Last Friday I was lucky enough to be invited to the City Rail Link site to watch Transport Minister Michael Wood and Mayor Phil Goff officially launch the Tunnel Boring Machine that will dig the CRL tunnels between Mt Eden and Aotea.

There have been quite a few CRL milestones recently and a common refrain at them all is something along the lines of this from Phil Goff.

“When complete, the City Rail Link will transform rail travel in Tāmaki Makaurau. It will carry up to 54,000 people an hour, moving the equivalent capacity of three Auckland Harbour Bridges or 16 extra traffic lanes into and through the city at peak times,” he says.

That is a huge amount of capacity, especially when you consider that even pre-covid around 75-80k people arrived in the city centre by all modes over the two-hour morning peak.

About a third of that capacity came from a decision in 2018 to future proof the CRL to handle 9-car trains, which is mainly achieved by lengthening the Karangahape Rd station and adding to it the entrance at Beresford Square – which also makes the station more accessible. At $250 million the future proofing doesn’t come cheap but is a bargain when you consider it increased the capacity of the entire CRL by 50%. It was also important to do the work now as would be nearly impossible to go back and do later.

Currently the rail network is theoretically capable of delivering about 15,000 people an hour to the city centre – 20 six-car trains, though the Onehunga line isn’t capable of that so the actual capacity is less than that.

But just completing the CRL alone won’t achieve that 54k per hour and will require much more investment.

The refresh to Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) was released in early March. It’s largely an evolution of the previous iteration of ATAP though we were critical of it for not reducing emissions. At the time it was announced just a summary of the programme was released but recently the full ATAP report was published and one of the most interesting aspects to it is it describes what is needed to “fully realise the benefits of CRL” and estimated costs for that doing that. The TLDR version is it’s not cheap.

The report breaks things down into three key steps with step two and three occurring at some point in the future. Looking at the details I can also see there will be some projects that will deliver benefits even if other parts of that ‘step’ are not yet completed. So let’s look at what’s required.

Step One

This describes effectively what is needed for day one when the CRL opens or shortly afterwards. These projects have been committed to in ATAP with many of them already underway. Overall it will deliver a 50% increase in rail network capacity, up to 22,500 per hour, which represents 15 trains per hour per direction passing through the CRL. That will be a train every 4 minutes in each direction through the CRL but the actual impact on individual lines will depend on how Auckland Transport eventually decides to run the trains.

AT’s Regional Land Transport Programme (RLTP) gives more of a funding breakdown and detail breakdown for these

  • City Rail Link
  • 23 new electric trains & additional stabling – $412.5 million – the additional trains likely make up just over $200 million of this cost with the remainder being more stabling, maintenance and cleaning facilities along another traction feed
  • Electrification to Pukekohe – $338 million – this is lower than when announced as some money has already been spent
  • Westfield to Wiri third track – $209 million – this is lower than when announced as some money has already been spent
  • New stations in Drury – $185 million – this is lower than when announced as some money has already been spent
  • Papakura park & ride – $9.9 million
  • Catch up renewals – $137 million – the cracks in the tracks were just the tip of the iceberg and a lot more work is needed to get the network fully up to spec.
  • Removing highest priority level crossings – $220 million – this includes grade separating Taka St and Walters Rd in Takanini as well as Church St east in Penrose which will cost a huge amount of money to serve one or two properties. The other two crossings in Takanini, Spartan and Manuroa roads, will be closed as part of the work.
  • Network resilience improvements – $52 million – this includes programmes such as moving the Auckland train control to Auckland.

It would certainly be nice to have a reliable network for a change

Step Two

This step can be summarised as “maximising our existing network with six-car trains”. The aspect I’m most unsure about is the Onehunga Line Upgrade. Back in 2016 this was estimated to cost at least around $600 million and likely a lot more, a decent chunk of the of the $4.1 billion budget. This kind of cost is also one of the reasons I think we should consider converting it to light rail as part of our crosstown idea.

The maximum capacity of the CRL is 48 trains per hour, 24 each way. Based on this and with 6-car trains the actual capacity would be about 36,000 per hour rather than the 40k suggested here.

Step Three

In this final step the network is upgraded to handle 9-car trains as well as other improvements.


All up this suggests we’ll need to spend around $7 billion on top of the CRL if we want to make the most of it. However, much that cost is likely to be able to be spread over a decade or more so won’t be as scary of a figure as it sounds today. Even so, that spending will need to be balanced against all of the other transport priorities we have.

I also think there’s a good chance we’ll see a bit of a swap of some of the priorities, such as AT potentially wanting to move to at least 9-car trains before looking to maximise frequencies.

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129 comments

  1. Thanks, fascinating.

    On the last line; from a customer perspective higher frequency is preferable to longer trains. Effective journey time is shorter with higher frequency, and station pedestrian congestion lower too. Do 9-car last.

