Yesterday the government announced a fast track consenting process for a bunch of projects. I’ll talk about that in a separate post but one of the projects that it will be used for is Phase 1 of the Unitec development.
The government announced back in early 2018 that it was going to take over and develop the Unitec site with 2,500-4,000 homes (possibly up to 8,000 people) but there has been no information about it since then. Looking to see if there was any new information about it and I found that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) yesterday also quietly released the Unitec Plan and Strategic Framework.
The site is less than 6km from the city centre and is being developed in partnership with Mana Whenua. HUD saying it’s possibly the “single largest contiguous ‘brownfields’ development in NZ“. It is also going to have very good transport connections – it’s on the doorstep to the Northwest and Waterview cycleways which provides links towards the Southwest and soon New Lynn. It also is only a short distance to the Mt Albert and Baldwin Ave train stations, and when built will be even closer a rapid transit line on the Northwest.
Here are the key metrics for the development
The site development starts with 26.5 hectares of land which are the core-landholdings, with an additional 9.3 hectares under negotiation.
The base plan is fully compliant with the Auckland Unitary Plan. It delivers:
- 11.3 hectares (41%) of open space (including road reserves)
- 12.3 ha of developable land
- ~ 2,500 – 3,000 dwellings across nine Precincts (individual neighbourhoods)
- building heights of between 2 stories in the South rising to 8 stories in the centre and North
- density of between 94 and 113 dwellings per hectare gross or 204 per hectare net
- a ratio of 0.95 carparks to each dwelling
The overall project is estimated to take 10 – 15 years to complete.
Here are the key moves they say are guiding the development and they sound pretty good.
HERITAGE AND IDENTITY
- Enrich the new communities with tangible connections to the past including through retention of key buildings, trees and fragments of the site’s history.
- Refurbish the Carrington Hospital building for community / commercial activities and create a new public open space reinvigorated with native planting as its distinctive setting.
- Retain the Carrington Hospital, Pump House, Stables and associated Courtyard building as distinctive place-based accents / markers within the new community.
- Create strong statement entrances into the site: Waharoa, including installing prominent site markers between Carrington Hospital and its northern frontage to Pt Chevalier and the Northwestern Motorway – to create a landmark to define the new community.
- Plant common gardens with edible produce for residents and the community.
PUBLIC OPEN SPACE
- Create a generous provision of interconnected, prominent open space setting with the amenity necessary to support the new community and its residential neighbours.
- Build on the natural assets of the site, including opening up and daylighting the Wairaka Stream.
- Enhance a significant green corridor linking Carrington Road to Te Auaunga with multiple East / West connections.
- Celebrate water in the landscape – reinforce the Wairaka and Te Auaunga waterways, and incorporate design that makes the stormwater capture, conveyance, treatment and re-use visible.
- Improve existing recreation areas for informal sport, and build new places for family kick-a-ball and games, imaginative play, multi-age, accessible playgrounds, and for residents to gather, cook and eat.
- Enhance the site’s bio-diversity and grow seasonally responsive habitat / plantings. Preserve significant trees.
- Protect features that will provide continuity during the transition of the site into an urban village.
- Strengthen / enhance and establish new, predominantly pedestrian and cycleway connections to the site from the surrounding open space, neighbourhoods and town centres.
- Significantly improve the nature and quality of the pedestrian and cycle linkages, for example through a new overbridge or dedicated pathway to Pt Chevalier, reinforcing the new identity of the site.
- Create a fine grain of internal site connections to establish a predominance of pedestrian and car alternative modes, including walking and running tracks, routes for bicycles and alternative lowspeed modes across site.
- Support improved public transport including Carrington Road busway, new (north and south bound) bus stops and connections to mass transit mobility networks.
- Retain and improve the site’s four current access points, including by reconfiguring the ‘Gate 1’ entrance.
- Retain separation between car traffic from the South, and the site and Unitec campus.
- Build sustainable infrastructure: collect, reuse, recycle; solar generation; energy efficient buildings, energy and water harvesting / storing / redistribution.
- Implement a strategy that reduces the impact of cars and carparking over time, including carparking buildings that can be re-purposed for commercial and / or residential use, shared parking with Unitec, charging stations for e-vehicles, pool cars.
- Promote carbon neutrality.
- Consider a new primary school.
- Collaborate with Unitec for continued learning, skill development, shared knowledge and learning laboratories.
- Use the synergy between the construction to create training and skill development opportunities.
- Trial, evaluate and champion new technologies.
PAPAKĀINGA – RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT
- Development that fits with the landform / topography.
- Areas that are able to be independently staged while cohesive as a whole.
- Individual neighbourhoods with distinct scale, intensity and identity.
- Commercially viable and feasible.
- Scope to match development to market cycles. Mixed housing (public, affordable and market).
The development will be built in stages with the provisional staging below:
- Carrington Road along the road frontage and east of Taylor’s
- Northern and North-Western Precincts
- Internal stages of Northern and Carrington Road Precincts
- Te Auaunga North and South Precincts
And here’s the high level information on the precincts.
- Complementary to existing residential neighbourhood.
- Low to medium density, 2 to 5 storeys (50 to 80 dwellings per hectare).
- A suburban transition, with finely grained streets and pedestrian connections.
- Small blocks and lower density at the boundary grading to medium density.
- Transport connections controlled – no access to Campus
Carrington Rd Precinct
- Medium-high intensity (120 to 150 dwellings per hectare).
- 4 to 12 stories, starting at 4 to 8 and increasing East to West with falling topography.
- Varied frontages along Carrington Road on East (mid-heights).
- Stepped down westwards toward the central lower basin and open space corridor.
- East / West open space connections from Carrington Road to the central open space and Te Auaunga.
- Pedestrian prioritised central North / South street.
- Mixed use residential and commercial / retail adjacent to vibrant activity centre in the South, scaled to support the local community.
The image appears to be of the internal part of the Carrington Precinct which happens at a later stage of the development
- Medium intensity (100 dwellings per hectare).
- Varied typology and scale of footprint creating diversity and choice (options for development and living).
- 3 to 6 storeys.
- Shared courtyards.
- Significant trees preserved.
- Buffer to Mason Clinic.
- Connect to Carrington Hospital Precinct.
North Western Precinct
- High intensity (but small building footprints).
- Landmark residential towers with outlook to the central city and harbour.
- Māori architectural references / identity.
- 8 – 10 storeys located and scaled in respect of views to Tūpuna Maunga.
- Site development relative to trees and Carrington Hospital context.
- Buffer at lower levels to Mason Clinic
Carrington Hospital Precinct
- Adaptive re-use of Carrington Hospital, such as shared offices with flexible tenancies creative technologies, common spaces and public access.
- Set within public open space parkland.
- Improve cycle and pedestrian linkages, including an enhanced connection to Pt Chevalier.
It would certainly be good if the NW cycleway could link up better with the crossing just south of Sutherland Rd and I’m interesting to hear about this new overbridge to connect to Pt Chev.
Te Auaunga North and South Precincts
- Medium density, 4 – 6 storey buildings (100 dwellings per hectare).
