Nau mau haere mai ki te marama o Pipiri – it’s June and it’s Matariki season! How did that happen?

The week in Greater Auckland

On Monday, Matt critiqued the AA’s recent call for more roads.

Tuesday’s guest post by Tim Adriaansen reflected on a year of inaction on the Harbour Bridge.

On Wednesday, a re-post by Damian Light despaired at ongoing and fatal inaction on safety for people on bikes.

Thursdays guest post was a wonderful dive into the history of declaring Queen Street ‘dying’, ‘rotting’ and ‘dead’.

Celebrating our Pasifika city this weekend

Hosted by Heart of the City, Taste of Pasifika Festival comes to the Cloud this weekend. There’s a non-stop lineup of music and performance, a kai village, art exhibition, and even a fashion show tomorrow evening. The festival runs from Friday evening until Monday afternoon.

Music and dance fill the weekend at Taste of Pasifika Festival. Image via Heart of the City.

Places to see, paths to ride!

The long awaited and much anticipated New Lynn to Avondale shared path finally opens to the public tomorrow, Saturday 4 June at 1pm. See you there?

We’ll also be making our way to Tamaki Drive to Glenn Innes section 2 (those of us who haven’t seen it already anyway), which is looking glorious and generous, a lovely landscape experience for people of Tāmaki Makaurau. (When trains happen to be running – alas, not this weekend – you can take your bike and win the path from either end at Glen Innes or Ōrakei.)

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Making streets safer for people on bikes in Kirikiriroa

In this year’s annual budget planning, Hamilton councillors are focusing on unsafe cycling conditions in the city. It’s exciting to see cycling – and giving people safe travel options outside of a car – becoming a central decision-making issue outside of the biggest cities.

Councillor Dave Macpherson raised his frustration at ongoing issues with contractors putting cyclists in danger by obstructing safe cycling routes.

The issue of roading contractors using bike lanes to store equipment has been flagged for the past 10 – 12 years, councillor Dave Macpherson​ said.

“It’s been raised at least 100 times before in … memory. It might get fixed for one or two [weeks] and then it just reverts back again,” he said.

It’s time the council used roading contracts to stipulate that cycle lanes must be kept clear of obstacles.

Just this week, charges were dropped against roading contractors in Christchurch whose traffic management plan may have caused the death of Fyfa Dawson when she was cycling to work.

Ahead of the budget decision, council officials are looking at ways to better protect people on bikes. Not sure what these ‘cycle wands’ they speak of are, but if Hamilton has found a way to magick cycle lanes into being, please let us know!!

The week in flooding is absolutely soaked

Weekly roundup’s semi-regular week-in-flooding section has been a little quiet in the last few weeks, but some pretty heavy dumps of rain in the past few days have us primed for more drenched content. This story from the Bay of Plenty caught our eye: a deluge in Tauranga earlier this week was made worse for residents by cars speeding down their street, sending floodwaters washing back into front gardens and houses.

Speeding vehicles made flooding worse for residents in The Mount. Image via NZ Herald.

Questioning the ethics of car advertising revenue

This is something we’ve been pondering here for a while now, and a topic that Jolisa wrote an excellent blog post on in April. For RNZ’s mediawatch, journalist Hayden Donnell got stuck into the same question last week: how will media organisations deal with the moral condundrum of hosting advertisments for cars in a warming world? In fact, Donnell references the very same ad that Jolisa dissected in her post.

[Light utility vehicles’] popularity also slows our transition to more carbon-efficient vehicles, which the latest IPCC report identifies as an important step for countries wanting to get themselves off what UN secretary-general António Guterres calls a path toward an “unlivable world”.

All that’s before mentioning they kill people at roughly twice the rate of smaller cars in crashes.

This throws up some prickly questions for media organisations that have committed to putting climate change at the forefront of our national conversation.

