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


CRL Progress

The City Rail Link team have been posting plenty of interesting updates on the progress they’ve made over the last few weeks. These include

A look behind the hoardings at Britomart

The tunnels platforms at the Karangahape Rd are taking shape

And at Mt Eden the initial 51m of tunnel, from which the TBM will launch from, is making progress


Rail Network nearly back to normal

Auckland Transport have finally announced when the rail network repairs that have plagued users since August will be over, and even better, when speeds will return to normal.

Over the next few weeks, there will be a number of changes to train services.

Eastern Line. The Eastern Line is currently closed between Britomart and Otahuhu, until Monday 8 February. From Tuesday 9 February trains will run every 10 minutes during peak times between Britomart and Otahuhu, and every 20 minutes between peaks. We’re expecting to return trains to normal speeds on the Eastern Line from 1 March.

Western Line. The Western Line is currently closed and will re-open on 2 February 2021 with trains running every 10 minutes in peak and every 20 minutes between peaks. Normal speeds are expected to resume from 22 February.

Southern Line. The Southern Line is currently operating with trains running every 10 minutes in peak and every 20-minutes off-peak between Britomart and Papakura. Normal speeds are expected to resume from 9 February, with the exception of the Papakura – Pukekohe part of the track.

Onehunga Line. Trains are currently running every 30-minutes. Normal train speeds are expected to resume from 9 February, stopping at all stations.

There is also a full network closure this weekend and all but the Western Line next weekend.


Albany T2 Lane Enforcement

If you drive around Albany Highway, make sure you stay out of the T2 lanes (unless you’re allowed) as AT are starting remote monitoring of them from Monday 8 February.

From Monday 8 February 2021, Auckland Transport (AT) will begin remote monitoring the existing transit (T2) lane (north-bound) outside Albany Senior High School on Albany Highway.

CCTV cameras have been installed to allow remote monitoring during the lane’s operating hours of 7am to 10am and 3pm to 7pm, Monday to Friday.

Drivers who use the lane incorrectly will receive a warning letter before enforcement starts on Monday, 8 February. Drivers using the lane incorrectly will receive a $150 infringement fine.

Incorrect use of the lane includes:

  • Single occupancy vehicles using the lane during its hours of operation;
  • For more than 50 metres before turning.

Outside the hours of operation, the lane is available for use by all traffic, including single occupancy cars.


Low Cost Safety Improvements work

A good article in Stuff this week highlighted how even low cost and fast safety improvements can save lives.

Lives are being saved by safety improvements on State Highway 1 south of Whangārei, according to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

The fatality rate on a 10km strip has dropped by 80 per cent since June 2018, when the agency installed the safety measures to stop drivers crossing the centreline.

Between Toetoe and Springfield road, flexible centreline bollards, a half metre-wide centreline with yellow no-passing lines and raised reflectors were installed.

In the five years before the bollards were installed, there were nine fatalities and 25 serious injuries, but in the 3½ years since they were installed, there has been one fatality and five serious injuries.

Doing this all over the country is going to be far more effective, faster and cheaper than building even a few four-lane expressways that will only carry a few thousand vehicles a day. During the last government term, then Associate Minister of transport, Julie Anne Genter pushed for a huge programme of improvements like this, however, Waka Kotahi haven’t delivered them as fast as they should have and they need to be doing a lot more.


AT Safe Speeds

On the issue of safety, Auckland Transport announced last week they were starting to consider their second round of speed limit changes.

The first stage of Auckland’s high-risk roads were consulted on in February – March 2019 and were included within the Speed Limits Bylaw 2019.

The safe new speed limits outlined within the bylaw have been successfully implemented, or are due to be implemented till June 2021.

The second stage will propose speed limit changes to around 40 per cent of roads near Auckland schools.

Following a request from Mana Whenua, and recognising that several marae have kura or kohanga (te reo schools) associated with them, there will be a focus on marae – with the aim of expanding community support for safer speeds.

This recognises that Maori are over-represented in crashes that cause deaths and serious injuries.

