This is a guest post by reader Andy B

The best route for a second crossing of the Waitemata Harbour is back on the agenda. This week the government signalled a ‘rethink’ of the pedestrian/cycle bridge and work going into a tunnel crossing of the harbour as part of the whole network approach. Given the subtle, but significant, change in language seen from the government over the last 6 months on a number of projects (particularly City-to-Mangere Light Rail) now is the time to really think about what the purpose of a second crossing should be.

What is the current proposal?

The ‘Potential Future Rapid Transport Network’ map above sets out a high level alignment that connects Albany to the Central City with a Takapuna spur. The 2020 Waka Kotahi NZTA business case is the most recent study in the public domain which GA critiqued in their April 8th blog. GA gave some great analysis of the shortlisted options for rail, which either replicated the busway alignment or tunnelled under one of the widest sections of the harbour. The goal appears to be about getting to Takapuna as the primary priority.

There have been other options looked at over the decades including a direct tunnel to Britomart, a tunnel landing in the Grafton Gully and even options through Devonport.

Changing priorities

The government over the last few months has subtly changed the priorities (at least in their language) for transport projects. The Transport Minister, when announcing the Mangere light rail, included a change in rhetoric which (and I paraphrase) switched from ‘city to airport as fast as possible’ to ‘connecting up the bits along the way’. For Mangere light rail that means a focus on the developments Kāinga Ora and Panuku are working on (11,000 planned homes at Roskill Development, 10,000 planned homes at Mangere Development and Transform Onehunga) and unlocking areas with existing poor transport.

The Establishment Unit for Mangere light rail has been given a wider remit to look at compatibility with future stages. This GA article shed some light on the considerations that the unit has which include all the good things we know and dream of; mode shift, emission reductions, land use & transport integration and the role transport has on responding to enabled growth (up-zoned areas).

To quote the light rail website

Light rail is much more than a transport project

A Better Route

So with all this in mind, I think that we need to rethink rail to the north shore from ‘city to the north as fast as possible’ to ‘connecting up the bits along the way’. Make it much more than a transport project and consider how the route could better connect areas of existing density, enable future growth, catalyse mode shift and actually make some inroads on emissions.
In my view, it simply needs more stations and more catchments. It needs to go to places that people live. It should take a network approach and intersect, rather than replicate, the Northern Busway. Takapuna, Akoranga (Busway), Northcote, Birkenhead, Ponsonby, Freemans Bay and into the Central City (Aotea Square).

This alignment is approximately 11km, 1.5km longer than the Waka Kotahi option, but with seven stations rather than four. Each station has a catchment, an existing critical mass and a zoned capacity for further intensification. The extra stations are possible because the alignment doesn’t have more than half of its corridor under water.

A basemap of Auckland Unitary Plan zones shows the existing rail network, including CRL, and the Northern Busway. A Red line is drawn indicating a 9.5km transport corridor with four stations. Aotea, Wynyard Quarter, Takapuna and Smales Farm. 5km of the corridor is indicated as under water. A yellow line is drawn indicating an 11km transport corridor with seven stations. Aotea, Freemans Bay, Ponsonby, Birkenhead, Northcote, Akoranga and Takapuna. 2.5km of the corridor is indicated as under water.
Proposed Alternative Route (Yellow) versus Waka Kotahi NZTA 2020 Business Case Alignment (Red)

Will it be more expensive? The tunnelling won’t be, but the stations will because stations are expensive components of transport projects and having more stations therefore costs more. But stations are also where people get on; where TOD (Transit Orientated Development) happens and where the most opportunity for low-carbon urban life is created. If we are going to actually create vibrant and sustainable urban centres then tunnelling for 5km under water to get to one centre isn’t effective.

It better enables councils own urban development strategy by linking up more of its ‘development areas’ and proving more stations in the high growth area of the central city fringe. The combined population growth of the three North Shore development areas is forecast to be over 22,000 people by 2048. Servicing this enabled growth with good public transport is vital to their success and likely to see the forecast growth happen quicker.