…and there goes the coastline (still from an ad for a Hyundai Tucson)

The Dominion Post’s new urbanist angle

The Dom Post is publishing a series focused on urban issues in Te Whanganui-a-Tara for the month of June. In her editorial last weekend, editor Anna Fifield explained –

Today, the Dominion Post starts a series called “Mode Shift” in which we will support these decisions with facts and clear-eyed analysis, equipping the public to envision a better future, in much the same way we did last year with the Reimagining Wellington series and as we did on Saturday with this story on the evidence that bike lanes actually help local businesses.

They will be focusing in particular on how to get around in a low-carbon way. We’re super excited, will be watching the series closely, and would love to see a similar constructive focus on urban issues in the media in Tāmaku Makaurau. This week’s stories in the series include …

Fifield, again, explained that roads need to be for all people, not just cars, using the airport’s opposition to the new pedestrian crossing on Cobham Drive as an example.

Never mind the inconvenience to the legions of Wellingtonians on foot, bike, or scooter, pushing a pram or using a wheelchair who are trying to make their way to schools in Kilbirnie, to sport at the ASB centre, to the shops or to the Evans Bay shared cycling and walking path.

To listen to the airport executives and some city councillors, one would think their journeys counted for nothing.

Erin Gournley revealed that a collection of car companies are behind a legal case against the new Newtown cycleway.

Six businesses are seeking judicial review of the Wellington City Council project to build a cycleway between Newtown to Courtenay Place, which is already under construction. Their case is scheduled to be heard on Thursday morning.

Four of them are car dealerships or repairers, prompting criticism that they are trying to keep Wellington beholden to cars.

Meanwhile, in Newtown, advocate Patrick Morgan captured this image of the morning commute.

Simon Louisson recalls experiences of quiet Covid-lockdown-streets and makes a case for LTN trials in Wellington to reclaim the peace and freedom those quiet streets brought.

The lockdown experience of quieter streets led many to ask: now that we have experienced low-traffic streets and neighbourhoods, and found that we like them, what can we do to keep them, without the need for lockdown conditions?

And The Dom Post’s transport angle got a nod of approval from the top.

Low-emission zones in Scotland’s cities

The Dom Post authors have been clear that their focus on transport and urban issues is about reducing emissions from transport. Something we’re still tentatively talking around here is the concept of a low-emission zone, which many other cities have been putting in place. In Scotland, low-emission zones are now formally in place in its largest cities: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Diesel-powered cars and vans will need to be at the “Euro 6” standard, mainly applying to vehicles registered after September 2015.

And petrol cars will have to meet the “Euro 4” emissions standard – generally those registered after January 2006.

Blue badge holders, emergency service vehicles, motorbikes and mopeds will be exempt.

Low-emission zones are one more lever we can pull to take action on climate change and make cities safer, healthier, better places for everyone. (Did you know: Auckland Council has given the nod to a transforming the Waihorotiu/ Queen Street Valley into a Zero Emissions Area , as part of the City Centre Master Plan, to be delivered as part of Tāmaki Makaurau’s commitment as a global C40 city?)

Bird and Moon Comics via Twitter

Let’s talk about trains!

Because we know you love them 🙂

The intercity rail network we wish we had

Andre Brett, author of last year’s Can’t get there from here, has compiled an extremely long thread on Twitter documenting his imaginary Aotearoa Railway Network – what we’d have, if rail had been prioritised over roads.

Click on the tweet below to see Brett’s region-by-region plan, featuring detail such as a diversion up to Rawene in the Hokianga, and light rail on the Kāpiti Coast. Lots to study and debate!

The slickest interior you’ve ever seen

– and this week we’re not talking about Crossrail/The Elizabeth Line (although we’ll forever be charmed by its purple theme.) No, this is a new generation tram in Brussels, designed by Axel Enthoven. Check out these lush details…

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14.5kms of lightrail opens in Odense

Residents of the Danish city of Odense (population 180,000) welcomed their first light rail train this week. This is the first line of a planned network that will be delivered in stages over the coming years.

Japan’s cheapest sleeper

Futons and a tatami-esque cabin? To be honest, this looks pretty fantastic.

High speed rail could be coming to … Egypt?

A deal’s been signed to give Egypt the world’s sixth-largest rail network: 2000kms of high-speed rail across the country.