Frankly I’m surprised they’re only at this stage as from memory there was meant to be three tranches of changes over a three year period and they started discussing the initial tranche of changes in early 2019. At the very least they should have been doing this analysis since the decisions on the first stage were made.


Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Path progress

Waka Kotahi have started on Stage 2 of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr shared path and have published this video showing the progress so far. It’s still early days but you can see there’s been a lot of work to clear the site.

This stage of the path is meant to be completed in mid-2022.

Stage 1 was completed in 2016 and Stage 3 in 2019. The final stage, from Orakei to Tamaki Dr is still in the design phase.


Tamaki Dr Cycleway pump track

The new Tamaki Dr cycleway was opened over Christmas but users quickly found the surface was incredibly bumpy. AT have apparently put this down to the surface being laid by hand as it is too narrow for a machine to lay. They say this will be fixed at no cost to ratepayers.

Apart from sounding like we need smaller machines that are more suited to cycleways, I can’t help but wonder where the quality control was during construction. Alternatively. if they knew it was an issue, why didn’t they say something at the time, or even just put up some signs, so the public didn’t think this was just a case of AT doing a poor job?

Speaking of smooth cycleways, it’s great to see they’ve finally fixed the path alongside Gt North Rd. If you’ve ridden it before you’ll know it has a bumpy mess since Waterview was und.

And from Christchurch, a bit of irony where the ‘Copenhagen Bakery’ opposes a new cycleway (due to car parking)


Fares and Climate Action

This week saw a good opinion piece from Stuff’s Todd Niall on how AT’s upcoming fare increase is at odds with the city’s and the countries climate goals

Here are four statements. Which is the one you think contradicts the others?

1. Auckland Council has signed a global agreement pledging the city to reduce climate-damaging carbon emissions, in half by 2030, and to be net carbon neutral by 2050.

2. Auckland Council has a Climate Plan to lead to those targets being met.

3. Transport makes up 43 per cent of Auckland’s carbon footprint, and is where the city will need to make most of its reductions.

4. Auckland councillors signed off a 4 per cent average increase in public transport fares, in a package estimated to reduce the number of trips taken by 557,000 annually.


Finally, here’s a few tweets of a larger, interesting thread of weird train designs that have been tried.

Have a good long weekend.

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62 comments

  1. Handlaying asphalt is very hard work and it’s challenging to deliver good ride quality over more than a few metres. I’ve been walking past the new K Rd protected cycleways a lot recently and they appear to have also struggled with their finish quality (but the complaints haven’t started because they aren’t fully open yet).

    The solution is to machine-lay asphalt and leading manufacturers do make these adorable mini pavers that can do cycle path widths:
    https://www.wirtgen-group.com/ocs/en-nz/voegele/super-700-176-p/
    https://www.ammann.com/en/machines/asphalt-pavers/afw-400-2

    Of course no NZ construction company is going to buy specialised equipment like this if they don’t have a clear forward workload for it. The onus is on clients (AT, NZTA etc.) to develop a credible pipeline of cycleways work that is continuous for several years.

      1. There’s also a design issue on the K Rd lanes; the frequent grade transitions are too steep, only appropriate for mountain biking, not city bikes without shock absorbers, or very slow speed.

        Sadly this will mean confident riders will likely remain in traffic.

      2. Agree.. 🙁
        At least they’re in a different context, slower speeds than what you’re likely to ride along the waterfront. But yeah, it sucks that these brand new cycle paths are unpleasant to ride.

        I had been looking forward to smooth asphalt, rather than another concrete path with the regular saw cuts every 4 metres.

    1. What’s best for the environment asphalt or concrete. I wonder what the cost difference is. Riders like concrete less rolling resistance.

      1. Concrete requires control joints so you’ll get a bump every few metres even if it has been perfectly laid. Then over time tree roots, subsoil erosion etc. will cause the concrete to crack and form more bumps. Asphalt is somewhat flexible and easier/cheaper to repair when needed.

        Less rolling resistance is just another way of saying less traction. So yes it’s easier to go fast on concrete but as a consequence it’s harder to stop. I’d rather ride of asphalt for that reason, particularly in the rain.

