Every weekend we dig into the archives. This post was first published in October 2009.

Strangely enough, while today Auckland is a highly auto-dependent city (notwithstanding recent improvements to the public transport system and the upswing in patronage), this has not always been the case – and certainly this outcome was not completely inevitable. An excellent journal article by transport expert Chris Harris, called “Slow Train Coming“, explores how it all went wrong for Auckland in the mid-20th century. Here’s the abstract from the article:ce-abstractIt is interesting to explore the differences between what happened to Auckland and Wellington in that immediate post-WWII period. It’s a common misconception that Auckland is not “built right” for rail-based transport – that we’re too spread out and that it’s too impossible for rail to serve much of the population. While Wellington is perhaps built in a way that is more suitable for rail, there’s certainly no reason to think that Auckland is completely unsuitable to be served by rail in its natural geography. A place like Christchurch that spreads out evenly in all directions is likely to be much more difficult to serve by rail than Auckland. But anyway, I digress. If we look at Wellington first, we see that during that crucial 15 years – say 1945 to 1960 – there was a focus on expanding the railway system that in the long run has had a huge influence on how the two cities have developed differently. Slow Train Coming explores that matter further, to see what Wellington did during that key period:

Railways leading to the Wellington CBD from the north were physically realigned to improve residential access, and new town centres and housing built alongside by the state in what was largely a greenfields setting. Several kilometres of tunnel were bored through a mountain range to link the coast with the Wellington CBD by a fast route, and a new CBD railway station opened in place of the sheds that had been used up to that time (Evans, 1972b; Leitch & Stott, 1988; Dodson & Mees, 2003). The areas of Wellington served by rail have a population of roughly 250 000 today. In those suburbs, local rail patronage currently numbers 11 million a year. Local bus routes loop between stations in a manner strikingly similar to North Perth (cf. Newman & Kenworthy, 1999, pp. 233– 237).

Furthermore, it is useful to note that that the areas served by Wellington’s rail system aren’t particularly different to the suburbs of Auckland that grew during that time. There aren’t particularly high density nodes around the stations, yet the system still works:

The development of Wellington’s railway suburbs has attracted criticism as well as praise, with a certain amount of convergence on the idea that, outside a few showcase town centres, it is little different from conventional suburbia (Evans, 1972b, pp. 49–50; Schrader, 1996).6 However, this also underscores Wellington’s achievement in developing patronage and increases the parallels with Perth. By contrast, Auckland’s diesel railways deliver patronage of 2.5 million a year in a potential patronage area settled by 1.0 million people south of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. This low patronage results from a combination of service levels, lack of bus feeders, and the derelict character of many station precincts. At the same time, it has always been clear that Auckland’s rail system had a very high latent patronage capacity.

So, once again in terms of the structure and density of Wellington’s suburbs there is no real reason to explain why rail has worked in Wellington so much better than Auckland in terms of land-use planning differences. The obvious difference between the two cities is that a far greater proportion of Wellington’s jobs are in the CBD than is the case in Auckland – although it is interesting to wonder whether our transportation policies of the 1950s and 1960s led to that situation arising, rather than the decentralisation of employment being a natural process that changes to the transport system have simply responded to. Slow Train Coming explores key decision made during this period that led to Auckland going down a different path to Wellington, which in the subsequent 50 years has led to significantly different land-use pattern outcomes. Mr Harris explains:

This article attempts a structural explanation of the arrest of rail transit development in Auckland with a particular emphasis on the policy decision not to duplicate Wellington. I put forward the theory that the latter resulted from a reversal of central state support for a joint policy package of urban development planning and rail transit after 1949, in favour of market liberalism…

…More specifically, this article identifies a triangular public policy synergy of urban development planning, betterment value capture, and rail infrastructure. The basis of this policy synergy may be described as follows. Where development planning does not occur, value capture to pay for rail may not occur; passive betterment mechanisms may collect it, but perhaps not where a railway station is programmed to go. Where value capture does not occur or cannot be applied to rail, rail cannot so readily be paid for (Fensham & Gleeson, 2003). Rail creates a reciprocal case for development planning at defined station locations, in order to maximise patronage and development gain revenues. Rail planning and development planning also mutually reinforce each other as aspects of a wider philosophy of regional structure planning. Dedicated busways with stations may substitute for rail in the above analysis, but only in so far as bus rapid transit is not confused with ordinary bus services, that have little planning impact.

Basically, the critical point is for us to not view transportation separately from land-use planning (or what is called development planning here), and that when the two issues are planned “blind to each other”, you end up with poor outcomes. In Wellington, there was a clear effort throughout this key 1945-1960 period to strongly align growth areas with investment in the rail network. In Auckland, there were many plans to link together the transport system with growth areas – with probably the most famous being the 1946 grand development scheme, shown below:auckland1946-planWhile there are some rather dubious aspects to the above plan, like the eastern motorway, there is also a lot in this plan that makes huge amounts of sense. The city’s development is skewed south-east to north-west, to take more advantage of the railway line’s alignment. There is the Morningside Deviation (today’s CBD Rail Tunnel), there’s the Avondale-Southdown line (to reinforce the south-east to north-west alignment), plus there is actually good transport access to the East Tamaki area. The fact that the good access to East Tamaki was never followed through is perhaps (along with never building the Morningside Deviation and ripping up the trams) Auckland’s biggest ever planning mistake. Unfortunately, none of the rail extensions ever got built. Most of the motorways did (plus some not even on that map), or are still being built today. It was in 1954 that the rail portions of this plan – most notably building the city rail tunnel and electrifying the system, became unstuck. Slow Train Coming refers to a New Zealand Herald editorial on November 1, 1954:1954heraldBasically, if you have a look at the history of what projects in Auckland have and have not been built, it’s pretty obvious that as soon as something big and expensive becomes the job of the local government, rather than of central government, it’s pretty unlikely that it’ll happen. Generally this isn’t because local government has a lack of willpower, but because they simply have a lack of money. In this case, it appears as though the city council had both a lack of willpower (or belief) to push on with the rail components, as can be seen in what the result was when the 1955 Master Transportation Plan was finalised:

The Master Transportation Plan was produced in 1955 and printed for large-scale public distribution in 1956. The Plan recommended a dramatic acceleration of motorway construction at the expense of rail. The Plan’s rationale was that the low density of population, and the possibility of using the motorways for buses (ARPA, 1956, pp. 26, 42–43, 48), made rail both infeasible and unnecessary. However, motorway bus stations were uncosted and were never built, and Auckland City excluded inbound buses from its former tramway mall Queen Street until 1967, even though the last tram ran in 1956 (Bush, 1971, pp. 371–373).

What happened in 1954 and 1955 can really be seen as the turning point for Auckland’s transport system. In 1956 the tram system was ripped up, in 1959 the Harbour Bridge was built without any provision for pedestrians, cyclists or trains. After this period there was never really consideration given to extending the rail network until “Mayor Robbie’s” schemes of the 1960s and early 1970s (which were killed off by Muldoon), and then again today. It was from the late 1950s onwards that we began to build our motorway system – and much of the focus ever since has been on “completing” that system.

From that critical moment in the mid 1950s onwards, there was a switch in mindset away from balancing transport development between roads and rail, to an almost exclusive focus on roads. The fact that the Manukau spur is to be Auckland’s first new railway line in 80 years clearly shows that point. It does seem as though from the 1950s the government, as well as (although to a lesser extent) the local authorities lost faith in rail being a solution to Auckland’s transport issues. Yet in Wellington we didn’t see the same process happen at all – as their system continued to grow throughout this period – with electrification even being extended during the 1980s, an otherwise rather dire time for infrastructure spending of any kind.

