-kids suburbia nor in commuter towns.
          – short travel times to the full range of cultural and social activities people might want to experience. Again, this is a product of a well-planned dense city, not our low-access suburbia nor in commuter towns, which promise reasonable travel times to the city centre, at least compared to driving. Which is not the same thing.
          – short travel times for part-time work at the same professional level as full time work. This is necessary for parents easing back into the workforce whose travel is often just for a few hours’ work and also involves going to day care in both directions. Again, this works in proper city, not in suburbia or commuter towns, where the travel times might be reasonable if you’re doing a full days’ work, but will be unreasonable for part time work.

          Basically, commuter towns – no matter how well designed for walking and cycling and PT, are still isolated and don’t have the advantage of amenities in all directions. They are not a solution.

          Whereas quality intensification is. And I know you’re keen on intensification. So keep your efforts focused on that.

        12. Heidi – no, my comments were specific to this discussion.

          Removing barriers to intensification is the single most important thing we can do.

          However, one area I probably disagree with you is that people should have the choice to live in commuter towns if they wish as long as they cover the true costs. There may be situations where one partner works in the CBD and one works in a market garden near Tuakau. There will be travel involved either way, why not let them have a cheaper house, more space and add kids to the local school?

        13. “So *ahem* why isn’t anyone pushing for the train line to be electrified to there?
          Which by the way; was my original point.”

          a) there is no train line of any kind to westgate, whenuapai or anywhere in between.
          b) the northwest busway is planned for that area.

          You might want to brush up on your Auckland geography if you are going to comment on it!

        14. Heidi, not necessarily. I would say if we have to have edge sprawl the Pukekohe to Papakura is one of the better places to put it because of the location.

          But the main point is that Helensville is a terrible place to put it and that it has a legacy freight line through it doesn’t change the fact.

        15. “Keep the fertile soils for growing vegetables to feed Auckland’s population”

          …and as a quid pro quo for this draconian restriction on what can be grown and where it can be sold I propose that Auckland’s population has to eat all of these vegetables and buy them at a price set by the growers in recognition of how “valuable” their land is.

          Better get used to eating a buttload of Pukekohe Longkeeper onions diverted from the domestic and export markets, Robin.

        16. Oh the last word to Riccardo: At no stage did I ever advocate that Helensville should be developed.
          All I ever did was point out the double-standard of how people use Pukekohe being in the Auckland region to justify (what’s in my opinion) the premature extension of electrification to Pukekohe while they’re simultaneously opposed to extending the Western electrification.

          So you’ve been confusedly arguing with me over nothing.

        17. @ Heidi.
          “Daniel, can you imagine NZ managing to build PT-based commuter towns that are socially healthy, with:
          – kids growing up seeing a full range of sectors, industries, career options, role models. This is possible in the mixed-amenity intensification will bring to Auckland. It’s not possible in our low-access-for-kids suburbia nor in commuter towns.”

          I see towns in the Wairarapa and Kapiti coast functioning excellently as commuter towns for Wellington and I’ve seen them be successes in the UK and across continental Europe and Japan.
          Things like “a full range of sectors, industries, career options, role models” don’t really begin to become important until their teenage years. For small children and even early teens, many would consider access to outdoor activities and isolation from the less rosey sides of urban living (such as unclean air) to be important.
          And the fact is that with the commuter connection; sectors, industries & career options are as accessible for them as it is for their commuting parents anyway.

          “short travel times to the full range of cultural and social activities people might want to experience…. …not our low-access suburbia nor in commuter towns”
          But those commuter towns usually have plenty of their own local cultural and social activities, more so than the bland suburbs. And they’re often very easy to get around even as a pedestrian (as they’re usually planned in a grid).

          “short travel times for part-time work at the same professional level as full time work.”
          Okay, they’ll not (generally) be as convenient for part-time or lower-paid work as living in an urban area. But that’s a trade-off that people are willing for.

          “They are not a solution.”
          You say this as though they’re some few-fangled idea that somehow has only just been dreamed-up in New Zealand.
          They’ve already been a success for over a century over the developed world. Including here in New Zealand.

