On Friday the government announced their decision on Light Rail.

I should start by pointing out that it’s fantastic the government have agreed to invest so much in public transport in Auckland. At $10.3 billion in today’s value, or $14.6 billion with inflation by the time it is finished, this will easily be the largest single transport project ever attempted in New Zealand. It’s more than double the current biggest, the $4.4 billion City Rail Link. The scale of the investment is something far beyond what I think most would have imagined possible.

So, it’s odd then to feel somewhat disappointed by it all. Thinking about it all over the weekend I think this is primarily for two reasons.

  1. That the government have chosen what we think is the ‘worst of both world’s‘ option of tunnelled light rail, the poor process that led to it and the huge opportunity cost it entails.
  2. Because of the scale of the investment, there is an ongoing concern that this will end up the same way as the Northern Path bridge, with the government cancelling it in a few months/years – or, given how long it will take to get spades in the ground, that a future government will do so.

I’ll cover both of those points later in the post, but first: here’s the actual announcement (and you can watch the whole thing here), which also included a bonus announcement about a future harbour crossing.

Overall, the government have gone with exactly the same tunnelled light rail proposal as outlined in the summary released last year by the Auckland Light Rail team (ALR).

I had wondered if they may have asked for more work to confirm if it should just be a tunnel in the city centre and then surface-running beyond, but they haven’t. Their press release states the following features of the option:

  • 24km route with up to 18 stations or stops from the City Centre to Māngere and the airport, running every five minutes so people can turn up and go.
  • Capable of carrying up to 15,000 passengers per hour at peak, which is four times more passengers than a dedicated busway or trackless trams.
  • Removal of up to 13 car lanes or taking 12,000* cars off the road, which is a great result for local streets, communities and carbon emissions (*average of 1.2 people per car).
  • Integrates with current train and bus hubs and the City Rail Link stations and connections. Light rail can also be extended to the North Shore and North West without having to transfer from one line to the other.
  • Includes safe walking and cycling along the corridor and with connections to all stations.
  • Estimated to bring up to 66,000 new homes by 2051 and open up housing along the corridor in Mt Roskill, Onehunga and Māngere.
  • Creation of up to 97,000 new jobs by 2051.

They’ve also released this video of the route:

A couple of comments about the features and the maps.

  • It is absurd that the ALR team still won’t show the locations of stations, especially as they would have needed to make decisions about this for the modelling in their business case.
  • Capacity of 15,000 passengers an hour might sound like a lot, but it’s not that much for a $15 billion project. Based on a services every five minutes, the actual capacity being discussed is more like 5,000 per per hour.
  • Which 13 car lanes are we taking off the road?
  • Given safe walking and cycling options to stations are promised, can they be delivered now?
  • A lot of the housing estimates seem based on potential densities much higher than Kāinga Ora plan on delivering, or than the private sector are delivering even on sites that allow it next to existing train stations.

    A suggested Sandringham Station
  • ALR have been careful to note that because it’s tunnelled, the route doesn’t have to follow roads. If you look closely at the video above and also if you superimpose the first map over a street map of Auckland, it suggests that between Kingsland and Wesley the route isn’t actually on Sandringham Rd but swings west of it, possibly in order to serve St Lukes mall. This may just be how it’s been represented on the maps though.
  • It’s notable that none of the maps show the existing rail network. If they did, I suspect a lot people would ask why we need so much extra capacity between Kingsland and Aotea. With Kingsland set to become the best connected suburb in the region, how many towers will it be zoned for? The route as shown also leaves a very big hole in rapid transit right through the middle of the isthmus.
  • What on earth is with that alignment at the airport end of the route? That is not how you build a rail line. It’s odd that we’d go to so much expense to tunnel the route through the isthmus only to wiggle around like that at the airport end. Also note, the line seems to stop well short of the terminal. While this may just be a drawing error, it does line up with rumours we’ve heard in the past.
  • At the city end, there is also a somewhat odd wiggle to get from Aotea to Wynyard. This seems to be similar to what was shown in the 2012 City Centre Masterplan, and seems primarily about connecting to a road harbour crossing.

Speaking of a harbour crossing, the announcement also included that the government were bringing decisions on that forward too.

“The Government is also committed to an additional Waitematā Harbour crossing, and has brought forward planning for the crossing to ensure a fully integrated transport network for Auckland. Public consultation on options for the additional Waitematā Harbour crossing will begin this year, with a preferred option selected in 2023.

“To kick the can down the road could either preclude a second crossing from being a possibility in the future, or require what will be established transport infrastructure to be reconstructed meaning additional costs.

“The Northern Busway is growing by 20 percent a year and will run out of capacity in 10-15 years, so new transport options for the future are needed, and the planning must begin now. This decision alongside the City Rail Link means that we can now ensure rapid transit to the North as well as the South, East and West.

It does make some sense to work out where the tunnel needs to go, and the government have been clear that rapid transit will form the basis for it. However, it still remains unclear if it will include lanes for general traffic, even though the most recent analyses show a road crossing would increase congestion and undermine the city’s goals to make the city centre more people-focused. To his credit, Mayor Phil Goff in his speech said another road crossing would be a disaster.

Of course, there’s also the question still to answer of how (or whether) people will be able to walk, bike, scoot, roll etc across the harbour too. We still think a combined PT and active mode bridge would be best (not least because active modes are all about fresh air!) but that’s harder to deliver if rail is already in a tunnel.

A future Māngere Town Centre

A wider view

Stepping back from the detail a bit, I think the wider question here is how we got to this point of being disappointed by a nearly $15 billion PT project. To me, this is in part the result of our broken business case processes that are simply not fit for answering the questions that needed to be answered.

The light rail team’s analysis has shown that there’s value in connecting a wide range of places to transit: the universities, Wesley, Mangere Town Centre, etc. But the business case processes – and the short timeframe to deliver a recommended option – boxed them into thinking that the way to connect them all is with one line zig-zagging all over the city.

To quote Dr. Ian Malcolm, they “were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should“.

Had they known from the start that the government would sign off $15 billion, what kind of surface light rail and busway network, serving a wide part of the region, could have been designed? And how would the benefits of that network stack up against this single-line project?

For example, even at the internationally high cost-per-km surface option the ALR team suggested, with $15 billion they could have delivered another 15km+ of surface light rail. That would be enough to also build the proposed NW line as far as Westgate, or alternatively surface light rail for Dominion Rd, Sandringham Rd as well as for our proposed crosstown route, complete with green tracks.

Put another way, two good lines are better than one great line (and this proposal isn’t a great line to start with).

Green tracks in Barcelona, Spain (left) and Grenoble, France (right)

There is also a need for funding for projects like the Airport to Botany Busway, an Upper Harbour Busway, and a vast amount of local bus improvements – not to mention a need for rapid transit projects in other cities around NZ.

Interestingly, a lot of the justification for the chosen option is about future-proofing for lines to the North Shore and Northwest. But perversely, this solution has possibly done the opposite of that. Previous modelling has suggested that both of those lines could each end up busier than this one, and both lines will almost certainly be fully grade-separated. By taking up the most ideal next city centre tunnel corridor, the proposed plan may lock those other routes into a lower capacity solution and prevent them from being able to run driverless services.

As for the $14.6 billion cost, it is also worth noting that it is just a P50 estimate – meaning there’s a 50% chance the actual cost will end up higher, which is quite likely with the way construction costs have been going up in recent years. Any increase in costs will only increase the chance of the project being scaled back or scrapped altogether, as well as potentially sucking funding away from other beneficial projects across the city.

Emissions criticism

Since the announcement, there has been some criticism that all the concrete and steel needed will see emissions from construction will increase at a time we need them to be going dramatically in the opposite direction (see graph below from the Auckland Light Rail business case).

While I think it is a fair criticism, especially given the surface option would see emissions increase far less (and that we should be highly sceptical of any modelling predicting usage 60 years out), in part this criticism is only possible because the ALR team have done the work to actually assess the emissions.

Assessing emissions is something that just doesn’t tend to happen on other transport business cases, so generally gets completely ignored by media.

For example, we’re now being subjected by media to daily complaints about Transmission Gully not being open. Yet that I can think of, not one is bothered by the lifetime emissions from that project, even though it is expected to result in more driving including people shifting trips from electric trains into their cars.

As you can imagine, we’re going to have quite a bit more coverage of this in the coming days and weeks, including a dive through the now released Indicative Business Case and some ideas we’ve had to improve what’s been proposed.

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  1. I wonder if you superimpose the airport end with the second runway plans whether that makes more sense. Do you also get the feeling that the airport alignment is set up for some future A to B light rail route?

    It seems that the airport end of the route is set up for a station near airport oaks maybe near Landing Drive and potentially having a stop near AirNZ maintenance facility.

    It will be interesting where the 18 stations are exactly

    1. There is no second runway. It crops up every time someone suggests building another airport. That is what all good monopolies do to signal to potential competitors that they will flood the market with supply and undercut the potential competitors revenue. All the monopoly has to do is spend a few million on the notional expansion every few years and they get to keep their monopoly profits a while longer.

        1. It’s incredible that the joined-up terminal building is still not finished (or even started??).

          I remember seeing a big model of their joined-up airport and double runway on the old 3rd floor viewing platform way back in 1994! I had just started high school.

          Yet over a quarter of a century later, they still haven’t done it.

      1. While I agree about the chances of it happening, it would be complete madness for a significant airport not to have plans for a second runway.

        1. With less hub n spoke, more long skinny routes there might end up being less people transiting thru auckland airport.

        2. Heidi.. on the contrary, I expect a substantial increase in aviation in the long run as smaller, more frequent electric planes displace larger conventional planes on short haul routes. Many of our regional routes look like prime candidates. AKL-TRG looks like an early candidate.

        3. TheBigWheel, if the luxury of aviation was something the world could afford, then the people using it would be paying their way. They’re not; they’re imposing their greenhouse gases – multiplied up by the radiative forcing factor – on the climate and on our children’s future.

          The problem we face is that such an abnormally high energy-intensive form of travel has been normalised by the class of people who hold political power. I don’t like using names for concepts generally, but this fits the “elite projection” description so perfectly it’s hard not to.

          Electric regional rail, and ships that move using the energy of the wind are technologies we already have. Let’s use them.

      2. They have already done a lot if the prep work for the 2nd runway (including earthworks), but every time they go to build it something pops up (GFC, COVID). That’s not to say they shouldn’t have built it years ago anyway. The airport is the years leading up to covid was actually facing reasonable congestion for the first time ever… with the resulting increase in emissions from aircraft waiting.
        As for moving the domestic terminal, that is actually going ahead (finally) with work being done during the COVID lull to get that ready.

        It is however insane that this LR is being built around rather than straight in (not hard to cut n cover at the present before the runway is built).
        I would also point out the Mangere dogleg is significant. With all rail, the less corners the better for both speed, comfort and also maintenance.

        1. “with the resulting increase in emissions from aircraft waiting.”

          Ah, the “If we build wider motorways, then cars don’t get stuck in traffic jams – therefore the emissions will go DOWN if we build this!” fallacy has entered the airport room.

        2. Thats because the route is NOT about the airport, but about providing transit to all the intermediate communities like Mangere, Mangere Bridge, alternatives for Onehunga and then onto the near central isthmus. The airport is just an anchor termination.

        3. Damian, that may be true for big airports overseas, but in AKL case the congestion doesn’t actually prevent any flights or result in flight consolidation so it really is a case of congestion there adding to emissions.
          Also, it’s not like a runway is making cycling or walking unsafe or slow etc.

        4. My point is that air travel IS harming the climate, and adding an extra airport runway IS going to add to number of flights, whether in short or long term. Lets come back with such ideas after flights are climate neutral.

        5. @ Damien

          I’m an aircraft engineer at LHR and I can assure you the last thing we need are turboprop or jet aircraft of any size idling at an airport.

          With just the APU idling (the jet engine in the tail that provides Aircon and electrical power) they are emitting more pollutants then most cars do in a month.

          For the health of all, aircraft need to be on stand or lining up to takeoff as quick as possible. Every off-stand aircraft at AKL, LHR, CHC or HLZ is polluting if it is not on ground power.

          Also the second runway was well under way when I worked at AKL in ’06 as was the Air NZ domestic terminal replacement. As NZ is so dependant on tourism, it’s airports and airlines are more effected by pandemics/economic forces then my current (European) employer is so things do stop regularly (see LHR THIRD runway).

          It does seem to be a travesty that the new line is not looping or passing through the airport as is normal practice elsewhere.

        6. Oh yeah, I forgot to add that more runways mean less aircraft holding at low level over cities and countryside.

          That wastes fuel and creates noise and particulate pollution that adversely effects all of us. A quick trip to South East England is all the evidence you need for that with the LHR, STN and LGW stacks everywhere (again).

        7. Why bother comparing LHR to AKL? One is 8 times the size of the other. I cannot remember EVER being in a holding pattern over AKL

        8. @kraut… either you got incredibly lucky, were oblivious, or simply didn’t notice. Holds, slow downs, reroutings happen all the time at AKL.
          On top of that, small and large aircraft don’t mix well (wake turbulence spacing) which causes delays and extra fuel burn.

      3. “There is no second runway. It crops up every time someone suggests building another airport.”

        Sounds very much like light rail. “There is no light rail. It crops up every time Labour goes into an election.”
        And as is the norm. Labour talk it up while National sign the contracts and get work underway. You only have to look at Britomart, Auckland rail electrification, CRL, to see that.

    2. From recent work done on this project, I can confirm the giant kink is indeed to get around the end of the second runway. Would make far more sense to just tunnel under it, regardless of whether it gets built.

      1. Literally it’s just dirt… cut n cover. Shortens the distance significantly therefore reducing the cost… even with potentially more undergrounding.
        The government needs to tell AIAL to suck it up as it’s an essential piece of infrastructure. Really there’s no need for AIAL to object anyway… it’ll cause less disruption.

        1. Agreed. AIAL don’t really want mass transit though, they make too much money out of parking…

        2. Yep, need to use the Council’s leverage before they sell their ownership stake and it becomes a hostile relationship. The contrast between Euro countries where PT to airports is seen as a normal thing compared to anglo countries where they all charge large special fees is not a model we want to follow

        3. @ Kraut prior to Covid LHR was the only airport in the world with free public transport. That has now changed do to the effects of Covid but there are already congestion cameras all around the airport and no one can get in or out in a car for free even if just to drop someone off. There is a massive push to get all users coming in by Tube or the new Elizabeth line when it opens later this year.

      2. There is an acid sulphate soil problem in some areas of the airport. It would add lots of costs to tunnel and dispose of the spoil afterwards. It is technically possible but not cheap.

        1. The main north road in will pass under the 2nd runway, there is no real reason light rail can’t do the same.

        1. On Phase 4 of the northern runway plan they would have rail (and road) under the extended runway but prior to that it skirts around the shorter one. Seems it can be done, they are just putting it off?

        2. Apparently straightforward things done at hundreds of airports around the world are impossible in New Zealand. Usual story.

  2. Albert-Eden Local Board’s Preferred $3.4 billion Light Rail Option Released

    Submitted to Auckland Light Rail on 31 August 2021, the Local Board’s input was approved for release at the Board’s October 2021 meeting however, due to Council IT issues, it has only recently become available as a Minutes Attachment to the 19 October 2021 Meeting on the Agenda and Minutes page on Auckland Council’s website.

    The Albert-Eden Local Board’s preferred option is integrated Light Metro built with low disruption on the CRL – Western Rail Line – SH20/A route open to Three Kings by 2025 and to Mangere and Airport by 2029 (including Huapai to Airport), complemented by Bus Rapid Transit on four isthmus and four motorway routes. The preferred option would meet all of the project objectives, reduce the number of busses in the central city, be carbon neutral by 2026 and provide integrated rapid transit to the Central City, Central Isthmus, Mangere, Airport, Kumeu and Orewa by 2025, with rail to Airport by 2029, at a total cost of $3.4 billion.

    The Ministers of Infrastructure and Transport have announced Cabinet’s selection of light rail / tram in a tunnel from Wynyard Quarter to Kingsland, Sandringham, Wesley and Mt Roskill, then at grade to Mangere and Airport. If built, the option would take until the mid-2030s to construct, involve significant disruption, cost $14.6 billion and would be carbon neutral by 2052. The Airport line is planned to be the first of three lines, Airport, Kumeu and Orewa, to be built by around 2060 at a cost of at least $15 billion per line, at least $45 billion in total.

    The Albert-Eden Local Board input can be downloaded at:

    The appendix to the Albert-Eden Local Board input can be downloaded at:

    A graphic comparing options can be downloaded at:

    1. Interesting stuff. I’m curious about the proposition for rapid electric buses on four of those vital north-south arterials.

      Great to see that AELB adamant that “people should be able to safely walk, cycle and use public transport” and that we should “use the environment in a way that supports the well-being of present generations without compromising the wellbeing of future generations.”

      Also exciting that the board commits to “Working with schools to make it easier and safer for children to get to school on foot and by bike” plus “Street by street review of all road markings and remarking of roads where needed to make the best use of carriageways for driving, parking and cycling”.

      Given all the above, and the understandable preference for keeping disruption to a minimum, can we take it the board is keen on including efficient protected bike/scoot lanes alongside BRT?

      If so, good thinking. That’d be a sensible, fiscally prudent approach in the spirit of “dig once” (or “install paint-and-dividers once”!). Plus speedy climate action and intergenerational kindness.

      1. Thanks for your curiosity Curious Cat.

        On BRT you can have a look at the “Meeting Demand on Arterial Roads” section of the input appendix pages 116 to 151 which includes information about BRT on arterial roads, motorways and other rights of way. BRT operates on arterial roads in various ways in many cities e.g. Jakarta. Whatever the final format for use on arterials, BRT techniques such as high-capacity busses and dedicated stations with level boarding would greatly enhance PT on isthmus arterials.

        The four north-south arterials certainly are precious as there is only four of them, and they are all a narrow 20 metres in width. The comparison with Melbourne’s equivalent of the CC2M corridor in the comparison map is interesting. Melbourne’s arterials are also mainly 20 metres wide, Melbourne has a few more of them than we do, and in its corridor Melbourne has an astonishing seven tram lines(!), three rail lines(!) and is building a fourth rail line!! The fourth rail line will terminate at Melbourne Airport. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iDXosel9qQZ-CoNCRtB6Ij4tGiF0kfKt/view?usp=sharing

        The Local Board does not have an official position on the specific matter of protected or unprotected bike lanes on major arterials at this stage. A position may be adopted through the Connected Communities process; New North Road is the first arterial being addressed. This is a very interesting project that is well worth a look through, including possible arterial road layouts, at https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/connected-communities/new-north-road-and-symonds-street-upgrade/

        1. “The Local Board does not have an official position on the specific matter of protected or unprotected bike lanes on major arterials at this stage.”

          Do you think that is acceptable?

        2. Very strange that the local board’s preferred option is for rapid transit to bypass the local board entirely.

        3. Hi Riccardo. The Albert-Eden Local Board extends from Point Chevalier to Greenlane. The AELB’s preferred option is for integrated Light Metro with the Mt Eden, Kingsland, Morningside, Baldwin Street and Mt Albert stations and the new Owairaka station all within the AELB boundary and the new Wesley station within walking distance of part of the AELB boundary.

          The AELB’s preferred option also features four isthmus BRT routes through the heart of the AELB area, and four motorway BRT routes all of which go through or through run the AELB area.

          The east side of the AELB area has the Greenlane and Remuera rapid transit stations within it, and the Newmarket and Grafton stations within walking distance.


        4. Sorry, the boards preference is for the new line to bypass the area and have only one new rapid transit station in its area… at least you want to keep the existing stations I guess.

        5. The Local Board’s preferred option for the new line goes through the middle of the Local Board’s area stopping at five existing stations. New track for the new line would start in the area, then go through neighbouring Puketapapa. This would bring the number of rapid transit stations in Albert-Eden to eight, with a further three within walking distance.

        6. Uh huh, eight rapid transit stations, of which seven already exist and the one new one right on the edge of the area. Not a lot of value compared to all the other options that add a new line and stations right into the heart of the area.

          I thought board members were supposed to work for their constituents, not fight against their interests to further their own impractical schemes?

        7. Exactly. Eight rapid transit stations within Albert-Eden, a further three within walking distance and two to the south in Puketapapa.

          The two tunneled proposals add stations that provide rapid transit to new areas in Albert-Eden in two only locations; near the corner of Sandringham and Balmoral Roads, and near the Sandringham shops. There would be a third new station near Mt Albert Road but this would be offset by there not being a new station on the other side of New North Road from Pak N Save Mt Albert.

          Imagine the cost, difficulty and disruption of trying to build a light rail interchange station UNDERNEATH the Kingsland Rail Station! It could cost as much as the Aotea Station and would be completely unnecessary because . . . . . . . the Kingsland Station already exists! It will take only minutes to ride from Kingsland to Mt Eden, K-Road and Aotea stations once the CRL is opens in around three years. What possible justification is there for building a subterranean modern tram line and station underneath the Kingsland Station so that passengers can ride to the very same destinations soon to be enabled by the CRL ?!

          It is the role of local board members to work for their constituents by advocating what members consider, in the light of feedback from constituents, to be practical, efficient, realistic, right sized, affordable proposals that will actually be built, not supersized projects that will inevitably be consigned to the dustbin of history.

          $15 billion to $24 billion to create two new rapid transit stations in Albert-Eden is an impractical, unaffordable, unconscionable and unsupportable proposal with an opportunity cost that would deprive Albert-Eden and the rest of the country of necessary mass and rapid transit for many decades.

          In dramatic contrast the plan to extend Auckland’s rail system beside SH20/A from Avondale to Onehunga and the airport has been on the drawing board since the 1940s (to Onehunga) including being in the Auckland Plan 2042 and the Auckland Unitary Plan; it is no accident that Kianga Ora owns so much land within 800 metres of SH20. It is an efficient, affordable ($1.9 billion!) extension of Auckland’s existing rail rapid transit network that adds a needed second line to the west of the CRL to partially balance the four lines to the west of it, and was an integral part of the plan when the $4.4 billion CRL was approved in the first half of the 2010s.

    2. Their preferred “option 5” for $2.6B utilizing the northern half of the Avondale-Southdown line sounds too good to be true. It would certainly leave a lot of money for NW, Botany, North Shore, etc. I would like to hear the governments justification for dismissing it. It certainly sounds more doable, and enables the completion of Avondale-Southdown for freight.

      1. Thanks Anthony. Option 5 is costed at $100 million per kilometre for double track line for Light Rail or Light Metro with stations based on the costing in the SMART report linked to below. As a comparison, recent costs in Australasia for constructing double track light and heavy rail lines with stations includes Canberra Light rail AUD$59 m/km, Perth rail extension AUD$60 m/km and Marsden Point NZ without stations NZD$20 m/km. https://at.govt.nz/media/1927342/draft-smart-indicative-business-case.pdf

        $1.7 billion is allocated for the 17 km from Airport to Onehunga to Western Rail Line, with $0.2 billion allocated to removing the level crossings at Morningside Drive and Woodward Road. The 7 km from Airport to Wiri is costed at $0.7 billion bringing the total to the $2.6 billion you mention which includes Airport to Wiri. $1.9 billion is the estimated cost for Airport to Onehunga to Western Rail Line.

