Here’s our roundup of things you may not have seen for the week.
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.
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.
There are some undulations in the Tamaki Drive cycleway surface. As the cycleway looked complete and the defect didn’t create a safety issue we opened it over the holidays. The contractor will fix this at no additional cost and we will let you know when dates have been confirmed. pic.twitter.com/6K0QQVcXvW
— Auckland Transport (@AklTransport) January 25, 2021
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.
— Carol Green (@carolgreen) January 27, 2021
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.
Bangin' train of the day: The 1929 Schienenzeppelin was a beautiful experimental high-speed train powered by an aircraft engine that spun a rear propeller. Open propeller was too dangerous for stations. Failed. Here's the rear view. Those lines! #bangintrains pic.twitter.com/1wS98J9pS6
— Will Freeman (@spadgy_OTA) August 3, 2019
Have a good long weekend.