Here’s our roundup for the week
Eastern Closed for another two weeks
Yesterday Kiwirail announced that they were keeping the Eastern Line closed for another two weeks to continue replacing tracks.
The Eastern Line was due to re-open on Monday after a two-week temporary closure but will now re-open on 21 September.
Recent testing revealed that about 100km of rail in the Auckland network needs repairing or replacing. A speed restriction of 40km/h is in place across Auckland and it is anticipated this will be progressively lifted as the repair work is carried out.
“This project involves considerable logistical complexity to ensure staff, contractors, machinery, rails, sleepers and ballast are all in the right place at the right time to enable the work to progress,” KiwiRail Chief Operating Officer Todd Moyle says.
“We have made a good start on the Eastern Line with 1000 sleepers replaced and close to 6km of new rail laid so far.
“We’re bringing in teams from across the North Island to help get this job done as quickly as possible.”
The replacement of rail tracks is done in two stages, involving several steps. After the old, damaged rail is removed, new rail is cut to size and lifted onto the sleepers where it is connected by welding each piece together. Once installed, it needs to be stretched and rewelded to ensure it is the right length to cope with hot and cold temperatures – a process called de-stressing.
This once again begs the question, what on earth have they been doing during all the network shutdowns over the last 15 or so years.
The Eastern Line between Quay Park and Westfield is about 15km so that’s 30km of track and means so far Kiwirail have replaced about 20% of it. At a rough guess, if they stay at about that level they should have replaced about half of all the track by the time this extended shutdown is completed. Unfortunately there’s no word if this extra two weeks means all the works needed are completed and speeds on the Eastern Line can return to normal or it’ll still be six months before that happens.
Despite the impact of COVID and the risk of recession, one positive so far is that building consents are holding up well. Data released for July shows there have been just under 14,9k consents issued in the 12-months to the end of July which is not far off the peak in December of over 15.1k.
What’s also positive is that recent trends are continuing with the big difference being medium and higher density typologies making up the bulk of consents with standalone houses accounting for just 44% of them over the year.
Of all consents, council figures to the end of June show about 28% are within 1500m of an existing rapid transit station.
It will be interesting to see how this changes once the new National Policy Statement on Urban Development comes into effect. Though one worrying sign is that the council are already shaping up to try and water it down by only using very small walking distances and other tools. This feels like the council planners are already cowering to the opponents of change and while one part of council uses 1500m for the figures above, another part of council are trying to use a completely different figure.
Webinar yesterday on the NPS-UD included J.Duguid from Akl Council.
We are gonna have Unitary Plan 2.0 fight on our hands.
-400m walking catchments
-Dominion Rd maybe not upzoned bc of reverse sensitivity with Eden park
-Volcanic view shafts used to not upzone
— Matt Prasad (@matty_prasad) September 2, 2020
Back to building consents, another positive sign is we’re still seeing new schemes being announced. For example last week was this interesting and positive development planned for the former church site on Esmonde Rd and will have 231 apartments. The site is right on the 82 frequent route with a very quick trip to town thanks to the bus lanes on Esmonde Rd and the motorway. It is also not too far from the Akoranga Busway station. Soon it will also be not far the Northern Path which will include Skypath and there are also already local board plans for a pedestrian/cycle bridge from the site over to Francis St to enable other connections down the Devonport Peninsula. I also understand the developers plan to limit parking but make use of car share scheme.
Density and diversity
Stats NZ has released some neat maps combining density and ethnic diversity.
Stats NZ has developed a series of interactive maps, focusing on two aspects of 2018 Census data – population density and ethnic diversity.
These maps can help answer questions about the population density of New Zealand’s suburbs, towns and cities, as well as the ethnic diversity within these places. They help us see where ethnic populations are living closer together, forming their own communities (lower ethnic diversity), and where many different ethnic groups are living together, to create higher ethnic diversity.
We have presented the data at the statistical area 1 (SA1) level, using publicly available, confidentialised data. SA1 is the smallest geographic area that population data from the 2018 Census data is available for publicly.
Below is Auckland’s urban area highlighting that while Auckland is diverse, especially compared to the rest of the country, there are some very distinct pockets of ethnicity throughout the region. Click through to here for an interactive version.
Another funding shortfall
With fewer people travelling, Stuff reports there’s also less fuel tax coming in to pay for the projects it was designed to cover.
Auckland has lost out on about $15 million for transport projects due to a sharp drop in fuel consumption during the first coronavirus lockdown.
The four-month drop in consumption began in March during the first lockdown. The figures do not yet include the hit from the nearly three weeks Auckland spent in alert level 3 during August.
AT have added a new feature to their mobile app showing the status of train lines. This is useful but with trains at reduced speed and frequency, I don’t think they can really claim that it’s ‘good service’
Register your HOP cards
New feature rolled out overnight – if your AT HOP card is unregistered it will beep three times.
Make sure your card is registered – It’s great for contact tracing, plus you can sync it up to your AT Mobile app for custom notifications! https://t.co/bvnEYfRR71@AklTransport pic.twitter.com/FLidNgUjvm
— John (@johnage) September 1, 2020
I came across this interesting tender from Auckland Transport showing they looking at removing all pedestrian level crossings from the rail network. By my count, not including those where there is also a road crossing, there are 14 crossings and nine of them are at train stations.
This Request for Proposal (RFP) is an invitation to suitably qualified participants to submit a proposal for preparation of the Pedestrian Level Crossing Removals – Single Stage Business Case.
The outcome is to deliver an approved SSBC that identifies preferred options for the removal of each of the pedestrian level crossings in question, either by closure or grade separation, and demonstrates the appropriateness of the preferred interventions through the NZTA business case process. In conjunction with the business case, concept designs and a design report are to be provided foreach site.
The outcome is certainly one I’ll be keeping eye on as I need to use to to access my local station but I also ride through it if I’m riding to work or town.
Progress on the Victoria St cycle lanes – though they do look a bit narrow in places
— John (@johnage) September 1, 2020
Progress on the Tamaki Dr improvements with the new cycleway becoming clearly visible
Tāmaki Ride Cycleway pic.twitter.com/kEHrPQotZk
— Timmy (@gallicist) August 30, 2020