        The Avondale-Southdown line would likely be built with a 3% gradient on the 1,500 metre stretch from the Onehunga lagoon to Bunnings Mt Roskill; in comparison the CRL has a 3.5% gradient in places. Kiwirail would likely prefer a 0.5% gradient tunnel all the way from Onehunga to Avondale, however Kiwirail can make use of a 3% gradient line; it runs coal carrying freight trains up the 3% gradient Otira Tunnel under Arthur’s Pass. Kiwirail would make the level of use for freight they choose to for a Southdown – Avondale line built with a 3% gradient section.

        Building railways and stations at surface level is expensive; building railways and stations underground is ferociously expensive! The proposed 10 km light rail tunnel would likely cost more than $13 billion of the $14.6 billion proposal total, however for most of its length the tunnel would run close to the alignment of the $4.4 billion CRL, Western Rail Line and the rail corridor next to SH20. Assuming the station locations on the comparison graphic, only three new stations (Wynyard, Balmoral Road and Sandringham Shops) would provide rapid transit to areas additional to what would be provided by connecting the 14 km line from the Airport to Mt Roskill to the Western Rail line with 3 km of track at surface level and running light metro trains, similar to those used on the UK’s Tyne-and-Wear Light Metro, on the line through the CRL and to Huapai at a cost of $1.9 billion.

        Auckland Light Rail (ALR) did not give any consideration to the AELB’s preferred option. The closest it got was to give long list consideration to “Heavy Rail” with one only enhanced bus service, on the chosen route, Dominion or Sandringham Road, not Heavy Rail on the SH20/A route complemented by BRT on the four north-south isthmus arterial roads in the corridor.

        ALR’s published some of its thoughts on the Heavy Rail option in a document titled: Heavy Rail Technical Note – September 2021, which is at the link below. Features of the Note and ALR’s assessment of options includes:

        • the Heavy Rail on the SH20/A route option was identified as having a “comparable cost profile” i.e. costing about the same as the Penrose to Onehunga to Airport Heavy Rail option, estimated in the SMART report to cost $2.9 billion.

        • ALR concluded that Heavy Rail in a tunnel under the isthmus or on the SH20/A route DOES deliver “strongly” against the objectives of the project, but DOES NOT deliver “as strongly” against the project objectives as light rail or light metro not integrated with existing rail.

        • Because it decided that it does not deliver “as strongly”, ALR did not include the Heavy Rail option in its short list.

        • ALR did not consider the indicative benefit:cost performance of various options when drawing up its short list; ALR only considered the benefit:cost performance of the three options it chose to be on its short list.

        • The Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) of the Heavy Rail option is estimated to be around 6 based on the cost of the option and the level of benefits being close to that of the non-integrated Light Metro option.

        • Because it wasn’t included on the short list, the $2.9 billion Heavy Rail on the SH20/A route with a BCR of around 6 was not considered by ALR alongside the three short listed options that have price tags / BCRs of: $9.0 billion / 1.1, $14.6 billion / 1.2, $16.3 billion / 1.1.

        The BCR of the $1.9 billion integrated Light Metro option is estimated to be around 9 based on the cost of the option and the level of benefits being close to that of the non-integrated Light Metro option. As above, the integrated Light Metro option was not considered by ALR.

  3. Instead of treating this as one single big project as per the city rail loop, they should focus on doing the project step wise getting each section operational as soon as possible.

    Just build the overground light rail first from Onehunga train station to Auckland airport then trench or elevate a section line under the SW motoway to Puhinui train station replacing the bus service.

    Then build the light rail from Onehunga into Auckland to the point where the current plan will be for it going underground – at that point it can decided if to continue light rail overground or underground.

    But get each major section operational before proceeding with the next.

    1. Agree, it should be built in stages just like every other infrastructure project in NZ has. Maybe this will be announced later in the same way there were multiple projects that made up the Waikato expressway.

      In my view the first stage should be Kingsland to Mt Roskill, followed by an extenstion to Onehunga. By the time they get to Mangere, hopefully they will have realised that staying off-street all the way is the better option.

      1. I would normally agree to start with that section, but I think they have to start building something before National gets back in and the easiest section to design and build is the along the South Western motorway. It would be very hard for National to cancel it once there is some serious building work completed. In fact all National could realistically do is try and decrease the cost which might actually require them to consider surface level!

        1. Nothing will be under construction by 2023 the best we could hope for is a binding contract for a section but that is unlikely either.

  4. Sigh.

    Where does the NW line fit in? Does it diverge after the University station, the Mt Eden one or Kingsland? Does it follow the NW Motorway or go under Ponsonby/Grey Lynn/Westmere. How much capacity can it possibly have if it has to share the CBD route with the Airport line? 10tph out West and 20tph to the Airport are surely the absolute maximum.

    Fun times

    1. On it being LR not LM, I assume the LR vehicles could still be automated through the core tunnels and just need to be manually driven by the time they get to Onehunga/Mangere? Otherwise the capacity surely won’t be sufficient for 2 lines long-term

    2. I think it would be a higher maximum than 20tph. Even crl is planning 24 (each way) after upgraded signalling. But yes, not by much.

  5. Why do thoughtful, well meaning transport ministers like Phil Twyford and Michael Wood keep endorsing such poor decisions. Tunnelled Light Rail is a terrible compromise that combines the high capital costs of tunneling with the high operating costs of trains with drivers. They should commit to either the lower capital cost of surface running light rail, which would free up money for rapid transit projects elsewhere, or to full grade separation to allow driverless light metro. Maybe if they adopted a more direct route through the isthmus instead of detouring to Mt Roskill, they would free up the cash to grade separate the necessary sections through Mangere.

    1. I don’t think running at surface level through Mangere is a cost saving measure, I think it is more a placemaking move. I agree though it is a pointless section of surface level LR that stops the whole thing from being automated.

    2. Don’t focus on drivers. The “cost” of drivers is just having some people have paid jobs, where they aren’t on the dole, and recirculate their wages back into the economy. The societal “cost” of that is (nearly) neutral, really. I am frustrated about how much transport nerds think driverless is something desirable in itself (as opposed to them being able to show much benefit beyond a simplified balance sheet approach).

      1. Driverless enables big service improvements. Automated trains can get closer together so you have have higher frequency.

        It also enables longer hours. You can run the thing at at 10-minute intervals at 3am without caring if each train only has 2 people in it.

        1. How much imported Indonesian coal would need to be burnt to supply the electricity for 10 minute interval trams at 3am with 2 people in it?

        2. ‘How much imported Indonesian coal would need to be burnt to supply the electricity for 10 minute interval trams at 3am with 2 people in it?’

          Wait till you hear about cars!

      2. If you want to keep someone off the dole then employ them as train or station attendants not in a higher skilled position like a driver. Being reliant on drivers will just tie AT to whatever the market is for drivers at the time, which can be quite limiting to operations.

      3. Funny how so many transport ‘progressives’ want to see more people unemployed…??

        Driverless systems will require substantially more initial cap ex, and ongoing maintenance protocols, that humans won’t.

        We should be open to considering options, but not blindly assume Drivers are valueless and expendable.

        1. Its you that is assuming they are useless by insisting we provide them with jobs because they cant do anything else.

        2. Technology has replaced jobs for 100s of years yet our unemployment rates are still in single figures.

          You are right that there are trade-offs but building a network that could mostly be driverless but leaving a small bit that needs drivers makes little sense, we’re taking on the capex without the opex benefits.

      4. I don’t see the difference between:
        1) A make work job that doesn’t need to exist being paid by the government.
        2) Being on the dole.

        People on benefits also recirculate their income back into the economy.

        The real benefit is that transit agencies have no incentive at all to consolidate trains. Running a 6 car train or 2 3 car trains, no difference a when there are no extra staff. AT are already making noises about getting 9 car trains going asap, well before they god forbid, increase frequencies and improve the user experience.

  6. Apart from the connection to the Shore etc, there’s another big reason for tunneling. ALR/Ministers/whatever know that the residents of the area would absolutely lose their minds at the perceived disruption that surface light rail would cause during construction and operation. Remember they all moved to an area near a stadium and now complain about there being a stadium.

  7. Surely the driverless debate would be a moot point by 2050 or whatever the hell it will be before this is operational? Autonomous technology is progressing so quickly that I’d be amazed if people are still driving trains en masse by then, regardless of the type of train.

    1. Automation doesn’t solve spatial requirements though, so yeah… Trains will still be a big part of any transport solution.

  8. I was surprised they didn’t opt for the tunnelled light metro. I mean nobody is going to build any of these schemes- the plan appears to be to claim to support a project that is so expensive that it never gets built (remember the harbour bike bridge). So why not opt for the most expensive project?

    Not building light metro doesn’t cost any more than not building light rail yet surely the benefits of not building light metro are far higher.

    1. Probably they think there’s a lot of mileage to be gained from taking the middle line. It conveys conservative values. Even if it never gets built.

      Of course, Labour shouldn’t be the party wanting to convey conservative values, but that is what we have.

  9. These large scale piecemeal plans seem counterproductive in the extreme.

    F**K IT – Lets just build an ever extending, built and operational section by section, ultra modern underground metro system across Auckland wide.

    Why underground? Because it can provide considerably more reliable and consistent transport service than any overground service.

    Since having an operational underground station in proximity does increase property value, lets also pay for it by putting a levy on property values when they are sold proportional to the difference in value to properties not near a metro station.

    Build out the network following the shoreline Manukau harbour in one big loop, making all that land near the seashore become significantly more valuable as residential estates, new Metrolands. The sale of land which as if levied as above would pay for a considerable chunk of the building Auckland underground network. By limiting building closer to seashore to higher end two story high end houses, It could also encourage owners of inner Auckland large section to sell up to developers who would build more intensified housing. It would also leave plenty of space away from the seashore for intensified housing.

    You could do the same for the western side of the Watamata harbour, more estates more money from levies on the sales of properties.

    Have multiple tunnels & boring machines being built at the same time, the quicker the better.

    As for stations, build them as generic as possible, no ridiculously expensive architectural wonders hogging the transport budgets.

  10. Maybe a silly question, but looking at the map: does this mean Kingsland will be home to a major interchange/ station building, akin to Britomart?

  11. So frustrating. Cars and their massively inefficient use of space, even in a rapidly intensifying context like this, are still untouchable.

    Oh well. Where is the huge bike lane going?

    1. im thinking there will be no one on the new light rail
      We’ll all be happily using the now empty roads for our micromobility ride of choice.
      Cars will be kept at home in garages, petrol/carbon being $10/litre and road user charges scaled to fund transmission gully and some other mega-moneyholes. EV’s will be mr musks robo taxi’s with questionable cleanliness. Yep – bikes, scooters with batteries will be propelling my future – not underground trams.

      1. Absolutely. It’s shame that the decision makers fail to let any land (especially free on street parking) be re allocated to be used by more efficient vehicles. For bike month I need to train and ferry to make it to the office lol.

        The Ecars will be bit players. If MR Musk can’t get his robontl taxi to work in a controlled environment like a tunnel, they are not coming to roads any time soon.

      2. Our 1 car is parked in the driveway 6 days out of 7 (insurance, WOF, service, it’s just abut time to sell it). ebike and good old bicycle leg power are our families mode of transport these days. FYI we live near Kingsland station, and personally don’t much care what way this project falls (Sandringham Rd or Dominion Rd, tunnel or above ground, rushed through in 3 years or doesn’t get built in my lifetime), it’s not something I plan to use.

  12. The government’s main requirement was to give very good PT to the state housing areas in Mt Roskill and Mangere. This is why they have gone with the surface level in Mangere and the Sandringham road diversion. But are they really going to build high enough density in those areas to justify it? Can they build high density state housing without causing social issues? Are they going to stick to the current formula of demolishing 1 and replacing with 3 – which is not at all what I would call high density. If they build the proposed 20,000 houses across those 2 suburbs but demolish 6666 houses to do it, they have only added 13333 houses and spent $15 billion on PT to do so at a cost of $1.25 million per house.

    1. I see the influence of Kainga Ora in the route too – there is a huge chunk of state housing in the Wesley area (and to the west and east as well); and Mangere Town Centre is due for an aspirational masterplan, being at the centre of a lot of planned development in surrounding neighbourhoods. However the 1:3 uplift estimate is probably out of date now. It’s based mostly on replacing 1 old state home with 2-4 of the terraces and duplexes NZ was learning to build pre-2020.
      Now it’s about getting good at small apartment buildings. In places like Wesley, where it’s zoned MHU, they will achieve 1:6 or higher. A station there will also make it easier to get consent for buildings that go beyond the MHU height limit.

      1. Which is not to say I agree with the plan… I’d still prefer light rail along Dominion Road, with good eas-west connections. Then it would be further a catalyst for upzoning/more density in the Dom Road, Balmoral, Mt Eden area. Gentle density over a wider area is better for cities and communities than pockets of high density surrounded by single house suburbs.

    1. The funny thing is that heavy rail for the proposed route (excl Mangere) might actually be cheaper as they could link in at Kingsland or similar and not have to spend money on the city section. This could also balance the rail network with two lines into the city from both sides.

      1. Why not just build from Kingsland to Mt Roskill/Mangere/Airport part first and include tunneling the heavy rail from Morningside to Kingsland to provide separation and easy interchange? Surely that gets all the govt’s listed benefits at a much reduced cost.

      2. For the longest time I assumed that this would just connect at MT Eden and use those tracks into the CBD. Or that people could transfer there.

        1. National will simply just cancel everything and expect all people to use their own cars, just as they always have. They really are the party who has a supreme indifference to the Public Transport arena.

        2. Guy – they are also the party that got the countries biggest ever infrastructure project, the CRL across the line.

        3. I seem to recall that took an awful lot of arm-twisting and subterfuge to get that underway, including some fairly blatant mis-representation over the likely end costs… its up to $4.5 billion at the moment – but what figure did CRL start out at? $2 billion? or was it $1.mumble billion?

        4. Only agreed to pay for half of it though. Something about it not being a road so didnt qualify for full funding….

        5. Yep, they should have covered the whole cost. My point is there isn’t as big a difference between the two main parties on PT and active modes as people like to make out, the both like to prevaricate on PT and happily throw money at roads.

    2. Or even heavy rail from Airport to Avondale along the Avondale Southbound would get a lot of the benefits, perhaps with surface LR along Dominion (or even a centre running bus)

    3. Depends on what one you’re talking about.
      For example 1.6 billion to serve basically no new communities except the airport and take capacity availability off the southern line, wouldn’t exactly be a massive bargin. Especially when you can already do that exact trip mostly congestion free and all electric, and sounds like better station locations.
      Thats quite a price to pay for one seat rides that wouldn’t even be one seat rides for most of the workforce (mangere & A2B corridor)

      1. Herald is saying today that the light rail scheme could be as much as $24billion. The lower cost is just a rough estimate.

  13. Real issue in NZ is that we never get anything right – that is a big problem.

    The politicians or government should not be using transportation issue to woo the voters.

    1. Well, we do have a long record of always undersizing things – harbour bridge too narrow from day one, railway main line so skinny it can never go fast, numerous one-way bridges all over the country – we’re a small population country, and we seem to like those small population ideas. Hence the growing pangs as Auckland transforms from a slug into a butterfly. We’re in the cocoon stage at the moment… so no wonder it looks ugly !

      1. Yes but we actually did build the harbour bridge, and the narrow gauge rail network, and various one way bridges. Ok harbour bridge was doubled after a decade, but it was doubled. Narrow rail might not be the best but it let them build it to almost every town in the country.

        We have a long history of not building oversized things we can’t afford. There are three major harbour bridge plans before the current one that never went anywhere, half a dozen oversized CRL schemes etc.

        History tells us that supersizing a project consigns it to the dustbin of history.

        1. Totally agree Riccardo.

          The Harbour Bridge was built in a decade of post war austerity, but the pier foundations and piers were so well built that their lifespan is assessed by Waka Kotahi to be “indefinite”. The three structures that currently sit on the piers can be completely replaced, while maintaining traffic flow. The piers built in the 1950s will serve Auckland well for as long as people live in Auckland.

          3’6’’ gauge railways are perfectly functional as the billions of riders a year on them in Japan clearly demonstrates.

  14. I don’t think it’ll ever get built. There’s going to be huge arguments about the cost and it being far too Auckland-centric to spend so much money. There’ll be lots of analysis and after a lot of bruising, the government will pull the plan back, effectively canceling light rail for at least another 5 years as being way too expensive.

  15. I would like to see the ALR team and Michael Wood join these discussions. The plans won’t be set in stone yet.
    They should be happy to explain the issues.
    They must be aware that the project might not go ahead mainly because of the high cost and make some changes.

  16. If I may take an even “wider view”, given that this will (at least to a large extent) be financed by government, the question needs to be asked about the opportunity cost for nationwide public transport. For example, Christchurch has neither got rapid transit, nor it there any serious discussion going on about rapid transit. If government bleeds itself dry with one glamour project in Auckland, what are the chances that Christchurch will ever even see rapid transit in the next decade?
    This really is a poor decision by cabinet.

    1. There has been serious discussion on urban public transport for the last 30-40 years in Wellington, and we’re no closer to a solution either. Certainly hope that this solution for Auckland does not take away from Wellington’s possible / probable solution ! Results from the latest round of consultation are due back “soon”.

      1. And if they had gone with surface rail, one of the goals should surely have been to build local experience in implementing light rail and, as well as assisting public and official understanding of the planning changes it involves. This would have benefited other projects and other cities.

        As it is, there’s no point learning much about tunneled light rail as we won’t be able to afford any more lines.

    2. Opportunity cost, you’ve hit the nail on the head. If $15 billion is on the table for transport, is this the best we could come up with? As Matt says, I’d rather have two to three good projects than one great one (and its not that great). All the labour junkies seem to think money grows on trees, and that we’ll stump up with another $15 billion for the north western light rail, LGWM light rail, Christchurch light rail etc. What will actually happen, if anything happens at all, is we’ll blow our money on this one Auckland ALR project and kick the other ones well into the future. Disappointed but not surprised.

  17. My main problem is I don’t see any logic in the route ether.
    Like running parallel with the western line for some distance.
    If it was alongside the western line at grade it would make sense but it will be in a tunnel.
    And I’m trying to ignore the fact that this is a tunnel for a tram train which it Will only be used as a tram train for 2 or 3 stops in Mangere.
    This will look very stupid if this does become the western and northshore line. So all these underground stations will be built with low platforms, bear in mind it is common to have tunnels through city centres for tram trains overseas but these are built to extend the capacity of an existing tram network.

  18. My colleague Will McKenzie draws attention to the Albert-Eden Local Board submission on Light Rail, which is largely based on his rather odd suggestion to avoid all disruption along Dominion Road by going completely around our ward except where using the existing western rail line and stations. Our Board was divided down the middle on this issue with four in favour but four against with the chair breaking the impasse by using her casting vote in support. So hardly unanimous. Will’s suggestion of directing Light Rail through the CRL and along the Western Line as far as Pak ‘N Save (2 km SW of the Mount Albert Station) then following SH20/SH20a to the airport had no support from any other quarter and was rejected by the Light Rail Establishment Unit.

    1. Useful to hear, Graeme. Can you kindly clarify where the board stands on the matter of micromobility lanes on those critical N-S arterials? And the W-E ones while we’re at it.

      While we wait for massive longterm rapid transit projects to get warmed up, there’s a desperate need right now for safe routes for bikes, scooters, and all the other nimble modes, all across the middle of the isthmus. A united Local Board could really lead the way on this.

    2. Far from being the suggestion of one local board member in the early 2020s made to try to avoid disruption on Dominion Road, the plan to use the existing Western Rail Line and stations to Mt Albert, then beside SH20/A to Onehunga has been on Auckland’s official drawing board since the 1940s, and to the airport once it was up and running. The case made in the early 2010s for building the CRL included the building of the SH20/A line to the airport and the line is embedded in the Auckland Unitary Plan through land use zoning and other instruments. See planning maps from the 1940s on via this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1H0ypkp9-sZumY8V5j_M0uaIbeOPlhm_g/view?usp=sharing

      Fortunately for the Albert-Eden-Puketapapa ward, the long-planned line has nine stations within it (six in Albert-Eden and three in Puketapapa); existing stations at Mt Eden, Kingsland, Morningside, Baldwin Street and Mt Albert and new stations at Owairaka, Wesley, Mt Roskill and Three Kings. In addition, the east side of ward has the Greenlane and Remuera rail stations within it, and the Newmarket and Grafton stations within walking distance. https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/about-auckland-council/how-auckland-council-works/governing-body-wards-committees/wards/all-wards/Documents/albert-eden-puketapapa-ward-map.pdf

      1. Will – presume you are aware that the central Isthmus locales of St Lukes, Balmoral, Mt Eden, and Epsom are far removed (greater than 10 minutes walking distance) from any of the heavy rail services?

        Presume you are also aware that the Isthmus arterial bus routes, particularly the 25 Dominion Rd and 27 Mt Eden Rd routes, have had a history of being overcrowded and unable to pick up passengers halfway through their routes – even with 2-minute frequencies and double-decker buses!

        While a crosstown mass transit corridor via the Avondale-Onehunga designation should definitely be considered (my preference, though, is a separate light rail or light metro system from Pt Chev to Howick via Avondale, Onehunga, Penrose, Pakuranga) it would not effectively serve the middle Isthmus nor would it enable intensification beyond the limited focus of Kainga Ora developments in Wesley & Mt Roskill.

        Thus there is a very strong argument for rail-based mass transit (LRT or LM) along at least one of the Isthmus arterials (Sandringham Rd, Dominion Rd, Mt Eden Rd, Manukau Rd). This would at least triple the capacity of the present bus service, as well as enable 6+ storey development as enabled under the NPS-UD. That level of intensification along just Dominion Rd would create in excess of 15,000 apartment dwellings within easy reach of mass transit.

    3. There is strong and growing support from many quarters to build the long-planned SH20/A line and complete Auckland’s rail network this decade. The motorway network was completed last decade with the construction of the Waterview tunnel; this decade it’s the rail network’s turn. The SH20/A line to the airport can be built for around $1.9 billion if the Onehunga – Airport sector is designed for Light Metro trains, similar to those used on the UK’s Tyne-and-Wear Light Metro that can operate on existing tracks including the CRL, have high passenger capacity and can turn sharp curves and go up and down steep inclines. This would allow the line to easily divert through the Mangere Town Centre and go through the Airport on elevated tracks to a terminus pointing in the direction of the next sector, to Wiri, and go under the location of the planned 2nd runway in a short tunnel with steep access and egress tracks. https://www.nexus.org.uk/metrofutures

      The Onehunga – Airport sector could be built with gentle inclines and wide curves to accommodate Auckland’s existing electric passenger trains and freight trains, however this would cost an additional billion dollars, possibly much more, and would result in an alignment that has stations in less convenient and therefore less used locations. As new rolling stock would be needed and there is no particular need to run existing freight trains to the Airport, the integrated Light Metro option is attractive.

      Auckland Light Rail, erroneously, did not consider the Light Metro integrated with Auckland existing rail network option, but did consider the integrated Heavy Rail option on the SH20/A route. ALR’s published some of its thoughts on the Heavy Rail option in a document titled: Heavy Rail Technical Note – September 2021, which is at the link: https://www.lightrail.co.nz/light-rail/resources/

      1. Will – what you are describing is essentially, in operational terms, merely extending the heavy rail network – which would require complex junctions at Avondale, Onehunga & Penrose, limit train frequencies to no higher than today’s 6TPH on each line, and run the risk of shutting down the *whole* rail network should an incident occur at a key choke point.

