Over the last 10-15 years transport policy has increasingly become about who can spend the most, not who can spend the best. Nowhere was that more evident than the Upper North Island transport policy the National Party announced on Friday. It is a grab bag of projects, many of which might sound great when talking to friends around the barbeque but don’t stack up under any form of rational analysis. In almost every case they’ve gone for the most expensive and populist version of projects under the guise of ‘vision’, but real vision needs to have some basis in reality and practicality.

The announcement was for what they say is $17 billion of a $31 billion transport plan. But those figures are only for the first decade and many of the headline projects not actually expected to start till the second decade. I think this makes the whole thing somewhat disingenuous. If they’re announcing them to get votes for it then surely they should also say how much they’re going to cost.

So for this post I’ve completed some rough calculations to estimate what their policy would actually cost, and these suggest it would actually be about double what they’ve claimed.

RoNS 3.0

As expected, big motorway/expressway projects are at the cornerstone of National’s policy and central to that is their Upper North Island expressway network. They’ve taken their RoNS 2.0 from the last election and added even more to it.

As well as the $6.8 billion NZ Upgrade Package (NZUP) the government announced in January they want to extend the current motorway/expressway network north to Whangarei and east from Cambridge to Tauranga. With Judith Collins stating:

The first project I am announcing today is to connect Auckland, Whangarei, Hamilton and Tauranga with four-lane expressways. This will also include Marsden Point. We will also build the Hamilton Southern Links project to connect the southern part of Hamilton to the Waikato Expressway. And we will build a four-lane expressway from Tauranga to Katikati. Desktop work to get the four-lane expressways underway will begin immediately upon us forming a Government.

Our objective – mindful of the engineering challenges, but not the political or regulatory ones, that we will fix – is to have the whole project complete in the 2030s. This will include tunnelling under the Brynderwyn and Kaimai mountains – and, yes, for those tunnels, you will pay a small toll for a car, or a more sizable one for a commercial vehicle. The massive ambition of this project will give industry a pipeline of major roading projects for between 10 and 20 years.

National won’t say how much these might cost as they’re not expected till the 2030’s. As we know, the industry already has a lot on the go including the $6.8 billion NZ Upgrade Package (NZUP) the government announced in January.

I’ll cover how I reached these figures in a separate post so I can try to keep this post fairly high-level for now.

Whangarei to Auckland

The 24km Warkworth to Te Hana section is currently expected to cost about $2 billion while the 2017 Whangarei to Te Hana business case suggested that route would cost $2.2 to $3.2 billion. But even that was was considered too much based on predicted levels of usage. The 22km section from Whangarei to Marsden point was included in that but was funded part of the NZUP programme for $692 million. However, that business case also recommended going around the Brynderwyns, noting a tunnel option “was significantly more expensive“.

Tunnels are not only more expensive to build but also cost a lot to run due to the safety systems needed – for example, the opening of Waterview has seen the annual cost of operating state highways for the entire Auckland region increase from about $110 million to over $140 million, a nearly 30% increase. Tunnels also have lower speed limits than surface roads and so while the route would be about 2.4km shorter than going around the Brynderwyns, it might only be about 1½ minutes faster.

The Brynderwyns bypass options

With the tunnel this remaining 43km section could cost in the region of $3.5 billion. Put together, this suggests the cost to complete the Northland part of National’s promise is about $6.2 billion. By comparison the Waikato Expressway cost about $2 billion.

Cambridge to Tauranga

National claim the 15.6km section from Cambridge to Piarere would cost $570 million. This seems reasonable compared to other nearby project costs and as I’ve pointed out previously, this project is one of the few that makes some sense.

It is then about 22km to get to the base of the Kaimai Ranges, a tunnel potentially over 7km in length and further 18km to then get to Tauranga. All up I think this Cambridge to Tauranga section could cost around $6 billion. Yet there are sections on this route carrying as few as 6,000 vehicles a day.

Other motorways/expressways

There were a few other projects they’ve included in their plans.

Unsurprisingly the ‘most expensive road in the world‘ per km, the East West Link, makes a come back. The project was estimated to cost $1.8 billion in 2017 but National now say they can build it for $1.55 billion.

The NZUP funds the $478m, 6.8km Tauranga Northern Link as well as $455 million to then extend it a further 7km extension to Omokoroa. Once again National have suggested extending this even further with a further 18km extension to KatiKati. Based on those other two projects this would be a further $900 million.

They’ve promised to build the $600 million Hamilton Southern Links – another bypass of Hamilton.

Third Harbour Crossing

The biggest of all the promises is to build a third harbour crossing as combined road and rail tunnels with Collins saying:

Our Plan is that it should be for both road, rail and new public transport technologies that come on line. And, yes, the new tunnel will be tolled – but the existing bridge never will be.

In terms of a timeline, I am announcing National’s Plan is to fast-track the consenting so that work can begin in 2028. It will require a tremendous amount of complex engineering. Unlike Waterview, there isn’t an old Ministry of Works plan to pick up and run with. It will be New Zealand’s biggest ever infrastructure project. An eight-year timeline to get work underway is ambitious.

The plan to spend till 2028 designing and consenting the tunnels is already in ATAP and happening now so this is not actually something new.

What is new is the suggestion only one crossing is tolled. That would undermine the NZTA’s previous plans have the new crossing as the through route with the existing Harbour Bridge as the ‘off-ramp’ to the the city. If only the new tunnels are tolled that means there will likely still need to be junctions to enable bridge traffic avoiding the toll to rejoin the rest of the motorway network. This would both add to to cost and could have a significant and destructive impact on the city.

There is also the significant issue of cost. National have budgeted $5 billion for the project in the first decade but notably left a second line item in their budget for costs in the second decade. We understand the project is expected to cost around $10 billion and that’s before any costs of actually putting rail in. Notably that figure also doesn’t include the costs that would be needed to widen the motorways either side of the tunnel or any of the local roads to be able to handle the extra traffic this enables.

As per the post we re-ran yesterday, the most recent analysis from the NZTA shows the best performing option for drivers is if we build a rail only crossing and introduce road pricing of some form.

It also seems the only reason for having combined tunnels is because it’s a way to make the road tunnels stack up better.

Speaking of adding rail, their policy states

  • The Northern Busway would be converted in time into a rail corridor and would join the tunnel at Esmonde Road.
  • The project would also require a rail tunnel under the Auckland CBD to connect the new Northern rail with the Britomart Precinct.

This would add billions to the cost and shows National clearly haven’t kept up to date with Auckland’s plans as there isn’t the capacity to plug this line into Britomart unless they plan reducing the capacity and reliability of the City Rail Link. The current plans are for any rail from the shore to travel under Wellesley St where the Aotea station has been “future-proofed for any future decision to create a North Shore rail line“.

It’s weird the suggestion even came up, though perhaps less so when we think about some of the other projects that made a surprise appearance further below.

So in addition to billions already planned and funded, National are proposing to add a further $25 billion in additional roads.

National’s support for rail and public transport

There were some positives from the announcement though and the most significant of these is not any specific project but the general theme that they’re now more supportive of public transport and rail projects at scale. This is quite a shift from National in the past which were far more sceptical of the role of public transport in our cities and had to be dragged kicking and screaming into agreeing to projects such as rail electrification, the City Rail Link and the Northern Busway extension. Though I did note that during the subsequent media interviews it looked like Gerry Brownlee was heavily biting his tongue as Transport Spokesperson Chris Bishop talked positively about their newfound support of these projects.

In her speech Collins said “Auckland’s motorway network is now nearly complete” and claimed National would “complete Auckland’s rapid transit network“, of which she also said “we will measure our progress against those goals, of 30 minutes to get to work and one hour to get across the city

All up the plan includes nearly $10 billion of rail, bus and ferry projects in Auckland although again some are over a decade away. The downside to all of this, like most of their policy, is many of the projects simply don’t stack up and a number of other already agreed rapid transit projects are nowhere to be seen.

A couple of projects that the other parties need to adopt too are:

  • Building a fourth main at the same time as the third main – National want to build the fourth main between Westfield and Wiri at the same time as the third main is built to take advantage of “cost synergies” and “allow the separation of commuter and freight traffic, and for express commuter services and regional rail“. We’re in full agreement with them here.
  • Extend electrification as far as Pokeno – This would extend electrification another 16km and allow for stations at Tuakau and Pokeno. Again we’re in agreement with this – though it isn’t a substitute for a proper intercity service like some National MPs have claimed in the past. What would be more impressive though would be if they were to commit to a guaranteed level of annual funding for electrification to allow us to get benefits of an ongoing supply chain as opposed to setting up one off projects each time.

But some of the other projects are head scratching.

Given he was in the room for the announcement and was specifically called out by Collin’s in her speech, it appears much of National’s PT/rail policy has been set by Mike Lee – this would also explain why they’re talking about sending North Shore rail to Britomart. The plan includes:

  • $1.5 billion for a heavy rail spur from Puhinui – something that is not as easy or effective as it sounds. This would undermine the under construction $100 million investment in the first section of the Airport to Botany busway and perform worse. There is no mention of that Botany connection at all.
  • $3.5 billion for also extending heavy rail from Onehunga to the airport sometime in the 2030s. It’s hard to fathom why both heavy rail options are included here as in both cases cheaper and more effective options have since been preferred.
  • $300 million to expand ferry services which is apparently based of an unreleased ferry strategy from Auckland Transport.
  • $1.2 billion to build a busway from Onehunga to the city along Dominion Rd – given National have questioned light rail, often on the basis of taking up road space, it’s hard to see how they are now supportive of a busway of the same or larger scale. This seems to be based on the Advanced Bus Study the NZTA undertook in 2016/17 to discredit the idea of light rail but had many holes in it, such as ignoring that there were other buses in the city centre.
  • $2.4 billion for a Northwest Busway. Addressing rapid transit on the NW has unfortunately been languishing due to the focus on light rail. National have gone with the 2017 business case though they’ve failed to understand the key issue with it and why light rail was being considered in the first place – e.g. the study didn’t address what happens when the buses get to the city centre with all of the other buses that need to be accommodated. It also seems weird they haven’t continued this on to Huapai as is planned in the Supporting Growth plans. Of course, this should have been built by the former government at the same time as they widened SH16.
  • $65 million for diesel shuttles to Huapai which is again odd when the NW Busway option would be much faster for where most people are going.
  • National also claim they’ll build the Eastern Busway in their plan despite the first stage already being under construction and the second stage in design.
If they’re completing the rapid transit network, where are the Upper Harbour, Airport to Botany and New Lynn to Onehunga busways?

