Here’s our wrap up for the week.

Queen St to Change

Good news yesterday afternoon, the group fighting to return Queen St to a car focused corridor failed in their bid to get an injunction on the improvement works.

Today’s High Court decision not to grant the injunction sought by Save the Queen Street Society means Auckland Council and Auckland Transport are able to proceed with planned improvements to the northern end of Queen Street between Customs and Shortland Streets.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomes the court’s decision.

“I’m pleased that this interim decision enables the planned improvements to go ahead according to schedule,” he says.

“The upgrade will demonstrate to Aucklanders how Queen Street can be made more people-friendly and accessible, as outlined in our City Centre Masterplan.

“We will continue to work with all stakeholders to progress improvements to Queen Street that will help make it a great place for the thousands of Aucklanders who live, work, study and shop there.”

Also don’t forget, today is the last day to have a say on the changes.

Building Consents

The latest building consent data for March is out and it’s another record. In total 1,622 consents were issued in March, bringing the total issued in the previous 12 months up to 17,495. Townhouses continue to be the star of the show with now over 7,700 issued in in that period.

And here’s a breakdown by local board with Henderson-Massey leading the charge – this is not surprising given the amount of development that seems to be happening in the west right now.

CRL Tunneling

The City Rail Link reaches a new milestone today with the launch of the tunnel boring machine. It is expected to reach the K Rd station by June, where 190 of the 230m station tunnel has already been dug. After pushing through the station it will make its way to Aotea which it will reach by December.

Rail Plan Released

Yesterday the government released the NZ Rail Plan.

Transport Minister Michael Wood and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dr David Clark today released the Government’s long term vision for a sustainable rail network that supports our economic recovery.

New Zealand Rail Plan lays out how the Government is building a resilient, reliable and safe network, as well as the indicative investments over the next decade.

Michael Wood said rail is key to keeping New Zealand moving and is supporting our economic recovery.

“The disruptions to the supply chain due to COVID have shown how important it is to have a reliable rail network to keep freight flowing, which keeps our economy moving. The Rail Plan shows how we’re getting rail back on track after the former government let it slide into managed decline.

“Rail is worth up to $2.1 billion to our economy every year and reduces emissions and congestion. Annually it prevents 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and 26 million car trips in Auckland and Wellington,” Michael Wood said.

I haven’t had time yet to look through it in detail but the final version looks to be very similar to the draft that was released last year. While it is useful, I think the big shortcoming of it is it doesn’t really give much of a vision for what rail could be in NZ or really lay out what the network would look like if we build all the things it suggests. For example, it would be useful to say how many more train movements it allows and how much faster services could be etc.

PTOM Changes – e-buses and drivers conditions

The government is consulting on changes to PTOM

Transport Minister Michael Wood is seeking feedback on options for the next phase of the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) review to better protect bus drivers’ pay conditions, and also achieving the Government’s target of fully decarbonising the public transport bus fleet by 2035.

Michael Wood said investing in our people and providing critical infrastructure is part of the Government’s COVID economic recovery plan.

“Bus drivers play a key role in keeping our cities moving, getting commuters to work and giving Kiwis travel choices. Unfortunately, it’s obvious the former government’s PTOM policy has driven down wages and conditions for many,” Michael Wood said

“Ensuring bus driver wages and conditions are protected whenever councils contract bus services is important. I will consider all the options in the review, including amending the Land Transport Management Act or adding public transport bus drivers to Schedule 1A of the Employment Relations Act.

“I am working with employers, unions, and Waka Kotahi on establishing a Living Wage floor for drivers, but I know more change is needed to tackle chronic driver shortages and service disruptions.

“We can accelerate our COVID recovery while providing cleaner public transport infrastructure to tackle climate change. We will prevent up to 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions with councils only purchasing zero emissions public transport buses from 2025 and decarbonising the entire bus fleet by 2035.

“We’ve committed $50 million to help councils make the switch and we’re committed to working alongside them to make it go as far as possible,” Michael Wood said.

Public consultation is open for six weeks until 18 June.  More information can be found here:

Gt North Rd Consultation

Consultation closes today on Auckland Transport’s plans for a greater Gt North Rd. They want to add dedicated bike lanes and improve the bus lanes as well as other safety improvements and overall it looks pretty good.

You can also see the thoughts from our friends at Bike Auckland on it here.

Have a good weekend.

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  1. Stupid question but is the TBM doing a single bore with double track or does it turn around at Aotea and come back to create two tunnels?