        Auckland’s heavy rail network is arguably already complete (or, more accurately, will be once the CRL is completed). There is no need to create new branches; that will only reduce frequencies to outer stations like Swanson & Pukekohe. What the heavy rail system should be focusing on post-CRL is sending trains every 5 minutes to Swanson, to Pukekohe, & to Manukau.

        I believe the point has been made by Greater Auckland & other transit experts & activists many times – separate rail systems are a good thing. They enable higher frequencies and they build redundancy into the RTN.

        I support a new standalone light rail or light metro system, because it will enable 3-5 minute frequencies on new routings through the Isthmus, to the Southwest, Northwest, North Shore, and East Auckland. By thinking outside of the restricted box of “sticking to heavy rail corridors only”, so much more potential for redevelopment and regeneration is unlocked.

    4. Features of the Note and ALR’s assessment of the Heavy Rail option are detailed in a previous comment. If it had been included as the fourth option on the short list, Heavy Rail would almost certainly have been chosen by Cabinet due to its low construction time, low cost of around $2.9 billion and high BCR of around 6 compared to the three other options that have price tags / BCRs of: $9.0 billion / 1.1, $14.6 billion / 1.2, $16.3 billion / 1.1.

      The BCR of the $1.9 billion integrated Light Metro option is around 9 based on the cost of the option and the level of benefits being close to that of the non-integrated Light Metro option.

      What support there was for the announced $14.6 billion to $24 billion (according to today’s NZ Herald) Cabinet endorsed option appears to be diminishing by the day. The flaws that many people are pointing out, including in comments to this post, include the extraordinary cost and the fact that for most of its length the $13 billion plus isthmus tunnel runs close to the alignment of the CRL, Western Rail Line and SH20 rail corridor. For the tunnel’s great cost, disruption and delay only three new stations, Wynyard, Balmoral Road and Sandringham shops would provide rapid transit to areas additional to what would be provided by connecting the 14 km line from the Airport to Mt Roskill to the Western Rail line with 3 km of track at surface level. There would be a fourth underground station in new territory in the vicinity of the corner of Sandringham and Mt Albert Roads, but this would be offset by there not being a new station at Owairaka as there would be if the SH20/A line were built.

      It’s great to be having this discussion. Time will tell what the eventual outcome will be.

      1. Will – it appears you have cherry-picked a low-cost estimate for your “integrated light metro” preferred option; which creates biased and inaccurate comparisons with ALR’s admittedly inexplicably high costings.

        It also refuses to acknowledge the benefits of enabling development directly in areas such as Balmoral & Epsom, through direct service via light rail or light metro.

        Surface light rail should cost $30-150 million NZD per km, based on overseas networks. A ~22km CC2M route via Dominion Rd should therefore cost between $0.7 and $3.3 billion.

        Elevated or underground light metro should cost $150-400 million NZD per km, based on overseas networks. A ~22km CC2M route via Dominion Rd should therefore cost between $3.3 and $8.8 billion.

        A Manukau Rd light metro route would be ~19km (costing $2.9-$7.6 billion.) The $0.4-0.8 billion saved from this routing would be enough to cover tram-spec light rail ($25-50 million per km) on both Sandringham Rd & Dominion Rd (15km of street-running rail).

        A crosstown light rail or light metro line from Pt Chev via Onehunga to Howick would cost around $0.8-3.8 billion for LRT or $3.8-6 billion for light metro.

        All in all, for the $15 billion cost of overcosted “tunnelled light rail” Auckland should be getting:
        1. Driverless light metro City to Mangere via Manukau Rd
        2. Modern tram light rail on Sandringham Rd & Dominion Rd
        3. Crosstown light rail or light metro Pt Chev to Howick via Onehunga

        Yes, still admittedly more expensive than your proposal – but so, so much more beneficial.

        – Directly replacing buses on Sandringham Rd & Dominion Rd
        – Supplementing buses on Manukau Rd
        – Fastest possible trip from city centre to Mangere (25 minutes)
        – More than halving bus congestion in the city centre
        – Greatly increased reliability on New North Rd, Mt Eden Rd, Remuera Rd etc. bus routes.
        – Tens of thousands of new dwellings created by 6+ storey intensification in new parts of the city, thanks to the NPS-UD overruling the Unitary Plan.
        – Heavy rail system optimized with higher frequencies to Swanson, Pukekohe, & Manukau only.
        – All-day frequencies of every 5 minutes possible on all parts of Auckland’s RTN.

  19. “Capable of carrying up to 15,000 passengers per hour at peak, which is four times more passengers than a dedicated busway or trackless trams.”

    Brisbane South East Busway Capacity
    In peak hour, 294 buses per hour (1 every 12 seconds) passed the busway network’s busiest point (a section of the South East Busway north of Woolloongabba station) in 2007, a number estimated to be approaching the busway’s absolute maximum vehicle capacity using the current bus fleet. Given the maximum capacity of a majority of Transport for Brisbane buses is 62, any point along the busway network has a maximum theoretical passenger capacity of approximately 18,228 passengers per hour, since the entire network is built to the same specifications as the Woolloongabba stretch.

    1. Yes, I’m also really curious about your figures Matt. You say in your post that “Capacity of 15,000 passengers an hour might sound like a lot, but it’s not that much for a $15 billion project. Based on a services every five minutes, the actual capacity being discussed is more like 5,000 per per hour.”

      Seeing as the capacity of any train schedule is more likely to err on the side of every 10 minutes rather than every 5 minutes, and will certainly never get to every 2 minutes, why do you say 5,000ph instead of 15,000ph? Are you saying that the Gov has got this – the most basic of questions to be asked / answered – have they got this wrong?

      1. Hmmm. 5,000 people on trains every 5 minutes = 416 people per train (139 people per car, assuming a 3 car train).

        While 15,000 people would = 1250 people per train at 5 mins intervals.
        I don’t think 416 people in a single car could ever be true…

      2. Once the freight main has been built, 2 minute headways are entirely achievable, especially when ETMS2 has been installed

      3. I’ll delve into this in more detail in the post I do on the IBC but short version, the initial plan is for 66m LR vehicles holding about 420 people per vehicle. At 5 minute frequencies that’s 5,040 passengers an hour.

        To get to the level of 15k suggested requires longer vehicles (they say up to 80m) running every 2 minutes through the tunnel.
        But if this is also serving the NW then half of those vehicles will go that way too

        1. Surely the only reason that 66 – 80m vehicles are being suggested is the on street section through Mangere. If so this section is putting a significant capacity constraint on the rest of the network.

        2. I would’ve thought the NW wouldn’t share the same line? Seems to be more sensible to keep them split, and have the NW line to follow the motorway and terminate at Mercury Lane at inception (just as cost wise the most expensive bit is under the city). Sharing tracks is just halving the frequency for no real gains.

          For Crosstown transfers people likely would’ve transfered earlier, and even switching to the Western line, there are frequent buses between the two lines in multiple locations (Bond St, Carrington Rd and Lincoln Rd).

          The two lines don’t even need to be the same mode, as there is a difference between a surface/elevated line, and the best mode for that, vs a mostly tunneled line.

    2. Agree. Even our Northern Busway, which is well short of its highest capacity, has done 6,800 passengers per hour one way.

      1. The Minister of Transport has officially said
        “•Capable of carrying up to 15,000 passengers per hour at peak, which is four times more passengers than a dedicated busway or trackless trams.”
        Finding one case of 4,000 per hour for a dedicated busway makes Michael Woods statement incorrect. The Northern Busway has done 6,800, Brisbane 15,000+ and Guangzhou 26,000 per hour.

        1. “dedicated busway” could be interpreted to be an at grade and single lane each way the whole way including at stations, eg just the surface LR corridor but buses instead.

          Which would nuke the capacity a lot compared to any of your examples listed.

          Those super busways from overseas (usually) have bypass lanes at the stations, like the northern busway does so that the capacity is increased a lot with express services not taking up room at stations.

        2. I imagine none of those busways are sharing a road the width of Dominion Road with 2 other vehicle lanes, foot traffic and lots of traffic lights.

        3. London’s Victoria line carries around 50,000 pass per hour per direction, 36 trains per hour per direction. A good LR should manage 20,000 pass/hour/direction.

      2. No, that’s not correct. Woolloongabba Busway Station is 4 lanes wide (each way one for stopping buses and one for passing express & NIS buses) plus platforms. Yes this is wider than a rail station but then trains have to stop at every station while the busway runs some limit stop express buses and also so slower buses do not hold up faster ones at the station.
        But the busway itself is still just 2 lanes wide (one each way obviously): https://goo.gl/maps/3zXU75fuvfVL2hzm9

        1. OK but to run this capacity do you still need essentially 6 lanes every stop? 2 each way plus platforms. In other words that’s all Dominion or Sandringham road would be. Which might be fine!

        2. The immediate answer is BRT, with electric buses, can operate in tunnels too 😉
          But to spell out my key point, it is clear with this statement that Bus Rapid Transit has been eliminated as an option for Auckland due to the false assessment of its potential capacity by The Light Rail Group. They refuse to provide any of the supporting analysis that justifies this conclusion so we don’t know if this lie is due to professional bias or political interference.
          We do know they claim BRT cannot support 15,000 pass/hour when the Brisbane SE Busway has been just doing this for over a decade. Hell, the fact that this project is being led by the “Light Rail Group” only highlights how this has just been an exercise in justifying why Auckland needs to build light rail.

        3. @Wellington Commuter – regardless of the ALR group’s position & methods, I do think it is accurate to say that light rail or metro has higher capacity than bus rapid transit.

          Bi-articulated buses tend to have max capacities of 200 passengers (4 persons per m2 standing). 90-120m long light rail sets running on-street in Los Angeles & Seattle carry 600-800 passengers, and a 6-car light metro would be able to carry up to 1000 passengers.

          BRT can achieve 30 second headways, however these often seem unweildy, unreliable, and prone to disruption in Brisbane & Bogota. With 200pax buses this gives a capacity of 24,000p/h/d.

          LRT can achieve 2 minute headways; with 800pax LRVs this gives a capacity of 24,000p/h/d. The same as maxed out BRT, but with more manageable headways that can be accommodated on typical street medians with less need for extensive engineering.

          Light metro can achieve 90 second headways; with 6-car 1000pax trains this gives a capacity of 40,000p/h/d.

          Also key to remember is that although BRT is ‘capable’ of such high frequencies and capacity, it may not be the case when implemented in a certain city. It may not be possible, for example, to build 4-lane busway infrastructure to make 30-second headways possible. It may not be possible to run bi-articulated buses for whatever reason. And as mentioned before, the high frequencies are a potential point of failure; any disruption would set of a chain reaction of delays all across the BRT line. With the wider spaced headways of rail (particularly automated light metro) it is easier to make up lost time without affecting the following services.

  20. There was a good twitter conversation by Matthew Beardsworth over the weekend.


    I personally liked the idea of two initial lines:

    * A surface light rail on Dominion Rd to Mt Albert Rd.
    * A Light Metro from Airport to Newmarket Stn via Mangere.

    You could build both of these for 15 billion and they would setup lots of additional projects that could be built as needed (ie the Light Metoc could be exteneded to Aotea and then to the Shore). See Matthew’s maps

    1. The problem with that proposal is the reason why we are in this predicament in the first place; construction at street level on Dom Rd is apparently not tolerable.

      1. Exactly. Hence several billions are wasted on expensive alternatives. Meanwhile other cities around the world built these all the time. I wonder how they manage it.

      2. Which is pretty crazy for a handful of average restaurants and random shops.
        Would be cheaper to give them $1m each to bugger off somewhere else during construction. That said I do agree that Dom Rd is too narrow (unless they completely removed parking which is likely untenable).

  21. Work should start between Onehunga and Mangere as soon as possible. Build a new bridge across the harbour and a transfer station at Onehunga rail station. Use the wharf on the Onehunga side as storage for the light rail units there is already a gate and the site is secure and belongs to the council property company. Then we can argue for the next 50 years about the rest of it.

  22. Labour’s transport plans are an utter shambles. In Wellington they are suggesting a bus tunnel under Mt Vic 3 times longer than the current traffic tunnel. No-one knows why they have chosen that route. Meanwhile, simple things that would bring immediate benefit to people such as free or cheap off peak PT for CSC holders and under 25s are languishing.

    1. Conor, its not hard to figure that out. The current route lands the tunnel in the near edge of the Haitaitai park, when their destination of choice is the far end of the park. Seeing as the Wellington Town Belt Act prohibits the taking of any land from the Town Belt, its a pretty obvious decision to build it to join up in a way that avoids the park altogether…

      1. Guy, noone uses that strip of Park. Hanging out next to SH1 is not that popular. They have an absolute majority. They can change the Act. Fundamentally Labour doesn’t want to do anything that will disrupt anybody at all, even the 4 desperate picnics who once yearly chose this spot.

  23. True, the next election is creeping up. Weren’t they going to build the whole thing in the first 3 years. Now you are saying it is at least 6 years until start? A bit sad really…

  24. What is not realised is just how easy it is to tunnel under Auckland, and just how good we are getting at it. Auckland sits on a layer of sandstone and mudstone, and tunnelling machines can slice through it like a hot knife through butter. One of the machines on the Central Interceptor project from Mangere to Western Springs is pushing along at 15 metres a day. That’s probably quicker than the time it would take to do a surface job. Handling that soft, sloppy, mucky stuff once it is transported to the surface is another matter.

    1. Well my pet idea from nowhereville is building the new harbourside stadium on reclaimed land between Traherne and Pollen Islands (the view back to the city is spectacular, and having a stadium stop as a condition on construction could be used as a stimulus to build light rail to Kumeu) so you could use it as infill for that…

      1. Why does the view back to the city matter? None of the seats in a stadium face outwards, they all look inwards, you know, where the game is. Simply because it looks good in a high up helicopter shot in pre-game footage?

        Plus destroying a marine reserve and major migratory bird nesting ground.

    2. EvanJ – isn’t Auckland built on 50 Volcanoes, and so isn’t the ground actually full of scoria, basalt, dried lava etc? Is it really all just mud and sand?

      1. The lava flows sit on top of the mud, its just a matter of surveying a route around the volcanic cores, which our engineers are getting very good at.

  25. This decision says a lot about contemporary transport politics in Auckland.

    It seems to me that this scheme is about the politics of getting anything done. By going for the 15 billion tunneled option the Government has made everyone happy.

    1- The contractors building the CRL are happy because their tunneling teams have just secured jobs for life or at least the next twenty years, seguing from the CRL to building this then onto the sub-surface harbour crossing with the inevitable undergrounding to Takapuna.

    2 – The pro-public transport people are happy something is being built – Simon Wilson grumbling it isn’t the best but something had to be done and this is something so let’s do it being the best example of that.

    3 – The Dominion Road retailers are happy, since the spectre of having their businesses destroyed like the poor buggers downtown has vanished.

    4 – The council is happy, because they don’t have to pay for any of it anyway (see 2 above)

    And of course the government is happy, since they finally have some runs on the board and they’ve defanged all the main opposition groups outside of old farts like Richard Prebble and Don Brash ranting in the Herald about 19th Century technology and driverless cars.

    National will of course scrap it. They oppose it because they oppose everything, seem totally captured by the roading lobby and anyway they’ve not quite made it into the 21st century on anything yet.

  26. Whatever ever is proposed, needs to be completely integrated unti the transport scheme from Orewa, (minimum) to Hamilton, and can be a mixture of existing and proposed systems, allowing a passenger and luggage to travel from home to airport, city, hospital, with out using a car, if possible. Could include car parking hubs for those outside Auckland.

      1. Yes, seems lacking in aspiration to me.

        Why not the most expensive road in the world, and a generous subsidy to the trucking industry at that, as a solution for inner city congestion?

        Go big or go home, I say.

  27. The big question is how will the western line link into this system?
    It looks like it will link into the line around Kingsland so if each line has a maximum frequently of 5 minutes then the future western line and this airport line will be stuck at 10 minute frequently.
    Not to mention this large area just north of Kingsland on the other side of the motorway, grey lynn
    Yes it’s a wealthy suburb full of villas but still plenty opportunity for density,

  28. I have been looking at a large area known as city works depot at 90 Wellesley Street which is a big under developed site that will be a great location for TBM launching or mining operations centre for the tunnel under Wellesley and a good location on the side of a hill to transfer from the Wellesley underground section to an over ground section joining sh1 over Vic Park with a station and then starting the climb over the harbour for the north shore.
    I also think the western line could be launched from here also passing over cook st and place makers lumber yard, over SH 1 and a school car park 3 Villa’s will need to be demolished and over Wellington st and over what looks to be some depressing 1950s council flat village.
    And over beresford st and a small section of western park can be used to launch a TBM to pass under grey lynn and coming out at arch hill reserve to join SH 16,
    I have checked the heights clearances and gradients and nothing comes out over 2% so ideal for metro.

  29. I thought the Light Metro was the best plan, more future proofed etc. But they didn’t pick that one, time to get over it. At least they’ve committed to building something similar. There are dozens of urban rail schemes (LR, Metro etc) of a similar or larger scale to Auckland’s in cities around the world. Australia has multiple rail construction projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and at least one each in Adelaide and Brisbane. So Auckland’s scheme is not that over the top. If we want modal shift we should get behind it.

  30. I recon that AT can be assed to build rail infrastructure to the Airport and over to the shore. Plus being broke can’t help either. Why not expand your rail network over the shore where its needed or maybe electrify Auckland to Hamilton. Just something else than spending 14 billion on a cheaper train. Plus it only take 30 min most of the time. Sorry can get over it costing 14b, its ridiculous

    1. The Shore needs absolutely nothing, compared to the rest of Auckland. They have the absolute best public transport system in the country, everyone else is in much more need

    2. Agree the cost is getting ridiculous. But note this project isn’t AT, it’s largely out of their hands and run by NZTA now.

      Back when AT were responsible they were talking about two light rail lines for $6b, airport and northwest. Now they genius motorway builders behind transmission gully and puhoi wellsford are in charge it’s gone up to one line for $14b.

  31. To me the logical starting point has to be Onehunga Station and then build the line back to Mangere and on to the Airport precinct through the Airport terminal area and on to Puhinui station.
    While building this section the design work can be refined on just where and how the line gets from Onehunga to the CBD.
    It could also be argued that the Onehunga branch line be converted to Light Rail which could be extended on to Panmure station in the future.
    If they start with the Wynyard or CBD end then there will be years of dithering as a route is planned and designed which would open up the possibility of the whole concept being (not so) quietly dropped or short cuts taken.

    1. Is the plan for the airport to be a through-station and onto A2B? I thought both lines would terminate at the station.

      Incidentally, I am starting to wonder whether they should start with A2B as a proof of concept, but all the way through to Ellerslie. We’d then have 2 rail options between the Airport the city and one of those areas is pretty starved, PT-wise.

      1. “Is the plan for the airport to be a through-station”

        Yes. This information has been in the plans for many years.

        Google: Airport of the future masterplan.pdf

  32. I don’t know – can you imagine the pain to the city if they went with the surface route anywhere through from the city centre to Mt Roskill, not only for Dominion road but for all of the alternative routes too? You think the traffic is bad now… that would have been a major factor in the decision – that being so then the only choice is between fully tunnelled or surfacing past Mt Roskill — and given the expense of fully tunnelling … well it’s obvious isn’t it ?

    You guys really should get behind this now and help get it locked in – otherwise nothing will happen…

    1. It might seem obvious, but take another look. Worrying about congestion – when it’s just local and temporary – is misplaced, because surface LR would reduce traffic across the city.

      “the traffic is bad now”… Yes, we have traffic congestion, traffic danger, and traffic emissions. The solutions to all these problems are to reduce traffic. Perversely, the very thing you think will cause pain – reallocating space on the surface – is actually a tool for reducing traffic. If we went with the surface route, you might see a bit of local congestion, but the overall effect will be to reduce traffic. In all sorts of other places across the city, congestion will be *lower* as a consequence.

      Think about all the road widening and intersection expansion projects we’ve had for decades. They have been intended to ease congestion – but only do so locally and temporarily. In fact they induce traffic so the city-wide system gets worse. In this case the reverse is true.

      This is about a different transport planning paradigm; one that the sector is resisting. And it’s the way to a better, more sustainable, less congested, more healthy transport system.

      1. While I agree that the surface option would have been the better option long term, the political pressure that would have resulted from trying the build it would have in all likelihood killed the whole project or at least have kept it tied up in litigation for many years to come. And more than likely have ended up cost just as much in the end.
        Aucklanders have a total addiction to their motor vehicles and any attempt to encourage them through congestion would have seen so much resistance, and probably physical unrest and damage to equipment I think any government would have shied away from the possibility of that level of misinformation campaign.

        1. Then I wouldn’t have done anything on that corridor. If they are that opposed to it, why bother.

          I would have instead gone for another line as a proof of concept. I have no doubt whatsoever that once we put an LRT line through the NW or A2B – or anywhere people are crying out for this infrastructure – then the folks fighting this will pivot to “where is mine? what about my congestion?”.

          If they aren’t ready to get on board now, why die in the ditch on it. You can lose this battle (now) but ultimately you will win the war.

          The money that is being spent on tunneling because some second rate restaurants and drivers are holding the city to ransom, screw them. Let them live with their short sighted view and come back to the table begging.

        2. 1. Build a NW line to Westgate and at the same time, Onehunga to the airport through Mangere. Bus priority out East, Ellerslie to the Airport via Botany

          2. Cross town line down SH20 from Waterview at the new NW line, down to Onehunga. Upgrade of O-Line to LRT, ideally up to Ellerslie for Eastern Busway.

          3. Improve east-west bus routes to link up with new lines and current HR lines

          4. Upgrade A2B if necessary, but I reckon by that point the folks on the Isthmus will be sick of being bypassed.

          All for the cost of this one line being proposed?

        3. “1. Build a NW line to Westgate and at the same time, Onehunga to the airport through Mangere. Bus priority out East, Ellerslie to the Airport via Botany

          2. Cross town line down SH20 from Waterview at the new NW line, down to Onehunga. Upgrade of O-Line to LRT, ideally up to Ellerslie for Eastern Busway.

          3. Improve east-west bus routes to link up with new lines and current HR lines

          4. Upgrade A2B if necessary, but I reckon by that point the folks on the Isthmus will be sick of being bypassed.”

          All of these projects are already proceeding:

          See: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/airport-to-botany-rapid-transit/

        4. None of 1 and 2 are happening – those new lines to be LRT. Maybe at a pinch you can say Ellerslie will be linked to the Eastern Busway and A2B via the E-P highway.

      2. “This is about a different transport planning paradigm; one that the sector is resisting.”

        Sad to see yet another Minister supporting them in that.

      3. Yeah, I’m just not convinced that school traffic (for instance) would immediately shift onto an available alternative transport network – of course, we’re talking about at least a decade and a half of change ahead of us – so who knows – the other massive factor in this decision will have been areas that are intensifying – you have big sections of new apartment blocks going up in three kings to the east of Dom Road and in Wesley and down Sandringham to the west – a surface track following existing roading just couldn’t service these in the same way — to me the tunnel in the isthmus section makes a lot of sense and that perhaps should have also been the option for the southern part of the line, but that may have been prohibitively expensive — look I’m no expert, I just live and work in Auckland and it is a shit show right now, it needs to change

        1. And, sorry, I’m just looking further up at the main article here and noting the ‘just because you can have multiple stops on one line should you’ argument – I can’t imagine a worse solution for congestion as Auckland currently is than two surface tracked lines – the interchanges would be a nightmare, the effect on existing infrastructure diabolical, the cost for establishing enormous (you’d have to buy large sections of central isthmus property along existing roading routes) – that’s crazy imo

    1. Why extend an existing system when we could use a different mode?

      If we go grade separated we can have higher frequencies, higher capacity lines with an Automated light metro.
      If we go at grade then we can have a cheaper and appropriate transit with on street light rail.