A yellow line shows the proposed transport corridor overlaid onto the council’s development strategy map. This shows that the stations on the transport corridor align with numerous council areas for strategic development. The Aotea Station is in the city centre. The Freemans Bay and Ponsonby stations are in the City Centre Node Area (which covers Wynyard Quarter, Parnell, Newmarket Newton/Eden Terrace and the eastern half of Ponsonby). Birkenhead, Northcote, Akoranga and Takapuna stations are within areas identified as development areas (there are no other development areas shown on the map north of the harbour). Takapuna is also identified as a metropolitan centre and Birkenhead & Northcote are identified as town centres.
Proposed Alternate Route overlaid onto Auckland Councils Development Strategy

The case for each station

Takapuna – Takapuna is a Metropolitan Centre; it has a skyscraper and a beach. Panuku are leading a ‘Regenerate Takapuna Central’ framework which has some interesting proposals like the 40 Anzac Street car park redevelopment. The councils’ development strategy identifies a further enabled housing capacity (zoned) of 10,430 dwellings. There is a strong case for Takapuna, as all the Waka Kotahi business cases allude to, that it deserves a station on any North Shore rail project and I agree.

Akoranga – Akoranga does not have a great walkable catchment (thanks motorway) but it does provide the interchange into the Northern Busway and good connection to the AUT campus.

Northcote – Northcote is undergoing significant development right now. Kāinga Ora are masterplanning for 1500+ dwellings on their landholdings and Panuku are planning a regeneration of the town centre. There is lots of money going into schools and open space that will make this a high amenity centre. The councils’ development strategy identifies a further enabled housing capacity (zoned) of 7,260 dwellings.

Birkenhead – Birkenhead has a good little cluster of shops and according to the councils 2018 development strategy document ‘Planning is also underway for the redevelopment of the Highbury Shopping Centre, including the addition of apartments above the mall.’ This doesn’t appear to be happening but a station might just be the catalysts needed for it to start. The councils’ development strategy identifies a further enabled housing capacity (zoned) of 9,380 dwellings.

The great advantage of a Birkenhead station would be its ability to feed all of the Beach Haven to Glenfield bus catchment into an interchange, freeing up a significant amount of capacity (both car and bus) on Onewa Road and over the Harbour Bridge.

A yellow line shows the proposed transport corridor overlaid onto the existing North Shore public transport network map. Dashed black lines have been added approximately mid-way between stations to indicate a catchment for each station. Northcote & Akoranga both have small catchments given the proximity of other stations whilst Takapuna & Birkenhead have much larger catchments. The transport network map shows a number of regular buses as thin lines and frequent buses as thicker lines. The graphic suggests that many bus services could terminate at the new stations such as the 2 frequent and 5 regular buses that converge on Birkenhead before heading over the harbour.
A notional public transport catchment plan indicating the benefits of a Birkenhead Station to feed a large section of Glenfield, Birkdale, Beach Haven and Chatswood. Releasing capacity on Onewa Rd and the bridge.

Ponsonby & Freemans Bay – Ponsonby is a destination in of its self. It’s a hub for food, shopping and socialising. It already has a reasonable population density with projects like Vinegar Lane leading the way. Some parts of Ponsonby have quite low zoning but to the north (where I suggest that station goes) there is more MHU (Mixed Housing Urban) and THAB (Terrace and Apartment Buildings). The NPS-UD would also likely see additional up-zoning by default. Freemans Bay has a good cluster of THAB zoning and would be an in-between station similar to Grafton and Parnell.

Both Ponsonby and Freemans Bay enhance the overall central city by providing greater coverage and vibrant, sustainable and car free housing choices. These stations would also help to manage the steep topography changes which can currently limit people with low mobility from accessing parts of the city without a car.

Conclusion

At its most simplistic the alternative alignment joins up more centres within walking distance to a station. It provides a new transport corridor rather than replicating an existing one, freeing up capacity for the Busway to keep on doing its good work. It better fits the emerging goals for major transport projects to shape Auckland for good. Its what’s needed if we have any chance of making the North Shore an economically efficient and sustainable place it needs to become.