        1. Most of the melbourne trails near me are slabs of concrete. They seem to be pretty free from weeds but maybe it’s just good upkeep?

    2. We could have boulevards of billiard smooth cycle ways everywhere and cyclists would still complain about something.

      1. Would it ever be acceptable if all the roads in Auckland were full of potholes every few meters? No? Then why should cyclists and pedestrians expect bumpy paths? When riding a bike you feel every bump and it is really annoying. These cycle facilities will last forever because of low wear and tear, so they should be built to a high standard right at the start.

  2. Speed limit changes. “The second stage will propose speed limit changes to around 40 per cent of roads near Auckland schools.”

    I wonder if the Ministry of Transport asked them to do all of them? (if not, why not?)

    Reducing limits in line with Vision Zero, Austroads and the ITF everywhere at once would be far cheaper and more effective, actually cutting to the heart of our dangerous driving culture.

    This bitzer approach is a way to maximize resistance and social division about something they are legally and ethically required to do anyway.

      1. It certainly is. 270 people hospitalized from car crashes each and every week.

        Highest cause of death in New Zealand adults under the age of 60.

        1. Yes the high exposure rate is a huge factor, which is why driving less has such a big improvement in safety for the individual and society.

        2. Do you have a point Todd. Untimely death is bad, and we know what the largest cause is for healthy adults. Why would we not do something to reduce these deaths?

        3. The point is that’s it’s nowhere near as dangerous as you try and make it sound.
          It’s also not the biggest cause of deaths amongst adults. Alcohol beats it by a long way.

        4. Highest cause of death in New Zealand adults under the age of 60 is what I said.

          There are many things like cancer, heat disease, alcoholism and obesity related disease that catch up with people in later life. But car crashes are the number one thing that kills adults in their prime years of working and raising children. That’s what makes them such a problem for society.

  3. So when will Papakura to Pukekohe return to “normal speed”? This is also holding up the Te Huia train service. Don’t tell me they’re going to leave the entire 19km at 40 max while the electrification goes ahead.

    1. Manukau to Otahuhu is back up to speed except past Puhinui Station.
      Is 10 min frequency at peak set in stone or could we relax it a little so the Te Huia can deliver its passengers further in towards the city. Maybe deliver a Papakura Puhinui express run for Papakura passengers if there is room once the Puhinui Station is reopened.

      1. Is it not already the plan to extend the service to Puhinui when that station reopens?

        On that point, why not extend further to Otahuhu? Presumably the trains will rest in the yards there pending their afternoon return services.

        1. Platform 1 at Papakura Station now has a natty little sign hanging
          from a canopy: Te Huia Train Stop.

          Re Speed, most services I have travelled this week (from Papakura
          to Otahuhu ) have been at back to normal speed, except for
          going through Puhinui.

        2. There are suggestions of improvement but no timeframe or funding.

          Puhinui station will only have the same two platforms when open so it’s not a good place to terminate a service. The third track there is the backshunt for the depot so Kiwirail were adamant it can’t be used and the train had to terminate elsewhere. AT were adamant they couldn’t let te huia further north to Otahuhu as it would disrupt the suburban timetable, even though Kiwirail and Waikato wanted to run it all the way to the Strand. AT said they’d only do that when Kiwirail built the third main, which it might do sometime. In the meantime AT wouldn’t build a third track at Puhinui because the train was planned by Kiwirail to terminate at Papakura.

          So the trains terminate at Papakura, sit there for a bit then make their way to a layover at Otahuhu a bit later for the rest of the day.

          They should just send them straight back to hamilton then back to Auckland again instead.

        3. 3rd main can’t come soon enough. Te Huia needs to be getting to at least Puhinui to allow interaction with airport BRT.

          But I must say I am surprised they intend to run all the way to The Strand. I thought passengers were going to have to change to the Southern Line services. Isnt there an issue with diesel trains and electric network?