      What can heavy rail do that other systems cant do better?

        1. And we ask them every time someone like yourself drops by to enlighten us on what we have all been missing.

        2. “And we ask them every time someone like yourself drops by to enlighten us on what we have all been missing.”

          Lol 🙂

      1. Reasons for extending the existing system include:

        – building 17 km of track from the Airport to the Western Rail Line for $1.9 billion and running integrated Light Metro trains (similar to those used on the UK’s Tyne-and-Wear Metro) through the CRL, or building the 17 km of track for $2.9 billion to accommodate the existing electric trains and running them through the CRL, would save the country the enormous cost, and Auckland the disruption and delay, of building a $13 to $21 billion rail tunnel and underground stations from Mt Roskill to the CBD, mostly on the same route as the existing system. Link to diagram: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1v5nfooT076XCXf-_ZO73qJwtjQLP9UZ1/view?usp=sharing

        – in the highly unlikely event that the proposed 10 km rail tunnel is built, integration with the existing system by using the same base dimensions, and 3.5 km of track from Mt Roskill to the Western Rail Line for around $350 million, would allow Light Metro or existing trains to ply the Huapai, Henderson, New Lynn, Mt Roskill, Mangere, Airport 40 plus km route that would be well used by the many thousands of people in the West who work at the airport and other locations along the line.

        – new rail built to be integrated with Auckland’s existing network is better than new rail not integrated with the existing network because integrated rail can make use of and enhance the existing system, a system that would likely cost over $100 billion to build from scratch.

        – there is nothing useful that non-integrated new rail, a different “mode”, can do that integrated new rail cannot do, i.e. rail using the same gauge, carriage width, platform/floor height as the existing system, 1067, 2760 and 750 mm respectively.

        – the tens of billions of dollars “Metro” developments in Melbourne and Sydney are being built with the same gauge, carriage width and floor/platform height as those city’s existing rail systems. The Melbourne Metro trains will have drivers and operate on new and existing track. The Sydney Metro trains are driverless and operate on new track and will operate on some existing track and stations when the Metro system is extended south of the CBD and the Bankstown Line is dedicated to Metro services.

        – unless there is some particular feature of an existing rail transit system that calls for it e.g. an existing system with a different gauge to the regional rail network, it is extremely counterproductive, inconvenient to users and operators and wasteful of public funds to use a different “mode” i.e. different gauge and/or carriage width and/or floor/platform height for new rail when an existing system can be extended / linked to.

        1. Will, “Melbourne Metro” isn’t a metro in the usual sense. “Metro” is simply the branding they use for their heavy rail network, see here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Siemens_train_in_Metro_Trains_Melbourne_Livery.jpg. Their Melbourne Metro rail project is a heavy rail tunnel linking heavy rail lines on each side, it’s the equivalent of the CRL in Auckland.

          In Sydney, the Sydney metro is incompatible with their heavy rail network, and runs only on a completely separate network with separate lines, stations and depots and incompatible rolling stock, signalling and power supply. When they converted the Chatswood tunnel from the heavy rail network to the metro network they had to shut it down for twelve months to do all the work required to swap systems.

        2. Quite right about Melbourne Riccardo. As in my comment above Melbourne’s trains with drivers will ply routes comprising new track, including what has been named the Metro Tunnel, and existing track.

          As in my comment above the Sydney Metro is being built with the same gauge, carriage width and floor/platform height as the existing system. The power supply is also the same, overhead 1,500 V DC. The driverless part of the network is kept separate from the rest of the system, something that could change one day.

          As has been seen with Crossrail, even with a tunnel, tracks and platforms in place, it can take many months, in Crossrail’s case years, to install and test a modern signalling system to the point that the tunnel can be operational. Significant work was needed to prepare the 11 plus km Chatswood underground line in Sydney with its three intermediate stations for use by driverless trains and to connect it from Epping to new Metro track to the northwest. Conveniently, the underground line’s track was already the same gauge as used by Sydney Metro, the platforms already the Metro distance from the platform side rail, the platforms already the Metro height above rail, and the overhead wire already in the Metro position and already carrying the Metro voltage. None of this compatibility was an accident. The compatibility allowed the work to be done in eight months for tens of millions, rather than taking years for hundreds of millions, an obstacle that may have prevented the line’s use for Sydney Metro.

          The Bankstown line will need similar work to prepare it for use by driverless trains but being above ground much of the work can be done while the line is still operating and the shutdown period for changeover is predicted to between three and six months. From Bankstown Line newsletter: “Sydney’s new metro trains will use the existing railway tracks.” “A final three-to-six month possession will be used to complete the upgrade, including installing platform screen doors and testing and commissioning the line.” https://www.sydneymetro.info/sites/default/files/2021-09/Bankstown_Line_Metro_Conversion_Newsletter.pdf

          As the Sydney Metro driverless system expands in the future with additional tunnels and lines, it could be decided to return the Bankstown line to the non-driverless part of the system by reactivating or reinstalling the previous signalling system with the changeover taking place after maybe only a weekend shutdown. The upgrade of the Bankstown line for driverless trains could be designed so that the line could be changed back to non-driverless use with a few mouse clicks. In the future some sections of Sydney Metro track could be plied by driverless trains and trains with drivers whose trains are operated entirely remotely on driverless segments of track.

          The mode we are talking about is rail. Metro, Light Metro, Pre-Metro, Post-Metro, Commuter Rail, Suburban Rail, Radial Rail, Rapid Rail, Regional Rail, S-Bahn, Underground, Overground, Subway, Elevated, Light Railway, Light Rail, Heavy Rail, Stadtbahn, Regional Stadtbahn, Interurban, Tram-Train, Train-Tram, Tram, Modern Tram, Old-fashioned Tram, Trolley, Streetcar and so on is all same dog, different smell. Any combination of them can be operated on the same track if designed to, for immediate benefit and to future proof for the benefit of future generations so that as an integrated rail network grows over the centuries it can be regularly added to and reconfigured as needs call for.

        3. Sydney metro is a great example actually and so is Melbourne, totally new system entirely incompatible with Sydney trains that will never interline because they physically cant, with different loading gauge specs. Hell, the second Sydney metro line out to Paramatta doesn’t even interline to main Sydney metro line or otherwise connect in any way except a transfer.

          You can share gauge and power systems etc all you want. The signalling is entirely different so they don’t need the drivers. Like Riccardo mentions, they fully refurbished the reused sections of line and stations. They happened to keep the same power and track systems, but that kind of refurbishment could have easily included different sleepers at little extra cost. Sydney essentially realised their mistake with ECRL project and have made is far more productive and convenient to use with its conversion to metro and its separation from the rest of the network and the crazy running patterns they had to do to integrate it.

          Unless there is some particular reason that we should keep the same specs (of which interlining is not a good or desirable reason) then why even entertain the idea? Sydney knows that.

          Melbourne is just doing a a bigger CRL with their metro tunnel. But surprise surprise, their new line which doesn’t need to leverage latent capacity on the existing network (like Auckland, post CRL), the suburban rail loop is also not using the old heavy gauge standards.

          would allow Light Metro or existing trains to ply the Huapai, Henderson, New Lynn, Mt Roskill, Mangere, Airport
          which we could more easily service via transfer, which would then allow the rest of the western line to have more capacity to serve denser, more demanding areas like the city center.

          building 17 km of track from the Airport to the Western Rail Line for $1.9 billion

          new rail built to be integrated with Auckland’s existing network is better than new rail not integrated with the existing network because integrated rail can make use of and enhance the existing system, a system that would likely cost over $100 billion to build from scratch.
          It can be integrated, via transfers. New rapid transit lines enhance the existing system by feeding patronage onto it and adding destinations reachable on the overall network, we don’t need interlining to do that. Luckily we are not aiming to rebuild the existing system, not sure how that is remotely relevant.

        4. “It can be integrated, via transfers. New rapid transit lines enhance the existing system by feeding patronage onto it and adding destinations reachable on the overall network, we don’t need interlining to do that.”

          In a nutshell. And that’s before you talk of HR’s costs and the network capacity issues.

        5. Sydney Metro and Melbourne Metro Tunnel and the planned Melbourne Suburban Loop certainly are great examples for Auckland to look at. The rail projects in Sydney and Melbourne are all being built with the same track gauge, loading gauge and floor / platform height, power supply, curve radius minimums and track incline maximums as the existing rail systems of the respective city.

          That means that trains physically can travel over the whole system (in Sydney the driverless sectors are operated separately to the rest of the system) allowing services to be run, as far as is practical, to match demand. By the end of the century all lines in Sydney could be driverless and services that travel demand require can be operated by lines using combinations of track sectors that are practical and efficient.

          That is already the case on the Melbourne network and will remain the case after Metro Tunnel and the Suburban Loop are operational. New trains using the new line to the Airport and Metro Tunnel will through-run up to 55 km on existing track to the southwest of the CBD and the Suburban Loop will interline with the Airport line between Airport and Sunshine, all of which is only possible if the new lines are built with the same gauge, loading gauge, platform height, signaling system and power supply as the existing network, which is exactly what is happening and will continue to happen.

          Making the best use of an integrated network may not work in some people’s theory, but it does work in practise.

          Sydney and Melbourne demonstrate that unless there is a particular reason not to, new rail is built to the same specifications as existing rail. The New Zealand parliament even passed a law in 1871, still on the books, that in a section titled “Gauge Uniformity” requires that railways not have a gauge wider than 3’6’’ to prevent the nightmare situation that was developing across the Tasman at the time of a mash up of extensive 3’6’’, 4’8.5’’ and 5’3’’ gauge railways built by the five mainland Australian colonies.

          Integration by passenger transfer alone creates operational inefficiencies and results in inefficient and unappealing services for users. For example, few people would catch a local bus to Swanson, then a train to Kingsland, then tunneled light rail to the Airport, then do the reverse to get home at the end of their workday. Far more people would catch a local bus to Swanson then take an integrated Light Metro train direct to the Airport via Avondale, Mt Roskill, and Onehunga, the SH20/A route they would take if they drove. Increased efficiency of operation and increased ridership would happen all across an Auckland region wide integrated rail network, as has long been planned; see page 25 / page 27 of the pdf, SMART study https://at.govt.nz/media/1927342/draft-smart-indicative-business-case.pdf

          CRL’s are common around the world and are the key feature of what is termed S-Bahn in central and northern Europe. As indicated by the S-Bahn logo, it is common for there to be at least three branches served from each end of a CRL. An extraordinary 18 branches are served by Munich’s CRL carrying over 850,000 passengers per day. Understandably, a second Munich CRL is being constructed due for opening in the early 2030s. Auckland had 70,000 rail boardings per week day pre-Covid, our inaugural CRL won’t be open for three years, yet somehow it has been decided that Auckland needs a second CRL 10km long that starts in Mt Roskill and is incompatible with the first CRL. The suggestion that the CRL will not have enough capacity to accommodate running services to the Airport as well as to Swanson is refuted by Auckland Transport and is an unsupportable contention.

          Interlining / integration / interoperation / through routing is key to the mind boggling success of Tokyo’s 4,750 km, 880 station, 40 million passengers per day rail system.

          “(Many services) behave more like S-Train lines with numerous mid-distance services from the outer suburban lines through operating into these lines to form a high frequency corridor though central Tokyo; only to branch off and interoperate with other JR East suburban lines on the other side of central Tokyo.”

          “In addition, it is common for the numerous private railway companies to funnel train traffic into through operations with Tokyo subway lines; all but three of Tokyo’s 13 subway lines serve as underground trunk lines for suburban rail operators to access Tokyo city centre.”


          As noted in a previous comment, building the 14 km of track from Mt Roskill to Airport is costed at $1.4 billion in the SMART study. Recent costs in Australasia for constructing double track light and heavy rail lines with stations includes Canberra Light rail AUD$59 million/km, Perth rail extension AUD$60 million/km and Marsden Point NZ without stations NZD$20 million/km.

          At $100 million per kilometre, the 17.5 km line from the Airport to the Western Rail, and grade separations at Morningside Drive and Woodward Road comes in at around $1.9 billion. That is a high value for public money spent given the overwhelming cost of the proposed $14.6 billion option which has benefits that can be created for a fraction of the price.

          The relevance of what it would cost to build Auckland’s rail network from scratch is that it indicates the value to Auckland of the existing rail network, and the need, opportunity and obligation to make as much use of the network as possible. Astonishingly, the proposed tunneled light rail option to the Airport and the second and third planned lines to Orewa and Huapai are estimated by the Ministers responsible to take until the 2060s to build, to cost at least $50 billion, to not be carbon neutral until perhaps the 2080’s. The three light rail lines are praised by their proposers for being “joined up “ and “integrated” with each other, but do make use of and are not “joined up” or “integrated” with the existing rail system worth at least $100 billion other than by following some of the same route and having some stations near to existing stations.

          Government procurement rules that apply to government spending, including projects like this one, require public funds are spent only in a way that “Gets the best deal for everyone”. The $14.6 billion proposal does not meet that test, to say the least.

        6. Thanks Will, to start with I’m not convinced $14b on a long tram tunnel is the best spend of that money either by any means.

          However, the fact they have a questionable plan doesn’t mean your plan of adding another line to the CRL works. There are some simple facts available, AT have confirmed that the capacity of the CRL is 15 trains an hour each way, based on 4 minute signal blocks. In theory they could go beyond this but that requires a lot of work for a new signalling system across the network supported by junction and track upgrades.

          One thing you might not realise is it’s not just the western line coming into the CRL at Mt Eden, it’s also the southern line via Grafton. So already there are two main lines sharing that 15 trains an hour. If you add on a third line from the southwest joining at Mt Albert that would be three lines in and three lines out at the Mt Eden portal. So each of those would have at best five trains an hour. Which is less than they run today. It’s a hard sell to say we should cut frequency and capacity on the western and southern lines the minute the CRL is open!

          Sure Munich has a whole mess of branches, but they run at twenty or thirty minute headways, again less than we have already, and as you say the tunnel is overloaded and they are building a duplicate one. There are good and bad examples of just about anything you can manage.

          I think the strategy of using the CRL for intensive operation of the existing rail network, and building new lines as part of a second network with additional capacity is sound. I just don’t think they’ve come up with a very efficient or cost effective way to do that.

        7. Also it’s useful to point out that Munich also has an extensive U Bahn metro network that is very closely interconnected with, and carries more people than, the S Bahn. And likewise they also have a large tram network that is interconnected with U Bahn and S Bahn with interchange at more or less every station.

          Your examples of Munich and Tokyo are illustrations of how large systems of different modes and routes integrate with connections to create wide reaching networks. If anything that’s evidence for not pushing everything into a single mode on a single trunk corridor.

        8. Yes the CRL should be saved for the existing lines and one day we can get high capacity signalling so we can have 5 minute frequency along the 2 core lines…

        9. Cheers Riccardo. Running trains at grade along the railway reserve to the north of SH20 then via the Western Rail Line to a tunnel under the Central City is a plan that I advocate, but it is far from being my plan. The SH20 – CRL project has been a planned extension of Auckland’s rail network since at least 1946. The reason Kianga Ora owns so much land within 800 metres of SH20 is that it has been the plan since the end of WWII to have intensive housing through the corridor, served by a rail line that joins the Western Rail Line then descends into the Central City in a tunnel.

          The planned extension was dropped down the priority order in the 1950s in favour of the harbour bridge, came back up in the 1960’s with the De Leuw Cather motorway and mass transit plan but dropped down in the rush to build motorways, came back up again with Robbie’s Rapid Rail, dropped down again in the 70s in favour of doing nothing, then featured in various Auckland Regional Council transport plans in the 1990s and 2000’s. The project to extend the rail network by building the Wiri – Airport – SH20A – SH20 – WRL – CRL line returned to the top of the order as a core plank of the Strategic Transport Network 2042 in the Auckland Plan 2012 – 2042 and the Auckland Unitary Plan that gives effect to the Auckland Plan 2042.

          The plan from the 1940s to the 2010s are at the link at the end of this paragraph. Pease have a good look at the 1946 Statutory Regional Plan for Auckland, Ministry of Works, it is cracker. Please have a long look at Map 13.1 Auckland’s Strategic Transport Network 2042, it is a thing of beauty. It details networks of strategic roads, rapid transit, rail rapid transit and quality (bus) transit on arterial roads that provides excellent private and public transport infrastructure up to at least 2042. The plan has been in place since 2012, is affordable and buildable and would be nearly completed by now, apart from a harbour tunnel, if the powers that be had spent the last decade building it. As in previous comments, the Wiri to Onehunga sector of the extension does not have to be able to accommodate freight trains and existing EMUs for the reasons given. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1H0ypkp9-sZumY8V5j_M0uaIbeOPlhm_g/view?usp=sharing

          As its history shows, because the WRL – CRL plan has been in place for so long and so much of Auckland’s land use in the SH20 corridor in the last 70 years is based on it being built, even when it is dropped down the order it inevitably comes back up again because it is the missing link in a long planned rail network extension that demands to be filled, just as the missing link in the motorway network of SH20 and the Waterview tunnel demanded to be filled.

        10. Auckland Light Rail prepared a seven-page document about running “Heavy Rail” on the WRL – SH20/A route from the CRL to Mangere and Airport. Auckland Light Rail 14 September 2021 Heavy Rail Option Assessment Overview at https://www.lightrail.co.nz/light-rail/resources/

          The document outlines in detail how doing so is entirely feasible. ALR concludes that Heavy Rail integrated with existing rail on the SH20/A route is feasible and delivers “strongly” against the objectives of the project but, based a number of fallacies, not “as strongly” as Light Rail or Light Metro that is not integrated with the existing rail network. This meant that “this option was not investigated further” by ALR and the low cost of the Heavy Rail option, $2.9 billion, was never considered by ALR or anyone else alongside the $9, $14.6 and $16.3 billion options, as cost estimates were only made of the three short-listed options.

          Comments from AT are included in the document about the capacity of the network, with the CRL open, to accommodate a branch to the Airport from between Mt Albert and Avondale Stations, as long planned. AT are positive about the prospect to the point of being bullish and make some excellent points about 2 TPH on the Onehunga branch being able to terminate at the Airport, the second line that would be created by building the CRL – WRL – SH20/A route.

          “One of the risks with this option was the inability for the post City Rail Link train network to accommodate the additional train services required for this option to provide a sufficient service. Investigations with the AT Train Operations team have confirmed that there is sufficient capacity within City Rail Link through the diversion of six/eight trains/hour in each direction that were otherwise heading out further on the Western Line to make use of this new line.”

          “There is also the opportunity to run the proposed two trains/hour on the Onehunga line through to the Airport, giving up to a ten trains/hour peak service to/from the Airport. This could have implications for future demand from west of Mt Albert Station; fewer timetable slots would be available if capacity on the inner Western line was being shared with a line to Māngere.”

          ALR excluded from its consideration that fact that a third line would be created so the Airport-Huapai line isn’t mentioned in ALR’s Heavy Rail document. The Airport – Huapai line would be able to be operated from the opening of 17.5 km SH20/A line, and what a fantastic 40 plus km line it would be!! Many thousands of people in the west work at the Airport and being able to get to a Western Line Station then take a one seat fast service to and from the Airport on a line that would boost capacity on the Western Line west of the Mt Albert Station.

        11. I am aware of the east facing entrance to the CRL’s west portal that is planned to accommodate 6 TPH from the southern line. As the southern line can also access the east portal it is more like 1.5 main lines per portal than 2 main lines for the west and 1 main line for the east / Britomart portal.

          There have been indications that in the first years of the operation of the CRL; 15, 16, 18 or 20 trains per hour per direction (TPH) can be run. Once automatic train control is installed it would allow the CRL to operate at at least 24 TPH. As 20 TPH currently safely operates through the two-track tunnel at the entrance to the five track Britomart terminus, there is no apparent reason why the CRL will not be safely operated at up to 20 TPH from shortly after opening when Britomart will become a through station.

          20 TPH in both directions will be a 100% increase in capacity to 30,000 per hour, which for the $4.4 billion price tag, $2.2 billion coming from Aucklanders via Auckland Council and a further $730 million coming from Aucklanders via central government and a decade of significant disruption, is OK for the meantime but only because we know capacity will increase significantly in later years to as much as 100,000 per hour

          From opening, with level crossing removal at Woodward Road and Morningside Drive, a likely service pattern through the west CRL portal is 6 THP from the Southern Line, 6TPH from Airport and 6 TPH from Swanson. If there turns out to be demand for it 3 to 6 TPH from New Lynn to Newmarket and Otahuhu bypassing the CRL could be operated. Additionally, or alternatively, a gap filling Mt Eden – Grafton – Newmarket shuttle service every five minutes could be operated.

          By say 2030, when signalling has been upgraded and the capacity of the CRL is up to 24 TPH, services through the west portal could be increased at peak times to 8 TPH Southern, 8 TPH Airport and 8 TPH Swanson. 9-car trains may be operating from not long after the CRL opens. 23 more trains have just been ordered and more orders may be on the way. Whilst extending nearly every platform on the network by 50% is a huge job that will take many years, 9-cars trains can service any 6-car platform by using selective door operation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_door_operation That would see the first three and last three of a 9-car train’s 18 doors remaining closed at less used stations until all platforms are lengthened.

        12. 8 TPH with 9-car, 216 metre long, 1,120 passenger capacity trains amounts to a huge capacity that Auckland is unlikely to touch the sides of for decades. Further still, if the next generation of Auckland trains are “high-capacity” trains as planned for Melbourne and Tyne-and-Wear and in use in Sydney, 216 metre long 9-car Auckland trains would have a capacity of 2,160 passengers at the 10 passengers per metre of length that can be accommodated by high-capacity trains.

          At 24 9-car high capacity trains per hour per direction the CRL can eventually have a capacity of over 100,000 passengers per hour, or around a million passengers per day, likely sufficient rail capacity through the central city until at least the last quarter of this century. In comparison the Munich CRL carries over 850,000 passengers per week-day and will have been operating for 60 years before the second Munich CRL comes into operation in the early 2030s.

          It’s a bit harsh to describe the Munich S-Bahn as a mess! With usual German efficiency and exquisite engineering, the Munich S-Bahn, with its CRL opened in 1972, provides fantastic service with 200-metre-long high-capacity trains to 150 stations carrying over 850,000 passengers per day. Obviously a second Munich CRL is well warranted and the huge number of passengers that now use the Munich S-Bahn will be rewarded with greatly enhanced services when the second CRL opens.

          Munich S-Bahn is a great example of building what was a massively expensive CRL then making the maximum possible use of the CRL for a decent number of decades to build up the passenger numbers (850,000 per weekday in Munich) that means that a second CRL to greatly enhance the efficiency and usability of the network is well justified, will be funded by government and not just accepted by the public but welcomed.

