24 months late but finally here It has taken around two years to recover from the previous peak of 10.8 million rail (we suffered a sustained dip after that peak) … Continue reading 11 Million Rail Passenger Trips
If it isn’t moving – it is NOT moving Well this was not particularly surprising at all. What is the number one issue in Auckland? TRANSPORT Go figure … Continue reading Transport Again Number One Issue in Auckland
Submission Sent to AT for Southern P/T Network
I finally wrote up and sent my feedback to Auckland Transport using the Online Feedback Form (no need for a 104 page monster this time round) today.
You can see what I exactly submitted on in the PDF embed below
I made no mention around the Te Mahia Station closing issue (which I support in closing) as that I will bring up at the Papakura Open Day this Saturday with the transport planners.
My primary feedback was around the good quality of the work drafted up by Auckland Transport on the Southern Public Transport Network proposal, and around the 365 and 371 bus routes which I would use once on stream.
I did suggest some changes to Routes 371 and 365 so that it takes into account Takanini Village and the proposed Glenora Road Station as potential stops. Some other changes and mention around off-peak frequencies were mentioned as well.
I did make a push for the Manukau South Rail Link again as part of the frequent transit network from Pukekohe and Papakura so that Southern Auckland gets a dedicated rapid and direct service to our biggest employment centre (in the south). The reasoning around that was a train from Pukekohe to Papakura to Manukau via the south link is faster than buses which would get caught in bottlenecks along the Great South Road (as well as stuck with 50km/h limits to the train’s 90-110km/h limits) and as hinted with speed limits actually faster than the bus. That also means faster than going to Puhinui Station by train and going through a clumsy transfer onto a Manukau Train from Britomart on a cold winter’s morning 😛
So let’s see where this feedback goes once AT starts its considerations on it all post August 2 (when the feedback closes)
You can see the Southern P/T Network over at AT’s webpage: New Public Transport Network
- Auckland Updates (voakl.net)
- Consultation Begins on Southern Auckland P/T Network (voakl.net)
- How Would You Like Your Bus Service Today? (voakl.net)
Campbell Live and AT-HOP A small break from the Unitary Plan this morning (the Karaka Meeting was a good one last night, different format but still very good) … Continue reading Seriously Auckland Transport?
Not a Good Look For Auckland
Some feedback from a reader (who has asked to remain anonymous which BR:AKL will do as requested) on their experience with our rail system down at Britomart over the recent Auckland Anniversary Weekend:
Made a big mistake yesterday. I showed some international investors around the waterfront yesterday knowing it would be vibrant with Anniversary day regatta on. All was well until they wanted to go see our train station (which was Britomart). What a “disaster” that turned out to be.
They stood there for about 5-10min taking it all in, watching as the same people were at the ticket box with one person working (at that particular ticket box (The station platform level one on the other side of the gates where the “Onboard Fare is usually paid)) trying to sort something out for five minutes. As a result people were coming and going from the waiting queue annoyed.
The investors were not impressed at all and said that what they seen of Auckland doesn’t impress them as a viable city to invest in. They said love the wide open spaces, weather etc. but just doesn’t stack up as commercially viable.
While I am here: Every time I go into Station Square in Newmarket to show potential investors/tenants the vacant shops I pray there are humans (besides the unemployed and school kids hanging around during school hours I might pray but the poor tenants are mental wrecks waiting for the last four years for the trains to arrive every thee minutes and what was it like 17,000 people using that station.
The person who sent in the above also sent in some photos to boot (Anniversary Monday):
Well after another anonymous reader fed to the blog some statistics from the Anniversary Weekend I am not surprised that our friend above was rather disheartened and the investors spooked off.
The statistics I am referring to is how many Rail Ticket Machines had some kind of fault in them. 37 faults on 31 machines out of an approximate total of 57 rail ticket machines across the Auckland rail network over the long weekend. The faults can range from:
- Machine has no change
- No paper (so the machine goes “offline” as it can’t print tickets)
- Printer Fault (can put the machine offline)
- Machine just turned off
- Bank Note Device not accepting your $20 bill 😛
So 31 out of 57 machines had either one or more of the above listed faults in the weekend. To make it worse, if you call it in to the AT-HOP help desk the technician won’t come until Tuesday to “fix” the issue (I kid you not).