Not only that, but in Wellington land-use development patterns continued to be based around the rail network, not just the road network. Most development since WWII in Wellington has occurred either along the Hutt Valley rail corridor or along the Porirua-Paraparaumu rail corridor. In contrast, in Auckland we have seen most development happen on the North Shore (where there is no rail provision), east of the Tamaki River (once again no rail whatsoever) and in parts of West Auckland like Massey & Te Atatu where there is also no rail provision at all. The conclusion to Slow Train Coming is quite interesting, in that I agree with it to some extent, but wonder whether it’s a little back to front.

The conclusion of this article is that state support for development planning along transit corridors may be a prerequisite for successful urban transit development. In practical terms this includes the extent of state support for a triangular policy synergy of development planning, value capture, and rail infrastructure. The legs of this triangle seem mutually reinforcing for reasons first suggested, in more detail, in the Introduction. Where support for any one leg is weak, as with academic scepticism toward rail transit in the 1970s, the other parts may fail to be deployed; in that case, development of new towns to the south of Auckland.

Now it’s interesting to wonder whether it was the lack of development planning along Auckland’s rail corridors that led to the rail system being run down, or whether it was the rail system being run down that led to a lack of development planning along its corridors. While Mr Harris seems to lean towards the former, I actually lean towards the latter. I actually think that in Auckland’s history over the past 60 years it has been our transportation policies that have determined our land-use policies to a greater extent than vice-versa.

I think that after WWII there was a belief that trains were the past, cars were the future, and that trams were the past while buses were the future. This belief was not held particularly strongly by the general public, who continued to flock to public transport until the critical days of the mid 1950s when the tram-lines were ripped out – but (critically) does seem to have been held by the engineers and influential politicians of the time who made the decisions that have enormously influenced what has happened to Auckland over the past 50 years. I think that once the decisions had been made from a transport perspective, that we wouldn’t build the CBD Rail Tunnel, that we wouldn’t electrify the train system, that we would build the Harbour Bridge and connect it with State Highway 1 (a pretty major project as the southern motorway only reached as far north as Ellerslie by the late 1950s) and so forth, that the land-use patterns simply followed that. Auckland’s employment decentralised because much of the transport infrastructure now focused on the Penrose area, and later on places like Albany and Manukau City Centre.

Over time, land-use planning rules reinforced this decentralisation – but in my opinion it was the transport infrastructure choices that made the initial difference, not the other way around. Wellington proves this point, as its popular rail system has made it possible and attractive for employment to remain centralised even though much of the city’s population has spread to the north along the two main development corridors. This is clearly shown in the map below, which is from 1972:wellington-planSo, you may ask, why have I gone on this rather long trip back in time to look at Auckland’s rather depressing transport history? Well, because it is all enormously relevant to what is happening today, and what will happen to Auckland over the next decade. It feels to me as though were are in today’s equivalent to those critical times in 1954 and 1955 when decisions were made that have effected Auckland’s development over the past half-century to an enormous extent. It feels like the decisions we make now – whether we ensure electrification happens to as good a standard as possible, whether we invest in the CBD Rail Tunnel, whether we extend our motorways to Wellsford in the north and Hamilton in the south. whether we build any further motorways, whether we build any further railway lines and so forth – will have just as significant an impact on Auckland as those decisions of the 1950s did.

Now as I stated above, I am generally of the opinion that transportation planning can lead land-use planning more easily than vice-versa. In my opinion Auckland has ended up with a relatively transit-unfriendly urban form because of its transport planning decision of the past; while Wellington has ended up with the opposite for similar reasons. Both cities are geographically constrained (although Wellington is more so) so I don’t think there’s necessarily anything special distinguishing the two. Interestingly, in Auckland over the past decade we have seen the opposite situation in the transport and land-use relationship: the land-use planning has led the transportation planning. Auckland has finally said “enough is enough” when it comes to urban sprawl, we’ve put in place metropolitan urban limits, rezoned development nodes for intensification, allowed much more residential development in the city than before, and so forth. However, much of our transportation planning of the past decade has not caught up yet: we are still building motorways even though they support a land-use model that we’ve since abandoned, we aren’t investing particularly heavily in public transport even though that supports the land-use model that we have chosen.

This has caused many problems in my opinion. Auckland has struggled to intensify over the past decade and there is still huge pressure to expand the urban limits. With projects such as extending the Northern Motorway from Puhoi to Wellsford that pressure will only intensify. If we actually want to achieve our land-use planning goals then we have to have a transport system that supports them. Otherwise it simply won’t work, history has shown that quite clearly.

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  1. This overlooks the role of the National government and Minister of Works (1949-1957) and road haulier, Stan Goosman, as set out in this 2016 GA article https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2016/05/18/sir-dove-myer-robinson-on-his-rapid-transit-scheme-part-4/

    This scheme was adopted by the then Labour Government in 1950, and borings and other preliminary work were under way by August, 1954.

    Then a question of railway or motorway priorities arose. Mr (later Sir) Stanley Gooseman, the then Minister of Works, publicly stated that Auckland must give priority for a time to planning and constructing a number of motorways

  2. Increasing automobile dependency and suburbs of detached housing was the social zeitgeist of the timeframe between the end of the war and the new millennia. It was inevitable that NZ would fall into it as much as the USA, Canada, Australia, (white) South Africa, etc.
    Even if Labour had managed to win the election in 1949 and delay it; sooner or later it would’ve come anyway.

  3. That first picture (labelled “Figure 3”) shows why Auckland has had so many numerous “planning” failures over such a long time in a nutshell

    Examine the list of “Keys to figures” in the bottom left of that image.
    It a list of 20 local governments/road boards – just every council, district, tin pot borough and the like clearly all had a finger in the pie of making of (or not making of) decisions around transport and planning.

    In the situation where Central Government abrogated its responsibilities to “local government” [and its obvious ability to utilise the Public Works Act to get its way such as to run railways and motorways across such local government boundaries] its a wonder anything got built at all.

    And about the only things that could get built would have been local roads and even then only with a lack of any real joined up thinking between each adjacent area.

    This article is a post from October 2009, and in 2009 the amalgamation of the many Auckland councils and ARC into one “Supercity” was still underway, and certainly had not (nor could not) bear any fruit then.

    So what this is a look back in time, akin to a photographic montage.

    Still 11 years on from that point, we are pretty much still stuck with the legacy of that 80 years of inaction on transport planning integration.

    I hope it won’t take 80 more years to undo the mess.

    Maybe, just Maybe, Covid19 and its follow on effects might be the catalyst event needed to bring about a complete change of direction and finally get everyone pulling in the right direction.

  4. “In contrast, in Auckland we have seen most development happen on the North Shore (where there is no rail provision), east of the Tamaki River (once again no rail whatsoever) and in parts of West Auckland like Massey & Te Atatu where there is also no rail provision at all.”

    Well, right there we have three essential shovel-ready projects ready to start this year!

    1. There has been a bit of debate over the meaning of shovel ready, but how on earth could any of these projects could be described as ‘shovel ready’!?

      A line to the North Shore would require a tunnel or a bridge for which design and consent haven’t even started yet. There is probably not a project in Auckland that is less shovel ready than rail to the North Shore.

  5. A very timely post. It was relevant in 2009, and more so today. It was relevant in the 1980s when the motorway to Albany was being built. I was working for Ministry of Works at the time, and I said it was imperative that a railway line was built between Northcote and Albany, or at least reserve the track right of way. A tunnel under the harbour was being discussed, a road to duplicate the Harbour Bridge which was almost at its limit for traffic even then, and cracks were developing in the clip-ons. Any thoughts of new railways were rubbished by the then National Roads board. “Railways are old-fashioned, roads are the transport of the future.” A quote from one of my senior colleagues.

