On January 23, 2015, Auckland Transport sprung a huge surprise on everyone, including then Mayor Len Brown, by announcing a plan to introduce light-rail on several key isthmus corridors to fill the rapid transit void on the Isthmus. The announcement was timed so that it could be included in the draft 2015 Regional Land Transport Plan. As well as being surprising because it came out of the blue, it was also surprising given the Council and the Government were still arguing over the timing and funding of City Rail Link and here was AT suggesting another major rail project. The Council were also about to embark on public discussion over new transport funding mechanisms like a motorway tolling scheme.

However, when you dug beneath the surface, it actually became quite clear why light-rail had emerged – ironically it was the end result of a study the previous government had insisted upon in its attempts to delay or kill CRL. It found that not only was the CRL needed, but that even with it in place, bus volumes would eventually overwhelm the city centre.

2041-buses-withcbdrl
Even with CRL in place, many city centre streets will be overwhelmed by buses in the future.

This volume of buses on key city centre streets would not only result in increasingly slow and unreliable services, it would also create a ‘wall of buses’, undermining efforts to turn the city centre into a high quality pedestrian focused space:

Bus Congestion
Avoiding a ‘wall of buses’ as seen on many high volume bus corridors overseas, has long been a key driver for light-rail.

The light rail plans came from trying to solve this problem and complemented the CRL by providing high quality public transport access to parts of the city not served by rail and some of the highest bus volumes.

While the original proposal did not include a map of the routes, it discussed a number of isthmus corridors: Sandringham Road, Dominion Road, Mt Eden Road and Manukau Road.

Draft RLTP LRT Routes

Almost exactly a year later we learnt AT were considering extending light rail to the airport. Previous investigations into airport rail had seen light rail score well in the analysis but the issue was always the need to build the entire 22km line to the city. However, if were building light rail on the isthmus anyway, that changed the equation and it became the preferred option.

The change of government in 2017 saw them take over the project. Initially this was positive and they even added to plans our ideas to also extend light rail to the Northwest. However, cusp of starting to deliver the first parts of the project, the NZ Super Fund got involved and everything stalled.

This post isn’t intended to outline the entire long and torturous history the project has had over the past six years, but I do think that its somewhat secretive initial work, surprising release and ongoing changes have had a negative long-term effect on the project.

The way the project came about, having been developed entirely within AT, left many government officials suspicious and/or upset about not having had a say in it. There has also tended to exist with government officials a strong anti-rail attitude and an even stronger anti-Auckland bias. As a combination of all of these, many then set out to delay or even stop the project as a result.

The negative effect hasn’t just been felt from officials. Even though six years have passed, there has never been proper public engagement on the project and that haunts it to this day. Light rail was meant to be about filling the void but instead there’s been a void of information and that has enabled all sorts of misunderstandings, misinformation and suspicion about the project to take hold within both the media and public – some of this has been generated often not in particularly good faith

Yet the lack of engagement is somewhat understandable. The changes, both in scope and politics have meant we still don’t have a finalised route – let alone a design, confirmation of mode, station locations, property acquisition, consents or even purpose. Is it about getting people to the airport? Is it about reducing buses in the city? Is it about filling a big gap in the rapid transit network? Is it about enabling growth and development? How much weight should be put on some of these objectives over others?

Despite all this, I remain fairly optimistic that we might actually see some progress this year. It seems like Minister of Transport Michael Wood is much more pragmatic than his predecessor Phil Twyford when it comes to light-rail, and understands the need for a sensible ‘step by step’ approach here – to rebuild a social license for the project, to not be too grandiose about its scale or optimistic about timeframes for “spades in the ground”. In his Guest Post for us before Christmas, the Minister showed a nuanced understanding of the project’s many drivers and – as the MP for Mt Roskill and a regular user of Dominion Road buses – an intimate knowledge of the many issues the project is aimed at addressing:

I’m personally committed to light rail. I announced Labour’s commitment to it back in 2016 and it’s an issue I’ve campaigned on for years. I live down the far end of Dominion Road and while I still sometimes take the 27W or the 25L into town, pre-COVID it was at capacity. When we go back to the levels of ridership we achieved last year, our city centre will once again be clogged with buses. Add in the huge housing growth expected in Mt Roskill and Māngere, and we simply have to get light rail done to avoid clogging our streets. I expect to make an announcement on next steps next year and the Government will engage with Aucklanders much more on this important project.