Now to make life harder, those with AT-HOP cards who would tag on and off like I do when travelling by train would have faced numerous tagging posts “offline” meaning you need to go find another tag post. I knew of a couple of stations (I went travelling on the train in the weekend “exploring”) that had two out of three of their tag posts offline. Again call it into AT-HOP help desk and the technician comes out Tuesday.
What on earth happened over the Anniversary weekend when Auckland had all the tourists in. I thought we were meant to make our good train system that – good; not bloody difficult and spooking off people.
Groan – the amount of work to advance the good system into an Advanced First-Class system just keeps piling up and up and up with no light at the end of the tunnel.
Come on guys – I know you can do better 😦
How to get Better Resilience out of the Rail Network
A Rail Efficiency Program Series
THE ALL-ENCOMPASSING RAIL EFFICIENCY PROGRAM – PART FIVE (A)
Relocation or Adding of new Stations on the (Auckland) Rail Network
With added resilience now added into the Auckland rail network through crossovers at “major” stations and the Westfield Junction Fly-Over, attention now focuses in getting rail stations into the best strategic places as possible with the best “facilities” possible to attract and sustain high patronage numbers. Again some of the ideas about to be mentioned in these posts have been mentioned before, I am so-called “reposting” them here as I personally like the ideas and the fact they just need reposting to emphasis the point!
Currently on the Auckland Passenger Rail Network the station locations and patronage levels are somewhat scatty with some stations well placed and attracting patronage, while others do more of a disservice to network and can actually put people off using the network. Meaning some of our stations are not in the best locations and need to be moved to better suit the Auckland populace. There are currently three such locations – all on the Southern and Eastern Lines where the; removal, moving or adding of stations be considered doing in better enhancing the “catchment” and attractiveness of those currently or wanting to use our rail network. So lets take a look at the Southern and Eastern Lines starting from the south and moving towards Britomart.
No need to mention the adding of the Paerata and Drury Stations (complete with Park and Rides) as that is being currently covered in an extensive report by Auckland Transport which can be seen over at my PUKEKOHE ELECTRIFICATION CASE post. So moving along to the next section of the network that needs attention – which would be between Papakura and Manurewa Rail stations on the Southern/Eastern Line.
Currently between Papakura and Manurewa Stations you have Takanini and Te Mahia Stations:
Click for full resolution
The next graphic is of impending urban development per the Auckland Plan – along with distances between stations currently:
Again Click for full resoultion
Okay some background facts on the current situation
Time to travel between stations currently:
- Manurewa <-> Te Mahia: two minutes
- Te Mahia <-> Takanini: three minutes
- Takanini <-> Papakura: four Minutes
Current Facilities and nearby Amenities at the stations currently:
- Manurewa: Relatively new station right beside the South Mall shopping centre. The station is linked by a park and ride as well as the main bus interchange for the Manurewa area. Station has easy access by foot, bicycle, car, taxi or bus with at least two entrances to each platform. Public toilets are near by and the station is currently challenging Papakura as the third busiest station in the network after Britomart and Newmarket. Station is well-lit at night and contains the electronic Passenger Information Display system.
- Te Mahia: An old station situated between residential on one side and basically car yards and light industry on the other. Station is linked by two narrow alley-ways at the north end with no park and ride facilities and the nearest bus stops around 300 metres away on the Great South Road. Station is poorly lit, has no electronic Passenger Information Display system, has a mix of both gravel and asphalt base for the platform, and an old concrete shelter from most likely the 1960’s. The station currently has I believe the second lowest patronage (after Westfield) and does give the feeling of being “unsafe” to both rail staff and travelling public. Catchment area due to position, lack of bus and park and ride facilities is very limited for Te Mahia Station
- Takanini Station: Station recently had its platform extended and some new lighting to handle to new Electrics when they come on stream from next year. However it is similar to Te Mahia in respect of facilities and links despite patronage growing on that station. The station does give the impression of being “unsafe” while cars park either side along the side streets for those who drive to the station. Nearest bus stops are around 500 metres away on the Great South Road and the station has been attributed to a few accidents with train verses passenger over the last few years.