    But the only way to begin to solve the Auckland transport problem is to begin to build more railway, “heavy” rail, not light rail. Light rail along existing roads will only add to the congestion.

    I studied Urban Planning along with my engineering course at Liverpool University in the 1959s, and Urban Planning 101 said the first thing to do on a green field site is to fix the main railway station and other stations, and to fix the routes to the nearest other railways. Then the whole new township is designed around the railway lines. The railways, built first, can then bring all the materials to build the new town. This idea has been followed to a large extent in UK, even today, where many railways closed by Dr Beeching in the 1960s have been opened up again, and new housing areas build around them. Fortunately in many cases the track beds have been reserved.

    So where can we start in Auckland? It is imperative that the North Shore should be served by rail. The Harbour Bridge is reaching its limit for traffic, not just peak hours, but most of the day. A second harbour crossing is urgently needed. It has to be a rail crossing, and we should look again at a tunnel from Britomart to Northcote. We have an example of the costs involved with the new rail tunnel through London, the Crossrail project, “The 15 Billion Pound Railway” shown here on TV a year or so ago. I have a recording. The tunnel part consists of two 21.6km tunnels through the heart of London, connecting the West Coast Main Line, from Paddington to Basildon in the east. A central undergound station at Farringdon serves the city CBD. This is the first full size railway to be built in London for 100 years. The rail connection to Heathrow Airport has been completed, and I read it is carrying 45,000 passengers per day after only a few months of operation. That alone has taken almost that number of cars off the roads. every day.

    That shows that people will use trains where they are available. They will not use buses. A few percent will, but however many buses are run, they make very little difference to the number of cars driven to work each day. Commuters use the trains to the full in Wellington, and this is beginning to show in Auckland with modern electric units running on existing lines. So the only way to begin to get cars off the roads in Auckland is to build more rail lines.

    An under harbour tunnel should certainly be looked at again, but in the meantime, where else can we begin? To serve the North Shore we can build a new rail line from Mt Eden, along the line of SH16. Build a station at Pt Chevalier to serve that housing area. Continue across the water to Massey, turn north to Hobsonville, across the harbour to Greenhythe, and on to Albany. This produces a route around the harbour, but the important feature is that it brings rail to the North Shore.

    Once a rail hub is established at Albany, further rails can be laid to Silverdale, Orewa, and continue on to Warkworth, then west to connect with the existing rail to Whangerei.

    Other rail lines can be built to serve Browns Bay, Kumeu, and south to Northcote in anticipation of a new tunnel being built.

    The above needs a railway on piers alongside SH16. the cost of this can be found by looking at the rail connection from Brisbane City to the airport. The line is 15.9km long, and it includes a 8.5km section on concrete piers over the whole industrial area between the city and airport. The cost of the whole project was $220 million in 2001. Let us make that NZ$660 million in today’s money. That will build a railway from Mt Eden to Hobsonville, and with a train every 5 minutes at peak times, we can get 12,000 cars per hour off SH16, and 12,000 less cars in the city centre, per day.

    Apart from a further bridge to Greenhythe, the reat of the railway to Albany can be at ground level. A rough estimate for the cost could be $330 million. Let us say $1 billion for the cost of a railway to Albany. And with a train every four minutes, we could get 16,000 cars per hour off the harbour bridge.

    The latest Aventra 5 car trains made by Bombardier can carry 1,100 passengers, and they are just less than 250m long. They should fit around the CRL.

    I mention 4 minute intervals above, because I designed and built a prototype data logging system for electric trains serving the new electrified west coast main line in UK in the 1960s, for the Euston to Crewe section. The data was sent over the overhead wires by a power line carrier system. The train position, speed and direction and other data is transmitted continuously to the control centres via the overhead wires. Before this, in the days of steam, the trains were controlled by semaphore signals, and the trains had to be kept 10 miles apart. This meant trains at no less than ten minute intervals at 60mph.

    At the present time, the system has been upgraded to allow trains to run at 2.5minute intervals at 125mph, 200km/hr. In use today between St Pancras and Blackfriars. We can have this in New Zealand, but I am not sure if the CRL can cope with trains every 2.5 minutes. It takes 10 minutes at least to get 1000 passengers off a train, and another ten to get 1000 new passengers back on.

    I mentioned Heathrow Airport railway above. After only a few months it is carrying 45,000 passengers per day. There has been a good bus service to Heathrow for as long as the airport has been open. Hardly anyone used it. I have experienced the buses to Heathrow many times. At most, at peak times there were about six passengers on the bus. Mostly I have been the only passenger. The buses served the West Coast railway line to Paddington, but air passengers will not use buses. They will not try to get their baggage on a bus, and then transfer to a railway platform, and hope a train turns up eventually.

    Now there is a train waiting at the airport, with its time of departure indicated, passengers flock to the station, to the tune of 45,000 per day.

    We need this at Auckland Airport. A bus service to Puhinui will not work. Air passengers will not use the buses. A $60 million bus station at Puhinui will be a waste of money. Air passengers at Auckland Airport are not using the existing buses to the CBD. I have seen them come and go empty every time I have been there. Buses to Puhinui will have the same fate.

    We need to build the $60 million railway station at the Aiport itself, and connect the tracks to Wiri, the cheapest route. It is under the flight path, and there are very few buildings in the way. A rail triangle at Wiri will allow trains to go south to Hamilton, and Tauranga and Rotorua for holiday traffic, as well as north to CBD and Albany when that route is built.

    Cost of station, based on cost of a new covered island platform with two tracks at Manchester Airport, UK. That station had to be doubled in size after only a few years operation. Its existing platform was copied at a cost of £18 million, opened in June 2019. NZ$36 milllion. We need those two island platforms and four tracks at Auckland Airport. Cost NZ$72 million. Add a covered concourse serving the two platforms, say $28 million. Cost of station $100 million.

    Cost of track to Wiri, from internet, railways in Europe cost $7 million per km. 7km to Wiri, $49 million. Add points for triangle and signalling $5 million. Cost of track $54 million. Total cost of Airport railway $154 million.

    That will have the ability to take 16,000 cars off the roads per hour. The pre corona passenger numbers were 20 million per year, or 55,000 per day. The numbers could return to these figures by the time the railway is built in 2024 when the CRL is opened. Passengers will flock to trains at the airport, as they have at Heathrow, and other airport railways, Sidney, Brisbane, Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. I have experienced all of the above, and the trains are full. We need that at Auckland urgently.

    As a Chartered Engineer, I have had experience in the design of much of the above. We now need people of vision in New Zealand to build all the above here.

    Alan Spinks.

    1. You are full of bias that doesn’t meet the facts. If you think you can build an airport railway for $154m you should get down to Auckland Transport quick smart, you’d make millions showing them how to save billions.

      1. It would have to cost at least a billion or two for the airport end alone. Underground stations and tunnels are not cheap, and surely it cant be done above ground.

    2. Fully agree, Auckland needs to develop and expand its heavy rail network, including building a rail only tunnel for the Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing project.

      A heavy rail network will provide the fastest, most user friendly rapid transit network across the city with not being affected by road traffic congestion, which people will get out of their cars to use – if it is provided.

      The Government should seriously look into this as it looks for economic stimulus infrastructure projects, as an expanded heavy rail network would really help provide a decent solution to Auckland’s transport problems for moving both people and freight.

