In some posts recently I’ve mentioned about the idea of a crosstown light rail line. It’s something we’ve talked about before but given the discussions currently underway about light rail, it’s probably worth re-looking at.

To explain the idea, let’s start by looking at the strategic ideas behind it.

Firstly, for many years now, at least as far back as 2005 but probably further, our various strategic transport plans for a future rapid transit network have suggested a crosstown route between New Lynn and Onehunga. The most recent iteration of this is in ATAP which assumes it will be a busway route. Busways are suggested for the rapid transit routes that aren’t travelling through the city where higher capacity is needed in the future.

The route isn’t in the current 10-year plan to deliver and as far as I’m a ware no planning has even taken place even about where this route will actually go. But thinking about where this route might actually go is where it gets interesting.

If we were to follow the existing road network then the most logical route is that buses would travel from New Lynn along Wolverton St, Tiverton Rd, Maioro St and then down SH20 to Onehunga. However, something important to remember is that Auckland Transport’s description of rapid transit is some thing that has a dedicated right of way, which is different from normal frequent routes which just have whole-of-route bus priority. Delivering a ‘dedicated right of way’ along that route isn’t going to be easy.

Next, we know from census travel to work data that a lot of people who live in West Auckland work in the Onehunga/Penrose/Mt Wellington industrial area or at the Airport, The airport will also see a lot of people from West Auckland who are travelling.

Then if we look at the council’s spatial priority areas, one of the most significant ones over the next decade is around SH20 with much of it around the southern end of Sandringham Rd around Wesley where Kainga Ora own a lot of land.

It’s that Kainga Ora land and development as to why Sandringham Rd is being considered as part of the Light Rail project.

And finally, when we consider that we will be building a decent chunk of a ‘crosstown’ corridor for light rail, the question arises, why would we duplicate that with a busway and could we make use of that light rail infrastructure for something else too?

Avondale to Southdown rail corridor

It is expected that light rail would travel alongside SH20 from Dominion or Sandringham Rd to Onehunga. Part of this, and the motorway, follow a rail corridor that was originally designated back in the 1940’s with the intention of providing a way for freight trains heading north of Auckland to bypass having to travel through Newmarket.

The Avondale to Southdown alignment

The extensions of SH20 over the last 15 years have made use of parts of the rail corridor but have left space for it to still be built in the future. In the case of Maioro St they even added an additional bridge span for it.

Some will no doubt argue that we will need this corridor for heavy rail in the future, particularity once the rail line to Marsden Point is built but there’s a few good reasons to believe the Avondale to Southdown route won’t be built.

  1. The expected frequencies of train services once the City Rail Link opens mean there will likely be no opportunities to run freight trains along the Western Line during the daytime. There also isn’t the space along most of the Western Line corridor for additional tracks, especially though New Lynn where another entire trench would be required. As such, the current thinking seems to be that there would be a rail yard in the Northwest, likely around Kumeu, where freight to the west and North Shore would be transferred to truck while rail freight travelling through Auckland would do so at night.
    But if we’re having to wait till night when passenger services have reduced to be able to send freight trains along the Western Line, there’s no reason why they couldn’t just keep going through Newmarket.
  2. As the map above shows, east of Hillsborough Rd the corridor snakes inland north of Onehunga in order to get a useful grade. If you look at Google Maps you can actually see large parts of this corridor as green space.
    But having a designation is one thing, actually building a rail corridor is something quite different. Freight trains, even if electrified, create a lot of noise and vibration and it’s hard to imagine the local communities surrounding the corridor just sitting back quietly and accepting it being built.

Crosstown Light Rail

Bringing all of this together, the idea is to use more of the Avondale to Southdown corridor to extend light rail to a connection with the Western Line.

While normally you wouldn’t consider light rail for a route like this, it is less than 4km from Dominion Rd to the Western Line. Furthermore, given the corridor already exists and there would only a couple of road crossings to deal with, construction costs could be low – likely far cheaper than building a busway like currently envisaged. It’s also worth noting that the planned section of light rail alongside SH20 would likely have spare capacity as the main limitation for the CC2M route is likely to be the section along Dominion Rd.