    Agree about Onehunga line. Better to integrate that line into LR with improved transfer at Penrose, considerable benefit in removing that branch and junction from main line as frequencies approach true metro level.

    1. Yes agree on the customer outcome. My thinking as to why AT will push that ahead is the spreadsheet warriors in there will point out they can move the same number of people but with fewer train drivers so is cheaper

      1. Such a shame that higher frequencies is not the main intention of the CRL – as a user and all other public transport just want to be able to turn up and go. If we could get ten minutes down to 5 minutes the rail network would be unstoppable.

        1. I think current frequency is good. What would really help is shorter Journey time on the Southern Line to Britomart. It’s a shame that there appears to be no reference for an express service. I recall seeing a CRL story in ‘Our Auckland’ that suggested 37min journeys between Papakura and Britomart would be possible with some other schemes constructed post CRL. A 30–40min journey time at least 2 times per hour would be great and surely put people off using the car into the.city for peak and off-peak periods.

        2. The only thing crl does to allow such express services is opening up slots into britomart. All express services would need other significant upgrades to be enabled. At least the third main, probably the forth (seeing as kiwirail will want their freight trains to actually be able to run and not get their lunch money stolen all the time.) and perhaps some extra track along the eastern line to glen Innes before the tunnel, oh and a flying junction at Westfield. These are big upgrades, likely only possible with a big market to serve. I doubt suburban commuter will be enough, the money would be better spent elsewhere. However if regional rail takes off to any reasonable degree then this could provide the means to build such infra. Increases in freight help, but again express services and freight don’t mix great, and if freight is paying then freight would expect to use the track.

        3. Surely waiting 5 minutes less for a train every time you get to the station is better than having one every half hour that is 10 minutes faster anyway?

      1. They’ll never do the Avondale-Southdown Line as it serves no real value. The challenge will still be getting freight trains through the western line which could be running at 12-15 trains per hour so they’ll have to hold off till the night when metro services are lower. But then at that time they might as well just keep sending them via Newmarket for no extra cost. I once asked some senior execs at Kiwirail about this and they agreed with that too.

      2. Interesting, according to that map the link from Onehunga to the wharf is no longer owned by Kiwirail. Was it port company land? Also had the Airport connection been rail of either type, completing a Onehunga to Avondale link would have enabled South to West Auckland trips without having to traverse the CBD. If light rail runs from Dominon Rd via Mt Roskill, a link to Heavy rail at Avondale is still an option.

  2. Can’t they purchase one or two properties inside of spending a fortune providing new access when closing a level crossing?

    Turn the property into a pocket forest or sell to neighbouring land owner who can access via their property.

    1. I’m not sure about the legality of purchasing for that reason. Maybe, maybe not.

      If you look at the satellite view there would be other options imo. Purchasing part of the neighbouring properties car park and build a narrow service road next to the south eastern highway out to Hugo Johnston drive. Even replacing their lost parking with a multi story structure would be significantly cheaper than another level crossing removal directly beside another, for 2 properties.

  3. Any upgrade to the network is welcome, but bit surprised to see that there’s not any plans in the coming decades to reduce dwell times at stations. Seems like a relatively more straightforward way to increase frequency and capacity of the network.

    1. Probably because fixing dwell time doesn’t need a big infrastructure project. It’s mainly just improving how the trains are operated. For example most cities that have retained train managers have them in the rear cab of the train where they can look or step out to check close all doors have closed and then don’t have to wait for their local door to close before giving a clear signal. We could do that tomorrow but AT want people walking the train – not that they do anything if there’s an issue.

      The other major thing to improve dwell times is speeding up the doors. That’s something that will presumably be tweaks/changes to trains and if it happens, be part of the new fleets that are needed.

      1. When the train stops, the doors should start to open, neither Wellington or Sydney have this 5 second delay before the green light lits, so why does Auckland? Still?

        1. I’ve timed the dwell times for the Sydney decker trains at 22 seconds. Three years ago Auckland trains were plus 50seconds and now seem to be twice Sydney? Why?

        2. I’ve been on systems where the doors start opening before the train has fully stopped, so that by the time it has stopped they’re already open

      2. Or AT could go for driver control of the doors, as is common overseas. Are the units equipped for that?

        1. Yes, they were designed for driver only operation but the union here objected to it and demanded we retain train managers

        2. Driver control of doors can happily coexist with train managers – but that may not be an easy message to get across.

        3. The trains are technically set up for it but we don’t have the systems in place for the drivers to get a decent view of the whole train.

          In Melbourne many platforms have a big screen on the platform where the cab pulls up so the driver can see a range of CCTV views.

      3. Go the Welsh way: Conductor walks up and down the train with his door key and they uses the nearest door to him to control the boarding process.