        4. KLK , KR are only these as a pull/pull combination and if/when they revert back to a push/pull combination they could attach an electric Loco at Papakura and then run the Te Huia across the Auckland network , one day . But going by a podcast with a KR talking head the Push/pull won’t happen and there is a link to that full podcast here also .;-

        5. So what happens in March if the passengers don’t come back in the numbers there were before Covid will AT still insist on 10 minute frequency at peak with trains half empty. Surely the pressure will be on to accommodate the two Hamilton trains. Would it matter if the frequency was stretched to 15 mins.

  4. “Here are four statements. Which is the one you think contradicts the others?”

    Of course AC had a commitment in terms of C40 membership to achieve peak carbon by 2020. I wonder how well they went with that?

  5. The Gt Nth Rd Waterview resurfacing was quite a shock given the number of years its been in bad shape. The section to the north of the photo adjacent to the bus stop and BP still isn’t fixed thou. The step between the concrete slabs of the path now looks to be more than 100mm.
    I had hoped this path might be extended to the south past the new housing development. Appears not, even thou a 3m wide strip was allowed for in the plans.

  6. From Stuff today
    “Data released by the NZ Transport Agency shows using a cellphone while driving has been a factor in 15 fatal crashes from 2016 to 2020.

    In 2020, there were two fatal crashes where phone use was a factor, three serious crashes, 68 minor crashes and 88 non-injury crashes.”

    Why is there almost seemingly a complete ambivalence to try and make our roads safe? The speed limit issue above and this as well. Might just one of our legislators be contemplating that the deterrence (an $80 fine) needs to be far higher than just the cost of a parking ticket. When was the last time someone was killed by a parked car?

  7. I just received a friendly letter from AT telling me they saw me use the empty bottom section of Khyber Pass Rd and next time they will charge me $150. Imagine if Bunnings Warehouse were allowed to send you a fine for $150 because you didn’t stand in the longest queue.

    The really annoying part is there were no buses in front or behind me, the arrow was green and had I obeyed their decree I would have delayed myself and all the others in the full lane who were turning the other way and collectively we would have created more greenhouse gases. If there was any justice in this world AT would be required to justify these things before they were granted strict liability. But I guess that would defeat the real purpose of simply raising money from people. Shame about people’s time and shame about the planet.

    1. That was very nice of AT to let you off with a warning instead of paying a voluntary tax. If everyone followed the rules, there would be no money raised. If it were about raising money, it’s a pretty crap system.

      I can understand how you might see that once instance as a ‘victimless crime’. It is technically ok if 1 in 100 vehicles skip the queue. No one would notice. But if everyone used the bus lane whenever they liked, the bus lane would become clogged and useless in terms of maximising the movement of people. Hence the need for enforcement. Many of Auckland bus lanes carry more people than the neighbouring lane. If you and everyone else skipped the queue, lots of people in buses would be delayed by your actions.

      If there was any justice in this world we would have steeper fines for drivers who feel so entitled to use space that isn’t theirs to use.

  8. I know right? The other day the cops got all bitchy about me driving down the footpath in the middle of Newmarket. The really annoying part was there weren’t any pedestrians in front of me or behind me, the arrow was green and had I obeyed their decree I would have delayed myself and all the others in the full lane who were turning the other way and collectively we would have created more greenhouse gases.

    Obviously everyone should be able to do what I do and drive on the footpath whenever I think it will save me time. That will obviously be better for traffic and the environment once everyone follows my same selfish behavior. Clearly just revenue gathering. I’d better repost this on the Greenhithe Neighbourly forum so the local newspaper can run an a picture of me frowning in front of my car with my arms folded.

    1. Why were you driving on the footpath?
      You should probably think a bit harder about posting stuff like this on a public forum.

        1. Apologies.
          When you said ‘ drive on the footpath whenever I think it will save me time’ what I thought you meant was drive on the footpath whenever I think it will save me time.
          Who’da thought it could mean something different?

    2. Arms crossed photos don’t do it for me. If I get a $150 fine I will repay them with letter writing a LGOIMA requests until I feel I have cost them $1500. (Always number your letters so you can skip a number and then write demanding an answer to that missing letter.)