      1. Look up on the internet, costs of building railways in UK. A typical figure is £11 million per mile, including stations, (two tracks,) and bridges and all infrastructure costs. Say 5 miles overall at Auckland Airport, £55 million, (NZ$110 million). Add another two tracks for the Terminal station, $36 million, we get a total of $146 million for the whole scheme. If AT does not believe me, I suggest they write to me. I added a concourse at $28 million, so we can add that to the above, total $174 million. We are still in the right ball park. We are not talking about even half a billion dollars.

        1. Those costs sound like above ground, middle of nowhere costs. If the UK could build railway at those costs through cities and airports you would have to wonder why crossrail is costing $36 billion.

        2. Looking at what KR are doing on the NAL at around $200million get them to do it instead of all these so called experts that like to add extra zeros to any new job around , basically all those extra zeros I think are/will be going into their pay packets bbefore the work is even started . And anything within the Airport boundary from what I read years ago was/is going to be paid for by the Airport Company themselves .

          And as Alan said put most of it above on piles and install it along te motorway corridors and then there is no land purchasing , and to the people that moan about their privacy by them thicker curtains or fit one way paneling on their windows .

        3. David – Kiwirail are fixing an existing line, that is very different to building a new line. Any airport line will need to go either over or under SH20, that alone will cost more than $154 million.

    3. The problem here is Alan is that the users of public transport only want to pay half of the _running_ costs.
      And they want everybody else in NZ to pay the building cost.
      So you’re pretty much shit outta luck with that plan.

      1. About 50% of roading costs are paid for by rate payers i.e. it is landowners and renters who pay as much for roads as drivers do.
        Land owners and renters are paying for roads even if they don’t use them.
        So stop with the whinge about public transport being subsidised when far bigger subsidies are given to motor vehicles.

        1. About 50% of _local_ roads are paid for by landowners and renters. And the great majority of them are drivers.
          And anyone who doesn’t actually drive still benefits from road too.
          So stop bullshitting about the subsidies.

        2. What about those who don’t drive? All that money spent on roads just means more cars, making it too dangerous to cycle or to cross the crappy roads in a wheelchair. And what about the kids getting sick from the poison fumes?

          This is the subsidy to drivers. A loss of health. A lower chance of a good life.

        3. Bill – I don’t think you really understand the concept of a subsidy. If two people have the same rates bill but one of them drives 1000km per year and the other 20,000km per year, the first ratepayer is subisdising the second. The subsidy becomes even more dramatic if the first person lives alone, while the second lives in a house with four adults, so only pays a quarter of the rates.

          There is nothing user pays about the scenario I have described above.

        4. Our life expectancy has never been higher Mum of two.

          Jezza if one driver is subsidising another doesn’t mean driving is subsidised. And do you really think that a person in a household of 4 deserves 1/4 of the services of a person who lives on their own? That’s just silly.

          The point is you have shit PT services because you pay shit money for it.

          Quite how we got do side tracked into this subsidy bullshit I don’t know.

        5. If you think that someone who doesn’t use a service at all (there are plenty of people who don’t drive) paying the same cost as someone who uses it frequently isn’t a subsidy then yes you’re right driving isn’t subisidised. But then public transport isn’t either using that logic.

          ‘Quite how we got do side tracked into this subsidy bullshit I don’t know.’

          That’s easy it’s the bit where you suggested that public transport was subsidised. It of course isn’t as public transport users are ratepayers and taxpayers as well.

        6. Anyone who doesn’t own a car or drive on the road is still gaining large benefits from having the road.
          And they gain benefit from whatever other facility they’re using for transport.
          If you can untangle that web of transfers and declare that ‘drivers are the ones being subsidised’ you’re a fucking genius.

        7. Agree, there is a complicated tangle of transfers and subsidies across transport, with a number of different groups benefiting.

          An example of this is with public transport, one of the reasons it is subsidised is it is often the best method of managing demand on parallel roads.

          The best example of this in NZ was in 2013 when a storm knocked out the Hutt Valley line for a week and the roads were jammed. Motorists between the Hutt and Wellington are completely dependent on that railway to keep the road network they use functional.

        8. Bill – If you are talking about local roads (excluding motorways) you are really very ill informed.

          I know it is easy to just go along with what you have been told your whole life is true, but you shouyld really fact check before signing up to it.

          You only have to look at the NZTA website to get much better information:


          How local roads are funded
          Local roads are funded from several sources:

          local rates
          other local sources such as developer contributions
          central government funding through the National Land Transport Fund and the National Land Transport Programme that we administer.
          The funding that a council receives from us is known as the funding assistance rate (FAR). We set this rate under criteria set by the Minister of Transport. The rate is calculated on a needs basis.

        9. Well done goose. You also know how they’re funded. You haven’t proved a subsidy though.

        10. About 50% ofpublic transport is paid for by landowners and renters. And the great majority of them are public transport users.
          And anyone who doesn’t actually use public transport still benefits from public transport too.
          So stop bullshitting about the subsidies to public transport.

        11. ‘Lol. Whatever.’

          Good point, I think that’s the strongest argument you’ve put up all day.

      2. Problem is Bill that drivers don’t pay any of pollution and public health costs forced on society and the planet by underpriced driving. These are real economic burdens shoved onto society and made far worse by excessive car use.

        1. The roads only transport strategy also puts a huge burden on the current account. Every road vehicle is imported as is the fuel except for EVs, tyres which are a huge pollutant in their own right and so on. All costs to NZ but not really accounted for. We need a more balanced transport system with fewer cars per capita.

        2. Well William, that’s not true either.
          There are ACC levies in RUCs and PETs and regos. There are carbon charges in RUCs and PET also.

        3. I think public health costs refers to the noise and fumes, runoff pollutants etc which have detrimental effects at a population level, not the direct result of vehicle crashes. You could also include the crowding out of active transport modes with all their health benefits by the total dominance of cars.

        4. Crash harm is not fully covered either, but public health refers to the diseases of inactivity, respiratory diseases, cancers, heart disease, that are all exacerbated and worsened by high levels of autodependency, as NZ has. Nor is its mounting environmental harm .

          Motoring doesn’t even approach paying its way, fuggetaboutit. It has undoubted utility, and does generate tax income, but that is a subset of the costs it imposes on everyone.

          Worse is the problem that as it expands dominance its utility decreases and impositions on society increase disproportionately. Using a two tonne SUV to drive a km or two for a trivial task like picking up a coffee is literally costing us all dearly.

        5. ACC covers compensation and rehabilitation. It doesn’t cover medical treatment. A serious car crash can easily cost a half million dollars in surgery, orthapedics and acute care.

        6. The majority of tax payers are drivers and the all drivers are tax payers.
          So where’s the subsidy?

        7. So you are saying because people pay tax driving is self funding? That’s quite the leap there. Hospitals are self user pays too then. All you’ve done is widen the definition of users and payers to include everyone, put them in a circle, and called it complete.

          Here’s a small example of a subsidy (or transfer, which is the technical term) from the private sector to explain how it works. My local supermarket has a carpark covering more land than the shop itself, in a part of town where land certainly is not cheap. This carpark is maintained and free at point of use. Which is to say the cost of providing and running it is covered by the margin on the goods we all buy at the shop.

          Those of us that don’t drive there, like me, not ever, pay for this carpark in the prices on everything we buy there. We have no choice, this is forced on us, and not just here but an nearly every single person one of these shops.

          Same goes publicly.

        8. No William. You’ve made the leap.
          With very few exceptions health care is funded from general taxation. You seem to want to single drivers out for special attention?

          And you should be happy that the supermarket has a big car park allowing a large turnover of customers and product that keeps the prices lower than they otherwise could have been.