Over the next few months I suspect we will see some proper public engagement on routes, station locations, modes (street level, elevated or underground) and more. I wouldn’t be surprised if the government went back towards the street-level design Auckland Transport had been progressing prior to Waka Kotahi taking over the project in 2018, especially given the impacts of Covid on Government debt levels and the absolute mess of the NZ Super Fund debacle.

Hopefully when we hit the 7th anniversary of the project’s emergence – this time next year – we will finally know for certain what we’re going to be building and we can start to put this project’s messy history behind us and get on with it.

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100 comments

  1. 6 f**king years, it makes you want to cry. This should be operational and we should be arguing about the station names for the North Shore line instead

    1. Six years from when an idea is first raised to completion would be extremely short. The CRL in its current iteration was first proposed in 2004 and will be completed approximately 20 years later, Sydney metro was first proposed in 2001, with the first section opening 18 years later.

      The failing with light rail was the grand promises at the 2017 election.

      1. Canberra light rail was first raised as an idea after Auckland. It’s been running for some time now.

        The failing of light rail was Twyford appointing rail hating Stiassny as NZTA chair and giving him the project to do nothing with, then Twyford appointing some new guy to take over who put a contract for implementation out to market then decided to not award it cos he didn’t understand any of the work that had been done previously so he wanted to start again. Then Twyford running off after some bullshit Canadian scam artists sold him a sweet pile of bullshit when he realised he’d wasted three years with nothing to show for it. Then Twyford telling NZTA to come up with a scheme the same as the Canadians fifteen billion dollar boondoggle, to go head to head in the worst procurement plan known to history. Followed by Twyford failing to win support for any of it because he’d screwed it all up so royally, and Twyford getting fired from cabinet.

        Notice a pattern here.

        Hoefully Wood can wind back the clock to when Auckland Transport had the project finished and ready to go and just do the damned thing.

        1. Construction was agreed for Canberra light rail in 2012, that is definitely not after it was raised in Auckland. However, serious proposals for LR in Canberra date back to the early 90s.

          I agree the ACT government has made a much better fist of getting on with it than our government has but your claim that it was first raised after Auckland simply doesn’t hold water.

        2. Not so, they didn’t approve the Canberra business case and start design work until 2015. They same time Auckland completed it’s business case and started design work. Sure they’ve talked about it forever, so has Auckland. Seen the Dominion Road plans from 1993?

          Call it the same time then, whatever, Canberra moved quickly and got the job done and Auckland failed. Mostly because they had the plan ready to go and funded when Tywford picked it up with his Midas shit touch.

          Peters was right, but he didn’t kybosh light rail he just said a big NO to Twyfords crazy metro boondoggle. We owe him one for finally putting an end to that clusterfuck.

        3. GF – the reason I allude to 2012 is because that is when funding was approved for Canberra LR, it still hasn’t been approved in Auckland.

          The other advantage Canberra had was a clear route, there was public opposition to the cost of it and it being slower than some express buses it replaced but no real opposition to the route.

          AT decided to do a business case without any funding or any consultation about the proposed route and the obvious challenges of squeezing LR into the Dominion Rd corridor.

  2. While the Dominion Rd and City centre part of the Light Rail project has to be the most pressing part, it is also the most difficult part and consequently likely to cause long delays while suitable solutions are found.
    Wouldn’t to better to start at the easier end and build a line starting at Onehunga and crossing the Manukau to Mangere through the Airport precinct to Puhinui and on to Manukau.
    This would give time ti investigate and evaluate how to get the line from Onehunga to the City centre, and also give a wealth of information and experience in the operation of a modern Light Rail system making the decisions on the best way to connect the system to the city a lot easier and clearer.