- Papakura: Currently undergoing a large-scale revamp with the platforms being upgraded, ticket office being moved, new track infrastructure to allow train movements more easily (including a new freight train passing loop), new electronic Passenger Information Display Systems, upgraded lighting, refurbished and restored station building, and the Park and Ride facilities due for upgrades as well. Papakura Station is right next to the Papakura Town Centre and is served by easy access for walkers, cyclists, cars (two park and rides), taxis and buses (major terminus bus stop is next to the station). The station is a terminus station for most Southern and Eastern Line services and is currently the third busiest in patronage level on the Auckland Rail Network. Papakura is also a key station for train staff with a staff building and train stabling/fuelling facility located between the eastern Park and Ride and Platforms One and Two. However Papakura Station is currently constrained by lack of proper feeder buses which do have an impact on the Park and Ride being full most days of the week – limiting further passenger patronage growth. Papakura is also currently my “home station” where I catch the trains (or leave them) if I am travelling by train to some destinations
Google Maps and the Council GIS viewer currently do not show the current stations in their current form, so until I make a trip down – no pictures as of yet.
So we have the situation with Te Mahia and Takanini Stations of what and where they are, and what state they are in. Now as I have alluded to earlier South Auckland is due to undergo significant urban growth per the Auckland Plan over the next thirty-odd years. The second graphic above had a red line drawn in it that show the extent urban growth can take during the life of the Auckland Plan – which means we could be looking at well over 35,000 new residences and businesses in the area over the next twenty years at least. Now putting two and two together (and disregarding Auckland Transport is apparently going to upgrade Takanini within the next five years – which I think is for the platform only (so no Park and Ride)) you have a situation of large urban growth near the rail corridor and two dilapidated stations that have bugger all facilities, bugger all catchment area, and bugger all future with little scope of being able to fully upgrade the stations with facilities like Papakura and Manurewa. So what do I propose?
Well I propose the following
Proposal for Southern Auckland Rail Efficiency Upgrades
In short I propose the following”
- Close Te Mahia Station (which I believe Auckland Transport are going to do)
- Close Takanini Station
- Build Spartan Road Station complete with full Park and Ride and Bus Interchange
- Build Walters Road Station complete with full Park and Ride and also Bus Interchange
- Spartan Road and Walters Road Stations have better and large catchments for current residents and future urban growth than Te Mahia or Takanini ever could
- Land available for the stations, park and rides, bus interchange and future upgrades
- More uniform distance between stations from Manurewa to Papakura, thus allowing better travelling efficiency (heavy rail is most suited when stations are a reasonable distance (usually beyond 2km) between stations due to the dynamics of the rolling stock, and services it is often required to run (relatively long distance compared to light rail and buses). Basically heavy rail passenger services perform efficiently with fewer large stations with larger distances between stations compared to light rail which can handle more stations with shorter distances between them.
- Able to start afresh in building the new stations reputations that are safe, clean and have well-built facilities catering for large numbers of travelling passengers
These next round of graphics and annotations explain Spartan Road and Walters Road Stations
You can see where I have placed the new stations – close to current residents and business as well as future residents and business. Remember Te Mahia and Takanini Stations will be closed.
Close Up of Spartan Road Station Proposal
The size of land for the Station, Park and Ride, and Bus Interchange is just over 2 hectares in size. The brown lines show possible eastern shuttle bus connections for the station. A new proposed road linking Randwick and Spartan Road Station (via crossing the stream) is also placed. This new link would allow ease of access for residents to get to Spartan Road Station and possibly the industry in the surrounding area. Those living in the northern part of Conifer Grove (wedged between the Motorway, Walter Stevens Drive and Great South Road) have the choice of either Spartan Road or Walters Road Station.