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89 comments

  1. I think that if we’re not going to replace the Busway, the 2nd map actually makes the case that the route should really go north from Birkenhead through Glenfid and up to Albany somehow. The alignment proposed only really improves the bus service from Birkenhead, with Northcote already being close to the Busway etc

    1. Or west with a new bridge over from beach haven to whenuapai to provide north shore and upper west pt at the same time killing two birds with one stone.

      1. Ok, well no, the population just isn’t there and we should be building an upper harbour rapid transit line to connect constellation to Westgate that those people should use

        1. “Ok, well no”. Lol. Far out. ….. anyway
          1)i think the population of kumeu and huapai and whenuapai is growing .
          2) a straight line from the upper west to the city actually goes through the western north shore. So its more direct.
          3) providing a second harbour crossing while reducing people wanting to use the north western motorway would be useful.

        2. “The population isn’t there” – there’s definitely more houses going in North West Auckland than there is on the Shore, for a start.

        3. MRB – Sorry, sh*tty language. I just think the better option is that RT line between Albany/Constellation and Westage plugging into existing infra there, rather than dog-legging this line to the West. Clearly the regions there are exploding so these lines (Upper Harbour & NW) should be in the planning stage ASAP

    2. That was what I was thinking when I read this too. If you had that much money to spend then it would be a waste going to Takapuna. Much better to aim straight through the guts of the Shore or even dog-leg it to Birkdale then Glenfield. Takapuna is what it is. A Metro Centre without decent access promoted by some long dead vested interests.

        1. @Hiker

          With improved public transport, it might not necessarily.

          (And that could, in the short-term, be more frequent buses feeding into light rail or busway stations.

      1. “A Metro Centre without decent access”
        What does this mean Miffy? There aren’t enough roads, or the existing ones are not wide enough?

        1. Buslanes from the heart of Albany down to the upper harbour highway at Rosedale (interchange station for future busway) then down through glenfield to Birkenhead, across through Northcote to busway and eventually, second crossing. LRT later, if neccesary.

          You could take it out via Birkdale but then its starting to meander a bit. Looks like direct feeder bus access via Eskdale Rd.

          Interesting idea for a RTN route….

        2. Part of the reason for the motorway alignment was to support a future regional centre by the Northcote interchange. The Takapuna businessmen under Fred Thomas got themselves elected to Takapuna City Council to stop the regional centre to protect their own land values. They came up with an alternative of Albany because that was so far away and in the middle of nowhere they figured it would never happen. The Northcote land is now called AF Thomas Park.
          Takapuna is located away from proper arterial roads and can never have a full network. It will struggle along and be a good place for apartments but never be a true Metro centre.

      2. Agree miffy; why spend a lot of money (and disruption) on the places already near the existing busway when they could probably provide new surface level LR through the middle of Glenfield etc for the same amount meaning the ‘Shore would have two rapid transport corridors. This article is a great thought provoker, we need to think outside the square.

    3. This idea is laughable at best and is a clear example of why journalists shouldn’t be replacing engineers to plan our cities infrastructure. Trains at best can handle a max gradient of 3%. So after a longer than proposed harbour crossing due to the depth of the harbour, you will be needing elevators taller than some of our largest buildings to reach the station in Birkenhead. You don’t have to look far to see the huge difficulties and cost in high gradient routes, (city rail link requiring deep underground stations).

      1. You can get plenty over 3%. Even CRL is 3.5% (from my light google search) and thats on the heavy rail network with standards designed for freight, with the centre trailer car.
        Light rail has plenty of examples at 5%+ and if you go with alternative traction systems like the Vancouver skytrain you can go much higher say 7% to maybe 10% if you so desire.
        https://misc.transport.rail.americas.narkive.com/uFTSwas0/maximum-grades

        I still dont know if its a good idea for this kind of route, and the stations would be probably mined and expensive, But point still stands.
        We also wouldn’t have to build such mega stations, a train / platforms ~ 60 meters long, and corresponding size passenger handling systems would be cheaper than the k-road station.

