Here’s our roundup of the smaller things you may not have seen for the week.


Britomart Restored

After three weeks of maintenance to fix our run down system, trains started using Britomart again and we learnt the extend of some of the works that have taken place over that shut down. Kiwirail have laid a new concrete slab and replaced the scissor crossing in the tunnel.

Passenger trains returned to Britomart Station today after a three-week closure while a new scissor track crossing was installed at the eastern end of Britomart tunnel and worn out rail was replaced between Newmarket and the city.

KiwiRail Chief Operating Officer Capital Projects and Asset Development, David Gordon says that the temporary closure was necessary to get a boosted workforce into critical inner parts of Auckland’s network that are near impossible to access while trains are running.

“Along with installing a new track scissor in the throat of Britomart Tunnel, our rail crews fixed 6km of worn rail and replaced two turnouts running between Newmarket and Britomart, which is a major highway in our network, carrying most of the city’s trains.

“On the average day, more than 350 trains travel on this section of line, so we made the most the shutdown and worked 24/7 to make sure trains could return to Britomart today, as scheduled.

“The new scissor crossing is part of work KiwiRail is doing to modify and improve the track layout into Britomart Station, to help

Kiwirail say the repair of the network is now 70% complete however that still means a lot of work is still to do. The Western Line remains closed until early February and the Eastern Line between Otahuhu and Britomart will close again from Sunday until Monday 8 Feb.

Meanwhile at the other end of Britomart, City Rail Link shared some images of the work to restore the CPO building which is due to re-open to the public in March.

I’m really looking forward to being able to exit out on to Te Komititanga.


Northern Busway

It seems to have taken a long time to get to this point but from Sunday, the new busway station building at the Hibiscus Coast Station will open.

Further south, Waka Kotahi have released a new flyover video showing progress on the Northern Corridor. A couple of things to note compared to previous ones include:

  • (1:00) – The new section of Paul Matthews Dr which now connects at Caribbean Dr
  • (1:26) – The upgrade to Constellation Station can be seen. The pedestrian bridge is now largely complete and work is progressing on the platform shelters. You can also see the bridges are now in place for the busway to span Constellation Dr.
  • (2:24) – The Rosedale Station continues to emerge


Station Bike Parking

A while ago I highlighted how AT were adding more bike parking to some stations such as Smales Farm. Last week they announced they’ve added a total of 80 bike parks across four stations.

Four stations across the city now have better cycling facilities thanks to an ongoing improvement programme being rolled out by Auckland Transport (AT).

Akoranga, Smales Farm and Constellation bus stations, along with Panmure train station, have all benefitted from the improvements and now have more bike parking facilities available, with an additional 80 parks added across the four sites.

New bike shelters have also been installed, allowing for more bikes to be stored inside or undercover.

In addition to this, dedicated motorcycle parks within the park and ride area are now available at Akoranga, Smales Farm and Constellation bus stations.

Rachel Freebairn, AT Metro’s Head of Facilities, says the demand for bike parking has certainly increased. “More and more people are choosing to ride a bike to connect with bus or train travel which has meant there has been a shortage of suitable parking at some bus and train stations.

“This rollout is all part of our ongoing programme and commitment to improve facilities for cycling across our public transport hubs, and follows on from work previously completed at Devonport and Gulf Harbour.”

The only thing I worry about is that the parking they’ve added soon won’t be enough and even more is needed. I can’t help but wonder if they should have gone for even higher capacity options.


A Sydney Example

Auckland was shaping up as a city to watch when it comes to innovative temporary changes thanks to projects like High St and the Sale St intersection. Unfortunately there are many council and Auckland Transport managers out there who don’t like people showing that progress can be made quickly, cheaply and effectively and the Auckland Design Team were disbanded.

Now, after slow starts, cities like Sydney and Melbourne are starting to blast past us when it comes this stuff and so while we still have some organisations calling for the removal of COVID temporary works and the return of four lanes of traffic on Queen St, Sydney is getting rid of cars from remaining sections of George St and giving more space to pedestrians.

As another reminder for AT, you don’t necessarily need to build anything, just start blocking off roads to traffic to create new public space.

https://twitter.com/berkie1/status/1351553755527966723


Speed Limit Stories

As often happens, reactions to the mere suggestion of lower speed limits on our roads get blown out of proportion. So it’s good to see an article on Stuff about how one change has turned out to not be much of an issue with some great quotes.

“It’s actually a lot better – I’ve never minded travelling at 100kmh but I was always aware of others who travelling at 120 – so having it at 90 legitimately there’s that pervading calmness when you know no-one is going to tail gate you.”,” Atkins said.

Glen said he had expected to be annoyed by the reduced speed limit but had been pleasantly surprised.