          Munich has U-Bahn, S-Bahn and tram and most lines through-run the CBD and some other popular locations to create a large number of one-seat trips and so reduce the need to transfer within a network or between networks which also reduces the number of occasions when a passenger needs to transfer more than once in any journey, something few are keen to do. Auckland can have a rail network extended to the Airport and Wiri which, along with the CRL, will result in step change increase in the efficiency and ridership of Auckland’s rail network, the Northern Busway can be upgraded to high-capacity BRT operation and through routed via Grafton Gully to the Northwestern Motorway to Huapai and SH20/A to Mangere and Airport, and the extensive Auckland bus network can be constantly improved. Passengers can already easily transfer between Auckland’s three networks, and the ability of passengers to transfer will only improve over time.

        13. An efficient and cost-effective plan to build a second rail network through the Auckland central city for rail that is not integrated with the existing network has not been found because such a plan is a unicorn; it does not exist. A second rail network can only access the central city underground, at grade or elevated. Underground is unaffordable, at grade is still very, very expensive ($9 billion) and is slow, and elevated is visually unacceptable.

          As you point out Riccardo massive gold-plated schemes inevitably don’t get built.

          Munich and Tokyo are great examples of what can happen with 100 plus years of consistently high investment in rail systems. Some rail systems over the decades have been built to operate independently with no thought of future integration and once that is done such systems often remain separate. However, many cities in Europe and elsewhere have merged separate rail networks into a larger network, some even going to the trouble of changing track gauge and platform heights, to reap the benefits that enlarging the size and reducing the number of networks brings. City regions will less than 5 million population like Karlsruhe, Neckar-Alb, Aarhus Letbane, Chemnitz and Kassel, have or are planning to merge their regional railway and tram networks into single tram-train / Regionalstadtbahn / regional light rail networks.

          From the 1900 to the 1930s hundreds of cities across North America had local short haul streetcar systems fully integrated with electric interurban short and medium haul passenger and freight services. See pages 40 to 42 link below. Steam railroad locomotives did not operate on electric interurban railways, and electric interurban passenger cars and freight locomotives did not operate on the steam railroads’ tracks, but freight cars were frequently long hauled on steam railroads then transferred to electric interurban railways to complete their journeys. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vHLlDBV0Qq5ajzzLUDwhTa9_SdwRtdq6/view?usp=sharing

        14. Two less than 5 million city regions in the English speaking world, Manchester and Newcastle / Sunderland in the north of England, pioneered light metro and light rail systems designed to be able to be integrated with regional railways. See pages 21 to 26 at this link. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vHLlDBV0Qq5ajzzLUDwhTa9_SdwRtdq6/view?usp=sharing

          The 78 km Tyne-And-Wear Light Metro serving the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland commenced operation in 1980 running on former mainline railways using existing 900 mm high platforms and on new dedicated rights of way including new bridges and tunnels. Tyne-And-Wear Light Metro did not interoperate with regional rail from day 1, but because the same gauge, loading gauge and platform height was used, is was easy to introduce interoperation with regional rail in 2003 to accommodate an expansion. Replacement light metro rolling stock has been ordered that will be able to run on the Metro’s 1500 V DC and the mainlines’ 25 kV AC allowing its planned regionwide expansion to occur at modest cost. https://www.nexus.org.uk/metrofutures

          The 101 km Manchester Metrolink’s light rail system commenced operation in 1992 running on former mainline railways using existing 900 mm high platforms, through central Manchester on street, and on street in some surrounding towns. Manchester Metrolink does not yet interoperate with regional rail, but because the same gauge, loading gauge and platform height has been used, that is relatively easily done and Manchester Metrolink has plans for multiple Tram-train / Regional Light Rail services track sharing with regional railways greatly increasing, perhaps doubling by 2050, the reach of Manchester Metrolink at modest cost. https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/mayor-wants-1bn-extend-metrolink-20502246

        15. In Auckland, the WRL – Airport – Wiri line is on the drawing board, will bring transformational benefits to many areas of Auckland including the far south, south, southeast, isthmus and west, is affordable at $1.9 billion to the Airport and a further $700 million to Wiri, and relatively quick to build. There is no apparent reason not to complete the rail network as long planned, sooner rather than later. Other rail options like a tram down Dominion Road without mass property purchases would be nice to have, but would have a level of disruption, cost and delay that means that it just has to be a lower priority than completing the rail network.

          With the Covid crisis, global warming crisis, housing crisis, mental health crisis, interest rates on the rise, massive Covid debt on Government books, and mass rapid transit by rail needed to be extended or built in at least Wellington and Christchurch, no reasonable read of the room indicates that it is a suitable time to propose spending $14.6 billion on one disconnected tunnelled light rail line in the place the rest of the country loves to hate; Auckland.

          Proposing to spend $1.9 billion to nearly complete the Auckland rail network and create three new rapid transit lines (CRL- WRL – Airport; CRL – SRL – Onehunga – Airport; Huapai – Airport) is reasonable and realistic. It is a rail network extension that can be built and, hopefully, will be built.

        16. Will. You’re wrong about the loading gauge on Sydney metro. It is built to different loading gauge than their existing suburban lines.

          The new tunnels are 6.1m in diameter with the older ECRL tunnels, designed for double decked Sydney trains services are 7m in diameter. Go have a look around on the internet.
          Sydney has committed to never running its taller suburban double decked trains in its new tunnels.
          And one of the other new Sydney metro lines is planned to use 25kvac instead of 1500dc.

          I also think that the quoted prices in the SMART report are not accurate. Construction has inflated massively since that was quoted, and based on the original 1.5B that CRL was quoted at (in 2010, not 2016 like SMART, but still) and the 4.4+ that its turned into. We should expect those projects to be a lot more expensive than that. Especially given any new track would be fully grade separated (the 18 street crossings on A to S would need to be avoided somehow, trench for multiple km?), new stations would be larger etc.

          If we can quote overseas prices for what things should cost here then I would like multiple Montreal REM projects please. 120million NZD for fully grade separated light metro. Also a large city, outside the anglosphere that is developing a new seperate network.

          I also fundamentally disagree that infrequent (less than every 15 minutes) one seat ride services are better than services every 5 minutes where you transfer. Transferring is easy when designed well and I don’t care what each of those modes is, so long as I can leave whenever, and get wherever quickly. Having used the Puhinui to airport BRT transfer system, its great, and will be even better once fully implemented. Much preferable than waiting a bit longer for a specific train.

        17. 15min frequencies are a step backwards, even for a one seat ride.

          A 5min, turn up and go, frequency, at least at peak, is what the aim should be. If HR extensions cant deliver that, other options please,

        18. “An efficient and cost-effective plan to build a second rail network through the Auckland central city for rail that is not integrated with the existing network has not been found because such a plan is a unicorn; it does not exist. A second rail network can only access the central city underground, at grade or elevated.”

          Disagree there. The 2018 Auckland Regional Public Transport Plan had a second rail network through the city centre at grade, the light rail corridor on Queen Street and Fanshawe Street. Very efficient with both the airport and northwest lines running on it at four minute headways each, and certainly cost effective compared to any tunnel or other structure.

        19. And sorry, only skimmed your six massive comments in a row… but the CRL can’t take 20 trains an hour each way. Britomart only manages that by running the two tracks on the 600m section between Quay park junction and the station throat crossovers as separate bidirectional single track lines. Effectively the station tracks of Britomart start at the quay park.

          This arrangement doesn’t work with the CRL across the full 4km between Quay Park and Mt Eden junctions, and there isn’t the trackwork or signalling to support it even if it did.

          The rail plan for the CRL is to have the western line going through the tunnel and out the other side to Parnell and on to Otahuhu, and vice versa, while the eastern and southern lines are joined together to also run through CRL from one end to the other both ways. In short, that’s definitely two full lines going both ways through the tunnel at six trains an hour each, or twelve an hour (every five minutes) each way in total. So the base pattern is 12 trains in at Mt Eden and out at Quay Park on one track, and another 12 trains in at Quay Park and out at Mt Eden on the other track.

          They can add in a total of three trains an hour to each track before reaching the reliable capacity, so 15 an hour or a train every four minutes at peak. That’s nominally 3 peak extras via Mt Eden end and 3 peak extras via the Quay Park end.

          To be frank, six trains an hour per line plus three peak extras an hour each side isn’t that much, and I expect that will be overwhelmed by demand pretty much from the word go. If they ever do bite the bullet on the multi-billion dollar programme required to upgrade the tracks and signalling system for more frequency in the tunnel, then it will be to serve crowding on the existing lines.

          If you want to run a new line into the system, one way or another it amounts to taking trains off the existing lines (either now or what they’ll need to run in the future) to create space for it. That’s an own goal.

        20. “If you want to run a new line into the system, one way or another it amounts to taking trains off the existing lines (either now or what they’ll need to run in the future) to create space for it. That’s an own goal.”

          Its the conclusion that’s been arrived at over and over again. So its complimentary systems we need. And LRT and LM gives us better bang for our buck.

        21. The SMART report is from 2016. The cost of building at grade railways is stable compared with the cost of building underground. As quoted, the actual cost per km for Canberra Light Rail and recent Perth suburban new rail line with stations is around AUD$60 million / km. The Marsden Point rail extension has been costed at $20 million / km (at 2 track rate) without stations. NZ$100 million per km for Western Line to Airport looks about right, and looks like the sort of money we should be paying if we don’t just give the engineering construction complex a blank cheque to charge the public purse what it feels like charging.

          The route from the Western Rail Line to Airport would be built without any level crossings. Level crossings on the Onehunga Branch would not have to be removed as the service would remain at 2 TPH. Woodside Road and Morningside Drive level crossings would have to be removed which is provided for in the $1.9 billion. Other level crossing removals over time across the network are provide for in ATAP.

          I agree with you and KLK that a 15-minute service on major lines on Auckland’s rail network is not acceptable, particularly given the multiple billions that has been spent and will be spent on the system. Extending the existing network allows a 10-minute minimum service on all lines for trains to the same destination (except Onehunga) including the CRL – Mangere/Airport line that could be to 7.5 minutes between trains to the same destination at peak times from the opening of the CRL, and even less in later years when signalling and supporting infrastructure is improved to maximise the throughput of the CRL.

          In comparison the Copenhagen S-Bahn provides a 10-minute standard service on 7 lines to 86 stations. A 10-minute service in Auckland, more frequent at peak, is entirely reasonable provision for the first years of operation.

          A disconnected new line with 10 km of twin tunnels and 9 underground stations could provide a 5-minute service, but would cost $14.6 billion to build. The $14.6 billion price tag cannot be justified when it would only cost around $1.9 billion to extend the existing network, an extension that would also allow the Onehunga Line to terminate at the Airport and enable the additional 48 km Huapai – Mangere/Airport Line to operate providing people along the outer Western Line with the fantastic service of a train at least every 10 minutes to the central city AND a train at least every 10 minutes to Mt Roskill, Onehunga, Mangere and the Airport. All for $1.9 billion.

          $14.6 billion for one disconnected line does not begin to stack up. If the proposed twin tunnels were built they would have to have the same track gauge, carriage width and platform height as the rest of NZ’s rail system, and a compatible loading gauge, to provide multiple benefits in the short and medium term and future proof for who knows what in the long term, as has been done in Sydney. That would result in two rapid transit lines only 2 km apart between Mt Roskill / Avondale and Kingsland, and two rapid transit lines on the same route between Kingsland and Aotea, at a cost of $14.6 billion at a time when rail rapid transit needs to be extended in Wellington and could / should be built in Christchurch, Hamilton, Tauranga, and Dunedin.

          $1.9 billion would result in a rapid transit line through the corridor with more than enough capacity and reach, and one that enables the Airport – Huapai Line and for the Onehunga line to terminate at the Airport.

        22. Thanks for the heads up about the double-deck trains being too tall for the Metro tunnels Jack. Obviously Sydney/NSW has made a long term decision to go with single level trains and not to make provision in the Metro Tunnels for the over height double-deck Sydney trains or the highest, pointiest parts of the NSW loading gauge profile.

          From the diagrams linked to below, the 4,205 mm from top of rail to contact wire of the Sydney Metro tunnels is a littler lower than NSW loading gauge maximum height which is 4,270 mm at the top of a rounded profile which is only 910 mm wide at that point. The contact wire is 700 mm below the tunnel ceiling. The great majority of NSW rolling stock would fit through the Metro Tunnels, exceptions including the double-deck car carrier depicted on page 5 and double-deck commuter trains that are over height at 4,367 mm tall.

        23. I don’t think many people here support the $14b tunnel to Sandringham plan Will, you don’t need to convince us it’s not a great use of the funds.

          But likewise I’m not sure your plan could work the way you think it will, and would certainly cost more than $1.9b.

        24. Agree with you Riccardo, there seems to be few out there that need to be convinced that the $14.6 billion plan is not a responsible use of public funds, but Michael Wood is someone that does need convincing of that. Hopefully GA readers can do that convincing, for everyone’s sake including Wood’s.

          Auckland Light Rail and Auckland Transport describe how the SH20/A line to the Airport would operate as part of the rail network once the CRL opens in parts of a document with the title “Heavy Rail Option Assessment Overview” which can be found with google or by going to the ALR website. The assessment of ALR consultants was that using the SH20/A route as part of the existing rail network did not deliver “as strongly” against the objectives of the project compared to Modern Tram, tunnelled Light Rail and Light Metro.

          However what ALR did not do is consider the degree of delivery on objectives of these four options in the light of the cost of these four options. If an option does not deliver “as strongly” as other options by one subjective assessment, but only costs between 10% and 25% as much as the other options, then the “not as strong” but far less expensive option needs to be given full consideration. Instead, without even working out an indicative cost of the SH20/A option, ALR decided to “not investigat(e) further”.

          I’m interested to know what you estimate the cost would be for: 17.5 km of double track and 11 stations with 220 metre long platforms, designed for light rail / light metro use, from the Western Rail Line on the SH20/A route to the airport.

        25. Jack, the Greater Auckland moderation bot won’t let me post the loading gauge docs I refer to, but they can be found by googling the following

          “Sydney Metro Tunnels Bateman” Page 10 of 44

          “GI_05_loading_restrictions” Page 5 of 11

          New Sydney Metro lines to the new airport and elsewhere are planned to run off 25 kV AC while the existing Sydney system is 1,500 V DC. It would be a matter of ticking a box when ordering the next tranche of rolling stock for that rolling stock to be able to operate under both voltages. The Tyne-and-Wear Light Metro also runs on 1,500 V DC. A new full set rolling stock has been ordered that can operate on 1,500 V DC and 25 kV AC in preparation for extending the Light Metro into more of the mainline regional rail network.

          New rolling stock in Sydney in the coming decades, if designed to do so, would be able to operate on Metro and non-Metro lines as both have the same track gauge, carriage width and floor/platform height.

        26. Don’t think there’s any point trying to get through to Will anymore, if he’s just going to be a broken record and never once acknowledge that:

          1. 6tph out from city centre to Swanson and Papakura will be woefully inadequate for future demand, and woefully inferior to the >12tph frequencies enabled by separating modes
          2. The central Isthmus, furtherest away from the heavy rail lines & Avondale-Southdown corridor, would benefit immensely from rail based rapid transit and 6+ storey intensification beyond what present buses would enable
          3. That Swanson-Huapai heavy rail would result in a journey twice as long as the SH16 route – short term bus lanes followed by mid-term light metro would be far more beneficial for the NW
          4. That junctions ARE single points of failure, and require much investment and property acquisition to do properly. Imagine demolishing a chunk of Onehunga town centre to create a flying junction between Avondale, Penrose, Southdown, and Airport bound lines. Imagine what would happen to Will’s Airport, Crosstown, & freight lines if a train derailed at that junction (particularly a cheaper at-grade junction.
          5. That just because something is technically possible doesn’t mean it must be done. Tram-trains would be more suited to Wellington – extending the Johnsonville & Melling lines south to Miramar & Island Bay, for example – and are not sorely needed in Auckland when separate light rail and heavy rail can offer better capacity, frequency, convenience, and futureproofing.
          6. That it should be possible to make construction costs lower. Light rail overseas costs 2-3x less per km than ALR have costed – THAT should be the fight transit advocates focus on right now. Cherry-picking cheap costs for interoperable rail then still using the most expensive projections for the light rail option one is opposed to is dishonest.
          7. People don’t mind transfers between high frequency services, in fact they open up more travel flexibility and choices. There really is no need to run a complex web of interlined “one seat ride” services.

  33. This all came about because Greater Auckland after using a community based debate and CFN 1 went off in thier own little superior eco chamber to come up with CFN 2.

    Whereas many other older Transport buffs were saying hey look are you sure. We think Heavy is being overlooked and our infighting and lack of a united plan allowed the MPs to make what they want ?

      1. Transport conservatives (aka PTUA). Only heavy rail can be good transit, any investments in PT that doesn’t enable an hourly commuter service on a network that looks like a modern line art painting is a waste of money etc etc.

        1. @Scott – then the heavy rail lobby could do a far better job at improving their attitude, at acknowledging the need for intensification on the Isthmus, at proposing solutions to the bus congestion in the city centre & on arterials like Dominion Rd, at being just a bit more self-critical of their own heavy rail proposals, and at not being viciously hostile and insulting when faced with any criticism.

          Sincerely, someone who was doxxed by a J B Reeves of the PTUA.

    1. Heavy was overlooked because of the bad-faith arguments by HR stans, determined to twist the use case in the only way that HR could possibly look good.

      Simply put, they refused to engage in good faith and got about as much airtime as their approach deserved.

  34. Greater Auckland I would really love your ideas, feedback on this alternative of a few options?
    Open mind quality debate?


    Heaps of thought has gone into it. Including a way to pay for it.

    If you toggle the layers you can see how all the commuter services can completely capture a large amount of Auckland.

    With 4 services per line max incase need others later.


    1. This shopping list is about $100 billion worth of capital projects. Interested to hear about your way to pay for it!

      1. I’m genuinely interested in a post on this, Scott.

        At the moment its a few sweeping statements and some links to a site that looks pretty detailed but a bit hard to navigate.

        Perhaps you could share your over-arching vision, why HR, why not LRT/LM, the plan to pay for it and then the links where relevant?

    2. I think the root issue with such an expansion is revealed in your service running section. Every section of the network has 3 or 4 different services running on it.
      So assuming perfect flying junctions everywhere, at the most you’re going to be getting a service every 13 minutes for each “line”, assuming conventional signalling on CRL as the maximum throughput of 18TPH (I’m only talking one direction here for simplicity).

      However that would be if the network is running totally saturated full tilt. Even in the future we will still have off peak times where the the capacity needed on the network is half, or a quarter of peak traffic.
      So what do you do then? the natural thing to do is to slice frequencies. Now on our mega future metro network we get half hour frequencies, or hourly?
      The other option would be to change the network structure on vs off peak, get rid of a number of “lines”, but this is also a poor user experience, people get to the station slightly late, all of a sudden they don’t get a train in 13 minutes, they have to take an entirely different route. The smallest mistake gets amplified and people have to do a heap of routefinding across a pile of spaghetti. If they arrive early, they don’t get whisked away by the first train, they have to wait several, for a specific one to show up, wasting time.
      Some of those lines would be much busier than others so some lines might only have end up with one or 2 services in the peaks. At which point, it’s almost guaranteed to be faster if you just catch a train to britomart and transfer (because people don’t live their life by an exact clock and leave at slightly different times each day).

      This is the exact same thing as we tried to get away from with the bus network. Switching from a super complicated, one seat ride to every far flung location, to a hub and spoke model. And the new networks all had a double digit % uptick in ridership as a response essentially proving that this is a better model.

      Whats the alternative? Have separated lines that don’t interact. That run at good frequencies, have good fast interchanges, and are pretty long lines. Then you could get almost anywhere on the network with a single transfer and life is made vastly more simple. Easier to operate, easier to use. Using a network running at 1/4 capacity off peak example from above, you still get a train every 15 minutes off peak. Rather than what, hourly?

      But now the interlining is gone, then there is no need to retain the same standards for different lines and we can make a shift to something that would suit that individual line better.

      1. Perhaps your maths is incorrect? As the service runs all the way from west to South and North to South..

        So in effect the same service line is for both ends of the network

        So you can devide your nunbers by 2 and thus X2 for frequency if that makes sence..

        The service leaving North is the same service that arrives later at South .
        X your numbers by at least 2.

      2. great feed back Jack.

        Check those numbers again aye? Not sure they correct.

        But also you are correct about the services all from one end to the other – as I have put on “all” possible services that can be ran apposed to whats optimal..

        And even with every service running the network can still handle it.

        1. Removed one surperfolours line.

          And the node and spoke still works as the busses still have to connect to these stations so having a service from anywhere on the network to anywhere else is a good compromises to many hops.

        2. What do you mean by “with service running the network can handle it”?
          This is kind of a pointless conversation unless you are proposing frequencies. Let’s pick the inner western line as an example.

          Currently the signalling will max that section of line out at 18tph each direction. Generously in the future we might be able to top out at 24tph each direction.

          How many trains per hour do you picture running off peak on that section of line, for each pt line? You have to propose frequencies for the purple, green, and blue.

      3. You are better to look at the few times the tracks have to cross on the entire network.

        I count only 4 times in the whole network so your maths needs redoing Jack

        1. I am assuming every line on this map represents a “line” in the traditional PT sense of the word. A bi directional service.
          Ie red from Kumeu to Manukau will have trains running each way.

          Most of the track would be dual track, left hand running. Any time you have a branch, or 2 sets of tracks that interact with each other you need flying junction or you run into issues like we have with the eastern line joining the southern line. Which dont “cross” on a map, but trains do cross in front of each other.

          Regardless, I hand waved that away by saying we have perfect flying junctions everywhere so how many times things cross here is irrelevant.

    3. No Lincoln Road connection, no connection to Hobsonville, the Massey Stop is on the wrong side of the motorway, The Te Atatu stop serves JUST the peninsula side, there’s almost nothing in the East and there’s probably about a hundred billion dollars worth of cost here which is mostly pointing in the wrong direction or doesn’t connect with the bits that actually have the traffic issues.

    4. Your network is still working around the assumption that ‘single-seat rides everywhere’ are needed – this creates an overly complex network that I found hard to decipher. I would much rather make cross-platform transfers between a smaller number of high-frequency lines. Honestly, I prefer the CFN in terms of network and routing; fewer lines, easier to understand.

      Trying to jam everything into the heavy rail network is pretty flawed – you’re just creating multiple ‘single points of failure’ where an incident could shut down all the heavy rail lines across Auckland. Therein lies a significant advantage of separate heavy rail & light rail/metro – redundancy. What happens on one system never affects the other directly.

      North Shore heavy rail probably ain’t going to happen; the busway is a) too steep and b) too lightly constructed. Light rail or light metro would be cheaper; and easy to link into the Mangere & Northwest RTN.

      Your Line 12 routing doesn’t make sense to me; it covers an area already to be served by the Eastern Busway and A2B; plus it’s mostly rural and industrial catchment. Are you assuming a significant amount of sprawl around Karaka and Waiuku? I wouldn’t consider that desirable at all.

      Rapid rail to Northland would be desirable, but I suspect it may have to wait until a separate high speed rail system is needed in Aotearoa. The winding alignment and urban constraints of the present North Auckland Line, plus the sheer costs and technical complexity of a new more direct alignment following SH1, are challenges. 110-130km/h tilting trains on the existing line to Whangarei (upgraded to allow higher average speeds of course) may be more feasible in the medium term.