Stations between the Western Line and Dominion Rd could help serve the planned development in the area and giving residents a quick trip to either the western line or Dominion Rd where they could transfer to services to the city – or just use the existing buses.

To me a bigger question is not whether we should do this but what station we should connect it to. There are two thoughts on this:


The shortest and therefore cheapest option would be to follow the Western Line around to Avondale. This could even make use of the existing additional bridge span under Blockhouse Bay Rd. This would also be the best (fastest) option for those transferring from west of Avondale.

An old image, looking west, but shows the spare span on the Blockhouse Bay Bridge
Mt Albert

The second option would be to go in the other direction and link into Mt Albert. This is longer and would require those transferring from the west to backtrack a bit but would have the advantage of a future extension to Pt Chev to link up with the planned Northwest Light Rail.

Both of these options are shown on the map below in yellow.

There is also one other aspect to this proposal. At the other end of the line we could look to convert the Onehunga line to light rail to give even better crosstown connections. This could build on the idea of making the line a shuttle – which is how it’s being operated a lot at the moment anyway.

For the section through Alan Wood Reserve and a few other areas, green tracking surrounded by trees could be an appropriate solution.

Travel Times

With crosstown light rail, travel times from the west to the southwest would be slashed. Travel time modelling I’ve created suggests travel time from Avondale to Onehunga is likely less than 15 minutes, so even including a 5-minute wait between services, it would be much faster to use this than other options.

For example, even after including a 5-minute wait to transfer between services, a trip from say Glen Eden to Onehunga could be done on PT in less than half an hour compared with over an hour today.

I think the idea of crosstown light rail ticks a lot of boxes and would help make public transport more viable for a lot more people. But whether we can actually do it will depend on decisions made by the Light Rail project. Let’s hope they choose to go with light rail (as opposed to light metro) which would keep an option like this open.

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  1. You’d hope that this would seem a pretty obvious project once Dominion LRT is built and whatever mode chosen for the North West is operating. There really needs to be pressure to at least get this into a future version of ATAP

  2. Great idea. Seems a waste to not utilise that designation as half of the line between Avondale & Onehunga will be built with the CC2M light rail. Should also be planned to tie in to Pt Chev for the North West line

    Ps, loving the green tracks!

  3. It’s a good idea but in the meantime the real low-hanging fruit is the 66 bus from Sylvia Park to Pt Chev. It already parallels this route, serving much of the same housing catchment, and is every 15min through the day. The only thing it’s missing is bus lanes to run in but these could be easily added by removing the on street parking along most of its route.

    1. “The only thing it’s missing is bus lanes to run in but these could be easily added by removing the on street parking along most of its route.”
      If you have read the IPCC Report you would start work on this tomorrow.

        1. And remove the median to drop in some quick protected bike lanes. Heaps of shops and schools along that line. Every mode needs a cross-town route. And the central isthmus is starved of decent bike network.

    2. Mount Albert Station to Penrose is timed at 35 mins on train via Newmarket and 36 mins on 66 bus. It would be interesting to see how much the bus journey could be reduced by. Not having to change trains at New Market would also improve travel times.

      1. We went 66 to Onehunga on Sunday morning. Then did a few things in Onehunga including buy a bike (mine was stolen Friday before last 🙁 ) and with bike in tow, took the train back, Te Papapa to Newmarket to Baldwin Ave.

        Fantastic journey both ways.

        Only silly thing – which can be easily fixed – was that so few of the fold up seating areas in the trains have the ties and clips to hold the prams, wheelchairs and bikes in place, and they’re not effective, because you can’t tighten them.

        1. Yeah, thanks. I wouldn’t have thought my 14-year-old simple-as pushbike would be interesting to anyone.

    3. I love the 66, but while I’d love it to have dedicated bus lanes, it needs designing with protected cyclelanes too, and with trees to reduce the urban heat effect. The circulation plan for the whole city that we need to create will not retain two way general traffic flow on all sections on all arterials; but some will need to. Given there is an alternative RTN nearby, the 66 route may need to be an arterial that does retain two way general traffic flow, to enable the whole circulation plan to work.