- Architecture signals a sustainable, environmentally progressive urban community.
- Heights that respect and respond to the Volcanic Viewshaft and predominance of the Tūpuna Maunga.
- Community gardens and a strong connection to water.
- Connected both to Te Auaunga and the central parkland.
The plans are looking good but it still feels that even with the fast-tracked consenting process that we could be some time off construction actually starting. But then again, depending on what happens with the economy, this could be getting ready at just the right time to keep the vertical building industry busy.
Quick question: How many total homes?
Also interesting to see how many will be Kiwibuild. I’m looking forward this election to Labour outlining how it will get kiwibuild back on schedule. So far Kiwibuild is way way behind target
In the second paragraph it says it will have 2,500-4,000 homes
I think the entire development falls under the Kiwibuild umbrella
I think they will try and mention Kiwibuild and light rail as little as possible during the campaign. No point dwelling on their failures when they are popular anyway.
Better question is how many home can be accommodated by the existing sewage system?
I believe there is no capacity available for at least 6 years, until the central interceptor is completed and the local area connected.
There’s been so little focus on reducing the stormwater entering the combined sewers. Town centre upgrades that remove trees and that don’t install rain gardens, for example.
And consents for low rise car-focused developments that cover all the site but a tiny pocket of garden, and which should instead have gone to 4 storeys but left a large area of green area to absorb stormwater. With all this newly covered land, the combined sewers get overloaded and our beaches cop the overflow.
Similarly, Council fails to adopt the approach of using household rainwater tanks to feed the toilets, washing machines and hot water cylinders. This system provides capacity in the tanks between storm events, even in mid winter, allowing for far less sewage overflow.
The system is broken, because it’s not that there aren’t experts in Council who understand this, it’s that no-one is allowing the right decisions to be made.
After all that has been gone through, this plan doesn’t mention or show the Mahi Whenua food forest and community gardens. There must be a mistake – I’ll try to find out.
Google maps says Unitec is a 22 minute walk to Baldwin Station and 15 minutes to Mt Albert. Half the site is even further.
15 minutes to walk 700m? Google’s machine learning must know you’re a stately flaneur Miffy.
I think Google measures to the middle of the site. So it is 1.8km to Baldwin and 1.2km to Mt Albert. If you were producing propaganda you might measure to the gate of a large site.
It’s only 500m to the gate. 700m gets you to the quad of the main southern cluster of buildings.
Anyway, two frequent bus routes running along the Carrington Rd frontage can shuttle anyone who doesn’t care to walk.
That’s how far away my nearest train stations are and I walked to/from them everyday when I worked in the CBD. It’s close enough to be useful and a lot better proximity than most Auckland houses.
A real estate agent would describe that as “two train stations right on your doorstep!!!”
You would really want a rapid transit line to run directly through such a dense development like this. 10 – 15 mins might be fine for the daily commute but it’s not going to get people to hop on the train for other trips.
Currently Carrington Rd has the Outer Link and the 66 to connect people to the trains if they’re not so mobile or if they’re carrying a load. This means it’s currently 8 to 10 buses per hour each direction.
I don’t know about achieving a rapid transit route through there, but the bus to train connection at Mt Albert needs to be improved. Also, to improve upon the reliability and speed of the buses, the area should have had modal filters (for buses, active modes and oversized vehicles) at the time they put in Waterview, and the area should have become a Low Traffic Neighbourhood. This could still happen now, and if there’s going to be a downturn in economic activity, the earlier they do it the better.
Instead, they’re showing Carrington Rd widened, for bus lanes and a two-way cycleway. This is another way to improve the bus reliability.
It’s the conventional way, but it’s the sort of thing we need to stop if we don’t want our rates to rise and traffic volumes to increase everywhere. It’ll create more overland stormwater flow, will require bigger intersections at its ends, which are unsafe for people walking and cycling, therefore it’ll prevent modeshift and induce traffic. It’s basically just more infrastructure for us to maintain.
No didn’t miss them, I was talking about access to rapid transit, not some cross town bus routes.
By Auckland standards this is a good development in terms of access to public transport but it shows how poor Auckland’s standards have been. A development like this really should be somewhere where you can fall out of you apartment into a rapid transit station.
It would certainly be closer, although still on the narrow edge of the development.
To clarify I fully support this development, however I’m just imagining myself signing up for an apartment with a 15 min walk to the train station. I currently live in a stand alone house with a 15 walk, I’d want to be a lot closer to justify living in an apartment. Of course I may well not be the target market!
An advantage I see here is that you can roll out of your apartment into public space for actual humans. It may sound stupid but I have never seen this in Auckland before. And it is in fact the main reason why I would currently never move into an apartment in Auckland.
Regarding transport, the thing that would make or break it is access to surrounding areas by bicycle. You don’t normally hop on a bus for daily errands because riding a bicycle is almost always much faster and more flexible.
8 to 10 buses per hour always sounds nice, but the mix between a 12 minute headway on OUT and the 15 minute headway of the 66 results in a very uneven running pattern with the odd 12 minute gap. So it will not reliably be faster than walking.
(Correction: I have actually seen this in Wynyard Quarter, but for an apartment over there, if you have to ask you cannot afford it)
The outer link may be scheduled for every 15 minutes but it is more accurate to be 4 times per hour with spacing anything from 10 seconds to 30 minutes.
Maybe a good candidate for the “AT Uber”.
It’ll improve once it’s no longer a loop, which makes the usual bus bunching problems become extreme. Then we need steady improvements in bus priority and probably a shift from timetables to bus headway planning.
More… bigger… wider… or… live within our means, our footprint, by shifting space and resources around. It’s kinda kinder on our kinder.
Attending in a serial way to pinch points in the network by widening roads is what we’ve been doing for decades. Doing so for bus priority is just the latest way to build roads and charge it to the public transport tab. It’s how to slowly sink the city under traffic and set ourselves up for a network we can’t maintain.
Whereas planning within our available footprint by restricting traffic and reallocation is how to allow a proper city to emerge, minimise maintenance costs, and leave more money and land for future opportunities…
All the more reason to get the North-Western Busway started
This plan looks great. Conceptually similar to Hobsonville Point but with far superior public transport and active mode links due to its location.
However we can’t afford to wait 10-15 years for this development to complete before copying the concept elsewhere in the isthmus. This needs to be the first of several being built in parallel. There are lots of smaller (10-30% of the size) sites around Auckland that would benefit from similar treatment.
There are indeed several going on already, many of which are already consented and/ or under construction and being led by Kainga Ora. The stretch of the isthmus running east/west between Pt Chev and Onehunga is planned to get some serious growth over the next 10 to 15 years.
Mangere looks quite exciting. Although I think they should start with the enormous car park around the town centre. Excellent opportunity for regeneration there.
I was meaning Mangere, not Mangere Bridge. This is what is happening: https://mangeredevelopment.co.nz/
And this is the bit that I think needs development first: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Mangere+Town+Centre/@-36.969595,174.7981124,498m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x374b4130a2cc52fb!8m2!3d-36.9697222!4d174.7997222
Actually when you hover over “Mangere Central” in the map on the home page of the development, it says, “Coming Soon” so I’m looking forward to seeing whether they tackle the big problem or not.