A few final things

National claim their plans will “Fix congestion”. This is a bold claim given how many times it’s been made all over the world with no success (other than road pricing).

National say they’ll remove the regional fuel tax within their first 100 days in office. Over 10 years the RFT is expected to raise about $1.5 billion but once development contributions and the NZTA’s share of funding is taken into account, this is enabling about $4.5 billion of projects. Removing the fuel tax would see a large number of local projects defunded and delayed.

They also say they will freeze general fuel tax increases, which will make it even more difficult to build their hugely expensive plans. To help pay for everything they talk about allowing the NZTA to borrow up to $10 billion, paid for by the money collected annually from fuel taxes. However, it needs to be remembered that over half of that money goes to various operational and maintenance costs and soon a decent chunk of the remainder will go to servicing the debt from the Transmission Gully and Puhoi to Warkworth PPPs. This would be a massive case of shifting the costs of yesterday’s solutions on to future generations.

Given the absurd amount of expensive projects on the list, and the incredible popularity of the project, it is astounding that they’re looking to cancel Skypath with Collins suggesting people can just catch the ferry instead. There is also no mention of any other cycling funding. Given National started the Urban Cycleway programme this is highly disappointing.

All up their Upper North Island package seems to be about $35 billion compared to a claimed $17 billion. If National’s plans for the rest of the country have a similar amount of unplanned and uncosted future projects included, the plan could easily cost $60 billion or more.

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213 comments

  1. It’s all a pretty obvious election bribe out of desperation given National’s low rating in the polls and leadership turmoil. They know that there’s only 3 years to a term in NZ and that they’ll very probably need to be in a coalition partnership with another partner if they’re to get in government and that that partner will not be so keen on such a borrowing spree. I doubt even most Nat’s expect this to be sincere.

    I frankly don’t even think any of this is worthy of much attention let alone discussion.

    1. Mostly agree, it’s about getting an extra 2 – 3 % of the vote and saving a few MP’s jobs. Labour’s was the same in 2017 but they accidentally ended up in government.

      Seems reasonable for a transport centred blog to discuss one of the major parties transport election policies though.

    2. Sounds like you’re talking about the position Labour were in 3 years ago.

      What’s happened to the 100,000 KiwiBuild houses and LR that Labour promised?

      Reduction of poverty. What happened with that?

      So much for Labour’s ‘Year of Delivery’.

      1. National is all noise and not plans. Kiwibuild and light rail have been deferred until the next term. At least they have been cancelled.

        Poverty will continual as long as NZ operates a low wage, high inter generational welfare dependency, predominantly service based, low financial yield export, neoliberal economy and governance, that relies heavily on global low wage manufacturing and supply chains, which incompatible to disruptive current and future global health pandemics and planet warming.

      2. Exactly.
        I’m centre-left, but deeply disappointed in Labour. They are centrists, and Jacinda is a centrist-populist, no two ways about it. Not transformative, AT ALL.
        Which is why I’ll vote Green this time.
        Hopefully it can be a Labour-Green coalition – no NZ First. And Greens can pull Labour more to the left

        1. Greens didn’t really do anything either. They can’t. They are useless because they have no leverage. Only Winston got anything out of this government because he has leverage.

        2. Ari – agree but even Winston has largely squandered his leverage by mostly opposing Labour policies rather than negotiating to get some of his.

          How they have managed to go three years without getting the Marsden Point railway line under construction staggers me.

      3. “What’s happened to the 100,000 KiwiBuild houses…”

        That was a 10yr plan, not 3yr. And they’ve but 3000 more than National did in 9yrs.

        I doubt they’ll get close to it, but I cut them some slack for trying something. National sat on their hands for 9yrs on housing, just saying “But,…the market….”

    3. Tipping NZFirst’s rail policies on top of their More-RoNS motorway plans is an obvious, if insincere, pitch at grabbing Winstons declining vote.

  2. I actually don’t think it is too bad:
    a) I have no problems with expressways linking Auckland to adjoining major cities such as Hamilton and Tauranga and further south. Realistically we are never going to have decent rail between cities in NZ, and even though these projects may have bad BCRs, that is also the case with a lot of good PT projects that we need too. However the obsession with going north to Whangerei seems a bit odd.
    b) Rail to airport via Onehunga is a fairly good option. I don’t mind busway from Onehunga to city too. Combined they probably achieve most of the benefits of light rail just in a different format. I personally prefer light rail, but National’s is not a terrible solution.
    c) But building two rail lines to the airport is utter madness. The Puhinui link is crazy.
    d) East west link is probably nuts. But now that it has a lower cost maybe they have revised some of the more stupid aspects.
    e) You kind of get the feeling that National could actually deliver something. It might not be research based, but neither was Labour’s underground metro! What have Labour done or even started? (I will give them credit for airport to puhinui busway but that was as easy as it gets). The east west link for example, 3 years later I don’t think we have any clarity what they are going to do. If they have canned the project then why haven’t they started the obvious low cost improvements that are needed? Its like they are waiting for someone else to decide what to do!

    1. “I have no problems with expressways” No? Have you not noticed NZ has a gap between its emissions and its targets? Shame, Jimbo. We can leave a better world, but not with the roading plans of either major party.

      1. If emissions is your focus I think we would get significantly better bank for buck from EVs than rail. For example spending a billion on rail from Auckland to Hamilton won’t realistically make much of a dent in our emissions, but spending a billion subsidising EVs would. A billion would subsidise 50,000 EV cars by $20k.
        (I would actually prefer to charge emitters through the nose but that will never happen)

        1. A train carrying 100 people is still 50-100 cars off of the road or 3-4 coaches, and it has an awful lot more potential.

          It’s not just carbon emissions that make automobiles an environmental catastrophe. For example; A major source of the microplastics in the Ocean are automobile tyres of synthetic rubber.

      2. Haven’t you noticed we will transition from petroleum powered vehicles to BEV or HEV powered vehicles, they will still need roads.

        1. The number of cars using our roads is already a problem. We have a crisis of safety, of inaccessibility, of congestion, of children without independent mobility, of poor land use, and at the heart of all these problems is the transport system and our dependence on vehicles.

          Even if our population stayed the same, the use of vehicles needs to drop significantly. With a growing population, trying to keep our cities moving with electrification of the fleet only is a hopeless proposition.

          Car use doesn’t scale up to work for a large, modern city.

          Electrification is the most expensive way to decarbonise. And the least effective. It’s a useful lever, but only one of many.

        2. The expressways are for longer distance transport, intercity and beyond.
          Are you saying that this type of transport needs to drop significantly?

        3. They will still need roads. However, if there is less than 10,000 per day they don’t need an expressway, whether they are petrol or electric.

        4. Anthony, Paul and I have written ten posts on the subject of a national public transport network. Yes, I’m saying the number of long distance travel trips needs to drop. I’m also saying that research is clear that building expressways will instead increase these trips.

          Freight, too, needs to shift to rail as the spine, with road-based trucks limited to those that support and complement the rail network, and only as right-sized trucks suitable for our Vision Zero programme.

        5. Torsten we have roads, we have roads we need to maintain and renew, do we need an infinity of roads? We don’t have EVs, these need to be at the very least incentivised.

          Furthermore if congestion is the problem as Collins said (she also said climate change is a silly phase kids are going through, and because people worried about nuclear war but it hasn’t yet happened, nor will climate change: Seriously!), then reducing traffic is the answer not building it up faster by splurging on additional massive roads. This is well understood.

          People who say EVs need roads, imply there are none! Actually what we have is roads in need of EVs (and fewer cars of any sort).

        6. The ‘but EVs need roads too’ argument is only slightly less disingenuous that the claim ‘but buses need roads too’.

          We already have every road we need to run buses on, it’s not a lack of roads that hold back buses, it’s too much traffic (or alternatively, not enough bus lanes). The sorts of roads talked about, megabucks motorways, don’t have buses on them anyway.

          Likewise with EVs, we already have roads everywhere that EVs can use perfectly. You only need more roads if you want to run more traffic. Whether that’s EV or ICE doesn’t change the equation.

        7. Urbanbista you might not have an EV but I do, I’m about to replace our second car with a second. When the charging network improves EV’s will even be useful for long distance travel.

          We have to realistic about regional rail in NZ, its not going to happen in my lifetime, NZ never had rail to every town and village, unlike in Europe where rail was built everywhere, at best we might get the golden triangle linked up, anything else is a time wasting dream.

        8. Torsten my household already has two EVs; e-bikes. These not only do not burn fossil fuels but they also do not congest roads and streets.

          Congestion can not be ‘crushed’ with road building. Only less driving can do it.

        9. Actually you would be surprised at how extensive the NZ rail network was at its peak, there were rail lines to many small towns and villages. The lines were, of course, very slow and rustic in most cases and combined with the tiny populations, easily replaced by a few trucks and the occasional bus even in the 1920s.

        10. Every main political party in NZ (including the Greens) anticipates the continued use of road traffic.
          Rail is difficult in NZ, as has been already said, the network is limited.
          NZ needs the flexibility that roads offer. Frontera needs to be able to go from farm to farm and then to the factory. Trains cannot do that. This is the challenge for BEV trucks and why the solutions that all our politicians are looking at are biofuels and HFC.
          There is not a country in the world that thinks roads will be obsolete. Even in countries that are lucky enough to have extensive high speed electric rail networks also have vast motorway systems.
          Meeting the climate commitments we have made will come from energy shift away from fossil fuels and new technologies, or they just won’t be met.
          These GHG reduction promises can be changed at the stroke of a pen. Just imagine if there was global conflict. Not even the Danish will insist on electric tanks.

        11. New Zealand’s rail netowork is so extensive it’s easier to list the towns that don’t have rail, than the ones that do.

          The only significant centres without a current or mothballed rail corridor at Taupo, Nelson and Queenstown.

        12. Daniel, do you realise that Fonterra is Kiwirail’s largest customer already? Indeed they use trucks around farms, but they also use rail between their factories, warehouses and ports. Nobody is proposing to get rid of roads, but you can’t and shouldn’t justify a four lane motorway to get milk from the farm gate to the local dairy plant.

        13. Daniel – you’re right vehicles are not going to be obsolete. However, the road network is already in place to get tankers from farms to dairy factories, they don’t need a four lane expressway to achieve that.