The contract includes, besides the rail lines, 41 high-speed trains, 94 regional trains, 41 freight trains, and eight depots and freight stations. It also stipulates that Siemens will be responsible for maintenance for 15 years.

The mega-project aims to connect 60 cities by train, at speeds of up to 230 kilometers per hour, providing rail access to around 90% of the population, according to Siemens.

That sounds like a spectacular way to visit the pyramids.

YIMBY realism

Greater Auckland’s favourite YIMBY tweets straight to the point. Just kidding, we don’t have favourites – we love all YIMBYs (YIMBIES?), but we are fans of what occasional GA author Scott Caldwell shares online, for his clarity and brevity:

Greater Auckland’s favourite musician/PT advocate wins the Taite Music Prize

Yes we genuinely do have one of these; we are unabashed fans of Anthonie Tonnon’s music, his elevator, and his enthusiasm for public transport. You can catch his acceptance speech on Youtube, which concluded with a rousing appeal to culture-makers to become engaged in making change…

It feels like my work in public transport comes from the same toolkit, the same heart that this album comes from.

To make albums like the albums we celebrate tonight, it takes someone to see something great that needs to exist, to build a team, to use whatever resources are available to make that thing exist, without really a thought for who or how many people will value that thing once it does exist.

We’re in a time where as a society we need to build some stuff. But we’re not starting – and I think part of the reason we haven’t started is that we’re waiting for assurance. We want to be totally sure that the world is demanding the world that we’re going to build. But nobody knew that we needed a great album until somebody made that album without thinking about the reception until later.

The old way for us artists is that we’d hold up a mirror to society. Show people what it looked like, and ask those people in different, more practical paths to go and fix it. I think there’s an opening now, for everyone in this room, for not just musicians, for artists, for writers, for journalists. Something’s broken, the pipes are clogged. I think there’s an opportunity for us to help unclog those pipes.

The prize also caught the eye of the New Zealand Taxpayer’s Union, who promptly dug themselves into a bit of a social media hole.

Congratulations, Anthonie!

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it

Not Just Bikes, with a weird little matrix homage that accurately captures the experience of having one’s eyes opened to… watch and find out.

A new one for the bookshelf

Two Wheels Good, by American writer Jody Rosen has just been published. Per the publisher’s description, the book is ‘A panoramic revisionist portrait of the nineteenth-century invention that is transforming the twenty-first-century world.’

The book sounds like a fascinating history of the bicycle and how it’s interacted with culture and society that is both wide and deep. A review on the New York Times notes that the relatively short history of the bicycle – which was only invented in 1817 – makes it an excellent vehicle (ahem) for exploring the last 200 years of history.

The narrow subject and relatively brief time frame of “Two Wheels Good” make it a crystalline portrait of modernity, the vexed, exhilarating, murderous, mechanized world left to us by the 19th century. The bicycle has touched nearly every element of life on earth since then, it turns out. The Vietcong used bikes in their counterraids; Susan B. Anthony once commented that the bicycle had “done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world”; it was a Parisian bicycle maker who patented the ball bearing, the so-called atom of the machine age. We even rode it into the age of flight, in a sense: The Wright brothers were bike mechanics.

And something for your ears this weekend: the most recent episode of The War on Cars podcast is an interview with Rosen about the book and his research.

In the jaws of…

Ka kite! Enjoy the long weekend, and see you on Tuesday.

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  1. Good on Scotland. Low Emissions zones are a game-changer.

    You’d think Auckland would have one, too, if you looked at our commitments from a few years ago… instead, the money intended for the low emissions zone was reallocated to the Regional Streets for People fund, another set of worthy projects.

    Good projects having to fight over crumbs while the business-as-usual, destructive, road building and intersection widening continues.

  2. Note with Euro 6 for diesel focus is on significant reductions in NOx emissions from diesel engines (a 67% reduction compared to Euro 5) not on GHG emissions. i.e. reducing fine particulates which cause health issues in built up areas and is not a focus on reducing GHG Emissions, which is a common misconception.