If you read the [Mangere Development/How will the community benefit?] page it basically says there will be new houses (duh) and new footpaths on the affected roads and an improved park. Pretty much the bare minimum.
None of the good stuff that should be associated with higher density development like town centres, walking, cycling, PT, high streets, schools, etc.
I guess maybe they will get light rail in Mangere one day (unless Twyford’s new scheme bypasses it altogether which wouldn’t surprise).
The Kainga Ora developments are good but they’re working within existing property boundaries. They’re not building low traffic neighbourhoods by prioritising active modes and PT, removing on street parking and narrowing roads. They’re not aspiring to Transit Oriented Development or high density.
Now this isn’t Kainga Ora’s fault; they don’t have the authority to make the changes in transport networks that should go hand-in-hand with changes to land use. They also don’t have access to land in the best locations for things like TOD.
“The stretch of the isthmus running east/west between Pt Chev and Onehunga is planned to get some serious growth over the next 10 to 15 years.”: yeah growth in houses but doesn’t seem to be any improvements to infrastructure planned. Here in Mt Roskill South we are getting 10,000 new homes but I haven’t seen any plans to update our disgraceful town centres (unless you include Mt Roskill town centre which is miles from any development) or new PT (our frequent buses will no doubt be replaced will less frequent buses to get us to the “local” light rail station which looks like it will be much further away than we voted for). They could build something really good, but I think they are aiming for a low cost slum.
Meanwhile all the areas opposed to any form of development seem to be getting 100% of council funding (probably including all of the development contributions from elsewhere).
What do you think, then, of the reply to my question at one of the emergency budget webinars. The reply specifically mentions Mt Roskill infrastructure.
The question was:
Paragraph 45 indicates a belief on the part of the Chief Economist that new pipes and roads enable house-building activity. These projects run counter to Council’s compact city strategy. Housing can be enabled through upgrading existing infrastructure instead, which is cheaper, climate-appropriate, and leaves money for actually investing in housing. Why has the Chief Economist shown a bias towards greenfields development, and what is he basing this on?
The response was:
We’ve had a question about the emphasis of our investment. Our chief economist is saying that it is, I repeat earlier that investing in pipes and roads to enable housing growth is an important stimulus for the economy in Auckland. And an important part of getting people working. Keeping them working. So there are a lot of flow through benefits from these sorts of investments. But the question is concerned that that’s got too much emphasis on supporting greenfields. So the council’s unitary plan provides for both target for a compact city and it provides for growth within our current limits, but also in some of the greenfields areas. Our investments are to support growth in both areas and not universally greenfields. There’s a big emphasis on upgrading and installing new pipes and roads, in public transport systems to facilitate intensification within the city’s boundaries. And you can certainly see this happening in Mount Roskill, for example.
Sorry but pipes don’t do it for me Heidi 😉 I kind of figured they were a given in any new development! (I guess a real slum might not have any pipes…).
I can see plenty of new houses going up (they are OK but pretty average really compared to say Hobsonville) and I’m by no means opposed to the new houses (they are a lot better than what was there and some extra density would be great). But I can’t see any evidence or plans for new (non pipe) infrastructure / parks / town centres / PT / etc (let me know if you are aware of anything!)
They do however seem to have nice new footpaths and town centres up the road in no-development-allowed Mt Eden! I guess the louder you complain the more you get…
Is there a more up to date Masterplan available? The one shown is pre-Waterview Tunnel works so the adjacent Waterview neighbourhood to the west is now quite different.
It would be good to see what is now being proposed instead of a plan that must be well over 5 years old!
Unitec might be a fair hike from the nearest rail stations but will be much closer to the North Western light rail which will presumably have a station in or adjacent to the Point Chevalier town centre.
One notable change is that the Taylor’s laundry buildings and chimneys are not shown on their drawings – having a big industrial hole in the middle of a residential development always looked a bit suss.
it is extremely unlikely that the North Western Light Rail line will ever proceed, especially as NZ First is blocking the project, and Phil Twyford is incapable of making the decision to return the project to the NZTA and AT.
A better solution would be a bus hub inside the residential development, bring buses into the centre of the new community. You can see a ( windswept ) example of this at the Massey University Campus at Albany
I’ve asked several people why this went silent for the best part of 2-3 years, and haven’t had an answer. Weird and fishy sounding.
This should be being built by now…
It looks a bit sterile, to be honest.
I thought that trend of having lots of glass on the exterior of blocks of apartments/flats as though they’re office buildings went out of favour 5 years ago when the reality of how filthy they get (and how poor their thermal insulation is) couldn’t be ignored? I shudder to think how it’s going to look when it isn’t new anymore.
And I hope they’ve considered how those blocks are going to be oriented with respect to the sun and possible wind…
Unfortunately many of the renderings look like a modern North American ‘Project’ or a low rise version of a Hong Kong Public Housing Estate. I’m not a fan.
New Zealand needs to get density right and this does not appear to be it. Point blocks with ‘green space’ around look bucolic in renderings but in effect on south facing areas will be dark, foreboding, and unattractive. This is exactly the problem that Jane Jacobs railed about 60 years ago and we have not learned the lesson.
Build urban districts, with shop houses, hutongs or a mini version of a Barcelona Superblock with pedestrian streets, and buzz with people on the streets at all hours. Yes build parks but make them focal points with buildings around them – don’t place the buildings in the parks.
And the renderings? What’s with that one with glowing windows in the daytime? See this recent presentation by American Kate Wagner (15 June 2020) on the follies of designers and gullibility of civic authorities – see here –
from 27:50 for the Perils of Rendering…. but the rest is great too. (with a shoutout to a certain Christchurch building)
As a master plan Unitec is a start – but let’s hope that this does not become a failed ‘project’ and in turn become the set for a New Zealand version of ‘The Wire’.
I agree with you, it looks like a slum estate in the making if we are careful.
How on earth is this sterile? Do you know what that word means?
No it hasn’t gone out of fashion. Architects are still trying to make houses that look like offices, offices that look like factories and factories that look like farm buildings. Someone will go the next step soon and make a house that looks like a factory and skip the middle stage.
A new road connect to Great North Road would be great for access to west like waterview and Avondale.
The cycleway from the Oakley bridge via Great North road should be better integrated and connected.
There should be a cycleway connection to the railway cycleway (to New Lynn Avondale)
I’d be much happier with an active mode bridge, why do we need more roads, when what we want is more connectivity.
Walking or cycling places should be the default.
Question . Are these all going to be privately owned or are they going to be a mixture of state owned i.e pensioner units and private apartments .
It’ll be a mix of public, affordable (Kiwibuild) and market homes.
A lot of Kainga Ora-led developments seem to have roughly a 1:1:1 split between the three types. So I’d imagine similar here.
Yep, last line on page 3 of the document: “Scope to match development to market cycles. Mixed housing (public, affordable and market).”
Also on the website: https://www.hud.govt.nz/urban-development/unitec/
in the FAQ states:
“What types of homes will there be?