      2. “This idea is laughable at best and is a clear example of why journalists shouldn’t be replacing engineers to plan our cities infrastructure. Trains at best can handle a max gradient of 3%”

        Any engineer that still believes the myth that rail can’t go over 3% should never be allowed to design anything ever again.

      3. I was shocked to find that the alignment actually could work when I plotted the elevations.

        https://i.imgur.com/K6LneF4.png

        Refer Google Earth plot above with a 3% gradient line at each station. If the gradient could be increased to 3.5% or 4% and some of the stations be built a few m below ground then this could work, considering platforms typically are level and not on a slope/vertical curve.

        1. Yes roeland you’re right, I did 3 degrees which equates to 5.2% gradient – in that case this shows a 5% gradient track wouldn’t work.

  2. Does anyone have access to the necessary data to see roughly what it would look like in cross section. To get minimum station depths on ridge top stations and get under the harbour could be quite a challenge grade wise. All up a seriously good suggestion.

    1. Would it be much deeper than the K’Rd station considering you’d be able to run the tunnel for a couple of Kms uphill from under the harbour before the first station?

      1. Surely just build a bridge. A bridge with only light rail surely could be made attractive enough to overcome any concerns in that regard. I dont get the preference for a tunnel especially if the bridge is further away from the current one like the route proposed above

        1. Light rail running in its own dedicated on-road corridor and on its own bridge would be waaaay cheaper than a tunnel with underground stations. But our political leaders aren’t brave enough to do the radical road space reallocation required. So instead they’ll promise tunnelling projects that are ultimately so expensive they won’t happen.

    2. Here you go.

      https://i.imgur.com/K6LneF4.png

      Google Earth plot above with a 3% gradient line at each station.
      If the gradient could be increased to 3.5% or 4% and some of the stations be built a few m below ground then this could work, considering platforms typically are level and not on a slope/vertical curve.

      1. Correction lines show 3 degrees to the horizontal not 3% grade.
        As it happens 3 degrees is roughly 5.2% grade so I guess the section shows that it wouldn’t work even with a 5% track on the current alignment.

  3. Of course the existing zoned capacity for dwellings would be on the low side of estimates of what these catchments could deliver in terms of housing. We should expect all of the catchments of the new stations to be rezoned with increased housing capacity under the provisions of the NPS-UD, which will probably be carried over to the reformed planning system. This means that a transport scheme like this may be even more viable that you have proposed. Great work!

  4. So I love this proposal (even though I’ve previously advocated for the Grafton Gully to Devonport to Akoranga approach). But, because I’m not coming from the engineering side of things I have to ask the question – Can light rail climb a steep enough grade to get from Ponsonby down under the harbour and then back up to the top of Birkenhead? I didn’t think self propelling rail systems went in for such steep gradients. That’s why Wellington has a cable car.

      1. There was a proposal many years ago to build a harbour crossing/ bridge from Meola Reef (which already extends quite a distance into the harbour) to Birkenhead. I’m no geologist or engineer but it would seem that a great deal of the foundation work may already exist at the Meola Reef end and the bridge could create a secondary route north through Birkenhead and Glenfield. What happened to this proposal?

        1. There’s no such thing as a cheap bridges they are very expensive involves design engineers stuctual engineers geology reports steel work could be in the vicinity of 1600 ton to 2500 ton etc

        2. Bridges are much cheaper than tunnels.

          The Meola Reef idea is not a goer because Meola Reef is just a thin layer of lava above mud. This makes foundations harder than building in mud alone. Consequently, the Meola Reef route is more like an extra-wide crossing – with some of the ‘crossing’ above the reef. And terrible ecologically.

  5. Three lamps is approx 50m above sea water. Glenfield Road / Onewa Road intersection approx 80m. I’m unsure how deep a tunnel would need to be in the harbour. I’d think these could be some tough gradients given the topography of the land, unless the stations are particularly deep.

    I know the map is just indicative of route but I wouldn’t think it possible to go under Chelsea sugar works given how steep that is. Coming up the length of Hinemoa street may be more plausible.