    1. The Queen St and Dominion Rd sections are the most difficult parts politically because of the disruption that would occur during construction. However these sections are the easiest / lowest risk in an engineering sense because the road corridor width is available and there is no sewer in the middle of the road that would require relocation.

      Unfortunately political problems are much harder to solve than engineering problems so I have to agree, we should start at the southern end of the proposed line.

      1. the previous plans I have seen actually suggested there wasnt the corridor width available in many areas – it required some not insubstantial property aquisition, especially around stops.

        1. That is my understanding too. The space for light rail stops, motor vehicle through traffic, footpaths and cycles lanes at historic commercial/village centres on Dominion road is extremely tight. Yet widening the corridor with land acquisition is politically challenging too.
          Canberra has a much wider road corridor for its light rail – so it didn’t face this difficulty.

        2. As someone who lives on the route, this always seems to be made more of a mountain than it is.

          There are only about 6 stops down Dom Road. Some of them probably have enough width already. For those that don’t, why not simply build a short underpass for cars or LR, so one goes over the other e.g. at Balmoral cars could go underneath for a short length to give the LR station enough width.

          Roskill itself seems ideal for an underpass for the LR, as it is built on a hill with Dom Road dropping away at both ends. The gradient change at the southern end may be challenging for LR anyway. I think this solution is already planned for the K Road hill.

        3. Northbourne avenue in Canberra which the first stage of the Canberra LRT runs along for much of its route is a six lane highway with a very wide median strip that was used for the light rail. Sort of like Te Irirangi Drive on steroids and nothing like Dominion Rd

        4. An alternative to Steve N’s idea would be to have those stations that are in tight areas to have a single line at the station. Basically the station would take up the space of the other line and therefore no require any extra space.
          Yes, it would mean that a possible bottleneck could be created, but with careful timetabling it should be possible to keep that to a minimum.
          The other alternative if to make the line down Dominion Rd a one way line and a second line then be build down either Sandringham Rd or Mt Eden Rd, although to make that work there would need to be some form of circle service(s) that took people from one street to the other.

    2. What’s the point of a light rail line that ends in Onehunga where the train only goes every 30 mins with 3 cars max?

      1. None whatsoever. There are some road projects happening that are dubious uses of taxpayer money but this marooned section of track would take the cake.

        1. The Onehunga Line could run a 10-minute frequency if a crossing loop at Te Papapa was operational.

        2. Not really, not without terrible reliability that upsets the whole turntable. it has a single track terminus and a single track junction with the southern line that requires Onehunga trains to run the wrong way on the main for 300m.

          You’d have to fix both those things at least too.

        3. With 30sec dwells at intermediate stops and 3min turnaround it is do-able (but tight). I modelled it back in 2014 (before it was realized that the AM-units would average around 50sec for intermediate dwells!)

          The section of wrong-line running on the Up Main at Penrose Junction is actually only 70m. But you are correct, in that the route-reservation from the junction signal on the Down Main to the clearance point on the branch is about 300m, hence the Up Main will be obstructed by a Down Onehunga train while it navigates this route at 25Km/h. With new higher-speed turnouts it should be possible to raise this to 40Km/h, if the desire was there.

    3. Given that the LR depot would be sited in Mt Roskill I was always confused by the need to start building from Queen St and keep going to the airport (as the announced plan stated).
      It seems smarter (to me) to start from Mt Roskill and build towards Queen Street. In that way the line could start operating earlier, as the laid track allows. A 2nd crew could start building the Spaghetti Junction over bridge simultaneously, before the tack gets there.
      And if we want to be really efficient, a 3rd crew could start laying track from Mt Roskill to the Mangere/the airport. But that might be too much for bureaucrats to get their heads around.

      1. John A – I like the idea of starting from Mt Roskill and building towards Queen Street with a second crew building the bridge over spaghetti junction at the same time – Good thinking!

      2. They wouldn’t start testing and commissioning a line until the full length was open from the depot to the CBD. Nobody opens a mile of track to run while they’re still building the rest, to many risks and doesn’t work with the commissioning programme.

        1. Wasn’t the original idea that the Mt Roskill Depot wasn’t going to be initially connected the the main line and that the units were to be trucked there for maintenance and that the stabling Depot was to be around the Wynyard Quarter.