        Also Cardiff has a train that runs on a line far shorter then the Onehunga line, it’s a shuttle between Cardiff Bay and the city and works well. Why not make Onehunga a shuttle line too with pax changing for the city/South/West keeping mainline paths free for other trains.

        1. Re an Onehunga shuttle, seems a great idea to me. And there are other places where shuttles – of a variety of modes – seem to be worth considering. Onehunga would surely be an ideal place to set it up for ongoing studies to inform other proposals?

      1. Because when somebody in NZ specified the trains they went all elf and safety and decided that the doors wouldn’t open until ETCS had proved that the train had stopped. I see NZTA’s hand in this.

        Blame the person who specced the train, not the operator

  4. Why wouldn’t they just close Church Street East level crossing? The properties mentioned can already be accessed from the other road behind them. An easy win that should have been done years ago.

      1. Don’t you just hate this though? There’s two landowners on the west side. With a little imagination and will, the one further west could get their pretty average car park improved and other one could access.

        Saying that, on a bicycle, the Church St East level crossing is a life saver if you want to go east-west or north-south through there. Whatever gets built, I hope it has something better to offer than the miserable glass-strewn, noisy, narrow footpath on the Church St flyover.

  5. Interesting reading that idea of running HR compatible LR trains from Airport to Mt Albert and then using existing HR rail to get to city. Could this instead be a replacement for Onehunga line? Could LR trains could run from Airport to Onehunga then new LR rails to Penrose the on HR through CRL and around to Mt Albert then back across Mt Roskill to Airport? This wouldn’t be adding any more traffic to the CRL than a frequent HR Onehunga line would. If it can be done it ticks a lot of boxes for not a lot of money: a high speed frequent connection from Mangere to city and running right across the state owned land in Mt Roskill. Maybe couple it with street level HR on Dominion too.

    1. The thing is the motorway’s from the West to the South beats the pants off any alternative public transport route as does travelling from CDB to the airport by motorway. What has being suggested goes some way to level up the playing field. The rail route would have stations the motorway has on and off ramps. The rail route has access to passengers from the Western line. The motorway will have cars from wherever.

  6. The Penrose Onehunga line should definitely be converted to LR and run through to as per “crosstown idea”. This is only logical with other LR to pass through Onehunga.
    And yes higher frequency is better for the passenger than longer trains, as much as both will be eventually required, priority should be inter train time reduction.
    Any chance removal of level crossings could be integrated with shared/cycle paths along the train line for future,future proofing (when the sun no longer shines, the wind no longer blows, at least we will still be able to get to work)?

    1. The Onehunga branch is quite cute okay for a trip to town however long wait times for transfer if you want to head south. In fact its quicker to catch the 38 bus and change to the 31 at Mangere town centre if you want to go to Papatoetoe. Better frequencies as well.

    2. I was waiting for a train there recently trains run every 30 minutes off peak. I was all by myself then 5 mins before it was due to depart the locals appeared obviously they had read the time table. Its probably acceptable if your journey is to town. Not so good as part of the not so new bus network.

      1. Its 30 minutes on peak too. The trains in rush hour to and from the city are actually pretty full though. A little surprising given how bad a half hourly service is.

      2. What needs to be done to turn it into a shuttle line between Penrose & Onehunga? If we double platform Te Papapa, could you have 2 EMUs just going back and forth on a 10 minute frequency, meeting in the middle like a cable car?

        1. If your passing loop is midway between Onehunga and Penrose there would be no problem

        2. Amen to that.

          For those wanting conversion, remember that’s an industrial part of the city and it is an industrial line even if it hasn’t been used as such for a while. Hopefully industry/Kiwirail start to use it properly again.

  7. I wonder what the cost would be of putting three identical tunnels under the proposed route of the light rail system that would host the current auckland trains.

    The middle tunnel would host the stations along with an underground shared cycle/scooter/pedestrian route.

    Building this way would greatly reduce the amount of surface level disruption and expensive land purchases. Only ramp/escalator tunnels & lifts would be needed on the surface.

    It would connect with the new mount Eden Station and eventually make its way to the airport then to Puhinui.

    1. And if your doing that why not continue the tunnels from Puhinui out to Botany then Howick etc.

    2. Sorry, but undergrounding cycle routes and light rail routes, to allow the cars to keep dominating the surface…. That’s putting the cart before the horse while protecting the Status Quo at enormous cost.

    3. How does excavating 3 tunnels underneath a road reduce surface level disruption? I should think laying some track at the existing surface roading level to be an order of magnatude less disruptive than excavating 3 tunnels!