Close up of Walters Road Station Proposal
Again click for full resolution
Walters Road is bit more unique in the fact it has technically two Park and Rides, as well as two bus interchanges – one on each side of the rail line (the sizes are 1.16ha and 0.44ha respectively). This would be owing to no road level crossing being built at the station site (we are trying to reduce level crossings) nor a road bridge being built that could be justified in the cost department. If the bus interchange and/or park and ride was only built on one side, it would me a 1.5km “detour” to get to the relevant side with the park and ride and/or interchange – a rather self-defeating exercise. Furthermore you would cause bottlenecks down Walters Road by buses and cars trying access the park and ride and/or interchange if it was built on one side only. To add further weight behind building a Western and Eastern Park and Rides + Bus interchanges is the fact that Walters Road would be a station serving a fast growing area being right next to a new commercial development and within easy reach of new residential development. The Western Park and Ride + Bus Interchange would service all residents and businesses on the Great South Road side of the rail line, while the Eastern Park and Ride + Bus Interchange would service residences and businesses between the rail line Mill Road (Red Line on first graphic). Also Papakura currently has two Park and Rides (one on the western side, one on the eastern side) which are both heavily utilised – so there is a very close by success story of building two Park and Ride facilities that would be utilised well. The Eastern Park and Ride + Bus Interchange would also be my new “home-station” where I would catch my trains from to head north.
One final note having Walters Road Station with its dual Park and Rides + Bus Interchanges; the area between Manurewa and Papakura East (Red Hill) is due to undergo significant urban growth over the next three decades. You are looking at tens of thousands of new residents as well as many new businesses and civic institutions for which Papakura Station (and Takanini for that matter as well) could no simply cope if we are looking at making mass transit accessible to our new residents. Takanini is a dunga and does not have the room for a large supporting facility (Park and Ride and Bus Interchange) to make any station upgrades viable. Walters Road Station (including Park and Ride and Bus Interchange) is bang smack in the middle of a catchment area that has existing residents and businesses as well as future urban growth. Walters Road Station would be on land that can support the required large-scale support facilities (Park and Ride and Bus Interchange) as well as being connected to two access roads that run both major arterial roads that can be or already are traffic light controlled for safety reasons. So in that sense getting Walters Road Station right is absolutely critical if it is to be a key lynch-pin station that would attract existing and new people to Auckland’s fully integrated mass transit network.
Cost of these works for South Auckland?
Varies significantly and I would need to consult both an engineer and a planner to find out the true construction costs as well as the Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) factors and the works and operational effects on these four stations are significant.
The entire post is a justification on this project. The new running times would also most likely be the following (for diesels, running times for the electrics are unknown as of yet):
- Manurewa <-> Spartan Road: three minutes
- Spartan Road <-> Walters Road: two Minutes
- Walters Road <-> Papakura: four minutes
As what would happen to those who use Te Mahia and Takanini? For Takanini Station users two choices are available: car, walk, cycle, shuttle bus to either Spartan Road or Walters Road Crossing. For Te Mahia Station users they would use Manurewa or Spartan Road Stations and get there by car, shuttle bus, walk or cycle. So the alternatives are readily available and would present little disruption to existing users.
To build both Spartan Road and Walters Road Stations with their supporting facilities, the new road link bridge between Randwick and Westbrook Road (connecting to Spartan Road) and demolish both Te Mahia and Takanini would be an estimate of two years as Block of Lines (closing the network in that particular section) would be required.
And so while that is the Papakura – Manurewa section of station additions and removals there is one more on the Eastern Line before reaching Britomart that could be up for a move down the line. That be moving the current Meadowbank Station closer towards the Meadowbank Tunnel and renaming it Selwyn Station. But that I shall cover in the upcoming THE RAIL EFFICIENCY PROGRAM #5B post.
