One of the goals for Auckland’s rail network is the removal of all level crossings on the electrified network. Primarily this is about improving safety as with more and more trains expected to be running in the future it will mean barrier arms will be down more often, increasing the chance that people will take risks at level crossings to avoid delays.
Most recently we’ve seen the removal of the level crossing on Sarawia St in Newmarket, and a few have been removed around Mt Eden as part of the City Rail Link, but that will still leave 28 road crossings and around 14 pedestrian-only ones (including at stations).
Those are broken down as:
The four highest priority for removal are the four around Takanini – Spartan Rd, Manuroa Rd, Taka St and Walters Rd.
These four crossings see the highest number of train movements through them compared to the other ones on the list, with AT’s passenger services passing through as well as regular freight and the odd intercity train. By 2030, it is expected a train will pass through the level crossings every 2.5 minutes.
Walters Rd is also the busiest level crossing for vehicles, with recent traffic counts showing over 18,000 vehicles a day. That’s more than most state highways outside Auckland ,and a significant increase in usage over the last decade or so thanks to all the greenfield development nearby. In fact, growth has been so strong that now nearly 50% more vehicles cross Walters Rd than do at the second busiest crossing, Manuroa Rd – there are a couple of other crossings with similar counts to Manuroa.
The Supporting Growth team is currently consulting on plans to change the crossings. The proposal is for all four crossings to be replaced, but two of those will only be with walking and cycling bridges. However, they also propose a new crossing.
We want to reduce the number of level crossings in Takaanini. Removing level-crossings will make it safer and faster for you to move around Takaanini because you won’t need to stop for trains when safety barrier arms come down.
We are looking at options, like bridges, to get you safely across the railway tracks.
These changes are still a number of years away, but we are planning them now to make sure people can move around Takaanini more safely and efficiently.
Looking at the changes more specifically:
We’re suggesting completely closing the railway level crossing on Spartan Road and replacing it with a new walking and cycling bridge. While you won’t be able to drive across the railway on Spartan Road anymore, we are proposing an alternative crossing for vehicles close by.
We’re suggesting a brand-new railway crossing at Manuia Road. It would be a fully separated crossing, like a bridge, for people walking, cycling and driving.
Looking at the bigger picture, it does appear that this bridge is intended to for serving the industrial area just north of the tracks that is currently served by Spartan Rd, otherwise trucks and other vehicles would almost certainly be pouring through residential areas.
The question though is: where does the bridge go to? Are the they taking out a bunch of houses and/or a kindergarten. Alternatively, would the bridge sweep north a bit, so as to only travel through what’s currently industrial land?
We’re suggesting completely closing the railway level crossing on Manuroa Road and replacing it with a new walking and cycling bridge. While you won’t be able to drive across the railway on Manuroa Road anymore, we are proposing an alternative crossing for vehicles close by.
This will almost certainly be the most opposed aspect of the proposal. In the FAQ, a bit more information is given as to why closure is planned here:
When considering what was needed to provide for travel south of the industrial area, we had to decide between providing vehicle access at either Manuroa Road or Taka Street. Our assessment showed that providing bridges for motorists on both roads did not result in notably more benefit (relative to the cost and more significant impact and disruption to the community of two bridges).
Manuroa Road was not preferred for vehicle access because:
- Manuroa Road is closer to the Manuia Road intersection and the State Highway 1/Takaanini interchange. This means that accidents happen on Manuroa Road there may be a flow-on disruption to the operation of the Manuia Road intersection and the State Highway 1/Takaanini interchange.
- The option of Manuroa Road would have resulted in a less evenly spaced transport network and provided less resilience for the network.
- A vehicle connection at Manuroa Road would have likely resulted in more properties being impacted.
- Using Manuroa Road as the main connection to and from the industrial area would result in increased industrial traffic on a largely residential street.
- A further benefit of Taka Street compared to Manuroa road is that Taka Street services more diverse and intensive areas when considering land use and development.
We’re suggesting closing the railway level crossing on Taka Street and replacing it with a fully separated crossing over the railway, like a bridge, for people walking, cycling and driving.
We’re suggesting closing the level-crossing at Walters Road and replacing it with a fully separated crossing over the railway, like a bridge, for people walking, cycling and driving
While we’re on the topic of level crossing removal, one other one that Auckland Transport are currently progressing is Church St East, in Penrose.
Unlike the roads above, It is possibly the quietest crossing in the network, with only around 300 vehicles, 75 pedestrians and 55 cyclists using it on a typical day (as it’s only used for accessing a few properties).
Auckland Transport has a page about it, saying that consultation on a preferred option for dealing with the crossing was meant to go out the public earlier this year. However, that hasn’t happened – so AT, if you’re reading this, what’s happening?
Meanwhile, AT currently has two tenders out to market related to level crossings.
- Pedestrian crossings – AT is planning on closing some of the stand-alone pedestrian crossings prior to the CRL opening, and is moving to the detailed design phase for it. It would be very concerning if most of these are outright closures rather than being replaced by bridges:
“The project’s objective is to close five standalone pedestrian level crossings at 5 locations, including O’Neills Road, Corban Estate, Lloyd Avenue, Kingdon Street, and Tironui Station Road East. The project will also remove two pedestrian level crossings located at Homai Station.“
- Remaining Level Crossings – AT wants a business case completed for the rest of the level crossings on the network.