    1. Nonetheless a Ford Ranger twin cab with a Euro 6 compliant engine is available in the UK with emissions of 175g/km, compared with the lowest here over 200g/km, and the best seller with over 230g/km.

      NOx being a greenhouse gas of course.

      Plus, yes, all the poisonous particulates and the rest of it. Over 300 people per year die early from diseases caused by vehicle pollution in Auckland alone.

      It’s shameful and unacceptable that NZ allows Ford and others to continue to sell harmful, dirty old engines here that were banned *seven* years ago in the UK and Europe.

    1. Unfortunately these things happen but communication was not good. I got to the Manukau bus station about lunchtime and the display was showing all Eastern line trains as cancelled however it failed to show that a train shuttle was running between Manukau and Otahuhu. Anyway I caught the airport bus as far as Puhinui when I got down to the platform it showed the shuttle as cancelled then a ghost shuttle turned up dead on time. There was a lovely Polynesian cleaning lady polishing up the glass on the platform she was approached by a confused Indian gentleman asking for directions. We’ll she might as well being talking in Tongan or Samoan and he in Hindi or Punjabi for all the progress they were making in English. In the end everybody just muddled through but it wasn’t good but I wasn’t In a hurry but some may have being.

    2. Speaking of trains. It is also a three day weekend, so zero trains all weekend. They have also reduced the rail replacement bus frequencies below normal. And finish off the advertisement for public transport, they are putting zero extra busses on for what will be a pretty big game of rugby on Saturday.

  3. Today is World Bike Day,but every day is a bike day.
    The Hyundai ad is full of irony,”car drives past,piece of earth falls into ocean”, perfectly illustrates how blinkered the advertising of vehicles, considers nothing but the vehicle. I can imagine the intern timidly raising his/her hand,and saying “but what about the planet”, and being quickly shut down, this is all about the vehicle mastering the universe,until it isn’t. Hopefully ad execs reflect this in hindsight.
    I expressed my dismay to Hyundai,(they promised to get back to me),still waiting after 6 weeks,maybe ad generated huge vehicle sales,and they have been rushed off their feet.

    1. If you think that’s bad, you’d be appalled at the hypocrisy of the Labor Premiere of South Australia who’s just declared a climate emergency not long after bragging about bringing the V8 Supercars event back to SA.

  4. Odense light rail makes me want to cry when I look at progress on Auckland light rail

    Although they did some design work in 2012, they started with setting up a company ~2014 and signed contracts in 2014. Blaming Covid they ran late, but look at this:
    “the work commenced in August 2017 and construction of new roads, bike lanes, and pavements continues until spring 2019″

    So five years construction (including pandemic delays) and they are live in 2022 with 14.5km of double track rail and 27 stops. Total cost is well under NZ$1b. They can now roll on with the next phase of 7 to 8km.

    Meanwhile in Auckland, we have had people working on light rail over a similar time frame and have zero construction even started (not even a plan of when we will start). All we have is an estimate that it will cost $15b+

    There is a group of experts in NZ who should be embarrassed to be paid when you look at what they have produced, compared with what can be achieved overseas.

    Who are the politicians asleep at the wheel who look at projects like this and still seem to accept that a light rail project will cost $15 billion.

    If I was Michael Wood, I would be on a plane to Denmark and find the key project managers and/or PB for an realistic estimate to do the same in Auckland.

    Even if Odense was not the perfect solution, if we had taken the same path we would have had 15km of LR from Britomart to most of the way to the Airport and that final ~10km would have got us us a strong start to a network. With the Odense costs, half the amount that they are planning to spend would have got LR out northwest and even east auckland as well

    Arrrrgh, this is so fustrating!

    1. Interesting thought exercise:

      If Michael Wood was to visit Scandinavia to learn about transport transformation, what would you put in his timetable of activities?

      1. I would imagine booking time with local council, delivery organization, project managers and Parsons Brinckerhoff leads, looking at the governance structure that allowed a smallish city to get on and build without WK bureaucracy interference.

        Would be interesting to research transport delivery models, but looks like Odense set a city owned single purpose company that has the sole purpose of delivering rapid mass transport solutions.