    1. Single track per tunnel. Two goes to build two tunnels. But they’re actually going to truck it back to mt eden to start the second tunnel.

      I think the launching area for the second tunnel is around 7 meters lower than the one they’re building now.

      1. So at that portal they are one on top of the other? Presumably to aid the grade separation at the junction?

        1. They’re both vertically and horizontally offset. So from a top down view they look side by side but from a side view they look on top of one another, if that makes sense. You’re correct that it enables the grade separation.

          From the CRL route map (each dotted line will be a rail line):

        2. Wow. That is far more grade separations than I thought we were going to have. Must be the highest capacity junction in the New Zealand’s entire rail network. Every direction is done. Great design

        3. This is what it looks like at the Portal with them digging the ground out for the boring of tthe 2nd tunnel ;-

          And when they get get to Aotea they will rmove the cutter head and then bring that back to Mt Eden , and the rest of it will be return through the tunnel [backwards] and then reset for the next bore .

  2. The Road Transport Forum represents the trucking industry and Chief executive Nick Leggett said Labour’s commitment to rail was based on ideology, not evidence. He doubts rail can compete and claims the investment decisions are not transparent. Actually its been the NZTA that has not been transparent for decades and has not listened to the wishes of the people. They were shutting down Kiwi Rail.
    I walked along Park Rd yesterday and then down Queen St and counted just 4 people asking for help. This included some side roads. All 4 were quiet and certainly no threat to anyone. There were also 2 groups of people playing music. People who continually harp on about struggling people on Queen Street have no idea about those people and the work the City Mission does.

    1. “ The Road Transport Forum represents the trucking industry and Chief executive Nick Leggett said Labour’s commitment to rail was based on ideology”,

      Hmmmmmm something sounds like “conflict of interest”, and “throwing rocks in glass houses” here.

    2. Rail could compete easily if the trucking industry didn’t get billions in hidden subsidies from fuel taxes being spent to fix the enormous damage that trucks do to the road. Trucks might pay 10x as much in fuel taxes per km travelled, but they might do 2500x as much damage. If trucks paid the full price of their damage, many freight companies would have to move to rail or be bankrupt.

      1. Trucks do pay by weight, according to the fourth power of the weight per axle, a formula that has been checked and reviewed many times. They don’t pay for the expansion of the road network to accommodation heavier trucks (new bridges for MAX50 trucks etc) or for the deaths they cause by particulate emissions and crashes.

        1. If that were true, a 12 axle 50 ton truck would have to pay $1097/km based on the rate charged for a 3.5 ton diesel ute. They actually pay a maximum of 42c per km. In other words, trucks are paying less than 1/2000th of their fair share.

        2. Robert, I understand they do pay by weight and they do use the 4th power law. But if you look at the RUC’s, it doesn’t stack up. Either car drivers are paying far too much or the trucks are not paying enough.

          I have to ask NZTA about the calculations, but I’m not sure if they even know how the charges were originally decided back in 1977.

    3. Nick Leggett is a former Mayor of Porirua, a BA in political science. He was elected to the Porirua City Council aged 19, at other times he has worked as a real estate agent. His background suggests zero knowledge of transport issues. Has he ever driven a truck? He’s simply a political lobbyist probably given the job due to his connections in Wellington.

  3. Those bike lanes on Great North Rd looks like perfect places to park a huge car delivery truck for an hour or two…

    1. They’ve provided for the car transporters by giving them specific room in the bus lanes off peak. The bike lanes are seperated by a curb or those ovals or something

      1. Isn’t it sweet that the car retailers get to have some of the public road reserved for them rather than having to build space for deliveries on their own land..

  4. The council has to “beware the law of unintended consequences” when it comes to Queen St

  5. The court loss is excellent news. Now the Council can ignore those people completely. Their currency was the threat of legal action and that has gone.

    The Council is probably hoping for the same from the climate change lawyers. They will either lose in Court (and can be ignored) or they will win in court in which case the Council can simply withdraw from their climate commitments and the lawyers can be ignored. It is how the rule of law works in this country. Individuals must obey, governments can either obey or change the rules.

    1. Do you think people should be able to sue council over any anything they don’t like and win? I can’t really see how that can work very well.

      1. When they cock things up then the Court is your only redress. The Council stuffed Queen Street when they let the buses in after many many tears of the Auckland city council preventing exactly that. Now they have buses carrying an average of 1.7 people each making noise and emissions in what should be a pedestrian haven.

        1. It’s almost as if the previous main bus route in those parts has been closed for years to dig it up for a major rail project..