The site is suitable for a range of market, KiwiBuild and affordable homes, long-term rentals, progressive home ownership housing, public housing including with community housing providers, across a mix of terraces, walk-ups and apartments.”
I’m trying to decide what those buildings look most like. 1970s era soviet communist housing, or Ports of Auckland shipping container stacks?
And unlike my $79,000 3bdm house on quarter-acre section, each small stacked box will most likely be the usual $300,000-$800,000 con job!
Where do you get a 3brm house on 1/4a this close to the city for <$100k?
“my $79,000 3bdm house on quarter-acre section”
Where’s that? In Te Kawhata or Helensville or something?
Thanks again Geoff for your completely irrelevant post about your $79,000 house in the @ss end of nowhere. Do you continually remind readers in every other post in the hope that someone else might join you so you are not so lonely? If you are so anti Auckland its baffling you continually post on a website about said place.
Renderings are just renderings, are we really judging an a whole new unbuilt community based on some probably outdated 3d models?
I’m confused, are we disregarding the proof of what good density can look like from the terraces and the main roads of Hobsonville Pt for a reason?
No, we’re learning from the proof of what good density can look like from the apartments of Wynyard Quarter. Terraces are great for outer suburbs, or gentle intensification of less dense inner suburbs, but they are inappropriate far a large redevelopment location this central.
It’s pretty fucking awful alright.
But that’s ok. Ain’t no one making me buy one.
Baiscaly they are designed by a committee that will never live in them and the landscaping looks like it was done by the same idiots that designed the new LQS outside Britomart . And the only time they will visit is the day of opening and then never to return .
People getting caught up on some conceptual drawings lol
So – have you ever worked, been a patient, or studied on this land? Ever been in Building 1 – which will remain? Check the last picture, drawn to make Building 1 look pink and friendly-looking. See the courtyard where there are cafe chairs and tables? Currently, there is a large pentagram cut into the concrete in that exact place. No one knows when it was done – a long time ago. I’m not afraid of the devil, but there is no way in hell I would ever reside on the footprint of these buildings. Honour the history. Acknowledge it. Do not obscure it. Because it has been proven for over 100 years, that there is no way to clear it.
Thank you Matt for the development details. I have picked on one phrase: It will be close to a rapid transit line on the northwest, when built.
That rapid transit line has to be “heavy” rail, no argument. We have discussed at length on this forum what has been so wrong with Auckland, and the answer is that no more heavy rail was built once the existing lines were built, nearly 100 years ago! I said that in 1985 when the North Shore was being developed. The then National Roads Board said, “Rubbish, rubbish, rail is old fashioned, roads are the transport of the future.” I said they were going against all the accepted knowledge of how to build new towns, and they would regret it in the future.
We now have our roads, and the congestion is now unbearable. I note that now AT is about to recommence its programme, it want to build more roads!
We have to start investing in heavy rail before it becomes impossible. I have had a lifetime of experience in this subject. I started work out of university in UK on the electrification of the North West railway line from Rugby to Crewe, in 1962 and I gained a lot of experience in building railways.
My Urban Planning part of my engineering course stated that the first part of any new town development is to plan the railway line through it, establish stations and freight facilities, and the connections to the nearest railways outside the area.
Then, as the town is built, the railway can bring all the materials, and the town grows from there. All this was rubbished by our Roads Board at the time.
But I was right. There have been new towns built in UK, according to the principles laid down in my course, starting with Welwyn Garden City, prewar, and postwar, Bracknell in Berkshire, and many others. Recently, towns have been built around old railway lines, the tracks relaid, and the railway opened again. As I write, volunteers are laying five miles of track from Leek to a new housing estate being built around the old rail line from Macclesfield. I can give you more details of that project, and other examples.
Back to our new development in Auckland. We need a rail junction at Kingsland, and the new track follows SH16, around the edge of the golf course, to Pt Chevalier, where a new station has to be built. Follow SH16 across the south side of the harbour; the bridge design for this already exists, the overhead portion of the track from Brisbane Airport to the city, their bridge is 8.6km long. Continue to Massey where a new junction is built. One line goes straight on to Kumeu. This will allow fast trains to run from Huapai and Kumeu, via Massey and Kingsland right into CBD via the new rail link. It will also provide a fast service to Helensville.
The junction at Massey enables the line to go north to Hobsonville, across to Greenhithe, then Constellation, Rosedale and Albany.
The North Shore will at last have a “heavy” rail connection. Fast trains will be able to get from Albany to CBD in 30 minutes. The railway will be designed for this. It cannot be done with “light” rail. This can be seen in Manchester, UK today. Fast trains from Picaddilly travel to Manchester Airport at twice the speed of the new light rail Metro system which serves many of the south Manchester suburbs. I know the areas, I used to live there.
The rail to Albany can then be expanded north to Silverdale, Orewa, Puhoi, Warkworth, and to a connection to the existing rail near Wellsford.
This is the system Auckland has to have, and it will not cost $10 billion, the cost of the pie in the sky “high speed” light rail system talked about. Trains can easily run at 160km/hr on properly designed rails. Light rail generally runs at a maximum of 70 or 80km/hr. Look at the Queensland Railway from Brisbane Airport to the border with New South Wales. I travel on that to visit a friend in Robina, – about our distance to Warkworth. It takes about 70 minutes. Otherwise get off at Helensvale, and transfer to the Surfers light rail system. That system takes 45 minutes to travel 15km. It will be fine as a feeder service to railway stations in Auckland, but no use to serve Massey or Hobsonville, or Kumeu.
There is a total mental blockage against anything to do with heavy rail in Auckland. Yet it is the only way Auckland will ever start to ease its road congestion. It goes against all accepted practices world wide, not to add to our rail network. With rail to Albany, we will be able to run a train carrying 1000 passengers every, say, six minutes. That is 10,000 passengers per hour. With similar trains from Huapai we will get another 10,000 passengers per hour into the CBD. There is 20,000 passengers per hour, and 20,000 cars off the roads. This is not achievable with light rail. Some will jump up in protest, but I am not aware the Manchester Metro light rail system carries 20,000 passengers per hour. The trains travel at the speed of the London Underground units, not 160km/hr.
And I have to take this opportunity to press again for a “heavy” rail link to Auckland Airport. This is totally deadlocked for some reason, and has been as far back as I can remember. It is the cheapest solution. I know the costs from UK. Manchester Airport has the exact solution we need. The station cost $72 million in our money today, four platforms. It will complement the heavy rail to Albany. Passengers from North Shore will be able to get to the airport in less than an hour. The numbers will be back to pre covid levels by the time the station is built.
I have experience in these matters, and I have railway building colleagues in UK. I can add many anecdotes to support what I have said. We have to build more “heavy” rail in Auckland, otherwise the gridlock we have now will be ten times worse in 2040, the year when the workforce will have increased to 400,000 per day. Will no-one listen! This is an election year. Let us all vote for those who will listen, and act. I am willing to join any action group who are prepared to make a combined presentation to the powers that be. Alan Spinks.