“I noticed I was happy going at the new speed limit and previously I’ve always hovered around the high end of what was signposted – with that not being an option any more and having to do 80 – I started thinking ‘this is fine, why was I doing that extra 20kmh?”

The reduced pressure and aggressiveness on the roads is something that’s probably under appreciated when considering these changes.

Vicky Parker, director of The Gallery in Havelock, said she doesn’t have a problem with the new speed limit between Havelock and Blenheim, as it added just a few minutes to the trip.

She did, however, say that the extension of the 50kmh speed limit through Havelock town was “very helpful”, as it seemed that by forcing people to slow down earlier, they were travelling through town generally slower than before.

She said that there is a large volume of traffic passing through town, including trucks, and that it was often difficult to cross the road safely before the new limit was brought in.

and

This summer is John Hodges’ sixth in charge of the Pelorus Bridge Cafe and Motor Camp, located between Rai Valley and Canvastown.

The speed limit changes have made a huge difference to the safety of everyone using the busy section of road, especially during the summer period, he said.

“In my opinion, that’s one area that they got right in dropping it down to 60 for the one-lane bridge and the number of people walking across the road.”

From a driver’s perspective, Hodges estimated the reduced speed limits have added four minutes to his journey when driving to Nelson, from 35 minutes to 39.

“People are driving through here quietly now – it’s bloody awesome – I guess we’ll always have people who don’t care about the speed limit and boost through here at 100 – and they always will until they’re caught.”

The section of road in the vicinity of the one-lane bridge had a holiday speed limit of 50kmh annually between 20 December and the end of January, but outside these dates the default limit of 100kmh applied.

This is great. Pelorus Bridge is an very popular spot to stop for a swim


Finally, yet more research is out showing that companies like Uber are significantly increasing travel in our cities. It would be interesting to see how Auckland compares here.

Have a good weekend.

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60 comments

  1. Council and AT have absolutely zero desire to close Queen Street to traffic, they could do it tomorrow if they wanted. I was there yesterday and there was hardly any traffic, I can think of much opposition that actually still stands against it so there really isnt anything stopping them anymore other than the work they need to do but clearly can’t be bothered to do.

    1. It’s actually absurd and ridiculous, just go out tonight and block off the street – take about 1 hour. All it is now clogged with are ubers trying to u-turn and holding up the Citylink buses, or people thinking they have a right to park in the loading zones down by Louis Vuitton and do some personal shopping.

    2. We definitely need some bold actions on Queen Street. I never understood why so many people would come to the CBD by car when parking is at premium, traffic lights are everywhere and there is abundance of public transport options. It seems to me like a waste of time and money. We should definitely close a better part of the street to cars and only allow buses and safety/city services.

      1. Parking is not at a premium. If you choose an AT car parking building, in most cases it is cheaper than taking a bus or train.

        Years into this climate crisis and AT or AC haven’t developed even the semblance of a plan to encourage PT usage.

        How does the recent decision to increase PT fares help? When parking charges remain untouched?

        Although AC have set targets for, amongst other things, PT ridership, it is not apparent that AT have even seen those figures.

        Although as Kiwis we think that we have all the answers European cities have developed very good pricing models to drive ridership.

        The UITP that is leading the drive towards PT as the major transportation method has aggressive plans to achieve this. It would seem that NZ (most likely led by Auckland) with the worst emissions record in the world behind Turkey should be searching elsewhere for inspiration. (I don’t want to denigrate the fantastic efforts of the GA team.)

    3. Lower Queen st is bit weird at the moment so I am currently waiting on a response from AT about what is happening with loading zones in the area.

      We have an apartment in The Guardian building. Occasionally parked briefly in a loading zone outside in Queen st when dropping stuff off, but mostly used Mills lane at the back which was was used at times as an overlooked parking zone.

      Mills lane outside the Guardian now has been painted with no parking lines and the unofficial loading zone has gone. Lower Queen Street has signs up that it is closed to traffic other that to ‘authorised vehicles only’. Maybe I am missing something, but can’t see any definition of what an authorised vehicle is. But right now private vehicles are using the street along with Ubers.

      I hope that council does not overlook that apartment buildings still need some level of service access. Dropping off a new mattress was a nightmare last weekend, as so much disruption in the area it is really unclear as to how to get from A to B in a vehicle.

      BTW – really disappointed in the square outside of the old PO. Giant concrete plaza like in every city, and was hot with little shade, but will also be windswept and cold in winter. We want to encourage people to live, work and play in the CBD so that the city is more walkable. Part of that is having some green space and services. Funny thing we have Prada, Louis Vuitton and other luxury stores but try buying a screwdriver to assemble a fan during the weekend in downtown Auckland…

      1. The lower queen street pedestrian feels pretty desolate. Hopefully it’s not a finished product and they add more trees and seats and maybe some statues or something to make it feel less empty.