But in the meantime what do you think on basically moving two stations to better locations and adding support facilities such as Park and Rides, and Bus Interchanges. Comment below
*Note: To make it clear; when I refer to Park and Rides I also mean including Kiss and Ride as well as Cycle Lockers as part of the Park and Ride Facilities.
Light at End of Tunnel for Auckland Rail?
The Herald ran an article this morning on the Auckland Rail Electrification Project coming into its final stretches:
From the NZH:
5:30 AM Thursday Jan 3, 2013
Last big summer shut-down puts finishing touches to network, and new trains are on target for April next year.
Auckland’s $1.14 billion rail electrification project is chugging into the home straight, ready for the arrival in September of the first of 57 zippier and quieter trains.
KiwiRail is using its last big summer shutdown of the region’s rail network to rearrange tracks at Britomart and two other locations before spinning the final segments of an electrical web which by August will cover about 85km of lines from central Auckland to Papakura in the south and Swanson in the northwest.
It is enlarging the “throat” between Britomart’s approach tunnel and the underground station’s five platforms for extra train crossover points to be installed in a four-week shutdown of the eastern and Newmarket lines, and has been laying new bypass tracks at Otahuhu and Papakura during a two-week region-wide closure to minimise conflicts between freight and increased passenger services on an electrified network.
The state-owned company has also been taking advantage of the shutdown since Christmas, during which buses have replaced trains, to string electric lines on masts already erected between Papakura and Otahuhu on the southern line.
You can read the rest of the article over at the Herald site.
However while the EMU’s are nearly here it is these two particular comments I want to focus on that caught my attention:
From the same article:
Mayor Len Brown says the arrival of the trains will be “a huge step on the path towards the kind of integrated transport system an international city like Auckland needs”.
He believes the electric units – which will have greater acceleration and braking power than the existing diesel fleet – will make rail patronage “rocket” and create even more pressure for a 3.5km underground rail extension from Britomart to Mt Eden.
Followed by this from Councillor Mike Lee:
But council transport chairman and veteran electrification campaigner Mike Lee believes the new trains will not be enough to boost flagging patronage unless they are supported by general service improvements, notably far better punctuality and extended weekend timetables, without prohibitive fare rises.
“I would not bank on electric trains in themselves fixing chronic underlying human management problems,” he said.
Although he was preparing to pop champagne corks last year in expectation of overtaking Wellington’s annual rail patronage of 11.3 million passenger trips, he is bitterly disappointed by a fall from a record 10.98 million trips in Auckland for the 12 months to April – a figure boosted by the 2011 Rugby World Cup – to little over 10 million by November.
That would be correct from the Councillor; looking at the 2012 rail patronage statistics from August you can see a levelling off of rail patronage growth before a noticeable drop start occurring in the last quarter of 2012 – to the point one could say it is ‘back sliding.’ I can go into a thesis on the back-sliding of the rail patronage but that would be extremely counter-productive to the situation and rather not needed! However again, Councillor Lee has the point with rail patronage – especially the parts in bold.
And I agree with Councillor Mike Lee’s assessment on the EMU’s not being the magic bullet for our rail ills before us. Sure they might go a small distance for the rail system but not the patronage rocket as the mayor might expect.
There is still a lot more work to be done on the existing rail infrastructure (commentary being covered in the Rail Efficiency Program series) and on the operation side (timetables, service runs, integration with bus services, fares, etc.). These improvements need to be done before the CRL if we plan to reinstall any confidence back into the Auckland public with our rail network , otherwise the CRL will suffer the same confidence crisis as the existing infrastructure does now.
My previous post: TO BETTER (AUCKLAND’S) TRANSPORT had a brief recap on the Rail Efficiency Program and an embed from America on the value of investing in “current” infrastructure before going head first into new infrastructure. I recommend strongly reading the “The Virtues of Investing in Transportation” By LAURA D’ANDREA TYSON as it is a very good example on what we should be doing first before embarking on Mayoral Flights of Fancy… (the idea is not to make The Rail Fallacy come true)
While I have my Regional Public Transport Plan hearing in front of Auckland Transport next month, I might get a bit proactive now and restart lobbying the Rail Efficiency Program before the elections kick in in September/October.