“That rapid transit line has to be “heavy” rail, no argument.”
Except for the fact there isn’t space to put in a rail corridor or junctions at surface level in places like Massey or Hobsonville, so you are likely talking many billions of dollars, probably in the hundreds, to tunnel heavy rail on that scale for marginal benefits over what light rail could achieve for a fraction of the cost. We simply do not have that kind of money to throw at a massively over-engineered solution just so the North Shore can get a heavy rail solution it doesn’t have the industry to justify.
Alan, appreciate you worked on rail many years ago so have experience with it…however, can you highlight any examples of new Rapid Transit lines which are heavy rail? Which Cities are currently rolling out brand new Heavy Rail lines for Urban Rapid Transit?
You say ‘no argument’ but I’m quite certain there will be plenty of argument as Buttwizard quickly highlighted.
The most outstanding example of heavy rail rapid transport in UK is the new Crossrail project in London. The major parts of it, the tunnels, might be beyond what we need in Auckland, but consider the surface parts of it. In particular, the heavy rail connection to Heathrow Airport has been an outstanding success. Buses to the West Coast Main Line never took more than a few passengers each trip for over 60 years. Now a train service to the same Main Line takes 45,000 passengers per day, and growing. It is expected the numbers will rise to 90,000 per day when the whole line opens to Farringdon in 2022.
I used the bus from Heathrow airport most times I visited from NZ. Last time 2004. The bus was still slow. i waited for it to start at the airport, sometimes 15 minutes. Then it trundled slowly to Yiewsley for trains to Paddington, Staines, Reading etc, taking 20 minute to do 3 miles. No wonder no-one used the buses.
Next, the Undergound from Uxbridge was extended to the airport in the 1980s. This was faster than the bus, but it still took about one hour to reach Paddington. Today we would call this high speed light rail. It is very good for short distances in the city, but not for long runs outside the city.
Now the “rapid transport” Crossrail connection to the airport can do the journey to the Main Line in less than 5 minutes, and all the way to Paddington in 20 minutes. It should reach Farringdon in the city centre in 30 minutes. This is what we need in Auckland. I am getting a lot of flack from people who think it is beyond our resources, but i know the prices of equipment. What I do not know is how people in this country will tackle the job.
Kiwirail is saying it needs to bring people in to upgrade our Northern Rail lines. I was in Ministry of Works when we built the Kaimai Tunnel. We also lowered the track in the tunnels between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki to allow bigger containers to go through, and also to allow improvements to the electrification. I could find people who know those things even though we are getting on for 80. We need to train people to build railways. They provide the backbone of all our infrastructure.
Back to trains in UK. Many previously closed railway lines have been reopened, electrified, and now provide a rapid transport commuter service. Some are still privately owned. The East Chinnor to Oxford railway is one such. For years they argued for a rail connection to the main line near Oxford, and Network Rail showed no interest. Now the connection is made and they can run a fast diesel multiple unit for commuters, much faster than the local bus service.
Every new line that is now opened, and electrified, in the UK, provides a rapid tranzit commuter service.
Manchester has a fast rail service to the Airport, and it has had to be doubled in size in 2019 to cope with the passenger numbers. They have also built a high speed light rail system known as the Metro. These trains are modern versions of London Underground. They are fast, but with frequent stops the overall service is much like London Underground. That system has one platform at Manchester Airport Station. There are no plans to double up on that.
“Heavy” trains are designed to run at high speeds, typically over 160km/hr on commuter services, but over 300km/hr or 400km/hr long distance.. Metro systems are designed for frequent stops, so they rarely get above 80km/hr. The carriages are designed for the speed expected of them in each system. Modern 400km/hr bogies are outstanding in engineering design. The springing and damping are precise. The wheel tread must never lose contact with the rail.
So what do we expect of “high speed” light rail in this country? To me that means the Manchester Metro system, or the London Underground. If we want “rapid tranzit,” we have to have “heavy” rail. The carriages and bogies are designed for high speeds, over 160km/hr.
My argument is, if we have to build a high level rail flyover over Massey, it might as well be heavy rail, rather than light rail. It will not cost any more. The biggest cost is earthquake strengthening. The weight of the trains makes little difference. So we should go for 160km/hr or 200km/hr trains from Albany, not 80km/hr light rail trains. We have to get cars off the Harbour Bridge, and only heavy rail will do that. People will not get out of their cars for anything slower.
I have costed the clean air we had during lockdown. If it could be maintained for 12 months we could save $1 billion in sickness benefits and medical costs, per year. Reduce the harbour bridge traffic by 20%, and we could theoretically save $200 million in sickness benefits and medical costs, per year. That alone will contribute each year to the costs of getting rail to Albany.
“Some are still privately owned. The East Chinnor to Oxford railway is one such. For years they argued for a rail connection to the main line near Oxford, and Network Rail showed no interest. Now the connection is made and they can run a fast diesel multiple unit for commuters, much faster than the local bus service.”
Alan thanks for idea’s , and with that above the GVR possibly with the help of AT could possibly run a commuter service linking Glenbrook and Waiuku to either Papakura or Pukekohe , or even Dury when that is completed .
‘So we should go for 160km/hr or 200km/hr trains from Albany, not 80km/hr light rail trains.’
No we shouldn’t. The gaps between stations on a line to Albany would not be big enough to allow trains to get anywhere near these speeds, it would be a massive waste of money building track to handle them.
“Light rail generally runs at a maximum of 70 or 80km/hr.”
“Metro systems are designed for frequent stops, so they rarely get above 80km/hr.”
So, by your own admission, light rail is a suitable substitute for metro heavy rail.
They can both carry a similar number of people, at the same speed, in about the same amount of space. So the only significant difference is cost. Here light rail wins because it can be cheaply integrated into the road corridor.
If a completely grade separated public transport line is to be built (either overhead or underground) then there probably isn’t much cost difference between light rail and heavy rail. But whether we should spend so much money on brand new grade separated lines is a separate argument to the vehicles that run on them.
I love your enthusiasm and aspirations, Alan. But 160km on a North Shore line? Does it have any stops at all?
Would your proposal not be better for regional rail between Tauranga and Auckland?
Furthermore to dismissing the idea of 160km/h train to Albany:
Albany isn’t even 20km from the Auckland CBD. So, assuming no stops in between and a short acceleration interval; such a train would get between the two centres in about 8 minutes.
I’m pretty sure that 80-90 km/h maximum speed light rail, stopping at all the busway stops, could do it in less than 30 minutes. And I’m sure that that would be a more than acceptable transit time for commuters.
Astounding that this chap can talk about ‘total mental blockage’ and ‘has to be “heavy” rail, no argument’ In the same breath.
I though we were beyond fundamentalist ideologues ranting the sequel to war and peace on these blogs?
Just the latest to turn up and push for HR, without having done the reading.
Like the airport, its LRT or BRT. Take your pick, but it will never be HR.
No need to keep flogging the same old constrained network and the most expensive option.