      1. That sounds like you’re letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. I don’t think we have time for that. Painting bus lanes for the 66 would not preclude the later addition of protected cycle lanes, more street trees and keeping two way general traffic.

        Crosstown light rail: Doesn’t yet exist, would take several years and hundreds of millions of dollars to implement.
        Route 66: Already exists, could be significantly improved in several weeks and a few million dollars.

        1. Agree about the while it will take. I think ignoring the need for protected rolling lanes is ignoring the needs of children, disabled people and the elderly. We can do better.

          To speed the buses up on our arterials with our road corridor width, change should be approached in this order:

          1/ Reducing traffic volumes:

          – Reallocation from parking and flush medians to continuous cyclelanes and to bus lanes where there’s also space for this.
          – Encouraging modeshift to active travel for local trips, through protected lanes for bikes, skateboards and scooters.
          – LTN’s throughout the entire area, reducing vkt and car ownership, and encouraging modeshift.
          – Incentives to reduce car ownership and driving rates – eg road pricing, higher registration, higher carparking costs, lower parking supply.
          – incentives to increase public transport ridership – eg annual passes, concessions, off peak rates, better bus stops, better transfers through bus stop placement, better walking infra.
          – sections of bus lane where there is extra width available.

          2/ Add bus priority:

          – change the circulation pattern slightly – remove right hand turns, add bus lanes on sections where there’s a bit more width available, use bus gates to allow general traffic through only during certain hours
          – change the circulation pattern more markedly to replace general traffic lanes with bus lanes – creating one way sections for general traffic, or sections where general traffic doesn’t go at all.

        2. If anything happens with this it’s going to be a dedicated route. The government preferred spending hundreds of millions on a new harbour bridge to facing the bit of flak associated with taking a lane from drivers. Route 66 passes the failed quiet streets experiment, and I’m sure our quaking authorities have visions of their freshly laid bus lanes being dug up every 100m in the dead of night by emboldened parking space vigilantes.

  4. A bit of a shame it can’t connect to New Lynn as the inner west hub tho. Many people further west would need to double connect to use the service if it’s at Avondale or Mt Albert.

    How about go to Avondale station, then down Crawford street, to the race track, cross the Whau (path and river) into delta ave then onto memorial drive, (or maybe dig a trench)? I am sure it would cost a lot more, but it probably messes with ATs car arterials less than Mt Albert option.

    1. If we are going to Avondale then surely we would go a bit further north and connect with the NW Busway? The only issue is via Waterview looks the best option but there is no interchange station planned to be there, I don’t think.

      If you could connect, we could run BRT/LRT from Constellation-Westgate-Waterview-Avondale-Onehunga-Mangere-Airport. An alternative route to airport for upper harbour and west, as well as RTN west to all the other places in between. Interchange with busway into the city and western line. When its LRT run it all the way up to Ellerslie (termination) for interchanges with southern line, access to Penrose workplaces etc and eastern busway. Eventually ditch the O-Line route going past Ellerslie.

      1. The bus way is less important than New Lynn as it’s the inner west PT hub. The western side of New Lynn (massive growth area) would need to transfer twice to use this service unless they live on the rail line. New Lynn would probably still need to have Busses to Onehunga. Having the connection at Avondale or MT Albert would probably be easier, but much worse, particularly for West Auckland, busway aide.

        Look at the first image of the article.

        1. Irrespective of Avondale or NL, it would be suboptimal not to get to the busway. Massive growth in the NW nowhere near the western line. Allows connection with upper harbour too via SH16.

  5. +1 to converting the Onehunga diversion to LRT and having it meet up with a proper interchange around the motorway, if that’s where Light Rail is going to run anyway. It could be an opportunity to rejuvinate that end of Onehunga completely, and there is already a corridor there from the line that used to run down to the wharf from where the station is now.