    4. I agree with Alan, heavy rail is the way to go.

      A line to Botany should also be included, which could run between Sylvia Park-Pakuranga-Botany-Manukau. The line could follow the route of the power pylons from the NIMT alongside the Pakuranga motorway and then run down the middle of Ti Rakau Drive instead of the busway, and along the middle of Te Irirangi Drive which should be converted into a proper motorway which grade separated interchanges. The line could then run in a tunnel between the bottom of Hollyford Drive to connect with the end of the Manukau Branch line, which could then connect with the airport line via Puhinui.

      In the meantime priority should be made to upgrade the existing heavy rail lines to Helensville and Waiuku for commuter passenger services, even if run with refurbished ADL DMUs running during the weekday morning and afternoon peak periods initially.

      The proposed Hamilton-Auckland commuter service needs to be developed properly from the outset with new stations build at Te Kauwhata, Pokeno and Tuakau, and for the first service in the morning from Hamilton to Papakura, to return to Hamilton, before returning to Papakura in the late afternoon, to run the last evening service back to Hamilton, to provide a service in both directions.

    5. “Air passengers at Auckland Airport are not using the existing buses to the CBD. I have seen them come and go empty every time I have been there.”

      The SkyBus service is run as a commercial operation for many years & have expanded to Albany Mall, so must be getting passengers enough to make a profit.

      “Buses to Puhinui will have the same fate.”

      They will be especially made to accommodate flying customers with extra width, level boarding & double articulated from what I understand, so are not like a standard bus. There will be bus lanes & a very short distance direct to Puhinui.
      The Puhinui Station is well on the way to be built & will be a great point of transfer. As long as our EMU train frequency is good enough, I can’t see people not using it.

    6. Alan, Your own post illustrates how flawed your argument for heavy rail to the Shore is. In the 1980’s “the Harbour Bridge which was almost at its limit for traffic” Now 35 years later “The Harbour Bridge is reaching its limit for traffic”. In other words nothing has changed. A fact that is supported by statistics that show the bridge traffic numbers are pretty much static.

      I live on the shore and would like nothing more than a dedicated LR line to at least as far as Albany with another up Onewa along the Glenfield ridge and looping back to Constellation. It would greatly enhance the quality of my life and many others I’m sure. But other parts of Auckland have far more pressing issues. Complete AMETI, a busway to West Gate, get cars out of the CBD

    7. Dear commenters, please have some respect for chartered engineer Alan Spinks, he has first-hand experience, he has actually done this work and knows how it can be done very cheaply and efficiently.

      The main reason things are so expensive to build in NZ now is because we currently don’t have a Ministry of Works with a rolling program to build it. Instead, we have endless concepts, consultants and contractors clipping the ticket, resulting in ballooning the costs of everything. This has created the timidness, small-mindedness and procrastination we see today, to the point that there is almost complete inaction in the face of great needs – only a very few of the very many things that need to get done in this country ever get done, and then only get done painfully slowly.

      Now just as we need lots of things built, many of the building suppliers and contractors are closing shop or down-sizing (e.g., James Hardie, Fletchers). The NZ Government should buy the closing plants and hire the staff laid-off and start mass-building modular energy-efficient eco-friendly houses, bridge girders and piers, tunnel segments, railway sleepers, etc.

      A wholly vertically- and horizontally-integrated Ministry of Works and Development needs to be re-established, supplying its own aggregates, concrete, steel, timber and eco-friendly components made from recycled materials, all from NZ, and assembling and training its own workforce, all in-house.

      Cut-out all the middlemen and have a guaranteed rolling program of works and funding (direct from the RBNZ), spreading any unavoidable overheads over many projects, bringing the cost-per-house or cost-per-km of railway down to an absolute minimum.

      Much of the land is already owned by the NZ Government or councils, and other land needed can be compulsorily purchased by the NZ Government or councils, and be developed to be much more valuable than it was before, providing a continuous revenue stream (e.g., rents) much higher than before and accumulating to much more than the cost of purchase, with the proceeds being fed back into the rolling program.

      The current crisis is an opportunity to rebuild NZ in the most direct and efficient way, without lining the pockets of middlemen and foreigners. Most of the core infrastructure we still take for granted today is thanks to the Ministry of Works, and much of the state housing stock is thanks to the Housing Division of the Ministry of Works (plus railway houses from NZR’s prefab factory in Frankton). We know how to do this, we can do it again.

      To do it in an eco-friendly way it has to be done without business concerns of profit and solvency getting in the way. Business concerns have stymied or blocked many of the recycling and regenerative initiatives in NZ due to inherent conflicts of interest (plastic companies want to sell more plastic, fertiliser companies want to sell more fertiliser, etc.). Only the public sector can reach beyond short-term-limited business concerns and do what needs to be done at the scale needed.

      1. + 1

        And the only ones that don’t make anything are the poor slaves that put the hard graffe into putting all together .

      2. This kind of government involvement may be the only way we can meet our emissions targets for Auckland, too. It’ll be too hard for private developers to move at the speed required to create a low carbon urban form.

        Note: In Auckland, and probably elsewhere too, it’s important to refer to the housing needed as ‘apartments’ or ‘apartments and terrace housing’, not ‘houses’.

        In addition to whatever population growth we can now expect, there are a lot of people living in overcrowded and unhealthy conditions. If we provide the housing needed as apartments along the transport corridors, while changing these arterials to people-friendly safe boulevards (and creating low traffic neighbourhoods between the arterials) we can radically reduce vehicle travel, improve land use, health, safety and access, and reduce emissions.

        If we provide the housing needed as “houses”, this sprawl will induce travel, make everything we do cost more and be harder to do, and we’ll never meet our emissions (or safety) targets.

        So yes, bring on government involvement in mass housing provision, but let’s refer to it as mass-building modular energy-efficient eco-friendly apartments. 🙂

        1. Yes, agree Heidi, a healthy mix of all kinds of healthy housing, including terraces and apartments, and also a range of inter/multi-generational housing and co-housing developments (e.g.: https://cohousing.org.nz/communities/cohaus) – yes, when I said houses, I meant housing of all kinds.

  6. Such a shame that everything went wrong for Auckland. You would think something might have gone right even due to good fortune. But no apparently it all went wrong.