        I know they should be concerned with lower emissions and active modes etc; but right now, rather just see something built that can move people rather than just analysis paralysis, or what looks like something worse; deliberate active organisational obstruction

        1. A bit like Auckland Transport and the City Rail Alliance. If you can get WK, NZTA, Ministry of Transport etc etc out of the way, things actually happen.

      2. Well Finland is not Scandinavia, though it is Nordic, but if it was included on his itinerary, I’d definitely have him talking to Finnish govt, and VR Finnish Railways about Regional, and also night trains, of which from my experience of many night trains in a number of countries and continents, the VR one is without a doubt the best (helped by having a broad 1520mm gauge).

    2. Though they were pretty quick, it started earlier than that:
      “The tramway in Odense was suggested for the first time in 2008 by the then mayor, the late Jan Boye. [………..] A formal agreement between the State, the Region of Southern Denmark and Odense Municipality dated 23 June 2014, constituted the official declaration of financial support to the tramway project by the State and the Region.”

      1. Yes, but how long have we been talking about it and thinking about it?

        Odense managed to go from first suggestion in 2008 to getting a contract signed in 2014. Then 8 years later despite a global pandemic (which is used as a reason for big delays and budget blow outs in NZ roading projects) it is done.

        Auckland’s timetable for the ~current LR proposal was identified as a need in 2012, and announced in Jan 2015 after initial work done in 2014. In Jan 2015, 3 News announced that everybody was supportive of the plan; including Matt L from Auckland Transport Blog.

        Given they are still doing planning work, unlikely to start digging until 2024 at the earliest; 10 years of dicking around

  5. I think what is not really understood about the Matrix is that the overwhelming majority of people would choose the blue pill, even if a majority likes to think they would choose the orange pill.

    And my guess is that 90% of new zealanders would look at the road at the end of the video and be like ‘How is that even supposed to work? No cars? Can you even call that a road?’

    In related news Newtown Cycleway in Wellington stopped
    A road is for cars and cars only…

    1. out of all the comments siding with those opposing the cycle way, the following takes the cake:
      “Old Wellington streets are too narrow for bikeways to be feasible”
      Weren’t these streets devised without the car in mind!?

    2. Yes but the orange would be great for the over-privileged who can afford to buy a house near where they work.

      1. I think you mean the Orange would be great for the under privileged who cannot currently afford a home near where they work.

      2. Well is this not how a large city is supposed to work?

        Concentrate all opportunity in a small area so you can ration access to it using the real estate market.

  6. They mayors climate response package has quietly reduced the amount that is intending to be spent on bike infrastructure. The consultation mentioned New Lynn bike network, the 80 page plus report doesn’t make mention of New Lynn at all, so I am pretty sure it’s been killed off.

    Thanks Goff.

  7. NZ needs to have an ongoing tunneling plan to retain the skills and ability to build tunnels. Both for the central interceptor crew and the City rail Link alliance. Don’t just let all that know how and resources evaporate at the end of these projects.

    1. Generally a good idea to have a steady programme. But it’s actually teams who know how to reallocate road space that we need most.

    2. I honestly say good ol’ fashioned capitalism is what we need. Simply, and reduce zones as much as posisble so you can essentially can do what you want on your own land (within reason, we don’t want a sulphur plant in CBD or the like). Put pressure top down, allow people to iteratively build the neighbourhoods.

      I am begining to think the only way to sell to the NIMBYs change is by allowing the free market in to their neighbourhoods.

      1. This isn’t a market: No vote, No voice.

        1000 children demanding a safe walk or bike to school count for less than 1 driver to those in charge of allocating the space.

    3. I’m thinking a second Kaimai rail tunnel, Bombay Hills rail tunnel and a Plimmerton-Kapiti rail tunnel.

      1. Yeah, but to make it work would require a “Ministry of Works” approach with a standardised and centralised approach to public infra projects, rather than the “bespoke” one offs done now…

        The other side of the coin would be the risk of a perceived loss of local input from local authorities, etc…”Wellington says it should be XX”

      2. These kinds of regional tunnelling projects will be vastly cheaper per km than CRL too.
        Kaimai for instance only needs to be a single tube, no wires yet (enough space for them). Still near major population centers, heaps of staging land. If we got in ahead of any impending disaster, a single TBM and a leisurely pace would save some cost.