Reply to David L. There is no reason why you could not run a commuter service to Papakura or Pukekohe. The problem is Kiwirail. they own the track and the running rights. In UK, Network Rail owns all the tracks, and looks after all the maintenance, but does not run trains. All the trains are run by private companies like Virgin Trains, and an individual private owner can apply to run a steam special, for example. That is difficult in NZ as you will well know.
We have the Regional Council in Wellington running the passenger trains, and similarly Auckland Transport runs the Auckland passenger trains. Kiwirail has been forced into those arrangements because passenger services were needed, but it is very difficult for another organization to gain a passenger franchise. Dunedin is looking at that now. I have tried to get a solar powered train to run from Hastings to Napier, as at Byron Bay, north NSW, Australia. Kiwirail does not want to know, and the Regional Council thinks it would be better to buy more buses. A solar powered train would be a tourist attraction. Buses never will be.
The problem in Auckland is too much negative thinking, so nothing ever gets going. I have said we have to work on expanding the range of services from the City Rail Link. That is being built at last, so let us add to it. A rail line to Massey and Kumeu is the first step. A light rail link will cost no less. The cost of laying rails is the same. And where is the light rail system going to go in the CBD? It will have to go overhead, so we will be duplicating the underground CRL. Adding to the CRL is the cheapest solution. When that has reached its full capacity, then we start building a duplicate system in light rail all over the CBD. The whole system will have to be overhead or underground. “High speed” light rail units cannot share roads with cars or trucks. Light rail that does share roads can be seen at Surfers Paradise. I urge everyone interested to visit it, and enjoy a holiday as well. That system built all over Auckland CBD will work, but its speed is limited to that of traffic, say 15km/hr. The same as bringing back the trams, probably not a bad idea.
The CRL can have trains every 4 minutes on both tracks. The latest version of the system I designed in 1965 is an upgrade to allow trains every 2.5 minutes at 200km/hr. The trains virtually talk to each other, and if one slows down, the others slow down as well. Signals are hardly necessary. If the train sees a red light it will stop. So the driver is hardly necessary either. The data between trains goes over the overhead wires. I am not aware of this being used on any light rail system.
Err, there are already commuter trains to Papakura and Pukekohe.
“I have said we have to work on expanding the range of services from the City Rail Link.”
One of the key benefits of the City Rail Link, is that it will allow an increase in train frequency across the entire rail network. Many feeder and high frequency buses then connect passengers to the trains at existing stations, including Mt Eden, New Lynn, Britomart etc. Instead of thinking of one limited mode, as a “silver bullet” for Auckland, ie expensive heavy rail. Instead we should continue to develop the current integrated and connected network of various modes, ie bus, light rail, heavy rail, cycle paths, “Street Cars”, high volume bendy buses, ferries and bus lanes. This project is already underway: See: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/new-public-transport-network/
Jezza the run/service I was talking about was from the Waiuku and Glenbrook area which will have a large number of workers going in both directions and with services on the weekends it could also help the GVR and their finances . Myself and a number friends I know would lie to do day trips out that way as we don’t have a car to use in Auckland , and we don’t want to pay a 3 figure sum to Sealink
Sometimes I bother reading the long comments and sometimes they’re worth it, but Alan gee wizz I just read yours and they are not worth it.
One of the first blog posts I read here was about how to choose the right mode for the corridor, you seem to be ignoring all that research.
it is extremely unlikely that the North Western Light Rail line will ever proceed, especially as NZ First is blocking the project, and Phil Twyford is incapable of making the decision to return the project to the NZTA and AT.
A better solution would be a bus hub inside the residential development, bringing buses into the centre of the new community. You can see a ( windswept ) example of this at the Massey University Campus at Albany
“The North Shore will at last have a “heavy” rail connection”
The current Northern Busway has been built so it can be converted into a Light Rail or Street Car system. This will connect to the CBD from the old “toll booth plaza” via two “tubes” under the harbour. The planning has already been completed. The double decker buses from the Northern Busway will then be moved to key arterial routes around Auckland
“And I have to take this opportunity to press again for a “heavy” rail link to Auckland Airport. This is totally deadlocked for some reason’
The Airport and AT have studied this “idea” and rejected it for several reasons:
2. Access on the Airport Precinct
3. Only a small % of visits to the Airport start or end in the CBD, most regular trips are by airport workers who live in the West or South East of Auckland
4. The airport can already be reached from the CBD by the 24/7 SkyBus service
5. The current Onehunga AT Metro train line is low frequency
6. The new Puhinui Station will connect to the Airport every few minutes by the new AirportLink buses. These will be electric buses or high capacity bendy “bus-trams”
7. New frequent bus services to the airport precinct are already planned. They will run from Botany and New Lynn Station; See: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/airport-to-botany-rapid-transit/
8. Longer term plans include Light Rail from Mt Roskill, Mangere and Botany. See; https://corporate.aucklandairport.co.nz/airport-of-the-future
Information about these projects is available online.
Also, HR between Onehunga and the airport costs twice as much, for about half the stations (maybe what you meant at #2). More money, less catchment.
And given network constraints, HR frequencies could only be every 30mins.
How is this still a thing…
Hi David, I have replied more fully, but the text has got buried in the main correspondence following your original letter. Briefly, Kiwirail is not as accommodating as Network Rail in UK. Network Rail does not run any trains. the running rights are given to train running companies like Virgin Trains. Kiwirail wants the tracks to itself, but it does not want to run passenger trains. So Regional Councils and AT have managed to get running rights for passenger trains. It is hard for others to get listened to. I suggest you keep working at your proposal. Would anyone locally in the Council be interested, and help press your case?
Thanks for taking the time to write Alan. I appreciate your bold vision and I agree it is exactly what we need for the long-term development of Auckland and NZ. If the jaundiced attitudes of some towards heavy rail today had been around in generations past, many cities of the world which benefit tremendously from their excellent HR systems now would not be doing so. There is of course a need for street-running of LRT but this alone will not take Auckland forward to where it needs to be. We desperately need more heavy rail as well.
“exhibiting or influenced by envy, distaste, or hostility ”
Jaundiced is the right word, but you’re pointing it in the wrong direction.
The most famous rail system in the world is the Tube, which is light rail. I’m glad those Victorians didn’t say ‘heavy rail or bust’.
The Tube (London Underground) is very much heavy rail Sailor Boy. EMU’s running on exclusive rights-of-way throughout, both in tunnel and on the surface.
It would be wonderful if the Unitec development can use a model of low-traffic neighbourhoods. When residential streets have zero through-traffic, they can become super public places. Think what you can achieve with well-connected open spaces, plenty of trees, good public transport and relatively high densities.
I went on a study tour to Vauban and Rieselfeld in Germany back in 2010 – both neighbourhoods had streets and lanes that were alive and safe , due to the lack of traffic. Unitec has the benefit of a place promotion agency, good existing connections and the ability to plan for the long term. How can we ensure that this is a place that people will want to visit to learn about best practice?
Good article here: https://www.livablecities.org/articles/freiburg-city-vision
Can you let me know what will happen to the large beautiful trees in front on the historical building near the community garden and forest?
There are a lot of very large trees in the area and it would be shame to have these removed.