  8. Converting the Onehunga line to LR is in my view a no-brainer. As things stand the line unnecessarily complicates the operating pattern, without adding significant additional benefits. To pay significant sums to upgrade it and perpetuate the status quo seems foolish. Far better, as Matt suggests, to convert it to be part of an EW light rail line, which could potentially connect together all the isthmus RTN lines – the NW line at Pt Chev, the W line at Mt Albert, the “SW” line between Mt Roskill and Onehunga, the S line at Penrose, and potentially even the E line at Sylvia Park and the “Botany” line at Pakuranga. For a city whose rapid transit network is almost completely bereft of actual “network” this would be one of the single most transformational steps that could be taken. If we are serious about moving people away from private cars then the creation of real “network” is an essential move, about which AT seems remarkably silent.

      1. Its a great idea, and looking at the wider crossline idea, I think its less than 5kms in length from Avondale to Onehunga?

        I know 5kms of rail does not come cheap, but it seems obvious to do given how quickly it could be done and how it would do a lot to piece together the various lines

  9. Who does Phil Goff’s numbers? Do they just come to him while he is talking like some sort of divine inspiration? How is the capacity of three lanes of harbour bridge 54000 people per hour? Maybe those three lanes have a capacity of 5,400 vehicles per hour, but are we using an average occupancy of 10 per vehicle now? And 54,000 people per hour using CRL? Is there some unknown demand to ride on a train from Britomart to Mt Eden and back? The dude is getting to be like Trump.

    1. a) 3 harbour bridges, not lanes
      b) he talks about “extra” after the “or” changing the topic of the sentence. 54000/2×00 is over 20 lanes, so that part of the sentence is about the extra capacity. The part before is about the carrying capacity of the tunnels.

      Debating the maximum capacity of crl is a thing I guess. The upzoning of land around the Rtn will increase the demand for travel. Upgrades to other parts (non hr) of the network will drive more trips on crl too. Eg AMETI dumping more people onto trains.

      1. My apologies I read that wrong. I am genuinely going to specsavers tomorrow to pick up my new glasses.
        After that I am reluctant to ask is he comparing two rail lines with train lengths we dont use, running at headways we dont have, with every seat and occupied at crush capacity with the actual demand of a traffic lanes? Maybe the equivalent would be to assume each bridge lane is carrying only buses and they are all full.

        1. No worries.
          Train lengths we dont have: yes *
          Headways we dont have: yes *
          with every seat and occupied at crush capacity – arguably no, this is based off the advertised AM class max capacity. And given the seating layout, and the standing capacity advertised is not “crush capacity” (I believe) we could actually fit a lot more people, pretty comfortably in these trains. Removing some of the seats (while retaining plenty for elderly / impared people etc) and moving to a metro style seating layout, standing for 20 or 30 minutes is not uncomfortable for most people.

          I kind of agree that comparing PT capacity to traffic lane capacity is a bit of comparing apples to oranges. But the place that traffic lanes struggle the most is realistic peak capacity in rush hours and that is what PT can provide, which is what Goff is comparing here. It is certainly not like assuming every bus on the bridge in mixed traffic, or a better comparison, cars (occupancies of 4 or 5) are all full. We (pre covid) used to see trains at that max capacity in the peak regularly, but it would never happen that every car and bus across the bridge for 1/2 an hour or 1 hour was totally full.

          * the difference being compared to the bridge / motorway network, there is a feasible upgrade path for both of these.

        2. Yes, he is leaning on the scales talking about the full theoretical train lengths and headways that might eventually fit after decades of further upgrades and expenditure.

          However other than that it is fair to talk about crush capacity on trains because they do indeed get crush loaded (or they used to before covid at least), that was normal at peak times.

          With the motorway the normal peak ‘crush load’ was 96% cars and light trucks with an average of 1.2 people each.

        3. When have you ever been crushed on an Auckland train? The pictures i see posted of ‘rammed’ auckland trains would be regarded as an almost emtpy 8am south/city bound northern line train in London (pre covid). Being a taller person, on days i left my bike at home for whever reason, i would actually receive a neck injury from being crushed against the curved door of the tube train. Usually i would let 3 ‘crush cacpacity’ trains come and go before finally deciding I am just going to have to ram myself or else i will be spending all morning on the platform.

        4. “ However other than that it is fair to talk about crush capacity on trains because they do indeed get crush loaded (or they used to before covid at least), that was normal at peak times.”

          I have not experienced this, but I wouldn’t know as I dont travel on peak trains at the moment (or before covid). However this is not the 54,000 that Goff is referring to. If we counted crush capacity then the number would be a decent amount higher than 54,000.

        5. Commuted daily on the western line 2017 to 2019. I actually started doing glide time to avoid the peak because trains were full before New Lynn and I often couldn’t get on trying to be downtown for an 8:30 start.

        6. The peak trains were usually six cars and full. It was complete bedlam if they had to put a three train on one of the prime slots, for sure.