        1. Yeah we need to have a pipeline of projects to keep the skills and knowledge up, both for tunneling, and for electrification. In Germany the govt and DB have a set amount of kms per year for electrication projects or upgrades.

          Duplicating the Plimmerton-Kapiti tunnel to remove the current pinchpoint is I think under investigation as part of the NZ Rail plan.

  8. “We’ll also be making our way to Tamaki Drive to Glenn Innes section 2… When trains happen to be running – alas, not this weekend – you can take your bike and win the path from either end at Glen Innes or Ōrakei.”

    Not this weekend, or indeed most of this week.

    Or last weekend.

    Or the weekend before that.

    Or the one before that.

    Or the one before that.

    Or the one before that.

    Or the Easter weekend.

    Or for several weeks over the whole of summer. For the last 10 years.

    1. When you do get there, can you please try not to fall into the trap of viewing the newly opened path (Stage 2) purely from the perspective of a weekend leisure cyclist or a long distance city commuter?

      Instead, consider first its transformational value as a traffic free link across the Pourewa Valley. So, take a detour up the link to John Rymer Place (which was not in the original scope and for which local community advocacy over many years was instrumental) and along the short section of Kohimarama Road to Selwyn College? The school roll includes 100s of students who live in Meadowbank, Remuera, parts of Ellerslie and St Johns, who previously had no option other than to travel all the way up St Johns Road (to the highest point in East Auckland, the roundabout at 82 m) and round Kohimarama Road, by bicycle (with no cycle lanes) bus (with no transit lanes) or car. Now they can cycle or walk directly across the valley.

      Most of these students and others heading north across the valley will access the path at Harapaki St. Please visit that as well and cycle up Temple St to Meadowbank Town Centre.

      Note that the streets that the path connects to at Harapaki St, Tahapa Crescent and at Meadowbank Train Station, and all the local streets up to Meadowbank Town Centre will become a 30 km/h zone from July this year (again thanks to local community advocacy). Over the years, on these same streets, as a result of further local community advocacy, speed tables and crossings have been introduced, some of the wide sweeping corners have been tightened, pedestrian islands installed, and ridiculously wide crossing points have been narrowed. (And for that matter in another win for local community advocacy, the 782 bus now connects with the train station and connects Ellerslie and Meadowbank with Kohimarama and Missiom Bay).

      But there is much more yet to do to make this area safe. A cyclist was seriously hurt by a vehicle at the intersection of Harapaki St, Fancourt St and Temple St – adjacent to the access point to the path. There is no controlled crossing of St Johns Road at the top of Temple St. There are no cycle lanes on any of the streets in Meadowbank or St Johns (though there is plenty of space – check out Gerard Way for instance) – the only safe cycling infrastructure consists of isolated shared paths through places such as Liston Park and part of Waiatarua Reserve.

      It’s the same north of the path in Kohimarama. Once you get to the top of John Rymer Place there is nothing. But for residents around here, the new path (and specifically the local link to John Rymer Place) means from the bottom of the street they are now within a 5-10 minute traffic free bicycle ride (or 15-20 minute walk) and 10 minute train ride of the city, less than half the time and far more pleasant than driving or taking the bus – which has no transit lanes until Quay St.

      These people will want secure bike parking at Meadowbank Train Station. There is none today. Ideally, a new covered facility could be built on the platform, where the CCTV provides coverage.

      My point is that here, as everywhere, we need to think firstly about short trips by bicycle, and how to maximise those. The average length of a trip by a bicycle in Europe is about 2.5 km. It’s the same here. Stage 2 from St Johns Road to the Orakei Boardwalk is longer than that. Fom GI to the city is 10 km. The path will rightly grab headlines as a destination in itself, but the real value in cycling is in local short trips.