      The following would be my preference for a future Auckland transit network – focusing on the Southern, Western, & Eastern heavy rail lines; building light metro or light rail for the North Shore, Northwest, Crosstown, and Mangere; building trams on Sandringham & Dominion Rds; busways futureproofed for LRT for East Auckland & Upper Harbour; and all frequent bus routes upgraded to 10 minute frequencies and continuous bus lanes. Doesn’t include long-distance service like Regional Rapid Rail to Hamilton.

      1. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FfStqvY7DN0mR6HypbO_tcQAgMbsee9f/view?usp=sharing

        What do you think of this option Matt? The extended network would have no single point of failure in contrast to the proposed $14.6 billion disconnected line, every point of which would be a single point of failure.

        With three lines using the CRL, once it is operating at 24 t/h/d, during the peak there would be a train every 7.5 minutes at most to / from the CRL at all stations on the three lines.

        From Mangere Bridge, Favona and Mangere Bridge stations during peak times there would be a train every 7.5 minutes to the CRL via Mt Roskill and Mt Albert, AND regular trains to the CRL via Newmarket, AND regular trains to New Lynn, Henderson and Kumeu. That is a service pattern that actually would be transformational, for around 15% of the cost of the proposed $14.6 billion single line.

        1. Will.

          Fail to understand your logic of how a separate light metro line would be “a single point of failure” everywhere, whereas a network with heaps of junctions would somehow be “perfect” and have “no single points of failure”. This makes no sense to me. An incident in the CRL would severely disrupt ALL heavy rail services, as has already happened several times in the past at the Britomart end, therefore it seems far superior to me to have two independent rail systems, each unaffected by any individual incidents on the other.

          I prefer simpler routings to overly complex interlining at this stage. A single 20tph light metro line or 15tph light rail line, Mangere to City, will give equal capacity to heavy rail as well as highly convenient transfers to crosstown mass transit/frequent buses, while being clearer to understand for all users. Now that’s transformational.

          Additionally, by focusing heavy rail only on the Southern, Western, & Eastern lines as per my document, it is possible to achieve 12tph all-day on almost every train station within built-up Auckland from day 1 of the CRL’s operation (as it is initially limited to 18tph). This will deliver superior outcomes for West Auckland & South Auckland.

          I doubt that the extent of heavy rail improvements needed would be that cheap. Certainly light rail or metro should be cheaper than $15 billion – overseas standards for construction costs are 2-3x cheaper at least than what the ALR group have given. A 21km Wynyard-Airport light metro should cost in the region of $4-6 billion if built like the Canada Line in Vancouver.

          My proposal to better spend $15 billion is
          1. City-Manukau Rd-Airport underground light metro, 21km at $300M per km = $6 billion
          2. Modern trams on Sandringham & Dominion Rds, 15km at $60M per km = $0.9 billion
          3. City-Huapai elevated light metro, 27km at $200M per km = $5.5 billion
          4. Pt Chev-Onehunga-Howick crosstown light rail, 25km at $100M per km = $2.5 billion

          That delivers new mass transit direct to the Northwest, Mangere, East Auckland, and a true orbital route that will connect every radial RTN route south of central Auckland. Paired with an optimized heavy rail network sending trains every 4-5 minutes to Swanson, Pukekohe, & Manukau; plus additional projects like Airport-Botany busway/light rail, and I believe *that* is the integrated multi-modal mass transit Auckland needs to work towards.

        2. @Matta Bear Are those cost as per overseas or a bit more? I’d add on say 50% to these overseas examples. The more we build the more cost efficient it would get, which I suspect is what is happening over seas.

        3. @ Grant – those are roughly mid-level international construction costs for each mode. I derived the costs for modern trams off the Canberra light rail, the crosstown light rail line off Seattle’s Central Link, and light metro off Vancouver’s Canada Line light metro – which I did double the cost per km of, since that was built for $150-200 million per km despite involving a lot of cut-&-cover tunneling.

        4. Matt. On a single isolated light metro / light rail line, if there is a failure at any point, the whole line stops. It fails. This could be ameliorated by having turn backs so that that if there was a failure at say Universities, city bound trains could turn back at Mt Eden with a crossover built for that, but the line would fail to provide a service to Universities, Aotea and Wynyard.

          Rather than extend the existing network and utilise the ability of the CRL to accommodate 3 lines at the good service level of 8 t/h/d, a new light metro / tunneled light rail could be built and provide similar capacity along the single line, but doing that would cost additional cost of at least $12 billion and would for that staggering additional cost be LESS useful as it would not be able to provide services via Newmarket and to Huapai.

          With an extended integrated network with the Airport Branch with the Onehunga Branch connected to it, and the CRL open, the resilience of the network would be very significantly increased, with all single points of failure removed.

          If there was another failure at Britomart, trains on the three lines using the CRL could continue to service the central city via the west portal with a turn back on the Britomart side of Aotea, built when the tracks were laid in the CRL. Services would be able to be rearranged to provide service to every station in the network except Britomart. Trains on the two lines that do not go through the CRL would continue uninterrupted.

          An incident in the CRL would disrupt services but the network would continue to work around the disruption; the network would not fail.

          The proposal referred to is not for tracks to be built from Onehunga to Airport with “heavy rail’s” 3% maximum gradient and 100 metre minimum curve, which would cost billions to build and involve much tunnelling. Rather the use of Light Metro / Pre-metro / Stadtbahn / New York Subway / Paris Metro style trains is proposed that can travel through the CRL with existing trains, be the full 216 metres long, carry over 2,000 passengers per train, turn corners as sharp as 50 metres radius and climb inclines of 5% or more allowing the tracks to be laid where needed at reasonable cost between Onehunga and Airport.

          Laying 17.5 km of track and building stations alongside SH20/A from the Western Line to the Airport would cost in the order of $100 million per km, based on the SMART report and similar projects in Australasia, in the order of $1.9 billion with the balance used for two needed level crossing removals.

          Everyone can think of a great many ways that the $12.5 billion saved could be spent.

        5. Will – do you not get it?

          An incident on a separate light rail/metro system will *only* impact the light rail/metro system. It will have zero impact on the heavy rail lines, which as they are separate will continue to operate unaffected.

          Your proposal has excessive risk. Should an incident occur in the City Rail Link, or where multiple lines are operating/crossing – all lines get shut down or badly disrupted. To the West. To the Airport. To the South. To the East. That is much worse in terms of impact on transit service. Every junction – Mt Eden, Quay Park, Newmarket, Penrose, Onehunga, Avondale, Puhinui, etc. – can be considered a single point of failure, so your assertion that there are “no points of failure” in your proposal is patently incorrect.

          It is easier to build redundancy in separate systems that are not trying to do everything; e.g. crossovers, flying junctions, sidings & passing loops. Fewer interlined routings passing over fewer junctions = less chance of total network-wide disruption.

          You are not correct in saying that “light metro would not access Newmarket or Huapai.” A light metro tunnel via Manukau Rd would naturally be able to stop at Newmarket, creating a cross-platform interchange with heavy rail to Pukekohe. It would also be an ideal staging point for a future Eastern Metro under Remuera to Panmure, connecting with a converted Eastern Busway. Currently it seems both the Eastern Busway and planned A2B busway would reach capacity around the 2050s and require replacement with a rail-based mode.

          And a Northwestern light rail/metro line via SH16 would give a far-superior half-hour journey time from city to Huapai, as well as bring rapid transit to Westgate, Te Atatu, Pt Chev. Compare that with an hour-long journey via the Western Line – and that’s not even getting into how superior 15-20tph citybound is to 8tph citybound.

          Not to mention the potential for a true orbital line for Auckland, a Crosstown light rail or light metro from Pt Chev via Avondale, Onehunga, Penrose, Sylvia Park, & Pakuranga to Howick.

          Yes, more expensive, but don’t get hangup on the “cheapest option”. Insisting on an “all heavy rail network” for dubiously claimed low cost does ZERO to solve the following issues:
          – Bus congestion in the city centre and on Sandringham, Dominion, Mt Eden, & Manukau Rds; particularly focusing on mid-Isthmus suburbs like Balmoral and Epsom where buses currently become overcrowded at peak.
          – Enabling 6+ storey intensification, as encouraged by the NPS-UD, in the middle of the isthmus far away from the heavy rail lines.
          – Cleanly link into North Shore & Northwest rapid transit lines

          I will call your proposal ‘all heavy rail’ because in terms of operation that is essentially what it is; regardless of whether you’re using light rail tracks and tram-trains to construct your extensions the routing and function of your network is essentially a single network. You may claim that this is somehow more optimal than separate higher-frequency heavy and light rail systems, but I strongly disagree.

          I do not believe it necessary or optimal to have many single-seat routings on a single 3ft 6in gauge system. I believe that higher frequencies, more convenience, and more development opportunities are possible by keeping heavy rail, light metro, light rail operationally *separate* from one another, as is the most common practice internationally, and running a smaller number of high frequency (every 3-7 minutes all-day) lines with easy transfers at interchange stations (waiting no more than 2-3 minutes, for example).

        6. Will, there are no crossovers or turn backs being built in the CRL at all, there is literally no way to do that. The best you can manage is to run around the Parnell side to Britomart and use it as a terminal, but that has capacity for twenty trains an hour total, not the 30 trains an hour the CRL can manage and certainly not the 48 you are talking about.

          The current rail network is not very resilient. Adding more trains and more junctions to it will only make it less resilient.

        7. @Riccardo +1

          Since the CRL will open with an initial 18tph capacity, the optimal thing to do with the heavy rail system would probably be:
          1. Run 6tph on 3 service patterns through the CRL, Swanson-Papakura, Swanson-Manukau, & Pukekohe-Manukau. This would effectively create 12tph frequencies on the Western, Southern, & Eastern Lines from the get-go, without needing 24tph through the City Rail Link
          2. Run 3tph on a crosstown pattern Henderson-Onehunga. This fulfils AT’s desire to have a direct west-south service, and more efficiently incorporates Onehunga into the network. If/when the Onehunga branch is converted to part of a crosstown light rail or metro line, this crosstown service could be rerouted to terminate at Otahuhu.

          Once the CRL capacity is increased to 24tph or 30tph, each of the 3 main service patterns could be scaled accordingly, from 6tph to 8tph or 10tph. I think that’s superior to trying to jam more routings through the CRL – trains every 3-4 minutes to Swanson, Papakura, or Manukau would be an absolute game-changer for turn up & go mass transit, in the future.

        8. The best running pattern I have seen so far is:
          10/12tph Swanson – Manukau via Parnell
          10/12tph Pukekohe – Onehunga / Otahuhu (split) via Panmure, Grafton

          Frequencies upped as necessary/possible.

        9. Only problem is the Onehunga services would have to be 3 car sets only? Wouldn’t be surprised if Onehunga services just went to Britomart and then used the central platforms. Worst case would be they get used for the West/South line so Onehunga residents would have to change trains

        10. Good point though Penrose has already been lengthened to accommodate 6 car trains. I guess the others could be too without costing too much. Of was the. West south service then 3 car lengths could be its recognisable thing.

        11. If I’m not mistaken the single-track Onehunga line is only capable of handling 3tph too, and would require double-tracking or passing loops to handle 5-6tph.

          My preference would be in future to convert the OBL to light rail or light metro and run it as part of a crosstown service from Pt Chev & Avondale to Pakuranga & Howick. At least once the CC2M light rail/metro gets built Onehunga would have a fast single-seat journey to the central city.

          In the interim – I do think there is an argument to running a Henderson-Newmarket-Onehunga pattern. It would still enable transfers to higher-frequency city bound trains at any station between Mt Eden & Penrose. Pair it with improved Onehunga-Penrose bus routes & it probably wouldn’t be too disadvantaged compared with today’s direct service.

          Though now you mention it @Kraut – I could see 2tph Britomart to Onehunga working in the interim, assuming that 20tph east out of Britomart is still possible after the CRL opens.

        12. Yes the Onehunga line has that limit, but the Penrose platform was lengthened just for special events at Mt Smart. Yes I mean the purple west south line would suit using Onehunga to keep it tidy.
          With that limit in place though you can split to Otahuhu whatever the Onehunga line can’t handle.

          In both our versions you end up with 24tph (I think) from Otahuhu to Puhinui which is more than anywhere else on the system and are not such popular stations unless we short run some of them. My version would only be one direction that busy, but yours would be in both directions, hence the Otahuhu short running idea.

        13. @Grant – a potential solution could be (as was done in the CFN 2.0) have 1 or 2 lines skip the stations between Otahuhu and Puhinui. This would slightly speed up some journeys while keeping frequencies at those stations to 12tph.

        14. Matt, what I get is what most people seem to get; that spending $14.6 billion to build a single, disconnected, tunnelled light rail line from the Airport to the central city would be an unacceptable spend of public money, to say the least. The other two ALR options are $16.3 billion for tunnelled Light Metro and $9 billion for modern tram via Dominion Road and Queen Street. The public response to the multi-multi-billion dollar cost of three options indicates that the three options are all too expensive to garner the necessary public support for a such a spend of public money.

          Thousands of rail passenger systems of many kinds have been in use all over the world for over 150 years. History shows that the systems, in general, are reliable and resilient. The fact that rail vehicles run on rails assists the systems to be highly reliable and highly resilient if the people designing, building, maintaining and operating a system know what they are doing.

          The reliability and resilience of a rail system is not a function of the inverse of the number of lines and/or the number of branches and/or the number of junctions and/or the number of trains using the system. The Tokyo rail system has over 4,000 kilometres of track, over 800 stations, carries over 40 million passengers a day, has hundreds of junctions, thousands of points / switches and is used by thousands of trains per day. By all accounts the system is highly reliable and resilient; in fact it runs like clockwork with trains often, if not usually, on time to the minute.

          I’m sure that if a bunch of Kiwis were put in charge of Tokyo’s rail system we could crash the whole thing in less than an hour, but there is nothing inherently unreliable and/or irresilient about a rail system with many lines, many branches, many junctions, many points and used by many trains. As long as they are properly designed, built, maintained and operated, multiple lines and junctions / nodes makes a network more resilient as it allows blockages to be bypassed which allows the network to continue to operate when there is a fault at a particular point.

          For example, in Auckland if there were a derailment at the wye junction at Newmarket trains would still serve Britomart Station from the Southern Line and Western Line trains could terminate at Grafton Station if there was a plan in place to do that. The network would not fail; the Newmarket junction is not a single point of failure. Similarly, junctions at Quay Park, Penrose, Onehunga, Avondale, Puhinui and the entirely grade separated junction at Mt Eden are not / would not be single points of failure in the network.

          In a worst-case scenario of say a flood which closes the Britomart Station for a couple of months, the network would not fail. Services can be rearranged and would keep operating. Instead of going through the CRL, a percentage of trains could through run Mt Eden, Grafton, Parnell and the Strand allowing many commuters to walk / ride / scoot from these stations to their central city destinations. Even without crossovers / turnbacks in the CRL, the CRL could still be used for a shuttle service between Mt Eden, K Road and Aotea Stations. With a 9-car train on each track with a driver at each end, a service would be able to be provided in each direction every 6 minutes or so.

        15. It would be physically possible to build a city’s rail rapid transit system such that each line is entirely separate from every other line and with points / switches / junctions only at each end of each line to allow trains to change tracks for their journeys in the other direction, and where trains enter and leave a line for maintenance and storage. Possible but fabulously and unacceptably expensive for a city like Auckland.

          Also, building a system which such a high level of redundancy with public money does not fly under the principles designed to prevent the waste of public resources. Public funds should not generally be used to build redundancy for which there may or may not be a demand in the future or as a backup in case of stoppages, as such spending takes money from meeting current needs that are known to exist. It is OK to build a bridge with space for 4 lanes when only 2 are currently needed because the bridge can only be built once, but it is not OK to build a road with four lanes when only two are currently needed. That is why it is common to see roads with space for more lanes, but the lanes are not formed. Spending the public money to build the extra lanes is left for later when the need is shown to exist or certainly on the way. Build it with public money and they will come is a common approach in China but not so much in countries like ours as when they don’t come, as is happening a bit in China at the moment, the result is wasted public funds which is a bad look.

          It is efficient, reliable, prudent, safe and common to make the most of the enormous sums of money that have been and are being spent on passenger rail systems around the world by having central trunk(s) serve a number of branches. Examples include the many dozens of S-Bahn style systems around the world, the 10 trunk lines under central Tokyo serving 50 plus branches, the Paris RER which has 5 trunk lines serving 22 branches and Crossrail which has a single trunk with services that will terminate at Reading, Heathrow T4 and Heathrow T5 in the west and at Abbey Wood and Stenfield in the East. To build a second Crossrail trunk now because of an aversion to branches would increase the cost of the project from £20 billion to possibly twice that and would be an enormous waste of today’s public resources for no discernible increase in reliability and no increase in service as the single trunk will provide sufficient frequency and capacity for decades, possibly indefinitely. If the construction of a second Crossrail trunk is ever called for by the level of demand that eventuates, the decision whether to build a second trunk can be made if and when that time comes.

          Similarly if the construction of a second rail tunnel under central Auckland or a rail tunnel under the isthmus is ever called for by the level of passenger demand for the CRL that eventuates, the decision whether to build a second tunnel can be made if and when that time comes.

        16. The Southern Line has the Onehunga Branch Line coming off it. The Manukau Branch Line is usually accessed from the Eastern Line which will be made easier with four tracks from Westfield to Wiri. That is two “main” lines and two branches. Building the long-planned branch to the Airport from the Western Line would result in three main lines and three branches. The planned 17.5 km Airport branch would be longer than the other two branches but that does not increase the main effect of a branch on a network, that trains leave the main line at that point. Building the long-planned Airport branch would not somehow make the network more susceptible to significant partial failure or total failure.

          Auckland’s 3’6’’ gauge rail network was 71.1 km in length in 1981 serving a population of 810,000. Today the network has extended to 73.6 km, with the opening of the 2.5 km Manukau Branch Line, serving a population of 1,652,000. The network will be 95.2 km long when the CRL and the extension to Pukekohe are both operating by which time Auckland’s population will likely be over 1,800,000 and on the way to 2 million.

          In comparison Perth’s 3’6’’ gauge rail network was around 80 km in length in 1981 serving a population of 942,000. Today Perth’s network is around 250 km long serving a population of 2,210,000. Perth’s network is currently undergoing a further 60 km expansion, to 310 km, including two branches on the Fremantle – Midland Line, both from the New Bayswater Station 7 km to the northeast of the network’s hub, the Perth Railway Station. New Bayswater Station will not become a single point of failure for the Perth network once the two branches from it have opened.

          The Perth Airport branch, heading east from New Bayswater Station, is an 8 km twin bored tunnelled branch that is currently under construction on a route that goes under the Swan River and has stations at Redcliffe, Perth Airport and High Wickham. The branch is costing AUD$1.9 billion, around AUD$240 million per km, and is due to open this year.

          The Morley-Ellenbrook branch will head north from New Bayswater Station and will be 21 km long with five new stations. The contracted price of the branch is AUD$1.1 billion and is due to open in 2024. That’s AUD$52 million per km.

          NZ$100 million per kilometre with stations from the Western Line to the Auckland Airport is a reasonable indicative cost for building track suitable for integrated Light Metro trains; track which can be built with minimal tunnelling.

        17. Building rail on or below part of one of Sandringham, Dominion, Mt Eden or Manukau Roads does next to nothing to reduce bus numbers or enable six storey intensification within walking distance of the three roads without rail and the part of the fourth road which doesn’t have rail built on or below it.

          The equivalent of the central isthmus corridor in Melbourne has seven tram lines and three rail lines with the fourth currently under construction. Such a profusion of lines can’t be built through Auckland’s central isthmus this half century but what can be done in the next five years is to build the SH20/A route that would take multiple thousands of passengers off isthmus bus routes (and tram routes if built) and move passengers through the central city not at street level, but underground in the CRL. The other thing that can be done, in the next five years, is to introduce electric high capacity (150 plus passenger) BRT busses, with doors on both sides as trams and trains have, stopping at high-capacity island and side platforms on the full length of all Sandringham, Dominion, Mt Eden and Manukau Road bus routes. Light Rail / Modern Tram / Tram could be installed on some or all of these routes later this century if desired. The measures would work together to reduce bus numbers and enable the intensification of all of the central isthmus.

          One of the great benefits of the introduction of BRT systems in cities such as Bogota was to significantly reduce the number of busses in the central city, from thousands to hundreds in Bogota’s case, while at the same time increasing transit capacity by using high-capacity BRT busses and high-capacity BRT platforms and stations.

          The Metropolitano is a single BRT line in Lima, Peru that runs on suburban and city streets, on the centre of a motorway serving island platforms accessed from overpass roads, in a short central city tunnel and in the median strips of arterial roads. It carries over 700,000 passengers per weekday, more than any light rail line in the world.

          The Northern Busway is predicted by AT to reach 70,000 passengers per week day by 2038. The Northern Busway can be upgraded to carry multiple hundreds of thousands of passengers a day, in years not decades, with the use of BRT busses, BRT platforms and stations and through running via the centre of Fanshaw Street, Custom Street, Beach Road, and Grafton Gully to the centre of the Northwestern Motorway to Kumeu, and a via the Waterview Tunnel to Mt Roskill, Onehunga, Mangere and Airport. These routes could be converted to integrated Light Rail / Light Metro later in the century allowing services past Kumeu to run on the existing rail line that may be double tracked and electrified to at least Waimauku by then.

        18. Sorry Will but your example of Tokyo is exactly the opposite of what you think. The enormous Tokyo train system is made up of dozens of independent systems that are technically unrelated and physically separate.

          Tokyo has mix of private railway networks, local government owned lines, national rail, intercity, several distinct metro systems, four different kinds of monorail on four different monorail lines, two kinds of people mover, interurban light rail, trams and more.

          These run across four different track gauges (not counting another six with monorails and people movers), five different power supply systems (DC and AC overhead, third rail, fourth rail and diesel), and god knows how many different signaling and control systems.

          For example Keio Corporation runs the Keio line through Shinjuku Station on 1,372mm track gauge (!) powered by 1,500vDC overhead wire. Alongside it at Shinjuku is the Oedo line run by the Tokyo Transportation Bureau on 1,435mm standard gauge, the Tobu Lines running on 1,067mm narrow gauge, the Maronouchi Line of the Toko Metro Corproration that is standard gauge but 600v DC third rail, etc etc etc.

        19. Riccardo. Understand the nature of Tokyo’s rail system but didn’t include all the detail above. The system is operated by many dozens of operators and has four track gauges as you mention; around 50 km of 762 mm, around 60 km of 1372 mm, around 100 km of 1435 mm gauge, and the balance of the 4700 km of track length is 1067 mm gauge. I suspect that there is more than 100 km of 1435 mm gauge track but can’t confirm that.

          A number of lines, usually with a number of branches, operate independently however a remarkable feature of the system is the degree of interoperation. East Japan Railway Company operates a large suburban network with numerous mid-distance services from the outer suburban lines through operating to form a high frequency corridor though central Tokyo and then branch off and interoperate with other JR East suburban lines on the other side of central Tokyo. Also, it is common for the numerous private railway companies to funnel train traffic into through operations with Tokyo subway lines; all but three of Tokyo’s 13 subway lines serve as underground trunk lines for suburban rail operators to access Tokyo city center.

          Whatever the exact breakdown is, the point remains that a 100 km passenger rail network with 10 junctions is not by definition more reliable and more resilient than a 200 km rail network with 20 junctions.