        7. We haven’t had crush loads on trains since the electrics were introduced along with 10 min frequencies. The exception being if there were cancellations or a 3-car train turned up when a 6-car was expected.

          Most 6-car sets would approach Britomart in the morning/leave in the evening with at least some seats available.

  10. Looking at this there won’t be any express trains from the south in stage one, which is a change from what was planned about four years ago.

  11. It’s so important that we make the best decisions for PT so as to keep our transport costs down. GA has this goal. Transport costs are a high part of total businesses costs.
    People are saying Australia is better. Nurses want more money.
    But remember our NZ businesses who are competing against both cashed up Australian super funds and their government who is giving incentives that we can’t match.

  12. $10m on the Papakura park and ride would be much ‘better’ spent on a local cycle network and local bus improvements to connect to the train station.

      1. A very modest outlay compared with the $180 million they’re planning to spend on free parking at the two Drury stations.

  13. Double tracking and presumably a flying junction? And grade separating For the onehunga line would be a huge cost. A significant portion of taking HR all the way to the airport I would imagine. Given the rest of the route would be starting from scratch, and would likely be fully grade separated too. I wonder how much doing HR for the rest of the route to the airport would cost vs a fully grade seperated LR line. I’m sure there would be some restrictions that drive up costs, but just how much.

    1. HR to the airport is dead and should never be spoken of again. HR goes to puhinui and then you get the bus, job done

      1. Ignoring options because they’re “dead” is not a great plan.
        The initial conditions that went into that decision would have changed if the O line was double tracked, and grade separated. And given even under the light rail plan the rest of the route would be grade separated anyway the costs associated with HR vs LR I don’t think would be that much higher. It would fit perfectly within running patterns and operational requirements. The eastern line joins the southern line south of Penrose so the section of southern line from Britomart to Penrose is running at 1/2 its maximum capacity anyway. And there are benefits.
        Light rail could be left to one usecase, instead of being crammed into two. A higher capacity route for dominion road to replace busses.

        “HR goes to puhinui and then you get the bus, job done”, I agree this is the great short – medium term solution. I will use it semi-regularly, and have a couple times already and its great even without the new station complete.

        All that being said, I do not think making these upgrades to the Onehunga line makes a drop of sense. But given its in the plans, I guess it might happen one day?

        1. Sure, assuming the HR v LR costs of Onehunga to the Airport are the same it’s worth looking at, you’re basically left with

          The cost of LR from Downtown to Onehunga

          v.

          The cost of double-tracking Onehunga & grade-separating the Penrose junction

          I’d be surprised if the cost of that above was less than $500m and that’s before you take into account, either the frequency of the Airport line would be 30 minutes like ONehunga is now OR you reduce the frequency of remaining rail lines

          I just think it’s a no brainer to leave the Onehunga line as it is, or even turn it into a more frequent shuttle (if possible) between Onehunga & Penrose

        2. “assuming the HR v LR costs of Onehunga to the Airport are the same”

          No way are they the same. LR can do grades 3 times as steep at HR, and it can run on street or through signalised intersections where necessary. HR would require huge amounts of tunneling, massive long viaducts etc. AT worked this out when they did the airport line work, the HR version was all on bridges or tunnels while the LR version was mostly at ground level.

        3. JohnD – Agreed, was just a high level exercise. And thats before you get to the fact that frequency on the LR to the airport could be up to every 4 mins, where HR would probably never be better than 10 minutes if we decided to sacrifice frequency elsewhere on the HR network

        4. “either the frequency of the Airport line would be 30 minutes like ONehunga is now OR you reduce the frequency of remaining rail lines“

          Disagree. Current / previous running patterns post CRL show that we they wanted to join the western line and the onehunga line. (And southern / eastern) Forming two lines that run long distance through CRL but terminating at the end of the current lines.

          Given the current state of the Onehunga line, I dont know what they were thinking. Maybe that it would be upgraded pre-CRL.
          Anyway, we do need to terminate one of the western, southern or eastern lines somewhere. Downtown is a bad place for that. The onehunga line and extension to the airport seems like it would be fine.

          Through services are inherently more effecient than terminating services in the core.

          Just to re-iterate, all this is presuming (given these plans) that they want to for some reason double track the Onehunga line anyway. Given that initial condition, perhaps the extension of the heavy rail network would be good. Perhaps not. Worth investigating under those pretences.

          Here is the document to refer to. https://at.govt.nz/media/1927342/draft-smart-indicative-business-case.pdf

          Side note. It is a bit of an unsolved mystery where exactly AT plan on terminating the unbalanced (western as it was supposed to be paired with the O line) services after CRL opens at the moment. I really dont have any good suggestions. Apart from maybe dispersing them between running back as the return services and upping the capacity on other lines. If you for example made the southern line the unbalanced one, you could run via Parnell and terminate in the spare Britomart center platforms. The downside here being now these users don’t see the benefits of CRL at all. So running full line services down the Onehunga line would be convenient and solve some operational issues, which I dont have any good alternatives for.

