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.


Devonport consultation

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.

Consultation is open till 8 November.


CRL Progress

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.

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29 comments

  1. I noted on the AT app that it says that express rail buses will operate between Papakura and Manukau during peak hours. Are AT going to implement some bus lanes on Great South Road, or shoulder bus lanes on SH1? I don’t see how, unless bus lanes are provided, that AT can claim that something will be an express route.

    The 33 bus from Papakura to Manukau and Manukau to Papakura takes about an hour in peak times. That’s not going to be a nice option for rail replacement services.

    1. Could they have an express bus Manukau Papakura Pukekohe via the Motorway and an all stops bus for stations between Manukau and Papakura.
      All passenger trains will stop but you can guarantee freight trains will continue.
      Work is slowly gently getting underway at Westfield junction on the Eastern line heading towards Sylvia Park. All sorts of lines being sprayed on the ground even a small digger digging a trench yesterday. It will be exciting to see what develops looks like a line on the eastern side to connect with already almost finished third line into Otahuhu station. But maybe there will be another track on the western side as well nearer Sylvia park.
      Whatever happened to rail repairs WW2 style where each night Bombers blew up the track each night only to find they were repaired by morning and trains were running as usual.

      1. My question was more directed at how is a service is going to be express? Limited stops but no bus priority = still a slow service?
        SH1 from Pukekohe to Manukau is busy during peak times. Great South Road from Papakura to Manukau is busy during peak times.
        Great South Road only has a tiny section of bus lane near Manurewa and a couple of early B traffic lights.

        1. One of the problems with Great South Road is at Takanini where work is still moving at a snail’s pace.

          Work is “supposed” to be finished next month so things should speed up through there then

        2. Express in Auckland doesn’t mean a fast service, it usually means it doesn’t stop to pick passengers up.

  2. The CRL progress is impressive. Those two big silver ducts in the photo are so they can back up truckloads of cash at the top and tip it straight down the hole.

    1. Or they could grind up those truckloads of cash and use them to resurface the botched road pavement of the Kapiti Expressway.

  3. The Kiwirail Auckland Transport relationship but be a dumpster fire at this point if AT feel they have to produce that video LOL

  4. Am I the only one that thinks that temporary access shaft would make an absolutely spectacular atrium and concourse for the station platforms?!

    1. I also thought it would make for a greater experience for those accessing the platforms from ground level.
      I can imagine escalators and stairs zigzagging down to the bottom showing the full depth and scale of the station, plus it would be possible to have natural light in the shaft.
      I also thought it would be cheaper then mining a 2nd smaller shaft and having to reinforce it.

  5. More news from Kiwirail. They have sold the three Silver fern railcars to the
    Pahiatua Railcar Society. I had hoped that they could/would be used on
    an interim service Auckland/Hamilton/Tauranga, but that’s not to be.
    I think one of them was unserviceable, but two were OK.

      1. Anyway, if the Hamilton/Auckland/Hamilton service falls over, we will
        have two sets ready to go on services elsewhere.
        Not that I’m hoping it will fail, of course.

  6. They have two cash mulchers coming. You can see them in the video at the bottom of the post. When the cash runs out they can also mulch other public assets as well: libraries, port shares, carpark buildings. They are very versatile.

    1. Actually Auckland is only getting one of those, the others visible will be destined for other projects. ~7m diameter Earth Pressure Balance cash mulchers are in great demand from growing cities around the world.

  7. And as the TBM is arriving later this month I noticed the other day there is no way to view it unless you go onto a private area next to where the old walkway to Mt Eden station use to be . Even when you get the train the fence along the track is around 1 panel to high for the commuters to view what is happening on site , even up around the streets where TV3 is they have lots of lovely pictures but no viewing holes as they have in the city . Why ? .
    As this will show ;-

    ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRDRqUqab40

      1. Grady are you able to set up a webcam and to have it as a youtube live site ? . It would be interesting to see whats happening over the next years .

  8. And this is the latest on the Puhinui Interchange Station and when I was there on the Monday they were starting the columns on the platform ;-

  9. AT supposed to increase its ‘rapid’ transit overtime. After many years not only nothing get progress. We go backwards.

    Another reason why AT failed and the whole organisation need structural reform for accountability and performance.

  10. The AT Local project embodies most of what is wrong with AT. By world standards AT is a major fail with car mode car constantly stuck above 80%, among the worst in the world for cities of comparable size. The result of this mode share is endless congestion and high carbon emissions.

    Faced with the need for rapid improvement, why would AT be fiddling with a scheme that is just tinkering at the edges. And the evidence is that it is tinkering in a bad way, so that some people who previously walked or biked around Devonport are turning to the Local service; hence increasing emissions and congestion.

    The project also shows what can happen when consultation is localised. Of course the service is likely to be popular in the area. What is there not to like? -on demand transport for a fraction of its cost, with someone else paying for it. Who cares that money spent in Devonport contributes to PT being crap, or non existent in the west if you don’t live there, and are unlikely to ever live there?

    And the bizarre thing is that if the Local wasn’t losing enough money they want to try and loose even more by reducing prices. “If Option B was implemented, AT Local fares and payment method would be brought into line with AT bus services. You would pay your AT Local fare using your AT HOP card and an AT HOP card reader inside the AT Local van.”

    Futile local schemes like this, and the St Heliers parking debacle show how much Auckland needs SUMP’s. I am no Judith Collins fan, but she was undoubtedly right when she said, let’s abolish AT. Let us have an organisation that considers Auckland as a whole; that starts from the major issues and build solutions that address those and discards those that don’t.

    Hopefully then, when someone says comes knocking with projects like this, or a monstrous car park for Takapuna, the group will say, we can do much better with saving $1M plus in operating losses from each of these projects, and $35M in capital expenditure for the second. We can make progress to a sustainable city.

  11. Good to see the Panmure to Britomart frequency and speed improvements implemented ahead of the other track fixes. Logical but wasn’t really expecting it.

    The clarity on some proposed speed changes etc I’ve noticed sometimes can be quite confusing because they assume you know what the current speeds are by being familiar with the area. A simple map showing colour coded before and after would make it so much easier to understand. Also the distance involved. I need to go and measure it on a map myself?

    That boring machine is impressive, great video.

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