        14. Urbanista I can’t do my shopping with an e-bike, nor can I take my kids to activities, or the myriad of other things I do with a car, it also rains a lot in Auckland, I have an aversion to getting wet. I can’t tow a boat or trailer with one or transport my family to our batch on one.

          I do my bit, I no longer drive to work, I now home office and will do until I either leave my current employer or retire. I only leave the house during the day if I have to go to the office or visit customers. I’m not doing either of those activities on an e-bike.

        15. Torsten, it is sad you’re so dependent on a car. I’m not sure what you’re scared of, though. We’re simply trying to plan and build for people to not be dependent on cars. Surely you can see it’s good for them, you, all of us, the environment, to get people using more healthy ways of getting around. You’ll still be able to drive. You just might be charged more for the costs you’re imposing on society, that’s all. And even that will be a while away.

          But I’m not sure why this became about you instead of about planning for a population and a country?

        16. ‘ Torsten, it is sad you’re so dependent on a car.’

          It is not don’t be ridiculous.
          The car is tool that allows us to live a life we want to live. The car makes me the opposite of sad.

        17. I am also dependent on a car and I don’t like it one bit, especially after being charged so much in rates and having voted for councillors who both promised better public transport.

        18. “You’ll still be able to drive. You just might be charged more for the costs you’re imposing on society”

          You have that completely backwards Heidi. Cars are self-funding. The operator pays for the vehicle, the maintenance and the fuel. I.e., 100% “farebox recovery”.

          You can cram 60 people into a bus and still struggle to pay 50% of its costs. The rest is imposed on society.

          Multi-million cycleways, and not 1 cent recovered in user charges. In fact if you even suggest a small fee, say a gold coin, be charged of its users, they start foaming at the mouth. So again, the cost is imposed onto society.

          The worst part is that those motorists who fully fund their vehicle 100% are also paying for those other things that people like yourself demand.

          Be thankful you have what you have, when it’s largely somebody else paying for it all.

        19. Geoff, Cars are self funding? A myth.
          Can I please explain. On my Auckland rates demand, the single largest expense is “transport” at over 30% Of this expense nearly half of it is spent on “roads”. Footpaths and cycleways are only a small part of this expenditure. So a massive ratepayer funding to cars in parallel to public transport funding. In rural areas roading expenditure is an even greater proportion of property rates.

        20. @Heidi you’re all about what you think is best for you, your lifestyle is what you believe is best for NZ, my lifestyle is clearly different from yours. Not everyone in NZ is you, nor do they live like you appear to live, we’re all different, in NZ we still have the freedom to choose how we want to travel around our cities and countries.

        21. “Urbanista I can’t do my shopping with an e-bike, nor can I take my kids to activities, or the myriad of other things I do with a car, it also rains a lot in Auckland, I have an aversion to getting wet. I can’t tow a boat or trailer with one or transport my family to our batch on one.”

          @Torsten

          Plenty of others do exactly these things, bar the bach, you talk about you need a car for. Depends on where and what.

          Our kids go off to activities via bus and train & I shop with a bike sometimes. I know others do this big time as they have more suitable bikes, situations, or infrastructure.

          Sure cars and roads are needed, no ones suggesting we do away with them altogether.

        22. So what you’re saying grant is that Heidi’s wrong and that he’s not car dependent.
          We have options and yet we still choose to use cars. Funny that.

        23. Torsten i do shop with my bike, do many of the things you describe, but not all of them. We do have a car, and it’s great for driving to the country, of moving big and heavy things. But it has become, quite easily, only used for these specialist tasks. And that’s the point.

          I don’t expect you or anyone to never use a car again. But do the math, if everyone replaced just 10 or 20% of their current car journeys with anything else: With a zoom chat, with an e-bike ride, using transit, with a walk cos the shop or whatever is just there… don’t you see hoe much better the experience of the remaining 80% (or whatever) of everyone’s more essential car journeys would be? How much clearer the air, fewer the deaths, fitter and healthier the population. And how much less road building we would do. We would invest more broadly in all modes, maintain what we already have better etc.

          What am I describing? A country like the European one you perhaps are from? Instead of the foolish anglophone nations that try to use motor vehicles for every single task.

        24. Wow, this is an interesting discussion. If I get it right, it’s generally accepted that people will be allowed to continue using cars for essential travel, but they will need to pay a bit more to do so.
          So the question is, what about the people that want to use their cars for non essential travel? Taking the kids to school when the kids could walk, doing the shopping by car, when you could cycle 15 minutes to get a pint of milk.
          What about the people that just want to go for a drive, simply because they like to do that?
          Once you start saying that you can’t do those things, you are on dangerous ground.
          Yes, there is a social cost of using the car. The GHG emissions can be easy counted. But once the person has paid that cost, can they still go for a Sunday drive?
          What about the social cost of cycling? Bikes are usually made in China from processes that burn a lot of coal. Should there be a fee for using your bike to get that pint of milk?
          What about pet owners? A dog can have a bigger GHG paw print than an SUV?
          Parenthood? Should people that chose to have children be forced to compensate those that don’t? Having 3 kids creates a much bigger impact on the climate than a lifetime of car ownership.
          My point is, we need to accept that not everyone thinks the same and imposing our own morals on others is actually quite selfish.

        25. I’m on dangerous ground when I walk and cycle places, actually. Due to the motor vehicles.

          People wanting to drive a short journey for something they could walk or cycle to might find that more and more parts of the city have found better uses of the land around the shops or schools than wasting it on roading.

          And does one ever pay sufficiently for risking others’ lives and health?

        26. I’m sorry if you felt my comments were personal towards you Heide, it was not meant that way.
          One could also argue that pedestrians are on dangerous ground from cyclists running into them.
          Cars also save lives, that’s why the essential services use them.
          Of course every traffic incident that causes death or harm is a tragedy and both National and Labour both argue that road spending is aimed at reducing this.
          As for land allocation, I would suggest NZ is a Long way from banning cars from cities and only a small minority think spending on roads is ‘wasting money’

        27. Public transport works if you live in the city, it doesn’t work when you don’t. I don’t live in a suburb, there’s no train or ferry near me and the closest bus stop is a couple of km away. My kids catch the bus to school, I work from home, my wife doesn’t. As I said before not everyone lives the same lifestyle, we chose to live where we live and to live here we have to own cars. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, I would not live a surburban or apartment dwelling lifestyle.

    2. I’d like to get some more details about the Onehunga busway, especially how it would work on Dominion Rd. On the face of it it doesn’t make much sense though.

      It will have the same space constraints as LR in the town centres, only worse as high volume busways need space for buses to pass at stops.

      I’m assuming a full busway will be built from Mt Roskill to Onehunga. I can’t see how this could be justified given Onehunga will be conected to the RTN anyway, while the LR proposal had only one stop along the way, so I assume the busway would be the same.

      1. It doesn’t make sense. Dominion Road already has peak hour bus lanes and it would be easy to just convert them to 24/7 bus lanes.

        National want to sell us the idea that light rail will destroy the road corridor and all businesses that run alongside it, when there is no evidence to suggest that is even remotely true.

      2. Of course BRT doesn’t fit, well not without destroying all the properties down one side of the whole of Dominion Rd, like the eastern busway. And would cost so much more and make hectares of valuable urban land unproductive. Dumb and dumber.

        Like the US in Vietnam; they plan to save the community (from the horrors of light rail) by destroying it. Nor do the buses fit in the city centre, this is well studied.

        Like the rest of the announcement this is just something to say, that’s opposed to government policy, as they will not have to do a damn thing about it.

        1. BRT can just be 24×7 bus lanes and traffic light priority can’t it? That obviously fits. Buses shouldn’t need to overtake each other if the boarding is quick enough; multi door enter / exit with tag on/off when on board. Articulated buses insead of double deckers.
          But yes BRT would have most of the things National said they didn’t like about light rail (low speed / no parking) plus also have the city centre problems.
          The main advantage of BRT (and this applies everywhere) is that it can be used by non BRT routes too without transfer. So BRT would be quicker for those coming from south of Mt Roskill such as Blockhouse Bay or all of the new housing development in Roskill South.

        2. Yes buses, even more and/or bigger articulated ones are going to cause an ugly problem in the city centre. We don’t want to destroy the centre to solve a transport problem. Remember, in general we are wanting to be running more buses as time goes on. Besides light rail uses less width than a busway in the normal not stop sections of the corridor from what I understand.

          Starting with this main route we then have a starting point for other lines. Don’t think this should come at the expense of the NW line though.

        3. Grant I think there is an the assumption that buses must be completely different to light rail. I am assuming they can find buses that are long, electric and potentially allow drivers at both ends. They won’t have the same capacity as LR, but could potentially be much higher than current buses. They could even have a guidance rail if that’s what is needed. Spending $3 billion and countless years digging up Dominion road to lay rail may not be necessary.

        4. Jimbo, the short answer is yes, up to a point. It depends on the corridor width, the demand and the route pattern.

          The largest capacity buses you can buy are about the same as a small light rail vehicle. 24m ling advanced buses with signal priority would just do on the Dominion-Mangere corridor today (assuming you could manage them at the city end, and no there are no commercial models available that don’t need to be turned around) but would be at its limits from day one with no room to grow.

          Auckland Transport did all this evaluation and planning work, years ago now, and NZTA did a big review of it when they were looking for any reason not to do light rail. The conclusion remains the same: buses will work for some corridors but not this one. You’ll not that AT is progressing an advanced BRT for the botany line, but a LRT for the Mangere airport one. Right tool for each job.

      3. Here is how an Onehunga busway works:

        Auckland: we wanted a light rail line down Dominion Road to Onehunga and Mangere.

        National: That will disrupt traffic and parking and cost too much. You can have the same thing, but we’ll call it busway and use buses, because light rail is a Labour thing.

        Auckland: Ok, so you’re going to build a busway, great, but that’s going to cost a lot and disrupt traffic and parking too for it to actually work like a busway and give the capacity we need.

        National: You can have a busway but it can’t cost very much and it can’t impact on traffic or parking. And it has to run with cheap buses. And buses are just buses so they don’t need all the fancy infrastructure and stops and stuff. Buses don’t need much. Call it a BRT. We’ll fund it in the third decade. Not a priority.

        Auckland: Err, ok. Well I guess thats a start, so can we have the money to start building the BRT now please.

        National: No, you don’t need money. Just run the buses, because the buses don’t need much and buses are fine for what you need. It’s a third decade project.

        Auckland: But we already have buses there?!