  3. Six years, eh?

    Is the worst side of this that we’ve had six years of secrecy which has set the tone for everything in Auckland. Bad cos, bad engagement, bad f**cking conversations about everything important.

  4. I’m not sure what AT was really supposed to do differently initially. The problems came after that first announcement. It was the ideal time to start the engagement. If government noses were put out of joint and that is the reason, ultimately, for why things haven’t progressed in 6 years then Michael Wood’s task (and Twuford’s before him) is actually to stop people from being able to cause such harm simply for power play.

    1. What were they supposed to do differently? They could have started with talking about the project far more than they did. After they announced they wanted LR they shut up shop and didn’t talk about it again.

      1. I would have liked to see some more renders of Light Rail in other urban settings to show what was possible across the district – think Tamaki Drive, Takapuna, Northwest Auckland etc. Instead it was just “here’s our proposal” and that was kind of it? I don’t know if the Govt would have gotten away with it languishing for so long had AT generated more hype and buy-in across the district before it got handed over to Wellington.

        1. I’m not sure generating renders of light rail in places where it wasn’t proposed to be would have helped. Likely would have quite the opposite effect as would undermine the legitimate reasons the project was needed for

        2. Didn’t think of that, tbh. Still would have been nice to see a few more renders than the ones we saw over and over again for the proposed routes.

  5. I have no faith in either of the main political parties of New Zealand or the Council and its other agencies like AT to deliver anything that involves density of housing, rapid transit, pedestrianisation fo the CBD or mass cycling infrastructure. We will however get a the Westgate/Flatbush of the South or whatever you want to call the box stores and sprawl that will make up Drury South complete with additional SH1 works and whole new Mill Road motorway.

  6. Light rail has already achieved all of its goals and more. It was a form of misdirection the Council and Government used like some tawdry magician.

  7. It is so frustrating. How did the other country ie Paris, Barcelona, London and other cities manage to roll out cycleways, buslanes, light rails etc in no time at all. I wish the Auckland council is the same as the European local authorities. The council model need a really good shakeup.

    1. Because this is NuZild bro – its how we do things.
      Anyone who’s ever travelled overseas might say “its a joke” but… acceptance is zen. Accept that councils will take forever to make a final decision, accept that contractors will take forever to get anything finally done.

    2. They don’t. Crossrail in London has been proposed for decades and still hasn’t been completed yet. The only difference is we tend to see the completed product not the planning, design and political debates leading up to projects overseas.

  8. Isn’t it great how you can set out to cripple infrastructure development in a city because you don’t like that city? Never mind the the thousands of hours lost to congestion, additional emissions during a climate emergency and all that sort of thing – you’re a well-paid pen pusher with a grudge. You get paid no matter what. After all, it’s not like any of those things are directly affecting you, so why should you care?

  9. It is more than 6 years in the making. When I was first elected to the Eden/Albert Community Board in 1998, one of the first things we did was go on a tour of Dominion Rd, looking at the plans Auckland City Council had for rapid transit on that street. Whether it was light rail, or a busway was determined by the politics of the Council at the time, and for some regimes, it was consigned to a bottom drawer, but the plans were definitely there in 1998, and Council had purchased some properties in anticipation.

    1. Was part of that a bypass section around the back of the Valley Rd shops through what is now the supermarket carpark?

    1. 100% – figure out an airport connection later. Puhinui bus lanes and rail connection may work out fine.
      Plan, design and construct multiple LR lines, and eventually one can connect to the airport if its needed.

      1. Correct. Puhinui might be ok.
        The plan needs to be more realistic. I view it more as an enabler of Isthmus density, than anything else.

        1. Exactly. As someone who has always disagreed with this blog’s support for LR as the mode to the airport I completely agree. That’s not to say I am anti-LR. I just think LR comes into it’s own on dense suburbs and their arterial roads and the CBD. So I think it makes best sense to build the LR down Dominion Rd and to Onehunga and fill a lot of the missing ithmus rapid transit desert.

        2. “So I think it makes best sense to build the LR down Dominion Rd and to Onehunga and fill a lot of the missing ithmus rapid transit desert.”