    1. Even under Hinemoa Street you’d have a tough gradient.

      Highbury is at about 80m elevation, at about 1.5km from the ferry terminal. Ask anyone with a bicycle. So you’re climbing about 5% on average.

      Then you have a deep gully between Birkenhead and Northcote (the bottom is almost at sea level) so you’d definitely have to do a bridge over that gully.

      Basically any sort of transport is going to follow the main roads in this area. These are the only sensible routes given the relief, and even on these main roads the average slope of a given piece of road is about 5%.

  6. Like most places in Auckland, those suburbs just need dedicated 24×7 bus lanes, connecting into the Busway which will need to be converted to Light Rail as it reaches capacity, something this plan doesn’t address. Its a very expensive solution that doesn’t address very much other than the hope a few suburbs transform because of i.

    We really need to address the horrific sprawl of the North West and Silverdale / Milldale / Orewa through proper Rapid Transit, not connecting Ponsonby to another beach at Takapuna.

    This option would be nice to have if we ewre on Sandbox mode in Simcity. Nice artcile and idea though, gotta think outside the box.

    1. Second that. Get some frequent crosstown bus routes with priority in and then if they are ever approaching capacity we can consider upgrading.

    2. I agree. And we tie in cycleway highways next to the BRT/LRT that connect to protected cycleways that go through town centres.

  7. This alternative ignores one already high congestion area that would both greatly benefit from being included and would also provide a must needed additional corridor.
    The (missing) Takapuna to Devonport link would enable a quick start to the project by linking with an expanded ferry service and providing an alternative route to Takapuna and then on to Smales Farm Northern Busway.
    Such a light rail line go a long way to reducing congestion on Lake Rd and could be completed and operational a lot quicker than waiting to dig a tunnel or build a new bridge over the harbour.
    The total distance from Devonport wharf through to Smales Farm is about 9km’s.
    Such a route would build on the success of the Northern Busway and be a great way to introduce Light Rail to Auckland along a high congestion road.

    1. The precursor to a light rail line (or more) is a high use, bus route, that needs more capacity that cant be added in other ways. Building something expensive that we hope people will use (where there are viable cheaper alternative solutions) I think is a lot of risk, for not much reward.
      That corridor recently turned down a great set of bus lanes which would have achieved 95% of what the LRT you propose would. Until those bus lanes go in and we see exceptional ridership saturating busses, and a change in zoning / guarantee in change of zoning, then I don’t think that corridor is that important from the perspective of further rail development.

      Ramming in a surface LRT now would take about as much room as the bus lanes would have, with much more disruption, and would go about the same speed. All for a currently low use corridor. We have way better places for LRT and money.

    2. Of course, if we want something in Auckland, we have to give it to the North Shore first.

      Preferably in a gentrified area that won’t be intensifying any time soon for maximum effect.

      1. What the hell are you on about? Rail went to Papakura in 1874. It still hasn’t made it to the North Shore yet.

        1. The Shore got a busway a decade before anyone else and still complains when other parts of Auckland get anything at all. See the pages of sooking in the Herald letters section along the lines of “Won’t do anything for the Shore, why should I pay for it?”.

          The Shore will get Light Rail and I get the feeling it will need it sooner than many realise. But the idea that the Shore is somehow deprived of public transport infrastructure and everything should be either built there first or directly benefit them is entitled garbage.

        2. My issue is that people think it should go direct to Takapuna (or even Devonport) and yet bus and cycle lanes can’t get a look-in.

    3. Lake Road is a very contested space. I can’t see an LRT fitting past the shops or getting any sort of local support.
      If a harbour tunnel was directed at Takapuna, then I think an intermediate station at Bayswater or Stanley Point or similar should be considered. Local buses could then run from this station and reduce the load on Lake Rd.
      However I agree with others that the heart of the North Shore should be the target, via Onewa Rd and Northcote or even further west.

  8. The main concern is what to do North of Takapuna?
    If it’s LM or HR then the route should definitely be completely different to the busway since there is no point simply replicating that in the same spot.
    I personally think the busway is becoming so busy that the disruption from years of construction is going to be too much to simply convert it to LR.