        National: We know, job done amirite! Aren’t you glad the new National have such a strong public transport focus. Now back to our rural motorway plans…

  3. Things that are good:
    NW corridor rapid transit
    Onehunga-city corridor rapid transit
    North West corridor light rail
    Electrification to Pokeno
    Expansion of ferry services

    Things that are not:
    Third harbour crossing to include motor vehicles when it makes the most economic sense to make it PT only
    NW corridor rapid transit – it need to serve Kumeu and Huapai, instead of a diesel shunt on the existing rail line
    Onehunga-city corridor rapid transit – should be light rail
    Uncosted (and probably unnecessary) tunnels on expressways
    Expensive Onehunga/Airport/Puhinui rail loop, which is made even harder now due to works done in the previous National government
    Repeal of the RFT
    Lack of active transport
    No commitment to Skypath

    It gets worse, they are planning on a package for Wellington too.

    1. The harbour bridge will require restrictions on trucking in order to manage its longevity (assumed in about 10 years). Hence vehicle tunnels being considered.
      If vehicle tunnels are built, existing lanes on the harbour bridge could be repurposed for pedestrians and cycles.
      https://www.nzta.govt.nz/assets/projects/awhc/docs/BRI-1270-awhc-transport-modelling.pdf

      The point of the diesel shuttle to Huapai (similar to the current Pukekohe service) is that it can be done now. It will be some years before the Northwest Rapid Transit corridor is completed, and before the rail line could be electrified. https://www.national.org.nz/auckland-rail-network-additional-rail-projects

      1. The western ring route was built to take the trucks off the harbour bridge. We don’t need to build a tunnel for them too.

        That’s the problem with induced demand.

        We see this repeated all over the city. Just as one example, SH16 was put in “to take vehicles off GNR”. Did it pan out like that? No. Induced demand means they now fill it, as well as GNR AND the route through the inner west via Pt Chev, Westmere and Herne Bay.

        Transport is supply-driven. Put in the PT, the rail and right-sized freight system, and active infrastructure in connected and comprehensive networks, and trips on those networks will grow. Put in ever more roads, and it is vehicle trips that will grow.

        1. “Transport is supply-driven”: but so is the economic activity it creates. Although there are downsides too: for example if it wasn’t so cheap and easy for me to drive across town to buy my latest gadget from a probably overseas owned megastore I may have paid a little more and bought it from a local store.

        2. Yes. And how much current economic activity is sustainable? What would a circular economy look like? How good could life be if we focused on sustainability, wellbeing, biodiversity and the future instead of pointless measures like GDP?

  4. The debate about transport in NZ is very difficult and confusing. There are so many views and opinions.
    GA has been very helpful in analysing all the many projects. The pros and cons.
    We all want to reduce congestion. This is the goal.
    To me the best way to reduce congestion and transport costs and make Auckland more competive in the world is by intensifying our cities.
    I don’t think many NZers believe this and we need a campaign.

    1. Yes, I would add that implementing compact city strategies would be how to make the healthiest, most sustainable and liveable cities with the most opportunities for people.

      Careful about saying the goals is to reduce congestion. It is a goal. The problem with saying the goal is to reduce congestion is that, given the poor state of the dominant and debunked transport planning processes, the work being done in the name of ‘easing congestion’ ultimately makes it worse.

      National’s roading-heavy transport plan will worsen all outcomes including congestion. Labour’s NZUP will do the same, although it is a milder version.

      1. Thanks Heidi. I think that in the past 3 years the government and the Unitary plan has made a big difference. About 80% of new homes in Auckland have been within the existing Auckland boundaries. Speak to some of the students, business people and working people happily living in apartments who would not want to go back to commuting 2 or 3 hours a day. Life in distant suburbs for any family is difficult.

  5. Twin road tunnels under the Kaimai’s would be insanely expensive. The Kaimai range is technically very challenging due to the nature of the rock (the rail tunnel was plagued with problems and that did not have expensive ventilation and fire suppression systems) and the sheer length of the run. Additionally, dangerous goods are not allowed in road tunnels so there would still be plenty of heavy traffic taking the long way, both for Tauranga and Whangarei. Politicians often make things up without knowing the technical realities (We’re gonna build a wall!)

    1. Agreed. There is no reason why a non-tunnel option cannot be used on the existing SH 29 corridor. Most of the Kaimai pass is a 2+1 configuration.

      Tunnels only make sense when there is no other way possible.

    2. Dangerous goods are allowed in road tunnels in Europe, there is no reason why we can’t amend our rules.

      A lot of European countries now build road under mountains, they don’t go up and over anymore.

  6. For me the big bright side is how this shifts the Overton window. It’s now politically acceptable to suggest borrowing many billions of dollars to invest in transport projects. It’s also acceptable to talk about projects that should happen more than 10 years in the future.

    I don’t think National is suggesting the right mix of projects. However at least they’ve acknowledged that a large amount of investment is required.

    1. Agree. Given National is unlikely to form a government this year, on the balance this is a good thing, we now have political consensus that Auckland needs an enhanced rapid transit network. What National promises in 2023 or 2026 is probably going to be more important.

      1. With the CRL barely complete by 2024, it shows you how our short 3 year election period seems ridiculous to help with longer term planning.

        All this politicking and delaying of projects leading up to elections really mucks us around.

    2. Disagree.

      There’s too much we can do cheaply that is very effective. And we do still need some big ticket items, but to fund them we need a complete rethink about tax and generational equity. The starting point should be – how can we establish a healthy, low carbon system while reducing – not increasing – the burden on our kids.

      There probably is a place for big, short term, borrowing, but only after we have undergone the paradigm shifts in thinking on climate and equity. National’s contribution could have been to be fiscally prudent and technologically innovative. Instead, they’ve settled into 1960 on steroids.

      1. Spending $360m on a Skypath is not fiscally prudent.

        I’ve got no problem with the concept. I just don’t think we need the gold plated option.

        1. Yeah, I’m not saying Labour is being fiscally prudent – look at NZUP – just that this could’ve been National’s contribution.

        2. The $360m is for a network of shared paths, including SeaPath. It’s not just for Skypath.

          I am interested to know how National will make this cheaper? Will they close off an entire motorway lane on the harbour bridge? Unlikely

        3. SkyPath was originally planned to cost around $30 million wasn’t it? Then somehow it ballooned out to $360 million once NZTA took it over. Somewhere, someone has got their sums very, very wrong…

        4. Anthony – that’s correct, from memory $200 – $250m is for Skypath and the remainder is for what was known as Seapath.

        5. “SkyPath was originally planned to cost around $30 million wasn’t it? Then somehow it ballooned out to $360 million”

          The original estimates did not include; snacks, and thousands of post-it-notes used in the various brain storming sessions run by $350 per hour consultants.

      2. I agree that there are many, many incremental improvements that can be cheaply made to our transport networks. However I really think those should be done at a local level by local government. Unfortunately AT seems incapable of doing this.

        Completely onboard with rethinking how our tax system works and that is a central government issue. Currently there is far too much redistribution of wealth upwards but I doubt National is going to be in a rush to change that.

  7. Is that their map or yours?

    The NZ Herald article I was reading (https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12348768) described the Puhinui spur as part of a “loop” with Onehunga, which is obviously quite a different idea and I couldn’t really figure out what it means. If it was running on the fourth main, I could see several of the problems with the spur’s impact on the Southern line dissipating since it would presumably not be using the same capacity.

    I guess the Onehunga BRT had to be their Dominion Rd plan for a while moment there it seemed like it was a different idea.

    If you look at the article, I also think it’s fairer to say that the PT options are the headline ones rather than the roads which is interesting. It’s just unfortunate that it seems they’ve gone the wrong way. Every benefit of the doubt I gave them without a map, betrayed and it really was the bad interpretations all along.

      1. Haha, I actually meant the other one which I now notice (a) says National on it and (b) says “authorised by Judith Collins”. Whoops.

    1. What’s difficult to understand about it, the line will run from Puhinui to Onehunga with a stop at the airport, it could also mean trains from the Waikato could have direct access to the airport.

      1. Except they wouldn’t because why would we divert them at least 9km making for a slower journey for everyone else when the people who are going to the airport can just transfer like most Aucklanders will do anyway.
        Not to mention it would put them on the inner Southern Line which will already be full of trains and we’ll want them on the Eastern line.

        1. Or you could have direct trains from the Waikato terminating at the airport, with return trains back to the Waikato. There would be Hamilton Auckland CBD trains and Hamilton AKL trains. I bet a lot people would choose to take a train direct to AKL from Hamilton than drive and pay to park.

          A lot like there are trains from Malmo to Copenhagen Airport and trains from Malmo to Copenhagen Central Station, they are two different services.

        2. But Torsten isn’t the proposed Puhinui spur from the north, ie city centre, so trains from Waikato could not use it.? Though people could go past the junction to the next station and transfer…. which of course will be case next year at the Puhinui interchange! So why spend $1.5b to do the same but at lower frequency and less directly!

        3. I had assumed that this spur would use usable by trains from both directions, if that’s not the case then it’s not as useful as it could be. It’s would be another fiasco like the Manukau spur which isn’t able to be accessed from the South.

  8. Really appreciate the detailed an unbiased analysis of this. Far too often people dismiss everything National says just because these people are anti-car, anti-fuel, and anti-road. But as you mention, there are some decent ideas from National.

  9. National has deliberately set out to confuse us by mixing up projects that wont even be started until the 2030’s alongside ones which will start next week. The headline about tunnels under the Kaimais and Byrderwins is dreamware and far down the track.
    Good to see the govt announcement over the weekend for money to start work on the NW busway. And that cycleway/walkway through the Mangroves looks good. Best part of busway is its staged construction something that sneaks it under the radar so nobody ever knows what the full cost of the project will be when its finished. If we had taken this approach with light rail it would probably be working its way up Dominion road now.
    Still there are some good parts to National plans especially extending the electrification to Pokeno which just piggy backs on the electrification to Pukekohe project. I would suggest it should go through to Mercer as there is already a section of triple track and the necessary cross overs there plus it would be a good place for a park and ride. Ditto the diesel shuttle to Kumeu its an easy to do project. Building the fourth main at the same time as the third looks okay until you realise there is much much more involved and the starting and completion time will be much longer. Its sort of looks like a stalling tactic to me. Pretty sure the third main is designed costed and funded and just about ready to go. A leisurely government could push this out another couple of years or more. There’s plenty of overtime for rail replacement bus drivers in this project.
    I don’t care if we ever build light heavy or metro rail to the airport but one good thing about a commitment to build a line from Onehunga to the airport eventually is that National would have to make provision for it if they build the East West link. This means providing Mangere town center with rail at some point in the future will still be possible. I am still of the view that a single track line with long passing section would be satisfactory.
    They can build a road tunnel under the harbour if the want as long as its only funded by tolls, road user charges and fuel tax. I don’t want to be paying for it in my rates and general taxation.

