Here’s our weekly roundup
Next Train Shutdown
For the last four weeks the Southern and Onehunga Lines between Newmarket and Penrose have been closed while Kiwirail replace the worn out tracks. Trains will be rolling on those tracks again from Monday and the good news is it also means some of the speed restrictions are being lifted.
The speed restrictions can now be lifted on some sections of track that have been repaired.
Eastern Line customers will see a 10-minute frequency, with journey time improvements between Panmure and Britomart during peak travel.
Southern Line services will remain at a 20-minute frequency, however there are journey time improvements between Otahuhu and Newmarket. Onehunga Line services will stop at all stations, meaning more trains will be available for customers who board at stations served by both lines.
It should be noted that journey time improvements doesn’t mean fully back up to speed. For example, Panmure to the city is now meant to take 22 minutes, that’s down from the 32 minutes it has been but is still slower than the 16 minute schedule prior to this issue emerging.
Also from Monday the next section is being closed, From Homai to Pukekohe and that a larger closure will happen over Christmas/New Year.
“There will be a larger, network wide closure during the Christmas period when fewer Aucklanders are in the city, and patronage is lower. At this time, we expect a boosted workforce will be working across the network.
“We know that when working around the clock KiwiRail creates disruption and inconvenience for people who live near the work activity. We do our best to minimise disturbance and, once again, are grateful for the public’s forbearance.”
When KiwiRail moves on to the next section of track work, buses will replace trains between Manukau and Pukekohe. Southern Line services will terminate at Manukau station.
This closure will be in effect from Monday 19 October to Sunday 15 November.
Auckland Transport have been consulting on what to do with public transport in Devonport and their subsidised taxis. That consultation ends on Sunday so have your say if you haven’t already. I covered the options here and think Option A is the better overall choice.
Airport to Manukau Bus improvements underway
The bus improvements to Puhinui Rd and Lambie Dr started this week.
A connected rapid transit network (RTN) to Auckland Airport is a step closer – with a $14 million investment to upgrade Puhinui Road and Lambie Drive for the new AirportLink bus service about to get underway.
Construction starts this week on the upgrades – which includes new bus lanes, cycling facilities and pedestrian improvements – to provide the infrastructure to deliver frequent and reliable, 10-minute bus journeys from the new Puhinui Station Interchange to Auckland Airport from May 2021.
The project is an early improvement delivered by the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit project – which is part of the wider Southwest Gateway Programme.
SH20B Speed Consultation
Also related to the wider Southwest Gateway project, Waka Kotahi NZTA are now consulting on speed limit changes to SH20B
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is asking for feedback from the public on a proposal to reduce the speed limit and introduce a dedicated bus and priority (T3) lane on State Highway 20B (SH20B) to Auckland Airport.
SH20B is a busy arterial route to the airport, with a daily average of 30,000 vehicles pre-COVID-19. The project is adding new dedicated lanes to allow frequent bus services between the airport, Puhinui and Manukau, making safety improvements, constructing two signalised intersections and a new shared path for walking and cycling.
Waka Kotahi Senior Manager Project Delivery Andrew Thackwray says the proposed lower speed limit will improve road safety for all users.
Currently, there are three different speed limits (50, 60 and 100km/h) along the 3km stretch of SH20B between Pukaki Creek Bridge and the SH20 interchange where most of the time the average vehicle speed is less than 60km/h.
There will be no change to the existing 50km/h from the SH20/SHB interchange to Manukau Memorial Gardens, but the proposal is to reduce the speed limit from 100kms to 60kms between the Gardens and Orrs Road.
“The upgraded road corridor and reduced speed limit will make journey times more consistent and safer,” says Andrew Thackwray.
Last year, Waka Kotahi engaged with the public about a reduced speed limit on SH20B once current construction was finished. The vast majority (86%) of respondents supported the move.
Waka Kotahi is also proposing a dedicated bus lane in each direction between Pukaki Creek Bridge and the SH20 and SH20B interchange to provide more reliable public transport services and support frequent bus services between the airport and Puhinui Station Interchange.
“To maximise efficiency and ease congestion, the proposal is to also allow vehicles with three or more people (T3) to use the new bus lanes.”
It’s proposed the T3 lanes operate 24/7 once the corridor improvements work is completed in 2021. Formal consultation on a bus and T3 lane bylaw is required under Section 22AD of the Land Transport Act 1998.
Given they’ve already consulted once on speed limit changes it seems silly that they have to do so again.
As for the transit lanes, these should be full bus lanes and not T3. As well as an increased potential for abuse of them as they’re harder to enforce, vehicles using the lane towards the airport will still need to merge in with general traffic when they get to the bridge over the Pukaki Creek. With T3 vehicles using the lane too that’s potentially going to create a queue and buses will be stuck behind those cars waiting longer than they would if it was just a bus lane.
A couple of quick CRL updates.
Mining of the station at the Karangahape Rd station has now begun
The mining recently began with an initial short connection to the caverns for the station’s platforms.
This connection provides access for people, machines and material, It’s being mined from the bottom of the temporary access shaft 18 metres deep, built on the site of the old Mercury Plaza food court.
This photo is from Mercury lane and is the back end of the excavator which is mining the first part of the adit (the horizontal passage leading into a mine for the purposes of access or drainage).
The tunnel is 10.5m long at present. The two large aluminium pipes are for ventilation.
They also say that the TBM is now on it’s way and will be here in a few weeks. It will start boring the first tunnel in April
Finally if you haven’t already, don’t forget to get out and vote.