      1. Great info, thanks. Also, great advocacy. Well done to all the locals involved.

        We’ve just used satellite view as we read through your comment carefully, and I will indeed visit the area sometime, looking at it all in a network way. Baddeley Ave was once my stomping ground, with a friend in Fancourt St, so I’ll experiment with that journey, using the new connections.

        How about the Meadowbank residents living slightly further east, who want to travel north across the valley? What access was provided from Growing Drive in the end?

        What strikes me is how much more connectivity to the local roads could still be achieved if there was just a path through. Looking forward, how do we get Council even focusing on acquiring these short paths when development happening means it could be possible?

        Totally agree on the focus required for these short trips. From these, a network can grow. Also, modeshift for these types of trips improves all networks for all modes.

        1. Thanks fro your reply Heidi. There is indeed a plan for a connection to Gowing Drive. (Ideally with an underpass under the railway rather than an overbridge – you’ll see why that makes sense on your visit, the connection would join the main path about 100-200 m west of the link to JRP). I understand the Gowing link is included in next year’s budget. This will enable not only school trips across the valley but will also greatly improve walking and cycling to/from Meadowbank Train Station and the Gowing Drive residential area.. the only option today involves going all the way up to Parsons Way and found Fancourt St. Hilly and twisty turny 50 km/h residential streets that no-one wants to cycle on. (These are sadly, not included in the 30k zone… yet).

    2. I see some of the shutdowns recently were just partial so there was some possibilities.
      “On that note I notice they are running a special express bus:
      Puhinui Express Bus – an express bus will run between Britomart and Manukau, stopping at Newmarket and Puhinui.”
      But at the same time:
      “Due to the driver shortage, Southern Line Rail Buses will be running on an hourly frequency between Britomart and Otahuhu, and between Papakura and Pukekohe.”
      That’s pretty hopeless, and the Eastern line was on 1/2 hr frequency.

  9. Matt, I took the Sunrise Izumo night train in Japan twice during the Rugby World Cup in 2019, one way by the carpet Nobinobi seats, and one way in a sleeper compartment.

    You may think it looks fantastic, but apart from having a different experience, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are really on a budget. It is not tatami flooring, but actually carpeted, and it’s hard, and there is no futon mattress to lie. There’s also no pillow. Just a sheet. So it’s actually nowhere near as comfortable as being in a sleeper cabin. There is also no curtain between the little (and they are very narrow) areas, which meant some idiot stepped on me in the middle of the night rather than put themselves directly out into the corridor next to Nobinobi seating.

    What I can say is that compared to the sleeper compartments they are very cheap (If you have a Japan Rail Pass they are actually free because there is no sleeper or express supplement for them, only the base fare which the rail pass covers), and of course they are a different experience!

    The sleeper compartments aren’t cheap (one reason I never took sleeper trains in Japan when living there which I now hugely regret as there’s only a couple left compared to at least 10 up to end of noughties and 2015). There’s a guy Takeshi who has the “bible” website of Japanese rail in English and has great advice about The Sunrise Izumo and Sunrise Seto night trains in Japan and the Japan rail Pass. He is THE Japan rail travel guru!

    For anyone wanting to see more of the Sunrise Izumo/Seto night trains, as well as other rail and ferry travel in Japan, I highly recommend the Kuga’s Travel youtube channel.

    1. By the way, I just wanted to say regarding night trains and Japan, that I think JR got it wrong when they cancelled night trains, particularly after Shinkansen services started to Kanazawa (Hokuriku Shinkansen), and Shin Hakodate (Hokkaido Shinkansen).

      Japan took the same view as France and other European countries that once a high speed line was in place, night trains were no longer required.
      But leaving on even the earliest departing shinkansen won’t get you to Kanazawa etc nearly early enough for a morning business meeting etc which is where the efficient travel of night trains come into their own. Instead JR have basically given up those customers to the airlines cos that’s the only way those customers can get to the destination in time.

      It’s been interesting to see France do an about turn on night trains and reintroduce them from last year despite the covid pandemic. This week there was an article about just how popular those reinstated services have been – load factors of 87%!

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