          And what of the SW Auckland PT desert? Nothing, still?

          P.S. I think the blog only supported airport LR on the basis it was a SW Auckland transit line and an extension of the Dom Rd LR.

        3. It’s not enough that there is a gap on a map. There has to be a big enough problem that can’t be solved by just adding more buses.

        4. It always looked like 2 quite different lines to me. A tram (or light rail if that is your preferred term) line on Dominion Road, and an overground metro line along the motorway to the airport.

          Isn’t there an old rail designation over there? Maybe the metro section should continue as metro to Avondale.

        5. Was never metro as its too expsnsive for less catchment.

          Same light rail (the actual term, or tram, often for those who want to give a negative impression) all the way.

        6. Well I’m not familiar with the various technical definitions of ‘metro’ out there.

          But there is an obvious difference between the two parts. The Dominion Road part is running on-street. The Mangere part is separated, its closest analogue in Auckland is probably the northern busway.

          I don’t know which way is best. With two lines the system could connect to the rail line in Avondale. OTOH the Dominion Road line can’t continue straight due to the harbour so it might as well continue to Mangere.

          (note that ‘bus’ has similar negative connotations but this hasn’t prevented success on the NEX. People seem smart enough to see through this.)

        7. Any definition of metro that doesn’t include an entirely off road section of rail dedicated to passenger services with high quality stations and 80-110km/h operating speeds is a bad definition. The section from Onehunga to the airport is almost identical to most of London’s Underground system (as most of it is above ground), yet no one would argue that the Underground isn’t metro.

    2. If there was one moment that killed the project it was when they claimed they could extend it to the airport and achieve rapid transit all the way in, even up the middle of Dominion Road. That lost them credibility and resulted in the government looking for an alternative that might actually work. That meant the benefits of the original project, including the CBD distributor benefits, were lost.

      1. “If there was one moment that killed the project it was when they claimed they could extend it to the airport and achieve rapid transit all the way in”

        Was that not the case? There are similar distances and timeframes on (for example) the Southern Line and we still class those as RTN, no? What constitutes RTN and what doesn’t?

        1. The journey from a station at say Mangere was expected to be 5 – 10 mins slower than the equivalent rail trip from a parallel southern line station such as Papatoetoe. It was quite simply going to be slower over the same distance.

        2. Doesn’t mean its not an RTN. It just means that for the small % of people travelling from Mangere to Britomart or vice versa, there might be a faster option travelling the same distance somewhere else in Auckland, just with the same end point. Which is to say its a pointless comparison. Hell, its probably faster than the Western Line for an equal distance.

          95% of people will not even be travelling that distance. Its a commuter line after all.

        3. The Western Line is New Zealand’s slowest rapid transit line, slightly slower on average than the airport light rail would have been actually.

          It is also literally New Zealand’s most used and most cost-effective rapid transit line. Why? Beacuse it links up a whole lot of places where people live, work, study and shop all along the way. Unlike the other rail lines that only link a whole lot of places people live to one place where they work, study and shop.

          That tells you all you need to know about miffy’s griping about whether its fast enough or not.

  10. Six years! When the climate clock has been ticking all that time, and now the alarm is ringing too loudly to ignore.

    Hopefully the Climate Commission’s proposed carbon budgets (due in the first week of Feb) will help our transport agencies focus on their duties ahead.

    Will 2021 mark the year when the climate-responsible choices – light rail, frequent and reliable PT, a proper cycling network – became proudly top of the list for investment, and car-based sprawl fell off the table ‘cos “we can’t do everything”? It’s time.

    1. All bright and shiny and smelling of newness. Wide doors on front and back.Quiet smooth a little Bouncy and strong regen breaking but good handholds so best to stay seated until its stopped. But great for an 11 kilometre ride. I think there is a 80 kph top speed on the route so I suppose I will have to do an airport trip to evaluate its higher speed performance. But initial impression is very nice. Five passengers between Papatoetoe Station and Manukau bus station. One more got on one got off. Came home on the train which is running Manukau Otahuhu. Speeds have being increased since last week except the usual crawl past Puhinui Station.