Also will the community garden and fruit forest remain?
Caroline, it would be nice if we could know these details. They are critical. It’s always worth writing to find out, if you can spare the time.
There was a feasibility report done when the Unitec site was first being considered for sale that highlighted various areas. The plan was originally going to be for approx 1,200 houses and 1,500 student accommodation. I equated this to being around 2,500-3,000 additional cars. The acceptability of the site being developed in this way due to the light railway being put into Pt Chev and also the fact that the new Waterview tunnel would alleviate the gridlock on Carrington & Woodward Roads (30 minutes to travel 1-2 km every day after 4pm). When the tunnel opened the roads definitely improved. However since then the light railway has been cancelled and the housing number is up to 4500 dwellings which could equate to 5,000-6,000 additional cars. This puts the traffic in a worse position to before the tunnel opened. Has the traffic management report been updated to cater for these additional numbers?
Also there was a new footbridge built from the Unitec site over to Great North Road. Does anyone know why that was not built as a traffic bridge as this would help alleviate the traffic exiting onto Woodward & Carrington Roads?
I think (and certainly hope) the reason is because a road bridge would have had a significant impact on Oakley Creek, central Auckland’s only waterway which has remained in anything close to its original watercourse. It’s a significant native bird and lizard habitat and Friends of Oakley Creek and their leader, Wendy John, along with community volunteers, have worked tirelessly over many years to clear pest vegetation, and plant natives to get it where it is today. Council has endorsed these efforts so it would be hypocritical to turn around and agree to a road bridge running across the middle of the creek.
There is a total mental blockage with anything to do with rail. Why is the light rail proposal being set aside? That needs to be part of the housing development.
However the real rail solution for the whole area is a heavy rail line from Kumeu, via Massey, alongside SH16, a station at Pt Chevalier, and connect up to the existing line near Kingsland.
That will provide another destination for trains from the CRL. The capacity is a train every 2.5 minutes. We do not need a train to Swanson every 2.5 minutes. Make it every 5 minutes to Swanson and Kumeu/Huapai alternately. That will also solve the Kumeu/Huapai transport problem at the same time.
The rail line via Massey opens up the possibility of a branch north via Hobsonville, Greenhythe to Albany. A rail connection to the North Shore at last. That will relieve the traffic on the Harbour Bridge. Strengthening was done to the clipons in the 1990s in anticipation of the traffic to increase from 100,000 vehicles per day in 2000 to 200,000 vehicles per day in 2040. We now have 170,000 vehicles per day. What further work has to be done on the bridge to carry say 400,000 vehicles per day by 2040? Has anyone thought about it? I know about this because I was involved in the original crack repairs.
Build the two rail schemes as above and provide time to plan what needs to be done to extend the Harbour bridge life beyond 2040. By that time, a harbour rail tunnel can be built, also connected to the City Rail Loop.
To get Auckland really moving, we have to build more rail lines. Light rail is not good enough. It is too slow for the distances involved. Auckland is too spread out. We have had urban sprawl for too long, and no real transport solutions built at the same time. Only heavy rail can solve the problems now. Trains can travel at 140km/hr, or even 180km/hr. Light rail can never match those speeds. Only heavy rail will begin to get people out of their cars. A prime example is Heathrow Airport. For 60 years I have used the buses off and on when I visited, and hardly anyone used the buses. Now there is a rail connection to Hayes and Harlington, it is carrying 45,000 passengers per day, expected to rise to 90,000 per day when the Crossrail project is finished.
We need a Crossrail project in Auckland. We are spending the same sort of money on roads, and now they are never going to solve Auckland’s transport problems.
I will add one more point. The Mill Road motorway needs to be a rail line. How are we to add more traffic anywhere along SH1 when the motorway is already choked solid most of the time from Papakura to the CBD. I have been in that queue for over an hour many times. We have to get say half those cars off the motorway, and only rail is the answer. Let us hope the latest track repairs will begin to address that problem. But the rail lines have to be extended to cover other areas. More roads will never solve the problems.
“We need a Crossrail project in Auckland.”
What? A (typically British) complete fiscal disaster?
In case you haven’t noticed: A lot of money IS being invested into Auckland rail. There’s:
* The CRL
* The Third main
* Electrification to Pukekohe
* 3 new stations between Pukekohe and Papakura
You should be Prime Minister for Rail
Here we go again, Alan and his lightspeed trains.
Why heavy rail though? You can get similar or the same service (in an urban setting) while ditching the standards requirements and some of the cost of heavy rail by going with a system like Sydney metro.
You’re right in that we dont need a train every 2.5 minutes to Swanson. The maximum capacity will be a train every 5 minutes to Swanson. We have yet to see the running patten but at least half the 24tph per direction capacity will be soaked up by the southern and eastern lines.
Supposed to be a reply to Alan
Thank you Jack for your comment. Heavy rail is faster, it carries more people in greater comfort. People will leave their cars at home if they can catch heavy rail. Manchester in UK has heavy rail to the airport, and a metro system serving the airport. Rail passengers are increasing so fast that they had to double the size of the heavy rail station after only 3 years. Now four platforms compared with one platform for the metro.
Sidney airport heavy rail station has passenger numbers increasing by 25% per year. Liverpool UK city rail loop, heavy rail, was expected to take 100,000 passengers per day. The number is now 175,000 per day. They are having to build a new underground link to connect the two most heavily used stations directly to ease the congestion. That CRL has ten destinations. We are only going to have one to the north west, Swanson. We need four more if we are to copy Liverpool. If we are building tunnels or bridges, they are the most expensive items. After that the cost of heavy vs light rail is immaterial. It might as well be heavy rail, the most cost effective in the long term. I can give many examples. We need real solutions to the Auckland Transport problem, and building more roads is not the answer.
I disagree that heavy rail standards will inherently provide more capacity and more comfort. The signaling, grade and loading gauge/ gauge requirements of heavy rail in New Zealand no longer represent the gold standard and best price for new build passenger only systems.
You can get equal comfort and capacity from a modern metro system. This doesn’t require heavy rail standards. And you can get crossrail speeds in its central section (100km/h) very easily with a new build metro system too. By removing the name heavy rail and its associated signaling and grade requirements you can; build out cheaper, new metro systems can be automated, lowering running costs, and improving reliability and frequency. There are only gains to be made by removing requirements that were designed for steam trains.
Have a look at the video for an idea of what a new metro system looks like if you haven’t seen already.
The max capacity of sydney metro will be 45,000 people per direction per hour only with purchasing more rolling stock and running more services / longer trains, no further upgrades required. Crossrail will need significant signaling upgrades as well as purchasing more rolling stock to be able to run at its theoretical max capacity of 54,000 people per direction per hour. And thats with crossrail having longer platforms at 240m vs 170m for sydney metro. Platform length of underground platforms is a big cost, so making them shorter and running more frequent trains is a big win.
Thank you for your reply Alan, I agree more roads in Auckland are not a solution, just a pit to throw more money into.
Note; I think that people per direction per hour is a better way of measuring a systems capacity rather than passengers per day. It allows us to see just how much the trains and headways can carry. It strips out other factors like how long the system runs, and if it is used off or on peak.