    Frankly anything that brings Light Rail within touching distance of Great South Road is a good thing.

  6. Highlighter pen discussions during our worst internal transport investment fight since the 1990s are just other-worldly.

    Time for more mass protests to shore up what we are on the brink of losing.

    1. In terms of what we are on the brink of losing, do you mean something specific, like getting light rail at all because they’re going down the LM route? (Which will end with nothing – because it delivers too little for the cost.)

      Or do you mean something more general, like a secure climate?

      (You might mean that the fight is leading to the loss of systems or institutions that are no longer delivering, but I don’t imagine you are; the public are unlikely to protest massively about something a little nebulous.)

      1. They protest olicy and project alike just fine when they are well organized. Witness both the cyclist harbour bridge and farmer use tax protests.
        Ministerial interference into Aucklands most important cycleway. Colossal Ministerial failure of Auckland light rail. NLTP still being toyed with. COVID screwing investment decisions all over. Poor policy on electrified vehicles.
        I dont know what they are doing right – but we are about as far from being able to imagine more massive projects with a highlighter pen as we can get.

    2. Part of the problem is we have transport ‘professionals’ focused on investigating and delivering some projects, like light rail, but they’re so focused on their narrow project to deliver they don’t look up to see the world around them and the bigger picture – i.e. anything not specially about their project is “out of scope” even though what they do might materially impact Auckland’s other plans. Part of the point of posts like this is to remind people that there’s a bigger picture that needs to be considered.

      1. A unified transport legislation similar to Victoria’s would be a start. We’re surviving with policy patches, legislative clause fixes, and v disaggregated governance. Todd Niall on Stuff today gives an inkling.

  7. What about the possibility of Avondale -> City via Dominion / Sandringham road. Maybe that line could be an all stops line on Dominion while the Mangere line is limited stops to speed it up?

  8. What would be nice is to continue light rail up Dominion, through the Maungakiekie golf course (do we really need two golf courses in Mount Roskill), then up Blockhouse Bay Road (which already mostly has dedicated bus lanes) all the way to Green Bay. That would give decent PT to a big area of Auckland that currently relies on buses and seems largely forgotten about.

  9. Given that the Onehunga to Avondale line is already designated it surely would be a lot faster to get that built than the planned CBD to Mangere line and as such would be a better starting point for the rebirth of light rail (trams) in Auckland.
    One of the problems with the present focus on the CBD/Mangere line is that too many people can’t see the potential for light rail rejuvenating public transport as a whole and given the long time span involved with getting that service up and running that the chances of it being scaled down because of cost overruns etc.
    If instead we put our initial energies in to building what would be a concept testing line like Onehunga (or Penrose or Ellerslie) to Avondale which could be up and running in probably a couple of years rather than more like a decade for the CDB line we could still be working on, at least designing, the CBD and Mangere extensions the acceptance of light rail as a workable option will face far less opposition than simply pushing ahead with the CBD/Mangere line.
    I’d also suggest that with any light rail system we build that we use the same gauge, commonly called the cape gauge, as our heavy rail, not so much to allow line sharing but more to allow the moving of freight by smaller/lighter services over night.

    1. It could do the opposite: demand for that particular journey might be so low that it gets bad publicity. Although if it were to go all the way to Penrose and connect to the Southern Line it could give Mt Roskill and Onehunga a fairly decent rail option much quicker than LR via Dominion will (although that was going to be built before the America’s cup so isn’t it already open?).

      1. I’d start with BRT. It proves the patronage and gets the amenity up and running immediately. LRT would take a decade. It could also allow a connection through the NS busway and up to Constellation.

        Once its proved its worth and capacity issues mean an upgrade to rail, that will just happen as a matter of course. Take the Northern Busway – no one is going to complain about spending money on a conversion to rail given how successful it is. They will just argue about the type of rail and what crossing is needed….

  10. Avondale Station itself is quite constrained for space and I don’t see where you could fit light rail in as well. There is some land next to the curve just north of the station though that is right where they are building the Avondale to New Lynn bike path.