  11. I am not going to hold my breath for this one. I am guessing that we won’t see much movement on this and it will be quietly dropped and at the next election Labour won’t be promising it.

  12. Light rail is great but let’s just get on with a comprehensive network of protected cycleways (including the skypath!)

  13. I’d welcome more transparency around the light rail project, including more information on the bus congestion problem.

    The figures in the 2016 business case show the bus numbers on Wellesley and Symonds St – identified as the critical streets – will only grow very slowly and so bus congestion there is only going to worsen slowly. Bus congestion barely got mentioned in the papers released towards the end of the Twyford era.

    If it is about congestion, then to really make the argument of how light rail is needed I think they need to start by projecting the delays arising from bus congestion and contrasting that with congestion elsewhere in the city, making the argument why the Wellesley and Symonds St problems should get solved why other issues elsewhere aren’t.

    If they can get clarity and agreement on the problem they are trying to solve then the rest of the project will flow more smoothly after that.

    1. I don’t think it is about bus congestion at all. They can get the exact same result by re-routing Dominion Road buses to use Ian McKinnon Drive and Upper Queen Street instead of Symonds and Wellesley. In fact they could get an even better result by re-routing Sandringham Road and New North Road buses to use that route too.

      1. It’s not only about bus congestion, but it is definitely about bus congestion.

        In your example it’s just not that simple. Put those three bus corridors onto Queen Street and you are looking at 70 buses an hour, not just on Queen Street but on their whole route. Where do they stop, how big are the stops and how wide with the stoppigng bays and passing lanes and platform space for pedestrains, how does that work with pedestrian crossings?.

        Most importantly, at the bottom of Queen Street what happens there, how do you add in another 70 buses an hour that need to drop passengers off, turnaround (what route?), take a timekeeping stop or layover (where?), then move back (what route?) to pick people up.

        It’s easy to say just stick more buses into town, but in reality Auckland’s been adding more and more buses for the last three decades and there isn’t anywhere to put more.

        The light rail deals with those issues by only needing 15-20 high capacity vehicles an hour instead of 70+, which can stop inline without needing passing bays, which change direction without leaving the terminal stop because they are double ended, and which can layover in the stop because there’s only a quarter as many vehicle terminating there.

        In short, light rail can fit properly in Queen Street alone and have high capacity. Buses can fit at anything like the required capacity for the future.

        1. But you may be able to divert a small number of buses, take some pressure off Wellesley and Symonds St, and delay the need for the light rail for awhile. Even a few years delay would be a big cost saving on a discounted cost basis allowing for the time value of money.

          To assess that we’d still need to establish what the allowable congestion delays are on Symonds and Wellesley St, which I think they could develop by looking at congestion delays across the city.

        2. But you may be able to divert a small number of buses, take some pressure off Wellesley and Symonds St, and delay the need for the light rail for awhile.

          So delay the inevitable at a time of skyrocketing construction costs?

          This is why Auckland infrastructure is the way it is; spending half a dollar, half a day late and it all ending up being done again, only more difficult and expensive in the long run than it needs to be.

        3. I don’t think construction costs are sky-rocketing at the moment. Rather all the contractors are talking about getting a secure pipeline of work which indicates that there is likely to be some slack in the market. It might look like construction costs are going up because so many of the early project estimates are well under-cooked.

          Otherwise I’d definitely build things just before they’re needed. If the need isn’t critical or can be solved in another way then save the money in the meantime. Would you load up the mortgage (or move into a more expensive rental) to add another room onto the house five or ten years before the baby arrived?

          It really comes down to whether you think the baby is about to arrive or not. Which goes back to my original point above that they need to try to get some clarity and agreement about what the problem they are trying to solve is and how big it is.

        4. Sherwood, Auckland Transports LRT programme had a ten year timeframe with a series of bus improvements to span the ten years until the full line was operational.

          Believe it or not they didn’t expect they could build a full railway in the first year, and they do understand the time value of money. Its the critical component in the 30, now 40 year economic evaluation required in a business case.