    1. ” one good thing about a commitment to build a line from Onehunga to the airport eventually is that National would have to make provision for it if they build the East West link”
      Good point. Don’t think the 2017 East West Link had any real plan for this

      1. They certainly didn’t make any provision for light rail or even heavy rail with the East-West link, particular since the Neilson Street overbridge was levelled.

        1. Why did they get rid of it? I assumed it was for widening (a dedicated left turn lane into Onehunga Mall from the industrial area) but it still had the same number of lanes.

        2. It was an unnecessary artificial hill on a busy truck route. I think there was only room for a single track underneath so it was never going to be much use for rapid transit anyway.

        3. This would mean that any extension of the Onehunga Line would have to be either above or under ground, requiring a complete change of elevation for much of the line (as well as dual tracking), rebuilding Onehunga Station (and possible Te Papapa too). It would mean a lengthy closure of the Onehunga spur. And then trying to design a new section of line that connects to the futureproofed Mangere Bridge.

          On the plus they could potentially do away with all the level crossings.

        4. The proposed light rail link via Onehunga was planned to go over the existing station and over the road, rather than across it.

    2. The entry point to any road tunnel under the harbour will be devastating for the urban environment in whatever locality is chosen

  10. Certainly the plan from National is interesting and worth discussing. At least they might get big chunks of it built. Its sad how Labour seems unable to deliver on its key promises regarding Kiwibuild and Auckland light rail. They also talked last election about a smaller scaled down East West link but seems to have done nothing about this since the last election.

    Regarding the roading side there actually is very little new from last election. Interesting the Piarere to Tirau link seems to have been forgotten and the only real new road since the RONS 2.0 from last election is having an expressway all the way over the Kaimais instead of just from Piarere to the foothills of it.

    The Public transport side is more interesting and shows real progress from national. Hopefully Labour and the Greens can commit to matching Nationals promise of electrification to Pokeno and building the fourth main line at the same time as the third.

    The second Harbour Crossing public transport connections really have to be looked at. So far little work has been done on what should happen of Akoranga (my view, go up alongside the motorway all the way to Silverdale then in the more distant future head west to join the North Auckland line significantly shortening the rail distance from Auckland to Wellsford and Whangarei) and how to link the Gaunt Street station (or Wellesley street station) to the rest of the network. One exciting option is to go back to the city loop proposed in the 1972 Rapid rail Transit Plan (outlined here https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2011/12/02/an-auckland-that-could-have-been-the-1972-auckland-rapid-rail-transit-plan/). Only difference being instead of the southern link to this route going via K Road into the existing western line have it go to a new northwestern heavy rail line line to Kumeu alongside the northwestern motorway instead of light rail or busway (also links in well with the line to Northland and saves the need for an avondale-southdown line). And the eastern connection can be used for express services to the airport via Puhinui and Panmure.

  11. Looking forward to your further analysis.
    Your comment about policy for ’round the barbie’ catches what it was about: reassuring some deeply shaken supporters after National’s “fortnight from hell”
    but also being positive, gaining headlines and not being too negative about the handling of the covid crisis.
    Before covid the election was looking like, in part a road v rail/ public transport scrap and this is an attempt to reset that.

  12. Fascinating to see the alleged hand of Mike Lee in National’s transport policy. The outcome for Auckland PT certainly bears his stamp, and if he was in the room when the announcement was made . . .

    Re the Puhinui-Onehunga rail “loop”: A loop was ruled out virtually from Day 1 in AT’s thinking on the issue (back when it was considering heavy rail to the airport) because it would require serious tunnelling under the airport at vast cost. AT’s plan was independent lines from the north and east joining together east of the airport and running together to the terminal, avoiding much of the tunnelling.

  13. Perhaps Judith being from Auckland would / could be a good thing for Auckland infrastructure spending?
    Although I’m sure most if not all of this was written before she became the leader.

    Easy for a big announcement that pleases everyone though. Road and rail for everyone!!!

  14. My guess is that the Limehouse Link in London would be the most expensive road in the world. They built a 1.8km road for 290 million pounds sterling in 1993. Inflate that to today’s money and wrap it in a bow.

    1. Yes, well that was building a motorway underground, underwater, and with a motorway junction in the middle… no wonder it was a little expensive.

      1. They only had to build it there because Maggie Thatcher didn’t believe in planning. All the cheaper options had gone.

  15. A well written paper. Thank you Matt. My contention is that Auckland first of all needs more Heavy rail lines built before we branch out into alternative metro systems. We are spending $5 billion on a City Rail Link. This should be fully loaded with trains to make maximum use of it.
    The London Underground runs trains at three minute intervals at peak times, and they are controlled by conventional signalling systems. We can do better in the CRL with what is now an on board computer in each train. I designed the prototype for electrified railways, to run from Crewe to Euston in 1965, with data from each train sent over the overhead wires via pulse code modulation. The trains could run at four minute intervals at 60mph, say 100km/hr, on each line. With four lines, we could have a train arriving or leaving Euston every minute. The system has been upgraded to run trains at 125mph, 200km/hr at 2.5 minute intervals between St Pancras and Blackfriars, the trials of this were last year.
    We have two through lines in the CRL, and two terminal lines at Britomart. I suggest we run trains at 3 minute intervals, because those times suit passengers better, getting on and off. With the present rail lines in Auckland we can run a train every three minutes from Swanson to Papakura, and a train in the opposite direction every three minutes.
    We can also run a train into and out of Britomart via the eastern loop to Panmure and on to Onehunga or Manukau, also every three minutes in each direction. The tunnel into Britomart then has a train every 1.5 minutes in each direction, and also the portion of track serving Onehunga and Manukau. The train on board computers can well handle that.
    The result is 20 trains per hour at peak times on each track in CRL. 40 through trains per hour, and 40 per hour to the Britomart terminal lines. Total 80 trains per hour.
    The latest Bombardier Aventra trains carry 1100 passengers. Buy as fleet of those and we can have 88,000 passengers per hour through the CRL.
    7am to 9am, 176,000 passengers. Say 10,000 passengers per hour in each direction from 9am to 4pm, 140,000 passengers. Then another 176,000 in the evening peak time, and maybe 30,000 passengers in the evening. Total passengers per day 522,000. This I suggest is the maximum capacity of the City Rail Link.
    So we need more heavy rail destinations, because Swanson and Papakura will not be able to provide those numbers. Hence it is imperative to have heavy rail to North Shore. I have suggested rail to Albany via Massey and Hobsonville because of the cost of an under harbour tunnel. At the same time the rail can easily be connected to Kumeu via Massey to provide fast trains to Helensville.
    Three destinations north of CRL, Swanson, Kumeu and Albany, allows trains to those places every 9 minutes.
    South, the trains can serve Newmarket, Panmure, Onehunga, Manukau, and Papakura in turn, and of course we must add Auckland Airport, giving six destinations. Each of those can have a train every 18 minutes. There is flexibilty there because we have two routes out of Britomart, Newmarket and Panmure.
    We can serve all those destinations with trains carrying 522,000 passengers per day.
    We need rails to Massey, Kumeu, Hobsonville and Albany, and the Airport to provide all those services. No new Harbour Bridge, nor Harbour Tunnel. Rail parallel to SH16 over the harbour is the most expensive. Copy high level bridge to Brisbane Airport, $220 million for 8.5km in 2001. Cost today about $700 million. Bridge to Greenhithe, say $300 million. Say $2 billion for all of the above, based on $22 million per km. average worldwide rail costs.
    The whole rail extension project is less than the cost of the new proposed road/rail tunnel, which does not include extra rail tracks to anywhere. We still need all of the above.
    So I submit, it is a no brainer to not build all the above. Heavy rail is the only solution. This will solve Auckland’s transport crisis for ever. It will last over 100 years. Buses will never move 522,000 passengers per day. We can start adding light rail services, street cars as at Surfers Paradise, to principle stations as passenger numbers build up.
    To address Dominion Road services, we can have heavy rail there also, with an over bridge as at Brisbane Airport. Go and look at it, and decide if we could cope with that over Dominion Road. Easily connected to existing rail at Mt Eden. Cost for 8.5km, $700 million, as above to Massey.
    This is serious. I have experience with electrified railways, and I know all the above is feasible. I invite Matt to write to me via the PTUA, and let us see how many people on this forum would really like to contribute to meaningful discussion. This is an election year, an opportunity to lobby all our politicians of all parties. I would like to see some progress made at last. Time is running out. We cannot afford to wait until 2028.

    1. Alan I agree that we should build brand new rail lines to currently under-served parts of the city. However these lines will only ever carry passenger services, so why do they need to be limited by a loading gauge designed for freight services?

      Why wouldn’t we build a purpose built metro line without any legacy technology issues? We could choose from a wider selection of rolling stock to get trains with lower floors, smaller platform gaps, faster doors, the ability to handle steeper grades and that would fit in narrower tunnels.

      There are a lot of places where tunneling will be necessary either because Auckland isn’t flat or because the visual/audible intrusion of overhead rail will be unacceptable to local communities. Narrower tunnels are useful because they fit in more places, can be built less intrusively and are cheaper. So using rolling stock that enables this just makes sense.

      This is the approach used in many cities around the world when expanding their rapid transit network. Instead of modifying existing rapid transit lines (which can disrupt existing services and starts getting diminishing returns) they just build brand new rapid transit lines that don’t share infrastructure (though stations may be co-located).

      1. Switzerland has an amazing collection of rail lines designed only for their specific route, and intended loads. People exclusively or freight and people. Compatibility between lines is for them irrelevant. Gauges vary, working, adhesion or adhesion, plus even variations of cog vary, and I suspect variations electrical supply also vary.
        Interoperability is nonsense. London rail rolling stock has limited interoperability between lines.
        Even in Wellington for years the vast bulk of the passenger rolling stock, and all freight engines and rolling stock could not be operated on the Johnsonville line. And even before that, the extensive light rail network was incompatible with the heavy rail network.

        1. The Swiss have a lot more money to spend on these solutions than we do. It must also be a logistics and maintenance nightmare for them.

          For the latest purchases of rolling stock for the above ground London Underground lines they have gone from 3 different classes to a single class of rolling stock.