  7. Bus passengers to Puhinui. Some maths.
    Thanks for the comments on my argument for more train lines. I have looked at possible figures for a bus service to Puhinui, instead of a rail line direct to the Airport.
    The pre Covid air passenger numbers were 20 million per year. Hopefully this figure will be reached again in a year or two.
    The number of passengers per day is about 55,000, or 27,500 in each direction.
    The aim is to get as many cars off the roads as possible, so let us say we need initially to aim for 10% of all air passengers to use the trains, and the buses to Puhinui. Sidney Airport Rail attracted 10% of all air passengers in its first year of operation. We need to copy that.
    The buses to Puhinui have to be able to move 2,750 passengers per day in each direction. Over 15 hours, that works out at 183 per hour. In peak hours it could be twice that. Say 360 passengers in each direction during each peak hour. With an average of 30 passengers per bus, we need 12 buses per hour, that is one every 5 minutes.
    But 30 passengers take at least 5 minutes to get on a bus with baggage, and they have to wait 5 minutes for the arriving passengers to get off with their baggage. That means we need two buses every 5 minutes to allow for the times to get the passengers on and off.
    We need to allow at least 15 minutes journey time between the airport and Puhinui, so there will be six buses in transit between the stops every 15 minutes in each direction, and say two at each end loading up, a total of 16 buses to run a 5 minute service in peak hours, which can be reduced to say 12 buses at off peak times, a ten minute service.
    All very reasonable, except that it only takes a maximum of 5,500 cars per day off the motorways. A drop in the bucket for traffic in Auckland.
    At the station, say with a 20 minute rail service, we are going to have eight buses arriving to meet every train. That works out at 120 passengers every 20 minutes.
    I have studied passengers with baggage arriving at Euston Station as part of my project. It takes 20 minutes for 1000 passengers to get off a train with baggage, and 20 minutes to get a further 1000 back on. That means 120 passengers at Puhinui will take eight minutes to get on a train. The train timetable will not allow that. Arriving trains on the southbound platform will also be delayed 8 minutes getting 120 passengers off.
    This was experienced at Birmingham UK Airport Station, where they had to build a fifth track forming a passing loop, so that airport trains could stand, allowing passengers on and off. The four other commuter lines through the station had a very intensive service and delays could not be allowed. The commuter trains stopped briefly to allow business people with only briefcases on and off. Even so, some with baggage took a chance. Look at that station on Google Earth.
    If we aim to double our Puhinui passengers to 720 per hour, which we surely need to do, we will have to expand the station to allow airport trains to stand. 240 passengers with baggage are going to take 16 minutes to get on the train. The commuter timetable will not allow that. We can double the number of trains, and adjust the timetable to allow for 8 minute stops at Puhinui.
    These are some figures based on my experience. I rest my case. Has anyone actually studied this problem? I would be delighted to hear.
    If we really want to get cars off the motorways we have to build a rail station at the Airport. It has to happen, and it has to be planned in the current airport expansion plans, urgently. Look at Manchester Airport Station on Google Earth. That is what we want. It even has the rail triangle we need. A surface station, not underground. Buses will never cope with the numbers. Try doubling the above figures again, and work out the number of buses needed, and the stopping times for the trains!

    1. There is, at the peaks, already one train every 2.5 minutes at Puhinui station, both directions. Only a subset of each trains’ passengers will be transferring for airport. And only a subset of these will have luggage, or be as hopelessly slow at de-training as you imagine. Most will be workers in the airport vicinity. Some Air passengers will only have carry-on.

      Many of those on the airport bus will have joined it at Manukau, or Botany or elsewhere on its route.

      Among the mistakes you are making is imagining that everyone who boards either service has exactly the same destination, this is extremely unlikely. And yes it has all been modelled, which will be wrong (like all models) but not that wrong.

      The great thing about the bus is that it is much easier to change in response to surprises. If we face a flood of users as you suggest both bus capacity and frequency, and priority, can be increased quickly. The great thing about not diverting the current train pattern is that any big increases to demand here will then also benefit the whole network, not just one branch.

      It looks like the reverse will actually be the case. The new airport service via Puhinui is likely to have a light start next year…. will flying ever go back to where it was? Maybe not.

    2. “The pre Covid air passenger numbers were 20 million per year. Hopefully this figure will be reached again in a year or two.”

      Hopefully it will not. The world can’t sustain this silly use of energy.

    3. It’s a hard world to predict at the moment, but I think it would be a pretty safe bet we won’t be back at 20 million passengers in a couple of years.

      Any past decision or indecision to build a rail line to the airport is looking pretty sensible at the moment.

      I’ve never understood if the goal is to get cars off the road why it is so important to serve air passengers. Surely a line through car centered suburbs such as the North-west would be a much better start.

    4. “But 30 passengers take at least 5 minutes to get on a bus with baggage”

      Translation: I have literally never boarded an airport bus.

  8. “So where can we start in Auckland? It is imperative that the North Shore should be served by rail.”

    Why is it imperative? There’s no reason this can’t be light rail, if it’s just to serve passengers. There’s insufficient industry on the Shore to warrant its own branch, and the Northern Auckland line logically should connect with West Auckland as it does already. I fail to see what spending tens of billions of dollars cramming heavy rail everywhere regardless of need would achieve over light rail that can deliver the same outcomes for a fraction of the cost.

    You’re also arguing that ‘light rail will only add to congestion’ yet your answer is to cut huge swathes through a developed city at street level so HR can run in its own corridor. Light rail can run at pace in its own corridor too, and this blog has also shown it can be made sensitive to things like parks or avenues in a way that a heavy rail corridor simply cannot.

    I’m curious about this North West Heavy Rail branch alongside SH16? Where does it go once it gets to the bit with all the houses? How does it cope with the gradient? Where are the stations going to be? How do we get rail that serves both Westgate and Hobsonville Pt on a route that is practical and easy to build? How much land in one of the fastest growing parts of the city would a surface level corridor take up?

    1. I agree with this. Light rail (or bus rapid transit) can and should go everywhere in our city, with proper frequency and a station at every urban centre.

    2. The idea that Alan Spinks was talking about, based on 1959s Urban Planning 101, was that the railway gets planned first, and then the housing, retail, industrial, schools, etc., are built around it. That’s the way the Hutt Valley and Eastern Isthmus areas of Auckland were developed in the 1920s-1940s.

      In the 1940s electric railways were planned to traverse all around the Greater Auckland area, including running from the CBD to the North Shore, Whenuapai/Hobsonville and Kumeu, Howick and Flat Bush, etc. Auckland’s population was only around 300,000 at that time, but the NZ Government was then planning ahead for the future.

      Unfortunately, most of the rights of way weren’t reserved at that time, when most of it was farmland (only the right of way for the Southdown-Avondale line is still reserved), and now it’s all built-up, with no rapid transit corridors, other than along arterial roads.

      Instead, motorways were built, initially through farmland, then later through existing built-up areas (motorways create more severance and disturbance than electric railways).

      Even now, the currently planned Future Urban Growth areas for Auckland appear to have no provision for any new rapid transit route corridors, other than along new arterial road corridors.

      Regarding the North West Heavy Rail Line, it appears that the Northwestern Motorway (originally designated as the Auckland-Kumeu Motorway) took over some of the route and reservations originally intended as a high-speed double-track electric railway to Auckland’s then airport at Whenuapai.

      It seems since the 1950s our planners have forgotten what was well known and done in the 1920s-1940s, and have been too timid to plan rights of way for rapid transit corridors. (Meanwhile, massive right of way reserves for motorways from Te Hana to Tirau are pursued unabashedly.)

      1. Alan’s right with that, where I disagree with him is that it has to be heavy rail. In the 1950’s light rail as we know it today and busways didn’t exist. The important thing is to have a corridor, the best mode will depend on the circumstances.

        We have been hit and miss with corridors, those along the Northern and Southwestern motorways have been retained.

      2. There was never quite a northwest heavy rail line plan to Whenuapai. There was r a plan for heavy rail to the proposed Te Atatu port, with a conceptual extension back to the NAL around Kumeu. There was however a scheme in the 60s for heavy rail extension from Ranui to Whenuapai via what we now call Westgate.

        Agree with Jezza, Spinks is right if you replace heavy rail with a term like transit so that you can pick the right mode for the job.

  9. Nothing’s changed. You only need to look at the loud voices opposing trains to Huapai whilst promoting the extention of the SH16 motorway to beyond Huapai. They’ve even suggested the railway should moved out of the middle of Huapai, away from the town centre and where people live.

    1950, 2020, history repeats.