          Long story short, yes they had planned every vaguely effective improvement with buses in the short term of the project, but it buys less that ten years breathing room.

  14. Labour have to make some serious progress this year, anything else would be embarrassing for them, they have run out of excuses.
    They need to decide what they are building, get funding, and start detailed design this year.
    And they need shovels in the ground before the next election, even if only one section has been fully designed.
    I suspect they will soon announce surface level Queen Street / Dominion Road will be phase 1 with Airport / Mangere being phase 2 (or even phrase 3 after North West). But then again is expected that after the previous election so what would I know!

    1. Agree, Getting something done is very important, even if it is scaled back to some extent. I believe that the CBD to Airport is too much as a Starter Project. CBD to Mt Roskill Depot would show intent and be more manageable inside this electoral term.

      1. One of the problems with this type of project with so many different possibilities is the potential to try and over design and end up delivering nothing. I think this is where Twyford went wrong.
        In my field of engineering (software) a lot of projects now aim to deliver a “minimum viable product” very quickly and then expand on it from there. This seems to work quite well compared to the old “waterfall” approach where a complete set of requirements were established up front which were almost always full of “nice to haves” that delayed any progress and upped the price. I’m not suggesting that approach could work with infrastructure, but it is an interesting comparison between the engineering disciplines.

        1. +1, light rail up and down Queen Street as far as K Road would be incredibly well supported and demonstrate the concept well. I understand that there are stabling issues, but I am sure we can do maintenance of three LRT units in Upper Queen Street for a few years until we connect it to Mt Roskill.

    2. Is it that critical politically? If you judge it by the number of comments on articles here public interest in it is dying down.

      1. Agree, Labour could govern again in 2023 without anything moving on light rail. Housing on the other hand is something that could sink them.

        Their biggest ace at the 2023 election will be National’s woeful front bench.

  15. It is a long-held principle, sometimes called Betteridge’s Law, that if a headline ends in a question mark the answer is no.

  16. I won’t believe it will happen until I see it building. It’s a joke. Why they are starting again from the beginning.

  17. I would have thought building the southdown rail line would make more sense, not only providing benefits to multiple types of commuters but it would also allow freight to bypass in the inner parts of the rail network (rather critical if the port is to be moved north).

    This idea was discounted however as apparently people don’t like transferring, not that this stopped numerous other projects being built that require people to transfer.

    1. People don’t mind transferring if it’s quick and seamless. However, you wouldn’t have to live far from the stations on the line you proposed and it would be quicker to catch a bus into the city than a couple of trains.

      The problem with this line for freight is it doesn’t bypass New Lynn and Henderson, which will be just as busy as inner parts of the Western and Southern lines, so it doesn’t really achieve anything.

      1. I thought the issue was there being too many buses? If that’s the issue to be solved by simply diverting any buses on the western side of SH20 to the new stations you can reduce the number needed running along the other routes. There is also the fact that not every single persons aim is to go to the CBD, some people like to go to other parts of the city.

        As to the rest of the rail network being just as busy as Newmarket etc, that doesn’t make sense and is potentially due to you assuming the rail network is required to operate exactly the same as it does without the Southdown rail line.

        1. You would reduce some bus demand but it wouldn’t be a massive reduction as the majority of passengers using 24,25 and 27 buses board east of SH20. The CBD isn’t everything but it is still the biggest driver of PT demand and will continue to be for a long time.

          My comments on the rail network being at peak are based on AT’s proposed post-CRL running pattern which has 18tph between Henderson and Mt Eden, 12tph between Mt Eden and Newmarket and 12tph between Newmarket and Penrose.

        2. Correct, your comment was based on the assumption there would be zero changes to the operating patterns of the network if the sourhdown rail line was built. A rather silly assumption in my view.

          In regards to transfers, you do know the light rail line requires half the people to take a feeder bus to the light rail line to make a transfer right? Those feeder buses likely requiring the acquisition of road space on other carriageways.

        3. You’re justification for building the ASL for freight is based on a bottleneck elsewhere created by services created by the ASL, that’s some seriously circular logic! Yet I see it’s me you’re calling silly…

          The ASL would of course change the service pattern but I can’t see any reason for it reducing services west of Mt Albert. There will be too many passenger trains on this section for an intensive freight operation and introducing the ASL won’t change that.