    1. In an ideal world the RTN would go from Taka up the east cost but, it looks problematic and expensive.

      Apparently for those not going south over the bridges, Takapuna is the most popular destination. Dedicated buslanes from Browns Bay down through the bays to Takapuna might take alot of vehicles off the road. Not sure about route though.

  9. Second that. Get some frequent crosstown bus routes with priority in and then if they are ever approaching capacity we can consider upgrading.

  10. Still looks like a massive expensive tunnel project.

    Starting at something like $4b?

    I already made an alternative and I think much more modest suggestion; that proposed active mode bridge for ~$685m (fully gold-plated, but at least costed) could have a southbound PT lane added for ~$1b.

    I am not sure what the ‘$1b extra’ for PT figure included, but if it was just for a single dedicated bus-lane with provision built in for light rail upgrade up the northern busway then south bound traffic could be improved significantly with provision for active modes.

    Looking at the very wide and relatively flat loop of road (Northcote Rd, Lake Rd, Esmond, Taharoto Rd and even Shakespeare if you wanted to loop through the Milford area which has a lot of potential for apartments), you could do a light rail loop above ground saving money, but still connecting Northcote, Takapuna and even Milford, via Smales and Akoranga

    Potentially the route as shown in this post could be reduced and if elevations allowed, still provide a northern link from CBD/Wynyard, via Ponsonby to Birkenhead and maybe onwards to Glenfield or link up with above ground light-rail at Smales or Akoranga

    1. $4b wouldn’t even get you across the harbour. Deep bore tunnel and stations like this will easily be a billion a kilometre.

      Both of those lines are daft to be frank. I get the energy but roundabout metro lines because people cant understand networks is a good way to spend decades of funding to achieve very little.

  11. It’s a great route from an urban intensification perspective but has some limitations:

    – Terminating at Takapuna doesn’t leave a logical path for future line extensions.
    – Would need very deep stations on either side of the harbour. Note the limiting factor here is not the rolling stock (light rail / light metro can handle steeper grades than heavy rail) but the tunnelling. A TBM is going to need a certain amount of cover under the seabed (depends on the ground but likely >10m) and then TBMs generally don’t like grades steeper than 3%. An alternative would be an immersed tunnel in the seabed (that would likely be harder to consent) with mined tunnels either side.

    Limitations aside, what I really like about this idea is that it doesn’t follow the common preconceptions about upgrading the busway to light rail. Sure the busway can be upgraded to light rail relatively easy but we know that’ll involve quite a bit of disruption to services while underway.

    Internationally, cities that have a better handle on rapid transit network development than Auckland often expand their networks by building new lines rather than upgrading existing ones. If the existing lines are nearing capacity then they take the pressure off by duplicating them a few blocks over. This expands the catchment and enables more redevelopment.

    1.  “…what I really like about this idea is that it doesn’t follow the common preconceptions about upgrading the busway to light rail”

      While that will happen eventually, I agree and maybe that thinking is already happening with some of the options being put forward by WK?

      I understand that even a shift to LRT will max out capacity in the near future without a complimentary route. Thats the only reason I can see for Takapuna to be linked direct by rail. But the plans have it terminating at Smales Farm and no extension “to be considered” until after 2048.

      That seems like a missed opportunity and wont help much, although I guess anyone coming from the norhern station to Takapuna can change at Smales farm, with some didect services. I’d personally take it up to he new Rosedale Rd station and allow a change for the UHH.

  12. We need light rail from Orewa/Silverdale at the very least as they are growing rapidly. But agree with the proposed except for Takapuna station

    1. Yvette
      I think that you are absolutely right about not needing the Takapuna Station.
      Takapuna is well served by buses that go either via Esmonde and Anzac picking up many people at many stops. To have light metro with none of those stops is surely a retrograde step.
      I also note that a 500 m walk up for the current Takapuna Station doesn’t catch all of the apartment zoning around Lomond St and neither does it cover the area towards the Amaia. Increasingly we will use PT for trips other than commutes and so options with less frequency and less stops will be unhelpful.