        2. It’s almost as if AT are using Queen Street to relocate empty buses from one part of the CBD to another. SQSS surveys had average bus occupancies of less than 4. Simon Wilson went out and did his own surveys and got 1.76 one way and around 1.9 the other. These buses are almost empty, they are carrying only slightly more people than the cars using Queen St.

    2. Isn’t that the way it has always been?

      I wonder if SOQSS will now declare bankruptcy and not pay any of their legal fees like other similar groups have done in the past.

    1. This is perhaps the most ridiculous “Our customers can’t drive to our premises” argument in the city.

      – All those premises are within 200m walk of 3 different public parking buildings; Maritime (400 spaces), Viaduct (350 spaces) and Downtown (1900 spaces).
      – The area is unique destination in itself. People deliberately go out of their way to go there. It isn’t like a suburban dairy that worries about customers going elsewhere if there isn’t easy parking near their door.
      – Most of their customers likely aren’t arriving by car anyway. They’re already arriving on foot from their CBD offices or public transport (trains/buses/ferries).

    2. my god these people need to f off. As others have said, look at the photo the truck is unloading. It actually seems to be a good example of a loading zone. When walking past it I’ve seen the trucks/vans can easily drive in. Theres an alley way down to the viaduct, or presumably they load in the back entrance to the restaurants on lower hobson or whatever that bit is called now.
      Why do we give air time to these people?

    3. I don’t think it any of this fuss is about parking or customers anyway. It is just a moral judgement about putting in a bike lane. “Decent people do not ride bicycles in this society.”

    4. You know she is important when she has 3 folding arms / face like a wet weekend photos and not just the standard boomer issue of 1.

      1. Unfortunately after a bright new start under new ownership, Stuff seems to be slipping back to it’s old biased stupid ways, particularly with the headlines. There’s still some good content on there but it’s alarming to see the comeback of the same kind of ignorant crap as well that used to be front and centre.

        1. However in a surprising outcome, a slight majority of commenters seem to indicate its the fault of drivers, not the boxes.

          Very un-like the comments section to a Stuff article on a cycleway.

        2. Did you notice a change? Only difference from the previous owners to the new is an orange banner on every page begging for money.

    5. I just filled in a customer feedback form for the Sierra cafe – I used to stop in there 1-2 times a week. After reading their views, not anymore, plenty of other cafe’s to choose from.

  6. Its like the High St retailers, who demanded for so long that the street remained a carpark, to provide parks for their customers who could not access them because they were always taken up by employers or tradesmen.

    From various articles, the eventual upgrade of the street for greater shopper amenity has been a roaring success (pre covid) and showed they wasted 10yrs….

    If these shop owners actually knew how little these on-street carparks contribute to their business….

    1. The shopkeepers wasted everyone else’s ten years because timid officials pandered to them. And look, no consequences for anyone involved.

  7. Can someone who knows about transport design help me out? The post-CRL rail map shows the southern, eastern, onehunga and western lines all terminating at britomart. Isn’t that what the CRL was meant to stop???
    I was imagining something really simple, like an east-west line going Swanson to manukau via Aotea/Britomart at 12TPH, and a southern line service from papakura at 12TPH with services alternating between clockwise & anticlockwise around the city loop. And then 3TPH for onehunga.
    The whole purple line/ extra eastern line thing seems unnecessarily complicated. And crap for Parnell. Or have I totally missed something?
    Sorry, this has probably been covered here before…

    1. That’s just shitty AT communications people trying to avoid showing any change to the current rail network in case they frighten somebody. In reality there will only be two main lines that will carry on through Britomart to the other side. The plan is to join the southern to the eastern, and the western to run to onehunga and otahuhu.

      Fancy trying to hide the very benefit of your five billion dollar project!

      1. I understand consideration was being made to run the Western Line to Otahuhu via the CRL and Parnell due to the Onehunga line being unable to take 6 car EMUs, and the proposed ‘Purple line’ will instead run Henderson to Onehunga direct via Grafton using single 3 car EMUs.

        However with current budget restrains, the planned third platform at Henderson which would accommodate the proposed Purple line, has apparently been deferred.

        There’s also been no word on what’s happening with the proposed new station at Tironui between Takanini and Papakura which locals there have been wanting for a long time. With the considerable amount of development in the area in recent years, together with the corresponding increase in traffic congestion, surely a new station on Walters Road is definitely justified now to encourage and enable people to use the trains currently passing through this area.