          Similarly increasing Auckland’s rail network with the CRL and Pukekohe extension operating, from 95.2 km with 6 junctions, to 112.7 km with 8 junctions by building the long-planned 17.5 km Airport branch, would not somehow cause the network to become less reliable and less resilient at all, let alone to a degree that amounts to a reason to not build the long planned Airport branch.

          The first movie in the trilogy could be out by 2026.

        20. Will, you’re focusing entirely on “system length to junction ratio” which makes no sense.

          The simple fact of the matter is that if you try and build a system where all the RTN lines radiating from Central Auckland are on a single mode/single system, that network is going to be at high risk of failure or immense disruption. Number of junctions alone is irrelevant; it’s the fact that you propose funneling so many lines through the CRL – THAT’s the point of failure. A derailment in the CRL shuts down or severely disrupts your Western, Airport, Onehunga, Southern, and Eastern lines; even if Britomart is used as a terminus the network is at a disadvantage and reduced capacity.

          If you look at the CRL station technical drawings you will see that there is no provision for turning trains at Aotea or Karangahape Stations;

          I don’t know how else to explain to you that separate networks ARE more reliable – because a derailment on one does not affect the other. Heavy rail incidents would not affect light rail service, and vice versa. Even if the whole heavy rail network shut down the light rail network could keep operating no problem, keeping at least some of Auckland’s RTN in operation with constant, familiar routings.

          I find your cherry-picking of low-costs for your options vs the unreasonably high ALR costs for light rail, and your insinuations that only your proposal could be built before 2030, to be rather dishonest and biased. Overseas costings per km clearly show light rail can and should cost half, or even a third, of the currently claimed $15 billion. $15 billion could then go towards more light rail (crosstown or Northwest, as most urbanists advocate for) and better outcomes for travel and urban density across Tamaki Makaurau.

          Surely if the political will existed, it would be possible to, for example, rebuild the Penrose-Onehunga branch as 1435mm light metro/light rail and extend it to the Airport, creating a frequent Penrose-Airport shuttle service in advance of building the isthmus section of the CC2M line. This would be compatible with any light rail/metro routing for the Isthmus – the unideal Sandringham Rd alignment, a Dominion Rd alignment, or a Manukau Rd alignment. It would also create the opportunity for interoperable/easily upgradeable 1435mm light rail and light metro (emphasis – completely separate to heavy rail), as has been done in Amsterdam & Rotterdam.

          Simpler networks and higher frequencies on each line suit Auckland better. The Southern Line, for example, has been overcrowded with 6-car trains every 10 minutes at peak – 9-car trains every 3-5 minutes to Papakura should be the endgoal, and it’s better to achieve that in the Auckland context with fewer service patterns running at higher frequencies. Transferring between high frequency lines, whether they be of the same mode or different modes will be no different to the average Aucklander than a single-seat journey.

        21. In fact, I argue that *more* separate modes would be more beneficial for Auckland, allowing for ultra-high ultra-convenient frequencies, greater redundancy and independence of operation, and the ability to

          1. The Owairaka-Mt Roskill development area would be better served by surface light rail. Modern trams, costing $30-60 million per km as per Tampere & Canberra, could run at-grade from Queen St down Sandringham Rd and Dominion Rd, every 4 minutes on each street – an initial 15km network costing optimally no more than $1 billion. The number of buses on Symonds St would be halved, improving reliability for other Isthmus bus routes, and the Sandringham-Dominion corridors would support 3x the density & capacity possible with buses – new 6+ storey developments all along the under-utilized Dominion Rd, and a new transit-oriented development hub replacing the Dominion/New North interchange.

          2. Light metro via Newmarket & Manukau Rd (19km Wynyard-Airport), if built at the $200-300 million per km standard of Vancouver & Copenhagen light metro, would cost no more than $6 billion and deliver the most direct mass transit to Mangere (20-25 mins to the City), serve major nodes such as the Hospital, Newmarket, Epsom, & Royal Oak, and enable further urban intensification along this route. With automated 120m trains every 3 minutes the Mangere light metro line would have the same capacity as 9-car heavy rail trains every 5 minutes.

          3. A crosstown line (either LRT or light metro) could fulfill a true orbital route from Pt Chev to Howick, connecting the NW light metro, Western Line heavy rail, Sandringham & Dominion Rd trams, Manukau Rd light metro, Southern Line & Eastern Line heavy rail, and Eastern Busway. Assuming $100-150 million per km for Seattle-type light rail, this 25km route should cost no more than $3.8 billion.

          So, for $11 billion:
          – All CC2M goals are achieved (intensifying the Isthmus, replacing central city buses, rapid transit to Mangere) with lines and modes optimized for their respective purposes
          – Heavy rail network can be optimized around the Western, Southern, & Eastern lines, sending 12TPH out to Swanson, Papakura, & Manukau as soon as the CRL opens.
          – $4 billion still available assuming a $15 billion budget, perhaps to bring forward a Northwestern Light Metro and give Huapai Massey, Te Atatu, & Pt Chev the most direct mass transit option to the city.

          By getting shovels in the ground ASAP, an initial Penrose-Onehunga-Airport light rail/light metro shuttle service could be in operation before 2030; ideally the whole CC2M line + Crosstown line + Dominion Rd trams could be in operation by the early 2030s.

          The second phase would consist of the North Shore & Northwest lines, needed before the 2040s, and any extensions to the crosstown line & isthmus trams. A new, separate bridge from Wynyard Quarter to Onewa Rd could be built ASAP for active modes and mass transit (buses now, light rail & light metro later), ensuring a better AWHC outcome than any tunnel option. Interim bus lanes along SH16 from Huapai to the City (45 mins) would be the best option for serving the NW until light metro can be built.

        22. “Sorry Will but your example of Tokyo is exactly the opposite of what you think. The enormous Tokyo train system is made up of dozens of independent systems that are technically unrelated and physically separate.”

          I just don’t get this obsession with doubling down on a network already struggling for capacity and sub-optimal for resilience. New independent lines (whatever mode) to new communities, offering transfer points with current HR lines to offer a much broader, connected, network.

        23. 1. Nimbyism – particularly for the central Isthmus area (centring on Balmoral & Dominion Rd) which would benefit hugely from 6+ storey NPS-UD enabled development around RTN light rail but not from only a Avondale-Onehunga alignment.

          2. Disruption – the premise that any light rail construction on the Isthmus is undesirable

          3. Populist appeal to both the pro-heavy rail and pro-light rail sides?

          4. Over-preference for single-seat journeys – still a common (media-boosted) mentality around public transport in NZ

        24. “the ideal metro line is a closed system in normal operation. less new york, london, chicago; more mexico city, paris, and like forty cities in china

          unfortunately to expect the anglophone world to learn from foreign best practices might be naïve but come on now”

          “also worth noting:
          1. the anglophone metros’ best performers are the closed systems: new york’s L, london’s Victoria, chicago’s Blue…
          2. toronto and montréal beat out all US competitors save for new york in terms of ridership, despite an interchange-reliant topology”

          – @sanpabloavenue, February 24 2022

          “the benefits of closed systems:
          -more capacity on each line
          -more redundancy+ reliability
          -less operational conflicts
          -better distribution of loads across the system

          the only con is the need to build more tracks, tunnels, stns in the core, but this is building for the future!”
          – @augustAP12 https://twitter.com/augustAP12/status/1496564069855342604

        25. With the long planned 17.5 km Airport Branch built Auckland’s rail network would be a modest 95.2 km long with a service pattern that would likely see three lines through running the CRL, with a train on each line at each CRL platform as often as every 7.5 minutes, every 6 minutes if the CRL is ever operated at 30 t/p/h.

          Manukau – Eastern Line – CRL – Southern Line – Papakura or Pukekohe.
          Swanson – Western Line – CRL – Southern Line – Onehunga/Airport or Otahuhu.
          Airport – Western Line – CRL – Eastern Line – Otahuhu.

          Likely two lines would operate without travelling through the CRL.
          New Lynn – Western Line – Southern Line – Otahuhu.
          Airport – Western Line – Huapai.

          The system would be at a low risk of failure or immense disruption. The system would be similar to dozens if not hundreds of systems around the world that are reliable and resilient, which is conclusive evidence that the Auckland system, with the CRL operating and one 17.5 km branch added, can be satisfactorily reliable and resilient.

          A 17.5km branch from the Western Rail Line can be built to Three Kings by 2026 and to the Airport by 2029. The cost would be in the order of $1.9 billion, $100 million per km with something left over for some level crossing removal. There may be updated costings of the 17.5 km line that have not been released, and the final amount may be $110 or $120 million per km or more, but with little or no tunnelling involved the line is not susceptible to the massive cost increases that effect tunnel projects.

          One reason for building a new branch / line in a system that can accommodate it is that the line being part of an existing system provides great benefits to users. In this case passengers in transport deprived Mangere Bridge, Favona and Mangere would be able to catch services to the Airport, the CRL via Mt Albert, the CRL via Newmarket and to the Western Line as far as Huapai.

          Another reason for using the CRL and Western Line to get trains to and from Mt Roskill, Mangere and the Airport is that the CRL will have, and Western Line does have, sufficient capacity to accommodate the Airport trains. Closed metro lines may be “ideal”, but as with the 40 million passenger per day capacity Tokyo rail system, and many, many other systems in Anglophone and non-Anglophone countries alike, branch lines sharing trunk lines to maximise benefit is what works best in those systems in at least the short and medium term. If demand is such that more trunks are warranted to reduce or eliminate trunk sharing, that can be done if and when it is worth doing.

          However the killer reasons are cost, disruption and time. Building Auckland’s 17.5 km Airport branch, as long planned, would saving $5 billion plus by not having to build a surface line or lines or $10 billion plus by not having to build another tunnel, money that can be spent on other needed projects, northwest, north, crosstown, isthmus, whatever the priorities are. The branch can be built with little disruption and can be operating to Three Kings by 2026 and to the Airport by 2029. Other options involve significant disruption and could take until the mid-2030s to be fully operational.

          The advice from the Ministry of Transport and Treasury to Cabinet about ALR’s multi $ billion options is expected to be released in a few weeks. It will be more than interesting to read what the advice is.

        26. Lol at using Crossrail as a case for extending an existing heavy rail network.

          London is building Crossrail to create an entirely independent set of tracks specifically to address the issues caused by too many branches off of the existing network. The existing lines are too complex, with too many junctions, and too many points of failure. Cross rail is just about completely independent of the existing network.

          The equivalent to Cross rail in Auckland (post CRL) would be to tunnel Quay Park to Kingsland to separate the eastern line and western line from the Southern line and Onehunga Line.

        27. @Sailor Boy – don’t bother. I won’t anymore. I don’t think Will’s ever going to acknowledge any of the issues we’ve been bringing up and just will keep on being a broken record of advertising his own cherry-picked solution.

        28. Matt, advocating for the completion of the Strategic Transport Network 2042 on page 313 of the super city’s founding document, the Auckland Plan 2012 – 2042, is not cherry picking! Please have a good long look at it at the link below. The only question of consequence is, once it is in place what should be done next? Almost all of the network could be in place by 2030 if the powers that be ever get their act together.

          The Strategic Transport Network 2042 is the culmination of over 100 years of transport planning in Auckland and is given effect to by the Auckland Unitary Plan that was notified in 2013 and will likely remain in place for least another 10 to 15 years if not until 2042 as intended.

          As Miffy so succinctly put it, the plan not to complete Auckland’s rail network by building the Airport / Wiri line as so long planned and instead build a disconnected “light rail” line to the Airport for now $14.6 billion is something that Auckland Transport “pulled out of its arse” in mid-2016. It is a proposal that has no providence, is contrary to the Auckland Unitary Plan, and has about as much chance of being built as a stairway to heaven.

          Sailor Boy, the equivalent of the Cross Rail tunnel and its feeder lines being built and operated as designed is for the CRL and its feeder lines to be built and operated as designed, a design which is shown in the diagram at the link below.


  35. Well this is going to be an absolute disaster and the worst of both worlds.

    Does this at least mean that we can get a cycle lane on Dominion Road now? Because the reason for not building it (the road will get torn up for light rail in a few years) no longer exists.

  36. As of 2019/20 financial year Total Crown revenue was $116.0 billion. Core Crown tax revenue is a major component of total Crown revenue; this totalled $85.1 billion in the 2019/20 financial year. Total Crown revenue for the 2019/20 financial year was $116.0 billion. Core Crown tax revenue is a major component of total Crown revenue; this totalled $85.1 billion in the 2019/20 financial year. But we’ve normally see around $45 billion – $50 billion allocated to ‘Social Welfare’ which fits in with ‘Public Transport Infrastructure’. Most of the time you don’t hardly see any big funding for transport projects at all and just goes towards other departments cause they need the investments more, also we have a high dependancy for government to make our lives better. If we continue this trend of big value spending over cheaper alternatives, where’s the peoples savings going to be for people on the lower end (Minimum wage/ Living wage) people?

    Clearly, the cost has ballooned into lunacy before shovels have even touched ground. Every dollar thrown at this gold-plated transport project is a dollar that can’t be used to ease financial pressures on Kiwi households dealing with the economic effects of a pandemic. Average working earning the minimum wage or living wage for 40 hrs each year before tax is total of $800 – $910, deduct after tax, that’s $677.73 – $758.65.

    It would mean that the average tax payer would be paying $1.70 a week or $6.60 a week if construction or more deadly ‘COVID variant’ was to disrupt inflates the overall cost at a time where so many are struggling financially. In a year it would mean that each tax payer would be paying $90.10 to $349.80 per year, which is total of $153 million to $595 million each year for all tax payer. By the time it’s payed off which is likely to be 50 years to 100 years to be fully paid off. If they were to go ahead with constructing the LRT to North Shore it be double tax payer money, ranging from $180.20 to $699.60 per year each tax payer and take longer to pay off due to other departments needing investments in future.

    For a single working person, your average grocery shopping cost $120 – $280, car/public transport $100 – $150, electricity $20 – $50, council rates $180 – $300, Water bill $15 – $30, mortgage/rent $400 – $700. That’s a total of $830 – $1510 the average person is needing work towards per week. If you were to add both ‘North Shore line’ and CC2M line combined $3.40 – $13.20, it would increase peoples pay out.

    Already we know that most kiwis are struggling under the minimum wage and living wage due to the effects of COVID, where people are having to work extra hours to be able to pay for basic essentials, mortgage/rents, electricity bills, but aren’t able to do exactly that, due to business related reasons likely cause businesses around country can’t afford to pay staff for more hours and are left off to sacrifice between what to pay and not able to pay cause of excessive amounts of things to pay off. This project will just makes peoples lives worse for the worse financially.

    Also means no room to save money for natural disasters, need repair house or car, or even be able to have fun and get out about once a while to support retail, hospitality, events or entertainment venues across the country. If you work for a small business you’re definitely not going to be able ask for raise and demand it cause their likely in a position where they’re about to become broke.

    Where’s the savings going to be for those who are stuck on minimum wage and living wage going to be Minister Wood? Also where’s the money going to be for other important investments needed in-future and other transport projects across the country too?

  37. As someone living in Mangere, I just wanna get this over and done with. Im not too thrilled about the fact that they want it to be a tram through Mangere and Onehunga town centres, particularly Onehunga considering that there is always a huge bottleneck going into onehunga from the Mangere Bridge anyway. It would only make things worse traffic wise. But it’s better than nothing, and much better than what it could have been. I kind of hope that they at least put some effort into making Mangere and Onehunga town centres somewhat grade separated, as it will just make the whole line slower than it could be. I mean I can’t really see what the big deal about making the line go down Bader drive is, The people there could easily walk to the Favona and Mangere TC stations.
    So as a resident in the area which is being proposed, I’m so happy that they’re finally getting this done but I feel like they haven’t done enough research into this.

    1. “The people there could easily walk to the Favona and Mangere TC stations.”

      The problem with between these is that line would be going through residential housing, it would mean they would have to displace people currently living on Bader Dr, even the newly built ones which were built recently. Also the LRT would be travelling on the Bader Dr and Mckenzie Rd, also once out of Mangere town centre towards airport there’s a problem, you have houses and people living on Killington Cres, how are they going to be able to exit onto another road?

      means it would be driving along with trucks, cars, vans and etc, shared road and have to cross intersection at Mangere Town Centre and two intersections nearby SH20. They expect LRT to be able to travel across each station within one min when in reality it won’t be able to do since its sharing roads with vehicles and traffic lights which will impact its duration of commuting to one place to another. Who ever designed the planned route didn’t design it very well and needs to reassess the route!

      1. I really hope they re-evaluate the “tram” thing. Not really worth it going right into the town centre and having slow trams clogging the roads when they could have a park n ride by the motorway.

        I think that it’s not that much of a hassle to have to walk to the Favona station via hall ave or the mangere tc station. Why not have a bus route go through the neighbourhood connecting to the stations. Or even a nice sidewalk. The tram thing is unnecessary and every time I drive down Bader drive and Mackenzie road I do a facepalm. It’s just such a crap idea…. Mangere is notorious for pretty bad drivers and I can’t imagine what chaos the trams would cause.

        1. We need to stop framing it as “trams holding up cars” – public transport should be higher up on the transport hierarchy than low-capacity private cars.

          I think more of the issue with surface light rail on-street through is:
          1. Longer City-Mangere travel times
          2. Prevents a seamless upgrade to fully grade-separate light metro in future.

          There is a point that an alignment parallel to or above SH20 would enable less development and be less pleasant to walk to (I can attest, regularly using the Northern Busway stations right next to the Northern Motorway). I do think it would be desirable to have a light rail station right in Mangere Town Centre at least – either elevated on a viaduct or tunneled/trenched.

  38. And it would be cool if they opened it in sections (i.e. Airport to Onehunga first to connect with the train and then into the city.)

    1. Not only would it be “cool” to start at the Onehunga Station and build towards the airport precinct first, this would have two very important advantages, 1) a demonstration line to prove the viability of the concept, 2) connect Mangere to both Onehunga station and the airport precinct to connect these areas to heavy rail, oh and a third benefit of course is if physical tracks or even a partial operating line is in before the election if the worst happens then it would be difficult to totally cancel the whole project.

      1. Expanding on that – why not convert the Penrose-Onehunga branch to light metro at the same time, and run a Penrose-Mangere-Airport shuttle initially? Better interim connections to the Southern Line for those heading into the city, plus it would better enable a future Avondale-Penrose crosstown service after the City-Onehunga section were built.

        1. Expanding even further, such a line should be extended through to Panmure and giving an Airport connection from the east as well.
          Building the line from Onehunga to the Airport and then at a later (not too much later) date extend the line from the Airport via Puhinui to Botany would enable a proof of concept line to be started and running quickly and give more time to fully define how and where the connection to the CBD would run.

        2. @Robert – I agree that extending a line east would be desirable, though my envisioned routing would be via Sylvia Park & Pakuranga to Howick, operated as an orbital Pt Chev-Howick service.

          Definitely agree too that A2B would be well-suited for initial construction as light rail instead of a busway or “trackless tram”.

  39. If they are going to tunnel then I think just the city section as far as Upper Queen St (like Matt means I think), where it would surface using the natural terrain. This frees up Queen St etc as a pedestrian boulevard and cycle/micro-mobility area. It also allows for a more free flow of the crossing buses rather than waiting for a 66-80m light rail vehicle to pass. This gives the nice underground interchange with Aotea & ability to go over the shore via a tunnel. It would be nice to be on the surface though in the city/harbour crossing for visuals and having a great view from within.
    It’s nuts to not just use surface for an isthmus road like Dominion or Sandringham Rds.

    1. It makes it ‘possible’ to do that on Queen St but it also makes it possible to keep it as a traffic sewer. Almost none of the elegant, flowing streams and planted tree solutions with wonderful promenades ever rendered for Queen Street are ever going to happen. More’s the pity.

      The problem is, the easily doable ‘just close the effing road to anything isn’t a bus, police car or ambulance’ isn’t either. Tunnelling under Queen Street is also an excuse to keep things exactly the same, which is more important than actual, meaningful change, and we let it happen because our expectations for downtown Auckland are so so low by now.

      1. Exactly. And there is a cost to a lack of meaningful change and in this case its the extra billions spent on tunnelling so cars cannot be inconvenienced. Its utterly ridiculous.

        Auckland – and for that matter NZ – is a provincial hick by world standards. No idea how the rest of the world operates. When it comes to how modern cities should work, we are absolute illiterates and worse, refuse to learn off anyone else. Utter dunces.

        1. Should have asked “We could spend $15b on one branch line of this sodding thing, or we can transform literally everywhere within 25km South and North West for the same amount of money, give Queen Street an iconic feel and reinstate the stream as a feature as well as slashing travel times and carbon emissions for the same amount of money, and probably have enough money left over for a bridge over to the Shore. Which one do you want?”

          But we don’t ask that. We sit there like idiots and our elected and unelected officials try to over-complicate a basic transit system that almost every other major city in the world copes with into a hugely complex gold-plated nightmare and strip away literally all of the urban form benefits that come with it. And we don’t ever seem to say “hey, that’s not good enough”. We just keep letting it happen.

  40. Why not bring in Chinese contractor to bid on project and supervised by local engineers? To enjoy the speed of construction while cost effective. At least we get a fair deal rather than councils overblowed budget, also prevent Auckland city underground station nightmare. Remember used to saw a news the contractor filled 70 truck of concrete blocked a wrong tunnel and later on need to be digged out.

  41. A lot of the arguments against the proposed seem to all come back to the the seemingly high cost of providing just tone line.
    I wonder if instead a different view might just be that by building this one line in a way that burrows under the heavy congested areas of Auckland, while allowing “I can’t exist without my car” brigade to eventually realise that they are the cause of the congestion and will slowly come over to the mass public transport way of thinking.
    This will in turn create more demand for more and better interconnecting public transport options.
    I know $15+ billion is an expensive way to “teach them a lesson” but if we (the government) holds its nerve on this and sees this as just the backbone of a new and interconnected public transport system rather than just a single line I believe it could truely be to the benefit of Auckland’s commuters of the future.
    After many years of both neglect of public transport and the pandering to the private car to we simply can not expect to wind back the clock and build everything we should have.
    My big concern here, and probably that of most public transport supporters, is that we will finally make a start on building what is Auckland’s equivalent to the London tube system and the politicians will get frightened off by the cost of finishing the whole interconnected system and we will end up with and even greater congestion problem.

    1. Don’t underestimate how much this project will suck all oxygen from other things that need to be done, tying up consultants and bureaucrats in the planning for years – when they need to be working on other things.

      Also, the failure to understand the need to regenerate the streets and reduce the traffic capacity is leading to supersizing projects all over the show. Eastern Busway is not just overpriced due to this problem, but the actual route has been bodged because of it. Work on arterials should have happened years ago with road reallocation, at a cheap price, and we’d have a far better transport network.

      So we need to tackle this anyway, if we’re going to achieve improvements in transport. We should do so before spending $15b.

  42. As people are aware, us Kiwis have a housing crisis and it ain’t going away anytime soon! The ALR project (Auckland Light Rail project) is designed to be transporting people from the CBD to airport and vice versa. Along with targeting Maori and Pasifika people with cheaper and better housing option. The people who are being significantly being affected by the housing crisis is Maori and Pasifika people, that’s is why Kainga Ora has been started up to help Maori and Pasifika into home ownership or even into affordable rent. Buying a property is becoming impossible than ever for a first home buyer cause the value of the properties keep outpacing wage/salary growth and become incredibly impossible to buy a property of your own yourself. This is where Kainga Ora steps in to stem the issues we Kiwis face on a daily basis with housing.