  11. There is a huge amount of cars on state highway 20 there has got to be the potential to move some of it to public transport. My plan is buses from Westgate to Puhinui via the planned motorway interchange bus stops and Onehunga. So build your New Lynn rapid transport to Onehunga. The airport is only 15 mins away from Puhinui and there is rail access to the south. Just need to upgrade the Onehunga line to 15 min frequency.

  12. The concept that that transport network will forever be expanding in whatever guise,needs a major rethink.
    Given the dire predictions from climate change scientists,maybe it’s time to sit up in the peleton,to use a cycling term, and stop trying to charge full steam ahead on the next breakaway.
    I’m firmly of the opinion now ,that enough is enough,there are enough asphalt/railway lines in Auckland now,we just need to work out how to use them efficiently

    1. How anyone could conclude there’s enough rail in Auckland is bewildering, tarmac, certainly. Rail is part of the climate answer, tarmac, as currently used, is the problem.

    2. Agree with your climate analysis. They’ve basically said society has to change completely. We need to focus on the road reallocation most. But there’s still a place for light rail, Bryan. It reduces ongoing resource use to put the PT on rails.

      1. I guess that’s what annoys me most,the flat out refusal to use the asphalt efficiently, and thinking that rails are the answer. Use the asphalt efficiently, then back it up with rails.

        1. Surely it is the magnitude of the change that Auckland has to make that will determine the solutions? Currently car mode share in Auckland is somewhere over 80%. If we have to halve that by 2030, or 2035, that does not look like just doubling or tripling public transport trips. Sure many car trips will have to disappear, or be replaced by walking or biking; but the balance? Vienna with a similar population has achieved car mode share of 26% with 960 million public transport trips per year; hugely different from our current 100 million.
          And EVs? Last night many parts of the North Island ran out of power. When I hear commentators banging on about how we need to be building roads, bridges and schools. don’t we need to be building power generation first?

    3. Big projects like LRT are not for next year, but for 10+ years.

      The NEX is an example, general traffic has stayed static and all new volume has been on public transport.

      There is also the inducement on urban form of rail infrastructure.

      The fastest solution for mode shift = climate action is road reallocation to cycling. Especially eBikes replacing a second car.

      1. Nicholas
        The NEX seems to have held traffic steady going over the bridge, but in other parts it has swelled dramatically by the addition of extra motorway lanes e.g. around Constellation and Albany. It is a disgrace that the bus way extension was not built first.

        1. Yes. I don’t think we should plan or build any more road capacity anywhere in NZ. Until we get transport emissions under control. Transport planning needs to focus on mode shift.

        2. “Yes. I don’t think we should plan or build any more road capacity anywhere in NZ. Until we get transport emissions under control. ”

          I am with you on that one. The greatest certainty in life at the moment is that a 2% emissions reduction target for each of the next two years just won’t cut it – not that it was ever going to cut it.

  13. Matt, on this: “Freight trains, even if electrified, create a lot of noise and vibration and it’s hard to imagine the local communities surrounding the corridor just sitting back quietly and accepting it being built.”

    There’s the resistance to change to manage, yes. But our roads are really noisy and we need to have a proper noise discussion. I can’t see the freight moved by electric rail as being noisier, in total, than all that freight moved by trucks.

    Basically, despite AT coming up with a Freight Strategy, and freight being a key strategic priority in the GPS, I am seeing Zero focus about the really big strategic decisions on redesigning freight logistics for a transformative low carbon and people-friendly city.

    All I’m seeing is safety and modeshift being compromised for freight needs – unnecessarily and in a backwards-looking, BAU bs way.

    1. Sure trucks are noisy but if you’re living in a property that boarders that rail corridor in the area north west of Onehunga they’re probably not currently rumbling past your back window, let alone doing that at 2am.

      1. It’s not just the noise. It’s the crossings. Within Onehunga there are probably 10 residential locations to cross. Grade separated heavy rail crossings would have a major impact on Onehunga.