        5. Jack, that was a ‘draft indicative business case’ from five years ago, with maps of concepts done some years before that.
          Business cases do a fair amount of speculation to test potential options, and they’ve developed since then.

          Previously they talked about splitting the western line between onehunga and otahuhu.

          From what I understand the actual plan is to take all of the western line to Otahuhu, so it works as extra capacity for the inner southern line. They’ve built a turnback platform for this at Otahuhu.

          Thats the main line, they’re also talking about extra trains in the peak direction that would terminate at Britomart.

  14. “Removing highest priority level crossings – $220 million – Taka St and Walters Rd in Takanini as well as Church St east in Penrose.”
    Why are these now the highest priority?
    There have been multiple studies identifying the highest priority level crossings, earlier ones had a priority order:
    (1) St Jude St
    (2) Manuroa Road (now being closed)
    (3) Morningside Drive, Woodward Road, Glenview Road http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/SiteCollectionDocuments/aboutcouncil/committees/transportcommittee/meetings/transportcomagp287-36220130416.pdf

    1. The optimum train capacity can’t be achieved until all the level crossings have been removed. Once the southern crossings have been resolved and Church St Est closed the Western line will need to be resolved before any increase in train frequencies can occur. Therefore the CRL wont actually be able to run at anywhere near peak capacity until all the level crossings are gone, but this isn’t mentioned?

      1. Why do you say that it limits train frequencies? Surely the effects are a) less reliable train service from disruptions which is helped by improving barriers b) slower speeds particularly when the crossings are at points when the trains could otherwise be going quickly c) effect on traffic – that Onehunga crossing notes that at peak frequency on double tracks the road would be barriered about 1/3 of the time.

    2. I suspect it’s a case of only needing to do a few to sort out the entire southern line meaning you could run more trains etc. Also it’s a busier section of track with both metro and freight services, and possibly intercity services in the future.

  15. No doubt it has being considered and there is probably operational reasons why it can’t be done but would it be possible to run the purple line to Manukau rather than Otahuhu. This would give a one seat ride from any Western line station to Puhinui and thus the busway to the airport.

        1. The rail infrastructure is 100% going to be there. With fully grade separated flyovers going into and out of the CRL and bypassing it. The platforms are going to be there. Its in all the plans which are basically set in stone. Its just weather or nor it makes sense to use those train sets to increase CRL frequency day 1 by using purple line trains for that rout, or to take trains out of CRL and run the purple line. We could always re-introduce purple bypass trains in the future when CRL is saturated. People can go to K-road and change trains there, and on average the two trips times wouldn’t be that much different. By the time you account for the much lower frequencies on such a purple line. And you would also improve the trip time of all western line users by lowering waiting times.

        2. “We could always re-introduce purple bypass trains in the future when CRL is saturated.”

          This is the logical approach. When the normal train lines are all full and you physically cant run any more frequency and cant make them any longer… then you can add a suburb to suburb overly line to try and pick up some of the slack.

          But until that point running an overlapping suburban crosstown line is always going to be a worse use of the trains and drivers than adding them to the main lines.

          I’m pretty certain it won’t happen. When the CRL opens it will be hugely popular and they’ll be playing catch up on capacity from day one. Nobody is going to take trains out of the CRL to run them through the suburbs under those conditions.

        3. @John D
          “ I’m pretty certain it won’t happen.”
          I’m not sure I agree. They’ve built infrastructure specifically for running this service. The layover at Otahuhu and at Henderson (has that second one happened yet?)
          So AT would look a bit silly if these platforms didn’t get used pretty soon after CRL opens. “AT builds infra they dont use etc etc”

          Hopefully they take the fall and run the better service.

        4. Is that just for the purple line though? They seem pretty useful for other season

          Henderson makes sense if they don’t want to run all Western line services to Swanson (although this would be wrong)

          Otahuhu makes sense to short run some Eastern line servives, as they might want higher frequency to Panmure once AMETI starts dropping hundreds of bus passengers off

        5. The people that pay for the infrastructure aren’t the ones that pay to run the trains.

          Yes AT might look stupid for building infrastructure they don’t need, but they’ll also look stupid running empty trains around between the suburbs while the city trains are overloaded and people are screaming at them to put more trains on. To be frank AT are going to look stupid whatever they do, they’ll be headlines of trains too full or trains too empty regardless.

          And last I heard Henderson was parked, and Otahuhu is to start and end the other end of the western line on. But critically, nobody has budgeted and ordered the trains that this line is supposed to be run with. So at some point someone has to make a business case to buy trains and increase the operations budget to run a long, expensive train line that hardly anyone will use.