  10. I should like to thank all those who have made constructive comments on this subject of Auckland Transport. We are getting the idea. Lots of things should have been done in the last 40 years, but we have to work out what to do now.
    First I will try to explain why more “heavy” rail is imperative. The clean air we have experienced over the lockdown period has a value. The health of over 2 million people, and people with asthma and respiratory diseases has improved. There is a cost benefit with that. So anything we propose for transport has to have the aim of getting as many cars off the roads as possible. My proposal is that only “heavy” rail can do that. I have experienced many rail systems in my lifetime, heavy to light. Heavy rail can move the maximum number of passengers at the highest speeds.
    The easiest light rail system to visit is at Surfers Paradise in Queensland. I recommend any who can make it to fly to Brisbane, take the “heavy” fast train from the airport to Helensvale, (distance approx, Auckland airport to Albany), about 50 minutes, transfer to light rail to Surfers, distance about 15km, 45 minutes. Note the above times. About the same time to get from the airport to Helensvale, as it takes to get from Helensvale to Surfers.
    The heavy train can take 1000 passengers about 90km in 50 minutes. The light rail unit takes 80 seated passengers about 15km in 45 minutes. To match the carrying capacity of the heavy train, we have to buy 12 light rail units, and they take six times as long to travel the same distance.
    This is only one example. Manchester in UK has a metro system, considered to be light rail. It is much faster than the Surfers system. the trains are more like the London Underground units. They have to run on separate tracks. They cannot run down the centre of roads, nor can they go round tight corners, say around the roads in the city centre. If we have to build designated tracks for them, the tracks might as well be designed for heavy rail. They will not cost any more, and the trains will be able to use the City Rail Link. This is important, otherwise we will have to build special tracks in the CBD for a Metro system, another cost on top of the cost of the CRL.
    Let us reconsider the Surfers light rail system. That can go down the centre of roads, but it shares the CBD roads with existing traffic, and experiences the same holdups. It will need a special lane down Albert Street for example, and a special lane up Queen Street. In fact build a loop of track in the CBD so that the units have right of way right round their loop. They come in, say from Dominion Road, go round the loop once, and straight out again. The units at Surfers are Bombardier Flexity units, about 47m long, designed to go round tight corners in city centres. They are designed to carry 80 seated passengers, and up to 200 standing at peak times. I suggest people will not like standing for 45 minutes for their journey, so we have to buy a version that seats say 200 people. With a round trip taking 90 minutes in and out of the city, we need to buy 90 units to provide one unit per minute getting into the city between 7.30 am to 9.00 am. Those units will have the capacity to bring 18,000 people into the city between the above times, potentially taking 18,000 cars off the roads. That is a substantial number.
    We could build another route, say over the Harbour Bridge, and split the number of units serving each route, 45 units for Dominion Road, and 45 units serving Birkenhead and Northcote. That still requires one unit per minute down Albert Street, and up Queen Street. The total number of passengers in 90 minutes is 18,000, but only 9,000 come from Dominion Road, and 9,000 from North Shore.
    To double those numbers we need to buy 180 units, and we have to get two units per minute round the CBD loop. It can be done!
    I know this from experience. In 1950, 50 trams, each seating 100 people, traveled at 5.00pm. from the Pier Head, Liverpool, my home town, through the equivalent of Queen Street, at walking speed, picking up passengers over a distance of about a mile, then they picked up speed along the arterial roads out of the city, and got to their destinations in less than 30 minutes. As the first 50 trams were making their way out, another 50 trams were coming in to replace them, and this continued until 6.30pm when all the city workers had gone. There were other routes. A total tram fleet of 750 trams moved 400,000 workers throughout the city at peak hours. They had the city to themselves. There were no cars in 1950. Have we the vision to build this in Auckland? All electric, no pollution at all. Then came buses! I need say no more!
    The trams were the ultimate light rail solution. Some of it is practical for Auckland, but to move substantial numbers of people the distances we have in Auckland needs heavy rail.
    We can buy units such as the Bombardier Aventra units, seating 1100 people, capable of travelling at 200km/hr. They are 250m long, so they can use the CRL
    At 4 minute intervals we can get 15 units per hour round the CRL in each direction, total 30 per hour. Over a 1.5 hour period we can get 45 units, bringing 45,000 people into the city, and getting 45,000 cars off the roads. If we can reduce the interval to 2.5 minutes, (this is being done from St Pancras to Blackfriars in UK) We can get 24 units per hour in each direction, 72 units in 90 minutes, and 72,000 cars off the roads.
    This should be our aim for Auckland. What is the saving in health costs? This should be taken into account when we do a cost benefit analysis. I have suggested heavy rail to Massey, Hobsonville, Albany, and hence to Silverdale, Orewa and Warkwoth.
    Essential is the rail link to the Airport. It will complement all the above. Add rail from Kumeu to Albany, attracting commuters from west Auckland, and add Browns Bay from the east. I have costed all these schemes, based on similar schemes in UK. The current cost is £11 million per mile, laid. (NZ$14 million per km) We just have to add the cost of shipping rails from UK.
    We need the will to get it done. No amount of buses or cycleways will attack this problem. We need people with vision. Will anyone put their hands up, and get together, and make a concerted effort to talk to MPs in election year, and AT and the Council?

    1. While you’re right that HR is superior for capacity, it is not superior for speed in an urban area. Being able to do 200kmh is completely irrelevant when there is only short distances between stations, acceleration and dwell times are more important.

      Manchester Metro definitely has street running sections. It is a perfect example of LR using it’s own dedicated track in the suburbs then using street running in the city. This significantly reduces the cost as tunneling and underground stations in the city are not required.

      What are the similar schemes in the UK that cost NZ$14million per km?

  11. HR is superior for capacity. We need capacity above all in Auckland. We have to get as many cars off the road as possible. The £11 million per mile is the latest average cost of building railways in the UK.. I have had that confirmed by colleagues in the rail preservation movement. The Churnet Valley railway is at present being extended to Leek.
    Further to our needs in Auckland, I have looked again at the needs of North Shore. I believe the cheapest route is via Kingsland to Western Springs, then alongside SH16 to Massey, then Hobsonville, Greenhithe or Glenfield, Rosedale, Albany.
    The Kumeu connection should be via Massey. A fast passenger service from Huapai then goes to the CBD via the above route. The connection Kumeu to Massey is the least expensive. If a motorway to Kumeu was wanted it would be called an investment, whereas a rail connection is called “throwing money at rail.”
    I have looked at the railway through Huapai. I have no idea why it has to be moved. We need a good passenger service, leaving the railway where it is, but perhaps the idea is to make a passenger service impossible. We need to put pressure on AT.
    Let us put pressure on AT to get all the above built. Look for sources of funding from industry. A BOOT scheme as in Queensland will do it.
    The Bombardier Flexity units will serve Dominion Road admirably, and they can go round tight corners in the CBD, better than the Manchester Metro units. But we will need 60 units to carry the numbers.

    1. No it isn’t, in Auckland heavy rail won’t have more capacity. We already run 20 heavy rail trains an hour. The CRL can add 10 more. 10 of our EMUs is 7500 people, or 11,000 if they are run as triple consists with nine cars. All of that is going to be used on the existing lines, so there is actuallyno capacity for new lines to the northwest or north shore.

      A new light rail line on Queen Street can move 24 trains an hour each way, or 48 extra trains in total. With 66m LRVs that over 21,000 people per hour capacity added for new lines, compared to 0 people per hour capacity added by extending heavy rail.