        1. Shambolic would be a fair description. We were told that the plan relied on selling part of the Toka Puia site. That seems to have crumbled as AT /Panuku or whomever have not been able to sell it. Hardly surprising as what residential apartment would want a 6 storey car park next door and there hasn’t been substantial commercial development for the last 12 years at least.
          Now it seems that the plan is to sell the air space above a proposed new library and one assumes another car park.
          For many the “do nothing” approach seems to be then one they prefer, because a Sunday market that operates for about 4 hours is apparently the soul of Takapuna.
          As a footnote, only about half of the medium rise apartments consented in Takapuna proceed because they fail to sell. There is also a group that believes that development beyond three storeys is inherently evil and they protest and contest matters endlessly.

        2. Surely developers should bite the bullet and start banging out more affordable 2 to 3 level Townhouses like the rest of the City. Start there and the population goes up, thus commercial and retail goes up..then apartments will follow when it becomes more desirable. Better than empty lots with failed after failed proposla like Anzac Road is.

      1. Takapuna is 1.3km from Akoranga. At best it deserves a spur line of the busesy or surface light rail. Plenty of potential with beachside amenity and zoning, but hard to see a metro tunnel stacking up.

  13. Hi there! A couple of questions from a non-local person.
    1. Any reason for preference of Freemans Bay over Wynyard? Why not Britomart-Wynyard-Ponsonby-etc.? Wynyard seems to be a major destination worth rapid transit access.
    2. Will the travel times over the suggested connection be significantly better than the ones on the busway? If not, then might it make more sense omit Birkenhead and go straight to Northcote with another interim station on the way at the corner of Onewa/Lake?

    1. Good questions.
      1. I went for Freemans Bay over Wynyard purely for a bigger 800m catchment and to service new areas rather than areas already with some services. Wynyard has some good existing walking routes to Britomart, and would continue to have the Busway stop along Fanshawe St, but a good chunk of a station catchment would be water. Wynyard is also penciled in for the Queen Street light rail.
      2. I haven’t looked at travel times in detail, but would argue for Birkenhead over a Lake/Onewa as it has the existing services (supermarkets, libraries etc.) to support a good TOD.

  14. Birkenhead shops is at 100m elevation. The Waitemata Harbour at that point (it’s the deepest portion in the inner harbour) is -20 m. Tunnelling needs be, what? another 5 m at least if not 10 m under the surface (otherwise it’s Cut & Cover). So a 125+m fall in 1.4 km. That’s 9% at minimum, which well above the 6% or so light rail can manage.

    To get a 6% gradient, you need a fall of only 85 m meaning the station would have to be at least 40 m underground. The K Rd station is only 32 m.

    Given 3 Lamps is 56 m, it seems to me a bridge is what we need here.

    1. If the alignment is underground then so would be the stations. Then you could do what they’re doing at K-road to solve this problem. Longer escalators.

      1. Deep stations are technically feasible but they’re not ideal:

        – More expensive to construct due to deeper excavation and more infrastructure (escalators, lifts, fire safety measures etc.) to install. Potentially larger land footprint needed to accommodate all this.
        – More expensive to operate due to more infrastructure to run and maintain and potentially more staff required.
        – Longer journey times because the time to get in and out of the station becomes significant.

  15. Instead of a tunnel, would a causeway not be more ideal and cheaper, even if you added the cost of moving the sugar works. Is there any other shipping that needs a bridge? Ferry services perhaps, but they would eventually be too slow and of too low capacity to compete with the new line, as electric buses connect Birkenhead Station from Beach Haven.

    1. So anyone traveling from further out on a ferry would just lose access so the Shore can have yet another direct link to the CBD at water-level?

      Give me strength.

    2. Hey that’s what I was thinking of some yrs ago about another harbour crossing. Construct a big wide causeway west of the existing bridge and have a pumping station at sulphar beach with berthing facilities and have a 300mm pipeline to the Chelsea sugar works.