    2. The London Underground is not one railway. It is a bunch of seperate mostly non-interlined systems. Trains on the Northern Line do not operate on the Jubilee, Central or whatever (yes there’s a bit of interlining, here and there, but rule is not). And this is good.

      A problem on one doesn’t affect others. But also lines with no or very few junctions can obviously run very high frequencies very safely and simply.

      Auckland has a system that is not only already inefficiently interlined with other metro services but also has freight trains mixed in it, plus level crossings.

      It is so clearly such a huge advantage to build any new line after the CRL on a separate non-integrated network, to avoid these problems, and to not further limit capacity on our existing system. So once that obvious decision has been made (and it has) we can pick the best of current technology for that, be it LR or LM, or whatever. At whatever gauge, and standard gauge offers much more choice of suppliers etc, so that too is obvious.

      1. Just remember also Wellington has Frieght Trains running on 2 of their 4 lines that also serve the passenger network and 1 of their lines is also down to a single track through the Kapiti Coast area and the other Hutt Valley line around Trentham is in the process of being doubled tracked .

    3. Erm, isn’t the plan for the CRL shortly after opening that there will be 5-minute frequency across the network, meaning 24tph already?

      1. 15tph to start with. Most stations will have 9tph as a result, some will still have 6tph, while Onehunga will have 3tph.

      2. You can add the airport line without adding any trains to the CRL, by simply runing the trains that randomly terminate at Penrose and Otahuhu to the airport instead. Easy as.

  16. They have talked about Electrifaction to Pokeno why not take all the way to Hamilton ?

    And if they do do it to Pokeno whose EMU’s and payment system are they going to use ? . As nobody as yet have decided on a nationwide payment card as of yet . And will they buy new units or will they get some Electric Loco’s to replace the diesels on the new service ?

    And as for the tunnel up North have they noticed the earth movements on the Southern side which NZTA have to deal with every now and then .

    1. Of course it should be full electrification, and not just a train to Pokeno, but both all the way to Hamilton, however the latter is what the current govt are doing, and the former is Green policy, so to be different they are promising less. Lee has been duped, the old fool.

      The rest of the rail pattern is silly, two expensive lines to the airport? With what pattern? And a train to Huapai, with transfer, instead of the much more direct NW RT route.

      No full eastern busway, and note rail to the Shore isn’t even on the future map; they have no intention of doing any of it.

      4th main is the best thing. Yes that should be done along with the 3rd now.

    2. “They have talked about Electrifaction to Pokeno why not take all the way to Hamilton ?”
      Because their commitment are costed at borrowing a crippling 31 billion. Money doesn’t grow on trees.

        1. About two thirds of freight services between Auckland and Hamilton continue on to destinations that would still be off the wire, so the gains from electrifying that section aren’t that great for freight.

        2. jezza, I think what you mean is completing electrification to Hamilton can’t serve all freight. That’s right, until the East Coast Main is wired up too, or without loco change at Ruakura or Frankton.

          Completing any network can only happen in stages and by definition no stage completes the network until the last one. It would still be very useful to have AKL- Palmy and all points between able to run e-Locos and/or EMUs, as a viable minimum network is required to justify investing in electric rolling stock.

          So getting to the Tron is a great next step, as it creates this VMN.

        3. Chris – agree it’s worthwhile in the medium term, I just don’t think it is vital immediately. There’s no electric rolling stock to run passenger services to Hamilton, and it’s not really worth doing until Whangamarino is fixed anyway.

        4. jezza, nothing is immediate, we need to start the programme to close the electrification gap and start the process to procure electric trainsets. Both take years.

    3. ‘And if they do do it to Pokeno whose EMU’s and payment system are they going to use ?’

      Probably the same system they use on the buses that currently service Tuakau, namely AT Hop.

      1. Taukau is under the Waikato Regional Council (WRC) jurisdiction and is serviced with a daily Mon-Fri WRC Busit service from Hamilton.Taukau is in Zone 6 for Beecard travel so is Pukekohe with is under Auckland Council jurisdiction. In fact Papakura is in Zone 7 for Beecard travel. Beecard Zone 7 has been allocated for the Hamilton to Papakura train hopefully starting 3 November 2020.

        If NZ had a national public transport agency that plans, procure and operates ‘turn up & travel’ integrated public transport including a national open ‘tap & travel’ payment ticketing system across all 16 regions, NZ would have a streamlined cost efficient public travel system, instead of the current mickey mouse expensive disjointed system we have at present.

        1. Yes, bring on a National Transport Card. I look forward to having a card I can use in Auckland and then use in Dunedin (or Queenstown or Napier or wherever) if I happen to be there. The old Dutch “strippenkart”, though a manual technology, allowed travel throughout the entire Netherlands.

        2. Tuakau is also in the Franklin zone if you’re catching an AT bus and expect that would apply if AT trains are extended to there and Pokeno.

          Agree a national card would be good, although I don’t see how it would magically make fares cheaper. That largely comes down to how much money the relevant authority wants to recover from fares and how much they want to subsidise.

        3. A daily Mon-Fri WRC busit service, sounds impressive until you realise it’s actually just one bus going up and coming back 3 hours later. It really is stretching it to describe it as a service, token would more accurate.

    4. David L – I agree with you. I can not see the logic to electrify to Pokeno and not onto Hamilton for both passenger and freight services.

      Pokeno is under the Waikato Regional Council (WRC) jurisdiction and is serviced with a daily Mon-Fri WRC Busit service from Hamilton plus Intercity Coachines services. Pokeno is in Zone 6 for Beecard travel so is Pukekohe with is under Auckland Council jurisdiction. In fact Papakura is in Zone 7 for Beecard travel. Beecard Zone 7 has been allocated for the Hamilton to Papakura train hopefully starting 3 November 2020.

      If NZ had a national public transport agency that plans, procure and operates ‘turn up & travel’ integrated public transport including a national open ‘tap & travel’ payment ticketing system across all 16 regions, NZ would have a streamlined cost efficient public travel system, instead of the current mickey mouse expensive disjointed system we have at present.

    5. Because the Whangamarino Swamp is a problem for electrification. As I understand it is very difficult to put it bases for masts.

      I’m not sure if the swamp is double tracked or not but if you want a usable passenger service to Hamilton double track is essential to run both freight and passenger service.

  17. Good break down – thanks Matt – just one thing though: the current drive from Tauranga to Auckland is frighteningly bad. The road is diabolical – like a rollercoaster up and down plus added side to side – but without the safety of a roller-coaster. It is utter madness and needs to be fixed. I’ve been driving for over 40 years but this is the worst piece of road I’ve driven on in NZ. Something needs to be done – it is just plain unsafe at present.

    And yes, I’d rather take a train for that trip, but that option is not yet available. The road needs fixing now…

    1. Getting the passenger rail option up and running would be far, far quicker than making the roads safe to the same level. There are even trains sitting idle currently.

      It would also take cars off the existing road between the cities and on many local roads as well, as passengers make their way places on PT networks, resulting in DSI and carbon emissions reductions throughout the network, not just on the route itself.

      1. ‘It would also take cars off the existing road between the cities and on many local roads as well, ‘

        Lol. No it won’t. Have you not heard of induced demand?

    2. Which is part of the problem. There are some logical safety improvements to SH2 through Maramarua and between Tauranga and Katikati, and SH29 over the Kaimais that should have already happened. Instead they get delayed indefinitely due to grand plans to replace these roads that never happen.

      1. Indeed. NZTA is meant to be spending quite a lot of money on safety improvements to rural state highways. I haven’t seen any news reports of work actually happening yet though. Is this stuck in the swamp of NZTA bureaucracy too?

        1. … so nothing apart from the Safety BOOST Programme (https://www.nzta.govt.nz/safety/our-vision-of-a-safe-road-system/safety-boost-programme/), the Safe Roads Alliance (https://www.nzta.govt.nz/safety/our-vision-of-a-safe-road-system/safe-roads/), the Safe Network Programme (https://www.nzta.govt.nz/safety/our-vision-of-a-safe-road-system/safe-network-programme/) and the NZ Upgrade Programme (https://www.nzta.govt.nz/planning-and-investment/nz-upgrade)? Take a drive around the country; there’s been quite a bit of work lately (and more underway); it’s just that most of it is non-flashy simple safety treatments that work, like barriers, rumble strips and lower speed limits…

        2. Glen – maybe I’ve missed it but there doesn’t appear to be any mention of median barriers being added to roads without making them four lanes in any of those documents.

          We’re still stuck with the approach of only putting medians in expressways.

        3. Thanks for the reminder that good stuff is happening, Glen. But hmmm… Jezza’s right about some strange anomalies. That’s what I don’t get. It’s Clayton’s Vision Zero.

          Like NZTA seems to be using 80 and 60 km/hr speed limits… the different speed limits for VZ (and Austroads) are 70, 50, 30. And still designing new roads to have speeds higher than 50 where there are intersections. It’s hard enough changing everything we’ve got without designing new roads to be non-compliant too. Is NZTA trying to rewrite the book?

      1. Yep, really. Have you driven it lately? I’m surprised there aren’t more deaths on that piece of road…

      2. The worst piece of New Zealand state highway of my personal experience would be SH 60 from Motueka to Takaka.

        SH 29 has absolutely nothing on that road.

    3. There’s nothing wrong with the road itself. The problem is that Aucklanders drive like they’re on a motorway after the motorway has ended. You can’t drive at 100 without somebody coming up quickly behind you then sitting on your tail until they madly overtake. It’s a common experience north of Puhoi and beyond the Bombays toward Tauranga.

  18. Labour has shot itself in the foot over the Dominion Road corridor Light Rail fiasco.
    AT had identified that the increasing demands for transporting people to and from the central isthmus area would soon overwelm bus capacity at critical choke points, notably in the CBD. Light rail, where a lot fewer vehicles could carry a lot more people provided a solution. Extending this line to the airport provided for additional transport needs, and provided considerable network resiliance.
    If Labour had just come to an arrangement to provide funding to AT, it could have been well underway now.
    Instead Twyford got involved with solutions, but lost sight of the problem.
    Now that nothing has been achieved in three years, it this total lack of any achievement, has become a big problem for Labour, and an opportunity for the Nats this election.

    1. “would soon overwelm bus capacity”

      Since then they’ve replaced the buses with double-deckers and reduced the number of services. The route actually has plenty of future capacity now.