    Mount Roskill North will become a site of Kainga Ora The majority ethic group currently living in Mount Roskill is European, while Asian ethic group is starting to outpace European, Maori, Pasifika, Middle Eastern/Latin America/Africa and other ethnicities. The Asian population has grown from 37.2% 2006, 39.0% 2013 and 43.1% 2018. Maori population has been sitting idle, with the population 6.4% 2006, 6.7% 2013 and idle 6.7% 2018 with no increase. With Pasifika sitting at 10.3% 2006, 8.4% 2013 and rebounds back to 10.7% 2018. Possible of chances of the Asian population growth by 2023 if the census for the population of Mount Roskill to be released, it would be somewhere between 50 – 60% or more, while the targeted population of Maori and Pasifika sits idle with no growth at all or even declines in growth. It also means that people living in Mount Roskill would be more likely to be working from home or work in the CBD of Auckland. Would be highly unlikely be using the Light Metro to the airport on a regular basis for work or even travel since there likely to be too poor to travel since we have low wage economy.

    Same suburbs such as Hobsonville and Northcote, where they’re establishing Kainga Ora has the same similar trends of specific ethnic group living an area. With Hobsonville, European predominately dominate there, Asian ethic group are catching up to the European ethic group and Maori/Pasifika stays idle with very little or no increase. The European population has grown from 77.3% 2006, 87.6% 2013 and dropped 68.3% 2018. While Asian population had experiential increase 10.1% 2006, 10.0% 2013 and 28.1% 2018. That’s leaves with Maori at 5.5% 2006, 5.6% 2013 and 5.9% 2018 also with Pasifika with 2.5% 2006, 4.4% 2013 and 4.5% 2018. Now with Northcote South, very similar story, with Europeans 62.6% 2006, 67.3% 2013 and 60.8% 2018. Asian population is seen rising here too with 24.8% 2006, 26.9% 2013, 33.8% 2018. While Maori hasn’t really increased by much and been sitting idle, with 6.0% 2006, 7.6% 2013 and 7.0% in 2018. While Pasifika has a really slow increase with 2.9% 2006, 3.1% 2013 and 3.6% 2018.

    When Kainga Ora released the ‘Managed Kāinga Ora Rental Properties by Auckland Council Local Board as at 30 September 2021’. It highlighted the statistics of amount of individual bedrooms of each property accommodated inside properties. Interestingly Puketapapa also known as Mount Roskill, had created only 416 one bedroom units, 905 two bedroom unit, 800 three bedroom units, 239 four bedroom units and lastly 35 five bedroom units. While their predecessors Mangere – Otahuhu a large population of Maori and Pasifika people, Kainga Ora managed to produce 295 one bedroom units, 1,290 two bedroom units, 1,644 three bedroom units, 925 four bedroom units and 453 five bedroom units. As we all know, most Maori and Pasifika families normally have very big families ranging from 7-11 people in a family, often require four bedroom unit or five bedroom unit to provide enough space for themselves, if theres not many big units coming into Mount Roskill if this project is suppose to be targeting Maori and Pasifika?

    Right now we know that large majority of Maori and Pasifika people are going through significant financial hardship due to ever increasing inflation which push up prices of goods and services, economic disruption and Covid pandemic. Which also means that renting or buying the first home grant will be hard than ever to purchase due to the ever increasing supply chain issues which make it harder to purchase and own the finishing product. With the average house price for Kainga Ora houses at $650,000 in Auckland, are Maori/Pasifika people able to afford purchasing a house for that value? Most likely case, they wont be able to afford it since their most likely to be sitting on minimum wage and financially struggle to be able to save money for house deposit. Same goes for rent, average rent in Auckland is $600 a week, which is equivalent to $2400 per month and most people on minimum wage working 40 hrs a week earn $3104.48, that also goes towards other living costs such as electricity, council rates, water, grocery and public transport or private vehicle.

    Most Maori and Pasifika people would look towards leaving Auckland and move to smaller towns or cities around the country or looks towards living in Hamilton or Tauranga, even look towards crossing the ditch to Australia since its slightly cheaper to live there than Auckland since its becoming a really expensive place for them to reside and pay their living cost. We also know that most people from Mangere would likely be working in physical labour jobs, industrialised jobs and call centre jobs which are situated in Auckland Airport Business District also airport itself, Manukau, Otahuhu, Penrose, Ellerslie, Newmarket and CBD and have to take a transfer often to get their final destination.

    The CC2M project (City Centre to Mangere project) was specifically designed for the people of Mangere to help them be not transport deprived and be able to have access to get to point A to B directly instead of having to transfer, is the project really designed for the people living in Mangere at all or even helping Maori/Pasifika people with the housing crisis and provide better way of living?

    1. Associate Professor Imran Muhammad teaches ‘Transport and Urban Planning at the School of People, Environment and Planning’ from Massey University is more of an expert on transport and urban planning since he would have more of an understanding of the geographical environment, spacial awareness, consequences and effects that light rail would contribute to Auckland than the ‘Minster of Transport’, we should be listening to the ‘Professor’! A ‘Professor’ is an expert, we should listen!

      He highlights the fact that politicians from around the world have made transport modes a global competition in creating liveable cities for their country or city and completely ignore the overall consequences for businesses and people affect by change. Also he’s indicated the issues with this project from environmental, health, economic and media point of view. “Light rail is popular among politicians, as it has been associated with the “cool/modern image” of the 21st-century city and is considered a silver bullet to solve a range of problems such as environmental problems like carbon emissions related to transport, air quality, and urban sprawl, health problems such as physical activity and its ability to combat obesity, heart diseases and blood pressure, and mental health issues such as depression and isolation, economic problems such as regenerating cities/corridors for housing, retail and offices and transport problems such as congestion and the related energy usage.”

      As many are aware, Maori/Pasifika have been the most vulnerable ethic group out of this pandemic and ever changing economic conditions. This factor is mainly due to a lot of things like, mark up price gouging to consumers, inflation, house value outpace wage growth, cost of living going up, price of fuel going up, disparities of transport fares for certain ethic groups and lack of housing. The question he outlined is simple, would this ‘Light rail’ actually help Maori/Pasifika people and other low-social-ethic groups across the whole of Auckland at all or even certain parts of where the Light Rail track is going to be laid. “However, the real question is the issue of transport “distributive” justice: whether over 700,000 (46 per cent of the total population) Māori, Pacific and other ethnic communities living in Auckland will get benefit from the $14 billion investment into light rail.”

      He also indicated that theres a possibility that this project would disproportionately displace Maori/Pasfikia and vulnerable people on low incomes as a whole and would be forced out of their homes and communities. They would be forced out of their pick-pockets to search for a new place to live during a pandemic! “It may displace the low socio-economic population of Māori, Pacific and immigrants living near the light rail route. The Tāmaki Regeneration project and City Rail Link project show the complex interactions among authorities, community organisations and displaced population and businesses during the construction and regeneration period.”

      Mount Roskill as everyone knows, is being planned as a site for the ’Light Rail’ track running between the CBD to the airport and is planning to construct 10,000 new Kainga Ora homes targeted mainly for Maori/Pasifika people, but yet price of buying a house for them is becoming difficult for them more than ever since wage growth isn’t keeping up with them. Also Mount Roskill North is a prominent big Asian community and the stats for ‘ethic population overtime’ back that up. It’s seen enormous increase overtime and it’s starting to outpace the European population rather than the Maori/Pasifika ethic population up there. The Asian community would more likely work in the CBD area and not at the Airport. The ‘Professor’ highlights that the Asian community would overall benefit from the project rather than Maori/Pasifika people. “Ethnic communities, especially Asian and Indian people, use nearly double the public transport in Auckland compared with the metropolitan average. The light rail route passing through Mt Roskill and Mt Albert provides an opportunity for these ethnic populations to transform an automobile-dependent city to a much more public-transport friendly city.”

      He highlights that studies have proven that huge investments into ‘Light rail’ have made repercussions from a social standpoint across the globe and if the minister of transport went ahead with this, it would have massive consequences for those affected by the project and would have long term negative effects on diversity, inclusion, peoples financial situations and transport options. “However, very few studies have considered the huge investment into light rail from a transport justice perspective. Transport justice, as an extension of social justice, can be divided into process (inclusion in the decision-making process) and distributive (allocation of benefits and costs) justices.”

      He concludes his overall statement by saying Light Rail would not be suitable for Maori/Pasifika and other ethnic communities living in low-social-economic backgrounds, it would not benefit Maori/Pasifika in a substantial significance in improving their livelihoods and save them transport deprivation at all since the project doesn’t give back to all ethnic backgrounds and financial backgrounds across Auckland. “Light rail will be a fragile investment if the everyday travel needs of Māori, Pacific and ethnic communities will not be accommodated and the benefits of $14 billion will not be redistributive.”


      1. Strawman cherry picking of an article to serve your bias.

        You may note that at the end of his article the Professor expresses overall support and excitement for light rail, despite his critiques.

        Your opinion that any form of light rail automatically equals worse socioeconomic outcomes is simply not true. It is a strawman I’ve seen propagated by many anti-light rail individuals who refuse to acknowledge the costs of light rail overseas (yet assume their preferred mode can be built at the most optimistic costings).

        Certainly the expense of tunnelled light rail is outrageous – overseas surface light rail can be constructed for $30-100 million per km ($0.7 billion – $2.5 billion for the 24km CC2M route), and even underground metros can be built for $150-300 million per km ($3.6-7.2 billion per km for CC2M).

        Housing equity is arguably more tied to policies such as capital gains tax, regulating a profit-obsessed property market, and public housing projects.

        It would be helpful if you provided your own preferred solution to the bus congestion/crowding on the Isthmus and the lack of mass transit to Mangere, as a constructive form of criticism.

  43. First thing to focus on is that the costs should be brought down.

    Even focusing on light metro/fully grade separate options, $14-16 billion for 24km of line is FAR out of line with overseas standards. The Vancouver Canada Line was built for around $150-200 million NZD per km, the Copenhagen Metro for around $300 million NZD per km. An entirely tunnelled CC2M option really should cost at least half of what ALR have come up with, and there needs to be more scrutiny why the costs have escalated so much.

    Additionally, the Sandringham Rd routing. Not only is it the most indirect, but it apparently also requires deep tunnelling and deep stations in order to get to the hard rock that TBMs are suited for. A Manukau Rd route would be 5km shorter to Mangere plus take advantage of more consistent rock types. https://mobile.twitter.com/ScootFoundation/status/1497468939663646722

    It is my view that the Wesley-Mt Roskill area would be better served by modern tram light rail, separate to the CC2M line if that is to be tunnelled. Experience from Finland and Denmark shows light rail can be built for $30-50 million NZD per km – delivering a 15km network for $500-750 million. Light rail down Sandringham Rd and Dominion Rd would drastically reduce city centre bus volumes (increasing capacity and reliability on Mt Eden Rd, New North Rd buses etc.) and triple the present bus capacity to Owairaka & Mt Roskill – enabling 6+ storey intensification along continuous corridors.

    So, assuming $8 billion for CC2M driverless metro via Manukau Rd and <$1 billion for Sandringham and Dominion LRT – that should come to $9 billion. If we want to spend the full $15 billion budget on Auckland alone, the remaining $6 billion could go towards Avondale-Penrose crosstown light rail, Airport-Botany mass transit, or making a start on Northwest & North Shore light metro. Granted, an all-surface light rail system as GreaterAuckland have proposed would allow for even more network for $15B, but if tunnelled LR/LM is locked in at this point it’s clear that Auckland should be able to get more bang for our buck.

    Talking about alternate modes, “interoperable tram-trains”, etc. is redundant at this point. It’s been made clear that buses & by extension “trackless trams” don’t have the capacity and aren’t a cheap and easy solution like some assume. It’s been repeatedly stated that there’s no advantage extending heavy rail (and limiting train frequencies to Swanson, Manukau, Pukekohe). The focus should not be on cramming everything into a single transit mode with no regard for frequency & convenience, or superficially “dirt cheap” solutions based on optimistic costings and NIMBY sentiment.

    1. With regard to Isthmus routing – why limit ourselves to only one line and one mode trying to do everything suboptimally?

      By separating the CC2M and Wesley/Mt Roskill mass transit lines it becomes possible to pick separate modes and tailor them to their route’s individual needs.

      Light metro via Manukau Rd enables the most direct City-Mangere journey, while also serving the major nodes of the University, the Hospital, Newmarket, Epsom, Royal Oak, and Onehunga (with perhaps 1 or 2 infill stations at Mt St John & Greenwoods Corner). 15 minutes from city to Onehunga would make the Onehunga heavy rail branch obsolete, encouraging a conversion to crosstown light rail headed east over the motorway to Sylvia Park.

      Surface light rail along Sandringham & Dominion Rds could be locally oriented, with stop spacings closer to those of present buses (500-800m). This way they could completely replace the 24 & 25 routes as far as Owairaka & Mt Roskill.

      As per the NPS-UD, 6+ storey development should be explicitly encouraged within 800-1200m of any rapid transit stop (overturning whatever zoning the Unitary Plan has in that area.)

      The CC2M light metro along Manukau Rd would bolster intensification at the nodes along its Isthmus route. The Sandringham & Dominion Rd surface light rail would create a continuous area of 6+ storey uplift, roughly 5km north-south and 2.5km east-west. Literally tens of thousands of new apartment dwellings could be created this way, in a transit-oriented environment similar to Wynyard Quarter.

      I do not believe that buses on all Isthmus arterials can provide this same opportunity. Without a fully grade-separate busway on-street buses are effective only up to 2 minute headways – a max capacity of 5,400ppdph with biarticulated buses, versus 10,125ppdph for 99m LRVs at half the frequency (every 4 minutes). And that’s not even getting into the issues with so many bus routes interlining along Symonds St and Wellesley St.

      I believe it more beneficial to have Sandringham and Dominion Rd LRT, initially paired with the remaining bus routes along New North, Mt Eden, & Manukau Rd (this last one would be heavily supplemented by CC2M light metro). Since Mt Eden Rd was the second busiest Isthmus bus corridor after Dominion Rd in 2019, focusing on increasing frequency & infrastructure provision here would be beneficial.

      1. Yes I think it’s a good idea to have the Manukau Rd as a separate metro line. Newmarket businesses & residents would love it. As for bus stops on Dominion Rd: They need to be fairly close together rather than trying to kill all birds with one stone by having large spacings so that it’s a fast journey to the airport.

        1. Regarding station spacing – the common (if maybe outdated) standard overseas is that most people will be willing to walk 5 minutes (400-500m on average) to a bus or tram stop, and 10 minutes (800-1000m) to a rapid transit station. Obviously active mode infrastructure and other factors would impact this, and it doesn’t take into account cycling or scooters – but I do think it’s a starting point for a rough station spacing rule of thumb:

          – For locally oriented buses & trams, a 400-800m stop spacing assures that everyone along and around a particular street will be within 5 minutes walk of that bus or tram line.

          – For BRT, light rail, light metro etc. station spacings of around 800-2000m would ensure that as many people as possible are within 10 minutes walk of a station.

          This is based on catchment only, but it seems to fit some of the bus stop/train station spacing conventions we already see in Auckland.

          From what I hear a reason why station spacings are so wide on underground rail is the expense of underground stations – boring just a tunnel is usually pretty inexpensive, but building something like Karangahape Station is what ups the costs. Elevated rail tends to have closer spacings, the Vancouver Skytrain has a few stations that are 800m apart or less; while the underground Canada Line in the same city has most of its stations around 1.5km apart.

          Coincidentally, my proposed LM stations along Manukau Rd (Newmarket, Mt St John, Epsom, Greenwoods, Royal Oak, Onehunga) would also be on average 1.3-1.5km apart.

  44. The ALR project(Auckland Light Rail project) from this current government has been making this project about CC2A (City Centre to Airport when its actually the CC2M project (City Centre to Mangere project) was specifically designed for the people of Mangere to help them be not transport deprived and be able to have access to get to point A to B directly instead of having to transfer. Along with it an excessively expensive construction cost at $14.6 Billion with the highly likely possibility of inflated $24 Billion, a price tag beyond our affordability for one track in Auckland going to benefit people of Mangere as a whole? Light Rail project is likely to be extremely expensive due to economic conditions when there are other transport projects across the country in need too which have highly unlikely chance of get underway cause of this one track. How would this be achieving our ‘Climate Change’ commitments? Not only that, also to help with the housing crisis here in Auckland, to provide cheaper valued homes.

    Last week, Associate Professor Imran Muhammad teaches ‘Transport and Urban Planning at the School of People, Environment and Planning’ from Massey University said “It may displace the low socio-economic population of Māori, Pacific and immigrants living near the light rail route. The Tāmaki Regeneration project and City Rail Link project show the complex interactions among authorities, community organisations and displaced population and businesses during the construction and regeneration period.”

    “However, very few studies have considered the huge investment into light rail from a transport justice perspective. Transport justice, as an extension of social justice, can be divided into process (inclusion in the decision-making process) and distributive (allocation of benefits and costs) justices.”

    Here’s the link for anybody who hasn’t seen it yet:

    Mangere Central will become a site of Kainga Ora housing for both rent and owning properties. The majority ethic group currently living in Mangere is Maori/Pasifika, while Asian ethic group is starting to outpace European, Maori, Pasifika, Middle Eastern/Latin America/Africa and other ethnicities. The Asian population has grown from 7.1% 2006, 9.4% 2013 and 12.8% 2018. Maori population has been declining with the population 18.1% 2006, 16.7% 2013 and 16.9% 2018. With Pasifika sitting at 73.7% 2006, 75.3% 2013 and rebounds back to 73.8% 2018. Possible of chances of the Asian population growth by 2023 if the census for the population of Mangere Central to be released, it would be somewhere between 15 – 25% or more, while the targeted population of Maori and Pasifika population declines. It also a similar story with both Mangere North and South where they show the Asian ethic group starting to outpace the Pasifika/Maori people and the light rail route is going situated.

    Northcote which will be a Kainga Ora site have had to deal with issues in constructing units of apartments due to importing factors, economic factors and timeline of constructing the units on-time. 203-225 Lake Rd who was owned by Integrated Modular Build had gone into liquidation and left the apartment half built and in a sorry state. Shane Brealey, of NZ Living, which has built a 102-home Fraser Ave project at Northcote 18 months ago, is sceptical about the modular places. “We built that in a little over 14 months: one new home for every 2.7 working days using on-site production techniques. Why anyone would want to take the higher risk, higher cost and lesser quality of off-site manufacturing solutions is beyond me,” The developer, TLC Developments, is a Singapore-registered company in which Goldman Sachs is the majority shareholder. Goldman Sachs is a US based investment company.

    Instead, the cost was around $8000/sq m, had taken two years since piling and because buildings leaked during construction without the roof going on fast enough, parts of the prefab timber components needed replacement, he said last year. The construction contract was $70m to $80m and the end value of the buildings with a 6000sq m footprint would be up to $110m. How is the government ensuring that Kainga Ora houses or apartments from not having quality issues or construction problems?

    Kainga Ora as we know is targeted to help Maori/Pasifika people into affordable housing, with that there comes price of affording a house or apartment unit and investors buying land. If you were to purchase a property through Kainga Ora in Auckland it would be capped at $650,000, well that’s for a one bedroom unit that is anyway. As we all know, most Maori and Pasifika families normally have very big families ranging from 7-11 people in a family, often require four bedroom unit or five bedroom unit to provide enough space for themselves. With 2 to 3 bedroom houses or apartment units at $750,000 to $1 million but with smaller sized property.

    For most properties in Mangere for a 4 or 5 bedroom house or apartment unit would be valued at $1.2-1.5 million cause you have to think about the land value and property value. Yet again there not going to able to afford those house values at all in Mangere since there more likely to be on lower income, the value of the houses are beyond their reach and would be forced to move out their community. Kainga Ora are not targeting properties which are unoccupied by people living in property. Along with it forcing people out on already occupied properties owners which own the land inorder to get started in making Kainga Ora properties. With land value it always goes up no matter what, once someone occupies land for cultural purposes the value increases but with property value its a different story, you can either crush a property or modify existing property, if you were to crush the property you would be able to construct a new property but on a smaller scale to bring property value down, but problem is land value, if you were to have big property dimension and lower bedroom makes housing affordability harder for those who have big families and makes life difficult.

    Also with Kainga Ora comes the ALR project (Auckland Light Rail project), once construction is started, property owner would be faced with a ‘Value Capture’ tax to stop property value from going up, when the property owners/tenant aren’t seeing their properties value increasing they’ll will cut they ties with the lower paying renters very likely Maori/Pasifika since their very vulnerable and force them out of the property into a new property if they can find a suitable one since rent prices are going up at a unaffordable level.

    The Property/Tenant will want a high paying renter from overseas cause they’ll be bring in more money and be able to give the property owner/tenant big profit which are likely to be immigrants which means displacing Maori/Pasifika community. This project would disproportionately displaces Maori/Pasifika and vulnerable people on low incomes as a whole and would be forced out of their homes and communities. They would be forced out of their pick-pockets to search for a new place to live during a pandemic and this has been seen with similar light rail projects in Australia, USA and Canada. Also the average rent price is going up towards $600 per week and likely going to continue this trend due to lack of supply of housing and other factors such as materials to construct properties value going up, time for supplies to arrive and materials being used.

    We also know that most people from Mangere would likely be working in physical labour jobs, industrialised jobs and call centre jobs which are situated in Auckland Airport Business District also airport itself, Manukau, Otahuhu, Penrose, Ellerslie, Newmarket and CBD and have to take a transfer often to get their final destination. But at the moment for those who head to work in Penrose, Ellerslie, Newmarket and the CBD you don’t have a fast commute, with Penrose and Ellerslie you don’t have a direct way of getting to work and the light rail certainly won’t get you there. Along with it will still be paying high fares to work and back each day.

    It also means that people living in Mangere would be more likely to be working close to their community and not work far like as the CBD of Auckland. The Light Rail would have to go through traffic between Mangere Town Centre station and Favona station and expects it to take 1 min to get between these stations, that would mean it would need to travel 100km/h or higher right through incoming traffic and sharing lanes with regular vehicles and have to go through busy intersections. If they were to have it go 50km/h then it would likely take 4-5 mins traveling between those stations due to traffic lights and intersection crossings. People in Mangere would be highly unlikely be using the Light Metro to the airport on a regular basis for work or even travel abroad or domestically since there likely to be too poor to travel since we have low wage economy.

    New Zealand is currently in a housing crisis as we speak, How will Kainga Ora help Maori/Pasfika if house prices are rising due to construction cost, faults inside buildings and having overseas investors investing in state owned housing? Also how is Light Rail project going to help the people of Mangere or even benefit their daily lives?

    1. Continually spamming the same copy-paste essays making the false implication that light rail automatically means more expensive housing (but heavy rail somehow wouldn’t?) isn’t going to get you anywhere Tim.

      On the transit front, light rail is necessary for the Isthmus, for Mangere, for the North Shore, for the Northwest. That has been robustly proven over the past 6 years, and the fact that ALR has chosen a wildly overcosted option does not change that light rail is superior to tacking more and more unwieldy branches onto the heavy rail network.

      If you would like to have a productive conversation on housing inequity and how to use capital gains taxes/taxes on investors/stricter market regulation to combat the insane NZ housing market, I would be open to that.

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