  12. We can get 60 trains per hour through the CRL with the right equipment. Say 20 trains per hour from Swanson, or 10 per hour from Swanson, and 10 per hour from Kumeu via Massey with the new line proposed. These trains use the through lines at Britomart, and carry on to Papakura, and eventually to Pukekhoe. The return trains use the other through line at Britomart and carry on to Swanson or Kumeu. That is 20 return trains per hour. Trains via the eastern line from Panmure use the three centre terminal lines at Britomart, in between the Papakura trains. They can each wait 10.5 minutes to free the track for the arrival on the 12th minute. That means trains from the south and east are arriving at 1.5 minute intervals, but with this means we can get 60 trains per hour through Britomart. That is 60,000 passengers per hour, and 60,000 less cars on the roads. Electric trains in UK have an on board computer, so they are all in automatic communication. They have upgraded it to run trains at 2.5 minute intervals. We could do that in Auckland and have 24 trains per hour on each line, allowing 72 trains per hour through Britomart. I designed the prototype for this in 1965. It was then a pulse width modulated controller. The control data went over the overhead wires. Hence my interest in heavy rail.
    But let us not get involved with details. We need a consortium of people with an interest and knowledge of railways to get together and discuss where we go from here. We can all throw in opinions on this forum, but nothing will ever get done. We will still be discussing this in 2040. I am a member of PTUA. They have aims to improve passenger transport in Auckland, but once again the authorities are determined to block everything. Even shifting the railway line at Huapai to make it unuseable for passengers, so I have heard on this forum. So let us make a concerted effort to make our presence felt. Look up PTUA, and join it if you can contribute, and let us have a meeting; it can be on line initially and come up with a realistic plan to add more railways to Auckland, especially as it is an election year. I will add my name to the list for a start. Any other offers? Write to PTUA giving your details, mentioning this discussion, and let us produce a plan of action.

    1. The right equipment would be bringing a regional version of train control to Auckland to cover the region , as there will be more and more trains running over this network than the rest of the North Island .

    2. It would cost several billions of dollars to ‘sort out the equipment’ to go from 30 tph to 60 tph. That’s not only level three rolling block train control across the Auckland network and any train that runs on it, but grade separating junctions and removing level crossings across the network.

      You’re talking about 20 trains an hour both ways on the western line, that’s one every 90 seconds across the level crossings. How is that supposed to work when it take 4 minutes to cycle a crossing?

      It would be cheaper to build a whole new rail line in Queen St, and you’d get twice the capacity increase.

      And you idea that you can get 72tph through Britomart is, well, far fetched to be polite. There is no way you could get close to 72 trains an hour through Quay Park Junction and the Britomart throat tunnel. It barely manages to handle 40 trains an hour today without routine delays.

      I’ve heard more than enough from the so called PTUA and that miserable man who started it to try and plump his failing political career. If you want a realistic plan to add more railways to Auckland, Greater Auckland has already produced a plan of action: https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2017/04/10/introducing-the-congestion-free-network-2/

  13. I am sure the equipment can be sorted out. Auckland has more people than the rest of the north Island.

  14. Thank you for the transport map. I am aware of it. It has been around since 2017, but people are still talking about it. We need a plan of action.
    First the orange line has to be heavy rail connecting to Kumeu and beyond, particularly Helensville. We need to add to what we have, and heavy rail can move the numbers. The purple line to Constellation and the blue line to Albany also have to be heavy rail. We have to have heavy rail on the North Shore, to move the numbers and to attain the necessary speeds. We should be able to reach 100km/hr over some of the distances. I agree not in the CRL. We have to get cars off the roads. That is more apparent now with the clean air we have experienced over the last eight weeks. People will forsake cars for trains, but not for buses.
    A tunnel under the harbour has to be heavy rail. We cannot afford to let trucks use a road of such a length. The Swiss have realised that after a disastrous truck fire in the Alps road tunnel which killed 100 people when they ran out of oxygen. The new Gottard tunnel being built is heavy rail. The Channel Tunnel is also heavy rail for the same reason. They have had fires in containers, but they have managed to get them out safely. So the blue and orange tracks under the harbour have to be heavy rail. That means freight can be taken to and from North Shore.
    Similarly the rail line to the Airport has to be heavy rail via Wiri. Wiri already has tracks under the motorway, so no new road bridges have to be built.
    We just need the will to make a start somewhere, otherwise we will still be talking about it in 2040.
    Train control is not a problem. I would suggest trains every 4 minutes, from Swanson, Kumeu, some from Helensville, and Albany in turn, all continuing through the CRL and on to Newmarket and Papakura. Some from each of the above starting places go to the airport instead, via Wiri. Each starting place has an airport train, perhaps every third train. Total 15 trains per hour from North to South through CRL.
    The return trains are also 15 to the hour to Swanson, Kumeu, some to Helensville, and Constellation and Albany.
    Eventually the Albany line is extended to Silverdale, Orewa and Walkworth.
    The train control equipment can be upgraded to more frequent times once experience is gained. The problem is 1000 passengers still take four minutes to get on and off trains.
    Let us begin to do something. I suggest build the rail connection Wiri to the Airport first. It will add to the CRL, and should be ready at the same time.
    While that is being done, plan the rail from Kingsland, Western Springs, and hence to Massey and Kumeu, and get it built. Then add the connection via Hobsonville and Constellation to Albany. Get some experience with all the above, then plan the next stages. If we want light rail along Dominion Road, start planning a modest scheme, with a city loop, say down Albert Street, and up Queen Street. Run the above and get some experience, then plan the next stage. To say that light rail is to cost 10 billion dollars, will put the politicians off for ever. Light rail will not carry freight, which is why I support heavy rail above all. Heavy rail is faster and carries more people. It will get the most cars off the roads which is now our highest priority.

    1. Why on earth would you start with an airport connection!? The airport has almost ground to a halt and it could be years before air travel returns to what it was in January.

  15. The air passengers should be back up by the time the CRL is complete. The regions need the numbers of holidaymakers. And the Oz numbers should be back up even if other international travel is not. We cannot afford to sit still and do nothing. We have done nothing much about Auckland Transport for 40 years. We have got the CRL underway, a remarkable achievement, but no other rail building. I tried in 1985 to 1990, but the National Roads Board was totally against railways. The result is severe congestion everywhere, to put it mildly.
    We need to make a start now with rail projects because they alone will start to get cars off the roads. We need the clean air above all.
    Start by fixing the route Kingsland to Pt Chevalier, get quotes and get it underway.
    Next the raised track on piers to Massey. We can copy SH16, or copy Brisbane Airport to City. We have costs for both of those. It should be easy to get costs for our rail version.
    Next Massey to Kumeu. We need to obtain the land. Relatively easy, a straight line.
    At the same time Massey to Hobsonville and on to Constellation and Albany. More difficult, we need a bridge to Glenfield.
    The airport connection must not be forgotten. It will complement all the above. An easy project from Wiri. People from North Shore will be able to get a train direct to airport. Buses to and from Puhinui will never cope with the numbers. We aim to get at least 15,000 passengers per day on to trains from the airport. Look at Sidney numbers after three years. We will do better because Auckland is more spread out, and trains get people to their destinations faster. Break up the projects into manageable packets, and they will get done.
    That is the engineering way to make a start. There are engineers who know how to do all of the above, and they will cost a very small fraction of the $10 billion talked about for light rail. We need the political will, otherwise we will still be talking about it in 2040. That is what is wrong with Auckland, the title of this series.

  16. Jezza , do the work now as there is no-one around to get in the way . AIO are doing repairs to their runway because the volume is not there , so do the work for the same reason . It’s like if you buy a second hand house you wouldn’t do any major upgrades after you move in with your tribe living there would you ? , but then again you might .

    1. You also wouldn’t do the work unless you knew you were going to have a tribe. What is a lot more telling is that Auckland Airport have canned plans for building a new terminal and a second runway indefinitely. If they aren’t willing to invest private sector money it would be madness to throw public money at the airport at the moment.

      We would get much better bang for our buck in terms of getting cars off the road by making NW rapid transit our number one priority.

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