Here’s our roundup of the smaller things you may not have seen for the week.
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
This is the end result – a new 'diamond crossing' which helps trains switch to different tracks when coming or going from Britomart Station. It's an integral piece of track for services when the City Rail Link opens. pic.twitter.com/ZOzIYmFAH5
— John (@johnage) January 18, 2021
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.
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.
This Sunday the new station building at Hibiscus Coast Bus Station will open!
The new station building features a coffee and food kiosk, a ticket and AT HOP top-up machine, toilets, bike parking, and waiting areas which will be well lit and protected from the elements. pic.twitter.com/C2nqS1iHET
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) January 19, 2021
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.”
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.
After the light rail was completed along Sydney’s George St, we could see that we didn’t need cars to come back at all.
This 600m section is in being transformed into a full pedestrian zone between Town Hall and Central stations. https://t.co/VAgolunxJF pic.twitter.com/KKEVijJEZ4
— Sara Stace (@sara_stace) January 19, 2021
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.
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.
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.
Yikes. New research from @Bruce_Schaller claims the average Uber/Lyft pooled trip more than *doubled* vehicle miles traveled in Boston, NYC, Chicago, and CA 'burbs.
— David Zipper (@DavidZipper) January 19, 2021
Have a good weekend.