        6. Can we run 8tph through the CRL without buying new trains, considering we should be able to increase the amount of services the existing they won’t spend much time idling in Britomart?

      1. Come on its got to be quicker than grinding your way through the CRL and changing trains as well. I initially wrote something stronger.

        1. Yes it will be quicker. All you have to do is make sure you show up at your station at exactly the right time to catch the train that only runs every 20 minutes.

          The alternative is your trip is 4-5 minutes longer but you can start it whenever you want

          Hhmmmm

        2. You just change at K road, you don’t have to ‘grind’ through the CRL, just go the first station and walk to the other side of the platform.

          If your option is just take any train and spend 2-3 minutes changing trains, or wait up to 20 minutes for the direct line, most people will transfer anyway unless the purple line happens to be coming next. Who is going to wait around after work to get a later train when the next one gets them home faster?

          And you can do the connection between any two stations on the two lines, with the purple line you can on catch it between Henderson and Otahuhu. If you’re going to or from anywhere west of Henderson, or south of Otahuhu you have to change trains anyway, so you’ll just change between the normal high frequency lines.

    1. If we still have the purple line, Puhinui is a far better station to terminate at than Otahuhu. I guess you could go on to Manukau but the non grade separated junction there isn’t ideal for cramming more trains through. If Puhinui’s extra 2 platforms and tracks were built sooner rather than later, it would be an ideal location for a short and medium term regional rail hub.
      Direction connection to the airport. Very feasible termination point for Te Huia, on both southern and eastern lines, very nice looking station. Its not a total industrial area like where Otahuhu station is.

      1. And on a related matter, the 4th main allowing express trains from Puhinui would be a game-changer.

        Ideally you would get the Puhinui-Britomart down to 4 stops, providing an interchange with the Eastern (Otahuhu), Onehunga (Ellerslie) and Western (Newmarket) lines. That would really slash times for people living in that area of growth down south, as well as airport users anywhere up the line. Regional rail too. You may even be able to have express services from further south (Pukekohe?), but not sure of that.

        But indeed, Puhinui looks to be a major regional hub with the A2B and Hamilton regional rail thrown into the mix.

        1. I was under the impression that the 3rd and 4th mains were Papakura to Westfield. No extra track on the southern line north of the Westfield junction. And maybe later a 3rd main running along parts of the eastern line that were feasible (no tunnelling, no reclamation).
          With that in mind, running express services on the southern line north of penrose seems mostly infeasible.

          The eastern line is great, I think with 3rd track to the tunnel that would be a great service. You would only have 2 or 3 stations before britomart, which will still be a very well connected station, and mostly very convenient. You could just roll along slower so as not to catch up with a the all stops service, or maybe stop at those stations.

        2. Yes Jack, essentially the network is already 4 tracks north of Westfield (sth + east lines) so the urgent fix is to get to at least 4 south to at least Wiri, where Metro and freight demand decreases again.

        3. Express on the eastern line…..not great connectivity with the rest of the network though – you have to go all the way to Britomart.

          But its sounds like its not feasible on the Southern Line all the way in. Perhaps run express with just a couple of stops northbound up to Puhinui (for Te Huia) and then skip the stations (3?) until Otahuhu. Passengers then stay on for a one-seat ride to Britomart as well as interchanges with O and W lines, eastern busway at Ellerslie, or transfer to the southern for express or eastern destinations.

          Not perfect but still OK.

      2. Yeah good point Puhinui is probably better. Good access to Manukau on the electric busway anyway. I see new foundations for overhead traction wires going in at Puhinui so at least people are thinking about new platforms.

        1. Good access to Manakau on the electric train too. Yes good about the forward thinking.

        2. Imagine the day when we have 6 tracks through there and what kind of services that would mean…….sigh

  16. Interesting that this story is headed Greater Auckland. While I applaud the city’s rail development there’s not a word about the North Shore where a population equal to Christchurch lives and growing rapidly.

      1. Roeland how many people do you think travel from North Shore to areas covered by the Western line a day? An also for interest in the 7-9ampeak?

        1. I can only think of Matt L, who goes from West to North, which is the same infrastructure, admittedly with less frequency on the Busway than the peak direction.

    1. Coming from the North Shore, the CRL (specifically the Aotea train station) will make it much faster to connect to a train, especially to the western line.

    2. That’d be the same Shore that had a busway a literal decade before anyone else in Auckland had one, right?

      1. The same Shore that paid for said busway (along with NZTA) while the rest of Auckland used existing rail infrastructure?

        1. Nice try. The NS paid $84 million for the stations, while the taxpayer paid $210 million for the busway.

          This isn’t any different to the rail network where Auckland City Council paid to build Britomart, while the taxpayer funded improvements like the double tracking of the Western line.