      1. Are you talking about the bus capacity, and bus congestion at Symonds Street, and the CBD at the moment, or in early March, and its existing growth trends before Covid?
        Obviously in current conditions the PT capacity of the Dominion Road corridor has plenty of spare capacity.
        But under current airport patronage nobody would ever consider building more transport capacity to the airport either.

        1. Actually they’re still running the same timetable as before, so same amount of buses, and patronage is back to 80% of normal.

  19. This definitely is a shift of tone:

    “…but the general theme that they’re now more supportive of public transport and rail projects at scale. This is quite a shift from National in the past which were far more sceptical of the role of public transport in our cities…”

  20. Looked quickly through their documents, didn’t see any mention of funding from congestion pricing (surely needed as the fuel tax will diminish due to freezing any increase & scrapping regional fuel taxes plus the on going electrification of our vehicles)?

    1. They’re still supporting congestion pricing (and this is a good thing) but aren’t giving it a high profile. I presume they perceive that it won’t be a vote winner.

      Congestion pricing is the only tool yet discovered that actually can mitigate congestion. It should be something that all parties support in principle. However the devil is in the detail; there are competing technologies and approaches to select between. There would need to be enabling legislation. It’s too much to get done in one parliamentary term so could be a while until it actually happens.

  21. If motorways are the answer and Auckland’s network’s near-complete. We should already have congestion nearly beat.
    Yeah right.

  22. If we are going to have rapid transit through Mangere and to the airport we can stage a busway from the airport (given we will have Manukau to airport already via bus) and up to Onehunga and then onto Mt Roskil.

    This could join a light rail route from the city down Dominion Rd.

    This way avoid the big buses in the city centre. Big thing is there enough demand at the southern end of this to justify it.

  23. Point taken. But we are spending $5 billion on a City Rail Link. We have to fully use that facility. We do not want to start building a Metro City Rail Link as well. So our 80 trains per hour at peak times have to be compatible with our existing rail network, and we expand the network to take them. Freight from the north can still bypass the CRL using existing line to Newmarket, but a new line from Kumeu to Massey to Kingsland can take freight overnight when no passenger trains are running, but also during the day when we are only running say 30 trains per hour. Also a line to Albany can be extended into Glenfield, taking freight via Massey and Hobsonville, once again as above. Passenger services in UK are very frequent, so much of the freight travels overnight. But they have high speed freight trains which match the speed of the passenger trains, so they can fit in very well. All the new lines in Auckland will be built to laser accuracy to enable freight trains to run at 200km/hr. We have seen nothing yet! The line from Rugby to Crewe was built like that in 1965. I was involved. And the trains could talk to each other via pulses over the overhead wires. The human drivers were almost irrelevant.

  24. “shuttles to Huapai which is again odd when the NW Busway option would be much faster for where most people are going”

    If you finally after six years actually bothered to listen to the people who live there you would understand why it actually isn’t odd at all. As much as you may insist otherwise, the community want to use rail to get to the city.

    Drop by the next public meeting about Huapai rail and listen.

    Advocacy that doesn’t match what the public wants is pointless. It’s the wants of the travelling public that matters. Not the wants of consultancies or politicians.

    Anyway, it’s good to see one of the major parties wanting to expand Auckland’s passenger rail network, both to Huapai and to Pokeno. Remember the exciting 2000s when we all advocated for better trains, electrification, the CRL, the North Shore and Airport lines, the Mt Roskill extension, etc? Back before so many advocates were co-opted into silence to remove any vocal opposition to the big dumping in 2014 of every single heavy rail plan being fought for?

    I’m seriously considering giving my vote to National for the first time in my life, specifically because of Huapai rail. It will certainly get them votes out west, that’s for sure.

      1. I’m not a West Aucklander so I don’t know but I would have thought the explanation would be along the lines of:

        – A BRT/LRT line will take 10+ years for the infrastructure to be built in stages all the way out to Kumeu.
        – A shuttle train service from Kumeu to Swanson (à la what Pukekohe have now) could be up and running within 1 year, if the political will was there.

        The difference between the time taken to deliver each option is huge and, if I lived out that way, would be significant to me.

        1. Sorry yes, the rolling stock is the bottleneck. As a startup service it’d be a good option to refurbish some of Auckland’s old SA or SD class carriages like they’re doing for the Hamilton to Auckland service.

          In the case of the Hamilton to Auckland service it seems the carriage refurbishment takes longer than a year. I can only assume that Kiwirail has assigned the work to a single apprentice who is learning as they go.

        2. Zippo , AT have the rolling stock i.e the ADL/ADC DMU’s and the SX SA/SD carriages that are in storage at Taumarunui .

          And when it’s Electrified they could also star a Shuttle to Waiuku one day .

        3. LogarithmicBear . KR have got new Boggies for them as I think they were afraid people might spill their Coffee ?

      2. “Why would they want the slower option?”

        You would have to ask the people there why it’s been their #1 transport priority for the past decade. Rail is wanted to much that even the National MP lobbies for rail. There probably isn’t a case of stronger support for rail anywhere else in NZ than Auckland’s northwest.

        But it wouldn’t be slow, so its a moot point. Post CRL it would be about 52 minutes, maybe 57 minutes if there’s a transfer at Swanson. Plus you also have the connectivity to/from the growing metropolitan areas of Henderson and New Lynn.

        By comparison the buses take around 75-120 minutes. AT have little interest in speeding them up. The community wanted express buses as part of the New Network, running along the motorway from Westgate, but AT put them on back streets instead, claiming they needed to pick up more people before joining the motorway.

        1. Interesting that National is proposing only the slow connection from Huapai to the city via Swanson, which includes an interchange, and then via Henderson and New Lynn. They want a congestion free busway (which will superseded all the current bus routes that use the NW motorway) on the most direct route possible only as far as Westgate.

          The only advantage of the diesel shunt is it is a short-term fix. Longer term will not be solved by converting this to electric and making it a direct service. It will be to connecting in the most direct path possible via areas such as Lincoln Road, Te Atatu and Point Chevalier which presently don’t have BRT or rail.

    1. And I want free ice creams and the government to pay off my mortgage. Just because the people want something doesn’t mean that it a) makes good policy and b) that people will actually use it.

      And I think you’ll find all the smart advocates were able to objectively look at the evidence and push for good policy rather than stick with blind ideology. Sadly, making transport policy based on mode obsessed ideology is still the modus operandi for some.

      1. “And I want free ice creams”

        Right on cue, Nick R’s “I want free pie” argument, which he wrote about the very same topic.

        It’s not free – the public out there are paying the same PT levy through their rates as anyone else in Auckland. They are already paying for trains, and they are also prepared to pay a targeted local levy, just as they have for the Helensville buses.

        “rather than stick with blind ideology”

        Who are referring to? I’m only aware of advocates fighting for what the community say they want. Nobody else matters Matt, unless you think consultants are more important than the travelling public.

        GA has never once written an article about improving PT to Huapai/Waimauku/Helensville. Not once. That makes you complicit with the status quo, which is Auckland’s worst arterial congestion.

        Of course you have written that you support extending the motorway out there….

        1. “GA has never once written an article about improving PT to Huapai/Waimauku/Helensville. Not once. That makes you complicit with the status quo”

          Quite a stretch. Perhaps write one yourself and enlighten us with research and evidence to the contrary, rather than yell from the cheap seats?

          I have read countless times on this blog that the extension does not make sense and the reasons why. You offer nothing except “the locals want it”. I guess the good folk out that way continue to push for rail because the HR idealogues insist buses – on an expressway or transferring to rail – are “Loser Cruisers

        2. Nick R, in response to my once writing that the local community want trains, you stated you want free pie. Basically the same ridicule Matt employed.

          “I have read countless times on this blog that the extension does not make sense and the reasons why.”

          All long since mythbusted, including the need for two platforms and overbridge at Waitakere, which isn’t needed….

          Huapai was to be a transit-orientated community, centred on the railway station. Since AT dropped the rail plans (without community consultation) the developers who were keen to develop around the station walked away, and the entire area has been developed with suburban houses all dependent on cars. That has in turn made SH16 out of Huapai the most congested arterial in Auckland.

          This blog’s policy on Huapai rail, backed with a strategy of ridicule of the Huapai community and advocates for rail, is counter-productive to what the blog states it stands for.

    2. Even if every Labour voter in Huapai switched to National as a result of this, their vote would only go from 33.4 % to 33.5 %.

  25. Absolutely. We have to build heavy rail from Kingsland to Massey, and on to Kumeu to serve Huapai and Hellensville as well. And also from Massey to Hobsonville, Greenhithe and Albany. All built for 200km/hr trains, and which all go round the CRL to Papakura or the Airport alternately. This has to be done. It is the only way to begin to solve the Auckland Transport problem. We have to get 500,000 people per day through the CRL. And that solution will last 100 years. Buses will never ever reach that target.

    1. This blithering ideologue again?

      Aucklands buses already move 350,000 trips a day, they could easily do 500k. As for the CRL doing that on two tracks, not in this reality.

    2. What’s the point of building urban rail for 200km/h trains when there’s no chance of them ever reaching that speed. Also can you name a system in the world that’s managed to get 200km/h in regular service out of 1067mm gauge tracks.

        1. The Queensland trains run a MAXIMUM of 160km/h, and rarely get that fast even on the straight stretches.

        2. They reach 160kmh between Brisbane and Rockhampton, they don’t reach anywhere near that on the Brisbane suburban network, even on the long stretch to the Gold Coast.

        3. @Jezza:
          Yes they can reach 160km/h on some stretches of the journey. However; for most of the trip their speed is more like 120-140km/h.

        4. Hahaha, imagine going 200 khm around the CRL, weeeeeeeeeeeee

          Joe before it opened set it up like a rainbows end rollacoaster and charge a small fee for a once only lifetime experence .

  26. Auckland’s working population was said to be 300,000 in 2000. Increasing to 400,000 by 2030, which National’s “Advanced Bus Solution” was designed for. I will say here that it would never work. People will always use trains when available. Mos people will choose cars if only buses are available. Heathrow Airport is a prime example. I used the Airport Bus to the nearest railway line many times and there were very few other passengers. Now they have a rail connection to the airport, as part of the new Crossrail project, it is carrying 45,000 passengers per day, after only a few months of operation.

    1. From what I can find on CRL’s website, CRL is designed to handle 54,000 people per hour at peak times. Sure the rail lines can _theoretically_ fit 88,000 people per hour at peak times but can the station platforms/halls/entrances fit that many pedestrians?

      Pre-Covid-19 Britomart was already crowded at peak times. If the stations start being overwhelmed then that’ll just make taking the train less attractive.