“Manchester in UK has heavy rail to the airport, and a metro system serving the airport.”
No it doesn’t. There is no metro system whatsoever in the greater Manchester. Manchester does however have the “Manchester metrolink”, which is a tram system, not close to any metro system.
And I don’t see you ever look at anything that isn’t from either the UK or Australia, two nations that are pretty far from any paradigm in either urban planning/design or urban transport to pay any special attention to. No mention of anything in (for example) France? Or Japan?
Alan Spinks , What you need to do is to Submit a full commertary to Matt L so it can be posted on GA . And with tour perspective I would find it very interesting and there hopefully will be others out there too .
Thank you Jack for your comments. The discussion is worthwhile. I have ridden in many types of trains, and overall I feel that greater comfort is felt in modern high speed “heavy” rail trains. Metro systems tend to be built to shift as many passengers as possible, with comfort not the highest priority.
The rail services to Manchester Airport, UK provide a good comparison. It is served by “heavy” rail, and a metro system. If I want fast tranzit to the CBD I take the heavy rail. The APT type carriages are very comfortable, with headrests. The metro system is good if you want a suburban destination, but it seems to take ages if you want the CBD. The seats are similar to the Matangi units we have here in NZ. They are comfortable, but I would not like to go a long distance, such as a two hour journey. There are probably better metro systems with more comfort, but you get what you pay for. I imagine we will buy the cheapest for NZ, as usual.
My vision for Auckland is to get a high speed rail line built as soon as possible. I think the ideal route is Kumeu to Kingsland, via Massey. It has to be compatible with our existing heavy rail, but we can incorporate many new design features.
The prime example to copy is the line from St Pancras to Blackfriars in UK. The trains use an on board computer system to keep track of each other, using the overhead wires as the communication path. I designed the prototype for that in 1965. The trains can travel at 125mph (200km/hr) at 2.5 minute intervals on each track. Their position and speed and direction are tracked by the control centres, with the data sent from each train over the overhead wires. If a train has to stop, say because of a trespasser on the line, the driver applies the brakes and a signal is sent out, all trains stop. There is only 2.5 minutes available to stop the following train moving at 200km/hr, and all the following trains.
We can build this from Kumeu to Kingsland, and incorporate it into the existing Kiwirail network. As experience is gained, the line can be upgraded to Helensville, and also south to Pukekhoe, and then Hamilton and the rest of the network.
My ultimate vision is 200km/hr trains between Wellington and Auckland, and on to the Bay of Islands, with electrification over the whole route. Then why limit the speeds to 200km/hr? Why not 300km/hr?
Modern container trains are also built to high speed standards, so the freight between the main centres also travels at 200 or 300 km/hr.
The Crossrail project is being built to these standards, although I have heard the speed in the tunnels is limited to 140km/hr. Crossrail was shown on TV here as “The 15 billion pound railway.” Costs have risen to £18 billion, but that is expected to be the maximum. Total $36 billion in our money today.
So, cost from Kumeu to Kingsland? Crossrail has 21.6km of twin tunnels under central London, and 73km of surface railway in the outer suburbs. The costs work out, in our money, at $100 million per km of surface railway, double track electrified, including bridges and tunnels. Total $7.3 billion for 73km. The balance of the $36 billion is for 21.6km of twin tunnels, say $30 billion.
We could build that whole project in Auckland for no more than is proposed to spend on roads over an equivalent building period.
However, high speed rail from Kumeu to Kingsland, about 20km, at $100 million per km will cost $2 billion. That is something Auckland Transport should fund. It will be much more effective for a large source of commuters in the Kumeu/Huapai/Massey area than endless road building.
We need to buy the trains to suit. The proposed battery electric trains to serve Pukekohe were to cost about $12 million each. They are not being bought because the line is to be electrified. Without batteries they cost $8 million each, 3 car units, carrying about 200 passengers.
Say a 6 car set every 5 minutes from Huapai to the CBD, one hour return journey requires 24 3-car sets. Total cost $192 million.
There will certainly be better trains to buy, but I have chosen the above because they were already in our system to buy. I would look at the latest Aventra trains from Bombardia, 5-car sets carrying 1100 passengers. By the time our line is being built, there will be other choices.
Let us make the decision, do this. At last Auckland Transport will begin making progress to get commuters to work faster.
I would just like to ask Matt L to publish this separately and invite more comments. What do Aucklanders really want? This is just a beginning. We have to start somewhere.
What do Aucklanders really want? They probably don’t want to pay 100’s of billions of dollars just so 25 people in Kumeu can get to the CBD in 4 minutes. I’m guessing they wouldn’t want that…
Alan, with all respect I think you are living in a Transport Tycoon on sandbox mode fairy land and comparing Kumeu to Kingsland with Crossrail shows this.
Auckland needs a connected network which isn’t tied down to 1 mode but enables us to desperately infill our City area for a compact CBD without adding insane amounts of congestion and reducing our carbon footprint,
Of course who wouldn’t want 300 kmh trains, but it isn’t even remotely on the priority list to get Auckland moving. You’ve posted this utopia on her numerous times and I’m yet to see many or any agree with it. Really do love oyur enthusiasm and intent however 🙂
Plus high top speed doesn’t makes sense for urban routes. building a 100km/hour line would take 12 minutes for kumeu to kingsland making that a 300km/h line would shave a whole 8 minutes off. That’s presuming you accelerate instantly, and never stop to pick anyone up. Savings would be even less with that factored in. As for comfort, I wouldn’t even sit down if I had to make that trip.
My proposed high speed line serves not only Pt Chevalier and the Unitec site, which is what this discussion is about, since the proposed light rail is cancelled, but makes it a comprehensive scheme to serve Huapai and Kumeu as well, where several thousand residents are asking for a rail service to Swanson. This is better, it gives a direct service to the CBD. And all who use SH16 will be grateful for the reduced numbers of cars using that route.
We will gain experience with high speed rail, and be able to add to it to serve other areas. E.g. Dominion Road. I have a scheme for that as well.
Let us build something worthwhile, once and for all, and which can be added to, to serve Albany via Hobsonville and Greenhithe. It is not a $100 billion project. It costs $2 billion and is more useful than extra motorway lanes over the Bombay hills which will not enable a single commuter to get to work in the CBD any faster.
I was grateful once Len Brown got the CRL started. At last something to get cars off the motorways was being built. Now we need to add to it, and something that future generations will be thankful for, for the next 100 years. Otherwise we are all going to continue to be stuck in traffic for ever.
Alan this weekend [27th Feb] there was supposed to have been 2x passenger train running to the Helensvillr A&P with a GVR Engine and Carriages . But from what I told it was canned by Kiwi Rail with no reason . It was also promoted by the Councils Event arm , so if they have/could have done it why’o’why can’t AT do the same with Passenger Rail ?
Well apparently they can’t do even that.
Alan, you are dreaming if you think they could build a line from Kingsland to Kumeu for $2b. You’d spend that much just building the junction and tunnel out of kingsland.