        1. It’s so obviously flawed. I made comments early in the process which were totally ignored. It’s a desolate concrete desert. So poor.

    4. Two sections will have traffic removed in February. Between Mayoral and Wellesley and between Customs and Shortland

  2. I’ve seen the new timetable for the beginning of February for the Western line and I’m horrified that it will take 38 minutes now from Avondale to Britomart (and 32 minutes back) when it was 32 or 33 minutes before. I really hope this is just temporary.

    1. Wow that is shocking. I live in Glen Eden so that’s even more time on a train. Surely they must be looking to get the trains running faster at some point?

      1. The Pukekohe shuttle is still showing half an hour (Ok, 28 minutes) for the beginning of February when, before this fiasco, it took 15. Maybe it will all be over after 8 Feb as someone has suggested.

        1. Perhaps it’s because some of the rail works are still going. I thought that the whole idea was not only to repair the tracks but also remove all the speed restrictions which, in theory, should speed up our trains. 38 minutes from Avondale or 28 from Pukekohe is way too long.

        2. Michal – it could be due to the single track section at Mt Eden. If that’s the case then you’re stuck with it until 2024 unfortunately.

        3. I suspect, as electrificaton works have begun for the Papakura-Pukekohe part of the NIMT and will ramp up this year onwards, that the restrictions there may be permanent untill the elctrification is done and dusted. Ditto for Western Line as Jezza has suggested.

        4. Electrification alone shouldn’t slow services down, it didn’t during the 2012 – 14 electrification of the Auckland network. It might result in a lot of weekend closures for bridge replacements etc though.

    2. Get used to trains crawling we have got 3 or 4 years until the third main, Pukekohe electrification and CRL integration with the rest of the network are completed. Learn how to use the rail replacement buses and always have a alternative route as backup in case your primary one fails. Manukau to Britomart via Botany town centre or Onehunga it can be done if you know the network. Give yourself plenty of time and take a deep breath and hope it will all be worthwhile in 2024. Pain now gain later.

      1. I know. The problem is we can’t even get the little rail network we have working properly all the time. There are always track faults, signal faults and similar things happening and suddenly all the network is brought to a standstill. I am patiently waiting for the CRL to open as it will be a game changer.

        1. I hope your right however I have always being sceptical whether it will deliver everything everyone who believe in it thinks it will. It sure as hell brings a whole lot more complexity to the network and there will still be track faults and signal faults and the need for ongoing maintenance.

        2. If anything it will reduce complexity initially as there won’t be 20 movements in and 20 movements out of Britomart crossing over each other every hour.

          The complexity will return over time as frequencies increase.

        3. Well I expect we will find out in time.
          As long as the tunnelling doesn’t strike an unknown branch of the Styx’s or the Acheron and an unleash three headed monster from the underworld.

      2. If it is 3 or 4 years I won’t get used to the trains crawling. That is unless I see them as I wizz past in my motor vehicle, which also gives me the advantage of door to door service whenever and where ever I need it.

    1. I have some scissor tracks somewhere I could let have for free. HO gauge so I’m not sure if they’re suitable.

      1. HO might be a little small for the cutting up the oversized cheques. It is important to chop them to the size of bank notes as the money shredder they imported from China will clog on anything larger.

  3. Lol. My experience of the new speed limits are the exact opposite.
    Far more aggression tailgating overtaking and just annoyance all round.
    They’re not gonna report that though. Doesn’t suit the narrative.

    1. Lol, a newspaper is not going to report that because it doesn’t suit their narrative!

      People moaning about change and anecdotes about how things are worse are pretty much exactly the narrative a newspaper is looking for.

        1. Yes. Some give too much print space to personal anecdotes, the rest quite rightfully dont bother.

    2. I drove from Nelson to Blenheim – twice – over the holidays. My first thought on reaching the 60km/h zone over the hills was “Great, you can’t go faster than this safely, a perfect place to introduce a slower speed limit” but then I reached the Rai Valley and discovered the speed limit only increased to 80km/h. This became very frustrating very quickly on those long, flat, open straights.

    3. In the past, if you were driving at 80kmh on one of the many state highway sections where you can only safely do that speed (but it was still signposted at 100k), you felt a lot of pressure from the tailgaters to speed up a bit – which could result in a lost-control crash if you got it wrong. Now that the speed limits are starting to match the reality of these routes, there is much less pressure to speed up (even with tailgaters present), as you are already travelling at the signposted limit.

  4. What will the platform set up at Britomart be post-CRL? I have seen renders showing the two outermost platforms going into the tunnels but can’t find/figure out what will happen with the inner lines/platforms. Will some services still terminate at Britomart?