    3. The north shore has arguably the best PT in Auckland. The northern busway gets more ridership, comes more frequently and splits into more convenient locations than any line on the rail network and its getting extended significantly further north as we speak.

      It will also be improved by CRL as Aotea will be a much better station to transfer at. And will have better services to transfer to.

      1. If only east, SE and NW Auckland had a northern busway-equivalent by now.

        Yep – only the north has BRT and has had it for a decade.

      2. Hi Jack. When you say the Northern Busway “splits into more convenient locations” What do you mean? It runs pretty much North South as I see it. Are you referring to feeders?

        1. The main trunk busway services are the NX1 and NX2 which terminate in different locations. Either the universities or britomart. Both independently run at higher frequencies than the heavy rail network. If you want to go anywhere from Albany to fanshawe on the busway either is fine, doubling your available frequency.

          I wouldn’t split it any further however. And it is subjective I suppose. But depending on how you count it, the Universities are the most consolidated pt destination in the country, the nx2 is very convenient.

      3. The best PT is on the isthmus, the part west of Manukau Road. This is the only part of Auckland where PT actually forms a grid.

        The North Shore has the best single rapid transit line, but it is hard to reach by PT from large parts of it because there are no frequent cross-town bus lines.

        1. Bingo.
          And “best” is subjective. Most frequent and highest numbers yes. Best user experience? No, trains are more pleasant.

        2. Yes and no. It takes 35 mins to travel 8km to the city on Dominion Rd, while it takes 30 mins to travel nearly 20km from Albany.

          I agree with realist though, it’s very subjective. I’d say Panmure would be up there with a 15 – 20 min trip by train to the CBD plus great bus connections with the 70 route.

    4. The Greater Christchurch metropolitan area is significantly bigger than the North Shore at about 1/2m in population. Christchurch is the largest city in Australasia without a mass transit system. So perhaps a bad comparison…

    5. Do we need to talk about every part of the region in every post? Should we talk about South or West Auckland when discussing future Northern Busway upgrades?

      1. Sadly to some degree we do. What seems to happen is that a decision is made to do an upgrade somewhere which means nothing gets done elsewhere. What we should have is more funding for PT and Walking and Cycling so that we don’t have the ” look we are improving PT in area X, so everyone else has to wait 10years and if you are lucky you then might come out top of the pile and get something in your area”

  17. I get Phil Goff wants to talk up the CRL, but when he says “It will carry up to 54,000 people an hour” most people will think that means without any further work required.

    At some point, they will have to be told this is not so, that further billions and years of work and disruption are still needed. And many will justifiably feel misled. I foresee howls of outrage.

  18. Not so sure I agree with closing the two Takanini level crossings – will only put further pressure on an already overloaded road network due to the fact that AT still haven’t given us a new station at Walters Road or any decent public transport options for the new build areas out the back of Takanini. I can see total gridlock occurring should the closures occur without any public transport mitigation.

    1. Gridlock would occur regardless. Any removal of road capacity like that would be “gridlock” (really just significant congestion at peak) for a couple days at least while people sort out ways around it. I agree, some easy alternative should absolutely be provided. Cycle paths and good bike parking would be able to handle the capacity easily, and is much more convenient than feeder busses.

    2. Is there actually any long term plan for a station there, because it seems like a pretty obvious gap in the line

      1. There is a plan to reinstate Tironui station. One of the housing developments out there (I think it was Addison?) wanted a station at Glenora rd and apparently even had some land set aside for it there but that was ruled out as being too close to Takaanini station so the old Tironui station site was selected instead. However, the station is likely waiting for Walters Rd to be grade-seperated

  19. And here we go, Herald writer must have read this post and got their dander up.
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/rail-shock-aucklands-44b-city-rail-link-needs-67b-more-to-reach-its-potential/7VRUVQSOLJOOJJ5PJOUXS6GCPE/

    Its worth pointing out that if the onehunga line upgrade were scrapped (as it should be) then these numbers would be decently smaller.

    The CRL is the one time that for a major transport project that the government have (correctly) decided to seriously overbuild the core of the network, just as these pundits wanted them to do for the harbour bridge (for example), but only this time its a bad thing. The extra cost associated with the future proofing looks very poor on a 30 year business case I’m sure, but over the hundred year + time scale that the CRL will be used then it was the best money they’ve ever spent.

    The other comparison to make is, just like with any motorway project, the core corridor being improved relies on its feeder infrastructure, that is considered as part of a different project. The difference here being that there is a feasible way to improve the feeder infrastructure.

    My point is, what did the author think? We could upgrade a single core corridor and see a 4x network capacity improvement with no further upgrades. Like there was that much latent capacity and vehicles sitting around in the network?

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