          And these commuter towns could be intensifications of the existing towns themselves, you seem to assume that it must be more suburban sprawl.

    1. This is the point Daniel. The band of land being developed between Papakura and Pukekohe has proximity to south Auckland industry, the airport employment zone, the metropolitan centre at Manukau, and a little further to Sylvia park and Botany, as well as the north Waikato, not to mention central auckland.

      Helensville, you have to travel 25km just to get to the westgate big box strip mall. The nearest major employment zone is at Albany 40km away.

      Funnily enough, not all places make equally good development areas. In this case Pukekohe is a reasonably good place that people want to live in because it is a convenient place to live. Helensville is not very convenient and few people want to live there. So it goes.

      I don’t have Helensville confused with Kumeu. Kumeu is at least is 20km closer to everything than Helensville is, but still not a great place to sprawl.

      1. “An old freight line that ran via an old barge port doesn’t make a good transit route or a good growth area, just because there happens to be a set of old tracks still in the ground.”

        That’s Kumeu.
        Helenvsille has the NAL running through it, one of the busiest freight lines in the country.

        1. The NAL is nowhere near one of the busiest freight lines in the country, in fact if they were ranked it would be well in the lower half.

        2. The freight line that runs through Kumeu is the same line that runs through Helensville 20km further along, the NAL. It’s about the least used line in the country that has yet to be fully closed, it has two freights a day and no public transport.

        3. Oh, and kumeu is inland and has never been a port. Helensville is on a river mouth of the kaipara, and basically existed to be a west coast port in the days when there were no roads.

        4. Oh okay I got Kumeu mixed up with Waiuku. I notice that Riccardo didn’t pick up on it immediately, hmm “You might want to brush up on your Auckland geography if you are going to comment on it!”.

          Now let’s look at more of the clangers Riccardo has made:
          * “Helensville… …has only 2,500 residents and growth is going backwards.”
          According to this:
          Helensville’s population has seen 150% growth since 1996.

          * “Pukekohe is 20km from the electric network, it has 30,000 residents and the growth plans will take the area to almost 100,000.”
          Which he later contradicted by changing it to “but it’s not the town of Pukekohe that is growing to 100k, it’s the stretch of land between Papakura and Pukekohe”. Yah, right (*claps*).

          * “An old freight line that ran via an old barge port doesn’t make a good transit route or a good growth area, just because there happens to be a set of old tracks still in the ground.”
          Which I think most would agree is an odd way to describe the very active NAL. He’s also written it off as “it has two freights a day and no public transport.” completely ignoring its potential. I wonder if he would’ve said that about the Onehunga branch?

          Then there was the utter nonsense that people will move to Pukekohe and not Helensville because there’s no work in Helensville (as if Pukekohe/Franklin is awash with local employment opportunities).

          Yet he also seems to have gone silent after I refuted his rather abrasive & patronising toned: “Also your ‘bright spark bureaucrat’ was actually a whole of government response to a workplace accident where 26 people died.”.

          I have no reason to assume anything other than that he’s just decided to pick an argument with me and on any nit-picking point and with no limits to his own hyperbole. Maybe he’s decided he doesn’t like me (as he comes across very petty).
          And I can’t see how he has offered anything to counter my opinion that an opportunity to use Pukekohe as a springboard for a Waikato commuter service was missed through dopey legislation (not exactly uncommon in NZ) and poorly-considered priorities. I mean; a Kiwirail-run commuter service to at least Mercer could well already be running by now.
          I’m now putting this Riccardo with a couple of others in the immediately disregard & ignore category.

  16. I think Daniel was meaning about Kumeu previously being on the old Kumeu-Riverhead rail line (Riverhead being an old port), and that the NAL is likely to soon become one of the busiest freight lines in the country if the planned relocation of the POA to Northport goes ahead. The NAL is already about to be majorly upgraded between Swanson and Whangarei and an announcement on building the Marsden Point branch line is likely to occur very shortly.

    So with this, it therefore makes sense to have more of Auckland’s growth and suburban development concentrated around the towns along the NAL towards Helensville, and Riverhead with a good regular ferry service into the CBD, rather than on the fertile market garden growing soils in the Franklin region around Pukekohe.