    1. You’re right that the 2 outer tracks go through to the tunnels (the alignment of the tunnels is complete now so this is set in concrete). The other tracks will terminate there. I believe the plan is to reduce this to 2 tracks by widening platform 3.

      The Onehunga service will still terminate at Britomart. Eventually inter-city trains may terminate there too.

      1. My understanding was that Onehunga services would be part of the cross town ‘purple’ line and would not go through the CRL. Has this changed?

        1. I’ve seen various running patterns proposed over the years. The one I quoted was only the most recent that I’ve seen. I don’t think a definitive decision has been made yet.

        2. I thought the cross-town service was (and would seem more logical) to be the western services joining the southern line at Grafton.

          This duplicates the O Line and anyone wanting Onehunga itself could change at Newmarket (amongst others).

          But I can see how using the O Line, and having people heading further south change, would work. Takes one line out of Britomart.

        3. The most recent we’ve heard is that the Western will run through the CRL then out Newmarket and terminate at Otahuhu and that they’ve decided the Onehunga Line will link up with the proposed crosstown ‘purple’ line so avoid the CRL. The main reasoning for this is that the O-Line can only take 3-car trains and so they don’t want to waste a CRL slot on one.
          Meanwhile the Southern line will run via Grafton and down the CRL and then out on the Eastern to Manukau

        4. Would be such a waste to have the purple line, just make Onehunga trains go through to Henderson or something and if you want to do West to South or vv then you can transfer – if trains are going every 5 minutes then it’s not a big deal

      2. If / when the east britomart portal widening is done, it’s a perfect location to stage regional services from. There’s siding track down by the Parnell baths for out of service trains to wait in. They can dart in for 15 minutes to pick up passengers. 3 (even 2) platforms is fairly respectable for what would be needed for the time being. Eventually a more sizeable regional station would be needed, re-develop the old station into a station again haha) but not for quite some time.

      1. +1

        Thanks for that info, wish KR was clearer at the time — I recall it was meant to be ‘six months’ from last August and WRC was hoping to launch Te Huia in Feb.

        1. You’re right Justin. They said 6 mths from late AUG (which is the end of Feb). I saw the admin around Te Huia say they are hoping to make an announcement of a new start date late in January. I think it’s more likely to be mid-Feb though hoping I will be proved wrong. I doubt we’ll see it start before the end of Feb.

  5. I’m so tired of seeing Queen St as the pits of Auckland. Literally nothing is maintained on that strip. Empty tree pits, broken pavers, poorly maintained facades, disgusting belongings strewn along the street. The council need a good kick up the a*** and actually make this a world class main street.

    1. The reason for this, is that they still haven’t decided what exactly to do with it yet. It’s essentially waiting on central governments light rail proposal to be finalised. If that is going to go down queen street then they don’t want to have to rip out their brand new street layout. If light rail goes down there or not it will mostly be ripped up regardless. The pavements have to be made much wider etc etc. most maintenance money would also be tossed away, I’m sure that’s how they see it anyway.

      1. Nothing on Queen St would get ripped up if the put light rail in, except for asphalt from the traffic lanes in the middle.

        Its just filling in the middle with more footpath, platform space and the two tracks. All the current paving, trees, benches and whatever would stay and be added to.

        1. Not necessarily, unlikely now but if they went for the light metro proposal then that would be underground in queen street. So wouldn’t require tracks on the surface. Depending on that, if/ where do you put a bike lane. The sidewalk would look unusual and be little used I think if you have all the street furniture in a line where it meets the edge of the road now and then a gap further into the street of more sidewalk. That’s kind of the situation now and it doesn’t get that much use on the bit further into the street. I think it has to be designed with a whole of corridor attitude in mind, which can’t be done until you know what the centrepiece will be. I do kind of agree with you, but I think it’s more complicated than it seems if you want to have the optimal final outcome.

      1. I know , it took along with compaints for them to do it for the tunnels across LQS . then everyone was happy . Mt Eden there is nothing . So are Council , CRL and AT scared that people will stop and view the works and then block the footpaths ?

  6. I can’t believe that AT are making a song and dance about *80* cycle parks at rapid transit stations. Those four stations needed 80 each! FFS, there are over 1,000 car parks at Albany and about 40 bike racks.

  7. Unless I am much mistaken, that new scissor-crossover is at the western end of Britomart Tunnel (as it approaches the station), not the eastern end as-per KiwiRail’s news release.

    1. When I went through there last Friday it seems the sicissor seem to be a 1/3 of the way up from the Columns by the platforms . And KR could be using the new tunnels for the CRL as the western end ? . ;-

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