        1. Purple line to Onehunga would be a garbage idea surely, would massively lessen the attraction of rail for Onehunga citizens if they had to change to get to the CBD, especially getting the timing right on the way back to Onehunga.

          Surely they should just run the Onehunga spur as a short line to Britomart and turn it round there.

        2. And also, any trains terminating at Otahuhu should be going via Panmure to pick up the (hopefully) huge numbers of people using fully-completed AMETI the year after the CRL opens

      2. This seems like a good opportunity to ask… If the whole point was to convert Britomart to a through station, what’s with the terminal tracks that the station is still going to have in the middle? Is anything going to actually use those?

        1. Yes, the outside platforms were always designed to be through platforms I believe.

          Sounds like they are planning to convert the 3 central platforms into 2 maybe, so the outside platforms can be widened. Hopefully in the future there will be regional trains from Hamilton/Tauranga to come into those central platforms

        2. The four tracks are a backup, they’ll allow Britomart to still operate as a terminal station if the tunnel needs to be closed for maintenance or emergencies.

  8. While it is good there is now a New Zealand Rail Plan, it is a bit of a disappointment with a lack of vision for real growth and expansion of the network which is needed to make rail more accessible and an option to more people, with no plans for any new routes and rail lines for the next decade.

    If the Government is serious about the Climate Emergency it has declared and wanting to reduce carbon emissions and road congestion, as well as making roads safer, there needs to be program of planning new lines and rail services (particularly rail passenger services which NZ is very lacking in) starting now, not thinking about in 10 years time.

      1. That seems to be the case Matt. The policy is in tatters even before it starts. What are the facts? In NZ’s last measured emissions year emissions increased by 2% (that’s right, they are going in the wrong direction and we were told this was because it was a dry year and Genesis had to run the coal turbines more frequently.)
        Now we have another dry year and not only are Genesis running the coal turbines more often, but they recommissioned a third one. Any chance emissions are decreasing?
        On top of that the PM heartily endorsed the Climate Commissions recommendations of a 2% reduction in each of the first two years. Laughable. It’s possible that this may not even be enough to recover the emissions increase of the previous two years given what has happened so far.
        But wait there’s more. Weather forecasters are saying that we are in the midst of another dry winter (and apart from meaning that Auckland’s water crisis will continue) it appears there will be less water for hydro generation. And that trend seems likely to continue as climate change bites harder.
        And the steps to reduce emissions. It seems the Police could not find space in their fleet for even one EV. And the Clean Car Legislation? Yes it was a dog, with new car buyers being rewarded for buying vehicles that were only slightly more fuel efficient and “locking” those vehicles into the fleet for the next 19 years. But some legislation could have been introduced, even if it was increasing the tax on new cars so that it would be somewhere near the level of most countries. (It seems eminently reasonable to tax company cars that seem to go further, faster and to more places than most other cars because mostly it’s not the driver who pays the bills.) The funds generated could go toward active modes.
        I am with you Matt, I am waiting for the evidence to show that the government is serious.

        1. And there is a shortage of gas so they are having to burn oil as well at Whirinaki. There needs to be some serious expansion of wind and geothermal real quick. Maybe the government should build them itself with the help of an overseas energy company because the existing energy companies will ration new generation to keep prices up even if that means burning fossil fuels. If Tiwai point is closed then the last thing that should happen is for the spare capacity to be used for hydrogen which would be exported. It should be used to reduce fossil fuels use in our country rather than some body else’s.

    1. There are no real huge plans in the document. But I will say that there are some great and necessary improvements underlined that still represent a big investment.
      Double tracking all the way to Hamilton, quad tracking in Auckland. These would be big improvements. Presuming there are other works that could be lumped into the double tracking to the tron. Speed restrictions removed, curves eased etc. perhaps a little more electrification to enable BEMUs to cross the gap

      1. The one thing which would make the biggest difference would be to convince the various freight companies to use Kiwirail services. So yes network improvement matter however direct overnight services between container transfer hubs is probably just as important. Let’s watch what happens in this space with the upgraded Northland line. See If they can make the proposed container transfer sites at Otiria and Whangerai work.

  9. Not much is going to happen on the NAL line until the refurb is
    completed. I understand some of the new rail intended for the NAL
    was diverted to help Auckland Metro out. This means the DLs can’t
    run on the NAL (too heavy).
    I don’t think they have enough rolling stock anyway, for more than
    the current one service each way each day.

  10. I have noticed notthing has been mentioned lately about the Puhinui Station which I have heard will open around July . ;-

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