    And the comments from Riccardo about Helensville “that people are leaving already because they don’t want to live there, that is not on the way to anywhere but the sea” don’t stack up. Living by the sea is usually a draw card and there are plenty of places around Auckland which are by the sea that are “not on the way to anywhere” e.g. Whangaparaoa, Beachlands, Waiuku.

    Helensville is also no less attractive place to live geographically than Pukekohe – if anything it has more going for it potentially with it being near the Kaipara Harbour and the Parakai thermal pools. if it were to be redeveloped, particularly around the harbour and on the hills overlooking the harbour, it could be made into something as appealing as Pine Harbour / Beachlands, or Pauanui.

    The main thing which is currently a put off to living in Helensville and is likely the reason for negative growth, is the lack of good transport into the city with chronic growing traffic congestion on State Highway 16, which is one of the worst congested roads during peak periods in Auckland now.

    If the North Western motorway were to be extended to Helensville and an extension of suburban rail services were to be provided to Helensville using the NAL once it is upgraded, Helensville and the towns along this line out to Helensville, will become very attractive to live in and will grow – just as has been the case with Pukekohe with the initial establishment and continual improvement in suburban rail services there over the past 20 years.

    The problem with allowing so much urban development to take place around Pukekohe is going to result in the existing two lane highways leading to Pukekohe (State Highway 22 and Pukekohe East Road) to become very congested, just as has happened out in the northwest on State Highway 16. Then Pukekohe and the new nearby growth areas such as Paerata and Glenbrook Beach are not going to be so attractive to live in and commute from anymore, just like the northwest.

    The main point is turning all the fertile market garden soils around Pukekohe and Franklin into housing just because it already has a rail there doesn’t justify this poor planning and use of a scarce resource which is likely to compromise food production as Auckland’s population continues to balloon over the next 30 years. People need food, as well as housing and transport.

    The best use of resources would be to electrify the existing rail lines to Whangarei and Hamilton (and Tauranga) and encourage growth into the satellite towns along these rail lines and leave the Franklin region as a mostly rural area for growing vegetables to feed Auckland.

    1. “an announcement on building the Marsden Point branch line is likely to occur very shortly”

      I hope that isn’t being justified on what is proposed for the Port of Auckland.

      Northport have also come out and said they can’t accommodate all the Port of Auckland growth – rather that they would need to work in tandem with Auckland over the next thirty years.


      One implication is that if Auckland gets closed down and we developed Northport, we might need to develop say the Firth of Thames, with all the big infrastructure costs to get there, soon after paying for the new links to get to Northport. Which in turn implies if we are committed to closing down Auckland, we might just be better off moving straight to the Firth of Thames.

      So, we shouldn’t be committing costs supporting the development of Northport ahead of the analysis being undertaken on the port move by the MoT unless they are justified completely independently of what is happening with relocation of the Auckland port.

    2. No, I somehow got Kumeu mixed up with Waiuku. It was first thing in the morning for me.

      The reason why is that I was mystified when he claimed that “Helensville… …has only 2,500 residents and growth is going backwards” and how he wrote it off as “a good growth area, just because there happens to be a set of old tracks still in the ground”.
      I assumed he must be getting it confused with that town to the west of Pukekohe with has that rail connection that sees little usage (and which could also be developed as a commuter town).

  17. Or..we just build within the current City area and stop trying to validate which sprawl is better? Albany is a wasteland of empty plots and a massive Park and Ride and we are talknig about intensifying HELENSVILLE!

    1. “Albany is a wasteland of empty plots and a massive Park and Ride ”
      I well remember predicting this 25 years ago when that Don McKinnon and co. (mostly members of that national party) were promoting it as the next Manukau.
      Because of its atrocious American/Australian style’s urban design (around automobiles with copious parking) and because it’s not convenient to enough of a p[opulation base of suburban areas that are themselves reliably/conveniently connected to centres of employment. They thought too big, they’d have been better off if they’d made those gargantuan retail spaces 1/2-2/3 the size they made them and mixed up that town centre with blocks of apartments.

      But hey; it could be fixed in the future.

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