        4. Yes, I’m aware there will be feeder buses for Dominion Rd light rail but these will generally be existing services west of SH20 and will run to Mt Roskill instead.

          There will be no conflict between these buses and the light rail so it’s hard to see where your concerns about them needing reallocated road space comes from.

        5. My understanding of the proposed light rail, and as shown in the post, is that it will replace the need for 4 busy bus routes by replacing one with a tram line and then getting people on the other 3 to take feeder buses to the new tram line, these services are shown on the east of SH20 (as per the image at the top of the post). Saying the Southdown rail line is a waste of time because some people would need to transfer to use it is an equally relevant criticism of the proposed light rail line.

          In regards to the existing rail network, can you not imagine any other ways the rail network can be operated other than that currently proposed by the CRL? Can you not imagine having the high frequency part of the commuter network being between Mt Albert, the CRB and Penrose with services then splitting beyond these points? Would the entire rail network be completely ruined because we don’t operate all day high frequencies between Mt Albert and Henderson?

        6. That’s not correct. The original proposal had all four routes being replaced by LR. Since the focus has moved exclusively to Dominion Rd the plan is to continue the 24, 27 and 30 routes largely as they are today. The split parts of these routes south of Mt Albert Rd would converge on Mt Roskill for transfers.

          The frequencies planned for west of Mt Albert aren’t just for fun, they’re to account for the significant growth in population and subsequent growth in rail use expected in the next 30 years around New Lynn due to the CRL and the dense zoning around this area.

        7. Interesting, the light rail paper I saw suggested that building the one light rail line down Dominion Rd would mean the buses on the other 3 routes would no longer need to go into the CBD, the paper even showed the new feeder routes. This was done to address the issue of too many buses coming from the Northshore according to the paper.

          Interesting that you seem to think the rail line between Henderson and Mt Albert has the same passenger demand as that between Mt Albert, Newmarket and the CBD. Maybe we should have built the CRL out west if its in such high demand.

          Anyway, its clear you think a light rail line down Dominion Rd will provide a superiour outcome to the wider transport network than a southdown rail line so lets leave it at that.

        8. The main purpose of the CRL is to allow metro frequencies to be run across the network. In addition to this it cuts 10 minutes off trips from the west into the CBD, so yes in effect it is being built for the west even if it is actually located in the CBD.

          Even without the CRL New Lynn is the fourth busiest station on the network.

        9. Actually the demand on the western line between newmarket and the CBD is lower than at Mt Albert, as a lot of people get off at Kingsland, Mt Eden and Grafton.

        10. Who made the claim the busiest part of the network is between Newmarket and the CBD? Are you making the assumption that when I said “Newmarket etc” I only meant Newmarket and not the rest of the “inner parts of the rail network”?

  18. Any chance you can allude to this “bottleneck elsewhere created by services created by the ASL”, I never assumed such a thing and don’t recall mentioning anything along those lines.

    1. Yes, sorry. It was an incorrect assumption I made that you were suggesting including the ASL in the rail network would increase services east of Mt Albert.

      It’s now clear from your comments you were suggesting a reduction in proposed services west of Mt Albert. I’ve commented elsewhere why I don’t think that is viable.

  19. “but instead there’s been a void of information ‘

    Much of the misinformation about Light Rail was caused by ex Councillor Mike Lee. He also kept talking about express trains from Britomart to the Airport! However less than 5% of journeys to the airport start at Britomart. Plus he never explained how the “express train” would be able to jump over the regular commuter trains that run on the southern line!

    1. Yes, and in same breath adding trains to the airport from the west, east and south. He never explained quite how these four new express train routes were supposed to work.

      1. Actually Mike did – you just never came to the many public meetings to discuss airport trains. Did you forget trains to the airport also stop at stations en-route?

  20. I feel particularly sad when I see that image of potentially four lines down the Isthmus.

    Imagine those four lines, plus a west/east cross line. It would make for the most incredible change to Auckland.

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