Seems I will have my work cut out this year – that is for sure.
So light at the end of the tunnel? Yes but not quite a close as the mayor might think – just yet
BEN ROSS : AUCKLAND
Shining The Light – To a Better Papakura (OUR home)
To a Better Auckland – (OUR City)
Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL
Beat the Queues for Santa Parade – Get Your Rail Family Pass Now This advertisement from Auckland Transport advertising rail and Family Passes to Sunday’s Santa Parade in Auckland … Continue reading GET YOUR FAMILY PASS NOW
Pukekohe Electrification Case Took Some Legs and Ran
After the news of Auckland Transport releasing the business case for extending the electrification all the way to Pukekohe, so that ALL Auckland Metro Rail services will be covered by the new EMU’s (replacing the existing diesel fleet), the entire concept has seem to grown legs and gone for a run on its own steam (excuse the pun).
From Auckland Now:
Electric trains could run to Pukekohe if Auckland Council approves a $102 million upgrade to electrify the line past Papakura.
The electrification of Auckland’s train system is already well underway and an Auckland Transport spokesman said today they were “looking at options” to extend the project to Pukekohe.
“This would see trains running from Pukekohe to Britomart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at other times.”
The extra stretch is expected to cost $102.3m including buying two trains, creating park and ride facilities, new stations at Paerata and Drury and a major station upgrade at Pukekohe. Three bridges would be raised and the lowered.
Almost $19m has already been set aside in Auckland Transport’s long term plan for the project, which is expected to save $2m a year by having electric rather than diesel engines.
Mayor Len Brown welcomed an investigation, saying it would mean people in Franklin would be able to make full use of the rail network along with the rest of Auckland.
“This would mean quieter, faster and more efficient trains all the way to Pukekohe.”
Brown said Pukekohe was a key centre for residential and business growth, and there would be a rapidly growing need to move people to and from homes and jobs.
The area’s population is predicted to more than treble in the next 30 years to close to 80,000.
Franklin Local Board chairman Andy Baker said electrification was something the board and community had advocated for for a long time.
“We are extremely pleased that the investigation is happening now as it makes sense to do the work while we have contractors and systems in place to build Auckland’s electric rail network. ”
The first electric train is due to arrive in Auckland from Spain in the third quarter of 2013 and will undergo significant testing before going into public service in 2014.
And so it seems Auckland, especially South and Counties Auckland are all abuzz with the real possibility that by 2016, electric trains could be running from Pukekohe all the way to Britomart and Swanson (out west).
In saying that we in South and Counties Auckland must also not lose sight in all this excitement on the Manukau South Rail Link which would allow EMU’s to run Pukekohe to Manukau direct services, giving easy and fast access for South and Counties Auckland to their major service and employment hub – Manukau City Centre.
Exciting times ahead for this part of Auckland in regards to rail and efficient, accessible public transport.
You can see the Auckland Transport Business Case for Electrification to Pukekohe at my PUKEKOHE ELECTRIFICATION CASE post.
And We are Away with AT-HOP
Monday has been and gone and all was relatively well for the first day of AT-HOP (for commuters that is).
No major problems at Britomart or Newmarket were heard of via the feedback back to BR:AKL. Any problems that might have occurred seemed to be more passenger orientated as everyone gets use to AT-HOP 🙂
Auckland Transport has released a new brochure on AT-HOP showing the traditional cash fares, AT-HOP fares, and the expanded Monthly Pass system. You can see the brochure in the embed below:
And for a close up of the AT-HOP Stored Value Fares vs Standard Cash Fares
Hmm I remember a smallish episode with AT over those AT-HOP Stored Value fares not too long ago 😉
Any case; AT-HOP IS GO and away 😀
Oh and I noticed all the big wigs from AT were at Britomart last night too… hehe