        1. I live next to an electrified rail line (with Diesel-electric freight) and a busy road with chip seal popular with trucks. The road noise (and fumes!) are orders of magnitude worse! Thankfully, that traffic disappears overnight.

          In Onehunga, ~7/10 of those crossings will be pedestrian only due to the cost of grade separation. Their neighbourhood would become quieter overall – because most of their noise pollution is coming off their local roads.

          Our pollution problems here are mostly acceleration-based: Acceleration is loud and fumey – especially for diesels.

          Overnight trains through the North Auckland line or A-S is dumping on locals. AKL airport had a flight curfew, why not the rail lines?

        2. On a dedicated freight line during waking hours?
          People need to sleep. Alternatively, treat the rail line like a flight path and mitigate the noise.

    2. Agreed. The ‘just send rail freight through at night’ assumption ignores the impacts on people who live near existing tracks (and we want to encourage more people to live along rail corridors) and nighttime track availability for maintenance. While it may be hard to widen the North Auckland Line north of Avondale it’s surely easier to do that than widen it on the isthmus (particularly around the new Mt Eden station). I’m not heavy rail maximist but I think A2S may be needed eventually.

  14. There’s already a new bus route “by 2021” buried on p195 of the current RPTP to run between New Lynn and the airport every 15 mins (peak) and 30 min (off-peak), to be reviewed after light rail is introduced. Whatever happened to that commitment? Most of the other commitments in the RPTP have been honoured, despite Covid. Perhaps the downturn in flying post- Covid has forced a rethink?

    IMO this could be a limited stop service which could be a kind of proto-RTN to create an essential crosstown link between existing RTN lines. I’d rather have this now than wait for a possible future light rail line, wonderful though that would be.

    1. There are 2 current bus routes from Onehunga to New Lynn one a FTN. Neither have great patronage after 2+ years. Maybe the routes or schedule isn’t attractive. Maybe AT need to identify what demand/ route would better suit demand before adding a 3rd route?

  15. This is relevant:
    The Trackless Tram: Is it the Transit and City Shaping Catalyst we have been waiting for?

    The ARRT is truly state of the art – a new invention – this decade.
    Trackless Trams have exactly the same ride as light rail.
    They need no overhead cables or steel tracks and sleepers, which are expensive and disruptive to install.
    The battery power supply is charged at station stops. (Battery technology is constantly improving.)

    In my opinion, heavy rail, invented in 1825 is outdated, expensive and now unsuitable for urban passenger transport. Light rail on rails and with overhead cables will probably go the same way

    1. Either light rail or trackless trams could use the same charging / power technology. So they’re equal from that perspective.
      We want either system to be in a dedicated corridor to separate it from general traffic, so any benefits from mixed running are moot.
      Creating the corridor will require some disruption, at the very least something similar to the protection for a cycleway. But preferably something better than that to improve the streetscape.
      The only advantage here is that we might be able to re-use the current pavement for a while before it comes up for renewal.
      They also say axle weights of 9000 kg which is heavier than any standard vehicle allowed in NZ. The double deckers are allowed similar weights, but they have caused extensive damage and there are a lot of places on symonds street (for example) that were re-paved a year or two ago that are torn to pieces again.
      So if we have to re-pave their track, say generously every 5 years, given how the routes seem to be constructed at the moment, then we’d be better off installing a heavier duty road, maybe concrete. At which point we’ve come full circle and you might as well lay track that would last longer and be easier to renew in the future.
      The stations would be pretty much the same regardless of mode so moot point there.
      I dont really care when things were “invented” but having an enormous body of knowledge collected over time (centuries in this case) is of huge value, any problem you have is something someone has had and solved before.

      I read the paper, I dont see how trackless trams are better.

      1. Reminds me of what Cameron Slater used to go on about on his blog..tearing up the national rail network to provide a separate corridor for autonomous “platooning trucks” to use.


    2. “The Trackless Tram: Is it the Transit and City Shaping Catalyst we
      have been waiting for?”