  27. The Nat’s transport policy is based on covid never happening, and global warming not occuring. Their policies are based around snapping back to the previous paths, and so reestablishing as much of precovid societal relativities as can be salvaged.
    But continuing to consume the earths resources, and change the earths atmosphere at the rate we were doing is simply unsustainable, not in the long term, or medium term, but in the short term. This pandemic, our water shortages, increasing catostrophic storm events, man made and bushfire air pollution are all symptomatic of an overloaded earth ecosystem.
    Simply going back to reestablishing what we had before is committing us to a path of self destruction. We have to reduce our emissions so fundamental changes are needed in the way we live. Does spending shit loads of money on improving access to airports make any sense at all?

  28. UK railways have run at 15 trains per hour on each track from 1968, the end of steam. Now they are trialling 24 trains per hour per track between St Pancras and Blackfriars. I have suggested 20 trains per track in CRL plus 20 trains per track into Britomart, per hour. Total 80 trains per hour with latest computer control equipment. Limited only by how many people you can get on and off in 2.5 minutes. London Underground manages it. I have done it, which is where I got my data from. And I have ridden Queensland Railways, 1067mm gauge at 170km/hr limited stop service. We can aim for that speed in Auckland. Build the track for it.

    1. The Auckland CRL will have a very steep incline, the safety implications of which will limit service frequencies.

      The QR tilt trains go a maximum of 160km/h (and rarely get that vast). That is the absolute limit for Cape gauge tracks. People have already pointed out how Auckland has nowhere near the distances needed for that sort of speed. But of course, Alan Spinks never listens…

    2. How on earth are you going to run 40tph in each direction in and out of Britomart with the flat junction at Quay Park? It barely handles 20tph in each direction at the moment.

      1. And it only manages 20tphpd by bidirectional running on the two tracks independently, and pulsing trains in and out in bunches. That’s why you sit and wait for a few minutes to pass through at peak times.

        It won’t be able to do that when the CRL is open as the trains will have to stick to running one way each on the up and down mains. The new limit will be 15 tph each way through, you’d be lucky to thread more than two or three terminating trains a hour through that lot.

        Alan is off in la la land talking about impractical numbers for frequency, speed and capacity. Reality ain’t so kind.

        1. There hasn’t been much bidirectional running since the latest rearrangement of platforms, used to happen more often when the Eastern line was on Platform 1.

          My understanding is that the CRL’s capacity will be 18tph from the beginning but AT will initially run 15tph until demand requires but I stand corrected if this isn’t the case.

  29. You have raised a very good point. I was not aware that we still have only single tracks from Newmarket and Panmure. I am amazed that these tracks were not doubled when Britomart was built, or programmed to be built soon after. We thus have a real bottleneck for trains going south. Those in authority are in la la land, Council and AT, and Kiwirail. I have expected trains to be able to run from Swanson to Papakura at three minute intervals, and back again at three minute intervals, 40 trains per hour. The single track from Britomart to Newmarket is a severe constraint. Doubling that track is now a top priority. We are spending $5 billion on the CRL, and until that track is doubled, and also to Panmure, it will never reach its potential. I have been talking about railways in Auckland since 1985. I had better pass the baton on to all the 35 year olds today. When they are 70 in 2055, we might have double tracks into Britomart, and then they can talk about 500,000 passengers per day through CRL. What is so wrong with Auckland transport is that there is no one with vision. We have to have fast rail from the CRL to Warkworth, and design the track to take 170km/hr trains, which I now understand is the maximum design speed for Queensland trains. I insisted in 1985 that the rails to Albany had to be designed to go to Silverdale, and Orewa, before all the land was taken up with housing, but it all fell on deaf ears. They were the people in la la land, and we are now in crisis through lack of action for 35 years. I will not be around in 2055. Best of luck to those who still are.

    1. “I will not be around in 2055. Best of luck to those who still are.”

      Thanks, Alan. I’m hoping to be. And we’re trying our best.

      Our number one concern is climate change. Our response to that needs to be to establish low carbon systems and ensure the outcomes are equitable.

      Number two concern is making a liveable, safe city. This means many of the concerns of the best transport planners from 30 or so years ago are no longer so relevant, (let alone the worst of them).

      We’re far more concerned, for example, about regenerating our city to be climate-survivable, biodiverse, abundant with local opportunities, safe, and with access for everyone to safe cycling superhighways, than we are concerned about the speed of trains through urban areas.

      Times change.

  30. Thank you for that. I had to check on Google Earth. I withdraw my last comment, and we are back to my original propositions. We should be able to get trains from Swanson to Papakura every three minutes each way, and trains to Panmure every three minutes each way also. That is every 1.5 minutes from Quay Street junction in and out of Britomart. And 500,000 passengers per day capacity of CRL.
    In 1965 we were able to run trains every 4 minutes on each of four lines into Euston, UK. The problem was each of those lines had to connect to any one of 21 platforms, and with four tracks it meant a train movement over the massive network of points every minute. Signalmen pulling levers could not cope. We had no computers in 1965. I had to design and build a logic circuit with AND and OR gates, and toggles and flip flops so that the train paths could be set up with the touch of two buttons, track 1 connects to platform 15, and so on. It was revolutionary at the time, especially for British Railways which was still running steam trains. The logic circuit worked! I was told a few years ago that it still existed as a museum piece. A commercial version was made, and was actually in use in 1968. Now we have computers, I am sure even that commercial circuit will be in a museum.
    With trains communicating over the overhead wires, we can control the points at Quay Street with a computer to allow trains every 1.5 minutes in both directions. The only conflicting movement is a south going train to Newmarket with a north going train from Panmure. They cross paths. No other trains do. The timetable has to be arranged to keep those crossings three minutes apart. So we can get back to 80 trains per hour! That is now possible with modern technology. Can the rest of the system cope? The Quay Street points are a minor problem. We need the will to make all this happen, and it needs to be working by the time the CRL opens in 2024. We can do it!

  31. Thank you Heidi. I was convinced in the 1950s at university that electrified railways were the transport system of the future, and my first job was with Plessey, electrifying the railway from Rugby to Crewe. When complete, the passenger numbers started to grow. Even by 1970, people were getting fed up with trucks on the new M1. By the 1980s rail passenger numbers were reaching the peak numbers of the 1930s, and well exceeded those by 1990. They are still growing. A new rail line to Heathrow Airport is carrying 45,000 passengers per day, expected to exceed 90,000 per day when the new Farringdon Station opens, the main station of the Crossrail project. That will mean 90,000 less cars on the roads per day, and 90,000 less units of CO2. It will be some years before we have no petrol and diesel cars.
    My only aim for Auckland is to get cars off the roads, and only fast electric trains will do that, as has happened in UK. A case in point is electrification, Hamilton to Auckland. I could start that this year, but there is no will to do it. And the quickest way to get cars off the roads in Auckland is to maximize the passenger count through the CRL. The CRL is costing $5 billion. We should maximize the use of it before we start spending money on alternative metro systems. When we have a substantial heavy rail network, we can add to it with light rail feeders to all the principal stations. People will forsake cars for trains, much more than they will for buses. I am a fan of heavy rail because I have leaned how to maximize its performance. I designed what is now the on board train computer to allow every train to keep track of every other train on the line, even if they are only 2.5 minutes apart at 200km/hr. We may never reach this performance in this country, but I will do everything I can to get some of what I know operational in NZ. No one in authority knows what is possible, and what is worse, they do not want to know. I hope you will not have to wait another 35 years before anything that I am proposing today gets done.

    1. Alan, being ex-BR myself (Rolling stock, not signals/train-control – I worked with the APT commissioning team among other roles), I must say I have never heard of trains communicating with each other via pulse-codes in the OHL. As far as I am aware, BR only ever stuck with absolute block signaling. I presume it was just a trial system or research project that you worked-on back in the 1960s? How widely was it applied? Was it ever used in passenger-service or just confined to test trains?

      My understanding is that the only railways in the UK with moving-block systems are certain London Underground lines, which allow for train headways down to 100 seconds (Victoria Line – 36 trains/hr per-direction), and the CBTC technology to reliably achieve this has not been around for that long. The general concept of the “digital railway” is certainly being pushed hard, but it is not there yet. Isn’t the delay in getting Crossrail running due to problems with this technology?

  32. ‘My only aim for Auckland is to get cars off the roads, and only fast electric trains will do that, as has happened in UK’

    Has it? Got cars off the road?

    1. There are millions of short-medium length trips each year that could be shifted from cars, to light rail, buses and bikes.

      Not everyone is going Papakura to Britomart. But keep loading up that current network and fighting against complimenting rail systems just because they are not HR.

      1. “Has it? Got cars off the road?”

        If it wasn’t for the rail systems serving London then there would be far more cars attempting to get in there. So it is fair to say that rail has got a lot of cars off the road.

        Forgetting for the moment the arbitrary and misleading monikers “heavy rail” and “light rail”, the big majority of London’s railways are “conventional rail” in the sense that they run on fully segregated rights-of-way and do not interface with road-traffic (the exception being the Croydon Tramlink which runs partly in the street). Of course London used to have an extensive street-tram system up until the 1950’s but this served a very different function to the segregated rail system – more like that of today’s buses.
        Now not wishing to put words into Alan Spinks’ mouth, I would guess that his advocacy is for many more “conventional rail” routes in and around Auckland, as being the only way to serve the city in the long-term if it continues to grow. Auckland will need to do what London did while it was growing: Bite the bullet and build more rail routes on fully-segregated rights-of-way. We can debate the weights of the proposed rolling stock later.

        1. I agree that we should “..build more rail routes on fully-segregated rights-of-way.”
          I think we can debate the degree and percent of grade separation which is more the issue with “light” vrs “heavy” (or “Metro”) in my mind.
          eg a 80% grade separated route with a 20% street running portion may deliver a better outcome (and possible millions of $ cheaper) than and full 100% system.

        2. I would have to say I am with Grant on this.
          It is more important to hasten the building of more kilometres , using as much grade separation as can be achieved without resorting to either tunnelling or overhead running, if this would also require hugely expensive overhead or underground stations. Future upgrades can bypass street running sections if this is deemed necessary. Building less kilometres now but fully separated would only heighten the disparity between areas well served by PT, and those not.

    1. I saw Chris Bishop in the Parliamentary debate chamber stating (falsely) that railfreight is unprofitable and that he doesn’t support it.
      I so hope he never becomes NZ’s transport minister.

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