      1. But the photo usually comes with the article, which in turn provides a comments section. Its here that all the traffic experts in the local community to talk about how each and every one of their driving preferences must be accommodated. And how cyclists are the devils henchmen in lycra.

        You just dont get that sort if expert feedback with a LGOIMA request.

        1. AT don’t answer to anybody. It isn’t like you could get them to change anything through reason or a political process. The best you can do is waste a lot of their time, and letter writing (never email) and LGOIMA requests are the best tools available. I have a very handy book called “Bureaucrats and How to Annoy Them” written by Sir Patrick Moore that is chock full of ways to waste their time. My view is that unreasonableness must be meet with unreasonableness.

      2. Ha. You assume they care about the cost of the time they waste. That’s a rookie mistake.

        I’ll have to remember your missing letter trick and try it when I get the chance 😀

  9. Track repairs were started first on the Eastern Line yet it will be the last line to be back to full speed. Why did they divert resources to the other lines when they hadn’t finished the Eastern Line? I know the Western Line has been closed for a long time but when you add up all the different Eastern Line closures, it will have been closed for longer than the Western Line.

    1. Because us poor plebs in Manukau are a lower priority.
      Noting the journey speeds have been the same for people getting on the train after Panmure.

      1. There is something going on between Sylvia Park and Westfield – it looks
        like a couple of new tracks for a short distance.
        I have no idea what it is – perhaps for layby or stabling ?

        1. Something to do with the coke siding and how it is shunted would be my guess. However extra foundations have being constructed presumably for electrical overheads at Westfield station so maybe there will be an extra line on the eastern side of the junction as well. I suppose we will just need to wait and find out. I expect they are trying to get as much of the work done now while the world is in a state of chaos its probably a good strategy because who knows what will happen next. Probably out of control inflation.

        2. Whoops, got that wrong. What I saw was the 2 main rail lines
          being replaced. There are heaps of metal, stacks of sleepers
          and lots of new rail alongside the rail lines (as you would expect)’

    2. Yeah Eastern Line’s had a hard time of it. I moved to Panmure in June and it’s hardly run un-interrupted since I moved. had a big shutdown for about 6 weeks from June through to mid August, barely got started back up when the crap hit the fan, so was about another month out, then as usual Xmas-NY, and now two more weeks. And then the last line to get backup to speed all the way through. I’m looking forward to hopefully a much better 2021 from March for the Eastern Line!

      Btw, any word on a possible date when Britomart CPO will be reopening? It will be so nice to finally (it’s been 4 years!) walk through the front door again!

  10. The smallest asphalt pavers that are available from Wirtgen are 1.3 metres, and they are at work in Auckland. I think it is a matter of the council specifying in their tender documents that the successful tenderer has to do the work by machine and not by hand. A very good job can be done by hand, but it takes a high degree of expertise.

  11. KLK, just picking up on your question re diesels and the electrified network. There is no reason why diesels can’t be run under the wires (as long as there is sufficent clearence) and KiwiRail do just that right now with their freight operations across Auckland, Wellington and the main North Island Trunk. The issue is that you wouldn’t really want to run a diesel locomotive into Britomart. For those who can remember when diesels were operated into Britomart, the fog of blue diesel fumes which hung in the air. That can’t have been healthy! So if you’re not terminating at Britomart, where is the most sensible location adn what investment is needed to support that decision?

  12. KLK, just picking up on your question re diesels and the electrified network. There is no reason why diesels can’t be run under the wires (as long as there is sufficent clearence) and KiwiRail do just that right now with their freight operations across Auckland, Wellington and the main North Island Trunk. The issue is that you wouldn’t really want to run a diesel locomotive into Britomart. For those who can remember when diesels were operated into Britomart, the fog of blue diesel fumes which hung in the air. That can’t have been healthy! So if you’re not terminating at Britomart, where is the most sensible location and what investment would be required to make that decision workable?

    1. But come 2024, there will be wires down to Pukekohe, surely there are Battery EMUs or Locos that could then be purchased to run all the way into Britomart? The gap would only be 75/80km by then?

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