      Short answer: Hell no.
      Long answer: The trackless tram weighs the same as a tram so it’s going to impose much higher pavement loads than anything current NZ urban streets can cope with. Add to this that the autonomous tracking will mean the wheels follow the same path every single time so there will be extreme wear on the surfacing. A simple way to solve both these problems is to have steel wheels running on steel rails, which also requires less maintenance and is more energy efficient.

      1. I agree overall, but:
        Add to this that the autonomous tracking will mean the wheels follow the same path every single time
        It would be really very easy (relatively) to program it so this didnt happen, totally mitigatable.
        Ports of auckland are doing somthing similar with their autonomous container shuffling things.

        They’ll still demolish pavements unless we built something decent, at which point you’ve ripped up the surface anyway, might as well lay track that would be easier to maintain.

        1. I agree that they could be programmed to vary their tracking slightly each time. However doing so to the extent necessary to mitigate effects on surfacing is going to require quite wide lanes. For example if you have a 2.4m wide vehicle traveling in a 3.6m wide lane then that’s almost an extra cycle lane you could have fitted in. It also won’t work in critical places like at stops (because we want level boarding, right?) and intersections.

        2. I agree. There’s been a lot of negativity expressed in the past toward trackless trams, mostly on the basis (as far as I can see) that it doesn’t ride on rails. I think it’s time we started thinking about it as a large electric bus and get over our prejudices.

          Once again, though, we seem to be getting hung up over mode, while forgetting that from a passenger’s perspective the most important thing is that you can get from A to B with a minimum of hassle. As others have pointed out, the low-hanging fruit is to implement more bus lanes for crosstown services. Then we could see the beginnings of a true RTN network. What we have now is a series of radial RTN routes which are no use at all outside travel to the CBD, Newmarket, etc.

        3. If your lane is going to be 3.6m wide, then what about the old fashioned bendy bus with the old fashined human driver? That already worked 30 years ago.

        4. I remember when they brought in bendy buses into London – promptly got stuck on all the tricky intersections – wedged solidly into the space, caused massive traffic jams, and were then all scrapped. Hideous ungainly horrible things.

          Sooooo much more horrider than a train. Never again.

        5. Yeah same story when I was a student. You probably should not run them on small city streets. Should be fine on a busway though, and Auckland has almost no streets that are this small anyway.

      2. Smaller trackless trams do less damage. The aim is to make them around 1000-2000kg each unit with seating for up to 5 people and have one of the passengers operate the vehicle that way they don’t have to stick to a single route.

        1. Or better still, make them 10-20Kg each unit with seating for 1 or 2 passengers. They only require 2 wheels, and can be 100% pedal-powered or battery-assisted.

        2. At 1500kg you could have a choice of propulsion, petrol combustion, diesel combustion or coal generated electric batteries.

        3. Miffy – are you a proponent of pods? Those supposedly problem solving mini transport systems hanging from a monorail in the sky?

        4. No I am more of a trackless monorail type of guy. It is easier to not build one track rather than not build two.

  16. The great thing about coal generated batteries though is that so many feel good about it; and because they feel good about it, politicians can feel good that they feel good.
    Now unfortunately the rubber has hit the road and a future based on energy intensive EVs at most parts of their life cycle isn’t the complete answer. Just how big a part of that answer they are remains to be seen.

  17. This is a great solution if heavy rail is not planned. Heavy rail would add another loop to the network, increasing efficiency massively (a few German systems at least run like this and there is nothing more efficient than a German train). Forget freight, just as a passenger connection it would be a marvel. Light or heavy, 15 minutes sounds more than justifiable.

    1. Loop lines aren’t actually that efficient, unless they’re completely independent of other lines (which a heavy rail loop in Auckland wouldn’t be.)

      The Circle Line in London was prone to delays (from which it was unable to recover from, due to the lack of termini stations on the line), and would cause delays on the Metropolitan, District, and Hammersmith lines. In 2011 it ceased to be a circle and was rerouted into more of a spiral, which solved those issues.

