It’s the first Friday of level 2 and we’re allowed back in pubs and bars again. But before you head out for a drink with friends, here’s out weekly roundup.
CRL Closure of Mt Eden Station and Porters Ave
City Rail Link have announced new dates for the closure of the Mt Eden Station and Porters Ave level crossing for vehicles. The station was originally meant to close on Queens Birthday weekend but it has been delayed due to the Covid-19 impacts.
Porters Avenue will close permanently to vehicle traffic on Friday, 29 May, and the station will close on Saturday, 11 July, until CRL is completed in 2024.
The closures were delayed by the recent Covid-19 lockdown, which stopped work on all New Zealand’s construction sites.
On the reason for the closure of the station.
Mr Burtenshaw says the decision to close Mt Eden Station for four years was not made lightly.
“Our priority is safety and if the station remains open there is a risk to workers and the public walking through what will be a live and complex construction site. Building a temporary station was also investigated but there was not enough room inside our construction zone.”
Western Line trains in both directions will continue to run on a single line through the construction zone but will not stop at Mt Eden. Auckland Transport (AT) says single line running will have little impact on rail timetables, and a free bus service will also be introduced for people who use the station.
With the station closing for 4½ years, Auckland Transport are introducing a new bus service linking Kingsland to Newmarket and looks particularly useful for people going from Mt Eden to Newmarket. Importantly the service will run every 15 minutes during the day, although that means off-peak, it will run more frequently than the trains it’s replacing. They say the service will be free if you use a HOP card too.
Wellington Regional Train Study
Wellington wants a fleet of new regional trains to serve the areas outside of the electrified network up the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. They’ve now got funding for a business case.
Greater Wellington and Horizons Regional Councils have secured $5m in funding from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to pursue a detailed business case, and commence procurement for regional trains which if delivered would prevent passengers from being packed like sardines within the next five years.
Waka Kotahi is fully funding the project which will enable the councils to complete a detailed business case, and undertake the procurement of the new trains which are expected to cost approximately $300m and bring greater capacity and frequency to a creaking inter-regional network.
Chair of Greater Wellington Regional Council Daran Ponter says this is “Thunderbirds are go!” for getting regional passenger rail moving again.
“We’ve long championed electric or dual mode fleets to replace older diesel trains to lower carbon emissions and this funding brings us a step closer to that reality. Investing in a modern rail fleet also enables us to use the trains across the whole network, bringing extra capacity to Kapiti passengers and encouraging more people to make the shift from cars to public transport,” says Cr Gaylor.
Greater Wellington and Horizons Regional Councils will now continue detailed investigations, including market assessments to better understand options, risks and costs, in a fast changing technology environment before completing the detail business case and undertaking the procurement process for new trains.
Given the desires to also run more trains between Auckland and Hamilton, the trial service of which is now slated to start in November, perhaps scope should be expanded to be about providing an interregional design that works for both services – with differences only to deal with the different power supplies each would operate under.
The Prime Minister has suggested that businesses consider whether a four-day week could work for them. This seems mainly focused on trying to get people to boost domestic tourism to help the country recover from the Covid-19 crisis. Despite what many would think, it can be useful for forcing companies to address existing productivity issues and companies that have implemented it have found it boosts productivity. Now is the perfect time for many businesses to consider that as already they’ve been forced to rethink how they work.
But at a larger scale, I wonder if government encouragement of the idea supporting the idea and consideration of more formally backing it should also take into account the transport impacts it would have, particularly if those days off were spread throughout the week. Taking a lot of traffic off the roads could have significant benefits to congestion and emissions. It could also help us avoid significant costs stemming from expensive road upgrades while with public transport, providing for peak capacities is where an oversized proportion of the budget is spent.
And it’s not just four-day weeks that could go into this. How about we look to encourage schools and businesses to stagger start times etc.
Sometimes it’s easy to look at our transport history and wonder why it seems so hard to fix. But we’re not alone. I’ve been really enjoying a series of tweet threads from italian Marco Chitti documenting some of the history and changes to get better transport. They’re worth clicking through to read in full.
This thread covers the story of Bologna in Italy which seems to have faced many of the same challenges we have in improving transport
1/ There was a buzz among US transit planners about envying Asia, Europe, or Canada. A little transport planning story from my hometown, Bologna, shows that even Europe** is sometimes a place one should not envy too much. A long thread, for patient readers
**at least, Italy pic.twitter.com/tGcO6T9YS1
— Marco Chitti (@ChittiMarco) May 3, 2020
In more recent developments, the city has approved a new sustainable transport plan, which includes something I don’t know why we don’t set, or even talk about more – modeshift goals.
1/ Bologna recently approved a new sustainable transportation plan (PUMS). It’s a good document that spurred some reflections about transportation planning issues and value-for-money investment in mobility. A thread for transit and bike planning nerds pic.twitter.com/24nTXOOa19
— Marco Chitti (@ChittiMarco) May 13, 2020
This one highlights how improving service is the key to driving more usage
13/ On the other hand, Trentino continued to invest in expanding the service, integrating train and bus fares, developing a region-wide clockface system, etc. As a result, this little mountain province more than doubled its ridership (and they have cute pinkish trains!) pic.twitter.com/fY1EjWuFsV
— Marco Chitti (@ChittiMarco) May 18, 2020
This one covers how some disused branch lines were reinstated for use
1/ Before the current pandemic, not many outside Italy used to know Bergamo and the neighboring Brembana and Seriana Valleys, heavily hit by the COVID19 outbreak. To talk about them differently, here is a little thread about their dead, and then resurrected, suburban rail system. pic.twitter.com/YiE3BoApVz
— Marco Chitti (@ChittiMarco) May 6, 2020
How a semi high-speed lines linking Bologna to Naples evolved over time. This kind of reminds me of the kind of thinking we’ve suggested with our Regional Rapid Rail and more recently the Greens proposal.
1/ A thread about the Italian “Direttissime” as "paleo-high-speed lines" or where we can argue that progress comes out of necessity and a constant “discreet evolution”, not disruption (whatever than means). pic.twitter.com/7lyn3wjcDA
— Marco Chitti (@ChittiMarco) April 30, 2020
And one on Italy’s building of a true high speed line
1/ A history of the High-Speed Rail network in Italy as an unexpected “mildly successful" story despite several bad policy choices. A thread about how geography can overcome bad politics. pic.twitter.com/HeVnogtXwQ
— Marco Chitti (@ChittiMarco) May 15, 2020
Agencies and politicians love to talk about innovation which these days invariably seems to mean an app or whatever is the latest fad that tech companies have dreamed up. But sometimes simple existing technologies can offer innovative solutions
1/ It seems that we live in the innovation era, as it’s a word we (ab)use really a lot. For North American transit, this is more the “lazy planner/engineer” era, as options narrowed down to a bunch of technologies. A thread about old and new alternative transit technologies pic.twitter.com/gXxl2jpPX6
— Marco Chitti (@ChittiMarco) May 14, 2020
Finally, also from Italy, this looks like it’s not that far off being basically covered scooters.
A 1962 Italian vision of what 2022 would look like pic.twitter.com/hXk3MigVgr
— Laurie Gwen Shapiro (@LaurieStories) May 14, 2020