  16. Haven’t seen great ideas posted since the transport blog days.
    Even though projects like this wouldn’t be built in our lifetimes, we are lucky to have the CRL under construction.
    I have been looking at a similar routes to this mainly as a way to fit a 3rd bridge across the harbour that was ether west of the Chelsea sugar wharf so a lower bridge could be built or had a higher landing at each side so a higher bridge could be built.
    My thought was a bridge from point Erin park to Hinemoa park with a station at Birkenhead and continuing north to Glenfield or to Birkdale and eventually reaching hobsonville, but I did find it would not be possible to pass under kauri Glen reserve to Northcote due to its depth and cutting across it wouldn’t go down well ether.
    I have always thought a west north shore rapid transit line will one day be needed as the area is very close to the CBD is of mostly low density not crazy expensive and is not full of character homes so is ripe for development, but it does lack access.

    1. The “built in our lifetimes” part is important.

      And yes this area is full of deep gulleys, so you’ll probably want to follow the main roads which mostly stay on ridgelines.

      1. Hence providing 24/7 bus lanes on the Birkenhead-Takapuna line proposed, but on existing roads. It may one day be its own LRT/BRT shuttle and/or be part of a line starting north of Glenfield.

        Also run bus lanes from Birtkenhead down Onewa Rd to the current/new bridge.

        You get 95% of the benefits just from implementing those.

        1. Yeah, bad choice of words. I just meant it could back and forth between Birkenhead and Takapuna.

  17. Just for information – The top end of Queen Street is a 10% gradient, which trams climbed up and down without too much trouble for 50-odd years, but it was regarded as being at the top end of the scale as far as unaided adhesion goes.

  18. We could call it the half circle line. But I think I like a slightly stretched bike bridge and a light light tramway from Wynard to at least Akoranga and onto Takapuna if possible. Could it run on a viaduct across the mudflats. Leave the busway as is apparently its working.

  19. Andy B
    Very clever because it seems to have a much greater catchment and does more things.
    Although I live in Takapuna and so presumably would benefit from a line to or through there, I just cannot see it being successful. I use the current 82 bus at all times of the day and if a bus at 15 minute frequency has sometimes only 6 people how can light metro be sustainable?
    There seems no reason that Takapuna cannot by “unlocked” by great frequency to Akoranga which opens up travel options both north and south. Yes it require more effort than the current route and it will be hard to overcome a sense of entitlement that there should be one route to everywhere.
    For those of you who want a sense of what that entitlement looks like have a look at local facebook pages. People want bakeries open because they couldn’t contemplate eating supermarket bread. Butcheries are apparently essential. And don’t forget whether liquor shops are making deliveries- although it beats me as to why you would suggest online that you may have a drinking problem.

  20. One thing about this post that is correct is the need to look at different corridors to relieve auckland pinch points. To the north we only have one bridge. To the west only 2 points, a motorway and land bridge through New lynn. To the south the mangere bridge and otahuhu land bridge, and the east the panmure and pakuranga bridges. Its better to try some new corridors rather than trying to squeeze more forms of transport into the same corridors.

    1. I just wouldn’t build any more bridges for cars. Provide the missing rapid transport options across all of those corridors you mention and I think we’ll be fine for decades.

    2. If its another mode it is irrelevant whether its the same corridor as a motorway or a different one. It only matters if it is a good corridor for the mode you are adding.

  21. There’s no such thing as a cheap bridges they are very expensive involves design engineers stuctual engineers geology reports steel work could be in the vicinity of 1600 ton to 2500 ton etc

  22. Not sure why you would want it to go to Takapuna? Takapuna hasn’t been the main centre of the north Shore for decades. Makes more sense to go straight though to Albany.

  23. If they built a proper train link from Westgate to Constellation, Albany and Orewa, we would not need another crossing! One could catch a train from Orewa to Britomart and all the way to Papakura without a second crossing. Later they could add train from Takapuna to Constellation, at first the busway would do.

  24. Takapuna is the main source of demand for the future light railway. Therefore, any plans should focus on serving Takapuna. A second route can be built in the future on the west side of the North Shore.

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