      I would rather have a crosstown light rail line running every 5 minutes than a heavy rail isthmus loop line running every 15 minutes. Even taking into account transfers it would be quicker.

  18. A quick question to those that know these things – is the station at Puhinui open for transfers to the airport? Or was that flash opening day just for show? Coming up to Auckland and need to plan my trip from the airport.

  19. I dont think this is a good idea. The designation is heavy rail and it could be useful for both passenger and freight.
    Matt L. For your two reasons above against having heavy rail …1.Could you give some numbers as to why you think the western line will be too busy to run freight trains post CRL?. It doesnt seem to stack up to me.
    2. As the a~s is already designated then could people object?. . Genuine question.. Im not sure if people could have some sort of effective legal opposition to stop it.

    If the a~s is built it should be a continuation of the eastern line and then continue into the inner west , through the city and back to the eastern line making an istmus loop. Two big transfer stations at great south rd in westfield and where it connects to the western north of avondale would make a much cleaner and simpler more metro like system. Only 2 lines. One the ithmus loop and one the western line continuing through to the southern line.

    1. On Point 1, hard to see how having 8 minute Western Line frequency to start (post-CRL) and hopefully gradually increasing from there could facilitate slow, long and poorly accelerating freight trains to run in between and thats before you considering them getting through Newmarket etc as well

      1. They already run the odd train through those frequencies on the southern line today. Even if you keep them away from peak times its only a 2 hour peak in the morning and two hours at night you have to avoid. If you take the port of tga metros for example there are about 14 a day( 7up, 7 down) So they come into auckland around 3 hours apart. (Sometimes more sometimes less), it doesnt seem like an issue to have one train arrive before peak subbies and the next one 3 hours later after peak subbies so no issues running a full program like tga port to southdown trains up to Whangerei if ever required. And the other way would be counter peak. Could also run a bunch of trains through the day ex Auckland and have opposite rakes coming down at night. As i said. 8 min frequencies are not prohibitory. And the other 20 hours of the day will have plenty of gaps.

    2. On point 2.
      Absolutely they can object. People can protest and get anything stopped if that is popular enough. Designation be dammed. Nothing is set in stone, its a sovereign country that sets its own laws with politicians that like to have a job.

      The whole point of A-S is freight, so now you would like to run a heap of suburban trains on it?

      I think a proposal like this is much more likely to go ahead for the east west freight issue, if we ever have more demand than the current couple trains a week. It’d probably be cheaper too. A long single track bored tunnel with no stations vs grade separating a couple dozen roads and bulldozing a whole heap of rapidly intensifying suburbia.

      1. That proposal seems like massive overkill to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. The a~s designation is already there. The spans on the bridges along the a~s have already been built to acomodate it. Its at surface level. Freight trains already run through avondale and new lynn on weekdays without issue.
        How on earth could the a~s be more expensive than a tunnel longer than the kamai tunnel with running diesel trains through it with all the related safety and gas expulsion issues like kaimai has.

        And of course using a line for both passenger and freight is better than just one. If we build something then we should get the most use out of it as possible.

        As for the 2nd point. They can protest and complain but that doent mean they have a strong legal case to stop it if its already designated.

        1. “If we build something then we should get the most use out of it as possible.”

          By that logic, arguably a crosstown light rail or light metro is more useful than the ASL heavy rail, because the former would allow for even higher frequencies. Avondale-Southdown heavy rail would be limited to trains every 7.5-10 minutes at peak, according to the ALR studies and AT future service patterns. An independent crosstown light rail or light metro line could run up to every 4 minutes at peak – more than twice as often.

          Not to mention that the ASL designation does not directly serve Onehunga. Light rail/light metro will be able to follow the Southwestern Motorway gradients without issue, thus being cheaper to construct.

          With future growth in suburban train services (ideally up to every 5 minutes at peak), freight trains could very easily be crowded off the double-track Western Line. Triple-tracking would be constrained by development along the line. If there is a dramatic increase in Northland rail freight, a tunnel bypass could very well be justified.

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